Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. Really light baseball schedule tonight, just seven games, but the Mets are playing and Matt Harvey is pitching. That game will be on ESPN as well as SNY. The (hockey) Rangers are playing Game Three of their third round matchup with the Lightning as well (8pm ET on NBCSN). No NBA playoffs tonight though. Talk about whatever here.
When the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals get together, it will mark the first confrontation between two of the American League’s elite clubs in Yankee Stadium following this past weekend’s three-game set at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. In fact, they own two of the best records in the league and sit atop their respective divisions in first place following the series in which the Royals took two of three from the Yanks.
As a result, it’s easy to figure that tickets for this upcoming three-game set at Yankee Stadium will be highly sought after, as this series looks like it will be the biggest test the Yankees have had through the first handful of weeks of the 2015 campaign.
When seeking out tickets for any games in this series, your best bet for the cheapest ticket prices will be from the Yankees, rather than dealing with the secondary market. Some seats even feature a significant margin between the two sources.
For instance, for the series finale on May 27, if you wanted to sit in the 200-level section, you could get tickets in section 215, row 11 from Yankees.com for $155, while seats in section 215, row 15 on the secondary market would cost you $266, which is a savings of over $100! There are similar differences for that same game, as seats in section 106, row 10 are priced at $110 through the Yankees, compared to $160 out on the secondary market for similar location in section 106, row 13. Again, that’s a monumental price margin.
Additionally, if you wanted to keep it simple and reside in the 400-level seats, you could get tickets for section 410, row 4 in the opener on May 25 for only $22 from the Yankees, while tickets for section 410, row 1 would cost you $29 from another seller.
Unsurprisingly, this trio of games might draw some of the biggest Yankee Stadium crowds of the year. New York is coming off their first back-to-back seasons of not making the playoffs for the first time since the mid-1990’s, so their strong start certainly has everyone in the organization, and the fans of course, rejuvenated and excited for what’s ahead.
The Royals have been just as terrific thus far, however, and will be game for the task of taking on another AL behemoth. They’ve received great play on both sides of the ball, having among the highest team batting average in all of baseball and one the AL’s best team ERA marks. They won the American League pennant last season before going down in the maximum seven games in the World Series, and up to this point, they’re proving it was no fluke whatsoever. This series could determine who the true superpower in the league is right now as we march closer towards June.
Monday, 4:36pm: Whitley will indeed undergo Tommy John surgery, the Yankees announced. Team doctor Chris Ahmad will perform the procedure tomorrow. Not unexpected, but damn. Sucks. See you next year, Ace Whitley.
Friday, 6:05pm: Whitley does have a torn UCL, Girardi told reporters this afternoon. No decision has been on surgery yet. He’ll see another doctor in New York first. Capuano will start Sunday and push everyone else back a day.
5:51pm: As expected, the Yankees placed right-hander Chase Whitley on the 15-day DL this afternoon. He has a right elbow sprain, the team announced, which means his ulnar collateral ligament has been compromised somehow. Whitley went for tests today and Jon Heyman hears the initial diagnosis is indeed a UCL tear, so Tommy John surgery is a real possibility. The Yankees haven’t said anything about the exact nature of the injury yet.
Whitely, 25, left last night’s start in the second inning with an elbow injury. He told reporters after the game that his elbow had been bugging him for a while now, but he didn’t tell anyone and tried to pitch through it. “Tonight (the discomfort) just carried over to the game. I’ve been able to get through it in the game, and tonight obviously you could pretty much tell,” said Whitley to Chad Jennings.
If Whitley does indeed need Tommy John surgery, he would be the second Yankees starter to blow out his elbow on the Tropicana Field mound within the last 13 months. Ivan Nova tore his UCL in a start at the Trop last April and had Tommy John surgery soon thereafter So I guess we can blame the Rays, right? Heyman says Whitley will likely seek a second opinion before having surgery. I’d ask for a second opinion before having my moneymaker cut open too.
In four starts this year Whitley had a 4.19 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 19.1 innings. One start was good, one start was great, one start was bad, and one start was cut short by the injury. Whitley nearly made the team out of Spring Training, but the Yankees opted to send him to Triple-A so they could use him as an occasional spot starter to rest everyone else in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka‘s wrist/forearm injury pushed Whitley into the rotation full-time.
Joe Girardi confirmed Chris Capuano will replace Whitley in the rotation following last night’s game. Capuano threw six innings in his latest minor league rehab start earlier this week as he works his way back from a quad injury, so the timing worked out well. It’s unfortunate he’s coming back under these circumstances though. Girardi isn’t sure when Capuano will make his first start just yet. The Yankees have two off-days next week and don’t need their fifth starter again until May 26th.
For the time being, righty reliever Jose Ramirez has been called up from Triple-A to give the bullpen an extra arm. Presumably he or someone else (Branden Pinder?) will be sent down once Capuano is ready to be activated. There’s no need to activate Capuano just yet, so the Yankees get to carry an extra reliever for a few days. Ramirez, 25, has a 2.95 ERA (2.71 FIP) in 18.1 innings for the RailRiders this year.
Yesterday afternoon’s shutout loss to the Royals capped off a week in which the Yankees really struggled at the plate. After hitting five homers and scoring eleven runs on Monday, the Yankees scored just eleven runs in their next six games combined, with five of those runs coming Saturday. They were shut out yesterday for the first time all season.
This week, the Yankees will temporarily lose a big bat, and not to injury or anything like that. They’re set to play a quick little two-game series on the road against the Nationals, and NL rules mean no DH. Alex Rodriguez is hitting .250/.351/.563 (146 wRC+) on the year and Joe Girardi has already said A-Rod will be limited to DH duty going forward, which figures to put him on the bench in Washington.
“We haven’t talked about it. After Sunday there is an off day. I will have to see what we do there. I could depend on the next few days. Right now I haven’t thought about it,” said Joe Girardi to George King last week when asked about A-Rod’s status for the Washington series. Given the team’s newfound commitment to keeping Rodriguez off his feet so he can stay in the lineup, it’s tough to see how he’ll be a factor as anything other than a pinch-hitter these next two games.
Now, that said, Mark Teixeira fouled a pitch off his toe yesterday, and he eventually had to leave the game after trying to play through out. Thankfully x-rays came back negative, but Teixeira is still day-to-day, and it wouldn’t be a total surprise if the soreness lingers into tomorrow. A-Rod has already started one game at first base this year — it went awkwardly, like all things A-Rod — and starting him at first has to at least be a consideration if Teixeira can’t go. Right? Has to.
Girardi acknowledged Teixeira’s injury could lead the A-Rod playing against the Nationals — “It could,” said the skipper to King yesterday — but ultimately it doesn’t really matter who plays first base. Assuming the Yankees don’t suddenly reverse course and decide to play Alex at the ultra-demanding third base, they’ll be without A-Rod or Teixeira for the Washington series, and they’re basically the team’s two best hitters. Two best power hitters at the very least.
Teixeira has put up a .248/.366/.576 (149 wRC+) line on the season, and, if you had to pick between him or A-Rod for the Nats series, you’d have to pick Teixeira, right? They’re comparable hitters but Teixeira has the advantage of being a switch-hitter and an above-average defender at first. A-Rod’s two hip surgeries and recent hamstring issue figure to rule him out completely at third base, as it should. They can’t risk injury for two measly games. I love Alex, but Teixeira’s the more functional player right now by a considerable margin.
Girardi has a choice to make this week but not really. He’s going to lose a big bat during the series in Washington no matter what, and if Teixeira’s toe allows him to play first base, he has to play over A-Rod. I’m not sure I see a non-health reason to start Alex over Teixeira at this point. If Teixeira’s toe issue keeps him out of the lineup, then that’s a different story. I think the Yankees should run A-Rod out there at first over Garrett Jones in that case, even if it’s only for six or seven innings.
Either way, the Yankees are losing one of their very best hitters for the next two games, and that’s bad. The offense is having a real hard time scoring as it is. Remove A-Rod or Teixeira and suddenly the underperforming Brian McCann and Headley and Carlos Beltran have to carry even more of the load. The Yankees are catching a break by avoiding the Nationals’ top starters, but that doesn’t make me feel much better. The offense needs to break out of its funk, and they’ll have to do it the next two days without one of their top hitters.
The Yankees’ worst skid of the season continued with a 12-1 loss to the Royals on Friday night. Entering this series, they were the only AL team that hadn’t given up at least nine runs in a game this season. It was the first time the Yankees opened their season with a streak of at least 36 straight games allowing eight-or-fewer runs in each game since 1981 (38 games).
Michael Pineda‘s first start since his 16-strikeout game on Mothers Day couldn’t have been any more different than that historic one just a few days earlier.
He didn’t strike out his first batter until he got Lorenzo Cain swinging in the fifth inning, and that was the only guy that got rung up by Pineda in the game. Seems improbable, right? Almost. The last pitcher to get only one strikeout (or zero) in a game after whiffing at least 16 batters in his previous start was Mark Langston in 1988.
Although he struggled to put away batters, Pineda didn’t have any problems with his control, recording his fifth walk-free start of the season. Dating back to last September, Pineda hasn’t walked more than one guy in each of his last 10 games, pitching more than five innings in each of those starts. The only other Yankee in the last 100 years to fashion a streak like that was David Wells, who had also had a 10-game stretch in 1998 where he gave up one or fewer walks and pitched more than five innings in each outing.
How do you snap your longest losing streak of the season? This formula usually works: a vintage performance from your former ace pitcher and a couple longballs from the middle of the order.
CC Sabathia scattered six hits and allowed one run over seven innings, earning his second straight win after going winless in his first six starts of the season. This was the fourth time Sabathia has started a game with the Yankees on a losing streak of at least four games – and he is now 4-0 in those four starts.
Chase Headley hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the fifth inning and Alex Rodriguez added a solo shot in the ninth inning to provide the power in the Yankees’ 5-1 win. Three of Headley’s five homers this season have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead, and each of those three has come with two outs in the inning.
For A-Rod, it was his 10th homer of the season, and he joins Mark Teixeira as Yankees with double-digit homers in 2015. The only other seasons in the last 40 years when the Yankees had two players with at least 10 homers within the team’s first 38 games were 2005 (A-Rod and Tino Martinez) and 2009 (Teixeira and Johnny Damon).
A first for everything
As bad as the Yankees offense has been recently, they still had not been shut out in 2015 until Sunday’s 6-0 loss in the series finale. They were one of two MLB teams that had scored at least one run in every game this season, along with the Tigers and Blue Jays. It was the first time they had been blanked since September 15, 2014, snapping a streak of 51 straight games with scoring a run, which was the longest active streak among all major-league teams.
The loss was also the Yankees’ first one on a Sunday this year. Entering the game they were the only team undefeated (5-0) on Sundays in the majors this season.
Chris Capuano‘s first start of the season was “not what you want,” as he gave up four runs before he was pulled in the fourth inning. He’s the first Yankee to allow at least four runs in three innings pitched or fewer in Kansas City since David Wells on August 11, 2003. Sunday (May 17) also happened to be the anniversary of Wells’ perfect game against the Twins in 1998. So there’s that, at least.
Record Last Week: 2-5 (22 RS, 37 RA)
Season Record: 22-17 (171 RS, 156 RA, 21-18 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Nationals (two games, Tues. and Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rangers (three games, Fri. to Sat.)
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees opened the week with four games in Tampa. They hit five home runs en route to an 11-5 win in the opener, but couldn’t hold a lead in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss. The Yankees wasted another good pitching performance in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss, then the offense never got going in the 6-1 series-ending loss.
- Three games in Kansas City followed and the Royals blew the Yankees out 12-1 in the series opener. CC Sabathia and Chase Headley helped New York to a 5-1 win Saturday, but the Yankees were shut out for the first time this season in Sunday’s 6-0 loss.
- Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) has been throwing bullpen sessions and could pitch in a minor league game later this week. Chase Whitley (elbow) was placed on the 15-day DL with a sprain and is likely facing Tommy John surgery. Ivan Nova (elbow) is pitching in Extended Spring Training games. Brendan Ryan (calf, hamstring) has resumed playing minor league games. Greg Bird (shoulder) will miss several weeks with a strain. Ian Clarkin (elbow) has resumed pitching in Extended Spring Training. Brady Lail (head) was hit by a line drive but as since returned to action. Luis Severino (blister) will return soon.
- Both Jose Ramirez and Bryan Mitchell spent some time with the MLB team this week following Whitley’s injury. Jared Burton was released from Triple-A.
- Alex Rodriguez will be a DH exclusively going forward with Stephen Drew stepping in as the backup third baseman.
- The Yankees do not have interest in Troy Tulowitzki, who won’t request a trade from the Rockies anyway.
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Alright then. So much for stealing a series from the Royals. The Yankees lost the series finale 6-0 on Sunday afternoon and were shut out for the very first time this season. It was bound to happen at some point, right? It’s Sunday, so I’m going to recap with bullet points:
- Capua-Nope: Chris Capuano‘s first start off the DL started fine. He allowed one run through three innings on a Salvador Perez solo homer, but the wheels came off in the fourth. Walk, walk, run-scoring single, run-scoring single, boom, out of the game with no outs recorded in the inning. I thought Joe Girardi‘s hook was a little quick — they weren’t hitting rockets off Capuano, after all — but I understand they he went to the bullpen early. Needless to say, the Yankees need Capuano to be be better going forward.
- Tack-On Runs: Esmil Rogers replaced Capuano, allowed an inherited runner to score, then stranded runners at second and third with one out. A Chase Headley throwing error led to two unearned run in the fifth before Rogers, Justin Wilson, and Chasen Shreve combined to return to the final nine Royals to bat. Shreve struck out two in two perfect innings.
- Scattered Offense: The box score says six hits and two walks for the Yankees but it felt like much less. Their first base-runner was Alex Rodriguez‘s double off the wall with two-outs in the fourth, and it wasn’t until the game was out of reach that they made any sort of serious threat — five of the last ten men they sent to the plate reached base. Headley had two singles and was the only Yankee to reach base twice.
- Leftovers: Mark Teixeira fouled a ball off his toe and came out of the game in the late innings. X-rays came back negative and he is day-to-day … Headley’s error was his eighth of the year, which is as many as he had last year … the wrap-around 8-9-1 portion of the lineup went a combined 0-for-10 with two walks … the Yankees were shut out for the first time in 51 games dating back to last September, which was the longest streak in baseball.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Did you know there have already been nine (nine!) different YES Network announcer combinations this season? True story. Anyway, the Yankees have an off-day Monday and will open a quick two-game series with the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday. Nathan Eovaldi and Gio Gonzalez will be the pitching matchup in the opener.