Yankeemetrics: West Coast Nightmare Part II (June 15-18)

(AP)
(AP)

Well, that was awful … but Yankeemetrics still has Fighting Spirit and all the stats you need to know.

One Strike Away
The nightmare road trip, which started in Anaheim, continued as the Yankees headed north to Oakland and suffered a brutal 8-7 loss on Thursday night. It was a game of extreme highs and lows, a back-and-forth rollercoaster ride that ended in one of the most crushing defeats of the season so far.

The Yankees kept falling behind … but somehow staged four separate game-tying rallies and finally surged ahead in the top of the 10th … only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the bottom of the 10th, Gio Gallegos surrendered a two-strike, two-out, bases-loaded RBI single that flipped the Yankees one-run advantage into another walk-off loss.

The details of this game were so chaotic and unprecedented, let’s run through it with bullet points:

  • It was the Yankees third walk-off loss to the A’s in the last six seasons (since 2012); no other non-AL East team has more than one walk-off win against the Yankees in that span.
  • It was their first walk-off loss to any team when they were one strike away from a win since April 15, 2007 against the A’s. Yikes, the Marco Scutaro game.
  • And finally … Before Thursday, the last (documented) time the Yankees had an extra-inning, walk-off loss, when leading with two outs and one strike away from a win, was June 4, 1988 against the Orioles. This game remains one of the most excruciating regular-season losses the Yankees have ever had, as they blew a two-run lead and lost on a rare three-base error in the 14th inning. Welp.

Back to Thursday night … Before the heart-breaking ending, the Yankees had taken the lead in the top of the 10th on a bases-loaded sac fly by Starlin Castro. Thankfully, Castro gives us our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Week:

This was the second time Castro had delivered a go-ahead sac fly in extras since joining the Yankees, also doing it against the Mets last August. Since sac flies were officially recorded in 1954, only three other players have hit multiple go-ahead, extra-inning sac flies in a Yankee uniform – Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra and Horace Clarke.

(Getty)
(Getty)

No relief
It was deja vu all over again for the Yankees on Friday night as they lost another winnable game thanks to a late-inning meltdown by the depleted bullpen.

Four straight soul-crushing defeats, and in each of those four games a reliever has taken the loss. I scoured the Yankees’ boxscores and, in the last two decades, couldn’t find a four-game stretch where a relief pitcher took the loss in each contest. I was too depressed to research any further back.

Amidst the doom-and-gloom of this latest gut-punch loss was the shining star of Aaron Judge, who finished with two hits, two runs scored and three RBIs. He blasted his 23rd home run of the season, a three-RBI opposite field shot in the third inning.

The most amazing part of Judge’s power is that he is not just a pull-happy slugger. Check out this beautiful spray chart (LOL, the 495-foot home run that is literally off the chart):

aaron-judge-2

According to the hit location data at baseball-reference.com, after Friday night’s game, his homer distribution was nice and symmetrical: six to left, 11 to center and six to right. He was a ridiculous 17-for-27 (.630) and slugging 1.407 when putting the ball in play to right – both those marks were easily the best in baseball among players with at least 25 batted balls to the opposite field.

Judge also checked off another milestone on Friday, scoring his 60th run of the season. The list of other Yankees in the last eight decades to reach 60 runs in the team’s first 65 games is a short, but holy-cow good one: A-Rod (2007), Rickey Henderson (1986), Mickey Mantle (1956, ’57) and Joe DiMaggio (1941).

(AP)
(AP)

Terrible Tanaka, again
The road trip from hell continued on Saturday afternoon with the Yankees extending their season-high losing streak to five games after another disaster, dinger-filled performance by Masahiro Tanaka.

The home run derby started on Tanaka’s first pitch of the game, which Matt Joyce deposited into the right-centerfield seats. It was the third leadoff homer allowed by Tanaka this season, one shy of the Yankees single-season record set by Stan Bahnsen in 1970. The only other Yankees to give up three leadoff homers in a season are Hiroki Kuroda (2014) and Catfish Hunter (1976).

Unsurprisingly, this is the current batting line for hitters leading off a game against Tanaka: .571/.571/1.286 — eight hits in 14 at-bats, including three homers and a double. Oh, and this is what happens when opponents put the first pitch of a plate appearance in play against Tanaka: .478 batting average and 1.130 slugging percentage — 22 hits in 46 at-bats, including nine doubles and seven homers.

The A’s pummeled Tanaka for two more home runs, bringing his season total to 21, the most homers ever allowed by a Yankee pitcher at this point in the season (team’s 66th game).

The silver lining in Tanaka’s atrocious outing is that 10 of the 12 outs he got were via strikeouts, showing that he still has the nasty, elite stuff to dominate hitters at times. His 10 strikeouts were the most by any Yankee that pitched no more than four innings in a game.

But, of course, there were the dreaded mistake pitches that the A’s crushed for three homers. In the end, Tanaka produced one of the most bizarre pitching line in baseball history. Going back to 1913 (our limit for complete gamelogs), Tanaka is the only major-league pitcher to strike out 10 batters and surrender at least three homers in an outing of four innings or fewer. History!

(AP)
(AP)

Goodbye and good riddance to the west coast
The Yankees miserable seven-game road trip mercifully came to an end on Sunday, fittingly with another hideous loss. They finished up 1-6 in California, the first time they won one game or fewer on a road swing of at least seven games in more than two decades. They went 1-8 on a nine-game trip from May 23-31, 1995 through Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.

That brutal stretch, however, was filled with a few highlights — notably the big-league debuts of a couple Yankee legends: Mariano Rivera on May 23, and Derek Jeter on May 29.

As poorly as the Yankees played in Oakland, it was certainly an unexpected sweep by the home team: Entering this weekend, the Yankees were the only AL team that had not been swept in a series, and the Athletics were the only AL team that had yet to sweep a series this season. ‘Ya know, Suzyn …’

The most excruciating part of this current free-fall is that the Yankees had a chance to win probably every game, and have only been outscored by a mere nine runs during their six-game losing streak. The last time they endured a six-game stretch of games with six losses and run differential of no worse than negative-9 was June 29-July 4, 1975.

Three of the four losses in this series, and four of the six on this trip, were by exactly one run, as the Yankees record in those games fell to 7-12. Those 12 losses match the same number the Yankees had last year, when they went 24-12 in one-run games. Hey, at least Aroldis Chapman threw a perfect eighth inning and averaged 101.3 mph on the seven four-seam fastballs he threw, according to brooksbaseball.net.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 19th, 2017

Record Last Week: 1-6 (30 RS, 37 RA)
Season Record: 38-29 (383 RS, 275 RA, 43-24 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Angels (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Rangers (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 in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

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Yankees drop their sixth straight and get swept by the A’s with a 4-3 loss


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees lost six (6) games in a row to cap off this miserable West Coast trip. Getting swept by the Athletics in a four-game series is a cherry on the top. Today, they drew first blood by taking a 2-0 lead, but the A’s scored four off Luis Cessa in the third and the Yankees simply could not rally. Yuck. It is easily the lowest point of the 2017 Yankees season so far. Let’s just get it out of the way with a recap done in bullet-point style.

  • Getting ahead: The Yankees got the first run of the game when Matt Holliday drilled a solo homer to lead off the top of the second. He got a fastball upstairs from Jharel Cotton and took it pretty, pretty far (433 feet) into the center field seats. They added another in the top of the third. Brett Gardner doubled to deep right to start the frame and Aaron Judge hit a soft single off the end of his bat to drive him in. 2-0 Yankees. Maybe this game was going to be different than the previous five! And, of course, the bottom of the third came.
  • Getting all of them out of the way: The Yankees gave the lead back and then more (surprise, surprise). Cessa got into a trouble after allowing a single to Josh Phegley and a double to Matt Joyce, making it runners on second and third with one out. Chad Pinder hit a double to right to drive both of them in and the Yankees lead was gone. It was an annoying sequence of pitches – Cessa kept throwing towards the outside corner and Pinder fouled a bunch off. He got a hold of a slider that didn’t break sharply and tied the game up. Two batters later, Khris Davis went deep on a fastball upstairs to make it 4-2 Athletics. I, for one, am shocked that a guy with a 4.15 ERA/4.41 FIP in the AAA this season couldn’t rescue the Yankees out of the losing streak. Anyways, that was all the Athletics needed today.
  • The attempts to rally: The Yankees got one back right after. Leading off the fourth, Didi Gregorius pulled one just inside the foul pole to make it 4-3 A’s. From the fifth to the eighth innings, however, Yankees only managed two baserunners (Gardner single in the fifth and Judge HBP in the eighth) and, of course, came up with zilch. They had a chance to tie it up in the ninth inning. With one out against Sean Doolittle, Gregorius hit a grounder to short that seemed like an easy out, but the shortstop Chad Pinder badly missed his throw and the ball went into the Yankee dugout. As a result, Didi advanced to second. However, Chase Headley followed it up with a strikeout and Chris Carter popped out to end the game rather swiftly.
  • Leftovers: After Cessa, three bullpen arms went scoreless overall to keep it a one-run game. Chad Green continues to make his case to stay in the ML roster long-term by throwing two scoreless innings while striking out two. Tyler Clippard followed it up with a scoreless one in the seventh. Aroldis Chapman made his comeback in the eighth, hitting 100 mph a several times while pitching an easy 8-pitch 1-2-3 inning. The Yankees got one of the big bullpen arms back, so they got that going for them.

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees are back in Bronx on Tuesday against the LA Angels to start a six-game homestand. Thank God that trip is over now. Hope the Astros win again tonight to keep the Yankees in the first place in the AL East. Also, hope you all have a great Father’s Day!

DotF: Sheffield, Andujar lead Trenton to doubleheader sweep

As expected, SS Gleyber Torres was placed on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list today, the team announced. He hyper-extended his elbow on a play at the plate yesterday. X-rays came back negative, so that’s good, though Torres will have more tests tomorrow.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo in seven innings) completed early due to rain

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 E (throwing) — hitting streak is up to 18 games
  • LF Dustin Fowler & DH Clint Frazier: both 0-3 — Fowler scored a run
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-2, 1 RBI
  • CF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 2B
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 7/6 GB/FB — 58 of 84 pitches were strikes (69%)

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Game 67: Just end this stupid West Coast trip already

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

First things first: Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Tell your dad you love him today because there’s a lot of us who can’t, and it sucks.

As for the Yankees, I tried being positive yesterday. I really did. But no. Apparently we can’t have nice things now. The Yankees have lost five straight games, including the last three to the team with the worst record (30-38) and run differential (-72) in the AL. Still. Even after these three wins, the A’s still have the worst record and run differential in the league. Blargh.

This stupid West Coast trip ends this afternoon and not a moment too soon. The losses are bad enough, especially when four of them were late inning “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” losses, you know? The injuries are just salt in the wound. I blame the Gleyber Torres injury on this road trip. Logical? No. But things are going terribly right now and it makes me feel slightly better. Whatever. Here is the A’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Luis Cessa

Another nice and sunny day in the Bay Area. Great baseball weather. Today’s series finale will begin at 4:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Moves: Welcome back, Aroldis Chapman. He has been activated off the disabled list, as expected. Joe Girardi said he’s likely going to pitch today no matter what, just to get some work in. Kyle Higashioka was sent back to Triple-A Scranton to clear a roster spot.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Let’s start this with something obligatory, but wholly necessary. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads or step dads or dads to be or people (regardless of gender) who play the role of dad on a day-to-day basis. This is my first (official) Father’s Day and there is no ‘club’ more special than the one you ‘join’ when you become a parent. Every single cliche about it–fatherhood, parenting in general–I’ve found to be completely true. As I’m sure many of you did, I got my love of baseball–and countless other things–from my father and grandfather and I hope, one day, my son will say the same thing about my dad and me (and, of course, his mom, who’s just as big a fan). Either way, Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

California Nightmare

So, things have gone, uh, not well–industry term–for the Yankees on the west coast, have they? Walk off losses; bullpen meltdowns; injuries across the diamond. If there’s a bright spot in the 2017 season universe, this is the spot it’s farthest from. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, this will be the turning point in the Yankees’ narrative of this season. Should they fall out of first place and ‘revert’ to what we though they’d be this year, it’ll be because of this rough stretch. Should they recover, though, and go back on a winning streak when they get back to the Bronx, this horrible week will indicate the team’s resilience, its moxie, its fighting spirit. 

Like baseball itself–defined by what’s going to happen, not necessarily what is happening–this season will be defined by what comes next and how the Yankees go along for the rest of the month. It’s certainly been a fun and unexpected ride up to this point, and there is a bit of a ‘house money’ feel to the season. It will be disappointing if this is a negative turning point, but these last three months of baseball have been as fun as any since 2009.

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

More Like Ta-NOT-ka, AMIRIGHT?!

What is up with Masahiro Tanaka? No, seriously, what the hell is up with Masahiro Tanaka? I’m out of answers, honestly. He’s clearly healthy enough to keep going out there–the team wouldn’t risk him, morally or financially–if he weren’t. He just…isn’t…good? That answer is one I find equally troubling because it just doesn’t seem to make much sense. He was Cy Young caliber last year and very good in the years prior. Is it possible he just turned into a pumpkin, became toast, seemingly overnight? Given that this is baseball and a pitcher we’re talking about, it’s possible. But it just doesn’t seem plausible.

Including CC Sabathia‘s good performance and Aaron Judge‘s absolute dominance, this development has surprised me the most, and I’m sure the same could be said for you all reading this. If there was one thing we were going to count on in 2017, it was Tanaka’s performance. Apparently not.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

All Rise

Aaron Judge. Aaron Freaking Judge. Major League leader in fWAR by a full win (4.4) over Paul Goldschmidt (3.4). Major League leader in wRC+ (200) by 24 points over Ryan Zimmerman (!! What year is it?!). Major League leader in OBP (.444), just edging out Goldschmit (.443). Major League leader in slugging (.704), again beating out Zimmerman by more than 20 (.681). Major League leader in ISO (.369) over Eric Thames (.347).

If you saw this coming, raise your hand, then put it back down, you liar. There are no more adjectives left to describe what Aaron Jude has done and is doing and (hopefully) will continue doing. This has been the most enjoyable player performance by a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez in 2007. Like Alex’s did in his prime, Aaron’s at bats make you stop what you’re doing and watch because something special might (probably will at this point?) happen. That’s the fun of baseball and Aaron Judge is that feeling incarnate.

DotF: Torres injures elbow during Scranton’s doubleheader

OF Clint Frazier cranked his 12th home run of the season last night — and his third in the last six games — and goodness, it was a bomb. The video is above. That kid’s bat is not not slow. Here are some notes:

  • I missed this yesterday, but Josh Norris broke down Aaron Judge‘s swing development over the years with Triple-A Scranton hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, who worked with Judge at various stops in the minors. The videos are pretty interesting. Judge went through a lot of changes before finding something that worked.
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo was sent back down to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. I guess his Triple-A Scranton stint was a one-start cameo to provide support amid all the shuttle action. My guess is Acevedo will be back with the RailRiders before long though.
  • So long, LHP Jon Niese. He has been released, reports Matt Eddy. Niese had been down in Extended Spring Training working to build arm strength following knee surgery, and apparently the Yankees weren’t happy enough with his progress. ExST is ending next week and there’s nowhere to send him, hence the release.
  • The Staten Island Yankees begin their season Monday and Robert Pimpsner has the roster. The notables: IF Oswaldo Cabrera, LHP Jeff Degano, RHP Juan De Paula, RHP Drew Finley, SS Wilkerman Garcia, 3B Nelson Gomez, RHP Jorge Guzman, OF Leonardo Molina, and RHP Jio Orozco. Cabrera, Molina, and Orozco are being sent down from Low-A Charleston. De Paula came over in the Ben Gamel trade and Guzman in the Brian McCann trade. Guzman can really bring it.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (6-2 win over Buffalo in seven innings)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-3, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 2 SB — hitting streak is up to 16 games
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 3-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB — 10-for-27 (.370) in his last six games, and he went hitless in two of those games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 15-for-47 (.319) with nine doubles in his last 12 games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 2-4, 1 RBI
  • 2B Gleyber Torres: 1-2, 1 2B — left the game with an injury after a play at the plate (here’s video) … the Yankees say it’s a hyper-extended elbow and that x-rays came back negative, though Torres will have more tests Monday … the West Coast trip from hell has extended into the minors
  • RHP Chance Adams: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/5 GB/FB — 61 of 90 pitches were strikes (68%) … 25.5 K% and 10.1 BB% this year after 29.1 K% and 7.9 BB% last year

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