Comeback falls short, Yankees fall 10-9 to Rangers, lose fourth straight

The Yankees scored nine runs and had Michael Pineda on the mound Friday, yet they still lost. That’s how poorly things are going right now. They dropped the series opener to the Rangers by the score of 10-9 in a hectic game that felt close and one-sided at the same time. New York has lost four straight and eight of their last nine.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Pitching & Defense Optional
For a team built on pitching and defense, the Yankees sure don’t have a lot of pitching or defense. Both supposed strengths were on full display for all the wrong reasons in a disastrous seven-run (!) third inning. Let’s recap that inning with annotated play-by-play.

Rangers Yankees play by play

(1) It all started with a stupid little ground ball single between Mark Teixeira and Stephen Drew. I thought it was a routine ground ball to first base off the bat, but Teixeira broke towards first and Drew wasn’t able to get there, so it went for a hit. It seemed like a ball Teixeira was supposed to field. What do I know though. He’s the Gold Glover. Still, a weak hit started it all.

(2) Pineda walked three batters all season coming into Friday’s game, then he walked the number eight hitter because he couldn’t put him away after getting ahead in the count 1-2. For whatever reason, Pineda’s slider has been pretty crummy his last two times out, and Robinson Chirinos wasn’t biting. The put-away pitch has gone missing.

(3) You could see the first error coming a mile away. Thomas Field laid down a bunt, Pineda unnecessarily looked at second base, then airmailed the throw to first. Everyone’s safe. It was bad and predictable. As soon as he turned towards second, you knew an out wasn’t going to be recorded. That’s one extra out.

(4) The second error came on a much tougher play. Delino DeShields Jr. hit a chopper to shortstop that Didi Gregorius simply whiffed on, though it appeared the runner may have screened him a bit. Either way, Didi played the ball poorly because he played it off to his side instead of getting in front of it and at least keeping it on the infield. Instead, the ball went into left field and two runs scored. Didn’t even get one out. So that’s two extra outs.

(5) The pitch Prince Fielder hit out for the three-run homer was one of the worst pitches I’ve ever seen. Pineda or any other pitcher. It was the very definition of a cement mixer slider. The pitch just spun and spun with no action. Spun right into Prince’s bat. Look at this:

Prince Fielder home run

Good gravy. That’s a really bad pitch! Like I said, Pineda’s good slider has been missing since his 16-strikeout game for whatever reason. Could just be one of those things. Big Mike threw a similar pitch to Mitch Moreland two batters later, and Moreland hit a homer even deeper into the second deck than Prince. Fielder’s three-run homer was the killer. That made it 6-0. Moreland’s homer to make it 7-0 was just rubbing it in.

Outside of that nightmare third inning, Pineda was actually decent, throwing five scoreless innings while allowing just four singles. He struck out four overall and threw 67 of his 95 pitches for strikes. Pineda’s allowed 12 runs (nine earned) in eleven innings in his last two starts. Not good. Big Mike needs to straighten himself out and fast.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Three-Run Dingers
The Yankees scored seven of their nine runs on homers, including two three-run homers. Who hit them? Gregorius and Garrett Jones, naturally. Gregorius hit his first homer as a Yankee in the fourth inning, and while it wasn’t a no-doubter, it wasn’t a Yankee Stadium cheapie either. It landed a few rows back in the right field section next to the home bullpen. That brought the Yankees to within 7-4.

Jones hit his homer in the eighth inning, when he pinch-hit for a pinch-hitter. Joe Girardi sent Chris Young up to bat against a lefty in place of Didi, and when the Rangers countered with a righty, Girardi sent up Jones. His homer was a Yankee Stadium cheapie, but hey, they all count the same. It was only a matter of time until Jones ran into one. A Teixeira solo homer off Ross Ohlendorf Rock ‘N Rohlendorf brought the Yankees to within 10-9 in the bottom of the ninth.

I thought we were in store for a patented Chase Headley two-out game-tying homer in the ninth. He has a knack for those clutch homers. Instead, Headley drew a walk and Stephen Drew lined a ball off Ohlendorf and to the second baseman for the final out. Drew hit it hard, but damn, he can’t even hit it off the opposing players properly. Considering they managed to bring the tying run to plate on multiple occasions and even brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth after being down 7-0, I have to give the offense props for fighting. The 2013-14 teams would have packed it in after the third inning.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Lost In The Middle Innings
Once again, the middle relief crew was a big problem, and their inability to keep the Rangers off the board contributed greatly to the loss. The non-Andrew Miller/Dellin Betances portion of the bullpen came into the game with an ugly 3.94 ERA — the average bullpen ERA is 3.54 this year — and that went up Friday after three relievers combined to allow three runs in three innings.

Chase Shreve gave up a solo homer to Prince, which, fine, whatever. It happens. David Carpenter continued to be just awful, allowing an inherited runner to score as well as another run of his own. He’s now allowed a run in six of his last seven appearances. I was all for giving Carpenter time to figure things out, but it’s just not happening. Beyond unreliable. And then Justin Wilson tossed a scoreless ninth. Hooray for that.

The middle relief has been a real sore spot all season and especially of late, during this recent 1-8 stretch. They’re blowing leads and letting opponents pull away, like this game. At some point the Yankees need to try something different, right? You can’t just keep running the same guys out there and expecting different results. The Yankees built up some nice bullpen depth this offseason, and isn’t this when you’re supposed to use it? They guys they have now aren’t getting the job done.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

First MLB start for Slade Heathcott led to his first career hit (a hustle double, appropriately), his first career two-hit game (infield single later on), his first run (scored on Alex Rodriguez‘s seventh inning single), and his first reach on an error (catcher’s interference). Little bit of everything. Slade went 2-for-3 with a strikeout and by gosh, a young player contributed. Crazy what happens when they get a chance.

The Yankees scored their first run on a McCann double that was basically a pity call. He hit a fly ball to right (surprise!) that Shin-Soo Choo lost in the lights. Nothing more. A-Rod also singled in Slade in the seventh to make it 8-5. What I remember most about that hit is that it had some weird spin on it — it seems to take a right turn as it sailed into center field.

Every Yankee to bat in the game had at least one hit, including the guys off the bench. Brett Gardner and Headley drew the only walks. They even went 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Twelve hits, nine runs, Big Mike … and still a loss?

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Rangers continue this three-game series with the second game on Saturday afternoon. Nick Martinez and CC Sabathia will be the pitching matchup.

DotF: Lail and Jagielo lead Double-A Trenton to a win

Thanks to his continued hot hitting, 2B Rob Refsnyder ranked 11th on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet.

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 loss to Durham)

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-5
  • LF Ramon Flores: 3-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 BB — the on-base streak is up to 23 games
  • DH Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 2 K
  • RF Ben Gamel: 1-3, 1 BB
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 10/4 GB/FB — 55 of 87 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GB/FB — only 18 of 40 pitches were strikes (45%) … 20/13 K/BB in 24 innings
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 21 of 41 pitches were strikes (51%)

[Read more…]

Game 42: Big Mike Back Home


The Yankees are finally back home in the Bronx. They played 15 of their last 19 and 25 of their last 35 games on the road — not surprisingly, they’ve played the most road games in MLB — but are now home for a six-game homestand, which starts tonight against the Rangers. Nineteen of their next 31 games will be at Yankee Stadium.

It’s good to be home, but geez, the Yankees really need to win tonight. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games and haven’t won a non-CC Sabathia start since Michael Pineda struck out 16 Orioles nearly two weeks ago. Big Mike is on the mound tonight and he is the undisputed staff ace while Masahiro Tanaka is on the DL. Time for the ace to end the three-game losing streak and start the homestand off right. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Carlos Beltran
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Stephen Drew
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. CF Slade Heathcott
    RHP Michael Pineda

It was absolutely gorgeous in New York earlier today, but some clouds have rolled in and it’s pretty gloomy right. There’s a very tiny little bit of rain in the forecast but nothing that will impact the game. First pitch is set for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: No timetable yet for Jacoby Ellsbury (knee), who will see the team doctor tonight … Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) will throw 65 pitches in his next Triple-A rehab start on Wednesday … Chris Martin (elbow) is playing catch and getting close to throwing off a mound … Gregorio Petit (hand) still is unable to swing a bat.

2015 Draft: Latest Baseball America and mock drafts

Stewart at the 2013 College Run Herby. (
Stewart at the 2013 College Run Herby. (

As usual, John Manuel at Baseball America published his weekly mock draft today, and this week he has the Diamondbacks taking Illinois LHP Tyler Jay with the first overall pick. I believe that is now the fourth player we’ve seen connected to Arizona for that top pick in the various mock drafts in recent weeks. As always, Manuel’s mock draft is free to read. You don’t need a subscription.

For the third time in three mock drafts, Manuel has the Yankees selecting UCLA RHP James Kaprielian with their first round pick, 16th overall. Jim Callis at also had the Yankees taking Kaprielian with that 16th pick in his most recent mock draft. Here’s my profile on Kaprielian, who is more of a high-probability prospect than a high-upside prospect.

With their second pick, 30th overall, Manuel has the Yankees taking Florida State OF D.J. Stewart. That’s the compensation pick for losing David Robertson. (Callis didn’t include the supplemental first round in his mock draft.) The Yankees selected Stewart out of high school in the 28th round back in 2012 but obviously didn’t sign him. Here’s a snippet of his free scouting report:

Stewart has a quick left-handed stroke, strength and patience. He has plus raw power but he doesn’t fully tap into it because he bats from an extreme crouch and has a flat swing. He might hit 20 homers per season if he stands more upright and adds some loft … Though he’s listed at 6 feet and 230 pounds, he’s a better athlete than his build might indicate … Stewart has close to average speed. He has good instincts as a runner and defender, though a below-average arm limits him to left field.

Stewart comes into the weekend hitting .323/.510/.598 with 13 homers, 64 walks, and 40 strikeouts in 57 games this spring. The Yankees love lefty hitters with power and patience, though I’m not a big fan of Stewart as a prospect. I think he’s likely to end up a bad left fielder or first baseman down the road, maybe even a DH, and I’m not sure I buy his power at the next level. I’d like a more well-rounded prospect that high in the draft. That’s just me.

Manuel notes the Yankees are also in on California HS C Chris Betts and a variety of high school pitchers, including Pennsylvania HS RHP Mike Nikorak, Tennessee HS RHP Donny Everett, and Indiana HS RHP Ashe Russell. Here’s my profile on Everett. This draft is very heavy on pitching and it seems very likely to the Yankees will end up with at least one pitcher out of their two first round picks, if not two. That works well, the system is thin on arms at the moment.

5/22 to 5/24 Series Preview: Texas Rangers


The Yankees are finally back home. The last month felt like one big road trip. I guess that happens when you play at home four times in the span of 19 games. (The Yankees went 9-10 in those 19 games, by the way.) The Rangers are in the Bronx this weekend for a three-game series.

What Have The Rangers Done Lately?

The Rangers just wrapped up a three-game series in Fenway Park, where they took two of three from the Red Sox. They’ve won just four of their last nine games overall though. Texas is currently 18-23 with a -18 run differential, which has them sitting a distant fourth in the Astros-dominated AL West.

Offense & Defense

With a team 90 wRC+ and an average of 4.05 runs per game, the Rangers have a below league average offense. They’re a little banged up too, with IF Jurickson Profar and OF Ryan Rua down with long-term injuries. Profar’s going to miss the entire season due to shoulder surgery after missing all of last season trying to rehab the injury. Brutal. OF Josh Hamilton is drawing closer to a return but is not expected to be activated for this series. Maybe next series.

Prince. (Presswire)
Prince. (Presswire)

Rookie skipper Jeff Banister’s lineup is anchored by his corner infielders — 1B Prince Fielder (151 wRC+) and 3B Adrian Beltre (89 wRC+) — who are off to opposite starts. Fielder is mashing after missing most of last season following neck surgery and Beltre really hasn’t gotten going yet. 1B/DH Mitch Moreland (124 wRC+) has been productive despite missing time with an elbow issue, and OF Shin-Soo Choo (110 wRC+) has been great in May (162 wRC+) after a dreadful April (28 wRC+).

SS Elvis Andrus (58 wRC+) has been terrible, even worse than the last two years, and others like OF Leonys Martin (45 wRC+) and IF Adam Rosales (13 wRC+) haven’t been good either. C Robinson Chirinos (99 wRC+) has taken over as the every day catcher and Rule 5 Draft pick Delino DeShields Jr. (118 wRC+) has been good in limited playing time. C Carlos Corporan (67 wRC+), 1B Kyle Blanks (149 wRC+), and IF Tommy Fields (104 wRC+) round out the bench and have played sparingly.

Defensively, the Rangers aren’t all that good. Martin is great in center field and Beltre is still very good at third, though no longer the best at the position like he was in his prime. Andrus has a reputation for being a great defender but he’s slowed down the last two or three years and is closer to average now. Fielder and Choo are a nightmare in the field and DeShields is a recently converted infielder who is rough around the edges. Chirinos is really good behind the plate. Pretty shaky aside from Martin, Beltre, and Chirinos.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. TEX) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (Career vs. NYY)
After dealing with a bunch of arm injuries from 2012-14, the 35-year-old Lewis has finally gotten back on track this season, pitching to a 3.06 ERA (3.16 FIP) in eight starts and 50 innings. He’s enjoying some home run luck — 0.54 HR/9 thanks to an ultra-low 4.4 HR/FB% (career 10.9%) despite a 36.6 GB% — so his ERA could climb as the weather heats up, especially in Texas. Lewis’ strikeout (20.7%) and walk (7.1%) rates are about average, and lefties (.331 wOBA) have hit him a lot harder than righties (.219 wOBA), both this year and throughout his career. An upper-80s fastball is what Colby uses to set up his mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and mid-70s curveball. He uses the slider almost twice as often as the changeup and curveball combined, hence the platoon split.

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. TEX) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (Career vs. NYY)
Martinez, 24, has a 1.88 ERA (3.67 FIP) in eight starts and 48 innings this season, but it seems like that is an unsustainable pace. First of all, he doesn’t strike anyone out (12.3%). Secondly, his home run rate is microscopic (0.19 HR/9 and 1.9 HR/FB%!) despite a middling ground ball rate (43.0%) and the 14th highest hard contact rate (33.5%) in baseball out of 111 qualified pitchers. Something’s gotta give. Martinez’s walk rate is okay (7.4%) and righties (.325 wOBA) have hit him harder than lefties (.258 wOBA), unlike his rookie season a year ago. That’ll probably change once his .239 BABIP allowed to lefties corrects. Anyway, Martinez has five pitches, including upper-80s two and four-seamers, low-80s sliders and changeups, and mid-70s curves. The slider is his go-to secondary offering.


Sunday: LHP Chris Capuano (Career vs. TEX) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (Career vs. NYY)
The Rangers acquired Gallardo from the Brewers in the offseason and he’s continued his trend of replacing strikeouts (K% from 2010-15: 24.9%, 23.9%, 23.7%, 18.6%, 17.9%, 15.5%) with ground balls (GB% from 2010-15: 43.0%, 46.6%, 47.7%, 49.2%, 50.8%, 52.4%) this season. The 29-year-old has a 4.26 ERA (4.47 FIP) in nine starts and 50.2 innings while giving out few walks (6.8%) and lots of homers (1.24 HR/9). Lefties (.345 wOBA) have better numbers again him than righties (.308 wOBA), which has been true pretty much his entire career. Gallardo uses his two and four-seamers equally and both sit in the 90-92 mph range. A hard upper-80s slider — it’s almost like a cutter, but the break is bigger — is his main secondary pitch. He’ll also mix in a few mid-70s curveballs and very rarely throws his mid-80s changeup.

Pitching Matchups
Banister is currently running a role free bullpen. Ex-closer RHP Neftali Feliz (4.43 FIP) blew some saves a few weeks ago and lost the job, but rather than promote someone else to the ninth inning, they’re basically going bullpen by committee. RHP Shawn Tolleson (2.40 FIP) got the save the last two nights, with ex-Yankee RHP Ross Ohlendorf (1.12 FIP in very limited time) and his old-timey windup setting him up one night and RHP Keone Kela (2.92 FIP) the other.

The rest of the bullpen includes RHP Anthony Bass (4.10 FIP), who had been working as the long man earlier this season, and southpaws LHP Sam Freeman (7.79 FIP) and LHP Alex Claudio (7.49 FIP). They’re the matchup guys. RHP Tanner Scheppers (4.49 FIP) rounds out the eight-man staff. Tolleson has pitched the last two nights and four times in the last six days. No one else in the ‘pen has been worked particularly hard recently. The Yankees were off yesterday, so their bullpen is in good shape. Check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway. Then check out Lone Star Ball for updates on the Rangers.

RAB Live Chat

Hal indicates Yankees will lean towards rentals at trade deadline

(Jason Szenes/Getty)
(Jason Szenes/Getty)

This isn’t particularly surprising: Hal Steinbrenner indicated the Yankees will lean towards acquiring rental players at the trade deadline this year while talking to Ken Davidoff earlier this week.“I’m not afraid to spend money. I never am. You know that. So when July rolls around, the trade deadline rolls around, we’re going to see where we’re really deficient and we’ll do what we can,” added Hal.

Over the last few years the Yankees have looked for long-term solutions in the offseason and band-aids at midseason. The most notable exceptions are Martin Prado and Alfonso Soriano — Prado had two years left on his contract at the time of the trade last year and Soriano had one year left when he was acquired in 2013, though the Cubs ate a ton of money to facilitate the trade. Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, Ichiro Suzuki, Lance Berkman, Jerry Hairston Jr. … all rentals.

There’s an obsession with team control years nowadays — “oh wow, that hard-throwing reliever is under team control through 2018? great trade!” (what are the odds that guy is even MLB caliber in 2018?) — and I think rentals have gotten undervalued in a sense. They typically don’t cost as much to acquire, there’s no long-term risk, and the player has every reason to be at his best given his impending free agency. Rentals are often good bargains.

The Yankees have clear needs on the middle infield — second base moreso than shortstop, they aren’t giving up on Didi Gregorius yet — and every team could use pitching, so I expect those to be the areas of focus. Here’s the list of upcoming free agents. Potential trade targets — guys who have a realistic chance to become available — include Ben Zobrist, Mike Aviles, Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Johnny Cueto, Doug Fister, Dan Haren, and Scott Kazmir, among others.

I don’t think the Yankees would steer clear of non-rental players this summer if the opportunity to acquire a longer term solution presents itself. The Prado trade showed that last year. Cole Hamels is obviously going to be available, and I think the Padres would give Jedd Gyorko away at this point (78 OPS+ since signing his six-year extension!), but otherwise I’m not sure who else would be a fit. Give it a few weeks and the market will develop.