Here is your open thread for the last few hours of the weekend. Yesterday’s weather kinda stunk but it was gorgeous today here in New York. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Pirates at the Dodgers (Volquez vs. Greinke), plus the Kings and Blackhawks are playing Game Seven (8pm ET on NBCSN) to determine who will face the (hockey) Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals, so that’s fun. Talk about this afternoon’s game, either of tonight’s games, or anything else right here. Have at it.
What looked like a nice and tidy 2-1 win to take Sunday’s game from the Twins turned into a revenge-fueled 7-2 loss in a hurry. With the help of a pair of former Yankees, Minnesota grabbed the series finale and sent the Bombers home with a hard to swallow loss.
Bad Ninth Inning
bottom top of the ninth might have been the worst inning of the season to date. The Yankees nursed a one-run lead for four innings before handing the ball off to David Robertson, who promptly allowed a game-tying solo homer to Josh Willingham on his very first pitch. No mystery here, it was just a bad pitch up in the zone. The blown save was Robertson’s second of the season, joining the Adam Dunn walk-off homer in Chicago a week ago.
Blowing the lead was bad enough, but then the Twins piled on for five more runs in that ninth inning. Robertson alternated strikeouts and walks the next four batters, putting two on with two outs. He left another pitch up in the zone to All-Star-to-be Brian Dozier, who tomahawked it down the left field line for a go-ahead double. Robertson issued an intentional walk to Joe Mauer and was pulled from the game. He was all over the place and it looks like he could use a few days off after being asked to get all those four-out saves the last few weeks.
Matt Daley replaced Robertson, threw one pitch, and allowed a two-run double to ex-Yankee Eduardo Nunez. Nothing quite like getting beat by Eduardo Scissorhands, huh? In came Matt Thornton to face the lefty swinging Oswaldo Arcia, and he allowed a two-run single to center. The Twins scored six runs in the inning including five with two outs. Robertson was charged with four of those runs, so he went from a 2.08 ERA to a 4.50 ERA in an afternoon. It’ll take him all season to work that outing off.
Three Hits In Phil’s Return
Phil Hughes pitched very well in his return to Yankee Stadium. Certainly better than he did at any point in the Bronx over the last few years. He held the Yankees to three hits and all three came consecutively: Brett Gardner tripled off the right field wall to lead off the fourth, Derek Jeter lined a Jeterian single to right to score the run, then Jacoby Ellsbury followed with another single to put runners on the corners. Ichiro Suzuki later plated Jeter with a sacrifice fly.
Four of the six batters who put the ball in play in that fourth inning did so within the first three pitches of the at-bat. Hughes has always been a guy who gets ahead in the count with his fastball — his percentage of 0-2 counts last year was the second highest in baseball behind Cliff Lee, for example — and the Yankees took advantage by jumping on fastballs early in the count. It worked very well in that fourth inning after the lineup turned over, but not much after that.
Following Brian McCann‘s walk to load the bases in the fourth (more on that later), Hughes settled down and retired the final 15 men he faced. His final line was those two runs on three hits and two walks in eight innings. Caleb Thielbar retired the side in order in the ninth, so the final 18 batters the Yankees sent to the plate made outs. New York scored six runs in the three-game series and Minnesota started two pitchers who had the two highest ERAs in baseball (Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Correia). Impressive stuff.
Whitley’s Yankee Stadium Debut
For the first time in his brief Major League career, Chase Whitley faced a lineup with a DH on Sunday afternoon. His first three starts came on the road against the Mets, the Cubs, and the Cardinals. The extra hitter didn’t seem to bother Whitley at all — he held the Twins to one run in five innings of work, which is more or less the norm for him so far in his career. Five hits (all singles) and no walks with six strikeouts in those five innings.
The Twins scored that one run in the third inning because, well, the infield defense stinks. It’s a factor every game. A ground ball two steps to Jeter’s right scooted by for a leadoff single, Brian Roberts muffed a potential double play ball and was only able to get the out at first, then Trevor Plouffe hit a legitimate single to left to score Aaron Hicks from second with two outs. This defense, man. Whitley shook it off and retired nine of the final 12 men he faced, and one of the three exceptions was an infield single off that bounced in and out of Yangervis Solarte‘s glove. There’s that defense again. Whitely only threw 83 pitches and it’s pretty clear the Yankees don’t want him going through the opposing lineup a third time. That’s fine, five innings of one-run ball from the eighth starter is cool with me.
The top four hitters in the lineup went a combined 3-for-14 with two walks. The bottom five went 0-for-14. Yuck. McCann is starting to draw some walks (two in this game, seven in his last 12 games) and looks way more comfortable at the plate lately. It’s almost like adjusting to a new league and having to learn an entirely new pitching staff hurt his offense for a few weeks.
Betances retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings, five on strikeouts and one on a weak ground ball to third. Typical Dellin, really. I was hoping Joe Girardi would send him back out for the eighth because a) he had only thrown 22 low-stress pitches, and b) he is probably going to try to stay away from Betances on Monday anyway, so why not maximize this outing? Alas. Adam Warren pitched around a two-out ground rule double in the eighth before Robertson imploded in the ninth.
Gardner dove head-first into first base with two outs in the eighth inning. Hustle is great but that is such a dangerous and unnecessary play. The Yankees challenged the close call, which was upheld. I’m going to pretend the review crew in midtown ruled Gardner out on principle for sliding head-first into first.
McCann ended Hughes’ walk-less streak at 179 batters, 45.2 innings, and six starts. As best I can tell, that is the longest an AL pitcher has gone between walks since former Twin Brad Radke in 2005 (191 batters). Twins pitchers, man.
Robinson Cano and the Mariners come back to town for a quick little one-game series on Monday night. That is the makeup game of last month’s rainout, which I’m sure you remember. David Phelps will be on the mound against Felix Hernandez. Of course it’s Felix. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch that game or any of the other three games left on the homestand.
I swear, it feels like just yesterday I was sitting in the loge boxes watching Phil Hughes make his Major League debut against (A.J. Burnett and) the Blue Jays. Other than Phil’s start, the one thing I remember most about that night was Matt Stairs taking batting practice. Most guys will try to work on things during BP, like hitting to all fields or whatever, but Stairs just loaded up and tried to yank the ball down the line and into the upper deck. It was pretty awesome, but I digress.
Hughes rode the career roller coaster with the Yankees. He was a first round pick, a super-hyped prospect, a budding ace, injured, an elite setup man, a World Series champion, an All-Star starter, injured again, an okay starter, injured yet again, and a replacement level starter. There were definitely some awesome moments and some not so awesome moments as well. The near no-hitter/blown hamstring game feels like a microcosm of his career, so much excitement and potential but ultimately disappointment. Hughes wasn’t a bust for the Yankees (Andrew Brackman, now that’s a bust) but he sure was disappointing.
Phil returns to Yankee Stadium this afternoon as a member of the Twins. The big ballpark in the Bronx was no doubt a terrible fit for his fly ball style, and while moving into spacious Target Field accounts for some of his success this year (3.23 ERA and 2.61 FIP), Hughes has also adopted an ultra-aggressive approach, perhaps at the urging of the pitch-to-contact-loving Twins staff. He has not walked a batter in his last 44.2 innings, a span of 175 batters faced. He has not walked a hitter in each of his last six starts, the longest such streak in baseball since Stephen Strasburg did it in six straight in 2011. He deserves a lot of credit for that.
I so badly wanted Hughes to succeed as a starter with the Yankees, but it didn’t happen. Now I hope they crush him today like I hope they crush every pitcher every day. The page has turned and he’s wearing the wrong uniform. That’s baseball. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Brian Roberts
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- DH Zoilo Almonte
RHP Chase Whitley
It is gorgeous in New York today. Blue skies, barely any clouds, and no rain in the forecast. Perfect day to win a series. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Michael Pineda Update: Pineda (shoulder) will be shut down for at least ten days before he resumes throwing. Based on that, it seems like the absolutely earliest he will return is the first week of July, right before the All-Star break.
Via Jon Heyman: Hal Steinbrenner and several other members of the Yankees’ hierarchy have interest in signing Kendrys Morales. I assume that interest only increased when Mark Teixeira left yesterday’s game with more wrist soreness and received a cortisone shot. Hal has already indicated a willingness to add payroll to improve the team at midseason.
Morales, 30, hit .277/.336/.449 (116 wRC+) with 23 homers for the Mariners last year, and his switch-hitting bat would look marvelous in the middle of the lineup. That said, he would further limit the team’s roster flexibility. By a lot. Morales is more of a DH than a first baseman at this point — he has played only 59 games at first (214 at DH) since destroying his ankle in 2010 — and with Carlos Beltran on the mend, the DH spot doesn’t figure to be open much. Beltran will reportedly return as the full-time DH because they don’t want to risk re-aggravating the bone spur in his elbow by making him throw.
Morales will no longer require forfeiting a draft pick this coming Friday, so there’s no reason not to wait these last six days before signing him. He would help the Yankees, there’s no doubt about it, but unless Beltran winds up undergoing surgery or Teixeira misses an extended amount of time and the team doesn’t care about further weakening the infield defense, it’s tough to see Morales as anything but a square peg in a round roster hole. · (47) ·
Despite some less than inspiring play, the Yankees have now won five of their last seven games. They took the second game of the weekend series against the Twins on Saturday afternoon, rallying late behind their ace for a 3-1 win. Let’s recap:
- Tanaka Time: Had it not been for some more bad infield defense, Masahiro Tanaka might have thrown eight scoreless innings or even a shutout on Saturday afternoon. Kelly Johnson booted a hard-hit ground ball to lead off the game, and the runner eventually came around to score on Josh Willingham’s two-out single to right. After that, Tanaka retired 22 of 26 batters faced, including eight on strikeouts. He allowed just the one unearned run on four singles and two walks, fanning nine and getting ten ground ball outs. Tanaka was brilliant against the Twins, just as he has for most of the season. A man among boys.
- Blown Chances: Kevin Correia came into the game with the very worst ERA in baseball (6.34), yet the Yankees let him off the hook in the first two innings. Mark Teixeira struck out and Brian McCann grounded into a double play after they loaded the bases with no outs in the first, then Brendan Ryan grounded into an inning-ending double play with two on in the second. Yangervis Solarte was also thrown out at second after foolishly trying to advance on a throw to the plate on his single in the sixth, just like Derek Jeter on Friday. Correia allowed just one run (Solarte’s solo homer) in six innings. Gross.
- Late Rally: Jacoby Ellsbury set the table for the game-winning rally in the eighth with his legs, his greatest weapon. He singled with one out in the inning, stole second, then moved to third when the throw went into center field. Brian Roberts drew a walk to put runners on the corners, and rather than hit into another inning-ending double play, McCann doubled into the right field corner to drive in a run. Johnson atoned for his error with a run-scoring single later in the inning, after a 30 or so minute rain delay. Those were some mighty big hits.
- Leftovers: David Robertson pitched around a(nother) error in the ninth by striking out the side. I love it when he does that … McCann doubled twice and is quietly hitting .268/.355/.448 in his last 20 games, dating back to the start of the Brewers series. That’s a pretty great approximation of what he can do over a full season … Solarte went 3-for-4 with the homer and has officially broken out of his slump … Brett Gardner and Johnson both singled twice, Jeter singled and doubled, and Ellsbury singled and walked … Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-3 with a rare walk … the Yankees had 4+ extra-base hits for only the second time in their last 15 games.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. These two teams will wrap up this series with the rubber game on Sunday afternoon, when Phil Hughes makes his first career start against the Yankees. Chase Whitley will be on the bump for New York. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to see Hughes’ return live.
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Indianapolis)
- DH Corban Joseph: 0-5
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-5, 1 K
- SS Zelous Wheeler: 2-4, 1 R
- C Austin Romine: 3-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI – every once in a while he’ll do this to remind you he’s still only 25 and was pretty well regarded
- RHP Shane Greene: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 13/1 GB/FB — 62 of 99 pitches were strikes (63%) … there we go, that’s the Shane Greene we saw last season
- RHP Danny Burawa: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 25 of 41 pitches were strikes (61%)
Here is your open thread for this lovely Saturday evening. I didn’t think it would end up being so nice after all that rain this afternoon. The Rays and Red Sox will be on FOX, plus MLB Network will air a different game later tonight. There also an NBA postseason game on as well. Talk about any of those games, this afternoon’s win over the Twins, or anything else right here.
Michael Pineda has been shut down for after suffering a setback, Joe Girardi confirmed. An MRI showed inflammation in his back/shoulder, the same spot as his original injury. The good news is that there was no structural damage. Pineda was not expected back until the middle of next month, and now it seems like the Yankees will be lucky if he returns before the All-Star break. · (49) ·
5:00pm: Joe Girardi said Teixeira will not play tomorrow or Monday, and will then be re-evaluated on Tuesday. He received a cortisone shot today.
3:24pm: Teixeira left the game with right wrist soreness, the Yankees announced. Don’t like where this is going.
3:05pm: Mark Teixeira was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning of this afternoon’s game for an unknown reason, though chances are it has something to do with his surgically repaired wrist. Brian Roberts was on deck to pinch-hit for him when the fifth inning ended, which is weird. Means Teixeira was coming out of the game then stayed in to play defense for another half-inning. He sat three games last week because of inflammation in the wrist, and a visit to the doctor on Thursday confirmed the diagnosis. Stay tuned for updates. · (35) ·
The 2014 amateur draft begins in only six days. Here are some stray links to help pass the time:
- Latest Mock Drafts: Here are the most recent mock drafts from Keith Law (subs. req’d), Baseball America, and MLB.com. All three have the Astros taking San Diego HS LHP Brady Aiken first overall. Also, all three mock drafts are the first round only, so the Yankees are not included. Bummer.
- Latest Rankings: MLB.com just released their top 200 draft prospects list while Baseball America stretched their rankings out to 500 names. That’s roughly 15 rounds worth of players. The MLB.com list is great because it includes scouting reports, video, and 20-80 scouting scale grades for each player, all for free.
- As a reminder, the Yankees don’t pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason spending spree. Their spending pool for the top ten rounds is $3,202,300, including $1,018,700 for that second round pick. None of their other picks are slotted for seven figures.