Yankees survive a 18-inning marathon, sweep the Cubs with a 5-4 win

(David Banks/Getty Images)
(David Banks/Getty Images)

Raise your hand if you had Yankees sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley. I certainly didn’t, but they went and did it. This game started as a nice pitching duel for the first six innings. The Yankee offense took a 4-1 lead into the ninth and, of course, Aroldis Chapman blew it. After another game’s worth of innings, New York finally took another lead in the top of the 18th and thankfully closed the game out. The Yankees are now 20-9, good for a .690 winning percentage. It’s (super way past) Sunday night so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • Could have been more: Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a clean single to right … and then got picked off by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. Ellsbury seemed to try to distract Jon Lester by having a pretty wide lead, but Contreras caught him way off-guard. Anyways, while it’s easy to wonder “what could have been,” that pickoff loomed large. Aaron Hicks followed it up with a walk and Matt Holliday singled to put runners on first and second. Both of them advanced on double steal and Starlin Castro‘s ground out brought in Hicks. The Yankees had a 1-0 lead coming out of the top of the first and it could have been more had Ellsbury not gotten picked off.
  • Luis Severino is… good: Severino did everything you could ask for him. He got strikeouts (9) and ground outs (10) and pretty much mowed down the Cubs lineup for seven innings. Who saw this coming after last year? The only flaw was the solo home run allowed to Javy Baez, which wasn’t even a bad pitch. Severino threw the fastball inside and Baez squared up on it quickly. Severino threw some mean heat today. Per Brooks Baseball, he averaged at 98.3 mph (!) and topped out at 100.6 mph (!!). I think, at some point in his career, he should learn to pitch with lesser velocity but this is very exciting to see. After tonight’s game, Severino has a 3.40 ERA with 10.21 K/9 IP and 1.59 BB/9 IP. Those are some pretty darn good numbers and I’m glad the Yankees have stuck with him in the rotation.
  • More offense!: With a 1-1 deadlock tie going into the top of the seventh, Castro got on second base with a Kris Bryant throwing error. Aaron Judge followed it up with a big triple over CF Jon Jay’s head for an RBI and a 2-1 Yankees lead. In the eighth, with RHP Justin Grimm relieving for the Cubs, Brett Gardner (pinch-hitting for Severino) got on base with a lead-off single and Ellsbury drove him with a two-run HR to make it 4-1. With the back end of NYY bullpen working, you’d think that the game is pretty much over at that point, right?
  • Blowing the lead: Bottom of ninth, the Yankees had a three-run lead and brought Aroldis Chapman out to pitch. And, for that frame, it seemed that the Fighting Spirit briefly fled towards the Cubs dugout. Chapman did not have his best command going and the Cubs hitters managed to hit ’em where they ain’t to get runners on base. Albert Almora Jr. and Baez both had an RBI single to make it a 4-3 nail-biter. With runners on second and third, Chapman struck out Kyle Schwarber to make it two outs. The Yankees intentionally walked Bryant (after Chapman fell behind to a 3-1 count) and had to deal with Anthony Rizzo with the bases-loaded … and Chapman hit him in the forearm on the first pitch. Tie game, 4-4. That was the end of Chapman’s night and Tyler Clippard mercifully got out of the inning with a Ben Zobrist ground out.
  • The second game of the doubleheader: After Chapman allowed three in the ninth, the Yankee bullpen managed to hold the Cubs lineup scoreless for rest of the way through. Clippard threw a scoreless inning in the 10th, Adam Warren followed it up with two scoreless and both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve blanked the Cubs for three innings each. I definitely wasn’t confident that either would keep the Yankees in the game but what do I know? Shreve ended up with a well-earned win and Holder solidified his case to be a capable ML bullpen arm. Too bad that those two will be sent down to AAA (probably) tomorrow for another pair of fresh arms. Oh well, they’ll be back soon if that happens.
  • A lead!: Top of the 18th, Hicks led off bunting to try for a base hit. Contreras’ throw sailed out of first baseman’s reach and Hicks ended up at the second base. Ronald Torreyes followed it up yet another bunt for a sacrifice. The Yankees then had their best chance to go ahead with runner on third with one out. Castro, who was 0-for-7 in the game prior to that at-bat, hit a grounder toward Addison Russell. With Hicks charging towards home plate, Russell rushed to field and made an off-balance throw home that was way off the mark. Hicks scored and Yankees took a 5-4 lead, about two hours and 40 minutes after Chapman’s blown save. Shreve managed to keep the lead and close the game out (mercifully) for a Yankees victory and a Wrigley sweep.
  • Leftovers: Castro and Didi Gregorius both went 0-for-8 while Chase Headley and Austin Romine each had 0-for-7 nights. The Yankees and Cubs combined for 48 strikeouts total, which is a new MLB record. This was also the longest ever interleague game in MLB history. Records exist so they can be broken but I’m hoping that it’s some other AL team that goes for it the next time.

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees will head to Ohio for a two-game series against the Reds at the Great American Ball Park. If you’re not asleep right now, for whatever reason, get to bed soon!

Source: FanGraphs

Game 29: Blast from the Past

(Stacy Revere/Getty)
(Stacy Revere/Getty)

I’m not sure the first two games of this series could have gone any better. The Yankees won Friday’s game in dramatic come-from-behind fashion, then won a stress-free laugher last night. The series win is already in the bag. Tonight’s game is a chance for the sweep and gosh, it sure would be a fun to walk into Wrigley Field and take all three from the defending World Series champs, wouldn’t it?

To get the sweep tonight, the Yankees will have to beat Jon Lester, who they haven’t seen in a few years now after facing him nonstop for nearly a decade. A Sunday night game against Jon Lester? Been there, done that. Baseball is a flat circle. Tonight will be like the good ol’ days, I guess. Here is the Cubs’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. 1B Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. RHP Luis Severino

Same weather as last night in Chicago. Clear skies but cold. Not that windy though. Tonight’s game will start at 8:05pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Enjoy the game.

DotF: Mateo has a big game in Tampa’s win

RHP Chance Adams is now a top 100 prospect. Pirates RHP Tyler Glasnow graduated to the big leagues with today’s start, so MLB.com removed him from their top 100 list, bumped everyone up a spot, and slid Adams in at No. 100.

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They haven’t announced a makeup date yet

Double-A Trenton Game One (6-0 win over Erie in seven innings)

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 3-4, 1 R, 1 E (fielding) — 11-for-24 (.458) with three walks and two strikeouts during his little six-game hitting streak
  • RF Billy McKinney: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 2B Gleyber Torres: 0-4, 2 K
  • 1B Mike Ford: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI — 18-for-31 (.581) with three doubles, four walks, and two strikeouts in his last nine games
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI — hitting .260/.287/.400 through 26 games
  • LF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 9-for-25 (.360) with three doubles and two homers in six games since coming back from the knee injury
  • RHP Ronald Herrera: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 50 of 74 pitches were strikes (68%) … he’s started his season with 11.1 scoreless innings following the shoulder injury that sidelined him in April
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%) … 7/2 K/BB in four innings since coming off the disabled list … he had a 1/3 K/BB in 4.2 innings before going on the shelf with a minor shoulder problem

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Sunday Open Thread

The Yankees and Cubs finish up their three-game series later tonight, in the ESPN Sunday Night Game. Here’s an open thread until then. The Mets are playing right now and MLB Network will have a regional game as well. There are also a bunch of NBA and NHL playoff games. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.

Pineda’s Homers

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

I will never forget the night the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda. It was January 2012 and my wife (then-very-recent-girlfriend) was due to meet my parents and sister for the first time. As luck would have it, while she was driving, the wheels were in motion on the Yankees making a big trade. Well, the wheels had already moved and everything was set; we were just hearing about it for the first time. In the end, the trade was announced just as she was pulling into the driveway and she had to deal with meeting my family and balancing our shock and initial disappointment that Jesus Montero–whom we’d all just watched crush it in September–would no longer be in the team’s future plans.

Yankeedom for Michael Pineda has seen its ups and downs, peaks and valleys, highs and lows, and whatever other height cliches you wanna throw in there. Perhaps, given the times, its Aaron Judge moments and its Ronald Torreyes moments. Despite that, the Yankees (everyone all together now) won the trade, given that Pineda is pitching well–and pitching at all–while Jesus Montero is…somewhere in baseball. This year so far, Pineda has struck out over 31% of the batters he’s faced, while walking only 3.6%. His ERA is at a solid 3.12, good for a 77 ERA-. The only weird thing is he’s surrendered seven home runs, tied (with a bunch of other pitchers) for second most in the American League.

This isn’t exactly shocking overall, given that Pineda has been slightly homer prone in the past. With everything else going so well, it seems homers are the only blemishes against him this year. When looking at his batted ball rates, everything seems to be in order. Low line drives. High ground balls. Decreased fly balls. However, the HR/FB% is sky high at 25.0%. For his career, it’s never been over 17%, last season’s mark. All three of his pitches this year have a higher HR(FB+LD) than any one pitch from last year. A quick note on the Brooks stuff: given the change over in systems, it looks like some stuff is missing, including the homer Pineda gave up to Kris Bryant in the first inning back on Friday. Adjusting for that would make one of those numbers look even worse. So, what gives?

I’m going to take the cop out answer and say that it’s still early, even if Pineda has already made six starts and has given up a fair amount of homers in the past. The rate he’s going at now is way more than what he did last year, his most homer-prone season. His HR/9 then was 1.38 (not good!) and currently sits at 1.82, almost a half a homer more per nine. Combine this with the spike in his overall HR/FB% and you can see the randomness pretty easily. As support, xRA from StatCorner suggests that Pineda’s ERA ought to be even better at 2.38, given his batted ball profile.

It’s unlikely that Pineda ever becomes stingy with the long ball. He’s around the zone too much and when that happens, it’s more likely something’s going to get left in the wrong place and get sent on a long ride. Still, the homers should drop just slightly. In a perfect world–at least for Big Mike and not the batters–his walks would stay this far down and his strikeouts would stay this far up. The world is far from perfect, though, so I’ll settle for a drop in dingers.

Yankees pour in runs early to down the Cubs 11-6

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I’ll take many more games like this. The Yankees tacked on a bunch of runs early and added more late once the Cubs started to score. Aaron Hicks had four hits, which is neat and adds to his fascinating breakout season. Jordan Montgomery had an acceptable start, but the bullpen made it bit uncomfortable in the eighth. Anyways, the Yankees held on to win it 11-6, taking the series at the Wrigley Field against the defending World Champs. It’s the weekend so let’s do it bullet point style.

  • Five-run first: The Yankee bats got off to a really quick start, scoring the two runs within the first seven Brett Anderson pitches. Brett Gardner led the game off with a double, and Hicks got on base with a bunt single. Anderson’s throwing error scored Gardner and that pretty much set the tone for his night. On the very next pitch, Starlin Castro, as he often does, swung at the first pitch for an RBI double to score Hicks. After Aaron Judge struck out, Gary Sanchez singled to shallow left to score Castro. Didi Gregorius hit a shallow single off the end of the bat to add another baserunner and Chase Headley brought both of them in with a double. That’s a quick 5-0 lead for the Yanks. Anderson then left the game for back tightness but I didn’t think that he was going to last on the mount for long anyways. After being shut out for the first 8.2 innings of yesterday’s game, this early outburst is refreshing.
  • Not done scoring: In the third, against Felix Pena, the Yankees put two runners on with singles from Sanchez and Gregorius. Two batters later, Chris Carter hit a hard grounder that Kris Bryant failed to snag and trickled into the left field. They gave Bryant an E5, which I find it harsh, but understandable. Anyways, Sanchez scored on that error and Yankees built a 6-0 lead. On the fourth inning, with Pena still pitching, Hicks got things started with a deep double to right and Castro followed it up with a home run to the left field seats. Hello again, Cubs fans! 8-0 Yankees.
  • Montgomery good: If you look at Montgomery’s line, it’s not the sexiest start (6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) but it’s respectable considering he’s a rookie starter facing the World Champion Cubs. Gumby looked great for the first four innings, allowing only two baserunners and mowing down the Chicago lineup. In the fifth inning, he walked Albert Almora and allowed a double to Javier Baez to get into a jam. Jon Jay’s ground out scored Almora and Didi’s throwing error got Baez home to make it 8-2 Yankees. My thought is that Montgomery could’ve gone deeper into his start if not for that E6, seeing that it took him extra 9 pitches to get out of the inning.
  • Don’t do this, bullpen: After Montgomery came out in the seventh, Tyler Clippard got the last out to advance the game. In the eighth, Joe Girardi put in Tommy Layne with a 11-3 lead and the lefty got only two outs while allowing three runs. Layne is not really having a good season, as that poor showing up’d his ERA to 9.45. Not going to say his time is running out with the big league club, but I’d guess the team wants to seek out another lefty arm out of the bullpen. Adam Warren relieved Layne and got out of the eighth. The Cubs are not off to a great start to 2017 but you know what their offense can do, especially when they have bigger bats like Miguel Montero pinch-hitting late in the game. Anyways, Warren pitched a clean ninth against his former team to close the game out at 11-6.
  • Leftovers: On a night the Yanks scored 11 runs (and had the Cubs pitch Miguel Montero in the ninth), the only hitter that didn’t reach the base was Judge (0-for-5 with a strikeout). That hole, however, got covered more than enough with guys like Hicks (4-for-5 with a HR and double), Castro (3-for-4 with a HR and double), Gregorius (2-for-4), Gardner (2-for-5) and Sanchez (2-for-4) having good nights. We can agree that it’s a fun team to watch when they are all clicking. Also, Montgomery reached on a walk, raising his OBP to .400.

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees have a Sunday night match tomorrow at Wrigley. Luis Severino will be on the mound versus Jon Lester. That will be a fun matchup to watch if both starters deliver to their hype. Have a good Saturday night, folks.

Source: FanGraphs

DotF: Frazier extends hitting streak in Scranton’s win

Two quick injury notes:

  • Tyler Austin update! Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty that Austin has started taking batting practice as he works his way back from a broken ankle. Austin got hurt in February, so he essentially has to go through Spring Training before returning. Progress, at least.
  • LHP Ian Clarkin was placed on the High-A Tampa disabled list, the team announced. No idea what’s wrong with him. He missed all of 2015 with an elbow injury and the second half of last season with a knee injury.

Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Syracuse) they’ve scored 42 runs in their last five games

  • 3B Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — over the last week he’s played three games at short, one at second, one at third, and one in left field
  • DH Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 SB — that’s his fifth triple of the season and fourth in his last eight games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 10-for-24 (.417) with three doubles, two homers, eight walks, and six strikeouts during his little seven-game hitting streak
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — now hitting .369/.457/.523 on the season
  • SS Ruben Tejada: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB — now hitting .319/.410/.580 with 12 walks and eight strikeouts … Pete Kozma being lost on waivers sure helps Tejada’s chances of a call-up should the Yankees need an infielder at some point
  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K — Triple-A debut … he’s here filling in for Rob Refsnyder, who is with the big league team
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 30 of 43 pitches were strikes (70%) … they’re going to stretch him out as a starter this season because why not?
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 7/3 GB/FB — 55 of 99 pitches were strikes (56%) … they have six starters for five spots at the moment … he can piggyback with Mitchell while Mitchell gets stretched out, but that won’t work forever

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