DotF: Judge returns with two hits in Scranton’s win

According to Andrew Marchand, the Yankees wanted RHP Bryan Mitchell to make Tuesday’s spot start, but his last Triple-A start had to pushed back due to a minor injury (he started last night). So he’s not an option. Also, C Austin Romine (thumb) has been activated off the Triple-A DL, reports Donnie Collins.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Toledo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 K, 1 CS — third straight two-hit game with a triple … no idea when it last happened in the minors, but the last big leaguer with a triple in three straight games was Starling Marte in 2012 … last big leaguer with at least two hits and a triple in three straight games was Carl Crawford in 2009
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 0-4, 1 RBI
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4
  • 1B Greg Bird: 0-4
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB — first game in eight days because he was “tight”
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 5/11 GB/FB — 57 of 97 pitches were strikes (59%)

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Yankees ride Eovaldi’s eight strong innings and the six-run sixth to beat the Twins 7-2

(Source: Getty)

Today’s game was nowhere near as thrilling as last night’s but the Yanks won again nonetheless. New York beat the Twins 7-2 thanks to great starting pitching and a big offensive outburst in the sixth. They start the road trip with a series win at Minnesota, which is pretty neat.

Nasty Nate!

So how about Nathan Eovaldi? Today’s start has got to be a chapter in the young righty’s narrative of becoming a better starting pitcher. After today’s game, Eovaldi is 5-0 in last seven starts with a 2.83 ERA in 41.1 IP. His ERA has dropped from 5.12 to 4.27 as well.

(Source: Getty)

Eovaldi had a pretty good beginning of the game. He faced four hitters in the first and struck out three of them swinging — he blew past a 99 mph fastball by Dozier, then Torii Hunter and Miguel Sano struck out swinging on splitters. Again: three swinging strikeouts in an inning for Nate! For a guy who’s been too hittable for his stuff, that was a pretty fun frame to watch.

Eovaldi did give up the first run of the game on the third. With one out, Aaron Hicks reached on an infield single to Didi Gregorius. Dozier followed up with a single to center. Jacoby Ellsbury thought he had a chance to catch Hicks at third but not only was not particularly close, it allowed Dozier to move up to second, erasing the double play situation. With runners on second and third, Hunter hit a hard grounder right at Chase Headley that bounced off his glove. Had he caught the ball, he would have gotten Hicks out at home easily, but it deflected towards Gregorius and the only choice he had was to get the runner out on first. Oh well. But before the ninth inning, that was the only major trouble Eovaldi got into.

From the fourth to sixth, Eovaldi faced the minimum amount. In the seventh and eighth, he did face RISP situations but got out of both unscathed. The ninth inning, however, Eovaldi allowed a leadoff double — his first XBH allowed in five games! – to Sano. Joe Girardi then pulled him out of the game but boy, he’s gotta be very pleased with what he saw from Eovaldi today. He was just brilliant. He wasn’t exactly a strikeout machine but Eovaldi did mix pitches very well and induced a lot of grounders (11 GB – 5 FB today).

The calm before the storm

Yankees had RISP situations in each of the first three innings but came up empty-handed against Kyle Gibson each time. In the first inning, Brett Gardner had a one-out double but a Mark Teixeira strikeout and a Brian McCann ground out killed the opportunity. In the second, Carlos Beltran led off with a double but the bottom part of the lineup could not bring him in. In the third, Gardner reached second on a wild pitch with two outs but Teixeira flied out the end the frame. Gah.

Dat post-contact extension (Source: Getty)

However, down 1-0 in the top of the fifth, Headley took the fifth pitch of the at-bat way out of the ballpark for a game-tying solo homer. Love second half Chase. Before today’s game, Headley had been hitting .333/.371/.421 in July and, believe it or not, that was the first homer of the month.

Six-run sixth

You know how the Yanks let those early RISP chances pass away? Well, in the sixth, they made sure to get things done. Gardner hit the first pitch of the inning for a base hit and Gibson completely lost the strike zone — he walked Teixeira on four pitches and McCann on five … and then of course he strikes out Beltran on three pitches because sometimes that’s how things work.

Garrett Jones had a different plan though. He hit a 1-1 fastball to right for an RBI single. Headley followed it up with a 2-RBI single to right to extend the lead to 4-1. By then, Twins manager Paul Molitor had seen enough of Gibson and sub’d in LHP Ryan O’Rourke.

With one out and runners on corners, Didi dragged a bunt for a sacrifice — it seemed like he wanted to bunt for a hit, but he hit it too hard and didn’t have enough time to beat it out. But it became a pretty neat sac bunt anyways. 5-1 Yankees. The inning wasn’t over there — Stephen Drew hit a hanging curveball out of the park for a two-run homer. 7-1 Yankees. Hooo what a frame.

Leftover

Justin Wilson had been solid for a long while — since May 26 till July 21, the lefty made 23 appearances and has a minuscule ERA of 0.43 (1 ER in 21.0 IP), which is just ridiculously good. Today was not his finest moment though. Coming in as a relief for Eovaldi in the ninth, Wilson faced two hitters (Trevor Plouffe and Eddie Rosario) and both of them reached on singles — one of them being an RBI single to add an earned run to Eovaldi’s line. Granted, both were grounders but it did make the situation bit dicier, 7-2 lead or not. Girardi wasted no time going to Dellin Betances to close out the game and Betances delivered a fly out and a line drive double play. 7-2 Yankee win.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s the box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees head to Arlington, Texas for a four-game road matchup with the Texas Rangers. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Sunday Night Open Thread

That was a nice series win. The Twins were 31-16 with a +51 run differential at home heading into that series, you know. The Yankees are rollin’ right now. Seven wins in nine games since the All-Star break and 14 wins in 19 games this month overall. Pretty, pretty sweet.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Tigers at Red Sox (Rodriguez vs. Greene) because apparently ESPN still thinks it’s 2013. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Game 97: Love This Team

Shelley Duncan-esque. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Shelley Duncan-esque. (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Still amped up from that game last night? I know I am. What a win. I love love love that we can talk about Alex Rodriguez as a serious MVP candidate this season. Who would have guessed that coming into Spring Training? This season is just the best I tell ya.

Anyway, yesterday is yesterday and today is today. The Yankees will try to win the series against the Twins this afternoon behind Nathan Eovaldi, who has not allowed an extra-base hit this month and has allowed just one home run in his last 61.1 innings. I can write that because I don’t believe in jinxes. Here is Minnesota’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Garrett Jones
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

It is cloudy, hot, and humid in Minneapolis today, which means rain is on the way. The forecast says the showers are not unexpected until later this afternoon though, so they shouldn’t be a problem unless the game goes long. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Rosenthal: Royals acquiring Johnny Cueto from Reds

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Royals are set to acquire ace right-hander Johnny Cueto from the Reds. The two sides were close to a deal yesterday before things fell apart when Cincinnati got scared by something they found in the medicals of another player involved in the deal. Apparently the two sides were able to work out a trade anyway.

The Yankees had reportedly been scouting Cueto for weeks, which makes total sense. He’s both a great pitcher and also a rental, making him a perfect fit for a team in need of rotation help and wary of taking on long-term deals. It’s unclear if the Yankees ever had serious talks with the Reds about Cueto. We also don’t know who the Royals are sending to Cincy, so I can’t offer up a comparable Yankees package.

Even with Cueto and Scott Kazmir (traded to the Astros) off the board, there are still plenty of pitchers on the trade market. Cole Hamels is the big name, but he comes with a hefty contract. Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Ian Kennedy, and Mat Latos are other rental options. The Tigers remain undecided about whether to trade David Price. The package for Cueto will give us an idea of what it would take to acquire Price, who would look might fine in pinstripes.

Update: Cueto was traded for left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed, both clubs announced. I’m not sure there’s a good Yankees equivalent. Jacob Lindgren, Manny Banuelos if they still had him, and Brady Lail? That doesn’t really work. Eh, whatever.

Pulling for Power

Remember May 17th? Yeah, me neither. That day, however, I published this piece on Mark Teixeira and his performance on pitches in and out of the zone. A Twitter conversation I had with ESPN’s Mark Simon last week brought this post to my mind (more on that later). My breakdown was mostly general and didn’t get specific as to what Tex was doing on pitches in certain parts of the zone or where those balls were ending up. In researching for this piece, I took a look at Tex’s splits, specifically his numbers based on location.

When pulling the ball as a right handed batter, Tex hits to a fantastic line: a .288 batting average; a .615 slugging percentage; a .327 ISO; a .386 wOBA; and a 148 wRC+. As a lefty, his pull numbers are even gaudier: .387 BA; .978 SLG; .591 ISO; .567 wOBA; 275 wRC+. Given his reputation, my assumption was that Tex was doing what seemed logical: dropping his (very powerful) bat head onto pitches on the inner part of the plate and mashing them to his pull field. However, the opposite seemed to be true. Recall, all the way from the first paragraph, my conversation with Mark Simon:

He tweeted that Tex was second in all of baseball (to Albert Pujols) on outer-half home runs this season, and posted the following heat map:

texhomers

I asked Mark if he could give me the locations of all those homers and he obliged:

TexHRLocation

All but two of those homers–the shortest dots to the left field side, numbers nine and 11 on the year for Tex–were pulled. So it seems that, instead of ripping inside pitches, Tex is extending his arms and getting the sweet spot of the bat to the ball in front of outside pitches and muscling them over the fence. Rather than just going with the pitch, Tex is sticking to what he said way back in February. “We’ve talked about it ad nauseam,” he said. “Every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it doesn’t go well for anybody. That’s what the other team wants. They want to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter….So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift.” Thus far, going back to his pull happy roots has turned out pretty well for Teixeira. He already has more homers this year (24) than he did all of last year (22); he’s also hit more doubles in 2015 (21 to 14) and is walking more (13.1% to 11.4%) than in 2014.

When we talk about adjustments in baseball, we usually mean that a player is trying something new. Well, Tex adjusted back to something old and the results have greatly benefited both the Yankees and him. His offensive resurgence and reclaimed production are big reasons why the Yankees sit in first place in the AL East. Keep on pulling, Tex; keep on pulling.

DotF: Heathcott begins rehab assignment; Lail tosses shutout in Trenton’s win

OF Aaron Judge took batting practice today, according to Shane Hennigan. Judge said he isn’t injured, just “tight.” Okay then. He was reportedly walking around the clubhouse with his lower back wrapped last night.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Toledo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-3, 2 R, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K — back-to-back two-hit games with a triple
  • 3B Jose Pirela: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB — back at third base now
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Greg Bird: 1-5, 1 2B, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 5/3 GB/FB — 47 of 65 pitches were strikes (72%) … efficient! (not exactly his trademark!)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 18 of 32 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Wilking Rodriguez: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%)

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