Yankees let winnable game slip away, drop series finale 2-0 to Dodgers

That was a tough one. Thanks in part to the rain, the Yankees were able to wait out Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Dodgers, but the offense never bothered to show up, and eventually some defensive miscues led to a 2-0 loss. Brutal. The Yankees have lost three of four since their seven-game winning streak.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Defensive Meltdown
Might as well start with the ninth inning since that’s when all the important stuff happened. The game was still scoreless in the top of the ninth, and the inning started with a bad Starlin Castro error. Dellin Betances was on the mound and Corey Seager lifted a little line drive right to Castro, but he misplayed it and the ball scooted by. Easily catchable ball and a play a Major League second baseman must make.

Because Betances was on the mound, Seager stole second almost immediately, and the play wasn’t all that close even with Gary Sanchez behind the plate. Justin Turner followed with a ground ball double just beyond the reach of a diving Chase Headley, which scored Seager and gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Blah. Turner moved up to third on Adrian Gonzalez’s deep fly ball, so Los Angeles had the lead and a runner at third with one out.

A runner at third with one out stinks because an out can score a run there, so you’re hoping Betances can get a strikeout to keep the runner at third. Rather than the strikeout, Yasmani Grandal hit a weak tapper back to the mound, which is almost as good. Turner broke for home and would have been out by a mile had Betances, you know, made a good throw home. He shot-putted the ball to the backstop, allowing the run to score.

Dellin Betances

Sigh. Dellin’s two biggest flaws were on full display that inning. He can’t hold runners — opponents are now 19-for-19 in steal attempts against him after Seager’s stolen base — and he struggles throwing to the bases. Usually it doesn’t matter much because Betances is so good at everything else, but those flaws cost the Yankees on Thursday. Castro’s error was obviously huge too. That started the game-winning rally. Sloppy baseball at a very bad time.

Not Enough Offense
In the three biggest at-bats of the game, Rob Refsnyder and Austin Romine faced Kershaw, and Brian McCann hit against a lefty. Not great, Bob. Kershaw retired the first dozen batters he faced before a 56-minute rain delay, and because he stayed loose in the batting cage underneath the stands during the delay, he came back out for the fifth inning too. That surprised me. Whatever.

That fifth inning was the Yankees’ best chance to score all game. Castro started the inning with a hot shot grounder off Turner’s glove at third base, then Headley followed with a legit single through the left side of the infield. The Yankees had runners on first and second with no outs, and with Didi Gregorius set to face a lefty annihilator like Kershaw, he laid down a bunt. Fine with me. It was textbook and advanced the runners.

The Yankees were in position to score a run with an out, but it never came. Kershaw overpowered both Refsnyder and Romine, striking them out to end the inning. Why did Refsnyder and Romine bat there? Beats me. At the very least, Mark Teixeira should have pinch-hit for Romine. I’d argue he should have pinch-hit for Refsnyder because you need a fly ball, and Refsnyder is a very ground ball heavy hitter.

Their other best chance to score came in the seventh inning. Castro singled and Headley walked, both with one out, though Pedro Baez got Gregorius to fly out to center for the second out. Joe Girardi lifted Refsnyder for pinch-hitter Brian McCann, which was great! Except the Dodgers countered with lefty Luis Avilan, and McCann hit anyway. He came into the game with a .205/.314/.356 (82 wRC+) line against lefties. Naturally, McCann struck out to end the threat.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees scored five runs in the three games against the Dodgers and all five came on solo homers. They had bad matchups in their three most important at-bats of the game Wednesday even though there were better options on the bench. The offense stunk in general, doing get me wrong. The loss falls on the entire offense, not one or two guys. But did Refsnyder and Romine give the Yankees the best chance to succeed in the fifth? Did McCann in the seventh? You’ll have a hard time convincing me they were the best available options at the time.

Leftovers
Michael Pineda didn’t allow a run! He also threw 83 pitches in four innings. Pineda closed out his outing with a nice 3-6-1 inning-ending double play with the bases loaded, during which he took an awkward step at first base and appeared to hurt himself. I’m not sure if he left the game hurt or because he was laboring so much. The Yankees can’t really afford to lose another starter.

The Yankees had five baserunners total: two singles by Castro, a single and a walk by Headley, and a walk by Brett Gardner. Gardner’s walk came with two outs in the eighth inning of a scoreless game and he never tried to steal second. Dude. The Yankees struck out 14 times as a team in this game, their second highest strikeout total in a nine-inning game this season. The Astros struck out 15 Yankees back in July.

Aside from Betances, nice work by the bullpen. Tommy Layne and Tyler Clippard each threw a scoreless inning and Luis Severino threw two. Those three combined to allow one hit. Also, both of the runs were unearned against Betances because of the errors.

The Orioles and Tigers both won while the Blue Jays lost Thursday. The wildcard standings look like this at the moment:

Orioles: +1.0 GB (first wildcard)
Blue Jays: — (second wildcard)
Tigers: 1.0 GB
Yankees: 2.0 GB

Also, if the Mariners beat the lowly Angels later Wednesday night, they’ll be 1.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and jump over the Yankees in the standings. That’s annoying, but they’re the Mariners. I’m sure they’ll screw up somehow before it’s all said and done.

And finally, there were two rain delays in this game. The second one was the big one, the 56-minute delay we all hoped would knock Kershaw from the game. The first delay lasted 12 whole minutes in the third inning. It was somehow sillier than two rain delays against the Blue Jays last week. Not a great week for the tarp-callers.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings while MLB.com has the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too, so check those out. Here’s the unfortunate win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The homestand is over and the Yankees will now head out on a eleven-game, three-city road trip. First up: four games in Boston. Fun fun fun. Masahiro Tanaka and Eduardo Rodriguez are the scheduled starters for Thursday night’s opener.

Heyman: Yankees agree to sign Billy Butler

(Don Feria/Getty)
(Don Feria/Getty)

Looks like the Yankees have a new DH option. The team has agreed to sign the recently released Billy Butler, reports Jon Heyman. The Athletics cut Butler loose earlier this week and are responsible for his $10M salary. New York will only owe him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. I’m guessing Butler will be with the team tomorrow.

The Yankees signed Butler for one reason: to DH against left-handed pitchers. The Aaron Judge injury took away a righty bat, and Austin Romine had to DH against Clayton Kershaw this afternoon, so yeah. There’s room on the roster for Butler. Being able to slide Judge or Nathan Eovaldi to the 60-day DL means no one has to lose their roster spot either. It’s an easy add.

Not coincidentally, the Yankees are scheduled to face three left-handed pitchers against the Red Sox this weekend (Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price, Drew Pomeranz), so Butler’s going to be in the lineup an awful lot right away. The Yankees are tentatively scheduled to face seven southpaws on this upcoming seven-game road trip as well: Rodriguez, Price, Pomeranz, Drew Smyly, Blake Snell, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ.

Butler, 30, hit .276/.331/.403 (100 wRC+) with four homers in 242 plate appearances with the A’s before being released, including .262/.316/.369 (84 wRC+) against lefties. He’s a career .299/.381/.491 (133 wRC+) hitter against southpaws and surely that’s the Butler the Yankees are hoping they get these next few weeks. Hopefully Butler can be a chunkier version of 2014 Chris Young and unexpectedly rake.

Because he’s signing after August 31st, Butler is not eligible for the postseason roster should the Yankees actually qualify for the postseason. There are no loopholes, no 60-day DL tricks, nothing. He’s not eligible, period. That’s fine though. The Yankees are just trying to get to the playoffs right now. They’ll be happy if they have to figure out the postseason roster without Butler.

DotF: RailRiders walk-off with Game Two win

OF Mark Payton has been moved up to Triple-A Scranton and OF Trey Amburgey has been moved up to Double-A Trenton, reports Matt Kardos. Those moves are essentially a chain reaction to OF Mason Williams being called up to the big league team.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Gwinnett, walk-off style) the best-of-five International League Championship Series is tied at one game apiece

  • LF Mark Payton: 0-4, 2 K
  • RF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 0-1, 1 R, 3 BB
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 0-3, 1 BB — he was robbed of a two-run home run, according to Shane Hennigan
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-2, 1 RBI, 2 BB — drew the bases loaded walk to tie the game in the ninth inning
  • SS Pete Kozma: 0-2, 1 RBI, 2 BB — drew the walk-off walk … their ninth inning rally went walk, walk, hit-by-pitch, walk, walk … what a spectacular meltdown by Gwinnett’s bullpen
  • PH-2B Cito Culver: 1-1, 1 2B — he pinch-hit for Jonathan Diaz in the eighth inning, and his double was their only hit of the ballgame
  • LHP Phil Coke: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 8/4 GB/FB — 68 of 93 pitches were strikes (73%) … heck of a job … he did his part in Game Two
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — ten of 14 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for the rest of the evening. The Red Sox and Orioles are on ESPN and that game is very relevant to the Yankees’ postseason chances. Also, if hockey is your thing, there will some 2016 World Cup of Hockey exhibition games on ESPN2 and ESPN3 tonight. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Game 145: Beat the Best

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Today the Yankees will play their final game of the season against a non-AL East team. They’re also going to face the best pitcher in the world. I suppose the good news is Clayton Kershaw is not at full strength right now. This is his second start back from a two-and-a-half month DL stint due to a back injury.

Kershaw threw only three innings and 66 pitches last time out, and he looked pretty rusty as well. The expectation for today is something like five innings and 80 pitches, apparently. That’s better than facing Kershaw at full strength, but Kershaw at like 75% is still better than about 90% of pitchers out there. Gonna be tough. Here is the Dodgers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Rob Refsnyder
  8. DH Austin Romine
  9. 1B Tyler Austin
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a little cloudy in New York today and there’s actually a tiny little bit of rain in the forecast later this evening too. It doesn’t look like it’ll be anything too heavy though. Maybe just a quick shower. This afternoon’s series finale is scheduled to begin at 4:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Brian Cashman said Aaron Judge (oblique) will very likely miss the rest of the season. They don’t have the results of today’s MRI yet, but it sure sounds like they’re not counting on him coming back. Sucks … in case you missed it earlier, Mason Williams was called up to effectively replace Judge on the roster.

2017 Schedule Announced: Yankees open in Tampa Bay

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today MLB officially announced the 2017 regular season schedule. The Yankees will open the season on the road for the first time since 2014 next year. Opening Day is Sunday, April 2nd, in Tampa Bay in one of the ESPN games. The Rays and Diamondbacks get the two Sunday games next year because they’ll be celebrating their 20th anniversaries. Can you believe they’ve been around 20 years already? Geez.

Anyway, the Yankees opened the 2012 season in Tropicana Field as well. That was the “intentionally walk Sean Rodriguez so Carlos Pena can hit a grand slam” game, not that it still irks me or anything. Not sure why there’s an off-day Monday — no chance of a rainout in a dome! — but there is one. Lame. The season starts with three games in Tampa, then after another off-day Thursday, the Yankees go to Baltimore for a three-game series before coming home for the first time. Next year’s home opener is Monday, April 10th, also against the Rays. Here’s the full 2017 schedule. Here are some highlights.

Interleague Play

As expected, the Yankees will play NL Central clubs during interleague play next year. It rotates divisions each year and the NL Central is due up. The Cardinals (April 14th to 16th), Brewers (July 7th to 9th), and Reds (July 25th and 26th) and are coming to visit Yankee Stadium while the Yankees will go out on the road for series against the Pirates (April 21st to 23rd), Cubs (May 5th to 7th), and Reds (May 8th and 9th).

Going to Wrigley Field will be fun. The Yankees were last there in 2014. I remember that because Dellin Betances struck out Anthony Rizzo with two breaking balls that hit him.

I’m guessing the 2017 Cubs will be a tad more formidable than the 89-loss Cubs team the Yankees faced in 2014. Too bad the Cubbies aren’t making a trip to Yankee Stadium next year. That would be really fun.

Subway Series

Yet again, the 2017 Subway Series will be a four-game home-and-home series. I hate that. I and I think most folks would prefer two three-game series. That way there will be a legitimate series winner — the Yankees and Mets split the four games this season, remember — and bragging rights will actually be on the line. Who doesn’t love that? Anyway, the Yankees will host the Mets at Yankee Stadium on August 14th and 15th before going to Citi Field on the 16th and 17th. That’s a Monday to Thursday.

West Coast Trips

All things considered, the Yankees have a really easy West Coast travel schedule next season. They’re only make two West Coast trips in 2017: a seven-gamer through Anaheim and Oakland from June 12th through the 18th, then a four-gamer in Seattle from July 20th to 23rd. The Yankees will go from Minnesota to Seattle for that series, so they won’t even have to sit through a long cross country flight. Nice work, schedule makers.

Final Homestand

For the second straight year and only the third time since 2006, the Yankees will close out the 2017 regular season at home in the Bronx. The final series of the season is a three-gamer against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Who knows what will be on the line that series. AL East title? Wildcard spot? Nothing? That’s a quick three-game homestand. The Yankees play their second-to-last series of the season in Tampa. All but six of their 28 September games are against AL East opponents. Three-game sets with the Rangers and Twins are the only exceptions. Lots and lots of intradivision games in September. Makes the races fun.

Update: Yankees call up Mason Williams

(Getty)
(Getty)

1:15pm: The Yankees have indeed called Williams up, the team announced. They haven’t announced an update on Judge, however. Rosters are expanded and Williams is already on the 40-man roster, so no other move is required.

11:30am: According to Sweeny Murti, the Yankees are calling up outfielder Mason Williams from Triple-A Scranton. I figured that would happen. Williams will replace Aaron Judge, who strained his oblique taking a swing last night. The Yankees have not yet announced the results of his MRI, but it’s not a stretch to assume Judge’s season is over.

Williams, 25, missed the first half of the season following shoulder surgery. He hurt himself diving back into first base on a pickoff play last year, you may remember. Williams hit .317/.335/.410 (112 wRC+) in 46 regular season minor league games after returning, most with the RailRiders, and he’s continued his hot hitting in the Triple-A postseason.

Last season Williams played eight games with the Yankees before hurting his shoulder — he replaced the injured Slade Heathcott, who replaced the injured Jacoby Ellsbury — and went 6-for-21 (.286) with one homer and three doubles. He went deep in his very first big league game, which was really cool.

Joe Girardi said last night he expects to use Rob Refsnyder as the everyday right fielder with Judge sidelined. Aaron Hicks could return from his hamstring injury as soon as next week as well. For now Williams seems like the fourth outfielder who will spot start and replace Refsnyder for defense in the late innings.

The call-up means Triple-A Scranton is pretty screwed — they’re currently in the International League Championship Series and Williams was their everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter — but the big league team is the priority, and they couldn’t play with a short bench. Not when they’re still in the mix for a postseason spot. Calling up Williams was a no-brainer. It had to be done to ensure the Yankees are as close to full strength as possible.