DotF: Amburgey homers in Staten Island’s important win; Tampa’s season ends with a loss

Triple-A Scranton (4-0 win over Syracuse) their season ends tomorrow … they’ve already clinched the division title

  • LF Jake Cave: 4-5, 1 R, 1 2B — 7-for-19 (.368) in six games at this level
  • 2B Ali Castillo: 1-3, 2 BB
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 3-5, 3 RBI, 1 K — he’s hot at exactly the right time
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-5, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 9/2 GB/FB — 60 of 99 pitches were strikes … the designated Triple-A innings eater finishes the season with a 3.30 ERA and 99/37 K/BB in a system leading 152.2 innings
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

This is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Pirates at the Cardinals (Cole vs. Lackey), so that should be fun. Another opportunity to lament the Yankees not signing Gerrit Cole in the 2008 draft. Anyway, talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, and whatever else right here.

Yankees rally from behind for 6-4 win over Rays in series finale

That was a Good Win. Things did not look good early in Sunday’s game against the Rays, but the Yankees rallied from behind to beat Tampa and their ace Chris Archer. The final score was 6-4.

Oh yeah. (Presswire)
Oh yeah. (Presswire)

Back-To-Back & Back In It
Not surprisingly, the Yankees got completely shut down by Archer for the first five innings. He’s excellent, and he also seems to have New York’s number. Archer came into this start with a career 1.78 ERA in eight starts and 55.2 innings against the Yankees, including a 1.54 ERA in five starts and 35 innings at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had just two base-runners in the first five innings against Archer: a Chase Headley walk and a Jacoby Ellsbury single, both in the third inning. That’s it.

The sixth inning is when the game turned around. Ellsbury started the inning with a one out soft line drive single to right, then Carlos Beltran worked a two-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate. That was pretty clearly their best chance to get back into the game. It was now or never, probably. Archer started Brian McCann off with four straight balls … except the fourth ball was called a strike because of the silly 3-0 autostrike that always seems to pop up at the worst times.

McCann should have walked. Thankfully, he didn’t. The next pitch was middle-middle fastball — Archer missed his spot big time — and McCann hammered it into the right field bleachers for his career-high 25th home run. It was a no-doubter off the bat. It had the good sound and everything. Suddenly, the game was tied 3-3. One pitch later, it was untied. Alex Rodriguez lifted Archer’s very next pitch the other way and into the second row of the right field seats for a solo homer and a 4-3 lead. One dinger is good. Back-to-back dingers is way better.


Just Good Enough
In his last six starts, Ivan Nova has allowed 23 runs and 49 base-runners in 33.1 innings. The Yankees have won two of those six games. Sunday afternoon Nova allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in six innings against Tampa, serving up a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier and a jam-shot run-scoring single to Logan Forsythe. The homer was an awful pitch, a quad-high hanging curveball Kiermaier yanked into the short porch, but the Forsythe single was just baseball being stupid. Nova jammed him real good …

Ivan Nova Logan Forsythe

… and it found grass. So it goes. Nova had just one 1-2-3 inning (the fourth) and the Rays got a runner into scoring position in every inning but the second, fourth, and fifth. (Kiermaier hit his homer in the second though.) It could have been a lot worse had the Rays not gone 1-for-7 (.143) with runners in scoring position with Nova on the mound. (Forsythe’s jam shot was the one.) Every fan thinks their team sucks with runners in scoring position, but the Rays really do suck with runners in scoring position. They ranked 27th in baseball with a .236 AVG in those situations coming into the day.

Anyway, Nova is what he is at this point. A serviceable starter who both frustrating and occasionally brilliant, though since Tommy John surgery there’s been a lot more frustration than brilliance. That’s not surprising. It usually takes a while for guys to get back into their groove following elbow reconstruction. Nova’s not coming out of the rotation, and for now starts like this seem to be the best case. Not a disaster, not great. Winnable.


Up To The Bullpen
One run lead after six innings? Time to go to that bullpen. Joe Girardi called on Justin Wilson to start the seventh and he struck out the side … except McCann couldn’t hang on to Daniel Nava’s foul tip for the third out. He almost had it. Couldn’t stop it from hitting the dirt though. Such is life. Nava then smacked a double into the left-center field gap to extend the inning.

As expected, Girardi went to Dellin Betances to face Evan Longoria with the runner on second and two outs in the seventh. Dellin walked Longoria then got Grady Sizemore — still can’t believe Sizemore is hitting cleanup for a kinda sorta contending team in 2015 — to ground out harmlessly to third to end the inning. Exhale. Betances went back out for the eighth, gave up a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera, hit James Loney with a breaking ball, then got an inning-ending double play from Kiermaier. Exhale again.

The Yankees added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, so they still had a 5-4 lead after Asdrubal’s homer. They added another run in the eighth too. Didi Gregorius helped create both. He singled in the seventh, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an error. In the eighth he laced a single back up the middle with the bases loaded and one out. Steve Geltz walked himself into trouble in the eighth, then Didi got the big hit against a funky lefty. Pretty awesome. He’s come such a long way in a short period of time.

Andrew Miller came on for the ninth inning with the Yankees up 6-4. J.P. Arencibia flew out to the right field warning track, Joey Butler struck out, Mikie Mahtook singled, Longoria singled, Mahtook moved to third a wild pitch, then Brandon Guyer struck out. Never easy. Miller is 31 for 32 in save chances this year. Fun Fact: Mahtook is the kid the Rays selected with the first round draft pick the Yankees forfeited to sign Rafael Soriano a few years ago.


Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Brett Gardner, Headley, and Stephen Drew. Gardner hit the ground ball that led to Forsythe’s error and the insurance run in the eighth, and Headley drew a walk. Drew bobbled an error on a ground ball. Not a great afternoon for him.

Ellsbury, A-Rod, and Gregorius each had two hits. Greg Bird doubled immediately after A-Rod’s homer, so he Yankees managed three straight extra-base hits off Archer. They had five walks and five strikeouts as a team. The Yanks have 19 games with at least as many walks as strikeouts this year, fifth most in the league.

And finally, the Yankees are now 10-6 against the Rays this season. This is the first time they have won the season series against Tampa since 2009, if you can believe that. That 2009 season was a good one. Let’s do that again.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game and the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is 22 as of this writing, so Roger Clemens is in the sidebar. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are done with the Rays and the Orioles are coming to the Bronx next. The two teams kick off their three-game series with a Labor Day matinee on Monday. Michael Pineda and Wei-Yin Chen will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other six games on the homestand live at Yankee Stadium.

Game 135: Rubber Game


The Yankees and Rays have split the first two games of this three-game series, so this afternoon’s game will decide whether the homestand starts with a series win or a series loss. Needless to say, a series loss would be very bad this time of season. The margin for error is tiny.

Over the last three weeks, the Yankees are 6-6 in their last 12 home games. Nine of those games were played against mediocre teams. That’s … no way to get back to the postseason. Two ten-game homestands this close together this late in the season are a gift. Would be nice to take advantage, you know? Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

Pretty great weather for the holiday weekend. It’s nice and sunny with temperatures in the low-80s. This afternoon’s game will start just after 1pm ET and you can YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Update: As expected, Nick Goody has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. Today was the first day they could bring him back. His ten days since he was last sent down are up. The Yankees now have a 12-man bullpen.

The (Non) Acquisition

Drew. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Drew. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

At various points during the 2015 season, we’ve been fed up and “done” with multiple players. Didi Gregorius‘s first few weeks in pinstripes were far from smooth. Carlos Beltran looked deep fried, extra crispy, well done and every other overcooked food metaphor you can think of during the first month of the season. Then, there’s Stephen Drew, a player who has, can, and will draw ire from Yankee fans in a variety of different ways for a variety of different reasons. This outrage, however mild or vitriolic, is not unfounded. There’s no denying that Drew had a wholly awful season in 2014 no matter how you slice it and started of 2015 just as poorly.

Though he showed some pop with five homers between April and May of this year, Drew hit just .157/.225/.301/.526. He also suffered from an unfathomably low .164 BABIP in that time, though his exit velocity in the beginning of the season was below league average, hinting that hard contact wasn’t quite his thing (aside from the homers, of course). Drew’s dreadful start to the season prompted many fans–myself included–to wonder when the Yankees would cut bait with Drew and make a change at second base. The team certainly had options, with the trade market available and Rob Refsnyder hanging in the minors; he even got a call up and a brief audition during a weekend series with the Red Sox. A trade never happened and the Yankees didn’t call up Refsynder (for the long-term, that is), but the Yankees were right to hold onto Drew as the starting second baseman, even after that dismal beginning tacked onto a poor end to 2014.

It was remarkably frustrating to watch Drew during April and May, but the non-trade was defensible. Though there were trade possibilities, we have no idea what the Yankees did or what the market actually looked like. While it’s likely that Refsnyder will be better than Stephen Drew was during those first months, in the short term, a guy getting his first exposure to MLB is likely to suffer from non-ideal play. It’s a moot point since the time has passed, but it’s definitely possible that Refsnyder, in the short term, would’ve been just as bad or worse than Drew at the plate during his first extended time in the majors. That also ignores defense, which Drew is pretty good at and Refsnyder has a bad reputation with.

And even if it wasn’t really a trade or a signing or a promotion, the Yankees did get a new second baseman on June 1. From that point on, Drew has hit .246/.317/.473/.791 (compare that to the .715 league average OPS for an AL 2B). This is something I–and others–have been parroting for a while now when I see the lingering complaints about Drew’s play. Due to that awful start, everyone seems ready to jump on him whenever he has a poor at bat. Did this come out of no where? Sort of, given how terrible he was at the end of 2014 and the beginning of this year. But there were promising signs in those early struggles.

During the first two months, he did have a walk rate of 8.2% and and ISO of .144. Neither one of those numbers is outstanding, but neither is bad. He also so a solid 4.04 pitches per plate appearances, so he wasn’t giving away at bats; the results just weren’t there. Since June and his turnaround, Drew has a similar walk rate of just over 9% and an ISO of .227, much better than the first two months. The basic underlying things were there for Drew and the Yankees recognized them and held onto Drew. Now, given his second half surge, the Yankees do look pretty smart for holding onto him at second.

Had the Yankees made a change–like trading for Ben Zobrist or someone similar–I would not have been mad or even reacted in any sort of negative way. However, this does serve as a reminder that most of the time, we are not as informed as the organization is and we do not know nearly as much as we think we do. This isn’t to say that teams should be free from blame or criticism, but rather that we should remember we have no where near as much information or context as the teams do. Their reluctance to let go of Drew was not stubbornness. Their reluctance to let go of Drew was not hanging onto a sunk cost for the sake of saving face. It was a calculated decision made with knowledge of the alternatives. The organization clearly didn’t think that any internal replacements, like Refsnyder, would outperform drew and that any external replacements, like a trade or signing, wouldn’t be worth the cost. It’s likely that the Yankees saw the underlying numbers and data that pointed to a rebound for Stephen Drew and they made the choice to stay with him and it paid off.

DotF: Pulaski eliminated from postseason with Game Three loss

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 loss to Syracuse in ten innings, walk-off style) their season ends Monday … they’ve already clinched the division title

  • LF Slade Heathcott: 3-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — got picked off first … 17-for-53 (.321) in his last 14 games
  • 2B Ali Castillo: 3-5, 1 R, 3 3B, 1 RBI, 1 CS — 9-for-22 (.409) in five games since being bumped up to Triple-A
  • DH Ben Gamel: 3-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — his 52 extra-base hits lead the system
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-5, 1 R, 2 K
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • RHP Brady Lail: 3 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/3 GB/FB — 45 of 82 pitches were strikes (55%) … finishes the season with a 2.91 ERA and 88/40 K/BB in 148.1 innings, third most in the system behind LHP Conner Kendrick (150.1) and RHP Jaron Long (149.2)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 2 IP, zeroes, 5 K — 21 of 33 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K — 16 of 28 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — ten of 18 pitches were strikes (56%)

[Read more…]