DotF: Torres, Estrada help Trenton to a win on Opening Day

Two quick notes today:

  • The RHP Dillon Tate mystery has been solved. Josh Norris says he’s dealing with a shoulder issue. That’s why he wasn’t on an Opening Day roster. Sucks. Hopefully it’s minor and he can get back on a mound soon.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery will make his next start with Triple-A Scranton on Tuesday, according to Shane Hennigan. He started for High-A Tampa on Thursday only because the weather forecast in the Northeast was terrible, and the Yankees wanted to make sure he got his work in and remained lined up for April 16th, the first day they need a fifth starter.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Buffalo) this is their season opener after a pair of rainouts, so here’s the full lineup per Opening Day tradition

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — keep the extra-base hits coming
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 PB, 1 E (fielding) — passed ball and an error, but he also threw out both runners who tried to steal … he’s heading to Baltimore to join the Yankees tomorrow following the C Gary Sanchez injury
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB — got picked off first … this is now his fourth season at this level
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-4
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — he led the International League with 163 hits last season
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 1-4, 1 K
  • DH Mark Payton: 1-3, 1 2B
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 48 of 76 pitches were strikes (63%) … and thus begins his audition as a starting pitcher
  • LHP Jason Gurka: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 21 of 35 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K — 25 of 38 pitches were strikes (66%)

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Another blown lead, another loss: Yankees fall 5-4 to Orioles


Source: FanGraphs

So what is going well for the Yankees right now? Nothing. Pretty much nothing. The Yankees blew another lead Saturday — this was a three-run lead as opposed to the four-run lead they blew Friday — to drop to 1-4 on the young season. They look every bit as bad as that 1-4 record suggests too. Hopefully this ugly play won’t last much longer. It’s Saturday and it’s a nice night out, so here’s the first bullet point recap of the season:

  • An Early Lead: On the bright side, the Yankees actually got to Kevin Gausman on Saturday. He held them to five runs in 41 innings last year. On Saturday, they hung four runs on him in 4.2 innings. Ronald Torreyes singled in a pair in the second inning, the third run scored on a balk, and the fourth on a Starlin Castro single. The Yankees were up 4-1 after the top of the fifth. Yay!
  • Tanaka Unravels: For the first four innings Saturday, Masahiro Tanaka looked like the normal Masahiro Tanaka. He allowed just a run on a bloop single through four innings. Then, in the fifth, the first four batters reached base, including Manny Machado, who lined a double off the right field wall. The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs, and Tanaka did well to escape while allowing just one run. Still, that one run cut the lead to 4-3. Tanaka was charged with three runs on six hits, four walks, and a hit batsmen in five innings. His control was better than Opening Day, but not where we saw it all last season.
  • The Blown Lead: You have to admire how committed the Yankees are to marginalizing Adam Warren. He relieved Tanaka, retired all four batters he faced on ten pitches, then was pulled to get the left-on-left matchup against Chris Davis, which of course didn’t work. Davis doubled against Tommy Layne and Mark Trumbo singled against Dellin Betances to tie the game. A stolen base and another single drove in the go-ahead run for the Orioles. Warren, meanwhile, has retired all 18 batters he faced this season. Love to slave to platoon matchups.
  • Leftovers: In case you missed it, Gary Sanchez is heading to the disabled list with a biceps strain. He hurt himself taking a swing … Castro, Torreyes, and Matt Holliday each had two hits … Brett Gardner had a hit and a walk (and a nice diving catch) while Aaron Hicks had a hit and a two walks … Hicks also had a double taken away by Seth Smith’s nice leaping catch in right field … and finally, congrats to Holliday for reaching 2,000 career hits. He dunked a single to right in the first inning to reach the milestone.

Here are the box score and video highlights, and also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page. The Yankees and Orioles will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1:35pm ET start. It’ll be a battle of veteran lefties on the mound: CC Sabathia and Wade Miley.

Update: Gary Sanchez headed to disabled list with biceps strain

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

8:00pm: Sanchez will be placed on the 10-day disabled list, according to Jack Curry. Sweeny Murti says Higashioka is coming up from Scranton. Following today’s game Joe Girardi said the Yankees will be cautious with Sanchez because the injury is to his throwing arm.

6:02pm: The Yankees say Sanchez has a right biceps strain. Phew. I was worried it his shoulder. They’re not out of the woods yet, but a biceps strain is far more preferable to a shoulder (or elbow) issue. Here’s video of the injury:

5:40pm: Gary Sanchez left this afternoon’s game with some sort of right arm injury. He took a swing in the fifth inning, then immediately grimaced and doubled over. No idea what it could be, though he was clearly favoring his right arm. Sanchez left the game without really lobbying in to stay.

Needless to say, losing Sanchez for any length of time would be pretty devastating. He is one of the Yankees’ best hitters despite his relatively slow start to the season, and he’s also their starting catcher. That’s kind of a big deal. Kyle Higashioka is the No. 3 catcher in Triple-A right now. Hopefully Sanchez’s injury is nothing serious and he isn’t needed.

The Yankees have not yet released any sort of update on Sanchez, so stay tuned.

Saturday Night Open Thread

I missed this two weeks ago, but Mark Feinsand sat down with Brian Cashman for a pretty long interview. I thought it was interesting Cashman spoke about the need to change things up even after a successful season. I’ve long believed — and I’m pretty sure I’ve written this before — making changes each winter is crucial to avoid … complacency, I guess? Winning the World Series doesn’t mean you can bring the same team back and win again the next year.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing and MLB Network is showing a regional game. The Islanders, Devils, and Nets are all playing as well. Talk about those games, this evening’s loss, or anything else here. Just not religion or politics. Thanks in advance.

Game Five: Take Two for Masahiro Tanaka

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Yankees are having a Murphy’s Law start to the season. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. When they need the bullpen to be great, they blow a lead. When they need the offense to score some runs, they bang into a double play. The result so far is one win and three losses. Not the best start in the world, but hey, it happens. Every team goes 1-3 during some random four-game stretch each season. The Yankees just so happened to do it at the start of the season.

Anyway, Masahiro Tanaka is making his second start this afternoon, and gosh, his first was terrible. Arguably his worst as a Yankee. Afterwards both Tanaka and pitching coach Larry Rothschild chalked it up to adrenaline, which I can kinda sorta buy because Tanaka’s location was so bad. That’s not him. It looked like he was overthrowing. Hopefully he’ll be over that Opening Day adrenaline rush today and pitch like the Yankees need him to pitch, which is ace-like. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 1B Chris Carter
  5. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It’s a wonderful day in Baltimore, per the internet. Sunny and on the cool side. It’s still too early for that sticky summer humidity in the mid-Atlantic. Today’s game will begin at 4:10pm. You can watch on YES locally and FOX Sports 1 nationally. Try to enjoy.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) is still having some discomfort. He fouled a pitch off the ankle in the final week of Spring Training. X-rays came back negative and he’ll see a doctor today. The Yankees hope to have him back in the lineup for the home opener Monday. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman said his level of concern is “low.” My dumb take: the disabled list is ten days now, so just sit him out the week and a half and let it heal.

Injury Update II: The Yankees saw Bird saw a doctor today who determined no further tests are required. He is day-to-day. Good news.

Saturday Links: Tanaka, Extensions, Jeter, Torreyes

Can he DH? (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Can he play a little outfield? (Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Yankees and Orioles continue their three-game series with the middle game later this afternoon. Until then, here are some bits of news and notes to check out.

Yankees shoot down Tanaka opt-out report

The Yankees have shot down a report that said they would not pursue Masahiro Tanaka should he exercise his opt-out clause after the season. “It ain’t on my radar screen right now — an entire season to play. Secondly, anyone that knows me knows that I don’t get emotional or personal about business. Any decision then will be made on a solid analysis of all the relevant data, per usual,” said Hal Steinbrenner to George King. Brian Cashman and Randy Levine rejected the report too.

The original report sounded like the Yankees trying to negotiate through the media and it didn’t really pass the sniff test. Why make a free agent decision in April? If Tanaka opts out, it will be because he stayed healthy and had a very good 2017 season, in which case he’d be in high demand. Why close the door on that guy in April? There’s also this: If the Yankees truly do not intend to pursue Tanaka after he opts out, they should trade him as soon as possible. Can’t let him go for nothing but a dinky draft pick.

Yankees not yet thinking about extensions for young players

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are not yet considering long-term contract extensions for young players like Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez. “It’s a bit premature,” said Cashman. One of the reasons? The luxury tax. Signing any pre-arbitration player to an extension now means their luxury tax number would be equal to the average annual value of the contract. Sanchez and Bird will both make six figures in 2018, which will help the Yankees immensely with the luxury tax situation. They’re desperately trying to get under the threshold.

“It can be an issue. I am not saying we have confronted the issue with Hal, but that would be a hurdle to get past. I am not saying it is unsurpassable, but that is my best guess,” said Cashman. Interestingly enough, Cashman also seemed to indicate the Yankees are more open to discussing an extension with Didi Gregorius. Gregorius can be a free agent after the 2019 season. Bird has to wait until after 2021 and Sanchez (and Aaron Judge) until after 2022. I wrote about this early this week. Signing these guys now could save millions down the road, but it would also make it more difficult to get under the luxury tax threshold next year.

Jeter involved in bidding for Marlins

(Koji Watanabe/Getty)

Since retiring, Derek Jeter has become a husband and he will soon become a father. Now he wants to own a baseball team. According to Charlie Gasparino, Brian Schwartz, and Tim Healey, Jeter is involved with a group led by longtime investment banker Gregory Fleming that is bidding for the Miami Marlins. Two other ownership groups are in the running too. MLB has to be kept in the loop during the process and the league is aware of Jeter’s involvement.

“There are many groups who are interested. We field offers often. The difference now is those offers are being looked at very seriously,” said Marlins president David Samson. Owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly had a handshake agreement in place to sell the team for $1.6 billion a few weeks ago, but that fell apart. Jeter has made it no secret he would one day like to own a team, and getting involved as the face of an ownership a la Magic Johnson and the Dodgers would seem to make the most sense.

Torreyes is keeping No. 74

I thought this was a fun little story. Ronald Torreyes gave up his No. 17 to Matt Holliday this year — Holliday wore No. 5 with the Rockies and Athletics, and No. 7 with the Cardinals, and those numbers weren’t going to happen with the Yankees — and, in exchange, Holliday bought him a new suit, according to Dan Martin. Torreyes then picked No. 74 because that’s the number the Yankees gave him when he joined the organization last year.

“Last year, 74 was the number they gave me when I arrived for Spring Training. This year, I used it again and had good results with it (in the spring), so I decided to keep it,” said Torreyes to Martin. That’s pretty neat. Better than the time the Yankees ripped No. 29 away from Francisco Cervelli and gave it to Rafael Soriano. I enjoy seeing young guys in the lineup with uncommon numbers like 74 and 99. Gives them a little personalty.

Yankees can’t protect a four-run lead, drop the series opener 6-5 to the O’s

You can lose in many ways, and the way the Yankees lost tonight was quite frustrating. New York took a nice 5-1 lead — padded by homers by Matt Holliday and Gary Sanchez — and let the Orioles score five unanswered runs to lose this one 6-5. Their record fell to 1-3.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Taking the lead

The Yankees got the first inning started with a Brett Gardner single, a stolen base, and a Gary Sanchez walk. Greg Bird swung right through a 91 mph fastball right down the middle to strike out but Holiday sliced a single to right to bring Gardner in for a 1-0 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury followed it up with a strike out and Starlin Castro popped up to end the threat. Could’ve scored more there but a lead is a lead nonetheless.

The Orioles got a run back quite quickly. Luis Severino allowed a double to Seth Smith to start the bottom of first and an RBI-single to Adam Jones (which just went past Greg Bird’s reach). After Manny Machado struck out, Chris Davis followed it up with a hard grounder that was stopped by Castro but not quite fielded, making it runners on first and second with one out. The Yankees had a chance to end the frame with a double play but Chase Headley‘s throw to second hit Jones in the helmet. Not a banner inning for the Yankee defense — but with Severino striking out Wellington Castillo, they got out of it allowing only one run.

Holliday was in charge of another set of runs later on. With Gardner on third, Holliday absolutely squared up on a hanging splitter from Ubaldo Jimenez for a two-run home run. 3-1 Yankees. During the Yankees’ slow start, Holliday’s emergence has been a bright spot. After tonight, he’s hitting .308/.438/.615. Not expecting that to be sustainable but he’s hitting and seeing the ball very well, which is what all you could ask of him.

Top of the fifth, Gary Sanchez finally got to join in on the fun. With Gardner on second with a double, Jimenez hung another splitter up the zone and Sanchez ruthlessly punished him, driving the ball way into the deep part of the left field seats for a 5-1 Yankees lead. We’ve seen Sanchez hit some scorching grounders in the first few games of the season. This is what happened when he was able to elevate it for a long, long distance.

Severino: not quite there yet

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

I felt that Severino was cruising along until the bottom of fifth. Before allowing that three-run homer to Machado, he had allowed only one run in 4.2 IP while striking out five. His fastball averaged at 96.8 mph, which meant he was throwing pure gas pretty much the entire start. His fastball also had a nice 10.80 average vertical movement, which means that the fastball showed some nice rise. Not bad at all.

However, after allowing a single to Schoop and walking Jones, Sevy allowed a three-run home run to Machado to make it 5-4 Yankees. That was one major blemish of his start — could’ve been a much nicer-looking start at, let’s say, one run allowed in five innings. I don’t think he really missed his spot either. Sanchez barely moved his glove but Machado used his quick hands and power to drive it out of the park. He’s one gifted ballplayer.

Anyways, here’s his final line. Hopefully something better next time he’s up: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.

Blowing the lead

After Jonathan Holder and Tommy Layne combined for a scoreless sixth, the Yankees put in Tyler Clippard to pitch the seventh inning, which seems to be the formula nowadays. He induced a grounder to third from Jonathan Schoop but Headley shanked the throw quite low and the ball went past Bird’s glove. Schoop moved to second and advanced to third on Hardy’s sac bunt.

With a 5-4 lead and a runner on third, New York had the infield in as Clippard faced Seth Smith. However, that didn’t matter as Smith smashed a fastball up over the right field fence to give Baltimore a 6-5 lead. Welp. Clippard is a good pitcher with a flyball tendency and that can happen once in awhile with guys like that.

Once they took the lead, the Orioles had their eighth-and-ninth inning reliever equations working perfectly – Brad Brach struck out the side  and Zach Britton did what Zach Britton usually does, which is getting saves with his ridiculous sinker. 6-5, the Orioles won and Yankees lost and that’s all she wrote.

Miscellaneous

You know how Sanchez wasn’t getting much BABIP love earlier this season? He got some back tonight. As mentioned, Sanchez smacked a huge home run in the fifth inning and later, he also hit a bloop single. A bloop single! That BABIP number is regressing to the norm as we speak.

Meanwhile, Greg Bird continued to struggle. He struck out thrice in four at-bats, dropping his season average to .063. Again, not too worried about him. It’s only been four games into the season. That kind of slump can happen to any good hitters in random four-game stretch during a season.

Brett Gardner swung one hot bat tonight. He had three hits — one of them double — and two stolen bases as well. Matt Holliday went 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks. Ellsbury and Castro — the no. 5 and 6 hitters of lineup — combined for 3-for-8. The offensive stats would’ve seemed much more positive than they do now had the Yankees secured the lead for a win.

Box score, WPA graph and standings

Get your box score and standings from ESPN, and WPA graph from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are at it again at the Camden Yards tomorrow at 4:30 pm. Tanaka will look for redemption from his poor opening day start while the Orioles will send Kevin Gausman.