This afternoon’s series finale is the most important game of the season. Those are Joe Girardi‘s words, not mine. He called it that following last night’s loss. The Yankees have been shut out the last two days, and if you go back to last weekend’s series, they’ve been shut out three straight times by the Orioles. Yikes.
The back-to-back shutout losses dropped the Yankees to 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. They haven’t been that far back in almost two weeks, believe it or not. Today’s game is the difference between 6-6 and 7-5 during this 12-game stretch against wildcard competitors. Either way, it’s not good enough. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- LF Rob Refsnyder
- C Gary Sanchez
- 2B Starlin Castro
- 3B Chase Headley
- DH Austin Romine
- RF Aaron Judge
- 1B Tyler Austin
- SS Ronald Torreyes
RHP Michael Pineda
It’s again cool and cloudy in Baltimore, though the sun is supposed to be make an appearance later on. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET and you can watch on YES. Try to enjoy.
Injury Updates: Didi Gregorius (arm) is still sore after being hit by a pitch yesterday. He was originally scheduled to be in today’s lineup … Mark Teixeira (neck) is out with some soreness. His neck has been giving him problems on and off all season.
With Carlos Beltran gone and Gary Sanchez not quite a qualifier yet, the Yankees are left with just one regular player with an wRC+ over 100. Chase Headley, though good since May, hasn’t quite recovered from his awful April. Brian McCann is just short, as are Starlin Castro and Brett Gardner. The lone above-league-average player for the “Bombers” this year has been shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Though he’s been allergic to taking walks this year–3.0 BB%; more home runs than walks–Didi has managed to be a productive player thanks to a low-strikeout total (13.7%, continuing a downward trend from his last year with the Diamondbacks) and a big time power surge. Last year, Didi hit only nine homers and knocked 24 doubles–as well as two triples–leading to an ISO of .105. This year, Didi’s socked 17 dingers and 29 doubles, both career highs, leading to an ISO of .175, a–you guessed it–career high. Let’s take a looks–results wise–at how he’s doing it. I’m not skilled enough to spot an mechanical changes, so I’ll leave that to others. Perhaps there is something there, but I’m not confident enough in my amateur scouting ability to see it.
Here is Did’s zone profile from 2015, broken down into HR/BIP (balls in play). There’s a whole lotta blue, no? Even the middle-middle location, where you’d assume any Major Leaguer would do big damage, Didi’s zone is more purple than red. Fast forward to 2016 and there’s a slightly different picture of Didi’s home run power. Unlike in 2015, he’s been able to do more damage on pitches down the middle and even take more advantage of the ones on the inside part of the strike zone. Additionally, he’s made use of the bottom of the zone as well, knocking seven out of the park on pitches at or around his knees. This doesn’t just apply to home runs.
If we take a look at his overall power from 2015 and 2016, we notice a similar pattern. Didi has exploited pitches over the middle, in, and at the bottom of the zone. Both years–in terms of homers and overall power–show that Didi isn’t going to hit for much power up in the zone or away, but it seems he’s got the rest of it covered.
2015 showed that Didi–between decent contact skills and a solid glove–could be a productive shortstop without power. This year’s power gives him an added dimension to his game that makes him even more valuable to the Yankees. Even if this level of his power is his absolute ceiling, combining it with his relatively low strikeout rates and skilled defense gives him star potential.
Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Buffalo)
- DH Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
- RF Cesar Puello: 1-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP — that’s hit-by-pitch No. 18, easily the most in the system
- 3B Donovan Solano: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — their primary No. 3 hitters this season have been Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder, and now Donovan Solano
- 1B Chris Parmelee: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
- C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 1 K
- CF Jake Cave: 0-3, 2 K — unless the Yankees surprisingly add him to the 40-man roster after the season, these could be his final games in the organization
- RHP Brady Lail: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 9/6 GB/FB — 61 of 101 pitches were strikes (60%)
- LHP James Pazos: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — 14 of 17 pitches were strikes (92%) … 12 strikeouts in 5.1 innings since returning from his injury
- LHP Dietrich Enns: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eight strikes, ten pitches … Proven Closer™
The Yankees came to Baltimore knowing this is their biggest series of the season to date. They’ve responded by being shut out in the first two games. Only six total hits too. And two were infield singles. The Yankees have actually been shut out in three straight games by the Orioles dating back to last weekend’s series at Yankee Stadium. Good job, good effort. This final score was 2-0. It’s Saturday night and it’s a holiday weekend, so this one is getting bullet points:
- Strong Sabathia: Two runs (one earned) in six innings against the O’s in Camden Yards? CC Sabathia did his job. Aaron Judge bobbled a broken bat single in the fourth inning, allowing the first run to score, then Adam Jones hit a solo homer into the first row in the fifth. Sabathia allowed six hits and walked two in his six innings. He only had one strikeout and did have to battle through some innings, but, at the end of the day, two runs in six innings against that offense in that park is really good. Sabathia deserved better.
- Cy Gausman: For the fifth time this season, the Yankees were completely shut down by Kevin Gausman. They’ve scored three runs total in 33.2 innings against him, and two of the three were driven in by a guy who was forced into retirement. The Yankees had their best chance to score in the fourth, when a walk (Jacoby Ellsbury), an infield single (Gary Sanchez), and a hit-by-pitch (Didi Gregorius) loaded the bases with one out. Starlin Castro then struck out on a 3-2 pitch way out of the zone (surprise surprise) and Brian McCann flew out weakly (surprise surprise) to end the threat. Gausman has a 0.80 ERA against the Yankees and a 4.41 ERA against everyone else in ’16.
- Leftovers: Sanchez, Castro, McCann, and Chase Headley had the team’s four hits, all singles … Ellsbury and Judge drew the only walks … Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard both pitched into and out of trouble in their scoreless innings … the Yankees have been shut out in three straight games by the same team for the first time since 1973 (White Sox). They’ve also been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since last season and only the second time this century.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Orioles wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. It’s pretty much a must-win if this team wants to remain relevant a few more weeks. Michael Pineda and Wade Miley are the scheduled starters.
Last night’s game was just one of those games. Every team has those throughout the season. You get blown out, the offense doesn’t do much … it happens. That’s baseball. Unfortunately the Yankees couldn’t really afford a game like that. The loss to the Orioles combined with the Tigers’ win means the Yankees are again 3.5 games back of Baltimore and Detroit for the second wildcard spot.
These next two games this weekend aren’t must wins, but they are incredibly important and the Yankees need to take advantage of these head-to-head matchups against the O’s. The easiest way to gain ground is to beat the team you’re chasing yourself. The Yankees have a chance to do that this weekend. They dropped the ball last night. Now they have to do what they did in Kansas City and win the next two games. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Gary Sanchez
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Starlin Castro
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Aaron Judge
- 3B Ronald Torreyes
LHP CC Sabathia
It’s another cool and cloudy night in Baltimore, though there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will start a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.
Awards Notes: Sanchez was named both the AL Rookie of the Month and AL Player of the Month for August. That’s pretty cool. He’s the first player to win both in the same month since Jose Abreu in July 2014. He’s the first Yankee to be named Rookie of the Month since Robinson Cano (September 2005) and the first Yankee to be named Player of the Month since Curtis Granderson (August 2011).
Saturday, 4:58pm: Today’s tests revealed a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor tendon, according to reporters in Baltimore. Green is going for a second opinion. Injuries like that often result in Tommy John surgery, though Green may be able to avoid the knife if the UCL sprain is minor.
Friday, 8:10pm: Green left the game with right elbow pain, the Yankees announced. That’s a big ol’ WELP. Green’s going to head for additional tests and all that.
8:01pm: Chad Green exited tonight’s start in the second inning with an unknown injury. His velocity did seem to be down in his second inning of work, though that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Didi Gregorius called for the trainer and Green exited the game without throwing any test pitches.
The Yankees traded away Ivan Nova at the deadline and Nathan Eovaldi‘s elbow exploded a few weeks ago, so they’re short on starters as it is. They do have Luis Severino available and he would be the obvious candidate to replace Green should he need to miss an extended period of time. Bryan Mitchell is in Triple-A too.
Now, that said, Severino has been pretty terrible as a starter this season, plus the Yankees seemed to be counting on him to improve their middle relief situation these last few weeks of the season. We’ll see what happens. The Yankees have not yet released an update on Green, so stay tuned.