Anyway, here is an open thread for the night. MLB Network is carrying a regional game tonight and there’s a preseason NFL game on somewhere too. Talk about those games, the brawl(s), this afternoon’s loss, or anything else here. Just not religion or politics. Thanks.
Probably the most embarrassing game of the season. Definitely the stupidest. The Yankees lost Thursday’s series finale 10-6 to the Tigers, and the two teams got into a beanball war. Who cares about the postseason race when you can stoop to the level of a fourth place team? Not like the Yankees have anything to lose. Five Yankees were ejected and chances are suspensions are coming as well. Hard to think of a worse possible outcome. A true lose-lose affair.
In the first few innings of Thursday’s game, each time one team scored, the other scored in the next half inning. Those shutdown innings, as announcers like to call them, weren’t happening. The Tigers scored a first inning run on Justin Upton’s solo homer. The Yankees answered back with a run on Chase Headley‘s single in the second. Aaron Judge singled and advanced on a wild pitch to set that one up.
Gary Sanchez gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead with a solo home run in the top of the fourth, then the Tigers came right back with a run in the bottom half. Nick Castellanos doubled and John Hicks drove him in with a single. An Aaron Hicks sac fly in the top of the fifth gave the Yankees another lead, this one 3-2. That inning was set up by Ian Kinsler’s leadoff error. Ronald Torreyes reached, advanced to second on Austin Romine‘s fielder’s choice, advanced to third on Gardner’s infield single, and scored on the sac fly. The two teams combined to score exactly one run in five of the first nine half-innings.
The Ugly Fifth
Everything fell apart in the fifth inning. It all started with an error too. The usually sure-handed Didi Gregorius let a Mikie Mahtook ground ball get under his glove. Play that should’ve been made. Upton followed with a double into the left field corner to give the Tigers runners at second and third with no outs, ending Jaime Garcia‘s day. I’m not sure why Garcia was left in to face Upton there. Upton took Garcia deep earlier in the game and is hitting .344/.422/.688 (192 wRC+) against southpaws this year. If his leash was one more baserunner, why not go to the righty reliever there? I guess Joe Girardi was hoping for the ground ball double play. Alas.
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because the righty reliever came in and barfed all over the place. The righty reliever: Adam Warren. Warren did strike out the (formerly great?) Miguel Cabrera, so that’s cool. It stopped being cool after that. Warren allowed a sac fly to Castellanos to tie the game 3-3, and that’s fine. Runners on second and third and no outs? You kinda expect a run to score there. Keep it to one and that’s fine. Warren didn’t keep it at one.
The next two at-bats were killer. Warren couldn’t put James McCann away in a 2-2 count — McCann fouled off three two-strike pitches — and walked him. He then couldn’t put Hicks away in a 1-2 count and walked him. Yuck. JaCoby Jones punched a two-run single to right and Jose Iglesias walloped a one-run ground double into the right-center field gap. McCann, Hicks, Jones, and Iglesias all reached base in two strike counts. Awful. The Tigers took a 6-3 lead.
If you remember back to when these two teams played in Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, there was a bit of a beanball war in the first game of the series. The Yankees plunked Mahtook twice in the game, unintentionally, and Michael Fulmer retaliated by hitting Jacoby Ellsbury in the hip. And that was that. They played two more games in the series and nothing else happening.
Fast forward to Thursday. Fulmer plunked Sanchez in the fifth inning, right in the hip, and I thought it was unintentional (at first). The Yankees had a man on base and Fulmer was missing way off the plate to his armside all inning. It looked like a pitch got away from him. Either way, in the sixth, Tommy Kahnle retaliated by throwing behind Cabrera. Kahnle was immediately ejected, and Girardi stormed out of the dugout because warnings hadn’t been issued after Fulmer hit Sanchez. Girardi was tossed too.
That’s when hell broke loose:
- Sanchez definitely punched someone in the dog pile. A few times. You can see it in the video. I think it was Cabrera, but it doesn’t really matter. Even though he wasn’t ejected, Gary is probably looking at a suspension. MLB doesn’t let punches go unpunished.
- Romine and Cabrera were also ejected, obviously. That meant the Yankees had to give up the DH to move Sanchez behind the plate. Romine threw punches too, so he might get suspended as well. Imagine both catchers get suspended? With Kyle Higashioka on the Triple-A disabled list? Oy.
- Fulmer staying in the game was the stupidest thing ever. He started this mess by throwing at Sanchez and yet there he was, the next half-inning after the brawl, out there on the mound. How ridiculous. What a screw up by the umpiring crew.
- First player out of the dugout for the Yankees: Sonny Gray. The guy has been here like two weeks, and he’s already sprinting out of the dugout to get in the middle of a brawl.
Clearly, the Tigers were the aggressor. Fulmer hit Sanchez, Cabrera first said something to Romine, and Cabrera first shoved Romine. I imagine (hope) MLB will take that into consideration when deciding on discipline and all that. The fact punches were thrown leads me to believe the Yankees are not going to get off easy here. They could very well lose Sanchez and Romine to suspension. That’s not good. We’ll see what happens.
The Yankees and Tigers do not play again this year, so this isn’t carrying over. At least not until next year. Hopefully the Yankees don’t lose anyone to a suspension or worse, an injury. I know you have to stick up for your players and all that, and Sanchez is your cornerstone star player, but losing players because of a brawl with a loser fourth place team would suck. The Yankees are in the postseason race and losing Sanchez in particular would be a huge blow.
But Wait, It Gets Worse
The brawl fired up the Yankees! For at least one inning. They answered right back with three runs in the top of the seventh the tie the game 6-6. Fulmer walked Torreyes and Ellsbury to start the inning — Ellsbury was pinch-hitting for the pitcher’s spot after Sanchez moved behind the plate — and Gardner dunked a single to center to score a run. The Yankees were in business.
Hicks hit what I thought was a go-ahead three-run home run — it sounded awfully good off the bat — and it would’ve been a three-run home run, except Upton made a jumping catch at the wall to take it away. Argh. It still went for a sac fly to bring the Yankees to within a run. Gardner smartly tagged up and went to second on the play, which allowed him to score on Sanchez’s single back up the middle. That tied the game 6-6. Hooray!
Dellin Betances came in to start the bottom of the seventh, and in the process Ellsbury was double-switched in to push the pitcher’s lineup spot down. Who was removed on the double switch? Judge, which seems crazy. The pitcher batting behind Sanchez ensured he would not get another pitch to hit the entire game. There was no one on the bench who would make the Tigers even think twice about pitching to Sanchez. The Yankees took the bat right out of their best player’s hands with that double switch. Ultimately it didn’t matter. Still.
Anyway, Dellin’s second pitch of the game hit McCann in the head. Hit him square. It was ugly and scary. You can see it here. No, Betances did not hit McCann in the head on purpose. He’s just very wild. But he had to be thrown out, and he was. You can’t let a guy stay in the game when he hits someone in the head after a brawl like that. Benches cleared again and this time no punches were thrown, as far as I know. Betances was ejected though, and the Tigers had the go-ahead run on first with no outs. The Yankees brought in David Robertson, and he hit Hicks with a pitch. Dude. Hit him with an 0-2 fastball in the forearm. Robertson was not ejected, but still. Not good.
After hitting Hicks and all the other nonsense, Robertson appeared to be scared out of the strike zone, so to speak. He was trying to be way too fine. As a result, he walked Jones on four pitches to load the bases. Jones was trying to give him an out to bunt the runners up, and Robertson walked him. Brutal. Iglesias clobbered a bases-clearing double into the gap to give the Tigers a 9-6 lead. Turns out the brawl fired up the Tigers too. The Yankees let Detroit load the bases with no outs without putting a ball in play. They got what they deserved that inning.
The plunkings were not over. Alex Wilson hit Todd Frazier in the leg with a pitch in the top of the eighth — Wilson and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus were ejected — and yet again the benches cleared. Gardner was pretty fired up that time. Fortunately Caleb Smith was smart enough not to drill someone in the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a solo home run to McCann instead. The bullpen: 4 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 7 K. Awful. Just awful.
Happy birthday to Gardner. He celebrated his 34th birthday by going 4-for-5. Sanchez had two hits as well. Judge and Headley had the other hits. The three walks were drawn by Frazier, Torreyes, and Ellsbury. And there were all those hit-by-pitches too. At the end of the day, the offense did its part. Six runs should be enough. The bullpen really melted down in this one. Twice.
Another bad start for Garcia, who now has a 5.95 ERA in four starts with the Yankees. He’s allowed 16 runs (13 earned) in 19.2 innings since the trade. I get the sense Jordan Montgomery will be taking this rotation spot once rosters expand in September. It’s good the Yankees added pitching depth at the deadline, but their hold on a wildcard spot is too tenuous to keep running Garcia out there like this.
A recap of the ejections: Kahnle, Girardi, and Romine in the sixth inning, and Betances and acting manager Robbie Thomson in the seventh inning. Cabrera, Ausmus, and Wilson were ejected for the Tigers. What a crap job by the umpires too. No, they didn’t throw any punches or pitches, but not issuing a warning allowed things to escalate.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head over to ESPN. For the video highlights, go to MLB.com. We have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:
Players Weekend! That’ll be fun. Every team will be wearing cool uniforms and the players will have nicknames on their jerseys. Hopefully Sanchez will be part of it. The Yankees are heading back to the Bronx to begin a ten-game homestand, starting with three against the Mariners. Left-handers CC Sabathia and Ariel Miranda will be the starters in Friday night’s opener. RAB Tickets can get you into Yankee Stadium for any of the ten games on the homestand.
While every offseason is important for every team, the upcoming offseason is a crucial one for the Yankees. They’re going to try to supplement their new and exciting young core with quality veterans, all while staying under the $197M luxury tax threshold in 2018. That is much easier said than done. They’ve put their austerity plan on hold once before and I’m sure they don’t want to do it again.
In addition to all the roster machinations, the Yankees also have to deal with the impending free agencies of Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi. They’re both on expiring contracts. I’m not sure what’ll happen with Girardi. My guess is Cashman is coming back though. I’m pretty sure of it. The quick-fix rebuild is going well and Hal Steinbrenner loves him. No reason not to think Cashman won’t get a chance to see this through.
It’s very possible the Yankees will have other front office matters to deal with in addition to Cashman’s new contract. Derek Jeter is in the process of purchasing the Marlins and, according to Mark Feinsand, industry buzz is Yankees vice president of player development Gary Denbo is a candidate for Miami’s general manager job. I had a feeling that would happen. Denbo and Jeter are very close and have known each other a long time. Since Denbo was Jeter’s minor league manager way back in the day.
Denbo has done a little of everything with the Yankees over the years. He currently runs their player development system and has since October 2014, when he replaced the retired Mark Newman. Denbo has also been a minor league manager, a hitting coordinator, the assistant minor league director, and the big league hitting coach for the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Nippon Ham Fighters. And he’s scouted a bunch. He’s done it all.
The farm system under Newman wasn’t all that productive, and things have turned around dramatically since Denbo took over. It would be folly to give him all the credit — the Yankees have a small army of people working in player development — but he certainly deserves a lot of it. Denbo created Captain’s Camp, he brought in all new minor league managers and coaches, and the recent results speak for themselves. It’s easy to understand why Jeter would want Denbo, even beyond their personal relationship.
The question is this: what can the Yankees do to keep Denbo, assuming Jeter would indeed like to bring him to Miami? A raise and a promotion is the obvious answer, but it very well might be nothing. There might be no way to keep him. Denbo could be looking for a new challenge with a new organization, a chance to captain his own ship, and the Yankees can’t really offer that opportunity. MLB’s not expanding anytime soon. A new team with a new owner is as clean a slate as you can get in this game. The Marlins offer that.
What I suppose the Yankees could do is offer Denbo their general manager position. The Yankees could create one of those new president of baseball operations positions that has become popular around baseball, bump Cashman up there, and move Denbo up into Cashman’s old job. Cashman stays — I think that’s happening no matter what — and it might allow them to keep Denbo, albeit in a new position. The problem with that is Cashman is still running the show. The general manager doesn’t have the usual autonomy under a president of baseball operations.
I thought the Yankees would do this three years ago, the last time Cashman’s contract was up, with the idea of promoting then-assistant general manager Billy Eppler to general manager. It didn’t happen and a year later Eppler left to take over as the general manager of the Angels. The Yankees moved forward and are in a much better place right now than they were two years ago. That’s not a knock on Eppler. He’s awesome. It just goes to show that you can lose a key piece like Eppler and life will go on.
And yet, losing Denbo feels like it would be a much bigger blow than losing Eppler, and Eppler was Cashman’s right-hand man. The farm system has become much more productive since Denbo took over and the Yankees have more quality prospects on the way. You don’t want to lose the guy in charge of the pipeline. Maybe the Yankees will be able to keep Denbo in some capacity. Maybe there’s nothing they could realistically offer to prevent him from leaving. Whatever happens, the goal doesn’t change. Develop players and build a championship team. If someone else has to step in and do it, so be it.
The first two games of this three-game series have gone according to plan. The Yankees beat up on a bad Tigers team and they scored a bunch of runs early in both games. They didn’t give the Tigers any reason to play hard. Put the game to bed early and cruise the rest of the way. A repeat in the series finale this afternoon would be swell.
To do that, the Yankees will have to get to Michael Fulmer, who is a) really good, and b) kinda struggling lately. He did throw seven innings with one unearned run allowed against the Dodgers last time out, though he’s still allowed at least five runs in three of his last five starts. That includes seven runs in six innings against the Yankees a few weeks back. Do that again, pretty please? Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Aaron Hicks
- DH Gary Sanchez
- RF Aaron Judge
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 1B Chase Headley
- 3B Todd Frazier
- 2B Ronald Torreyes
- C Austin Romine
LHP Jaime Garcia
Cool and cloudy in Detroit today, so it’s not the most picturesque afternoon at Comerica Park. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:10pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Last night the Yankees routed the Tigers for the second straight night — they’ve outscored Detroit 23-6 in the two games — and one player who didn’t get in on the fun was Todd Frazier. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. There always seems to be that one guy who gets left out in a blowout win, you know? Frazier did go 3-for-5 with a triple in Tuesday’s game though, so that’s good.
It has now been five weeks since the Yankees acquired Frazier (and David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle) from the White Sox, and those five weeks have been eventful. Both for the Yankees and Frazier. The Yankees have gone 20-13 since the trade (for real) and Frazier has hit .231/.356/.404 (106 wRC+) with five home runs in 32 games. That’s … okay. Not great, not awful. League average-ish.
Frazier’s production has gone through some peaks and valleys since the trade. Few good games followed by a few bad games. He was on an extended hot streak prior to the trade then bam, it stopped right after the deal. So much for getting a player while he’s hot, huh? A graph:
Game 82 was Frazier’s first game with the Yankees. Remember when he took a pitch to the hand in his first game in pinstripes? That gave everyone a good little scare. Fortunately Frazier was okay. Didn’t even miss a game.
Anyway, as you can see in the graph, Frazier’s production really cratered immediately after the trade, though it’s crept back up over the last few weeks, so much so that he’s been a legitimate weapon near the bottom of the lineup. Check it out:
- First 16 games as a Yankee: .196/.328/.314 (80 wRC+) with two homers (24.6 K% and 11.5 BB%)
- Last 16 games as a Yankee: .264/.375/.481 (144 wRC+) with three homers (21.9 K% and 10.9 BB%)
Even with the 0-fer last night, Frazier has reached base nine times in his last five games, including hitting two home runs against the Red Sox over the week. There is probably 100% confirmation bias, but Frazier does seem to have a knack for digging in and putting together quality at-bats in big situations. The numbers don’t really bare that out — he has a 90 wRC+ with runners in scoring position and a 73 wRC+ in high-leverage spots — so I’m probably wrong. That doesn’t take away from the fact Frazier has been pretty great the last 16 games.
Since the trade Frazier has done pretty much exactly what the Yankees hoped he would: improve the offense and defense. Remember how little production the Yankees got from first base this year? That’s the bat in the lineup Frazier effectively replaced. Even though his overall numbers with New York are okay at best, he’s been a heck of a lot better than the guys they were running out there at first base. I’d seen enough Chris Carter and Austin Romine for one season. I think we all did.
Frazier is a solid defender at third base with a knack for flashy scoops on short hops, and Chase Headley has looked surprisingly nimble at first base. That’s pretty great. Carter was a butcher over there. Frazier pushed Headley to first with little (if any) defensive downgrade at the hot corner, and Headley has been an improvement over Carter et al at first. Maybe Headley deserves the credit for that and not Frazier. Either way, it happened. The Yankees added Frazier and now they’re a better defensive (and offensive) team.
Because he’s always had an all-or-nothing element to his swing, I’m not sure Frazier is ever going to hit for decent average over an extended period of time. He was miscast as a middle of the order guy with the Reds and White Sox. With the Yankees, Frazier has hit toward the bottom of the lineup and been a complementary player, not a center piece, and it suits him well. His offense is starting to tick up lately, which adds that much more depth to the lineup. Frazier’s first few weeks with the Yankees were disappointing. Late though, he’s really helped solidify things on both sides of the ball.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-4 loss to Rochester) completion of yesterday’s game, which was suspended due to rain with one out in the top of the fourth
- CF Jake Cave: 3-5, 1 R, , 1 2B, 2 K — he went 3-for-3 in the game yesterday and 0-for-2 today
- 2B Starlin Castro: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K — here’s video of yesterday’s single
- DH Greg Bird: 0-1, 1 RBI — he played in the game yesterday, but not the completion today
- 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 BB, 1 K
- RF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 E (fielding)
- RHP Brady Lail: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 42 of 69 pitches were strikes (61%) … he started the game yesterday
- RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/4 GB/FB — 49 of 72 pitches were strikes (68%)
- RHP Gio Gallegos: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 14 of 22 pitches were strikes (64%)
So this is a fun series. The Yankees are doing what they’re supposed to do against a bad team. They’re not just winning, they’re dominating. The Yankees won Tuesday’s game 10-2 and they’ve outscored the Tigers 23-6 in the two games. They’ve 7-2 in their last nine games. The Yankees, not the Tigers.
Score Early, Score Often
I enjoy this neat new thing where the Yankees score lots of runs against bad pitchers. Remember when they got shut down by Anibal Sanchez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Trevor Bauer in the span of four games earlier this month? That was annoying. Thankfully they beat up on Matt Boyd in the series opener Tuesday, then did the same against Zimmermann on Wednesday.
Once again, it was Gary Sanchez who got the Yankees on the board first. His first inning home run Wednesday did not travel nearly as far as Tuesday’s, but it still counts the same. Well, no, it doesn’t. He hit a two-run homer against Boyd. Against Zimmermann it was a solo shot. That gave the Yankees 1-0 first inning lead. They eventually broke the game open with a five-run third inning. Let’s annotate the play-by-play:
(1) I’d like to think that, now that’s coming off the bench, Jacoby Ellsbury is playing with a big chip on his shoulder. He led off that third inning with a little looper to center field, and he tagged up and went to third on Brett Gardner‘s fly ball, which wasn’t hit deep it all. I thought Ellsbury would bluff the tag to draw the throw, but no, he went to third, and he made it. Heads up play by Ronald Torreyes to advance to second when the throw went to third. Real smart baserunning right there. (Who is this team?)
(2) That Aaron Hicks walk to load the bases showed the difference between 2016 Hicks and 2017 Hicks. Zimmermann threw him pretty nasty 1-2 and 2-2 sliders below the zone, and Hicks spit on them like he knew they were coming. He’s always had pretty good plate discipline — he has a career 14.3% walk rate in over 2,600 minor league plate appearances — but he’s cranked it up another notch this year. Hicks laid off two pretty good sliders, took the fastball wide for ball four, and loaded the bases.
(3) When you’re hot, you’re hot. Sanchez crushed a solo home run in the first inning and he found grass with a little blooper for a two-run single in the third inning too. More good baserunning on this play as well. Torreyes read it well from second base and third base coach Joe Espada waved him home. He was easily safe at home. Sanchez is on everything right now. Even when he doesn’t square the ball up, it’s still falling in for hits. He’s living the good life.
(4) That Aaron Judge double would’ve been a home run in many other ballparks, including Yankee Stadium. It hit about halfway up the center field wall 420 feet from home plate. Well-struck, it was. Only one run scored on the play because Sanchez was the runner on first, but that’s okay. Judge hit the ball well and that’s the important. Maybe it’s the bad Tigers pitching, but he’s looking a bit better at the plate this series. He reached base in his sixth consecutive plate appearance that at-bat.
(5) Chase Headley was having one of those series before cranking a solo home run in the seventh. He hit three line drives for outs Tuesday, then in his first at-bat Wednesday, he hit a hard-hit chopper back up the middle that Zimmermann managed to stick out his glove and grab. In his second at-bat he squared up a pitch for long sac fly, and when the YES cameras cut to him in the dugout, you could see Headley was miffed he hit a ball that hard and made an out. In his third at-bat he hit another liner that Andrew Romine caught at his shoestrings in center field. Finally, in his fourth at-bat, Headley hit one over the wall. That’s one way to get it away from the fielders. Anyway, the sac fly gave the Yankees a five-run third inning and a 6-0 lead.
Ho hum, another fantastic outing for Luis Severino, who didn’t face his first sticky situation until the score was well out of hand. The Yankees were up 8-0 when Ian Kinsler smacked a leadoff home run in the sixth inning, and Alex Presley and Justin Upton followed with hard with singles. Three hangers. The Tigers had a run on the board and two men on base with no outs, but two fly outs and a strikeout later, the inning was over. Severino’s only jam.
Severino retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced Wednesday, and the one baserunner was a little seeing-eye Victor Martinez single — can a soft line drive be seeing eye, or is that reserved for ground balls only? — that managed to find grass beyond the shift. His final line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. He threw 100 pitches on the nose. Severino has allowed no more than one run in 13 of his 25 starts this season, which is ridiculous. No other pitcher has more such starts this year. What a stud this kid is. Performances like this are the norm.
The Yankees continued to tack on runs against the bullpen after that big third inning. Didi Gregorius hit a solo home run in the fifth. Torreyes plated a run with a single in the sixth. Headley cranked his home run in the seventh. Hicks got a run home with a single in the eighth. The Yankees have scored double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the third time this season. That seems good. Probably is.
Big night for the offense, obviously. Four hits for Torreyes. Four! Sanchez, Judge, and Gregorius each had two hits, so the 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 6-for-13 with a double, two homers, four runs scored, and six runs driven in. Austin Romine, who pinch-hit for Judge late in the game, also had a single. So I guess it’s technically 7-for-14 for the 3-4-5 hitters. Gardner and Todd Frazier were the only starters without a hit. Gardner reached on an error, Frazier drew a walk. The Yankees went 5-for-11 (.455) with runners in scoring position.
With the big lead, Joe Girardi got two of his struggling relievers some work. Chad Green struck out four in his 1.1 innings and Tommy Kahnle gave up a garbage time solo bomb to Jose Iglesias in his inning. I suspect Kahnle will continue to see low-leverage work for a while.
The Yankees will look to finish the sweep of the Tigers in the series finale Thursday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day start. Jaime Garcia and Michael Fulmer are the scheduled starting pitchers.