Now that is how you rebound from a loss. The Yankees have had a knack for following winning streaks with extended losing stretches this year, but they brushed Tuesday’s loss aside and pounded David Price and the Tigers on Wednesday, winning the middle game of the series 8-4. They’ve now won six of their last seven games and eight of their last eleven overall.
Nine Straight Hits
The third inning of this game was just ridiculous. The Yankees started the inning with nine (nine!) consecutive base hits against Price, and those nine hits featured a little of everything. Doubles into the corner, garden variety singles to the outfield, ground ball singles with eyes, infield singles, you name it. All nine of the hits came against Price too. It’s not like they got five hits off him and the rest off some random scrub reliever.
I think the easiest way to recap this is with the play-by-play, so here:
The doubles by Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira were opposite field shots into the right field corner. I thought Teixeira’s would slice foul off the bat and Beltran’s would sneak over the wall for a homer. Wrong on both counts. Ain’t mad about it. Those nine straight hits gave the Yankees six runs and loaded the bases with no outs before Price was pulled. At one point they were 8-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the inning. In the inning!
According to YES Network broadcast, the MLB record for consecutive base hits is 12 by both the 1920 Cardinals and 1930 Dodgers, though those rallies both spanned multiple innings with outs recorded on the bases mixed in. The record for most consecutive hits in a single inning is eleven by the 2010 Rockies. The last AL team with nine straight hits was the 1996 Tigers. The 1992 Blue Jays hold the AL record with ten straight hits. So yeah, this was something else.
Two sacrifice flies followed the nine hits and the pitching change, giving the Yankees an 8-0 lead through three innings. Price had not allowed nine hits in any of his last 14 starts, amazingly. The eight runs is a new single-inning high for the Bombers this year — they scored seven runs in an inning a few times — and, most importantly, it gave Shane Greene plenty of breathing room. Most fun inning of the year? Most fun inning of the year.
Second Time Around
The huge inning and those nine straight hits are going to grab all the headlines and rightfully so, but man, Greene was awesome once again. This was the first time a team got to see him twice as a starter, which is always a big test for a young pitcher. Greene aced that test by holding the Tigers to two runs on five hits and one walk in seven innings. He struck eight out and recorded 16 of his 21 outs on the infield. If the Detroit batters were comfortable in the box because they had already seen him once before, it did not show. Dude was sharp.
Greene has now made nine starts for the Yankees since joining the rotation just before he All-Star break — he crossed the 50-inning rookie eligibility threshold in this start, by the way — and in those nine starts he has a 3.11 ERA (3.15 FIP) with a 3.79 K/BB ratio in 55 innings. Remember, he had a 4.61 ERA (3.41 FIP) with a 2.19 K/BB in 66.1 Triple-A innings before being called up. There were legitimate questions about exactly how much he would be able to help the team. Greene has been outstanding so far and his lively sinker/slider mix suggests his success is more sustainable than, say, Chase Whitley‘s. (No offense to Whitley.) This guy’s been awesome.
Because these are the 2014 Yankees, the team did not have a base-runner following the nine straight hits until Martin Prado picked up a two-out in the sixth inning. A parade of Tigers relievers retired a) eleven straight Yankees from the third through sixth, and b) 20 of the final 25 Yankees batters to end the game. Hey, when you drop eight runs in an inning, you’re allowed to take it easy the rest of the game.
Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, obviously. That kinda has to happen to do the whole nine straight hits thing. Jacoby Ellsbury, Prado, Brian McCann, and Chase Headley all had two hits apiece. Derek Jeter, Prado, and Headley drew the walks. Ellsbury even stole two bases. The Yankees went 8-for-14 (.571) with runners in scoring position. Is that good? That seems good.
Adam Warren pitched the eighth inning and Dellin Betances pitched the ninth after Greene was done. They both allowed a garbage time run on two hits. Betances pitched because he actually needed the work, which is weird because he’s had to work a lot this year. He had four straight days off before Wednesday’s game and the rust showed. Better to shake it off in a game like than than a close one.
I don’t mean to laugh at him, but Frankie Cervelli took a foul ball right to the biscuits in the fifth inning. Direct hit. It was rough. I couldn’t help but laugh when Ken Singleton said “nope, didn’t hit him in the collarbone” during the slow motion replay. Poor Frankie.
And finally, the Yankees have now beat up on Price, James Shields, and Chris Sale in the span of four days. Baseball, man.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. You can find some other stats at FanGraphs and the updated standings at ESPN. Both the Orioles and Mariners lost, so the Yankees are now six games back in the AL East and 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 10.6%.
The Yankees and Tigers will wrap up this three-game series on Thursday afternoon. Hiroki Kuroda and Kyle Lobstein are the scheduled pitching matchup for the rubber game. Apparently the Tigers decided to push Justin Verlander back and give him an extra day of rest as he comes back from his sore shoulder.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (6-5 loss to Buffalo in seven innings) makeup of the April 25th rainout
- CF Jose Pirela & DH Ramon Flores: both 0-4 — Pirela struck out once, Flores twice
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-3, 1 R
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-2, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding) – 9-for-28 (.321) with three doubles and a homer in his last ten games
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 0-2, 1 RBI
- LHP Matt Tracy: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 8/5 GB/FB — 55 of 94 pitches were strikes (59%)
- LHP Tyler Webb: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 16 of 30 pitches were strikes (53%) … melted down in the seventh and started the five-run rally for the Bisons
- RHP Edgmer Escalona: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 10 of 15 pitches were strikes … allowed Buffalo to finish off the comeback
The Yankees lost last night because every late-August winning streak is bound to end at some point. The key is getting right back up and starting a new streak, not letting the losses pile up, something they’ve been unable to do this year. Examples:
- Five straight wins in April followed with two straight losses and three losses in the next five games.
- Four straight wins in May followed by four losses in the next five games.
- Eight wins in ten games in June followed immediately by nine losses in eleven games.
- Seven wins in eight games after the All-Star break, then five losses in the next six games.
- Six wins in seven games earlier those month followed by a five-game losing streak.
If the Yankees are going to make a serious run at a postseason spot — and make no mistake, their chances are very small right now — one loss can’t turn into a mini-two-game losing streak tonight. Bounce back, pick up a win, and keep moving forward. That’s the only way they’ll have a chance. Here is the Tigers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- 2B Martin Prado
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Carlos Beltran
- DH Brian McCann
- 3B Chase Headley
- LF Brett Gardner
- C Frankie Cervelli
RHP Shane Greene
It’s cool and cloudy in Detroit, but there is no rain in the forecast. We’re definitely starting to see more late-season baseball weather. You know what I mean. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:080pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy the game.
The Yankees have signed outfielder Chris Young to a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman. I assume he’ll head to Triple-A Scranton for a few days and be called up when rosters expand on Monday. The Yankees will need to make room on the 40-man roster to accommodate him when the time comes, but that won’t be much of a problem.
Young, 30, hit .205/.283/.346 (80 wRC+) with eight homers and seven steals in 287 plate appearances for the Mets this year before being released earlier this month. That includes a weak .136/.277/.227 (50 wRC+) line in 83 plate appearances against lefties. Young hit .200/.280/.379 (82 wRC+) overall and .209/.320/.392 (99 wRC) against southpaws while with the Athletics last year. He has consistently graded out as a strong outfield defender in his career.
At his best, Young hit .243/.331/.436 (104 wRC+) overall and .272/.377/.482 (131 wRC+) against lefties while with the Diamondbacks from 2010-12. His best year came in 2010, when he put up a .257/.341/.452 (109 wRC+) line with 27 homers and 28 stolen bases. Obviously that was a long time ago and he’s not the same player now. Vernon Wells managed to be the best hitter in the AL for a few weeks last year, maybe Young can do the same. Baseball is weird sometimes.
The Yankees clearly need another right-handed bat — Zelous Wheeler has started four of the last six games — and Young might be able to fill that role for a few weeks. They only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum — the Mets are on the hook for his $7.2M salary — and if he stinks, they can keep him glued to the bench. There’s no such thing as wasting a roster spot in September. Minor move. Maybe he’ll hit a random big homer or something.
Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello was pretty sharp Tuesday night, and as a result the Yankees failed to draw a walk for the tenth time this season. That is still well short of last year’s 17 walk-less games, but it matches 2012′s total and is way more than they had in any year from 2002-11 — they averaged 4.6 walk-less games per year during that stretch and never had more than seven. Last night was their fourth walk-less game in August alone.
Before the season, I expected the offense to improve on last season’s subpar walk rate because of their offseason additions. Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann in particular came into the season with strong career walk rates. Instead, the Yankees have essentially the same walk rate this year (7.6%) as last year (7.7%). Their unintentional walk rate (7.3%) is more or less the same as well (7.2%). The AL average this year is a 7.8% walk rate.
The Yankees as a team have their lowest walk rate since the dismal 1990 club that lost 95 games, averaged 3.72 runs per game, and walked in only 7.1% of their plate appearances. Offensive levels have changed over the years though, so a 7.6% walk rate in 2014 is not the same thing as a 7.6% walk rate in 2000 or 1990. Here’s how the Yankees’ walk rate has compared to the AL average since that 1990 season. This works the same way as ERA+ — a 100 BB+ is average and the bigger the number, the better.
The Yankees have essentially the same walk rate as last year but they’re slightly better relative to the league average. They’re still below average overall though. It’s hard not to notice the club missed the postseason the last two times they posted a below league average walk rate and are on pace to do the same this year, but this is one of those “correlation does not equal causation” situations. A below average walk rate doesn’t automatically equal no postseason for this or any team.
Fewer walks does mean fewer runs though. That is obvious and an indisputable fact. It is harder to get a base hit right now than at any point in the last 42 years — the AL is hitting .254 overall this year, the lowest league batting average since 1972 (.239!), the year before the DH was implemented — because of things like infield shifts, specialized relievers, more hard-throwers, in-depth scouting reports, and an acceptance of strikeouts as a trade off for power. All of that and more makes picking up a base hit difficult in this age.
Walks are another way to create offense — a walk is almost never as a good as a hit and no hitter goes to the plate looking for a walk, they just take them when they come — and the Yankees excelled at drawing them for the better part of the last two decades. These last two years have been much different, though at least last season we could fall back on the injury excuse. Missing Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson for a chunk of the 2013 season in particular took a big bite out of the team’s walk total. This year? No such excuse.
Both Beltran (7.7%) and McCann (6.3%) are walking at a rate far below their career averages (10.3% and 9.2%, respectively), so they’re part of the problem. Neither guy as done much damage when swinging the bat in general and they’ve compounded the problem by drawing fewer walks as well. In fact, let’s take a quick look at the career and 2014 walk rates of the lineup regulars (the trade deadline guys just got here):
|2014 BB%||Career BB%||Diff.|
Beltran, Jeter, and McCann have all seen their walk rates take a big tumble this year, compared to their career averages. Only Ellsbury has seen a substantial improvement. Gardner’s drop in walk rate is at least offset by his selectively aggressive approach and newfound power skills. The team is drawing fewer weeks this year and it’s easy see where the drop is coming from.
The Yankees are struggling to score runs for a lot of reasons this year, particularly because of the disappointing Beltran and McCann. Ellsbury’s been very good but he isn’t an impact hitter, last night’s two homers notwithstanding. His value comes from his all-around game, not offensive dominance. Teixeira’s doing exactly what he’s done the last few years, Jeter and Ichiro are on the wrong side of 40, and Gardner has been the lone offensive surprise. The Yankees have lost the two things that make them the Yankees, that trademark power and patience.
Via MLBTR: The Yankees were among the teams to scout Cuban left-hander Misael Siverio during a showcase event back in June. He is scheduled to throw for teams again on Friday, according to Jon Heyman. Siverio has already been declared a free agent by MLB and cleared by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, so he is free to sign at any time.
Siverio, 25, is a small guy listed at 5-foot-9. Heyman says he has a low-90s fastball with a “tight offspeed variation” that includes a curveball, a changeup, and a splitter. The recent history of Cuban defectors heavily favors position players, but both Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras (after he left the Yankees) had success in the big leagues not too long ago. The Yankees signed Cuban lefty Omar Luis to a $2.5M deal a few years ago and there’s no word on what kind of bonus Siverio is expected to command. · (141) ·
For the fourth time in the last nine games, Derek Jeter started at DH last night. That comes after he started only four of the team’s first 121 games at DH. Carlos Beltran‘s elbow injury relegated him to full-time DH duty for a few weeks, but even when Beltran was on the disabled list, Jeter was still playing shortstop every day while guys like Alfonso Soriano and Brian McCann got regular turns at DH. All these recent starts at DH are a change of pace for the Cap’n.
Joe Girardi, naturally, isn’t making too much of it. He simply chalked it up to giving a veteran player some extra rest late in the season when the opportunity presents itself. Here’s what he told Chad Jennings prior to last night’s game:
“I’m in the mode that I’m just taking it day by day,” Girardi said. “But with Carlos being able to go into the outfield once in a while, it gives me more flexibility to do this. … We’ve had some long stretches. We have a lot of lefties coming up the next five days after today where he’s going to play (probably at shortstop), so try to give him a little blow when I can. And I thought today was probably a good day. Two plane flights in two days, and as I said, we have day games after night games, so we’re going to need him in there a lot.”
“I don’t think I can play him much more than I’ve played him,” Girardi said. “He’s played in all but about 10 games maybe, maybe a few more than that, but there was a time when he missed three because his leg was bothering him. But when you get in these long stretches, these 13-game stretches, I’ve usually given him on day off. And that might be all he gets in this.”
Jeter is completely unfazed by the starts at DH — “I don’t know how many times I’ve done it … My job is to come here, and when I’m in the lineup, play,” he told Jennings — and that isn’t surprising at all. The Yankees have used that DH spot as something of a revolving door to rest their older players over the years, a practice that has caught on around the league. The full-time DH like David Ortiz is a dying breed. Jeter, McCann, Beltran, and Zelous Wheeler (!) have all started a game at DH at some point in the last week, so the revolving door is in full effect.
At this point though, the best Yankees team doesn’t have a revolving door at DH. The best Yankees team right now, in late-August and September of 2014, has Jeter at DH full-time. He hasn’t hit at all this month — .222/.237/.278 in August even after last night’s 2-for-4 — but you and I both know the Yankees aren’t going to drop him in the lineup, let alone take him out of the lineup entirely. Not with only a month of regular season baseball left in his career.
The best thing the Yankees can do at this point is take Jeter out of the field and play Stephen Drew, the far superior defender, at shortstop. The trade-off for the improved infield defense is Drew’s weak bat — he’s over 200 plate appearances now, so “he didn’t have a proper Spring Training” is no longer a valid excuse for his lack of production — as well as Beltran’s awful right field defense, though the latter is a small issue thanks to the ground ball heavy pitching staff. Well, everyone in the rotation except Michael Pineda is a ground baller. Prioritizing outfield defense makes sense when he’s on the mound.
We all know turning Jeter into a full-time DH just isn’t going to happen. He’ll still see his fair share of time in the field, but he started four of the last nine games at DH and that seems like a decent framework going forward, no? I mean, there are only 32 games left in the season. Four out of nine works out to 14 games at DH and 18 at short the rest of the way. The Yankees are still in the race for the second wildcard spot (despite their best efforts in the summer months) and improving the defense by giving Jeter more time at DH the last 32 games makes sense.
All of this is contingent on Beltran’s elbow, obviously. If he can’t play right field, he’ll play DH regularly and Jeter will play shortstop, end of story. If that is not the case though, if that third cortisone shot makes Beltran’s elbow a non-issue these next four and a half weeks, the Yankees could have him and Jeter essentially split their time between DH and the field. Work it around Pineda’s pitching schedule, off-days, the opposing starter (no Drew against lefties, etc.), whatever. The best Yankees team right now has less Jeter in the field and it seems like they’ve acknowledged that these last nine games. Now they just have to continue doing it.
I guess the Yankees just don’t like being eight games over .500, huh? The team’s latest attempt to reach that point fell short on Tuesday night. They lost 5-2 to the Tigers after a one hour and eight minute rain delay.
For the first time as a Yankee, Brandon McCarthy got hit pretty hard on Tuesday night. He was in trouble all night, allowing five runs and 13 base-runners in 6.1 innings. I’m not quite sure why he was sent back out to start the seventh — McCarthy surrendered the fifth run that inning — but it really didn’t matter in the end. It saved the bullpen an out, I guess. McCarthy threw 85 pitches and, by my unofficial count, 44 were from the stretch. So yeah, he was in trouble all night.
The Tigers scored their first run on a bases loaded walk of all things. McCarthy had walked two batters in only two of his first eight starts with New York, but he walked two and hit a batter in the second inning of this game. It was obvious he was off from the get-go. Just one of those nights, I guess. Detroit scored another run on a Miguel Cabrera double and a J.D. Martinez single in the third, then they did some real damage in the sixth with a single (Victor Martinez), a double (J.D. Martinez), a run-scoring single (Nick Castellanos), and a run-scoring double play (Alex Avila). A double (Rajai Davis) and a single (Torii Hunter) created the fifth run in the seventh. Ugly outing. What can you do.
Rick Porcello was really sharp just about all night. The Yankees scored their two runs on Jacoby Ellsbury solo homers, believe it or not. Otherwise the team only had one other base-runner make it as far as third base, and that was when they had runners on the corners with two outs in the fourth. Stephen Drew popped out to end the threat. Porcello faced 31 batters, threw 18 first pitch strikes, and allowed ten balls to be hit out of the infield.
Joe Nathan retired the side in order in the ninth, so 15 of the final 19 batters the Yankees sent to the plate made outs. The four exceptions were Ellsbury’s two homers, Derek Jeter‘s infield single, and Carlos Beltran‘s traditional single to center. The bottom four hitters in the order went 1-for-14 with an infield single (Ichiro Suzuki) and overall the Yankees went hitless in all of three at-bats with runners in scoring position. They saw nine total pitches in those at-bats. Just a blah night for the offense. Porcello was good and they couldn’t put anything together. Baseball.
Esmil Rogers retired five of six men he faced with three strikeouts and a hit batsman. He was the only reliever used. The Yankees have been able to get their key late-inning relievers some nice rest these last two or three days. Those guys have been worked really hard these last few weeks.
The Yankees actually had nine hits on the night, including three by Ellsbury and two each by Jeter and Beltran. They didn’t draw any walks because the Yankees don’t do that anymore. This was the offense’s tenth walk-less game of the year. They had 13 total from 2009-11. I miss offense.
Mark Teixeira saved Chase Headley two errors in the first two innings with scoops at first base. The second one saved some runs, which really wouldn’t have mattered in the end, but Tex flashed some leather in this game and that’s cool.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has to updated standings. The Orioles beat the Rays, so the Yankees are seven back in the AL East. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either three (Mariners lose, Tigers take over second wildcard spot) or 3.5 (Mariners win) games back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs has their postseason odds at a robust 14.8%. I have absolutely no idea how they picked up 2.0% since last night despite losing. Weird.
Same two teams on Wednesday night, in the middle game of this three-game series. Shane Greene and David Price will be the pitching matchup. Pretty sick of seeing Price at this point. This will be their fifth meeting of the year even though the guy got traded out of the division at the deadline.
- In case you missed it, the Yankees are sending OF Tyler Austin, 1B Greg Bird, 3B Eric Jagielo, OF Aaron Judge, RHP Caleb Cotham, RHP Branden Pinder, RHP Alex Smith, and a catcher to be named later to the Arizona Fall League this year.
- 2B Jose Pirela and OF Jake Cave were named to the end-of-season Triple-A International League and High-A Florida State League All-Star Teams, respectively. These teams are a recognition of the best player at each position in the league.
Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off-day.
Double-A Trenton (5-0 win over Akron)
- CF Jake Cave: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 9-for-18 in his last four games
- LF Ben Gamel: 0-4
- C Gary Sanchez: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K — picked a runner off second with a snap throw
- DH Dante Bichette Jr.: 0-4, 2 K — Double-A has not been too kind to him
- RF Mason Williams: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K
- RHP Jaron Long: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 9/0 GB/FB – 116/22 K/BB in 132 innings for the hitting coach’s kid
- LHP Jacob Lindgren: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1/0 GB/FB — up to 48 strikeouts (and ten walks) in 24.2 pro innings
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K
The Yankees have won five straight games and are seven games over .500. Those both tie their high-water marks of the season. Tonight the Yankees will look to set new season highs by stretching their winning streak to six games and moving to eight games over .500. They’ve been stymied a few times before.
More importantly, the Yankees are chasing the Tigers in the second wildcard race. They’re two games back of Detroit and cutting that deficit in half this week is the bare minimum, in my opinion. There aren’t many games left, so these head-to-head meetings are incredibly important. The Yankees won’t get a chance to control what they and their second wildcard competitors do on a given night for the rest of the year after this series. Here is the Tigers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Derek Jeter
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Mark Teixeira
- RF Carlos Beltran — back in the field just a few days after receiving a third cortisone shot in his elbow
- 2B Martin Prado
- SS Stephen Drew
- 3B Chase Headley
- LF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Brandon McCarthy
Bad news: there is rain in the forecast tonight. Not all night, but three or four hours worth, supposedly starting right around 7pm ET. Hopefully they rain isn’t as bad as it is supposed to be, otherwise they’ll be waiting all night to play this game. First pitch is scheduled for just after 7pm ET and you can watch on My9. Enjoy.
Injury Update: Brett Gardner (ankle) will try to run on the field before the game. If that goes well, he’ll be available off the bench.
Update (6:38pm): The game is already in the delay, it has been announced. No word on a start time just yet, but it might be a while given the forecast.
Update (7:30pm): The game is tentatively scheduled to begin at 8:15pm ET.