Despite strong Triple-A showing, the Yankees aren’t ready to bring Luis Severino back to MLB

(Danna Stevens/Times Tribune)
(Danna Stevens/Times Tribune)

Without question, CC Sabathia‘s renaissance is the best story in an otherwise mediocre 2016 Yankees season. Sabathia has been able to overcome years of declining stuff and personal demons to turn in what is truly a Cy Young caliber performance to date. It’s hard not to love what the big man is doing this season. It’s so fun to watch.

On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t think there has been a bigger disappointment this year than Luis Severino. The young right-hander impressed in his second half cameo last year and was poised to emerge as a rotation force this season. Instead, he struggled big time, pitching to a 7.46 ERA (5.50 FIP) in 35 innings before getting hurt and demoted to Triple-A. It was a well-earned demotion, no doubt.

Since joining the RailRiders, Severino has posted a 2.52 ERA (2.85 FIP) in four starts and 25 innings. It’s not much, but it is right in line with what he did in the minors from 2014-15 (2.45 ERA and 2.42 FIP). That’s good! Had Severino gone down to Triple-A and continued to struggle, it would be a big problem. A big problem and very scary. The top young pitcher in the organization would still be broken.

Severino’s performance in Triple-A has been very good, and it stands to reason the Yankees want to get him back to the big leagues at some point, but right now there does not seem to be any urgency to do so. Joe Girardi told reporters the other day he’s watched all of Severino’s minor league starts and he still believes there is work to be done. From Randy Miller:

“It still needs some tuning up,” Girardi said Sunday before the Yankees and Minnesota Twins finished up their four-game series at Target Field. “It’s location. Consistency is the big thing. You see some really good pitches, some well-located pitches, but it’s consistency and here (in the majors) you can’t leave ball in the middle of the plate or they get hammered. So I think a lot of times you have to look beyond the numbers.”

“I think sometimes you see the location is not where it needs to be,” Girardi said. “He throws some really good sliders, then he throws some that are up or lack the downward movement that you want.

“I think he’s making strides. I think he’s becoming more consistent, but we’re looking for some more.”

Severino’s biggest problem with the Yankees earlier this season was his command, particularly of his slider and changeup. The stuff was fine. He had the velocity and his slider had some bite to it, but he left too many pitches in the hitting zone and batters really made him pay. Opponents hit .316 with a measly 11.6% swing-and-miss rate against his slider, for example. That is legitimately awful. The league averages are .211 and 15.2%, respectively.

Unfortunately, we don’t have access to any video of Severino’s minor league starts, so we haven’t been able to see him for ourselves. MiLB.com has just one highlight video from his time in Triple-A, and it’s a full three-pitch strikeout at-bat. The first pitch was a fastball, the next two were nasty sliders down in the zone. Check it out:

Based on that three-pitch look, Severino’s command is fixed! Those are two pretty good sliders. Too bad it doesn’t work like that. That at-bat represents 0.898% of the pitches he’s thrown with the RailRiders this year. They don’t tell us much at all. Severino broke off some nasty sliders in the big leagues earlier this year too.

When Girardi says “sometimes you see the location is not where it needs to be” you can be sure that is an organizational opinion and not his alone. After all, Girardi doesn’t make the roster moves. He might have input — I’m certain he does after 8+ years on the job — but at the end of the day, the front office is going to decide who is and who isn’t on the roster. Right now Severino is not considered MLB ready.

And you know what? That is perfectly fine with me. I was on board with sending Severino down to the minors to work on things right before his injury and nothing has changed. He’s too important to rush back just because the numbers are good. There are specific flaws that need to be addressed — again, the location of his secondary pitches — and if Girardi and the Yankees say there hasn’t been enough progress, then there hasn’t been enough progress.

Although the team insists they’re trying to contend — of course they’re going to say that, what do they have to gain by saying they’re going to trade everyone and rebuild? — improving the 2017 Yankees has to be a priority right now, and part of that is getting Severino right. If that means more time in Triple-A, so be it. Severino is too important to the franchise long-term. His development should continue in the minors until it is certain his command has improved.

Let’s talk about Starlin Castro, the Yankees’ talented yet frustrating second baseman

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees are a little more than 40% of the way through the 2016 season, and so far things are not going according to plan. They need a serious run to get back into the postseason race and that run needs to happen soon. The season isn’t so young anymore, you know? It’s only going to get harder and harder to climb back into the race from here.

Starlin Castro is now a little more than 40% of the way through his first season in pinstripes, and based on what we’ve seen so far, I think the best way to describe his season is: meh. Certainly not great, but not truly abysmal either. Adequate is a good word. Or maybe participatory. He’s not the reason the Yankees are out of the postseason picture but he’s probably not someone who will carry them back into the race either. Here are some thoughts on Starlin’s first few weeks in New York.

1. He stopped hitting after the Astros series. Boy did Castro make a great first impression. He came out of the gate and went 7-for-12 (.583) with two doubles and two homers in the season-opening three-game series against the Astros. Starlin drove in eight runs in the three games. It was easy to dream on Castro being a guy who is energized by the bright lights of New York and carrying the offense going forward.

Instead, in the 66 team games since that Astros series, Castro has hit .234/.271/.365 (68 wRC+) in 259 plate appearances, which is not an insignificant sample. His overall season batting line sits at .250/.285/.406 (83 wRC+), which is awfully close to the .265/.296/.375 (80 wRC+) batting line he put up last season. Starlin definitely has had his moments …

… and yes, he has been better than Stephen Drew was last year (76 wRC+), but not by a ton. Overall, I don’t think many will disagree with me when I say Castro has been underwhelming offensively. He leaves you wanting more.

2. He’ll get himself out on pitches out of the zone. Castro has never been a guy who will work deep counts and drive the pitcher nuts. He’s up there to swing the bat. There’s a reason he has a career 4.9% walk rate, after all. This season Starlin has a career high 36.6% chase rate on pitches out of the zone (career 33.3%), which is the 20th highest among the 170 hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.

When there are runners in scoring position, Castro expands his zone even more. He has a 41.3% chase rate on pitches out of the zone with runners on second and/or third base. Every one of Starlin’s at-bats with ducks on the pond seems to look the same. Pitchers feed him a steady diet of breaking pitches down and away, and he goes fishing again and again and again. I don’t know about you, but Castro is not someone I want at the plate with the game on the line.

I’m not a believer in hitting with runners in scoring position being a skill. Hitting is a skill and good hitters overall tend to be good hitters with runners in scoring position. Castro’s the kind of guy who makes me rethink that stance. He goes into hack mode with men on base, even moreso than usual, and that’s pretty much the exact opposite of the approach you should have in those spots. The pitcher is the one in trouble, not the hitter. Be patient. Don’t help the guy on the mound out.

3. His defense is generally fine, but his double plays could use work. Even at this point, Castro is still relatively new to second base. He’s played only 105 games and 827.1 innings at the position in the big leagues, all since last August, so he doesn’t even have a full year at second yet. Because of that, we should cut him some slack in the field. He’s generally been fine. He’s not killing the Yankees in the field.

More than anything, Castro’s biggest issue at second seems to be turning the double play. Example:

Starlin Castro double play

We’ve seen similar plays — a weak throw to first and the runner beats out the double play — throughout the season. That one from Sunday was particularly egregious because it was so routine. Castro was at the bag for the toss and had plenty of time before the runner bore down on him. It’s not the first time this season that’s happened and it feels like it won’t be the last.

Like I said though, I do think Castro deserves some slack because he is new to the position. Turning double plays at second is totally different than turning them at short. At short the play is right in front of you and you can see the runner coming from first. At second, your back is to the runner, so you’re making the pivot blind. Turning double plays is definitely an area Castro can improve, and really, it seems like it could be as simple as getting him to put more on his throws. Just fire it to first, assume everything will be a bang-bang play.

4. Baserunning? More like baseoutmaking, amirite? The Yankees and their fans have already had the full Starlin Castro Baserunning Experience™. He’s been picked off third …

… and twice been thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, among other mistakes. A total of 729 players have run the bases this year and only 25 have made more outs on the bases than Castro. This is not a new issue either. Starlin was 19th in outs on the bases last year.

Some players make a lot of outs on the bases because they’re speedy and they push the envelope, and occasionally they get thrown out. That’s baseball. Castro isn’t one of those guys though. He’s made some bad baserunning mistakes, like that pickoff at third and the two times he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, both of which came on a ball hit to left field, so the entire play was in front of him. Starlin has been doing this for years and years. I don’t expect it to stop.

5. His power seems to be blossoming. I know this turned into a “let’s dump on Starlin Castro” post but I don’t want that to be the case, so let’s end with a positive. Castro is hitting for more power than ever before. He’s already hit nine home runs, two fewer than last season in 307 fewer plate appearances. Starlin averaged 12 homers per season from 2011-15 and he should clear that easily this year. He has a chance to hit 20+ dingers in 2016 for sure. Remember, Wrigley Field is a pretty good place to hit. It’s not like this a guy going from a huge ballpark to Yankee Stadium.

Castro currently has a career high .156 ISO and he’s used pretty much the entire field too. Here’s the spray chart of his extra-base hits, via Baseball Savant:

Starlin Castro

Like most hitters, Castro does the most damage when he pulls the ball. He has hit three of his nine home runs to the opposite field though, and that’s a skill well suited for Yankee Stadium. Keep in mind Castro is still only 26, so he’s either in or about to enter would figures to be the prime years of his career. You’d expect his power output to uptick right about now, and it has this season. That is definitely promising.

* * *

A little less than three months into the season, it’s easy to see why Castro earned a reputation for being a talented yet frustrating player while with the Cubs. He has a knack for giving away at-bats by chasing out of the zone, and he’s had enough lapses in the field and on the bases to say they were more than a fluke one-time incident. Castro is still pretty young, but he also more than 4,000 plate appearances and 1,000 games in the bigs, and yet he’s still making the same mistakes he was years ago. Folks are still waiting for the adjustments.

Adam Warren has had a pretty crummy season to date — 4.56 ERA (5.39 FIP) with an 18/14 K/BB in 25.2 innings — which is surprising because he was pretty damn excellent for the Yankees the last three years. Does that soften the blow of Castro’s rough first few weeks in pinstripes? Eh, maybe. It doesn’t really matter to me. You can understand why the Cubs were ready to move on from Starlin and why a team devoid of young impact talent would take a chance on him, right? So far that chance is not really paying off for the Yankees. Starlin seems capable of so much more, and that has been the case for a few years now.

DotF: Torrens’ big game helps Staten Island to 4-0 start

Some notes:

  • Big news: the Staten Island Yankees are re-branding for next season. You can submit a nickname suggestion right here. MLB doesn’t seem to want minor league teams sharing nicknames with their parent clubs, so they’ve been “encouraging” affiliates to change names.
  • The Yankees have signed OF Connor Oliver out of the independent Frontier League and assigned him to High-A Tampa, the team announced. Oliver, 22, spent a few years in the Braves’ system. He was hitting .337/.386/.652 with six homers in 24 games for the Lake Erie Crushers.
  • OF Jake Skole has been promoted from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, the team announced. Skole, the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, has 166 games of Double-A experience.
  • Chad Jennings put together a great rundown of the top players at each position in the farm system this year, so make sure you check that out.

Both Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton had scheduled off-days.

High-A Tampa (9-1 loss to Daytona)

  • SS Jorge Mateo: 0-4
  • 3B Thairo Estrada: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
  • RF Austin Aune: 0-4, 2 K
  • 2B Abi Avelino: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 E (fielding) — four homers in 63 games this year after hitting four in 123 games last year
  • RHP Will Carter: 5.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 5/0 GB/FB — 59 of 88 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Gabe Encinas: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 WP, 1/1 GB/FB — 29 of 45 pitches were strikes (64%) … first time in ten appearances this year he’s had more strikeouts than walks

[Read more…]

Monday Night Open Thread

Another off-day. Second one in a week. There’s another one coming Thursday too. Enjoy the little break. The Yankees have played a lot of baseball recently and there’s still a lot left to be played this season. In the meantime, I recommend reading Sam Mellinger’s piece on George Brett and his father. I know it’s not Yankees related, but it’s really good, so check it out.

Here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing some regional games tonight, and at 10pm ET ESPN will have the Dodgers and Nationals. That’s Clayton Kershaw vs. Stephen Strasburg. Fun fun fun. The NBA postseason is finally over, so there’s nothing but baseball for the next few months. Talk about whatever here.

Draft Signing Updates: Rutherford, Martinez, Widener

1B Tim Lynch, who signed with the Yankees last week as their ninth round pick, used to be a huge autograph hound, writes Ken Rosenthal. He once brought Lorenzo Cain donuts to get him to sign a card, which completed Lynch’s signed Bowman set. Pretty cool story. Check it out.

Here is the latest round of 2016 draft pick signing news. You can see all of the Yankees’ picks at Baseball America. Here’s our first set of signing updates and our reviews of Day One, Day Two, and Day Three of the draft, in case you missed them.

  • Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer told George King there “is progress going on” in talks with California HS OF Blake Rutherford (1st round). “I don’t have a timetable, but we are making progress,” he said. Oppenheimer also said the Yankees are making progress with California HS RHP Nolan Martinez (3rd). Rutherford and Martinez are the team’s only unsigned picks in the top ten rounds, which are the rounds tied to the bonus pool.
  • South Carolina RHP Taylor Widener has signed, according to Baseball America. No word on his bonus, though I assume it is $100,000 or less. That’s the maximum teams can give players drafted after the tenth round without it counting towards the bonus pool.
  • Florida HS RHP Jordan Scott (14th) has signed, also according to Baseball America. Scott actually tweeted out that he had signed, but it has since been deleted. Guess he jumped the gun. There’s no word on his bonus.
  • New York JuCo LHP Tony Hernandez (15th) has signed for $100,000, reports Josh Norris. That’s the max allowed without anything counting towards the bonus pool.
  • Eastern Kentucky 3B Mandy Alvarez (17th) round has signing and is already playing for Short Season Staten Island. No word on his bonus, but I assume it is $100,000 or less.
  • Fordham RHP Greg Weissert (18th) told Jesse Foster he is planning to sign. He’s supposed to head down to Tampa soon to take his physical and sign his contract.
  • Texas HS OF Evan Alexander (19th) seems to have signed, according to his Twitter account. He traveled to Florida yesterday, indicating he’s in Tampa for his physical and contract signing.
  • Fullerton RHP Miles Chambers (20th), USC OF Timmy Robinson (21st), and Maryland JuCo OF Joe Burton (24th) have all signed, according to Baseball America. No word on their bonuses.
  • Florida HS OF Ed Luaces (25th) has signed, he told Robert Pimpsner. He is currently in Tampa working out and will be assigned to one of the minor league affiliates soon.
  • Lander RHP Will Jones (28th) has signed according to his Twitter feed. No word on his bonus, but as with pretty much everyone else in this post, I assume it’s $100,000 or less.
  • California HS C D.C. Clawson (34th) told Steve Breazeale he plans to follow through on his commitment to BYU unless the Yankees make a last minute over-slot offer. Clawson is one of the players the Yankees took as a backup plan in case Rutherford doesn’t sign and leaves them with a bunch of unspent bonus pool space.
  • Virginia HS RHP Zach Hess (35th) indicated he will not sign on Twitter. Like Clawson, Hess is one of the players selected as a backup plan in case Rutherford doesn’t sign.
  • Stony Brook RHP Tim Honahan (36th) has indeed signed. Stony Brook broadcaster Jeff Bernstein posted a photo of Honahan signing his contract on Twitter. No word on his bonus. Last week we heard Honahan was planning to sign.
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee RHP Brian Keller (39th) has signed, he told Steven Tietz. He’s in Tampa working out now. “There will be workouts, and then I’ll be assigned (to one of the minor league affiliates),” said Keller to Tietz.
  • Wisconsin HS RHP Nate Brown (40th) told JR Radcliffe he will not sign, but appreciates being drafted. “Now I have a love for the Yankees I didn’t have before. Three years from now, if they come in and (draft me) and don’t offer me as much as I’ve been (hoping for), there’s still that deep feeling in my heart that three years ago, they saw something that the other guys didn’t,” he said.

By my unofficial count, the Yankees have now signed 24 of their 40 draft picks. Teams usually sign 25-30 draftees each year. The Yankees still need to get Rutherford and Martinez locked up, though it seems like only a matter of time until that happens. Rutherford probably won’t sign until the July 15th deadline though. Here’s our Draft Pool Tracker.

Rosenthal: Five clubs already lining up for Andrew Miller

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The trade deadline is now only six weeks away, and unless the Yankees get hot and go on an extended run between now and then, they’re going to have to seriously consider selling. The Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. FanGraphs pegs their postseason odds at 13.8%.

According to Ken Rosenthal (video link), five contending teams are already showing interest in ace lefty reliever Andrew Miller: Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers. We’ve already heard that the Giants and Nationals want Miller, and that the Cubbies have been scouting New York’s bullpen. The Dodgers and Rangers are obvious fits too. I have some thoughts on this.

1. Push Chapman on the Nationals. Because Aroldis Chapman will be a free agent after the season, there should be a greater sense of urgency to trade him than Miller, who has two years left on his deal. The Nationals don’t have a history with Chapman but they kinda do. Dusty Baker was his first manager with the Reds and Washington reportedly tried to trade for him this offseason, even after the domestic violence incident. The Yankees just beat them to it. Hopefully the Yankees can exploit that interest, send Chapman to the Nats for a big package, then look to move Miller elsewhere.

2. The Rangers have more to offer than anyone. To me, no team has as much to offer for Miller (or Chapman) as the Rangers. They have both high-end young big leaguers (Jurickson Profar, Nomar Mazara) and high-profile prospects (Joey Gallo, Chi Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz) to trade, though obviously some are more available than others. I’d be stunned if Texas traded Mazara, and I think it would take a lot to pry Profar loose. Certainly more than a reliever, even a great one like Miller.

That said, Rangers GM Jon Daniels has a history of being aggressive and paying big at the trade deadline. He gave up a lot to get Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza a few years back, most notably. Texas has the best record in the AL (45-25), a huge lead in the AL West (8.5 games), and an awful bullpen (4.76 ERA). I can’t imagine Daniels will not address his relief crew at the deadline. The Yankees have great relievers to offer and the Rangers can offer a lot in return. It’s a really great match.

3. A bidding war between the Giants and Dodgers would be sweet. The Giants have won eight straight games to open a 6.5-game lead in the NL West, and while that is hardly insurmountable in mid-June, it sure is better than being neck-and-neck. You know the Dodgers don’t want to fall behind any further. Both teams have some bullpen issues and, of course, they’re big time historic and intradivision rivals.

Creating a bidding way between the Giants and Dodgers could be awfully beneficial to the Yankees. The Dodgers have more to offer if you look at prospect lists and whatnot, but I wouldn’t rule out the Giants cobbling together enough to beat them out for Miller (or Chapman). Either way, the best possible thing for the Yankees would be the Dodgers closing the NL West gap a bit in the next few weeks. If the San Francisco bullpen could blow a few games during that time, that would help too.

4. More teams will get involved. The Cubs, Giants, Nationals, Dodgers, and Rangers are the most notable contenders looking for bullpen help, but they’re far from the only teams in need of relievers. The Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians, and Mets all figure to be in the market for bullpen arms at the deadline. Would the Yankees trade with another AL East team? I doubt it but they shouldn’t rule it out. If that’s the team that offers the best return, why not take it? In theory, an intra-division trade means you’d be improving your organization and making a rival’s worse, right? Just go into the deadline with an open mind. There will be plenty of suitors. Listen to them all.

Yankeemetrics: The terrible Twinkies [June 16-19]

(Getty)
(Getty)

Sabathia heating up
There haven’t been many enjoyable things to watch with this year’s Yankees team, but one of them undoubtedly is the masterful, turn-back-the-clock season of CC Sabathia.

He continued his brilliance on Thursday, working out of several jams to pitch six innings of one-run ball in the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Twins. He put 10 guys on base but stranded nine of them, consistently generating weak ground ball outs to end rallies and finish off innings. His ground ball rate of 70.6 percent was his highest in a start this season.

Sabathia also dialed up the heat on his pitches and seemed to get stronger as the game wore on. His cutter (91.5 mph), sinker (93.3 mph) and slider (82.4 mph) each had their highest average velocities in a game this season, and he maintained that velocity as he approached 100-plus pitches late into his outing.

The large lefty now has a 0.82 ERA in his last seven starts, the lowest among all pitchers with at least 30 innings since the start of May through Thursday. Sure, that’s an arbitrary endpoint, but consider this: Clayton Kershaw’s best ERA over a seven-start span this year is 0.81 and his best seven-game mark last year was 0.82.

Didi Gregorius provided the margin of victory with a tie-breaking three-run homer in the seventh inning off lefty specialist Fernando Abad. The Twins reliever entered the game having allowed only three hits in 30 at-bats against lefty hitters this season, and had yet to surrender a longball to anyone. Didi, of course, entered the game with the best batting average among left-handed batters against left-handed pitchers in MLB this season — and won the strength-versus-strength battle.

The blast was also his second three-run homer in three games, which gives us this #funfact: Didi is the first Yankee shortstop to hit multiple three-run home runs in a three-game span since Roy Smalley, who hit two of them in a game against the Royals on Sept. 5, 1982.

Tanaka time
There’s nothing like a trip to the Twin Cities to cure those losing-streak blues. The Yankees continued to pound a bad Twins team on Friday night, winning 8-2 thanks a balanced offense that scored early and often to support a stellar performance by Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka bounced back from a rough start last week against the Tigers, throwing eight innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks. It was his 11th game allowing two earned runs or fewer, the most such starts among all American League pitchers through Friday’s slate.

The outing also marked his fifth straight start on the road with at least six innings pitched and no more than one earned run allowed. Only one other pitcher in franchise history has fashioned a streak like that in a single season: Whitey Ford, who did it in 1950, 1963 and 1964.

(AP)
(AP)

Comeback kids
Down 4-0 heading into the eighth inning, Saturday’s game seemed destined to end in another frustrating loss. But then the Twins remembered who they were (a very bad baseball team), the Yankees remembered where they were playing (Target Field; aka Yankee Stadium Midwest), and their bats came alive to spark another late-inning rally. In the end, the Bronx Bombers had their first win this season when trailing after seven innings.

Alex Rodriguez — who was riding a season-high 11-game homerless streak entering this game — cut the deficit in half with a two-run blast in the seventh inning. That hit gave him 5,795 career total bases, passing Babe Ruth (5,793) for sixth place on the all-time MLB list.

Carlos Beltran then tied the game with an opposite-field homer in the eighth inning off Kevin Jepsen. His 18 homers are the most by any Yankee age 38 or older this early into the season, one more than Babe Ruth had through 68 team games in 1933.

Jacoby Ellsbury capped the comeback win with a bases-loaded RBI single in the next frame. It was the first time since joining the Yankees three seasons ago that he delivered a go-ahead hit in the ninth inning.

Aroldis Chapman made things interesting in the ninth inning as he tried to close out the game. He surrendered back-to-back two-out homers to Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki, which sliced the lead to 7-6, before he eventually got the save. Suzuki’s shot came off a 102 mph fastball, the fastest pitch ever hit for a home run by any player in the Pitch F/X era (since 2008).

(AP)
(AP)

Sweep-less in Minneapolis
As much as the Yankees have dominated the Twins in Minneapolis recently, they couldn’t complete the four-game sweep this weekend, blowing an early lead and losing 7-4 on Sunday afternoon.

The Yankees entered the final game of this series with a 19-5 record in the regular season at Target Field (and 2-0 in the postseason), a mark that was notable in several ways. It was the:

  • highest win percentage at Target Field by any AL team
  • highest win percentage at any stadium by any team since 2010 (when Target Field opened)
  • highest win percentage for the Yankees at any park over the last 100 seasons (min. 20 games)

The loss was even more improbable given the opposing starter, Ervin Santana, who had a 7.71 ERA in his previous five outings this season and who hadn’t beaten the Yankees since August 1, 2008. His streak of 11 straight starts without a win against New York was the longest active winless streak versus the team by any starting pitcher.

Brian McCann broke out of his hitting slump in style, crushing two homers deep into the right-field seats and beyond; according to Statcast, they traveled 421 and 450 feet. Since 2008 (as far back as Statcast has batted ball distance), the only other Yankee with two homers of at least 420 feet in the same game was A-Rod on July 25 last season, also at Target Field against the Twins.