Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the last few hours of the holiday weekend. The All-Star Game starters will be announced tonight (7:30pm ET on ESPN) though based on the various voting updates, don’t expect to see any Yankees named tonight. The rest of the rosters will be announced tomorrow. The Giants and Nationals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Vogelsong vs. Zimmermann) and the Women’s World Cup Final is on as well (USA vs. Japan at 7pm ET on FOX). Talk about whatever here. Have at it.

Yankees can’t finish sweep, get blown out 8-1 by Rays

Man, a sweep would have been so nice, but it was not meant to be. The Yankees dropped the series finale to the Rays on Sunday afternoon, getting blown out 8-1 thanks to an ineffective Ivan Nova and some hilaribad defense. Two out of three in the series ain’t bad. Just kinda disappointing.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

No Command
This was definitely not Nova’s day and it was clear from the get go. Nova allowed two runs on three hits to the first four batters he faced — David DeJesus and James Loney singled around an Evan Longoria double — and he threw a first pitch strike to just three of the first ten Rays to bat. Loney’s single drove in two runs and Tampa scored their third run thanks to a Brett Gardner mistake — he misread a line drive and let it sail over his head for a triple. It should have been an error but was scored a triple.

Nova put men on base in the third and fourth innings but escaped unscathed. The fifth inning started with a double and continued with an error. Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a bunt, Nova threw to third — Brian McCann told him to go to third — and the ball sailed wide of the bag and into foul territory, allowing the run to score. The throw to third was ill-advised in hindsight but I thought it was the right play. The catcher was running and it appears Chase Headley would have had plenty of time to apply the tag had the throw been on the money:

Ivan Nova error

The throw wasn’t on the money though, so Curt Casali scored the fourth run for the Rays. Nova got out of the inning without allowing any more damage. His afternoon ended with four runs (three earned) allowed on six hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out just one and threw only 45 of his 81 pitches for strikes (56%). Too few strikes. Too few first pitch strikes too — Nova went to a 1-0 count on 14 of 23 batters faced. Egads.

The road back from Tommy John surgery is rarely smooth and this was one of he bumps. Nova couldn’t locate consistently, was behind in the count all afternoon, and simply had to grind each at-bat. The misplay by Gardner and the error on the throw to third didn’t help either, though Ivan’s problems extended beyond that. Just one of those days. It happens, especially after elbow surgery. Shake it off, get ready to start again in later this week.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Blown Chances
You could see it coming a mile away. The Yankees had Erasmo Ramirez on the ropes in the first and second innings, never delivered the knockout blow, then Ramirez settled in. A double by Headley and walks by Mark Teixeira and McCann loaded the bases in the first before Garrett Jones grounded out. He swung at the first pitch after the back-to-back walks, which is always annoying, though the line of thinking is the pitcher wants to get one over and the most hittable pitch of the at-bat is the first. Didn’t work.

In the second, Didi Gregorius reached base on an error and Gardner drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Headley popped up in foul territory to end the threat. The Yankees had just one base-runner from the third through fifth innings and that was a hit-by-pitch. Ramirez started to tire in the sixth — Alex Rodriguez hit a solo homer and Teixeira hit a ball to the wall — but was able to strand a runner at second to end the inning. The solo homer cut the deficit from 4-0 to 4-1. Too little, too late.

Defense Optional
The Rays tacked on four runs in the eighth inning — after the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh only to have Headley bang into a double play, womp womp — because lol infield defense. Gregorius bobbled a slow chopper he tried to barehand (but didn’t need too because Longoria was running) and Jose Pirela managed to turn a double play ball into second and third with no outs. He booted the grounder, took his time retrieving the ball, then threw it into the dugout. Two errors on one play. That’s always a treat. A bloop drove in both runs. The Yankees were charged with three errors on the day (Nova, two on Pirela) but it could have easily been five because of the Gardner and Didi plays. The second base situation has become untenable. They need to fix this and fast.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Bryan Mitchell was charged with four totally undeserved runs (two earned) in two innings. He threw fire in his scoreless sixth and seventh innings, then allowed four runs on two soft ground balls, a bloop, and a hit batsman in the eighth thanks largely to the Didi and Pirela miscues. It didn’t help that Chris Capuano walked in a run and allowed a sac fly either. I’m digging Mitchell in short relief. He’s been impressive when the defense is Major League caliber behind him.

Oh by the way, the Yankees had just three hits on the day. A-Rod homered and both Headley and Jones doubled. They did drew five walks though, two by Gardner and one each by A-Rod, Teixeira, and McCann. Chris Young was also hit by a pitch but just barely. Same number of doubles plays as hits. Not good!

And finally, rumblin’ Nick Rumbelow tossed a perfect ninth inning, striking out two. He’s been impressive in his very limited big league time like Mitchell. Those two plus not a starter Adam Warren‘s return to the bullpen have settled down the righty reliever revolving door.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights. Also check out the updated standings as well as our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the LPA graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees have an off-day Monday and will open a three-game set against the Athletics at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Nathan Eovaldi will be on the mound against … someone. Oakland’s starter is officially TBA right now. They’re hoping it will be Sonny Gray, who’s been battling an illness of late. It’s the last home series before the All-Star break, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch one of those three games live.

Game 82: Finish the Sweep

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Another walk-off win? Probably not, but I’ll be happy with any kind of win this afternoon. The Yankees have taken care of business the first two games of this series against a division rival, though there’s still one more game to be played, one more win on the table. Today’s game will determine if this was a good series or a great series.

The bullpen has been worked hard the last few days, specifically Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson, who each pitched the last two days and three of the last four. Even with the off-day tomorrow, I’m guessing Joe Girardi will stay away from those two today. That means not a starter Adam Warren might pull double duty today — he might throw the eighth and ninth, with a little Chasen Shreve mixed in. We’ll see. Here is Tampa Bay’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s a lovely day in New York. Warm but not too hot, some clouds but not too many. Nice day for a ballgame. Today’s series finale will begin at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Andrew Miller (forearm) will throw one inning or 25 pitches for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow. It’s possible he will be activated after that. Depends whether he feels sharp.

Two Months of Alex

Coming into April of 2015, the range of expectations for Alex Rodriguez wasn’t all that wide. There were essentially two lines of thought regarding how he’d fare coming off of his suspension and various nagging injuries still leftover from 2013 and before. One line of thought was, at least nominally, optimistic: he’d probably do okay because of health and his immense talent as a baseball player. The other was damningly pessimistic: he’d probably embarrass himself because of rust and age. Suffice it to say, Rodriguez has surpassed those expectations. Aside from a few hot weeks by Brett Gardner, A-Rod has arguably been the team’s best and most consistent hitter for all of 2015. He went into yesterday’s games with a line of .284/.390/.508/.898 with 15 home runs, a total few would’ve guessed he’d have through July 4.

Rodriguez’s so far, so great season was largely aided by an absolutely stellar month of May, in which he hit .316/.369/.571 with six homers and five doubles. That power output–marked by a .255 ISO–was his best of the season so far (we’ll have to wait and see what July brings). While June was still successful–a .411 OBP with 18 walks as opposed to the seven free passes he got in May–it was his “worst” in terms of power, indicated by a .168 ISO. That number is definitely still good, but after what he did in May, June was a slight let down.

In terms of the way pitchers approached Alex, May and June were fairly similar. He faced about the same amount of fastballs and changeups, though there was an uptick in sinkers against him in June, which is actually where we can find some of the swooning power. Taking a look at his results, Rodriguez performed well against sinkers in May. While he had an ISO of just .105 against them, that stings a lot less when you’re hitting .316 against a given pitch type. In June, however, both of those numbers fell off the table. The increase in sliders–85 in May, 112 in June–led to a lower batting average, .208, and a nonexistent ISO of .000. A similar decrease occurred in the changeup category as well. During May, Rodriguez hit just .250 against the 41 changeups he saw, but he crushed the ones he did put in play to a .750 SLG and a .500 ISO. Once again in June, A-Rod hit .250 against changeups, but this time, his hits against the pitch only went for singles.

Anecdotally this year, we’ve watched A-Rod crush fastballs and hard stuff while struggling against breaking balls and other soft pitches. This runs contrary to what we may’ve thought coming into the year–time off could mean diminished bat speed, etc.–but it’s been fairly true and was fleshed out in both his best and “worst” power months. In both May (.375 AVG; .679 SLG; .304 ISO) and June (.333/.536/.222), he’s demolished fastballs and struggled a bit against breaking pitches–averages of .188 and .192 respectively, as well as SLGs/ISOs of .313/.125 and .308/.115. May saw Alex rip offspeed pitches (.400/.800/.400), but that didn’t happen in June: .222/.222/.000.

Regardless of the power drop-off from May to June, June was still a great month and Al from Miami has had a great season; there is little, if anything, to fret or complain about. He’s been a great hitter; he’s taken to the DH role well; he’s said and done all the right things. Here’s hoping he can continue this great year into the second half, and hopefully, into the playoffs.

Fourth of July Open Thread

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Hope you’re spending the holiday with friends and/or family and having a good time. Here’s an open thread to talk about whatever throughout the night. MLB Network and FOX are showing a whole bunch of regional games through the afternoon and evening, so there’s lots of baseball on the tube. Enjoy.

Yankees pick up Betances, walk-off with 3-2 win over Rays


Source: FanGraphs

Dellin Betances and the bullpen have been picking up the rest of the Yankees just about all season, but, on Saturday, it was time for the rest of the roster to pick up Betances. They did that with their second straight walk-off win, this one a 3-2 Independence Day victory over the Rays. That’s the fighting spirit. New York has won three straight. Love this team, you guys. Let’s recap with bullet points, for America:

  • Grande Miguel: Michael Pineda steps it up on holidays, huh? He struck out 16 on Mother’s Day and then chucked seven shutout innings with ten strike ’em outs on the Fourth of July. Pineda’s afternoon ended on an eighth inning leadoff double, but before that he retired 12 straight and 18 of 19. Five hits, one walk. The Rays swung at 19 of his sliders and missed 14 (!!!) times. Pineda has now turned in back-to-back strong starts after about a month of mediocrity following the 16-strikeout game.
  • Dinks & Dunks: Last night’s heroics notwithstanding, the offense hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire of late. The Yankees scored two first inning runs against Nathan Karns thanks to three soft singles — Brett Gardner hit a ground ball with eyes and then Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez found grass with bloops. Mark Teixeira had the hardest hit ball of the inning and it was a sacrifice fly to center. A-Rod singled in Gardner, Teixeira brought in Headley. Quick 2-0 lead.
  • Blown Save: Following the leadoff double in the eighth, Justin Wilson came in, struck out the two batters he faced, then Betances came in to face Evan Longoria as the tying run. He got him to ground out harmlessly to third. Then, in the ninth, Betances allowed a leadoff single to the un-get-out-able James Loney before leaving a breaking ball on a tee for Steven Souza. Souza crushed it for a no-doubt game-tying two-run homer. That was unfortunate. First ninth inning blown save of the season for New York.
  • Walk-Off: Friday’s walk-off was a good ol’ fashioned dinger. Saturday’s was less conventional. In the bottom of the ninth, Rays relief ace Brad Boxberger got ahead in the count 0-2 on Teixeira, who then pulled a seeing-eye double through the shift and into the right field corner. A seeing-eye double! Boxberger then got ahead 0-2 on Chris Young, who managed to work a walk. Ramon Flores squared around to bunt, got it down, and Boxberger’s throw to first was in the dirt. Jake Elmore couldn’t make a clean scoop and Jose Pirela, who pinch-ran for Teixeira, hustled around third to score. Great hustle by him. And great two-strike hitting by Teixeira and Young.
  • Leftovers: In addition to those three first inning hits and Teixeira’s ninth inning double, Garrett Jones doubled into the left-center field corner and Didi Gregorius singled to left. Headley, Young, and Stephen Drew drew the walks … prior to Teixeira’s leadoff double in the ninth, 14 of the previous 16 Yankees to bat made outs … for the record, it was a walk-off error charged to Boxberger … the Yankees didn’t have a walk-off win coming into this series but now have two in the span of 17 hours or so … this is their first set of back-to-back walk-off wins since September 2012 against the A’s.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Rays wrap up this three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Ivan Nova and Erasmo Ramirez will be the starting pitchers.

Minor League Update: It’s a holiday, so I’m taking the day off from the regular minor league update. All the box scores are right here, so check ’em out at your convenience. Most of the games don’t start until 6:30-7pm ET.

Game 81: Halfway Point

Today is the halfway point of the season. Game 81. What have we learned about the 2015 Yankees so far? We’ve learned they look damn near unbeatable at their best and a cellar-dweller at their worst. I suppose that’s true of every team, but these Yankees seem to take it to the extreme. If you’d have told me back in Spring Training they’d be in first place in the AL East heading into the 81st game, even by just one game, I’d have taken it. That’s where they are right now.

This afternoon the Yankees are looking to build on last night’s thrilling come from behind walk-off win. They’re 43-37 right now and will hopefully be 44-37 in a few hours. After 81 games last year they were 41-40. The year before that they were 42-39. Hooray for being better than the 2013-14 Yanks. Here is the Tampa Bay lineup and here is the New York Yankees of America lineup on this Independence Day:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Garrett Jones
  6. LF Ramon Flores
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Michael Pineda

The weather isn’t great in New York. It’s cloudy and overcast, but there’s no rain in the forecast and the sun is supposed to make an appearance at some point. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on FOX Sports 1 only. No YES, no WPIX, nothing. Just FS1. Enjoy the game everyone.

Injury Update: Andrew Miller (forearm) threw 30 pitches in the bullpen and everything went well. He wants to make a minor league rehab appearance before rejoining the team. “I don’t want to come into a game unprepared,” he said. “I can’t come into a game and not be sharp. Can’t afford that.”