DotF: Torres and Amburgey homer in Tampa’s win

Two quick notes:

  • LHP Dietrich Enns will work out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future, reports Shane Hennigan. The Yankees are limiting his innings. Enns has already thrown a career high 131 innings this season — his previous career high was 100.1 innings way back in 2012 — and he just came back from Tommy John surgery last year.
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report, so check that out. He’s been phenomenal since arriving in Triple-A and is putting himself in position to be a call-up candidate at some point next season.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Rochester) their magic number is three, but all they need to do is beat Rochester once this weekend to clinch a postseason spot … their canceled game Sunday means Rochester would not be able to catch Scranton in the loss column as soon as the RailRiders get that one win

  • Ben Gamel & DH Kyle Higashioka: both 0-4, 1 K — Gamel’s hitting streak was snapped at 15 games
  • RF Cesar Puello: 3-4
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 2 K
  • LHP Richard Bleier: 4 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 5/1 GB/FB — 50 of 69 pitches were strikes (72%) … getting stretched out now so he can be the long man in September
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 22 of 34 pitches were strikes (65%) … 41/20 K/BB in 43.1 innings here
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K — 26 of 46 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%) … 89/7 K/BB in 61.1 total innings this season, which is bonkers

[Read more…]

Game 127: The Biggest Series of the Season (To Date)


Welcome to the most important series of the season. To date, anyway. The Yankees are chasing the Orioles (and the Tigers, Mariners, Royals, and Astros too) in the wildcard race and the O’s are in the Bronx this weekend for a three-game set. This is a chance to gain a lot of ground, even if the Yankees still have a relatively small chance at the postseason. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. DH Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Cessa

It’s cloudy and really warm in New York today. There’s no rain in the forecast though, so that’s good. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.

Notes: Sad news: Brian McCann‘s grandmother passed away and he is away from the team. He could return as soon as tomorrow, Joe Girardi said … Girardi also said there is a “distinct possibility” Bryan Mitchell will pitch in the big leagues this season. Mitchell (toe) was recently activated off the 60-day DL and optioned to Triple-A so he could continue to make up for lost innings.

8/26 to 8/28 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The calendar says August, but the Yankees are playing postseason baseball right now. They’re 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot at the moment, and it just so happens the team they are chasing, the Baltimore Orioles, will be in the Bronx for three games this weekend. Pretty big series, yes? Yes. The Yankees are 5-5 against the O’s this season, including 3-1 at Yankee Stadium.

What Have They Done Lately?

August has not been kind to the Orioles, who are 11-12 this month and have gone from one game up in the division to one game back with both the Red Sox and Blue Jays ahead of them. The O’s got shut out by the Nationals yesterday to fall to 70-57 with a +24 run differential on the season. I have to say, I never thought they would have this much success this season given the state of their rotation.

Offense & Defense

Baltimore is in the race despite their shaky rotation (4.89 ERA and 4.72 FIP) because they do score plenty of runs. They average 4.73 runs per game with a team 103 wRC+, and they lead all of baseball with 197 home runs. Dingers are their thing. The Orioles only have one injured position player: Rule 5 Draft pick and reserve OF Joey Richard (85 wRC+), who is out long-term with a damaged thumb ligament.

Trumbo. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Trumbo. (Rob Carr/Getty)

Manager Buck Showalter has been batting CF Adam Jones (103 wRC+) leadoff since late-May despite his less than stellar on-base ability (.317 OBP this year). Lately LF Hyun-Soo Kim (129 wRC+) and UTIL Steve Pearce (136 wRC+) have been platooning in the second spot of the lineup. Megastar 3B Manny Machado (137 wRC+) hits third and 1B Chris Davis (113 wRC+) and RF Mark Trumbo (122 wRC+) follow as the fourth and fifth hitters. Scary lineup is scary.

2B Jonathan Schoop (109 wRC+) and SS J.J. Hardy (86 wRC+) are the middle infielders, and C Matt Wieters (80 wRC+) is the regular catcher. DH Pedro Alvarez (118 wRC+) starts against righties and sits against lefties. On the bench is where you’ll find OF Nolan Reimold (80 wRC+), UTIL Ryan Flaherty (65 wRC+), and backup C Francisco Pena (49 wRC+). Francisco is Tony’s son, you know. This much is certain: the O’s have a ton of power throughout their lineup. A ton.

Defensively, the O’s are very good up the middle with Wieters, Hardy, Schoop, and Jones. Machado is outstanding at third base and Davis is underrated at first. Trumbo is a nightmare in right and none of the guys they use in left are anything to write home about. It’s a solid team defense overall with a glaring weakness in right.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (vs. NYY)
Things have not gone well for the 30-year-old Gallardo in 2016. First he flunked his physical and had to accept a reduced contract offer. Then he missed a bunch of time with a shoulder problem. When he has been healthy enough to pitch, Gallardo has put up a 5.08 ERA (5.02 FIP) in 17 starts and 90.1 innings. His peripheral stats are thoroughly mediocre: 15.5% strikeouts, 12.2% walks, 42.8% grounders, and 1.10 HR/9. Both lefties and righties have hit him hard this year. Gallardo’s four-seamer and sinker sit right around 90 mph, and his trademark slider is still humming in around 87 mph. He’ll also throw mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs. The Yankees scored four runs in seven innings against Gallardo last month, the only time they’ve faced him this year.

Saturday (1:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (vs. NYY)
Man, I thought Bundy was going to be a star back in the day. He still might be down the road, but injuries and the Curse of Orioles Pitching Prospects™ have gotten in the way. So far this season the still only 23-year-old Bundy has a 3.33 ERA (4.40 FIP) in 81 innings spread across eight starts and 22 relief appearances. He moved into the rotation right out of the All-Star break and has a 3.56 ERA (5.03 FIP) in those eight starts. Bundy has a very nice strikeout rate (24.1%) as a starter, though his walk (8.1%), grounder (39.7%), and homer (1.88 HR/9) numbers need work. Righties have actually hit him harder than lefties this season. As a starter, Bundy works with a 93-95 mph fastball as well as a mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball. His best pitch in high school — Bundy was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, if you’re unaware — was a nasty low-90s cutter, but the O’s made him stop throwing it because they were worried he’d get hurt. So they took away his best pitch (he lost feel for it and has abandoned it all together) and he got hurt anyway. Yeah. The Yankees have seen Bundy twice this season as a reliever, scoring three runs in 3.2 total innings. This will be the first time they see him as a starter.

Bundy. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Bundy. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Sunday (1:05pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
Gausman, 25, is having the same kind of okay but not great but probably decent season he’s been having for about three years now. That means a 3.92 ERA (4.35 FIP) in 23 starts and 133 innings. Meh. Gausman has nice strikeout (23.1%) and walk (6.7%) rates but yucky grounder (42.3%) and homer (1.56 HR/9) rates. Again: meh. Righties have hit him much harder than lefties and that’s not unusual for Gausman because he has a nasty mid-80s splitter. That pitch is the equalizer against batters of the opposite hand. His fastball sits mid-to-high-90s and he’ll also throw some low-80s curveballs. The Yankees have seen Gausman three times this year: eight scoreless innings in April, one run in six innings in June, and two runs in 6.2 innings in July. Progress?

For whatever reason the Yankees have their entire rotation listed as TBA at the time of this writing. No idea what that’s about. Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Michael Pineda are lined up to starting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively. Unless the Yankees use yesterday’s off-day to rearrange things, we don’t have any reason to think those three guys won’t start this weekend.

Bullpen Status

As usual, the Orioles have a pretty strong bullpen this year, though stalwart setup man RHP Darren O’Day has been limited to only 27.1 innings due to nagging hamstring and shoulder problems. He’s on the DL now and won’t be back this weekend. Maybe not even next weekend when these two clubs meet again. Here is Showalter’s relief crew:

Closer: LHP Zach Britton (0.69 ERA/1.98 FIP)
Setup: RHP Brad Brach (1.57/2.67)
Middle: LHP Donnie Hart (0.00/3.02), RHP Mychal Givens (3.17/3.42), RHP Logan Ondrusek (9.95/5.36)
Long: RHP Mike Wright (5.89/5.50), RHP Vance Worley (3.19/4.27)

Britton has been phenomenal this season. Good enough to get serious Cy Young consideration. He recently allowed his first earned run since April. The guy has a 31.0% strikeout rate and a 79.7% ground ball rate. Britton has faced 197 batters and only 26 have put the ball in play in the air. Crazy.

Only Ondrusek (32 pitches) and Wright (12 pitches) pitched last night, so Baltimore’s bullpen is in good shape coming into tonight’s series opener. The Yankees had an off-day yesterday as they flew west to east. Check out our Bullpen Workload page anyway.

Mailbag: Sanchez, McMahon, Eovaldi, Cano, CC, Rutherford

Small mailbag this week. Only ten questions. Back in the day ten questions equaled a huge mailbag. Times have changed, huh? As always, the best way to send us questions is the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address. Fire away.

The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Getty)

Many asked: Can Gary Sanchez win Rookie of the Year?

Yes he can and no he won’t. The late call-up doesn’t mean Sanchez is ineligible to receive Rookie of the Year votes or anything like that. It just means he’s going to have way fewer at-bats than other top Rookie of the Year candidates. If Sanchez plays every single game from now through the end of the season, he’ll finish with 55 games played. The fewest games played by a Rookie of the Year position player is 52 by Willie McCovey, who hit .354/.429/.656 (188 OPS+) with the 1959 Giants.

The next fewest? Eighty-eight by Ryan Howard. Sanchez winning Rookie of the Year with only 55 games played would not be completely unprecedented, but there is a reason it has only happened once. Usually there are very qualified Rookie of the Year candidates who have played a full season or at least close to one. Sanchez will get some down ballot Rookie of the Year votes if he continues at this pace, I have no doubt. Michael Fulmer and Tyler Naquin have also had incredible seasons and will finish with nearly three times as much MLB time as Sanchez. That matters.

Michael asks: Took a look at the SP market this winter. First of all, woof. Second of all…Nova might be, uh, maybe the best option, given age and injury risk (looking at you, Rich Hill and Andrew Cashner). What kind of coin does he collect, and should the Yankees consider a reunion?

Yeah, the upcoming free agent pitching class is really bad. Hill is probably the best starter on a rate basis, but there’s no reason to think he can give you 180 innings next season. Looking over at the list of free agents, Ivan Nova seems like the best reclamation project available, but because the market is so thin, I think he’s going to wind up getting paid sure thing money. Three years and $36M? The J.A. Happ deal? It wouldn’t surprise me. Nova had his first real good start with the Pirates the other day and if he can pitch to a 3.75-ish ERA the rest of the way, he’s going to get a nice contract. And no, I don’t think the Yankees should consider a reunion. Been there, done that. Onward and upward, not backward.

Andrew asks: Are the Yankees following the Cubs’ rebuild strategy? Seems like the Yanks are stacking as many young bats as they can, while the pitching is kinda light at the moment. Seems the Cubs beefed up their pitching through free agency and trades when the young guys were ready with Lester, Lackey, Arrieta, etc. Do you see the Yankees deploying the same strategy?

I think it’s just a coincidence. The Yankees did use their top draft pick in both 2014 (Jacob Lindgren) and 2015 (James Kaprielian) on pitchers, remember. (The Cubs haven’t picked a pitcher in the first round since 2010, the year before the Theo Epstein regime came in.) Plus they spent all last offseason trying to land a young controllable starter. It just so happens that right now they have a bunch of bats coming, and when they made their deadline trades, the best available players were hitters. The Cubs had no top pitching prospects to trade for Aroldis Chapman and the Indians had way more bats than arms to deal for Andrew Miller.

Building around young bats is a way better strategy than building around young arms in my opinion. Pitchers get hurt all the time. You need pitchers, sure, but they’re risky as hell. What’s the last truly great rotation three or foursome that stayed together for an extended period of time? Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito with the Athletics? Look at the Mets. Pitchers break down. It’s what they do. Add in the fact offense is down relative to where it was 5-10 years ago, and hoarding bats makes sense. The Yankees have all those young position players either in MLB or on the cusp of MLB. They’re probably going to have to go outside the organization for arms.

Chris asks (short version): What about buying low on Rockies third base prospect Ryan McMahon?

McMahon, 21, has been a top 100 prospect for a few years now — Baseball America ranked him No. 43 prior to this season — because he has huge power and it plays in games. He came into this season as a career .295/.374/.521 (140 wRC+) hitter with 48 homers in 327 pro games, all at High-A and below.  This year McMahon is hitting a weak .239/.327/.387 (99 wRC+) with ten homers in 121 Double-A games, however.

McMahon. (Chet Strange/Hartford Courant)
McMahon. (Chet Strange/Hartford Courant)

There are two ways to look at this. One, McMahon’s struggles are the result of the Hartford Yard Goats’ stadium situation. They don’t have one. The team has been on the road all season a la the 2012 Scranton Yankees. Scranton was on the road because the ballpark was being renovated. Hartford is on the road because of political and legal issues with their currently under construction ballpark. (Actually, construction has stopped for the time being.) Playing on the road all the time stinks.

And two, McMahon is getting exposed by advanced pitchers. He’s had swing-and-miss issues throughout his career — his strikeout rate by level: 23.5% (rookie), 25.9% (Low-A), 27.5% (High-A), and 30.3% (Double-A) — and there’s some length to his swing. McMahon has big time power and he has the tools to be a good third baseman, though there are definite red flags here. The ballpark situation is a convenient excuse, but is it the right excuse?

The Rockies are pretty darn good at developing position players, and while being open to trading McMahon could raise an eyebrow (what do they know that we don’t?), we have to remember Nolan Arenado is going nowhere at third base. McMahon is blocked — the Rockies have introduced him to first base this season, for what it’s worth — and trading him would make complete sense. I don’t know what a fair trade would be, but if the Rockies do put McMahon out there, the Yankees should look into it. His lefty pop is legit. He’s not without risk though.

Michael asks: Eovaldi – would you offer Eovaldi a 2 year deal similar to Jon Lieber i believe for (2003-2004). Pay him the minimum for 2017 with an incentive if he’s able to pitch in September. then a reasonable low base salary for 2018 with more incentives?

Yes, though I don’t think the league minimum is going to cut it at this point. The Royals have set the market for really injured pitchers the last two offseasons. Two years ago they signed Kris Medlen to a two-year, $8.5M deal as he rehabbed from his second Tommy John surgery. This past offseason they signed Mike Minor to a two-year, $7.5M deal as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery. Eovaldi is probably looking at similar money.

Of course, Medlen and Minor are cautionary tales. Medlen has been pretty bad since coming back from his second elbow reconstruction (5.12 ERA and 4.44 FIP) and Minor is getting knocked around on his rehab assignment. The second Tommy John surgery is much riskier than the first. I don’t think there’s any way you could expect Eovaldi to pitch next season. Pushing him back that quickly would be dangerous. Whoever signs him will do so hoping he’s ready to go come Spring Training 2018. I’d be cool with giving him two years and $8M or so with the understanding you’ll get nothing in 2017.

Carl asks: Given that Cano was never a top 100 prospect, are there any prospects in the system that could be very underrated right now?

Robinson Cano should have been a top 100 prospect in 2005. He was the top prospect in the organization at the time, and a near-MLB ready middle infielder who can hit to all fields should be a top 100 guy. Alas. Anyway, I’m sticking with Tyler Wade as my underrated prospect even though I’ve ranked him pretty high recently. He’s not going to hit for power. That’s just not his game. But Wade has the bat control and plate discipline to hit leadoff, plus he’s a really good defensive shortstop. He’s almost like the shortstop version of Brett Gardner, or at least the Brett Gardner who came up through the system. (Gardner has exceeded all expectations as a big leaguer.) Wade’s a bit of a boring answer but I really believe in him. He’s going to start for someone for a long time.

Michael asks: With Gary Sanchez wearing #24 it got me thinking, does Robinson Cano ever go into Monument Park? Despite leaving for more money, Cano’s peak year were the best second baseman seasons in Yankee history and he won a championship here.

I think he should. Cano is no worse than the fourth best second baseman in franchise history behind Willie Randolph, Tony Lazzeri, and Joe Gordon. Lazzeri and Gordon are in the Hall of Fame but not Monument Park. Randolph is in Monument Park but not the Hall of Fame. Go figure. Cano is the best hitting second baseman in team history in terms of batting average (.309), homers (204), OPS (.860), OPS+ (126), and wRC+ (126), and he was the Yankees’ best player from 2010-13. He has the World Series ring plus five All-Star Game appearances and four top six finishes in the MVP voting. So he left as a free agent. Who cares? Cano is arguably the best second baseman in franchise history and that makes him Monument Park worthy in my book. Will he get in? My guess right now is no.

Robbie. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Robbie. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Michael asks: What’s a manager worth if you could value you them by WAR? I’m sure it’s tough to put a value on a manager and I think that there are numerous ways with which measure a teams performance but is there a way to measure the day in and day out impact on the team and individual players and come up with a true value?

I’ve long believed that a bad manager can cause more losses than a good manager can create more wins. It’s not just bad lineup decisions and pitching changes. Bad managers typically have unhappy clubhouses, and when the players aren’t happy, they don’t perform. We’ve seen it countless times over the years. A good manager keeps his players happy and motivated in addition to making smart strategic moves. My guess — and this is a total guess — is a good manager can be worth something like 3-4 wins over the season while a bad manager could cost the team upwards of 7-8 wins. That sound reasonable?

Adam asks: Has CC’s 2017 option officially vested now that there are officially less than 45 days left in the season? ( the stipulation was spend more than 45 days on the DL for there to be a buyout, i believe) Thanks

No because only one of the three conditions of CC Sabathia‘s vesting option has to be met, not all three. Here are the the conditions of the option. As soon as one happens, the vesting option becomes a club option, which the Yankees can buy out for $5M (they can’t buy out the option if it vests):

  1. Sabathia does not end 2016 on the DL with a shoulder injury.
  2. Sabathia does not spend more than 45 days on the DL with a shoulder injury.
  3. Sabathia does not make more than six relief appearances due to a shoulder injury.

As Adam said, the second condition is no longer a possibility. There are 37 days left in the regular season and Sabathia has not been on the DL with a shoulder issue at all. He could still finish the season on the DL with a shoulder injury though, which would void the option. Ditto the six relief appearances thing.

Teams typically do not place players on the DL in September because there’s no need with expanded rosters. If Sabathia does hurt his shoulder and it’s minor, say inflammation or something like that, would they put him on the DL to prevent the option from vesting? The MLBPA wouldn’t like that. I think it would have to be something serious like a tear. Something serious enough to put Sabathia on the 60-day DL so they could clear a 40-man roster spot for another player.

Marc asks: Blake Rutherford. Is he the prospect with the highest ceiling and could he be a fast riser in the system? He seems like he may be the best bat in the system since Nick Johnson.

Rutherford’s in the conversation for sure. Guys like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo have crazy high ceilings as well though, and they are closer to the show than Rutherford, which is why I have them ranked higher at the moment. The kid can really hit and I do think he’ll be a fast riser relative to other high school draftees. I could see Rutherford blowing through Low-A and High-A next season, then starting 2018 as a 20-year-old in Double-A. He might be my favorite prospect in the system right now.

DotF: Montgomery dominates again in Scranton’s win

Got some notes and links to pass along:

  • RHP Bryan Mitchell (toe) was activated off the 60-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. They had an open 40-man roster spot, so no other move was required. Assuming Mitchell comes up when rosters expand on September 1st, he won’t spent 20 days on an optional assignment this year and won’t burn an option. He’ll have one left for next season.
  • Make sure you check out Josh Norris’ piece on all the talented teenagers the Yankees have playing in Pulaski. They’re all far away from the big leagues, yes, but they all offer premium tools as well. The Yankees brought in a ton of talent during their 2014-15 international signing spree.
  • OF Clint Frazier told Brendan Kuty he’s been pressing since coming over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade because he wanted to impress his new organization. “I’m feeling good, though. I’m in a good place. I’m in a good environment,” he said.

Triple-A Scranton (4-0 win over Syracuse) they have the best record in all of Triple-A at 83-49 … no other Triple-A team has more than 78 wins … Scranton’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is three, so chances are it’ll happen this weekend

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (throwing) — he’s played third base eight times in 13 games since being sent down … he’s also 21-for-47 (.447) in those 13 games
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K — back from his back spasms
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 E (fielding) — back-to-back games with a triple
  • RF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 60 of 94 pitches were strikes (64%) … fourth straight scoreless outing … he’s allowed two runs in 31 Triple-A innings (0.58 ERA) … he now has a 2.09 ERA in 131 total innings this season … decent
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K — 12 of 16 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 18 of 26 pitches were strikes (69%) … 32/1 K/BB in 23.1 innings with Scranton

[Read more…]

Thursday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have an off-day today and will open a pretty important three-game series with the Orioles tomorrow. They play them again next weekend too. This is a chance to gain some ground in the wildcard race. Anyway, make sure you check out Wally Matthews’ story on outfield positioning. Yankees outfielders literally keep positioning notes under their hats and look at them prior to each at-bat. Neat stuff.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing, MLB Network is showing a regional game, and there are some NFL preseason games on too. Talk about that stuff or anything else right here. Go nuts.

Yankeemetrics: Babe Sanchez does it again [Aug. 22-24]


Gary is Good
Despite the superhuman feats of a scorching-hot Gary Sanchez, not to mention a two-dinger night from the streaky Starlin Castro, the Yankees still managed to lose the opener in Seattle, 7-5. It snapped their eight-game winning streak at Safeco Field, which was tied with the White Sox (2011-12) for the longest by any opponent at the ballpark.

Sanchez added yet another chapter to his Baby Bomber tale, crushing two more home runs to bring his total to eight in 19 career games. He is the first Yankee to hit at least eight homers before playing in his 20th big-league game, and just the fourth American League player in the last 100 seasons to do it. The others? Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays), Alvin Davis (Mariners) and George Scott (Red Sox).

The right-handed hitting Dominican also added a single, giving him 54 total bases since his debut in the bigs. Only one other Yankee has compiled at least 50 total bases this early into his major-league career (first 19 games), and you might have heard of him before: Joe DiMaggio.

Starlin Castro was Sanchez’s co-star on Monday night, going deep twice for his first multi-homer game in pinstripes. Castro and Sanchez became the first Yankees age 26 or younger to each hit at least two homers in the same game since September 23, 1973, when Ron Blomberg and Otto Velez did it in a 9-1 rout against the Indians.

Castro and Sanchez’s numbers became a mere footnote in history and not part of a winning effort when Anthony Swarzak served up a hanging slider to Mike Zunino, who deposited the pitch into the right-field seats to give the Mariners a 6-5 lead.

In his postgame press conference, Girardi said that he went to Swarzak “because of his slider,” an interesting comment given these stats:

  • Eight of the 10 homers that Swarzak has allowed this season have come off his slider
  • Opponents are slugging .682 (!) off Swarzak’s slider, the highest mark among the 150-plus pitchers that have thrown at least 200 sliders this year
(USA Today)
(USA Today)

An old guy steals the spotlight
On a day when the lineup’s young superstar was mortal, the Yankees got masterful performance from the rotation’s elder statesman, CC Sabathia, and beat the Mariners, 5-1, to even the series at a game apiece.

Sabathia, mired in a miserable 11-game stretch during which he posted a 6.78 ERA, was brilliant as he delivered a vintage performance to help stop the Yankees two-game losing streak. He fired seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in what was his best outing since mid-June.

While Sabathia’s dominant effort might have been surprising given his recent struggles, it shouldn’t have been given his history of pitching extremely well in the Pacific Northwest. Overall, he’s 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 13 career starts at Safeco Field, the second-best ERA among the 51 pitchers than have made at least 10 starts at the ballpark.

He’s also a perfect 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 0.961 WHIP in six starts at Safeco as Yankee. Going back 100 years, that ERA is the second-lowest mark any Yankee pitcher has posted at any ballpark where he’s made at least five starts. The guy atop the list is Mel Stottlemyre, who had a 1.25 ERA in nine starts at Anaheim Stadium from 1966-73.

Sanchez didn’t go yard in this game but he still maintained a near-record-breaking pace to start his career by going 1-for-4 with a walk. His 26 hits as a major-leaguer are tied with Bob Meusel for the third-most by any Yankee (since at least 1913) in his first 20 MLB games. The only others with more are Joe DiMaggio (37!!) and Oscar Azocar (28).


The Gary and Tanaka Show
The Yankees shut out the Mariners, 5-0, in the rubber game of this series thanks to the amazing and unprecedented — yet somehow predictable — performances by Gary Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees’ underrated ace spun another gem, tossing seven scoreless innings with five strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 3.11. The only “blemish” was a third-inning walk to Seth Smith, the first free pass he’d issued since July 27.

That snapped a streak of four straight starts with at least 25 batters faced and zero walks, the longest by a Yankee since David Wells in 2003. Tanaka also saw his fantastic run of three straight games with at least eight punch outs and no walks come to an end, which was tied for a major-league record.

Tanaka is now up to five starts of at least seven scoreless innings pitched, the most among all American League pitchers. Entering Thursday, Tanaka was third among AL starters in strikeout-to-walk ratio, third in FIP, sixth in innings pitched, sixth in WHIP and seventh in ERA. He is the only AL pitcher ranked in the top-7 in each of those categories this season. And, oh yeah, he’s tied with Corey Kluber for the league lead in fWAR (Fangraphs version of Wins Above Replacement).

Sanchez wasted little time in continuing his homer barrage as he crushed a mammoth 420-foot shot into the left-center field seats on the first pitch he saw, his franchise-record ninth home run in 21 career games. His light-tower power is crazy: He’s now hit more 400-foot homers (seven) than every other Yankee this season except for Starlin Castro (11), and remember, Sanchez has only been a full-time player since August 3.

Gary added another double in the fifth inning, giving him 15 extra-base hits as a major-leaguer. The only Yankee to reach 15 career extra-base hits faster (in terms of games) than Sanchez was that DiMaggio dude again.

The Mariners soon learned their lesson — DO NOT PITCH TO THE KRAKEN — and intentionally walked him in each of his final two plate appearances.

The last Yankee to receive multiple intentional walks in a game within his first 21 career games was Joe Gordon in 1938. Sanchez is also youngest Yankee with at least two intentional walks and two hits in a game since a 23-year-old Yogi Berra on July 22, 1947.

And lastly, just for fun, Sanchez is the first Yankee catcher to be intentionally walked twice in a game since John Flaherty on June 15, 2004. Yes, Flash was batting eighth in an Interleague game in Arizona. The manager was not drunk.