Tonight, for one night only, there is a reason to watch the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound to open the team’s four-game series against the Twins, meaning the five-game winning streak might actually come to an end. If it doesn’t … well this sucker just might keep going until Tanaka’s next start. The Yankees are playing that poorly right now. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Zelous Wheeler — officially called up earlier today
- 2B Brendan Ryan
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It’s a little cool with clear skies in Minneapolis. Real pleasant night for baseball. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 8:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and, depending on where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Thursday: The Yankees not strongly pursuing Headley at the moment, according to Jon Heyman. That’s the kind of thing that can change in an instant though. A few more losses and they might go knock down San Diego’s door.
Tuesday: Via Jon Morosi: The Yankees are “regularly” scouting Padres third baseman Chase Headley. The switch-hitting 30-year-old has hit only .201/.289/.322 (79 wRC+) with six homers in 62 games while dealing with a herniated disc in his back this year. The Padres are awful and they just fired GM Josh Byrnes, so a fire sale seems imminent.
Headley will become a free agent after the season and at this point it seems unlikely San Diego will even make him a qualifying offer. He had a monster 2012 season (145 wRC+) and was still pretty good last year (113 wRC+), but this season has been a nightmare. The Yankees have gotten very little production from their non-first base infielders and acquiring Headley would be a (very) buy low move with the hope that getting him out of toxic (for hitters) Petco Park will kick start his offense. A good but not great prospect plus salary relief is fine with me. · (103) ·
The homestand from hell is finally over and the Yankees are heading to a place that has been very kind to them over the years. The Bombers are 73-24 against the Twins during the Ron Gardenhire era, including 13-3 all-time at Target Field, where they will play their next four games. The Twins did take two of three in Yankee Stadium about a month ago.
What Have They Done Lately?
Manager Ron Gardenhire’s team just lost two of three to the Royals and they’ve dropped seven of their last nine and 23 of their last 38 games overall. At 38-45 with a -30 run differential, they’ve settled into last place in the AL Central.
The Twins average 4.17 runs per game despite a team 94 wRC+, so they’re below-average at the plate but about average in scoring runs. Timing is everything, I guess. The Yankees will not see 1B Joe Mauer (94 wRC+) this weekend — he was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain yesterday. He’s having a disappointing year anyway. UTIL Danny Santana (129 wRC+) is out with a knee injury and isn’t expected to return this series.
With Mauer hurt, Gardenhire’s lineup revolves around 2B Brian Dozier (116 wRC+), OF Josh Willingham (137 wRC+), and 1B/DH Kendrys Morales (55 wRC+ in limited time). Morales, like Stephen Drew, has not yet gotten it going at the plate after sitting out the first two and a half months of the season. 3B Trevor Plouffe (100 wRC+) has been fine and C Kurt Suzuki (113 wRC+) has been good overall but not as good since taking over as the everyday catcher when C Josmil Pinto was sent down.
UTIL Eduardo Nunez (124 wRC+ in limited time) has been leading off lately. Get ready for a lot of “shoulda kept him!” talk, because we all know everyone felt the Yankees should have kept him and given him another chance back in Spring Training. OF Oswaldo Arcia (83 wRC+) put on an outfield arm clinic in Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago. 1B/OF Chris Colabello (82 wRC+), IF Eduardo Escobar (99 wRC+), OF Sam Fuld (69 wRC+), 1B/OF Chris Parmelee (111 wRC+ in limited time), and former Yankees farmhand C Eric Fryer (-9 wRC+ in very limited time) round out the active roster.
Thursday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (vs. NYY)
Hughes, 28, is going to be an All-Star in two weeks and not as the token Twin. He deserves to be there. Hughes has a 3.58 ERA (2.60 FIP) in 16 starts and 103 innings, mostly because he’s cut his homer rate all the way down to 0.61 HR/9 (5.5 HR/FB%). It’s not just the ballpark either — Hughes has actually allowed more dingers in Target Field (0.76 HR/9 and 6.3 HR/FB%) than on the road (0.49 HR/9 and 4.6 HR/FB%) this year. His strikeout (7.69 K/9 and 21.0 K%) and ground ball (36.9%) rates are a bit below-average, but he doesn’t walk anyone (0.87 BB/9 and 2.4 BB%). Hughes always threw a lot of strikes, but now he’s taken it to the extreme. Righties (.347 wOBA) have had more success against him than lefties (.245 wOBA) for whatever reason in 2014. Hughes brought back his upper-80s cutter this year, replacing that awful low-80s slider. He’ll throw a few mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs per start, but for the most part it’s straight heat, low-90s fastballs in the zone. Phil held the Yankees to two runs in eight inning at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago.
Friday: RHP Chase Whitley (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (vs. NYY)
I can’t believe it’s been five years since the 26-year-old Gibson was drafted (22nd overall). I remember absolutely loving him at the time of the 2009 draft and hoping he’d fall to the Yankees, but alas. Gibson has a 3.77 ERA (3.77 FIP!) in 93 innings across 16 starts this season, though his strikeout rate (4.84 K/9 and 13.0 K%) is terrible. He does it by limiting walks (2.61 BB/9 and 7.0 BB%), getting grounders (55.5%), and keeping the ball in the park (0.58 HR/9 and 7.0 HR/FB%). Classic Twins pitcher, really. Lefties (.303 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.264 wOBA) and he’s been much better at home in Target Field (.240 wOBA) than on the road (.320 wOBA). Gibson works in the low-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs and in the mid-80s with his slider and changeup. He’ll throw one or two upper-70s curveballs per start. The slider is his go-to secondary pitch. The Yankees did not face Gibson in New York earlier this season.
Saturday: RHP David Phelps (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Yohan Pino (No vs. NYY)
Pino is a 30-year-old rookie who will be making his fourth career start this weekend. He has allowed eleven runs on 19 hits and three walks in 15.2 innings in his first three games, striking out a dozen with a 26.9% ground ball rate. That all works out to a 6.32 ERA and a 2.97 FIP. Hooray for small sample sizes. Lefties (.399 wOBA) have clobbered him in his very limited time as a big leaguer (.293 wOBA by righties). Pino has exactly the kind of repertoire you’d expect from a 30-year-old rookie: upper-80s fastball, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, mid-70s curveball. He knows how to pitch, he served his time in the minors, he’s been waiting his entire life for this this, blah blah blah, cliche cliche cliche. Obviously Pino has never faced the Yankees before.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (vs. NYY)
A few weeks ago the 31-year-old Nolasco came into Yankee Stadium with the second highest ERA in baseball and held the Yankees to one run in six innings. His 5.49 ERA (4.40 FIP) is currently the highest in baseball among qualified pitchers, so he’ll probably throw a no-hitter this weekend. Nolasco’s strikeout (6.37 K/9 and 16.1 K%), walk (2.39 BB/9 and 6.1 BB%), and ground ball (42.0%) numbers aren’t all that different from the last few seasons, but he has become incredibly homer prone (1.33 HR/9 and 12.0 HR/FB%). Both lefties (.400 wOBA) and righties (.367 wOBA) have hit him hard, but lefties slightly harder. Nolasco has also been much better at Target Field (.321 wOBA) than on the road (.430 wOBA). He’s a kitchen sink guy, throwing upper-80s/low-90s two and four-seam fastballs, an upper-80s cutter, low-80s changeups and sliders, an upper-70s splitter, and a mid-70s curveball. Seven different pitches and he uses five of them regularly (the cutter and changeup are show-me pitches).
Gardenhire’s bullpen is relatively fresh coming into the series. No one has pitched in back-to-back days or three out of four, anything like that. Closer LHP Glen Perkins (1.88 FIP) is one of the five or six best relievers in baseball regardless of handedness. RHP Casey Fien (3.62 FIP) and LHP Caleb Thielbar (3.44 FIP) handle most of the setup work. Thielbar was pitching in an independent league not too long ago.
The rest of the Minnesota bullpen includes RHP Matt Guerrier (3.29 FIP), RHP Jared Burton (4.87 FIP), RHP Anthony Swarzak (3.59 FIP), and long man RHP Samuel Deduno (4.30 FIP). Not exactly the most intimidating group but they are generally effective. Check out the status of the Yankees bullpen with our Bullpen Workload page, then check out Twinkie Town for everything you need to know about the Bombers’ opponent through the end of the weekend.
Thursday: The Yankees have called up Wheeler and optioned Solarte to Triple-A, the team announced. Dean Anna was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot. The 27-year-old made the Opening Day roster but was send down a few weeks ago. Anna was hitting .192/.283/.292 (60 wRC+) in 36 Triple-A games.
Wednesday: The Yankees will call up utility man Zelous Wheeler prior to Thursday’s series opener against the Twins, report Chad Jennings and Donnie Collins. No word on the corresponding roster move just yet, but they will need to clear both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot. The ice cold Yangervis Solarte seems like the obvious candidate to be sent down.
Wheeler, 27, has hit .300/.368/.469 (135 wRC+) with 20 doubles and seven homers in 65 games with Triple-A Scranton this year. That includes a .348/.400/.522 line against lefties. Wheeler has spent a bunch of time at short and third in addition to both corner outfield spots, so he’ll give the team some versatility. This is his first MLB call-up. The Yankees have been getting nothing from too many lineup spots these last few weeks, and Wheeler gave them a reason to bring him up with his performance. · (134) ·
Despite their recent stretch of poor play (putting it nicely), the Yankees remain in the postseason hunt because every other team stinks too. The AL East is especially bad. The Yankees have lost nine of their last eleven games yet they remain 4.5 games back of the division lead with 79 games to play. They’re five games back of the second wildcard spot. Those deficits are far from insurmountable at this point of the summer, but they will need help to get back into the race and fast.
Because so many teams are within striking distance of a playoff berth, there aren’t many sellers out there this time of the year. One club that has at least acknowledged the likelihood of selling is the Diamondbacks, who come into today with the worst record in baseball at 35-41. “Based on the last couple of years of being a .500 club and this year with the injuries we have and our record, we have to look at being more open-minded of moving some contracts and some veteran players for younger players,” said GM Kevin Towers to Nick Piecoro recently.
Towers spent a year in the Yankees front office and he is reportedly very close friends with Brian Cashman, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easier to make a trade. They’ve gotten together for eleven trades over the years and most are very minor, Bernie Castro for Kevin Reese stuff. Their most recent sweep was Juan Miranda for Scottie Allen in November 2010, their most notable swap probably D’Angelo Jimenez for Jay Witasick in June 2011. Let’s see what pitchers Arizona can offer the Yankees in the coming weeks.
Tomorrow Next week we’ll tackle the position players.
RHP Brandon McCarthy
The 30-year-old McCarthy is a sabermetrics darling, and you really need to be open-minded to look beyond his 2-10 record and 5.11 ERA. He also owns a 7-21 record with a 4.78 ERA since signing with the D’Backs prior to last year. High school Mike Axisa would have said no way to McCarthy based on that.
Behind the record and ERA are some promising core pitching skills, however. McCarthy has a 3.81 FIP during his two years in the desert and this season it’s a 3.88 FIP with his best strikeout (7.53 K/9 and 19.7 K%) and ground ball (55.6%) rates in years. He also never walks anyone (1.56 BB/9 and 4.1 BB%). During his resurgent “hey this guy is a good pitcher now” years with the Athletics from 2011-12, McCarthy had a 3.22 FIP, a 6.26 K/9 (16.9 K%), a 1.57 BB/9 (4.2 BB%), and a 44.3% ground ball rate.
The biggest difference between Oakland McCarthy and Arizona McCarthy is the long ball — he had a 0.69 HR/9 (7.1 HR/FB%) with the A’s and has a 1.05 HR/9 (14.4 HR/FB%) with the D’Backs. A lot of that is the difference in ballparks. The O.co Coliseum is a tough place to hit homers and Chase Field is not. It’s pretty simple. McCarthy has compensated for the less friendly home park by throwing more sinking fastballs and staying away from his cutter. Here is the breakdown of his arsenal:
The changeup is just a show-me pitch and because McCarthy throws so few four-seam fastballs, I wouldn’t get too excited about that astronomical swing-and-miss rate. (Whiff+ and GB+ are like ERA+, but with swing-and-miss and ground ball rates for individual pitches.) The sinker is clearly his bread-and-butter and it’s an above-average pitch both in terms of getting whiffs and ground balls. Is a guy who relies so heavily on his sinker a good fit for the Yankees’ infield defense?
The biggest concern with McCarthy, by far, is his injury history. He has stayed healthy this season but has otherwise visited the disabled list with a shoulder problem at least once every year from 2007-13. Only once since 2006 has McCarthy thrown more 135 innings in a season (180.2 in in 2011) and this year he is already at 104 innings. Maybe he’ll stay healthy, but, given his history, you have to think a disabled list stint is coming at some point.
McCarthy is owed approximately $5.1M through the end of the season and will become a free agent this winter, so he’s a pure rental. The fact that he limits walks, keeps the ball on the ground, and is familiar with pitching in a hitter’s park are pluses. The below league average strikeout rate (remember, he’s facing pitchers too) and scary injury history are negatives. McCarthy is an upgrade over Vidal Nuno (and Chase Whitley) and would probably come cheaper than Jason Hammel, another mid-rotation guy with injury issues.
LHP Wade Miley
Unlike McCarthy, Miley would not be a rental pickup. The 27-year-old is in his third pre-arbitration year and will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2017. Usually rebuilding clubs don’t trade a guy like that, but Buster Olney (subs. req’d) recently mentioned many teams are looking to land Doug Fister types — unheralded but effective pitchers with years of control remaining. (The Tigers stole Fister from the Mariners when he was in his second pre-arbitration year.) Miley may fit that bill.
Through 18 starts and 113.1 innings this season, Miley has a 4.61 ERA (4.13 FIP). He posted a 3.33 ERA (3.15 FIP) during his first full season in 2012 and followed it up with a 3.55 ERA (3.98 FIP) in 2013, so he is trending in the wrong direction. Miley’s strikeout rate (8.42 K/9 and 22.5 K%) is a career best and both his walk (2.70 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) and ground ball rates (48.0%) are right at his career norms, so the problem has been the homerun. He went from 0.65 HR/9 (6.9 HR/FB%) in 2012 to 0.93 HR/9 (12.5 HR/FB%) in 2013 to 1.35 HR/9 (16.8 HR/FB%) this year. When he misses his spot, it tends to get hit a long way.
Miley has been very durable throughout his career, throwing 190+ innings in each of the last two seasons and at least 150 innings every year since 2010, when he was just a kid in A-ball. He has all but shelved his curveball this year — it was his top secondary pitch during his excellent rookie campaign two years ago — and is now more of a slider guy. Here is his pitch breakdown:
The curveball is a non-factor but otherwise Miley uses two fastballs interchangeably and has a well-above-average slider in terms of getting both swings and misses and ground balls. That pitch is why he’s in the big leagues and why left-handed batters have mustered only a 2.88 wOBA against him in his career. Like Fister, there’s nothing flashy about Miley’s pitch mix, no huge fastball or anything like that, but he has four distinct pitches and can make the ball move. Add in his durability and left-handedness and you’ve got a guy who figures to spend a very long time in the league.
The original Fister trade is not the perfect deal to reference because he had one extra year of team control, but it can give us something of an idea of what it would take to land Miley. The Tigers sent four players to Seattle for Fister (and replacement level reliever David Pauley):
- Third baseman Francisco Martinez, who was in Double-A at the time and considered the fourth best prospect in Detroit’s system by Baseball America.
- Left-hander Charlie Furbush, who had made his MLB debut earlier that season and been ranked as the team’s 26th best prospect in Baseball America.
- Right-hander Chance Ruffin, who was Detroit’s supplemental first round pick the previous year. He actually zoomed to the big leagues and made his debut with the Tigers right before the trade.
- Platoon outfielder Casper Wells, who had about a year in MLB at the time.
In hindsight, the Tigers gave up very little. Furbush has settled in as quality left-handed reliever but Martinez, Wells, and Ruffin all flamed out. At the time though? Wowza. Detroit traded one of their top prospects, their supplemental first round pick from the year before, plus two cheap and potentially useful MLB pieces. Imagine if the Yankees were to trade, say, Greg Bird, Ian Clarkin, Jose Ramirez, and Zoilo Almonte for someone like Miley. Fans would probably riot. That’s not an unreasonable package though.
Miley’s increasing propensity to give up the long ball is a definite concern, but there is plenty to like here. He’s young, he’s under team control for three more years, he’s never been hurt, he’s left-handed, and he has a true starter’s repertoire. Miley is essentially a finished product — yes, I know every player is always looking to improve, but it’s not like they have to teach him a changeup or something — the Yankees could just plug into the rotation and let him go. Even if you think the Yankees have no business being buyers at the deadline, this is someone they should consider acquiring anyway because he’ll also be able to help in the coming years.
Every team can use another reliever, including the Yankees. They’ve had to ride Dellin Betances and Adam Warren pretty hard in recent weeks, partly because Shawn Kelley has been shaky as hell since coming off the disabled list. Closer Addison Reed (4.15 ERA And 4.57 FIP) has been amazingly homer prone (2.08 HR/9 and 18.2 HR/FB%), which is not exactly a good quality for a late-inning reliever. Brad Ziegler (2.34 ERA and 3.52 FIP) is a sinker and ground ball machine (67.2%) who needs a good infield defense to be not awful. Both Oliver Perez (.302 wOBA) and Joe Thatcher (.285 wOBA) are serviceable matchup lefties.
Ziegler ($5M) and Perez ($2.5M) are both already under contract for next season while Reed is in his final pre-arbitration year. His arbitration raises figure to be significant because he’ll finish the year with 100+ career saves, significant enough that he might be a non-tender candidate as soon as this winter. Thatcher will be a free agent after the season. Meh. Not really much to see here.
* * *
The rest of Arizona’s pitching staff is pretty unappealing. Bronson Arroyo is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury and others like Josh Collmenter, Mike Bolsinger, and Chase Anderson barely move the needle. Trevor Cahill was so bad that he’s currently pitching (not particularly well, either) in the minors. If the D’Backs had more good pitchers, they’d be winning more games.
I think McCarthy is a lock to be traded before the deadline for pretty obvious reasons. He makes good money and he’ll be a free agent after the season. That’s exactly the type of player a bad team moves at the deadline. Miley is a different situation though — the D’Backs won’t have any trouble holding onto him if they don’t get an offer they like. The Yankees or any other team would have to pry him loose. Both he and McCarthy make some sense for New York if they’re serious about adding help before the deadline and making a run at a postseason berth.
Here are some notes to start the night:
- Here is our post keeping track of the Yankees’ intentional free agent signings on the first day of the 2014-15 signing period. The reports about their intentions to go on a huge spending spree have proven to be very correct.
- UTIL Jose Pirela was been named to the Triple-A International League All-Star Team. He is the only Yankees farmhand who was elected to the game.
- The Yankees have signed RHP Edgmer Escalona to a minor league contract, according to Rich Dubroff. The 27-year-old had a 6.10 ERA (6.37 FIP) in 20.2 Triple-A innings with the Orioles before being released. He replaces RHP Robert Coello, who opted out of his contract.
- The Yankees have signed Mount Olive RHP Deshorn Lake as an undrafted free agent, according to the Daily Press. The Red Sox selected him in the 12th round pick of the 2011 draft, but he opted not to sign.
Triple-A Scranton Game One (1-0 loss to Buffalo in eight innings, walk-off style) this was a regularly scheduled doubleheader, each affiliate has one or two each season
- 2B Jose Pirela: 3-4, 1 2B
- DH Rob Refsnyder & LF Zoilo Almonte: both 1-4, 1 K
- 3B Zelous Wheeler: 0-1, 1 K – was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning because he’s on his way to MLB
- C John Ryan Murphy: 0-4, 1 K
- RHP Shane Greene: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 63 of 99 pitches were strikes (64%), though one of the walks was intentional
- RHP Matt Daley: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3/0 GB/FB – 15 of 22 pitches were strikes (68%) … served up the walk-off homer to former RailRiders teammate Dan Johnson
In his second minor league rehab start, CC Sabathia allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman in 3.2 innings with Double-A Trenton. He struck out two and threw 33 of 55 pitches for strikes (60%). A scout told Matt Kardos that Sabathia sat 88-90 and topped out at 92 mph.
Sabathia just left the game, so there’s no word on how he and his injured right knee felt just yet. This start came on three days’ rest but Joe Girardi confirmed Sabathia will start on regular rest from here on out. I have to think he’ll make at least two and probably three more rehab starts before rejoining the rotation. · (26) ·
You might have seen this floating around the internet today, but if not, here is an excerpt from the upcoming book “Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball’s Steroid Era.” It details how MLB gave Alex Rodriguez a therapeutic use exemption to use take testosterone during his MVP winning 2007 season. The league responded to the excerpt with a statement saying the clinical approvals were confidential. It’s pretty interesting. Check it out.
Here is your open thread for the night. The Mets are playing and that’s about it as far as sports go. Good night to forget about baseball. Talk about the A-Rod story, tonight’s games, the Yankees’ international signings, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.
For the first time this season, the Yankees have lost five straight games. The Rays took Wednesday afternoon’s series finale by the score of 6-3, completing the sweep. They had baseball’s worst record coming into the series. The Yankees have now lost nine of their last eleven games are are 41-42 on the year. Stinky.
For the first time in what felt like an eternity, the Yankees actually jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday afternoon. Brett Gardner opened the day with a typically long at-bat (seven pitches) and a leadoff homer into the right field second deck off Jake Odorizzi. It was gone off the bat. No doubter. Gardner has now hit eight homers this season, tying his career-high (set last year). He’s going to wind up hitting like 12-15 dingers this summer. Crazy.
Brian McCann chipped in a solo homer of his own two innings later, a cheap little New Yankee Stadium shot just inside the foul pole down the right field line. It was a high pop-up in almost every other ballpark. Like everyone else, I expected Gardner to be hitting the cheapies and McCann to be launching bombs into the second deck coming into the year. Also, believe it or not, the Yankees have hit multiple homers in four of their last eight games. Doesn’t feel like it, right?
One inning after that, the wholly unproductive right field platoon of Alfonso Soriano (single) and Ichiro Suzuki (walk) reached base to start the inning. Soriano was in right and Ichiro was playing center. Brian Roberts lined out and Yangervis Solarte popped out, so it appeared any potential rally would go to waste. Been an awful lot of that this year. Thankfully Gardner was up next and thankfully he pulled a two-strike single through the right side of the infield to score Soriano. Brett has been the best player on the team this season and I don’t think it’s particularly close at this point.
No Lead Is Safe
The Yankees took the lead three times early in the game and Vidal Nuno gave it back almost immediately each time. The Rays scored their first run in the third inning on a leadoff walk (Ryan Hanigan), a double (Ben Zobrist), and a passed ball. They scored their second run in the fourth inning, right after McCann homered. A double by Logan Forsythe and a single by Sean Rodriguez did the trick. In the fifth — again, right after Gardner re-gave the Yankees the lead — Desmond Jennings, Zobrist, and Brandon Guyer strung together a single, a double, and a single to score another run. Guyer would have had a two-run single had Gardner not thrown Zobrist out at the plate.
All told, Nuno was charged with four runs (three earned) in five innings of work. Joe Girardi opted to send him back out to start the sixth only to yank him when the leadoff runner reached base. I hate that. If his leash is one base-runner, then just let the reliever start the inning clean. This isn’t Masahiro Tanaka. It’s Vidal Nuno and he was putting guys on base all day. Shawn Kelley took over and allowed a two-run homer to Sean freaking Rodriguez on his third pitch. Just like that, the Rays were up 5-3 and had all the runs they would need on the afternoon.
I mean, it’s no surprise Nuno did not carry his success against the Red Sox over from his last start. Everyone has a great game now and then and it doesn’t mean they’ve turned some kind of corner. Four runs (three earned) in five innings is perfectly fine from your seventh (or eighth? whatever) starter, though Nuno is third on the team in starts (14) and innings (78). That’s not good. Kelley … good grief. He has been a mess since coming off the disabled list.
Not Hitting With Runners In Scoring Position Isn’t The Problem …
… bad hitters are the problem. The Yankees went one-for-whatever (nine, actually) with runners in scoring position and stranded runners at the corners in the fifth, at first and second in the seventh, and at second in the eighth. There were some chances to tack-on runs or make the game closer, but they were unable to take advantage. Gardner’s run-scoring single in the fourth was the lone hit with men in scoring position. He had three hits while McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Roberts had two apiece as well. McCann and Ichiro drew the only walks.
The Yankees have been unable to get hits with men on base all season but that in and of itself isn’t the problem. It’s just the symptom of the real problem. They aren’t unclutch or anything silly like that. They just have too many bad hitters. That’s the problem. Even if McCann and Beltran start hitting like everyone expected them to hit, the Yankees would still have Derek Jeter, Roberts, Ichiro, Soriano, Solarte, Kelly Johnson, etc. getting regular at-bats. It’s pretty remarkable how many flat-out bad hitters are on the roster and have been all season.
The Rays made four outs on the bases. Gardner threw Zobrist out at home, Soriano threw Rodriguez out at second trying to stretch a single into a double (on the play that scored Tampa’s second run), Jeter caught Zobrist wandering too far off second base on a ground ball in the seventh, and Kevin Kiermaier was picked off first in the eighth. The Gardner and Soriano throws were good plays, the other two were gifts.
Adam Warren allowed two singles (one infield) and a walk in 1.1 innings of work. He was helped out by Zobrist’s second base-running blunder. David Huff allowed one run in 1.2 innings of mop-up duty. He was hurt by some shaky infield defense. Guyer hit a slow grounder to third that Solarte threw into right field attempting to turn the 5-4-3 double play. Somehow it was ruled it hit. What?
Michael Kay went on a pretty amusing rant about Jacoby Ellsbury‘s off-day in the first inning. He pointed out that it was Lou Gehrig bobblehead day and basically said that if Gehrig could play every single day, Ellsbury should be able to do it in the first year of his seven-year contract. It was a hoot.
According to the YES broadcast, the Yankees are now 1-32 when allowing five or more runs. This is the latest into the season the Yankees have been below .500 since they were 39-42 at the halfway point of the 2007 season. That team rallied to win the wildcard and make the postseason. That team also had good players.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
You can find the box score and video highlights at MLB.com. There are some other stats at FanGraphs and the updated standings at ESPN. Edwin Encarnacion and the Blue Jays walked off against the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon, so the Yankees are now 4.5 games back of Toronto for first place in the AL East. The Mariners beat up on the Astros, so the Bombers are five games back of the second wildcard spot.
The homestand is mercifully over and the Yankees are heading up to Minnesota for a four-game series with the Twins. Current Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka and one time projected Yankees ace Phil Hughes start things off on Friday night.
Carlos Beltran is still dealing with lingering soreness in his forearm after it forced him to shut down his throwing program last week, according to Zach Braziller. “It is frustrating,” said Beltran, “not being able to be in the field and having to deal with this and now the forearm, it takes [a lot] mentally, for me to come to the ballpark, get treatment, go to the [training room], whole routine I need to do to get ready for the game. I need to find a way to not think about it and just focus on what I need to focus on. Go out and compete and fight.”
Beltran, 37, went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer on Sunday, but is still hitting only .216/.274/.404 (81 wRC+) in 234 plate appearances this year. Coincidence or not, he’s been especially unproductive since flipping over the wall in Tampa back in mid-April. A bone spur in his elbow forced Beltran to miss about four weeks and has relegated him to full-time DH duty. At this point, getting him back into the outfield is a secondary concern. The Yankees need Beltran to start producing at the plate. Getting him (and Brian McCann) on track would have more of an impact than any trade deadline pickup, though the season is halfway complete and we still haven’t seen many signs of life. · (5) ·