Yankees drop first game of doubleheader, lose 9-2 to O’s

Source: FanGraphs

Home field advantage in the wildcard game will have to wait at least another few hours. The Yankees dropped the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 9-2 to the Orioles. There is no chance I’m writing two full recaps on a Saturday on the second to last day of the regular season, so here are bullet points:

  • Early Chances: The Yankees had some chances to get on the board early in the game. Chris Young‘s leadoff triple in the second was wasted (two pop-ups and a strike) and their third inning rally was short-circuited when Brendan Ryan was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a soft single to left. They also had two runners on base with one out on the fourth, but didn’t bring them home. So that’s five base-runners from the second through fourth innings, but no runs.
  • Bad Ivan & Very Bad Chasen: Ivan Nova‘s pitching line (5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) could have been better had formerly good reliever Chasen Shreve not melted down (again) before recording the final out of the sixth. Shreve allowed two inherited runners to score plus two runners of his own on three hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. (To be fair, one hit was a dumb perfectly placed infield single.) There’s no way he’ll be on the wildcard game roster at this point. Anyway, Nova put eleven runners on base and had some hard hit balls go for outs. He ends the season having allowed 29 runs and 62 base-runners in his last 37 innings. Last outing as a Yankee?
  • Two Token Runs: On the bright side, the Yankees weren’t shut out, scoring two runs in the seventh. They actually loaded the bases with no outs, but home plate up Marty Foster decided to expand the zone — look at this 2-0 call on Didi Gregorius, changed the entire inning — though I doubt it changes the complexion of the game. Brett Gardner drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and Rob Refsnyder singled in another. Two token runs.
  • Leftovers: Nick Goody allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in the seventh inning and Chris Martin allowed two base-runners in a scoreless eighth … both Rico Noel (infield single) and Gary Sanchez (pop-up) got their first big league at-bats … and finally, the Yankees officially can not win 90 games this year. The best they can do is 89-73. The last time they went three straight years with fewer than 90 wins without a work stoppage mixed in was 1991-93. Spoiled, we are.

Here’s the box score and video highlights. If you’re still interested, here are the updated standings and postseason odds. It will still take one win or one Astros loss to clinch home field advantage in the wildcard game. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Orioles will play game two of the doubleheader later tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET.

Injury Updates: Eovaldi, Drew, Headley, Ellsbury


The Yankees and Orioles will play a split doubleheader later today following last night’s rainout. The first game will begin a little after 12pm ET. Here are some important injury updates via George King, Meredith Marakovits, and Ryan Hatch.

  • Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) threw a bullpen session yesterday, his first since going down with inflammation. “Everything felt great. I threw 25 pitches, 18 fastballs and seven splits,” he said. Eovaldi will throw a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday, and if that goes well, he’ll then face hitters in live batting practice or a simulated game. There is no chance Eovaldi will be available for the wildcard game Tuesday, but Joe Girardi acknowledged an ALDS roster spot “is something we will look at” should the team advance.
  • Stephen Drew has a “vestibular concussion” and he is unlikely to return this year, even if the Yankees go deep into October. “Right now (his return is) doubtful because he still has the symptoms,” said Girardi. That’s a shame. Drew wasn’t great this season, but you never want to see anyone’s season end due to injury, especially a brain injury. Also, this more or less guarantees Brendan Ryan will be on the postseason roster as the backup infielder.
  • Both Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury are scheduled to play one game of today’s doubleheader. Both were sidelined Thursday with back soreness but were available off the bench if necessary. “They are both better,” said Girardi. Headley said he wants some at-bats this weekend and not have such a long layoff before the wildcard game.

Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have already been rained out today — they’ll play a doubleheader with the Orioles tomorrow — and I’m actually happy about that. The team needs a rest and we get to sit around and think about all the fun of last night’s clincher for another night. Wasn’t that a blast? Hopefully the Astros lose tonight, which would clinch home field advantage in the wildcard game for the Yankees. A weekend of totally meaningless baseball in Baltimore sounds just wonderful right about now.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. Apparently MLB.tv is free for the weekend, so you can watch any game online. Just head over to MLB.com and create a free account if you haven’t already. The Astros, Angels, and Twins remain in contention for the second wildcard spot. Let’s go three-way tie! Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Tonight’s game postponed, Yankees and Orioles will play doubleheader Saturday


As expected, tonight’s series opener in Baltimore has been postponed due to rain. It has been pouring all day and will continue all night. The Yankees and Orioles will play a split-admission doubleheader Saturday. The first game starts at 12:05pm ET, the second at 7:05pm ET.

With the game postponed, you can instead focus on the remaining AL wildcard contenders. The Yankees have already clinched a postseason spot, and they can clinch homefield advantage in Tuesday’s wildcard game with either a win over the O’s or an Astros loss at any point this weekend. The Astros are in Arizona, so go Diamondbacks.

Last night’s loss eliminated the Angels from the AL West race, so it’s wildcard or bust for them. They’re in Texas to play the Rangers. The Twins are at home against the Royals. MLB.tv is apparently free all weekend, so you can watch all these games online. Here’s the updated wildcard standings:

AL wildcard standings 100215As for the Yankees, Ivan will start the first game of the doubleheader and Luis Severino will start the second, though the game two plan may change depending whether the Yankees clinch home field advantage. Michael Pineda is tentatively scheduled to start Sunday. Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller could each throw one tune-up inning during the doubleheader regardless of score, then get two days off heading into the wildcard game.

Following Thursday’s clincher, Joe Girardi indicated that while securing home field advantage in the wildcard game is important, the team will prioritize putting itself in the best possible position for the wildcard game. That means resting the regulars. Everyone will get the night off tonight and I can’t imagine the regulars will get much more than two or three at-bats tomorrow.

The doubleheader figures to feature a lot of call-ups, both on the mound and in the lineup. It’ll have a Spring Training vibe, no doubt. Guys like Rico Noel and Gary Sanchez might finally get an at-bat. That’ll be fun. Hopefully the Astros lose and the Yankees clinch home field advantage without playing tonight. That would make this weekend’s series totally meaningless.

10/2 to 10/4 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Hurricane Joaquin

Welcome to the final regular season series of 2015. The season seems to move a little quicker with each passing year, doesn’t it? The Yankees are in Baltimore for a three-game set with the Orioles. They are 10-8 against the O’s this year, including 2-4 at Camden Yards. Those games were played a long time ago and under much different circumstances. The Orioles are just looking to get out of town now.

The weather has the potential to create some havoc this weekend. Not just for the Yankees, but all around baseball. Hurricane Joaquin is making its way up the East Coast, and, as you can see from the map above, no one has any idea which way it’s heading. The weather in Baltimore this weekend could be legitimately dangerous hurricane conditions or only a few showers. Hopefully it’s the latter, mostly for non-baseball reasons. These games do have postseason implications though — the Yankees have clinched a postseason spot but still need to clinch home field advantage — so MLB will figure out a way to get them in.

What Have The O’s Done Lately?

The Orioles were eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week, though it was clear they were out of the race a few weeks ago. They checked out for the season last month. The O’s have won two of their last seven games and they come into the final series at 78-81 with a +7 run differential.

Offense & Defense

The Orioles have been just about average at the plate this year. They’ve scored 4.35 runs per game with a team 94 wRC+, mostly because they don’t get on base (.304 OBP, third worst). They do hit homers though (210, third most). OF Adam Jones (109 wRC+) hasn’t played in a few days due to back stiffness and might sit out the weekend as well. Or maybe he’ll start a game and get pulled after one at-bat so the home fans can give him an ovation, something like that. Otherwise the O’s are healthy.

Davis & Machado. (Steven Ryan/Getty)
Davis & Machado. (Steven Ryan/Getty)

Even with Jones banged up, manager Buck Showalter has two star caliber hitters in his lineup in 3B Manny Machado (134 wRC+) and 1B Chris Davis (143 wRC+). Machado just turned 23 and he’s hitting .287/.360/.498 with 33 homers this year. Quietest “hey guys I’m a superstar” season ever? Maybe. Davis has 45 homers, by the way. C Matt Wieters (94 wRC+), SS J.J. Hardy (45 wRC+!), 2B Jonathan Schoop (112 wRC+), and OF Gerardo Parra (103 wRC+) are the other regulars you’ll recognize.

1B/OF Steve Pearce (96 wRC+), OF Nolan Reimold (91 wRC+), and UTIL Ryan Flaherty (76 wRC+) have been playing regularly this month while C Caleb Joseph (88 wRC+) has split time behind the plate with Wieters. The crop of September call-ups includes C Steve Clevenger, IF Paul Janish, 1B Christian Walker, OF Dariel Alvarez, OF Junior Lake, and OF David Lough.

The O’s have a pretty good team defense when at full strength. Machado, Hardy, Jones, Parra, and Wieters are all above-average to great defenders, and Davis is pretty good at first too. Others like Schoop and Reimold are okay in the field.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
The 30-year-old Chen made his first big league start against the Yankees four years ago — the first batter he faced, Derek Jeter, took him deep (video) — and it looks like he’s going to make his final start with the Orioles against the Yankees as well. Chen is a free agent after the season and a Scott Boras client, which might price him out of Baltimore. He has a 3.35 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 30 starts and 185.1 innings this season, posting a good walk rate (5.0%), an average strikeout rate (19.6%), and below-average grounder (40.8%) and homer (1.36 HR/9) rates. Righties (.351 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.250 wOBA) this summer. Chen operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups and sliders, and a low-70s curveball. The slider is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees have seen Chen four times this season: two runs in six innings in April, one run in seven innings in May, three runs in 6.1 innings in July, and five runs in five innings in September.

Saturday (7pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
Jimenez, 31, is wrapping up the second year of his four-year contract with the Orioles. Year two (4.10 ERA and 4.04 FIP in 178 innings) has gone a lot better than year one (4.81 ERA and 4.67 FIP in 125.1 innings). Ubaldo has an above-average grounder rate (49.3%) while his strikeout (21.1%), walk (8.5%), and homer (1.01 HR/9) numbers are average-ish across the board. He has a slight reverse split this year (.329 vs. .309 wOBA in favor of righties) that is out of line with the rest of his career. Jimenez’s out pitch is a mid-80s splitter. He sets it up with low-90s two and four-seamers, and will also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves. The curve is his distant fifth pitch. Ubaldo has seen the Yankees three times in 2015. One start was good (three runs in seven innings), one start was okay (three runs in five innings), and one start was ugly (seven runs in 2.1 innings).

Tillman. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Tillman. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Sunday (3pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Chris Tillman (vs. NYY)
The Opening Day starter is also getting the ball in Game 162. Tillman, 27, has had his worst season as a big leaguer in 2015, throwing 167.2 innings across 30 starts with a 5.05 ERA (4.48 ERA). His strikeout rate (16.1%) is way down and everything else is average: 8.4 BB%, 44.0 GB%, and 1.07 HR/9. Tillman has a reverse split (.352 vs. .302 wOBA in favor of righties) that is in line with the rest of his career, though not to this extreme. His fastball sits in the low-90s, his cutter a notch below that, and his trademark curveball sits in the mid-70s. He’ll also throw a mid-80s sliders and changeups. Believe it or not, the Yankees have faced Tillman just once this season. They scored four runs in 5.2 innings against him back in May.

Since this is the final series of the season, the pitching situation is subject to change. The Yankees are listing TBAs for Saturday and Sunday so they can set things up for the postseason. (Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are lined up to pitch those day.) The Orioles could decide to simply shut their guys down and get a look at some kids. There’s also the rain too. They might not want to run their regulars out there on a wet final in the final series of the year.

Bullpen Status
Way back in April, Baltimore’s bullpen was a major weakness that contributed to their sluggish start. They turned it around and have had one of the best bullpens in the game over the last few months, with closer LHP Zach Britton (1.98 ERA/2.01 FIP) and setup man RHP Darren O’Day (1.54/2.42) the stars of the show. LHP Brian Matusz (2.94/3.59) is the primary lefty and RHP Mychal Givens (1.88/1.81) has pitched his way into high-leverage work of late.

RHP Brad Brach (2.77/3.44), LHP T.J. MacFarland (4.82/4.64), RHP Chaz Roe (4.14/3.87), and Rule 5 Draft pick RHP Jason Garcia (4.25/4.89) have been regulars in the bullpen most of the year. The list of September call-ups includes RHP Oliver Drake, RHP Jorge Rondon, RHP Tyler Wilson, and RHP Mike Wright. Wilson, McFarland, Givens, Brach, Matusz, O’Day, and Britton all pitched yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. Head over to Camden Chat for the latest on the O’s.

Yankeemetrics: Welcome to October (Sept. 28-Oct. 1)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

We’re going to start this Yankeemetrics off with the good news first …

They’re baaaaack!
The Yankees pretty much couldn’t have written a better script for their playoff-clinching victory:

Milestone win, No. 10,000? Check.
Against your long-standing rival? Check.
With your veteran (former?) ace on the mound? Check.
And in your final home game of the season? Check.

Oh, and this (h/t to Brendan Kuty):
The Yankees are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012, snapping a two-season drought that felt like an eternity for most Yankee fans. It’s the 52nd time they’ve made the postseason — a pretty impressive number considering that no other franchise even has made 30 postseason appearances. This is also the fifth time they’ve made it as a wild card — in the previous four trips, they’ve advanced to the ALCS just once and have never won the World Series.

The win also, of course, was the 10,000th in franchise history (which dates back to 1903), as the Yankees became the first American League team to reach that milestone. This is the second time that the Red Sox were the victim of a nice round number franchise win — on June 30, 1949 they beat Boston for their 4,000th win in franchise history.

CC Sabathia capped off his remarkable late-season resurgence with another strong outing, allowing just one run on six hits in five innings. Although he struggled at times this season (to put it mildly), he was at his best pitching against the Red Sox. He finished with a 2.12 ERA in three starts vs. Boston, his lowest ERA in a single season against them since joining the Yankees.

And now onto the not-so-good news …

Score early and … not often
The champagne wasn’t the only thing put on ice at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. The Yankees’ bats were chilled in their 5-1 loss to the Red Sox — and were frozen solid in the clutch, as they went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw six innings of one-run ball, earning his third win in four starts against the Yankees this year. Rodriguez is first Red Sox pitcher to beat Yankees three times in a season before turning 23 years old since Mike Nagy in 1969, and the first left-hander to do it since Babe Ruth in 1917.

For the Yankees, Ivan Nova held the Red Sox scoreless through five innings. But things unraveled in the sixth and seventh innings when he allowed two-run homers to Travis Shaw and Jackie Bradley Jr., resulting in his 10th loss of the season, matching CC Sabathia for the team “lead.”

Nova and Sabathia are just the second set of Yankee teammates with at least 10 losses, a losing record and an ERA of 4.70 or worse in the same season. The only other season this happened was 1991, when the Yankees had three (!) guys — Jeff Johnson, Tim Leary, Wade Taylor — reach each of those thresholds.

Deja vu all over again
For the second straight night, the Yankees failed to move closer to clinching a playoff spot, losing to the Red Sox 10-4 on Tuesday. And, for the second straight night, the Yankees scored early and then not again, putting up four runs in the first inning and zero runs in the next eight frames.

The game couldn’t have started any worse for the Yankees and Michael Pineda. Small Mike allowed six of the first seven batters to score and the Yankees were down 6-0 even before they stepped to the plate.

The final three runs in that first inning came off the bat of Blake Swihart, who clubbed a three-run homer into the right field seats. The catcher later added a two-run homer in the eighth inning, cementing his place in the record books of this historic rivalry. The 23-year-old Swihart is the youngest Red Sox player ever with at least two homers and five RBIs in a game versus the Yankees.

Round number alert! Brett Gardner stole his 20th base of the season, the sixth time he’s reached that mark in his career. Only three other players have compiled at least six 20-steal seasons with the Yankees: Wid Conroy (six), Hal Chase (eight) and Derek Jeter (eight).

Deja vu all over again, Part II
Another night, another game of wasted opportunities for this Yankees team that is doing its best to keep the beer and champagne on ice for as long as possible.

They certainly had their chances against the Red Sox in Wednesday’s extra-inning loss, putting 23 guys on base — their most baserunners in a loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium since June 17, 1986. The end result was a crushing 9-5 defeat, their largest (in terms of runs) extra-inning loss ever at Yankee Stadium in a game against the Red Sox.

It was also their third straight loss to Boston by at least four runs, the first time in the history of the rivalry that the Yankees have dropped three games in a row to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, each by four or more runs.

The Yankees were eliminated from AL East contention on Wednesday, sealing their inevitable fate in a race the Yankees once led by seven games in late July. This is first time ever that the Yankees have not won division/league title after having a lead of more than six games at any point in the season.