Game 149: Score runs for Sonny

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Following yesterday’s game the Yankees shuffled their rotation to ensure CC Sabathia and his balky knee will not start on the turf in Toronto next week, which means Sonny Gray gets the start this afternoon. Gray has made eight starts as a Yankees, and in those eight starts, the Yankees have scored 24 total runs. Nine of the 24 came in one game. They’ve scored four runs in his five losses. Get that man some runs!

The good news is the Yankees are facing the Orioles at home today, and gosh, they’ve destroyed the O’s in Yankee Stadium all season. They’re 7-1 with a +57 run differential against the Orioles at home. Overall, the Yankees have scored 150 runs in 18 games — 150 runs in 18 games! — against the O’s this season. No team has scored more runs against any other team since baseball expanded in 1961. Crazy. How about another blowout today? Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Matt Holliday
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. 3B Todd Frazier
  9. LF Clint Frazier
    RHP Sonny Gray

Another cloudy and humid but not crazy hot day in New York. There’s also a little rain in the forecast. Not much. Probably not enough to interrupt the game. This afternoon’s series finale — it really is a shame this series has to end, isn’t it? — will begin a little after 1pm ET, and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Adam Warren (back) played catch again today and everything feels good. He’s still on track to get in a few games before the end of the regular season … Caleb Smith was placed on the 10-day DL with a viral infection, the Yankees announced. That might end his season. Only two weeks left.

Roster Move: Domingo German was called up from Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. He essentially replaces Smith as the extra long man. The Yankees did not need to place Smith on the disabled list to call up German. German had been down for much more than ten days.

Attractive Opposites

World Series Phillies Yankees Baseball

I’ve said often that the 2009 World Series winning Yankee team is my favorite of all the championship teams. I was finally old enough to appreciate a World Series win and I watched nearly every inning of that season. Additionally, I was (way too) active on this site and met a lot of great people through it. Every night was a new, fun, exciting experience on the road to dominance and an eventual championship. On its face, the 2017 version of the Yankees has very little to do with that team.

The 2009 team was built and focused around veterans. There were the ‘holdovers’ like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, and Robinson Cano. The team brought in Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeria. That team was expected to win and to win big. And that’s what they did. Including the playoffs, they won 114 games en route to World Series number 27. The 2017 team, on the other hand, was built around young players and the hope that maybe if everything broke right, they could fight for the second Wild Card spot. Obviously, things have gone better than that and this year has been, probably, the most enjoyable year of my Yankee fandom since 2009.

Every night, this team is fun to watch. Of course, there have been frustrating moments of offensive and bullpen related frustrations, but those pale in comparison to how great it feels to watch young players playing great on a nightly basis. From Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge knocking dingers, leading their respective positions in offense, to Didi Gregorius‘s further offensive development and stellar throwing arm, to Luis Severino and Chad Green reaching heights that seemed well beyond anything we could think of, to Clint Frazier making an unexpected debut, young players have fueled the good times in 2017.

2009 featured walk off after walk off and it was amazing. I’ll not soon forget he A-Rod walk off against the Red Sox or walk off weekend against the Twins or all the playoff heroics of A-Rod and others. That sense of drama hasn’t quite been there more than a few times in 2017, but the wins have been satisfying nonetheless.

We’ve talked a lot about expectations this year and how the lack thereof has made this a stress free year of rooting. A different feeling than the expectations-laden one in 2009 for sure. But, at the end of the rooting day, there is a sense of calm I’ve felt regarding both squads. In 2009, I always knew the team would come through. I knew they’d get the big hit. I knew they’d win even when it looked like they wouldn’t. There was a level of comfort knowing just how damn good they were, knowing that they were the best. Even as expectations now rise for the 2017 team–anything less than a DS appearance would be disappointing at this point–there’s a comfort level in knowing that they blew past what we should have expected long ago.

Baseball is supposed to be fun, whether you’re playing or watching. Since 2012, the fun times for the Yankees have been few and far between, with plenty of frustration flung in there. 2017 hasn’t been that at all. 2009 seemed predestined for a championship and I’ve got no idea what 2017 will really do, but the ride has been fun as all hell and I hope it goes on for a long time and ends with a big parade.

Yankees 9, Orioles 3: Yankees rout O’s behind Montgomery


Source: FanGraphs

Make it a season high five consecutive series wins for the Yankees. At 82-66, the Yankees are a season high 16 games over .500, and the magic number to clinch a postseason spot is down to a season low nine games. The Yankees picked up an easy 9-3 win over the Orioles on Saturday afternoon. Since it’s Saturday, let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Making Earl Weaver Proud: The Yankees have hit five — five! — three-run home runs in the first three games of this four-game series. Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge (two) combined for three Thursday night, and on Saturday, Didi Gregorius and Greg Bird socked three-run homers of their own. Didi’s gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the third and Bird’s gave them a 6-0 lead in the fourth. That all happened after the trainer came out to look at Jeremy Hellickson, who remained in the game. He didn’t look all that good after the visit and the Yankees took advantage.
  • Six Strong For Montgomery: Great start for Jordan Montgomery. He needed one too. The last few weeks have been tough. Montgomery completed six innings for the first time since July 25th (eight starts ago) and he did not allow a run for only the second time all season (27 starts). Montgomery held the Orioles to four singles and a walk in his six scoreless innings, and he struck out six. He allowed just one runner to reach second base and none made it as far as third. Way to go, Monty.
  • Insurance Runs: The Yankees didn’t stop at six runs because, well, have you seen the O’s pitching staff? Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 3-for-4 and has reached base safely in 28 of his last 52 plate appearances, singled in a run in the fifth inning. Frazier cranked a two-run home run in the seventh inning to make it 9-0 Yankees. That was Frazier’s fifth homer in his last eleven games now. The Yankees have outscored the Orioles 30-10 in the series so far.
  • Leftovers: Scoreless innings from Tommy Kahnle and Ben Heller, then Chasen Shreve walked four and allowed a garbage time two-run homer in the ninth, and Gio Gallegos balked in a run. Whatever … three hits for Didi and Ellsbury, and one each for Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Frazier, and Bird … Judge drew two walks while Headley and Frazier had one each … Miguel Andujar pinch-hit and grounded out in the ninth. His career MLB batting line went from .750/.800/1.000 to .600/.667/.800. Lost .333 OPS points with one swing … and finally, the Yankees have clinched a winning record for the 25th straight season. That is the second longest such streak in history behind 39 years by the 1926-64 Yankees. If the current streak lasts long enough to match that one, Luis Severino will be 37 when it happens. Crazy.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and postseason odds. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page. Sadly, this four-game series will come to an end Sunday. That’s unfortunate. That’s a 1pm ET start. CC Sabathia Sonny Gray and Ubaldo Jimenez are the scheduled starting pitchers. The Yankees shuffled the rotation so Sabathia won’t have to pitch on the turf in Toronto next weekend.

Game 148: Beat up on the O’s (again)

(Abbie Parr/Getty)
(Abbie Parr/Getty)

Two games, two comfortable wins so far this series. The Yankees have crushed the Orioles at Yankee Stadium all year. They’re 7-1 against the O’s at home this season and they’ve outscored them 88-37 in the eight games. The Yankees have scored 141 runs against the Orioles this year overall. 141 runs! No team has scored more runs against any other team in 2017.

Anyway, those last two wins tonight were nice, but they don’t mean anything today. Gotta go out and score a boatload more runs this afternoon. The lead for the top wildcard spot is four games and the lead for a wildcard spot in general in six games. Would be nice to gain ground on the Red Sox one of these days, but for now, keep creating separation with the other wildcard hopefuls. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. DH Chase Headley
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is a bit cloudy and humid in New York today, and there’s some rain in the forecast later on. Nothing heavy and nothing that should interrupt the game. Today’s game will start a little after 4pm ET. YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: Both Jonathan Holder and Miguel Andujar were called up from Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. There are now 35 players on the active roster.

Injury Updates: Adam Warren (back) threw on flat ground this afternoon. The hope is he’ll be back within a week to a week and a half.

Saturday Links: Cave, McKinney, Gardner, Robertson, Top Tools

McKinney. (Times Leader)
McKinney. (Times Leader)

The Yankees and Orioles will continue their four-game series with the third game later this afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start for whatever reason. Here’s some notes and links to check out in the meantime.

Yankees planning to add Cave, McKinney to 40-man

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees plan to add outfielders Jake Cave and Billy McKinney to the 40-man roster this offseason. Unless they trade them first, of course. McKinney, who came over in last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade, will be Rule 5 Draft eligible this December. Cave is due to become a minor league free agent, so he’ll have to be added to the 40-man pretty much right after the World Series. McKinney doesn’t have to be added until late-November.

Cave, 24, hit .305/.351/.542 (145 wRC+) with a career high 20 home runs this season. He reportedly made some swing changes in an effort to get the ball airborne more often, which explains the career high home run total, career low ground ball rate (43.1%), and career high strikeout rate (26.3%). The 23-year-old McKinney hit .277/.338/.483 (124 wRC+) with 16 homers this year. Both he and Cave split the season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. I’m not sure either guy is a long-term piece for the Yankees, but you can’t lose them for nothing either, so on the 40-man they will reportedly go.

Several Yankees among Law’s best tools

Last month Keith Law published his rankings of the best tools in baseball (hitting, fielding, pitching). Best hit tool, best power, best fastball, so on and so forth. I always enjoy lists like this. Anyway, several Yankees pop up in the various categories, so let’s round ’em up:

  • Best Power: Aaron Judge (second to Joey Gallo)
  • Best Fastball: Aroldis Chapman (second to Chris Sale)
  • Best Splitter: Masahiro Tanaka (first)
  • Best Curveball: David Robertson (fourth behind Corey Kluber, Lance McCullers Jr., Aaron Nola)
  • Best Catcher Arm: Gary Sanchez (fourth behind Willson Contreras, Jorge Alfaro, Yadier Molina)
  • Best Outfield Arm: Aaron Hicks (second to Bryce Harper)

The only real surprise to me is no Luis Severino in the best fastball category. (The top five was Sale, Chapman, James Paxton, Joe Kelly, and Justin Verlander.) Nothing else seems out of place to me. Sorta bold prediction: Chad Green tops the best fastball list next year, unless the only criteria is velocity. Green’s fastball is ridiculous.

Gardner, Robertson nominated for awards

Within the last few weeks MLB and the MLBPA announced nominees for two prestigious awards. Brett Gardner is the Yankees’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award while Robertson has been nominated for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award. Both awards are decided by fan voting, which seems ridiculous, but whatever. Here is the Marvin Miller Man of the Year ballot. Voting for the Roberto Clemente Award doesn’t begin until October. Here are the nominees.

The Roberto Clemente Award is giving annually to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Curtis Granderson won the award last year and Derek Jeter won in 2009. As for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, that one goes to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” Granderson won that last year too. Mariano Rivera won it in 2013. Congrats to Gardner and Robertson. Just getting nominated for these awards is an honor.

MLB, NPB negotiating new posting agreement

Before Shohei Otani can come over to the big leagues, Major League Baseball and Nippon Pro Baseball must first agree to a new posting system. The release fee system, which brought Tanaka to MLB four years ago, had to be renewed each year, and earlier this year MLB requested a renegotiation. There’s technically no posting system in place right now, so there’s no official way for Otani to leave Japan for MLB.

Anyway, Jim Allen recently broke down the latest posting system proposals. In both proposals, the compensation paid to the player’s former NPB team would be a percentage of the money he receives from an MLB team. It’s basically 15% up to a maximum of $20M. So, for example, if the Yankee were to sign Otani for $2M, they’d pay the Nippon Ham Fighters a $300,000 release fee. Needless to say, NPB teams are not having it. Under the now expired system, the NPB team sets the release fee ($20M max) and the MLB tam pays it when they sign the player.

Severino and Gregorius lead Yankees to 8-2 win over Orioles

Make it ten wins in the last 13 games for these fun as hell Yankees. Friday’s 8-2 win over the Orioles was win No. 81 on the season for the Yankees, meaning they will not have a losing record for the 25th (!) consecutive season. Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino were not born when this streak started. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is down to ten.

You wouldn't like Sevy when he's angry. (Presswire)
You wouldn’t like Sevy when he’s angry. (Presswire)

Standard Sevy
Gosh, if Severino is fatigued at all from the longest season of his life, he sure as heck isn’t showing it. Sevy hit 100.6 mph with his final fastball of the night and threw a 91.9 mph slider with his 95th and final pitch, a pitch Tim Beckham took right down the middle for strike three to end the eighth inning. Severino’s line: 8 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. He generated 22 swings and misses, which I thought would be his season high, but lol no. It’s only his sixth highest total. He’s had as many as 26 swings and misses in a game this year.

For all intents and purposes, Severino made two mistakes Friday night. The first mistake was walking Chris Davis with two outs in the second. None of the four balls were particularly close. Probably should’ve challenged him given his swing-and-miss tendencies, but whatever. Severino’s second mistake was a middle-middle fastball to Welington Castillo, the following batter. Sanchez wanted it down and away in the two-strike count, but Severino grooved it …

luis-severino-welington-castillo

… and Castillo poked it into the first row of the short porch. Yeah, that’ll happen sometimes when you leave a hittable fastball out over the plate in this ballpark. After the home run though, Severino locked it down and allowed two (2) baserunners the rest of the game. Pedro Alvarez, who apparently is still a thing, doubled with two outs in the fifth. Jonathan Schoop reached with two outs in the seventh on Chase Headley‘s error. Twenty-one up, 19 down to end the night for Sevy.

All told, Severino now has a 2.93 ERA (3.10 FIP) with 29.2% strikeouts and 6.6% walks in 184.1 innings this season. His 218 strikeouts are the fifth most in a single season in franchise history. The top five:

  1. 1978 Ron Guidry: 248
  2. 1904 Jack Chesbro: 239 (in 454.2 innings!)
  3. 2011 CC Sabathia: 230
  4. 1997 David Cone: 222
  5. 2017 Luis Severino: 218 and counting

Severino has two regular season starts remaining, which means he has a legit chance to climb into second place on the franchise’s single-season strikeout list. It’ll take two big strikeout games — he needs 22 strikeouts to pass Chesbro — but it’s not completely out of reach. Not like he needs 35 or something. At the very least, Severino has a really good shot to pass Cone and Sabathia and move into third place. What a season for this kid. Games like this one have become the norm.

Plenty Of Runs, But No Big Inning
For the first time in four home games against the Orioles, the Yankees failed to score at least five runs in the first inning. Slackers. They did score one though! Brett Gardner started the inning with a double, Sanchez singled him over to third, and Didi Gregorius brought him home with a sac fly. Real quick lead. Love those. The Yankees added another run in the second when Davis let Greg Bird‘s grounder go through his legs. Headley and Matt Holliday singled to put runners on the corners earlier in the inning. Headley bunted against the shift. Neat.

The score remained 2-2 until the fifth inning, after O’s righty Gabriel Ynoa was out of the game. He only threw 64 pitches in 4.1 innings. Buck Showalter must not have wanted him to go through the middle of the lineup a third time. Anyway, Aaron Judge worked a one-out walk and stole second in that fifth inning, setting up the amazing and awesome and handsome Gregorius for the go-ahead two-run home run. Love Didi. What a ballplayer. In addition to the dinger and the sac fly, he also made a heck of a defensive play deep in the shortstop hole.

(Getty)
(Getty)

The Didi dinger gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead. They added three more in the seventh thanks to some sloppy Orioles defense. They were sloppy all night. All series. All season, really. It’s part of their downfall. Bird started that seventh inning with a walk against Miguel Castro, then Gardner hit into what should’ve been a force out at second base. At worst, a fielder’s choice with the out at first. Instead, both Gardner and Bird were safe because Schoop muffed the grounder at second. Should’ve been at least one out for sure.

Yet another Judge walk later, the bases were loaded with no outs. The Orioles, Mark Trumbo specifically, did the Yankees a solid and helped bring home the inning’s first run. Sanchez poked a little fly ball to right that I thought even Trumbo would catch, but no, he held up for some reason and let the ball drop in. I’m pretty sure Carlos Beltran would’ve had that one. The ball dropped in, a run scored, and the runners all advanced. Still no outs too.

Gregorius drove home the inning’s second run with another sac fly, his second of the game. Center fielder Austin Hays made a real nice throw and it was a bang-bang play at the plate, but Gardner outran the throw. Headley singled in another run to stretch the lead to 7-2. Bird clobbered a solo home run in the eighth against former Yankee Richard Bleier to give the Yankees an 8-2 lead. There was no huge five or six-run inning Friday night like we’ve seen the last few games against the Orioles, but eight runs is eight runs.

Leftovers
David Robertson pitched the ninth inning with a six-run lead because he was already warmed up. He started to get loose in the seventh inning, before the Yankees tacked on three insurance runs, and he got hot during the eighth inning in case Severino ran into trouble. Once he’s up, might as well use him. Robertson was a tad wild in the ninth — only ten of his 23 pitches were strikes, and his two wild pitches were very wild — but he closed it out no problem.

Starlin Castro, who is in quite the funk right now, went 0-for-4 on Friday, as did Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury had a tough 0-for-4. He hit two balls hard that just died in the air. One was caught in center field and another was caught at the wall in right field. Three hits for Headley and two each for Sanchez and Holliday. Gardner, Gregorius, and Bird had one hit apiece. No contact day for Judge. Two walks and two strikeouts.

And finally, congrats to Joe Girardi for his 900th win as Yankees manager. He’s only the sixth man to do it, joining Joe McCarthy (1,460), Joe Torre (1,173), Casey Stengel (1,149), Miller Huggins (1,067), and Ralph Houk (944).

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head on over to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and FanGraphs has the postseason odds. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page and here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Orioles are halfway through this four-game series I hope never ends. Jordan Montgomery and Jeremy Hellickson are the scheduled starting pitchers for Saturday game. That’s a 4pm ET start.

DotF: Scranton’s season ends with Championship Series loss

Triple-A Scranton (6-4 loss to Durham) they lost the best-of-five International League Championship Series three games to one, so they will not repeat as Triple-A champs … their season is over

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Donovan Solano: 1-5 — went 13-for-33 (.394) n the postseason
  • RF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 K
  • DH Mike Ford: 3-5, 1 R, 2 2B — he did his part
  • 1B Garrett Cooper: 1-4, 1 HBP
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch) — the missed catch on a play at the plate allowed a run to score
  • LF Jake Cave: 0-5, 1 RBI, 3 K — went 1-for-23 (.043) with 12 strikeouts in the postseason
  • SS Jonathan Diaz: 1-1, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 49 of 76 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 26 of 38 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eight pitches, eleven strikes

The season is over for Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, Low-A Charleston, Short Season Staten Island, Rookie Pulaski, and the two Rookie GCL Yanks affiliates. GCL East won their league championship while GCL West did not qualify for the postseason. Every other affiliate has been knocked out of the postseason.

Two things now that the minor league season is over for the Yankees affiliates. One, I imagine there will be a few September call-ups tomorrow. Holder, Andujar, Higashioka, and Cooper seem likely. Domingo German too. And two, no more DotF. Season’s over. The minor league updates will return once the Arizona Fall League begins in October, though I usually only do those weekly or bi-weekly. Not every night. Thanks for sticking around and reading for another season, folks.

Update: Andujar and Holder will join the Yankees tomorrow, according to Conor Foley. Higashioka and German are going to Tampa to continue working, to stay sharp in case they’re needed later. No idea what’s up with Cooper. If he doesn’t get called up … yikes. Doesn’t bode well for his future in the organization.