Yankeemetrics: April 10-12 (Red Sox)

Chase Headley, clutch Yankee. (Photo credit: Richard Perry/The New York Times
Chase Headley, clutch Yankee. (Photo: Richard Perry/New York Times)

I watched the entire game!
Three times a charm, right? Wrong.

In the series opener against their most-hated rival, the Yankees somehow erased three separate one-run deficits with their backs against the wall in the ninth, 16th and 18th innings – but could never get the big hit needed to complete the rally against the Red Sox. There are brutal losses, and then there’s the way that the Yankees lost in 19 innings on Friday night.

Let’s recap the craziness of this epic marathon in bullet-point form. First, some notes on the game length:

• It was the sixth game of at least 19 innings in franchise history and the first since a 5-4 19-inning win on August 25, 1976 against Minnesota.
• The only other time the Yankees lost a game that lasted at least 19 innings was a 3-2 loss in 19 innings on May 24, 1918 vs. Cleveland.
• The game was the longest the Yankees have ever played this early into the season (first four games).
• The Yankees and Red Sox have been playing each other since 1903. The only other game in the rivalry that lasted longer than this one was a 20-inning win on August 29, 1967.
• The game lasted six hours and 49 minutes, the longest game ever played by the Yankees in the Bronx. It was just shy of the longest game the Yankees have played anywhere, which was a seven-hour marathon at Detroit on June 24, 1962.

And now let’s put into context how improbable the clutch, game-saving hits were by Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran:

• Headley became the first Yankee with a game-tying two-out homer in the ninth inning against the Red Sox since Roberto Kelly in 1991; the last Yankee to do that against Boston at Yankee Stadium was Roy White in 1977.
• Teixeira’s 16th inning homer is latest game-tying home run by an American League player since the Jim Finigan (Kansas City Athletics) tied the game in the 17th inning against the Senators in 1956. Before Tex, no Yankee had done it in at least the last 75 years.
• Beltran’s 18th inning game-tying double is the latest game-tying hit by an American League player since the Tom Paciorek’s single for the White Sox in the 21st inning against the Brewers in 1984.

Oh, and did you forget that Nathan Eovaldi actually started this game and pitched the first 5 2/3 innings? All he did was become the first pitcher in at least the last 100 years to throw at least two wild pitches and hit a batter in his Yankee debut. Good times, everyone.

The hangover
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly completely dominated the Yankees lineup on Saturday afternoon (W, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 8 K), paving the way for an eventual 8-4 loss by the home team. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow no more than one hit and strikeout at least eight batters against the Yankees in a game at Yankee Stadium since Pedro Martinez’s one-hit, 17-strikeout gem on September 10, 1999.

Although the Yankees’ bats eventually woke up in the sixth game of the season (see below), but it’s worth noting how anemic the offense was through five games. Again, to the bullet-points:

Through five games, the Yankees…
• .622 OPS is their lowest since 1998 (.610)
• .280 OBP is their lowest since 1989 (.259)
• .193 BA is their lowest since 1968 (.176)
• 46 strikeouts are their most in at least the last 100 years

Seventh heaven
The Yankees wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard in the Sunday night finale, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning. It was the first time the Yankees scored at least seven runs in the first inning against the Red Sox since Aug. 15, 1954, when they took a 8-0 lead en route to a 14-9 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Prior to this game, not only had the Yankees never scored first in a game this season, they didn’t even have a hit in the first inning – the only the team in the majors that entered Sunday’s schedule without a first-inning hit.

The Yankees tagged Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz for 10 runs before he was pulled in the fourth inning. He is the only Red Sox pitcher to allow 10-or-more runs in fewer than four innings pitched against the Yankees over the last 100 years of the rivalry.

The Yankees broke out of their offensive slump in Sunday’s 14-4 win, but their sloppy glovework continued as they committed another error, bringing their league-leading total to nine after the first week of the season. Even worse, they have allowed at least one unearned run in each of their first six games, joining the 1995 White Sox as the only teams in the last 75 years to do that.

Fan Confidence Poll: April 13th, 2015

Record Last Week: 2-4 (31 RS, 33 RA)
Season Record: 2-4 (31 RS, 33 RA, 3-3 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. you can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features pull-down menu the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Offense breaks out, Yankees salvage series with 14-4 win over Red Sox

In the span of eight offensive innings Sunday night, the Yankees nearly doubled their season scoring output (17 runs to 31) and raised their team batting line from .193/.280/.342 to .233/.331/.404. A 16-hit attack carried the Bronx Bombers to a 14-4 win in their series finale against the Red Sox.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

The Inning They Needed, Not The Inning We Deserved
If we were able to pick any way for the first inning of Sunday’s game to play out, I’m pretty sure “seven runs with back-to-back homers for good measure” would have been near the top of the list. It was the kind of inning the Yankees desperately needed after those five ugly games to start the season. And Yankees fans needed that too. Tensions were running high, to put it lightly.

A whole lot happened in that seven-run first inning, so let’s do this annotated box score style.

Yankees Red Sox box score

(1) After Clay Buchholz walked Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off the game, he threw over to first base to keep Ellsbury close. Except Ellsbury was literally standing on the base, not taking a lead. Then Buchholz did it again. Exact same thing. He really seemed to be focusing on Ellsbury, yet Ellsbury still took off for second base and Brett Gardner slapped a weak little ground ball through the left side of the infield for something short of a textbook hit and run. It wasn’t pretty but it sure got the job done.

(2) I don’t know if the Red Sox could have turned a double play on Brian McCann‘s weak ground ball to first base, but they definitely should have gotten one out on the play. Instead, Mike Napoli muffed the grounder and everyone was safe. The bases were loaded with one out. Napoli’s error really helped open the flood gates.

(3) Alex Rodriguez wasted no time whatsoever with the bases loaded. Buchholz put a first pitch cutter on a tee and A-Rod laced it into the left-center field gap for a bases-clearing double. The ball couldn’t have been more than 20 feet in the air at its highest point. Rocket. Alex was all over that pitch, so much so that I think he guessed fastball in that location and Buchholz served it up.

(4) Chase Headley‘s two-run homer was the big blow the inning. It went from “hey, four runs might be enough!” to “phew, six runs is much better.” Buchholz actually got ahead of Headley with a quick 0-2 count, but Headley spit on some changeups in the dirt before Buchholz hung a curveball for the no-doubt two-run homer to right field.

(5) Stephen Drew! Unlike Headley’s long homer, Drew’s was a Yankee Stadium cheapie, hitting off the table top of the right-center field wall and hopping over. Hey, it counts. Drew needs all the help he can get. That solo homer was the exclamation point on a pretty awesome inning. Easily their best of the young season. When Drew gets in on the act, you know things are going your way.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

No Whiffs
Boston’s first run was pretty dumb. David Ortiz walked in a 3-3 count — third base ump Mike Muchlinski said Ortiz checked his swing on what would have been strike three even though it was pretty clear he went around — then moved to third on two wild pitches and scored on Hanley Ramirez’s sac fly. Ortiz should have struck out, McCann could have possibly kept one of those wild pitches in front of him, but nope. Blah. Ugly run.

The other two runs in the fourth weren’t so cheap, though of course there was an error involved, New York’s league-leading tenth of the season. And to think, defense was supposed to be a strength. Anyway, Pablo Sandoval singled and Napoli drew a walk after Hanley’s sac fly, then Shane Victorino hit what could have been an inning-ending double play. It should have been at least one out. Instead Drew’s flip to second was wide of the bag and Didi Gregorius couldn’t reel it in.

Xander Bogaerts took advantage with a two-run double to left field to make it 7-3 before Tanaka struck out Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts to limit the damage. Hanigan helped Masahiro out by expanding the zone considerably to chase a slider. The running theme that inning was an utter lack of swings and misses. In the Ortiz through Bogaerts at-bats, Tanaka threw 30 pitches and got just one swing and miss, the second pitch to Ortiz. Red Sox hitters laid off his splitter like they knew it was coming.

Overall, Tanaka got just five whiffs out of 97 total pitches (5.2%) on Sunday. He got a dozen swings and misses out of 82 total pitches (14.6%) in his first start against a good hitting Blue Jays team, which was right in line with his 2014 rate (13.4%), yet Sunday night the empty swings weren’t there for whatever reason. Maybe it was the elbow, maybe he was tipping his splitter, maybe the Red Sox are just that good, or maybe it was just one of those nights. No way to know.

Whatever it was, the inability to get whiffs was a clear issue for Tanaka on Sunday. He finished the night with four strikeouts and four runs allowed (three earned) on three hits and four walks in five innings. (The fourth run was a brute strength homer by Hanley on a good down and away slider.) Forty-nine of Tanaka’s 97 pitches were either four-seamers or sinkers (50.5%), way more than what he threw against Toronto six days ago (32.9%) as well as last year’s average (40.8%). He didn’t shy away from the heater. That’s for sure.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Insurance Runs
The Yankees answered the Red Sox’s three-run top of the fourth with three runs in the bottom half. Gregorius, Ellsbury, and Gardner opened the inning with three identical ground ball singles back up the middle. It looked like ESPN kept playing the same replay over and over. Ellsbury stole second during Gardner’s at-bat and was able to score along with Gregorius on Brett’s single. Buchholz didn’t bother to back up the base on either Ellsbury’s or Gardner’s single. His body language was … less than good.

Gardner took second base on the throw home and moved to third on Carlos Beltran‘s infield single. Yes, Beltran had an infield single. Pablo Sandoval fielded the ball fairly cleanly but couldn’t get it out of his glove to make the throw. Beltran sliced a single to right later in the game and now has four hits on the season: a legit single, a legit double, one double most non-Hanley left fielders catch, and an infield single. Teixeira followed that with a deep sac fly to score Gardner from third. Answering those three Boston runs in the next half inning was huge.

The Yankees scored another three runs against lefty Tommy Layne in the sixth when the first five hitters of the inning reached base. Beltran lined a single to right, Teixeira pulled a ground ball single through the right side, McCann blooped a single to right, A-Rod drew a bases loaded walk, and Headley singled in another run. Drew drove in the third run of the inning with a sac fly. That made it 13-4. McCann’s solo homer — the 200th dinger of his career — made it 14-4 in the eighth.

#obligatoryerror (Presswire)
#obligatoryerror (Presswire)

Leftovers
It was a blowout, but nice job by the bullpen to close the door and not make this one interesting. David Carpenter retired five of six batters faced and the just called up Kyle Davies chucked 2.1 scoreless frames. This was Davies’ first MLB appearance since July 2011. He spent the last few years dealing with arm problems and bouncing around the minors. Long road back for him. Tonight must have been special.

Remember how Phil Hughes would always allow the #obligatoryhomer? These Yankees always make the #obligatoryerror and #obligatoryoutonthebases. Drew made both in this game. He made the error in the third inning and the out on the bases in the fifth, when he was thrown out stealing second. The Yankees have now made eight outs on the bases in six games this season: four caught stealings, three pickoffs, and Didi making that wide turn at first on a single.

The Yankees went 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position, so hooray for that. The seven-run first inning was the Yankees’ biggest inning since they scored eight runs in an inning against the Tigers last August. That was the game when they had nine straight hit off David Price. Remember that? It was cool.

And finally, the Yankees scored at least ten runs against one pitcher (Buchholz!) for the first time since 2011, when they did it three times. Those were the good ol’ days, eh? They hung ten spots on Gavin Floyd, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson that year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and announcer standings. The video might not be up for a little while because the game was on ESPN, FYI. ESPN holds the broadcast rights and MLB can’t put them up during the game. Here is the WPA graph, which is finally a laugher for the good guys.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The season-opening homestand is over and the Yankees are heading out on a ten-game road trip. It starts tomorrow night in Baltimore. Wei-Yin Chen will be on the bump for the Orioles and the Yankees will counter with Big Mike Pineda.

Game Six: All Eyes on Masahiro

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So the first five games of the season have been pretty awful for the Yankees. I’m struggling to remember another five-game stretch when they looked this inept in just about all phases of the game. Thankfully, teams are never as bad as they look when they’re playing their worst (they’re also never really as good as they look when they’re playing their best), it just feels that way.

Masahiro Tanaka is making his second start of the season tonight, and yesterday he told reporters he watched some video and fixed some mechanical issues between starts. “I think I was able to make some adjustments after my first start up until today … I needed time to settle down and work on what I had to work on. I think the past four days were good for me,” he said to Josh Thomson.

Pitchers watch video and make adjustments between starts all the time, so this isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. But, because it’s Tanaka, it’s newsworthy. I just want to see him have some more confidence in his fastball tonight and not rely on his offspeed stuff all the time. Shying away from the fastball is no way to go through life. Also, maybe win? Could be cool. Here’s the starting nine:

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

Clay Buchholz will be on the mound for the Red Sox. Here’s their lineup.

It was a gorgeous day in New York today and the weather will be just as nice tonight. Tonight’s game will begin just after 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Over/under on the number of “he should just have the surgery” comments is set at 19.5. Try to enjoy the game.

Roster Move: The Yankees have designated Matt Tracy for assignment and called up Kyle Davies, the team announced. Davies takes Tracy’s place on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Davies was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow and should be good for many innings tonight, which I hope isn’t necessary.

DotF: Austin’s big day at the plate leads Scranton to a win

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Syracuse)

  • RF Ramon Flores: 0-4 — threw a runner out at the plate
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 E Fielding) — just a heads up, I accidentally listed him at third base yesterday, but he was at second … just a typo, not a position change, my bad … also, that’s his third error in four games
  • DH Kyle Roller: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Tyler Austin: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI — having a nice little start to the season
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Chase Whitley: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1/5 GB/FB — 53 of 84 pitches were strikes (63%) … nice first start of the season
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 30 of 41 pitches were strikes (73%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 14 of 21 pitches were strikes (67%)

Double-A Trenton, Game One (5-3 win over Erie in seven innings) makeup of the Opening Day rainout

  • CF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — he’s reached base in eleven of his first 16 plate appearances (.688 OBP)
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 3 K
  • 1B Greg Bird:1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — has a walk in all three games so far, unsurprisingly
  • DH Dante Bichette Jr.: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • 3B Eric Jagielo: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI — off to a nice little start to the season
  • SS Cito Culver: 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 16 of 21 pitches were strikes (76%) … he came over in the Shawn Kelley trade, and there was some talk he needed Tommy John surgery, but he sure he seems healthy to me
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes … he came over in the Chris Stewart trade last year
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K — 16 of 22 pitches were strikes (73%)

Double-A Trenton, Game Two (3-2 loss to Erie in seven innings)

  • LF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 HBP — I assume they checked the ball for injury after it hit Judge
  • 1B Greg Bird: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K — make it a walk in all four games, though this one was intentional
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 2 K
  • 3B Dante Bichette Jr. & SS Cito Culver: both 0-3
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-3, 1 E (throwing)
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 3/3 GB/FB — 50 or 79 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Caleb Cotham: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 15 of 20 pitches were strikes

High-A Tampa (4-2 loss to Lakeland)

  • CF Mark Payton: 0-4, 1 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — nine hits in his last 12 at-bats (.750)
  • 1B Mike Ford: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Angel Gumbs: 0-3, 2 K
  • LHP Derek Callahan: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 40 of 70 pitches were strikes (57%)

Low-A Charleston (4-2 win over Lexington)

  • SS Abi Avelino: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SB — got picked off first
  • DH Jorge Mateo: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 4 SB — already 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts this year after going 11-for-12 in 15 games last year
  • 2B Gosuke Katoh: 0-2, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • RF Austin Aune: 1-4, 2 K
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 59 of 88 pitches were strikes (67%) … he should carve hitters up at this level

Choosing to anticipate good things from Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia

Ed. Note: In addition to Katie and Sunny, we’ve also added Matt Imbrogno to the RAB roster. You know him from IIATMS. He’ll be contributing an article every Sunday. So think of him as a specialist. RAB’s LOOGY.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Just as much as any sport, if not more than any sport, baseball is one of anticipation; the action in the moment may not be constant and is over relatively quickly. In those hanging instants just before and just after contact, infinite possibilities exist. It’s those instants that bring us to the edge of our seats, bring our hands to our faces in excitement. They ready us for the joy or for the agony and they are where the beauty of baseball lies. In games, those instants are obviously short, fractions of a second. Even during the season, the anticipatory moments are relatively quick since teams play just about every day. Those simple facts of the game make the offseason seem even longer, giving us long, cold, miserably snowy months to build anticipation bit by bit. That anticipation is generally focused on new things: the new season, new players, new prospects. Such was the case regarding Nathan Eovaldi’s first start in pinstripes on Friday night.

Eovaldi carried with him from Miami and Los Angeles a reputation for being a bit of a project and that was definitely on display Friday; though he lit up the radar gun, he registered just one strikeout and five swings-and-misses and, as he’s done with some frequency in his career, gave up more hits than innings pitched. The non-fastballs he threw, as advertised, were certainly a work in progress as well. His performance didn’t change the fact that before the game, I was certainly feeling that aforementioned anticipation.

He came into that game as a new thing among new things. While we’d gotten used to his presence during Spring Training, he came to the Bronx as a relative stranger. He’d spent all of his career in the National League, either out on the West Coast with the Dodgers or in the relative obscurity with the Marlins, and did not face the Yankees in any interleague matchup. Aside from that “demographic” newness, Eovaldi’s the type of player you can dream on — a big, seemingly strong guy with a dynamite fastball (even if he does look like Carl Pavano). The anticipation I felt for him on Friday night will continue as the season wears on: Will he harness the breaking stuff? Will he stop giving up such hard contact? Will he put batters away and thus prevent Twitter from making Phil Hughes flashback jokes? Eovaldi has just as many questions around him, even if for different reasons, as does another pitcher whose 2015 debut I was anticipating highly: CC Sabathia.

Of course, the anticipation I felt for Sabathia on Thursday night was completely different than the anticipation I felt for Eovaldi on Friday night. Going into the game, I still felt a familiar optimism that I get when Sabathia pitches. It may not be deserved at this point, but for some reason, I still believe in CC. I liken it to the feeling I get when an even-slightly-diminished Alex Rodriguez comes to the plate: when he’s up there doing his thing, there’s the potential for something special to happen. Maybe this anticipation is a bit of misplaced nostalgia that will come crashing down on me as CC repeats his mostly disastrous last two seasons of pitching. But, on the other hand, however small that hand may be, I’m still anticipating a repeat of 2009-2012.

While we can’t repeat the past with Sabathia and we can’t tell the future with Eovaldi, this is the most anticipatory time in a sport driven by anticipation. I choose to anticipate good things for both Sabathia and Eovaldi.

DotF: Sanchez homers once, Jagielo twice in Trenton’s win

With LHP Matt Tracy getting called up to the big leagues to help the bullpen, there were a bunch of roster shuffling in the minors to get the affiliates the arms they need. RHP Gio Gallegos went from Extended Spring Training to High-A Tampa, LHP Eric Ruth went from Tampa to Double-A Trenton, and LHP Eric Wooten when from Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, replacing Tracy. That all comes from Matt Kardos and Nicholas Flammia.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Syracuse)

  • RF Slade Heathcott: 1-5, 2 K — threw a runner out at the plate
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 E (fielding) — second error in two games
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4, 2 K
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — only ten of 21 pitches were strikes (48%) … makes his first career start as the fill-in for Tracy
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 4/0 GB/FB — half of his 26 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 21 of 38 pitches were strikes (55%), but the walk was intentional

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