The Yankees and Indians will play the middle game of their three-game series this afternoon, and on the mound are two pitchers who won the Cy Young award with Cleveland: CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber. Kluber remains one of the best pitchers in baseball while Sabathia is in the middle of a nice bounceback season (4.15 ERA and 4.20 FIP). CC hasn’t been great, but he’s been much better than I expected.
The key to Sabathia’s effectiveness is a short leash. Opponents are hitting .303/.372/.495 against CC after pitch No. 75, and we’ve seen Joe Girardi leave Sabathia in a little too long in recent starts. He allowed two runs in five innings against the Mets last time out, then gave up three runs in the sixth. He allowed two runs in six innings against the Orioles two starts before that, then allowed two more in the seventh. The start before that Sabathia allowed two runs in five innings against the Red Sox, then allowed three runs in the sixth.
Girardi had a short leash with Sabathia last season, or at least a shorter leash, but this year he seems to be trying to squeeze that extra inning out of him more often than not. For most of Sabathia’s career, he was up to the task. Not anymore. Girardi should be on high alert once Sabathia gets to 80 pitches or so, especially in close games. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Brian McCann
- 2B Starlin Castro
- SS Didi Gregorius
- C Gary Sanchez — day game after a night game? let’s get weird
- RF Aaron Hicks
- 3B Ronald Torreyes
LHP CC Sabathia
It’s hot and humid in New York today, and the forecast says there’s rain on the way a little later this afternoon. Hopefully it holds off long enough for them to play nine innings. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Roster Update: Johnny Barbato has been sent down to Triple-A Scranton and Chasen Shreve has been called up, the Yankees announced. Barbato did not retire any of the four batters he faced with a seven-run lead last night. That’ll do it.
The Yankees and Indians will continue their three-game series later this afternoon, assuming the weather cooperates. Here are some stray links to help you pass the time until first pitch.
Chapman, Beltran open to re-signing with Yankees
After being traded last week, impending free agents Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran told reporters they would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “I would love to come back again,” said Chapman to Mark Feinsand while Beltran simply told Jared Diamond he would “gladly” return to the Yankees if the opportunity presents itself.
As good as he has been this year, I don’t love the idea of bringing Beltran back next season, even on a cheap-ish one-year deal to DH. There are lots of young position players in Triple-A Scranton waiting for an opportunity. Chapman’s a different story because he’s still right smack in the prime of his career, and there’s always room for another high-end reliever in the bullpen.
I feel like it’s inevitable the Yankees will sign a top reliever this offseason, and I’d prefer Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to Chapman. I just have no interest in rooting for the guy following the domestic violence stuff. You’re welcome to feel differently. Anyway, it’s no surprise Chapman and Beltran are open to coming back. Why would any impending free agent rule out the Yankees?
Baseball America’s best tools survey
One of my favorite features each season is Baseball America’s best tools survey. They poll managers and coaches about the players in their leagues, then put all the results together. Here are the Yankees at each level. The links go to each article and they’re not behind the paywall.
- American League: Dellin Betances (best curveball, third best reliever), Mark Teixeira (third best defensive first baseman), Didi Gregorius (third best infield arm), Aaron Hicks (second best outfield arm)
- Triple-A: Aaron Judge (best power), Luis Severino (best fastball), Gary Sanchez (best defensive catcher)
- Double-A: Clint Frazier (best hitter), Jordan Montgomery (best breaking ball), Daniel Camarena (best control)
- High-A: Jorge Mateo (best speed, best infield arm), Justus Sheffield (best pitcher), Gleyber Torres (best defensive shortstop, best infield arm)
- Low-A: Andrew Schwaab (best reliever), Kyle Holder (best defensive shortstop)
Chapman (best fastball) and Andrew Miller (best slider, second best reliever) both made appearances in the survey as well. Sanchez being voted as the best defensive catcher in the International League is pretty darn interesting. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s made a lot of improvement, or because it’s just a weak year for IL catchers. I choose to believe the former. Go Gary!
No plans to release A-Rod
To the surprise of no one, Brian Cashman said the Yankees have no plans to release Alex Rodriguez during a recent radio interview (via George King). If the Yankees had any plans to release A-Rod, I think they would have done so already. Here’s what Cashman said:
“It’s not an easy circumstance, but there are no plans right now to do anything but give some reps to other people and see where it takes us, and if matchups or injuries hit, you might see him back out there,’’ Cashman told ESPN Radio. “First and foremost, you just have to admit it’s not easy to go ahead and eat — meaning release — that kind of money. It’s not something you come to a quick decision on … There’s a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as [recently] as last year. Now, he’s being put in a position where sporadic play to try to get it going makes it more difficult. It’s fair to ask why and it’s fair to understand why it’s not a quick, rash decision, especially with September around the corner.”
Rosters expand in three weeks and five days, and I expect the Yankees to just ride this out with Rodriguez until then. They could release him in the offseason, but right now my guess is they hang on to him through the winter, then evaluate him in Spring Training. If he hits, they can give him a shot. If he stinks, they’ll cut him loose. And if he gets hurt, they’ll collect insurance on his contract.
The Indians have been one of the best teams in all of baseball this season, so, naturally, the Yankees have beaten them four times in five tries. Go figure. The Yankees took Friday night’s series opener 13-7 at Yankee Stadium. That was an enjoyable game. Would watch again.
Score Early, Score Often
It had been a long time since the Yankees had a game like this, where they come out and score a bunch of runs early to take all the stress out of the game. They scored a first inning run for only the second time in their last ten games, and they scored the first two runs of the game for the first time since July 24th, the final game of the Giants series. It’s been that long since the Yankees took a 2-0 lead in a game. Gosh.
The Yankees scored their first inning run thanks largely to the suddenly retiring Mark Teixeira, who whacked a double to put runners on second and third with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury had singled earlier in the inning. Brian McCann got the run in with a ground ball for a quick 1-0 lead. The score remained 1-0 until the third inning, when the Yankees really broke things open against Josh Tomlin.
Ellsbury and Teixeira started the rally this time as well, as they strung together a double and an infield single. Ellsbury with a double and Teixeira with an infield single rather than the other way around? Mass hysteria. Dogs and cats, living together. The infield single was a ground ball into the shift that the second base/short right field guy had to range too far to his right to corral. Teixeira beat it out without a throw.
McCann cashed the run in again, this time with a line drive double into the right-center field gap. Most players would have scored from first on that play, but not Teixeira. Not with his balky knee. The Indians followed that by intentionally walking Chase Headley, and Starlin Castro made them pay with his first career grand slam. It was an opposite field job a row or two back in right-center. Just like that, the Yankees were up 6-0 in the third.
Pineda’s One Big Mistake
The Yankees finally gave Michael Pineda some run support and they picked a good night to do it. He started the game pretty well and kept the Indians off the board until the fifth inning, when a single and a double give Cleveland runners at second and third with two outs. Rather than limit the damage, Pineda threw one of his trademark two-out, two-strike, hanging sliders. Sigh.
Light-hitting catcher Chris Gimenez — he came into the game hitting .198/.234/.267 (32 wRC+) — sent that hanging slider into the left field seats for a three-run home run. SIGH. That cut the lead to 6-3. Pineda allowed a fourth run later in the game and he wasn’t even on the mound for that one; the bullpen let an inherited runner score. He finished the night with four runs allowed on six hits and one walk in six innings. Pineda struck out six. The quintessential Pineda outing, this was.
Tack On Runs
Gimenez’s three-run home run really stunk and it made it seem like the late innings would be tight. Instead, the offense went back to work. First, Gary Sanchez hammered a run-scoring double over the center fielder’s head in the fifth, then, in the sixth, Headley drove in a run with a single and Sanchez drew a bases loaded walk to give the Yankees a 9-3 lead. Indians southpaw Shawn Morimando walked four batters in that sixth inning, and it took a tremendous play by third baseman Jose Ramirez on a weakly hit Rob Refsnyder grounder to get out of the jam.
The Yankees scored two more runs in the seventh inning to stretch the lead to 11-3. Aaron Hicks socked a solo homer and Brett Gardner scored when the Indians outfield let Ellsbury’s routine fly ball drop in. They scored that a hit, but come on. It was a routine fly ball that should have been caught, but wasn’t due to miscommunication. That’s Anyway, Gardner tripled earlier in the inning to set that up. He singled in another two runs in the eighth. Tack on runs are great. The Yankees took an early big lead and they kept adding to it. We haven’t seen nearly enough of that this season.
Gary The Great
This was Sanchez’s fourth career start overall and his first start behind the plate, which is kind of a big deal. I thought his receiving was solid and he made one really nice block on a Pineda slider on the dirt. It was textbook. He dropped to his knees and kept the ball in front of him with a man on base. Perfect. Sanchez also threw not one, but two runners out. Here’s the first:
Look at that throw. Just perfect. Right on the money. We’ve been hearing about Sanchez’s rocket arm for years now — MLB.com gives him a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale — and he showed it off Friday night. Twice.
Is Sanchez going to be Yadier Molina back there? Nope. But based on these nine innings, he looks like an adequate big league catcher. I didn’t notice any glaring deficiencies — he wasn’t stabbing at the ball or anything like that — and that’s good. It’s good when you don’t notice a catcher. Nice night for Gary behind dish. I’m looking forward to seeing more.
Johnny Barbato made a nice mess of things in the eighth inning by allowing all four batters he faced to reach base. Not good, Johnny. Adam Warren had to bail him out. Three runs scored in the inning to trim the lead from 11-4 to 11-7. Not the end of the world. Just annoying. Richard Bleier, Tyler Clippard, and Nick Goody all pitched as well. Five relievers in a game the Yankees scored 13 runs. Blah.
Every single starter had a hit. In fact, every starter reached base multiple times. Ellsbury led the way with four hits while Castro had two hits and two walks. The Yankees had 16 hits and drew eight walks against only four strikeouts. Those eight walks are a season high. Pretty great night for the offense. They scored in six of eight offensive innings and never once went 1-2-3.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. Here’s the win probability graph:
The Yankees and Indians will play game two of this three-game series Saturday afternoon … hopefully. The forecast isn’t looking too great at the moment. We’ll see. CC Sabathia and Corey Kluber, a pair of former Cy Young award winners with the Indians, will be on the mound. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for either of the two games left on the homestand.
Steve Givarz of Baseball Prospectus (no subs. req’d) posted a ton of Gulf Coast League scouting reports earlier today. These are guys we never hear anything about, including RHP Juan Escorcia, who was a member of the 2014-15 international haul. Check it out.
Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Syracuse)
- CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB — 8-for-16 in his last four games
- LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — first extra-base hit since the trade
- DH Aaron Judge: 0-4, 3 K
- 1B Ike Davis: 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K
- RF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
- C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 K — his 14-game Triple-A hitting streak is over
- RHP Luis Cessa: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 WP, 5/5 GB/FB — 74 of 101 pitches were strikes (73%) … one short of tying his career high in strikeouts
- RHP Jonathan Holder: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes
Teixeira called the Yankees a “team in transition” during his press conference this afternoon and that defines the club perfectly. They’re transitioning out of the Teixeira/Alex Rodriguez/CC Sabathia era and into something new. What? We don’t know exactly. Hopefully the Clint Frazier/Gary Sanchez/Luis Severino era. Until then, how about winning some ballgames and sending Teixeira out on a high note? That sounds cool. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Brian McCann
- 3B Chase Headley
- SS Starlin Castro
- C Gary Sanchez
- 2B Rob Refsnyder
- RF Aaron Hicks
RHP Michael Pineda
Not the greatest weather in New York today, but it’s good enough. There’s rain in the forecast overnight and into tomorrow, so it’s pretty sticky outside. Tonight’s series opener with the Indians is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and it’ll be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Greg Bird (shoulder) has been doing all sorts of baseball activities (swinging, throwing, etc.) and he may be healthy enough in time to play in the Arizona Fall League, Joe Girardi said. The Yankees aren’t going to push him, but he’s progressing well.
After 14 years in the big leagues and eight years in pinstripes, Mark Teixeira is planning to hang up his spikes after the season. Teixeira announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2016 season, at a press conference at Yankee Stadium this afternoon.
“Every kid playing wiffle ball in the backyard or playing Little League, you dream of being a Major League Baseball player,” said an emotional Teixeira. “After 14 years, it’s time for me to do something else. After this season I’m going to retire and do something else.”
Here is Teixeira’s teary press conference:
So far this season Teixeira is hitting a weak .198/.287/.340 (69 wRC+) with ten homers in 77 games around a nagging knee injury and various other ailments. Just last season he hit .255/.357/.548 (143 wRC+) and swatted 31 home runs in 111 games. Teixeira’s 2015 season ended in August after a foul tip broke his shin. That was a real bummer.
Overall, Teixeira has hit .249/.348/.491 (121 wRC+) with 201 home runs during his eight seasons in pinstripes. That includes his monster .292/.383/.565 (142 wRC+) campaign in 2009, when he clubbed 39 homers and finished second to Joe Mauer in the AL MVP voting. I’d say Teixeira’s signature Yankee moment is his walk-off home run in Game Two of the 2009 ALDS.
Of course, injuries have been a major problem in recent seasons. Everything from wrist to hamstring to calf to shin problems have kept him off the field. He has appeared in only 449 of 594 possible games (76%) since the start of the 2012 season. Teixeira is currently sidelined with a shin problem after being hit by a pitch Wednesday night. He went for precautionary x-rays yesterday.
Teixeira is one of the most productive power-hitting switch-hitters in baseball history. His 404 homers are fifth all-time among switch-hitters, and he joins Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones, and Carlos Beltran as the only switch-hitters with 400+ doubles and 400+ homers. Originally selected fifth overall in the 2001 draft, Teixeira spent time with the Rangers, Braves, and Angels before joining the Yankees.
“I got to live out my dream and had more success than I could have ever imagined,” said Teixeira. “It felt like it was the right time for me to step away from the game. I want to finish my season on a high note … I’m going to leave it all out there.”
The Yankees have only had four primary first basemen over the last 33 seasons, which is pretty incredible. It was Don Mattingly from 1983-95, Tino Martinez from 1996-2001, Jason Giambi from 2002-08, and Teixeira from 2009-16. Yeah, there were some Kevin Maases and Andy Phillipses and Lyle Overbays mixed in along the way, but those have been the four main guys. Pretty crazy.
“It’s an unbelievable blessing. It’s an unbelievable honor to put the pinstripes on everyday,” added Teixeira. “I want to thank all the Yankees fans, the greatest fans in the world. I wasn’t perfect. I was far from perfect. I want to let you know I appreciate your support. I gave you everything I had. It wasn’t always enough, but I tried to my best and I’m proud to have a World Series ring with the Yankees. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
As far as the Yankees are concerned, this doesn’t change a whole lot going forward. They were widely expected to move on from Teixeira after the season and install Greg Bird as their new first baseman. Bird’s shoulder surgery may throw a wrench into that plan, but hopefully not. Tyler Austin may have played his way into first base consideration this season as well.
Teixeira was a pretty darn good Yankee despite the injuries in recent years. He was a key part of their most recent World Series title and is generally just a fun, likeable dude. Foul Territory and the way he mocked Hansel Robles during the sign stealing nonsense the other night are pretty good examples. You’ve done good, Tex. See you at Old Timers’ Day.