The Journey to and from .500

(Stephen Lam/Getty)
(Stephen Lam/Getty)

Following yesterday’s “grab victory from the jaws of defeat, then almost throw the damn thing right back” win against the Twins, the Yankees are back at .500, their record sitting at 34-34. In their last ten games, they are 6-4; currently ,they’re in fourth place in the American League East, 5.5 back of the division leading Orioles. In Wild Card terms, they’re 3.5 back of the second spot, presently occupied by the Blue Jays. Circling things back to a more “Yankee-centric” level, yesterday marked the fifth time the team had won a game to get to .500 this year. ┬áLet’s take a look back and see how the team’s done following reaching .500 with a win.

Date Record Win Streak
4/6 1-1 1
4/8 2-2 2
4/24 22-22 0
6/9 30-30 1
6/18 34-34 ?

That is the story of the 2016 Yankees in table form: Just good enough to be respectable, but not nearly good enough to sustain anything. In between April 8th and April 24th–on April 12th to be exact–the Yankees were two games over .500, their highest mark above .500 all season. Should they win today–which is likely given that it’s a game against the Twins–they’lll be halfway to that mark going into a nine game homestand against the Rockies (2), Twins (3), and Rangers (4). Should they lose, well, would it really be all that surprising? This is a team that has been unable to gain any real traction beyond one six game win streak from 5/18-5/24. That and a recent five gamer against the Angels and Tigers have been the Yankees’ only streaks of more than two games all season.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

While they embarrassed themselves in Colorado, the Yankees do have a chance to trot out an actual lineup against the Rockies this week and the Twins always seem to cure their ills. That could make things look good heading into the series against the Rangers…who have the second best record in all of baseball; their 44 wins fall short only of the Cubs’ 46. July tells a similar story.

The Yankees start July on the road in San Diego before crossing back to the south side of Chicago to take on the White Sox. Both of those are teams they can beat. After that, however, they hit another rough patch: series against first place Cleveland, then home games against the Red Sox, Orioles, and Giants, before ending the month on the road in Houston and Tampa.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The end of June and the beginning of July offer the Yankees a chance to win a bunch of series, even if they may struggle against the Rangers coming up. The Rockies, Twins, Padres, and White Sox are teams they can succeed against, and they just might. But if the relatively short history of this season repeats itself, the Yankees won’t get too far out ahead of .500 or gain much traction. On the little picture side of the coin, this will be frustrating. Watching a team win, lose, win, lose is not exciting; it’s downright maddening. But on the big picture side of the coin, struggling to gain ground will be a good thing; this team doesn’t need any delusions of grandeur heading into trade deadline season.

Yankees rally from behind for 7-6 win over Twins


Source: FanGraphs

The first six innings of Saturday afternoon’s game did not go too well for the Yankees. Thankfully, the Twins are still the Twins, and the Yankees always manage to get the best of them. New York won Saturday’s game 7-6 despite trailing 4-0 at one point. It’s Saturday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Two-Out Damage: The Twins tagged Michael Pineda for four runs (three earned) in 5.1 innings, and you’re never going to believe this, but all four runs scored with two outs. Pineda is usually excellent at closing out innings and limiting mistakes with two outs. (That was an attempt at humor.) Eduardo Escobar burned Pineda with an RBI single in the second, then Byung-Ho Park clobbered an opposite field two-run homer in the fourth. Anthony Swarzak allowed an inherited runner to score on Park’s sac fly, so technically Pineda was only on the mound for three of those four runs, but still. He continues to have problems finishing innings. Sigh.
  • The Board of Trustees: A 4-0 deficit is usually daunting, but the Twins have the worst record in baseball for a reason. Alex Rodriguez started the comeback with a two-run opposite field homer in the seventh inning — it was A-Rod‘s first homer since June 3rd — and Carlos Beltran evened the game at 4-4 with a two-run opposite field homer in the eighth. The Yankees loaded the bases on two walks and a bunt single in the ninth, then took the lead on Jacoby Ellsbury‘s two-run single. Brett Gardner plated an insurance run the team would ultimately need with a sac fly. The Yankees scored five runs in two innings against Minnesota’s bullpen.
  • Nail-Biting Time: A three-run lead in the ninth is usually no big deal. Aroldis Chapman decided to make things interesting though. He allowed back-to-back homers by Escobar and Kurt Suzuki, and they couldn’t have been more different. Escobar’s was a wall-scraper that I thought would get reviewed to make sure it actually cleared the fence. Suzuki’s was a bomb into the second deck. Suzuki fouled off five pitches as part of a nine-pitch at-bat. He really battled. Chapman eventually got the final out for his 13th save. He picked a good day to get the dingers out of his system.
  • Leftovers: The 1-2-3 hitters (Ellsbury, Gardner, Beltran) went a combined 6-for-14 (.429) and drove in five of the team’s seven runs … Didi Gregorius had three more hits — including the bunt single in the ninth — to raise his season batting line to .287/.319/.413 (96 wRC+) … Rob Refsnyder went 1-for-3 with a walk while Ike Davis went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Refsnyder for regular first baseman, please … Swarzak allowed an inherited runner to score but he also retired all five men he faced, giving the offense a chance to get back into the game … the Yankees are now 21-5 all-time at Target Field, postseason included.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees will try for the four-game sweep — they’ve already had two of those this year, you know — Sunday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi and Ervin Santana will be on the mound.

DotF: Staten Island walks off with ten-inning no-hitter

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Gwinnett)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • DH Aaron Judge: 1-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — tenth homer of the season … on pace for 22 homers this year after hitting 20 last year and 17 the year before
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI — would he still be in Triple-A if Austin Romine wasn’t playing so well?
  • LF Jake Cave: 3-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 10/5 GB/FB — 68 of 104 pitches were strikes (65%), plus he picked a runner off first … took a no-hitter into the sixth … that’s the longest outing of his career, majors or minors
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)

[Read more…]

Saturday Open Thread

Here is the open thread for the rest of the day. FOX and MLB Network are showing a bunch of regional games all night, and that’s pretty much it as far as sports go. Talk about whatever here. Go nuts.

Game 68: A big start for Big Mike

(Stephen Lam/Getty)
(Stephen Lam/Getty)

Overall, this has been a pretty crummy season for Michael Pineda. He comes into Saturday’s game with a 5.88 ERA on the season, but only three starts ago he had a 6.92 ERA. Pineda has pitched well the last three times out after some mechanical tinkering at the behest of pitching Larry Rothschild.

Regardless of whether you’re all-in on this season and think the Yankees can contend, or think they’re screwed and need to sell, you want Pineda to do well. Pitching well will help the team get back into contention and it’ll also help raise his trade value, which was pretty much zero a few weeks ago. Anyway, here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. 1B Ike Davis
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s warm and a bit cloudy in the Twins Cities, and there’s a slight chance of rain pretty much all day. It doesn’t look like anything that will cause a delay or a postponement, however. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira (knee) is progressing quite well. He’s been taking batting practice and he was able to do some running yesterday. He’ll run the bases today. Sounds like Teixeira might be able to begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday.

Saturday Links: Miller, Beltran, Teixeira, YES, Jeter

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Twins continue their four-game series later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time until first pitch.

Yankees want “sure things” for Miller

From the “no duh” rumor mill: the Yankees are seeking “sure things” in return in any Andrew Miller trade, reports Jon Heyman. I guess that means they want MLB ready young talent, not prospects who are a year or two away from the big leagues. Makes sense, right? No need to settle for lottery tickets when you’re dealing a player of Miller’s caliber. Either get players who can help you right now or keep the reasonably priced elite reliever who is under contract two more years. The Yankees don’t have to move Miller, after all. If someone wants him, it’ll cost them.

Yankees, Beltran have not talked new contract

Another one from the “no duh” rumor mill: the Yankees and impending free agent Carlos Beltran have not yet had any talks about a new contract, so says Barry Bloom. This shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Beltran is having an awesome season, but he’ll be 40 next April, and the Yankees have a small army of outfielders in Triple-A. They’ve been going young pretty much everywhere possible — and they absolutely need to do that, in my opinion — and part of that is letting Beltran go and replacing him with one of the many younger options. There’s nothing wrong with having a courtesy chat about a new deal, but yeah, this ain’t happening.

Teixeira admits to thinking about retirement

Chances are Mark Teixeira is in his final season as a Yankee — they could bring him back next year as Greg Bird insurance, though I would be surprised — but he has already said he’d like to play five more years. That doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking about retirement though. Here’s what Teixeira said during a recent radio interview when asked about retirement, via Joe Giglio:

“Yea, it’s in the back of mind mind,” Teixeira said. “Absolutely. Even last year when I broke my leg on a fluke foul ball. I’m having a great season and we’re in first place and I break my leg. I’m like, ‘Man, is this ever going to stop?’ You think about how much longer do I want to do this. But you get through it. You have those frustrating times. You joke around when you’re on the DL and think it’s rock bottom watching your team on TV. But you get through and when you get back and hit a couple home runs, you think this is fun again. Hopefully, I’ll get through it this season and perform and help the team. Then we’ll sit down and discuss it as a family as far as what I want to do.”

I can’t imagine thinking and talking about retirement can be an easy thing for a pro athlete. They’re facing the inevitability of walking away from pretty much the only thing they’ve ever known. Teixeira’s been dealing with all these injuries the last few years and you know no one wants to go out like that.

YES ratings down 10% in 2016

According to Richard Morgan, YES Network ratings are down 10% from last season. They’re averaging a little more than 230,000 viewers per game these days. YES averaged nearly 400,000 viewers per game from 2002-11, when the Yankees were in their heyday and contending every year. This isn’t unexpected, right? The Yankees are bad and when teams are bad, ratings (and attendance) drop. Hopefully it doesn’t lead to the team doing something stupid, like trying to spend their way back into contention in a weak free agent market this winter.

Jeter-Davis wedding set for July 2nd

How about we close with some happy news? According to Emily Smith, Derek Jeter and Hannah Davis will be getting married on July 2nd, so two weeks from today. Smith says it’ll be a small family and close friends only ceremony in Napa, and they “want to start a family and have kids right away.” Are those kids gonna have the best genes ever, or what? Also, various social media accounts sure make it seem like Jeter is out doing the bachelor party thing with Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, and Andruw Jones. That is some serious #squadgoals right there.

DotF: Torrens returns, Staten Island plays 20 innings on Opening Day

To the notes:

  • C Luis Torrens is healthy! He’s on the Short Season Staten Island roster. Hooray for that. Matt Schneldman wrote a nice puff piece on Torrens, so check that out. We’ve been hearing about him for a while now, but Torrens turned only 20 last month. In fact, he’s still the third youngest player on Staten Island’s roster.
  • Both 1B Chris Gittens and RHP Chance Adams made today’s Prospect Report, which is not behind the paywall. Gittens hit three home runs last night and Adams chucked 5.1 scoreless innings in his Double-A debut.
  • The Yankees have signed IF Josh Gardiner out of the independent Frontier League, the team announced. The 22-year-old hit .311/.406/.489 with two homers and six steals in 23 games with the Schaumburg Boomers.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 loss to Gwinnett) they faced former RailRider Manny Banuelos

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 BB — he’s now 24-for-63 (.381) with five doubles and three triples in his last 15 games
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 2-4, 1 BB — apparently his opt-out date was earlier this week, so no, he didn’t opt-out … usually in these cases the two sides agree to push the opt-out back a few weeks, so Swisher might be able to leave at some point in the future
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-4, 2 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-4, 1 K — 5-for-26 (.192) since coming back from the broken thumb
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-3, 1 BB, 3 K — no contact night
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — threw a runner out at second
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 7/1 GB/FB — 50 of 83 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — nine of 13 pitches were strikes … second rehab outing, and he came out of the bullpen this time rather than start the game
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 12 of 17 pitches were strikes (71%)

[Read more…]