Yankees close out 2017 regular season with 2-1 loss to Jays

You know, it’s too bad the Yankees lost Sunday’s season finale, only because 92-70 looks so much better than 91-71. They dropped Sunday’s meaningless game 2-1 to the Blue Jays to wrap up their most fun season in recent memory. The final record: 91-71 with a +198 run differential. Only the Indians, who have a +254 run differential, outscored their opponents by more runs in 2017. The Yankees had their best record since going 95-67 in 2012.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Montgomery’s Final Start
Jordan Montgomery‘s fine rookie season came to an end Sunday afternoon with yet another rock solid start. He held the Blue Jays to one run on two hits and a walk in five innings plus one batter, giving him a 3.88 ERA (4.06 FIP) in 155.1 innings. His +2.8 fWAR led all rookie pitchers in baseball this season. AL and NL, starters and relievers. Quite a season for the young man.

Montgomery needed only 62 pitches to record his 16 outs, though, to be fair, a lot of that was the Blue Jays swinging at everything in classic Game 162 style. He was pretty sharp otherwise, burying his curveball in the dirt and elevating the fastball when necessary. The run was aided by a grounder getting under Tyler Wade‘s glove at second base — Jose Bautista got the run home with a sac fly — but who really cares. This was a “get your work in start” and Montgomery did exactly that. Well done this year, Monty.

Let’s Go Home Offense
I wrote up this whole section expecting the Yankees to basically shut things down after the Blue Jays took the lead so they could get this game over with. Then Matt Holliday had to go out and hit a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning. Dude. Uncalled for. Had this game gone to extra innings, I reckon Holliday would’ve been buying all his teammates dinner.

Fortunately, the Blue Jays let Holliday off the hook by scoring a run in the eighth inning. Rob Refsnyder reached on a strikeout/wild pitch, Ezequiel Carrera walked, Darwin Barney bunted them over, and Ryan Goins got the run in with a ground ball tapper that went maybe ten feet. All of that happened against Domingo German, who was otherwise throwing fire. Little Sunday is going to contribute quite a bit next season. You watch.

Let it be known Austin Romine, who some people truly believe should start the Wild Card Game, could not get a runner in from third base with less than two outs in the bottom of the seventh (he grounded out to third base), then couldn’t block a ball in the dirt on the strikeout/wild pitch that led to the go-ahead run scoring in the eighth. Gary Sanchez gets killed for any pitch that gets by him, wild pitch or passed ball. Only fair the same happens to Romine.

Andujar? More like Can-do-jar. (Presswire)
Andujar? More like Can-do-jar. (Presswire)

In a meaningless game, the Yankees did exactly what they were supposed to do Sunday: swing early and often. No need to prolong at-bats on such a nice day. The Yankees forced Blue Jays pitchers to throw 136 pitches in nine innings, so 15.1 pitches per inning. They sent 32 men to the plate and eleven saw no more than three pitches in their at-bat. Greg Bird drew the team’s only walk because Danny Barnes didn’t give him a choice. The four balls were well wide.

The Yankees had five hits on the afternoon, most notably Holliday’s dinger, the final dinger of the club’s 2017 regular season. Aaron Hicks, Chase Headley, and Wade had singles while Miguel Andujar lined a generously scored double. It was hard-hit, but center fielder Teoscar Hernandez let it go in and out of his glove on the slide. Wade was thrown out trying to steal second following his single — the shortstop Richard Urena blocked the base with his foot and took a hell of a spiking to keep Wade from being safe — as he prepares for a potential postseason pinch-runner role.

What did the regulars do? Well, Holliday played the entire game and hit the home run. Starlin Castro grounded out in the first inning, then was yanked to preserve his .300 average. Todd Frazier lined out in the second, then got the rest of the afternoon off. Headley lined out in the second and singled in the fifth, then his day was done. Bird replaced Headley at first base and drew a walk. Nice, easy game. Everyone made it out healthy, and that’s the most important thing.

Leftovers
Welcome back, Adam Warren. He replaced Montgomery in the sixth inning, recorded the final two outs, then went back out to get the first out of the seventh. I’m glad Joe Girardi had him pitch in two different innings so he could go in, pitch, sit down for a bit, warm back up, and pitch more. Warren has done it a zillion times before, but it’s good to have him do it once before a potential multi-innings appearance in the postseason.

I’m a bit surprised Dellin Betances did not pitch Sunday. Girardi said earlier this week they were going to use him a bunch to try to get him right, and that didn’t really happen. Last time out Girardi pulled the plug after two batters. Hmmm. German allowed that stupid run in his 1.2 innings of work, and Ben Heller went three up, three down in the ninth. He is: good. Should’ve used him more this year.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score and the final regular season standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page and here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The postseason. I’ve missed it even though it’ll undoubtedly put me on the brink of a heart attack multiple times. Monday is an off-day throughout baseball, then the postseason kicks off with the AL Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. The Yankees are hosting the Twins and it’ll be Luis Severino against Ervin Santana. Loser goes home, winner will face the Indians in the ALDS.

Yankees will “significantly” extend the protective netting at Yankee Stadium in 2018

(Corey Perrine/Getty)
(Corey Perrine/Getty)

Earlier this afternoon the Yankees announced they will “significantly” extend the protective netting at Yankee Stadium and George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa next season. This comes nearly two weeks after a little girl was hit in the face by a Todd Frazier foul ball line drive, sending her to the hospital for several days.

Here is the team’s statement:

The New York Yankees announced today that they will significantly expand the protective netting during the upcoming offseason at both Yankee Stadium and George M. Steinbrenner Field.

As previously announced, the Yankees consulted (and are continuing to consult) with architects, engineers, netting manufacturers and Major League Baseball to analyze and determine the best and most appropriate type of netting material, color and installation methods.  We have also considered comments from our great fans.

While the current protective netting meets the recommended guidelines established by Major League Baseball, the additional protective netting we are planning to install for the 2018 season will exceed the current guidelines established by the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Further information will be made available when our installation plans are finalized.

I’ve been begging for extended netting for years now. Not just at Yankee Stadium but all around the league. Players are bigger and stronger than ever before and the ball is flying around the park. It’s not realistic to expect people to pay attention at every moment, nor is it is realistic to expect the average fan to stop a 100 mph line drive even when they are paying attention. I hate to break it to you folks, but you’re not as athletic as you think.

Several teams announced they will extend the netting at their ballparks in the days immediately after the little girl was hurt. The Yankees have finally joined it. It’s a damn shame a child had to get hit by a line drive for this to finally happen, but better late than never.

Game 162: The season is long, but it goes so damn fast

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

So this is it. The final game of the 2017 regular season. It’s been a fun one. A really fun one. Most fun season since 2009? It’s in the conservation for sure. Of course, the season is not ending today. The Yankees qualified for the postseason and will play the Twins in the winner-take-all Wild Card Game on Tuesday night. It wasn’t until yesterday that the Yankees were eliminated in the AL East race. A heck of a fight, they put up.

This afternoon’s season finale is meaningless. Nothing to play for at all. Everything that can be clinched has been clinched. The goals today: get Adam Warren some work, get Dellin Betances some work, and make sure no one gets hurt. That’s about it, right? That last one is really important. No one get hurt, please. I’d rather the Yankees lose 147-0 than anyone get hurt. One last meaningless game to go before the intensity gets cranked up in the postseason. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Aaron Hicks
  2. SS Ronald Torreyes
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 1B Chase Headley
  6. 3B Todd Frazier
  7. C Austin Romine
  8. LF Clint Frazier
  9. RF Tyler Austin
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

Joe Girardi said most of the regulars will only get one or two at-bats today, so Tyler Wade and Miguel Andujar will be coming off the bench at some point. Anyway, it is a splendid day for baseball in New York. Nice and sunny but also cool. Today’s regular season finale will begin a little after 3pm ET and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Beginning at the End

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Yesterday, CC Sabathia walked off the mound after 5 2/3 innings. There is a chance that was the last time he walked off the mound as a starter in the regular season for the New York Yankees. Thinking back on it hours later, if it was his last time–I hope it wasn’t–it marks the end of something great, but hopefully the beginning of something that has the potential to be even greater.

CC hasn’t been a dominant pitcher in a long time and Masahiro Tanaka has been the Yankees’ best starter since he arrived; but he might be out the door as well. Two potential endings to two great Yankee careers. But right behind them, there’s a new beginning with equal potential: Luis Severino. It’s impossible to overstate just how good Severino was this year. The only pitchers better than him over the course of the season, really, were Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. That’s some damn good company. Is it likely that Severino has a year this good again? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be great going forward, and it looks like he will. As two ace-like pitchers (possibly? probably?) end their careers as Yankees, another one is taking over at just the right time. Are you ready for the Luis Severino Era?

Love these dudes. (Elsa/Getty)
Love these dudes. (Elsa/Getty)

Who else is ready to see that over and over and over for the next ten years? Hell. Friggin’. Yes. The end of this incredible season by Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge hopefully marks the beginning of a long run of offensive prowess and dominance by two young players that we haven’t seen in decades. Even back in the 90’s, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams were established when Derek Jeter was establishing himself. And was like O’Neill and Williams when Jorge Posada began his prominence. The most apt comparison is the pair of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, forging their ways as Yankee pitching mainstays. Sanchez and Judge are doing it on the other side of the ball, though, and with a chance for both of them to be more dominant at their positions than Pettitte ever was. To match Mo, well, that’s a hard ask, isn’t it?

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

Like in September of 2015, Greg Bird has been on fire this month. He was slow out of the block this year before being injured, and was somewhat inconsistent upon his return from the DL. Is he completely clear now, to the point where the Yankees can fully trust him for 2018 and beyond in terms of health? Eh… But his offensive performance this month speaks to his potential: a patient, powerful first baseman who can man the middle of the order with his counterparts at catcher and right field for years to come.

These individual accomplishments–hopefully big beginnings at the end of this surprising season–by homegrown Yankee youngsters are just a microcosm of the team and the organization at large. This was a year that took us all by surprise, but it happened. Just as we cross our fingers for the players above to be great for a long time, we do the same for the team. And if this season–especially its end–is any indication, we’re in for a fun few years. Now let’s just get through Tuesday.

Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: CC and Judge lead Yanks to 91st win

Ninety-one wins in a rebuild transition year. Not too shabby. The Yankees won their penultimate game of the regular season Saturday afternoon, this one a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays. They’re now 20-8 in September, their best record in any month this season. Alas, the Red Sox beat the Astros up in Boston, so they clinched the AL East title. At least the Yankees did them no favors Saturday and made them clinch themselves. The Yankees will face the Twins in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

CC’s Surprise Start
It wasn’t until this morning that we found out CC Sabathia, not Jaime Garcia, would start this game against the Blue Jays. The Yankees were still mathematically alive in the AL East race, so they wanted to put their best foot forward. I don’t blame them one bit. Gotta do what you can to win the division. The advantage of avoiding the Wild Card Game is too great.

Sabathia’s final start of the regular season — and possibly the final start of his Yankees career (sobs) — went marvelously, though I will say the Blue Jays seemed to be mailing it in. They’re ready for their season to end. One foot is in the batter’s box and the other is on the plane home, you know? I don’t mean to take anything away from Sabathia. He was awesome. The Blue Jays just didn’t seem very interested in competing.

In his 5.2 innings Saturday, Sabathia scattered four hits, and two of the four were followed by a double play. The Blue Jays did not have a runner reach second base until the sixth inning, when Ryan Goins doubled to right with one out. A fan reached over the short porch to catch the ball, so Goins was awarded second base following a review. That was Toronto’s fourth baserunner of the afternoon and first to advance beyond first base.

Sabathia’s final line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K on 75 pitches. Joe Girardi had a pretty quick hook — he didn’t let CC face Josh Donaldson a third time when Donaldson represented the tying run — and whatever he said to Sabathia on the mound got a good laugh out of the big guy. With his regular season now complete, Sabathia finishes with a 3.69 ERA (4.48 FIP) in 148.2 innings. Give that man one-year contracts until he retires.

Two Runs Are Just Enough
Aaron Judge probably won’t win the AL MVP award — I think Jose Altuve has it locked up, fair or not — but I know he is the MVP of all our hearts. Judge opened the scoring Saturday afternoon with his latest moonshoot, this one a 484-foot blast deep into the left field bleachers. It wasn’t quite as far as that ball he hit against the Orioles a few weeks back, though he hit it to the same general area.

Judge went 6-for-12 with three home runs against Stroman this season. That makes me happy. Judge hit ten homers in 18 games against the Blue Jays this season, and that also makes me happy. I look forward to him hitting many more dingers against Stroman — he’s short and went to Duke, you know — and the Blue Jays in the coming years.

The Judge dinger gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the fourth. They added another run later in the inning. Didi Gregorius slapped a single over a leaping Goins at shortstop — I’m pretty sure the ball deflected off his glove — then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Starlin Castro brought him home with a single back up the middle. I’m pretty sure that one deflected off Goins’ glove too. One run on a monster homer and another on two hits off the infielder’s glove. Baseball.

The Final Two Innings
I’m not quite sure why Tommy Kahnle came in for the eighth inning. He allowed a dinky infield single and a walk before being replaced by David Robertson. Was it an audition for high-leverage postseason work? If it was, you’d think the leash would be a little longer than that. If you’re going to pull the plug that quickly, what could Kahnle have realistically done to build trust? Whatever.

The infield single and walk turned into a run when Donaldson lifted a sacrifice fly to left field later in the inning. I thought he creamed the pitch off the bat. I thought it was way gone. The wind brought it back in though, and I mean really brought it back in. Brett Gardner retreated, then had to sprint a long way forward to make the catch. The play at the plate was really close. Had the throw been a little more on-line, Ezequiel Carrera would’ve been out.

Anyway, Robertson escaped that eighth inning — he struck out Justin Smoak with two runners on base to end the threat and preserve the 2-1 lead — then Aroldis Chapman did his thing in the ninth. Safe to say neither Robertson nor Chapman will pitch Sunday, regardless of score. The game is meaningless and the Yankees will want them rested for the Wild Card Game on Tuesday. Same with Chad Green, who got four outs Saturday as the bridge from Sabathia to Kahnle.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Todd Frazier was the only Yankee with two hits and I don’t remember either of his singles. It was one of those quick moving and otherwise nondescript games, the kind of game that’ll meld into the glob of baseball we all watch and forget each season. Judge homered while Gary Sanchez, Gregorius, Castro, and Greg Bird had singles. Bird’s single was a rocket off the wall. He was thrown out by a mile trying to stretch it into a double. Bird is many things. Fast is not one of them.

And finally, Judge’s home run was his 33rd at Yankee Stadium this season — 33rd! — which is a new single-season record. At any Yankee Stadium. The previous record was 32 homers at home by Babe Ruth in 1921. Pretty amazing he’s hit 33 home runs at home and still has 19 on the road. Judge had a 38-homer pace away from Yankee Stadium this season. Pretty wild.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The final game of the 2017 regular season. It really flew by, huh? I guess that happens when you’re having fun. Jordan Montgomery and Brett Anderson are the scheduled starting pitchers for Sunday’s regular season finale. That’s a 3pm ET start across the league. Every game starts at the same time.

It’s official: Yankees will host the Twins in the Wild Card Game

(Alex Trautwig/Getty)
(Alex Trautwig/Getty)

It took a little longer to lock things into place than I think we all expected, but it is now official: the Yankees will take on the Twins in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game. The Red Sox clinched the AL East title with their win over the Astros this afternoon. The Yankees clinched homefield advantage in the Wild Card Game a few days ago.

The five AL postseason teams are in place, and because the Indians won the season series against the Astros, the seeding is locked in as well. Here is the AL postseason bracket:

  • Wild Card Game: Twins at Yankees
  • ALDS 1: Indians vs. Wild Card Game winner
  • ALDS 2: Astros vs. Red Sox

The AL Wild Card Game will be played Tuesday night (8pm ET on ESPN), then the two ALDSes begin Thursday. The Yankees went to the postseason just once in the previous four seasons, and that was the yucky Wild Card Game shutout loss to the Astros in 2015. The Yankees last played a postseason series in 2012, when they beat the Orioles in ALDS and were swept by the Tigers in the ALCS.

Ervin Santana and Luis Severino are set to face off in the Wild Card Game. The Yankees swept the Twins at home last week, plus they’ve thoroughly dominated the head-to-head series since 2002, but that won’t mean anything in the Wild Card Game. It’s just a baseball game. One individual game. Anything can happen and it usually does. Just hope for the best and try not to puke.

Game 161: Still alive in the AL East

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

The Yankees, amazingly, remain in the race for the AL East title. The Red Sox could’ve clinched the division with a win the last two nights, but nope, they couldn’t do it. The Yankees need to win today and tomorrow while the Red Sox lose today and tomorrow to set up a Game 163 tiebreaker at Yankee Stadium on Monday. That is the Yankees’ only path to the AL East title now.

Because they are still alive in the division race, the Yankees made a pitching change today. CC Sabathia, not Jaime Garcia, will start today’s game against the Blue Jays. Hard to disagree with that move. Could be the big man’s final start as a Yankee! I don’t want to think about that right now though. Things are going pretty great for the Yankees right now. Baseball is fun. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. DH Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    LHP CC Sabathia

It is cool and cloudy in New York today, and there’s only a tiny little bit of rain in the forecast. We’ll probably end up getting nothing. Today’s game will begin shortly after 1pm ET and FOX and FOX alone will have the broadcast. If you’re out-of-market, MLB.tv is free all weekend. Just sign up for a free MLB.com account and you’ll be able to watch any game. Enjoy.