Four games in three days. Thanks to a May 19th rainout, the Yankees will play their third doubleheader of the season today as the Blue Jays come to town for the third and final time in 2013. New York split their previous two doubleheaders — one with the Indians and one with the Dodgers. They’ve also won eight of nine meetings against the offseason champs so far this year, and these two clubs will play seven times in the next nine days.
What Have They Done Lately?
Like the Yankees, Toronto was off on Monday. They lost two of three to the Rays this past weekend and have dropped seven of their last eleven games. The Jays are 12-18 in the second half and 57-67 with a -37 run differential overall, good for last place in the AL East. They’re seven games back of New York in the loss column.
With an average of 4.5 runs per games with a team 99 wRC+, the Blue Jays are basically a league average offense. OF Colby Rasmus (122 wRC+) and former Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (86 wRC+) are both on the DL and will not return this series. SS Jose Reyes (117 wRC+) is day-to-day with a knee issue and could be back in the lineup as soon as this afternoon.
Manager John Gibbons’ lineup is anchored by the two big right-handed bats: 1B Edwin Encarnacion (146 wRC+) and RF Jose Bautista (134 wRC+). Encarnacion has more extra-base hits (57) and walks (65) than strikeouts (52). He’s become a truly elite power hitter these last two years. The other regulars you’ll recognize are 3B Brett Lawrie (104 wRC+), C J.P. Arencibia (70 wRC+), and DH Adam Lind (124 wRC+), who always seems to crush the Yankees.
With Cabrera and Rasmus hurt, the rest of outfield is filled out by LF Rajai Davis (83 wRC+), CF Anthony Gose (74 wRC+ in limited time), and OF Kevin Pillar (-100 wRC+ in very limited time). IF Maicer Izturis (63 wRC+) and IF Munenori Kawasaki (67 wRC+) handle middle infield duty while UTIL Mark DeRosa (104 wRC+) will sub in against southpaws. Backup C Josh Thole (33 wRC+ in limited time) rounds out the bench. Needless to say, Toronto’s lineup is much less potent without Reyes in the leadoff spot.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Tuesday Game One: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Esmil Rogers
I’m not sure who is starting what game of the doubleheader for either team, but these are the four guys getting the ball later today. Rogers, 28, has a 4.91 ERA (4.61 FIP) in 102.2 innings as a true swingman this summer — 14 starts and 23 relief appearances. His walk (2.72 BB/9 and 6.8 BB%) and ground ball (46.4%) rates are strong, but the strikeout (6.22 K/9 and 15.7 K%) and homer (1.31 HR/9 and 15.2% HR/FB) totals are not. Rogers is a two-fastball (mid-90s two and four-seamers), three-offspeed (mid-80s slider and changeup, low-80s curve) pitcher out of the rotation, and it’s worth noting he has a massive platoon split — righties have gotten him for a modest .316 wOBA while lefties have tagged him for a .389 mark. The Yankees have seen Rogers seven times since the start of last year, but never once as a starter.
Tuesday Game Two: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Mark Buehrle
The 34-year-old Buehrle has gotten over his early-season “welcome to the AL East” struggles and now owns a solid 4.29 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 25 starts. That’s pretty much the book on him, right? Solid. Buehrle has a career-high strikeout rate (6.06 K/9 and 15.6 K%) this year, but his walk rate (2.35 BB/9 and 6.1 BB%) is its highest in more than a decade as well. Still, that’s pretty good. He gets a decent amount of grounders (44.1%) but isn’t particularly adept at limiting the long ball (1.09 HR/9 and 10.6% HR/FB). Buehrle is the definition of a crafty lefty, a kitchen sink kinda guy. His two and four-seamer fastballs both sit in the mid-80s while his cutter is a touch lower in the low-80s. An upper-70s changeup and low-70s curve are his top offspeed offerings. Although he’s never had much of a platoon split, Buehrle has fared better against lefties (.288 wOBA) than righties (.338 wOBA) this season. The veteran-laden Yankees have seen former ChiSox southpaw plenty over the years, including three times a few months. They typically hit him hard.
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP R.A. Dickey
I don’t think the Blue Jays were expecting a 4.49 ERA (4.78 FIP) when they acquired the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner over the winter, but that’s exactly what the 38-year-old Dickey has given them in 26 starts. Every time it appears he’s ready to get on a roll and dominate, he throws up a clunker. Dickey’s peripherals — 6.84 K/9 (17.9 K%), 3.05 BB/9 (8.0 BB%), 1.44 HR/9 (13.0% HR/FB), and 41.0% grounders — have taken significant steps back across the boards. I guess that’s how you go from Cy Young to a mid-4.00s ERA. He’s a knuckleballer, as you know, but in the past he used two distinct knuckleballs — a soft one in the mid-70s and a harder one in the low-80s. Dickey has lost the hard knuckler for whatever reason and now consistently sits in the mid-70s with the pitch. He throws it roughly 90% of the time and will use a low-80s fastball as a get-me-over-pitch. Lefties (.355 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.300 wOBA). The Yankees have seen Dickey a few times over the years thanks to interleague play with the Mets, but earlier this season he held them to three runs in seven innings.
Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP J.A. Happ
Three months ago, the 30-year-old Happ was carted off the field after taking a line drive to the side of the head. He suffered a very small skull fracture, but the reason he missed so much time was a knee injury — he twisted his leg underneath him as the fell to the ground following the line drive and sprained a ligament. Happ has made three starts since returning from the DL and has pitched quite well in two of them, and overall he owns 4.93 ERA (4.09 FIP). The southpaw has missed enough bats (7.11 K/9 and 17.7 K%) and kept the ball in the park (0.73 HR/9 and 5.4% HR/FB), but his walk (4.56 BB/9 and 11.3 BB%) and ground ball (34.4%) rates are well-below-average. Happ is a five-pitch guy, sitting right around 90 mph with both his two and four-seamer. Both his slider and changeup come in in the low-80s, his curveball in the mid-70s. His platoon split (.287 vs. .335 wOBA) is modest. Happ held New York to three runs in six innings earlier this year and hasfaced them a few other times in recent seasons, including during the 2009 World Series while with the Phillies.
There has apparently been some talk of starting Adam Warren on Wednesday — the Yankees will need a spot starter no later than Saturday due to the doubleheader — and pushing everyone back, which would allow Kuroda to start against the Rays over the weekend. That’s preferable given the playoff situation and all that. They could always start Warren on Thursday or Friday instead, it doesn’t have to be Wednesday.
As I said before, the Jays were off on Monday, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be for mid-August. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (2.72 FIP) has been stellar, but primo setup man RHP Steve Delabar (2.44 FIP) is out with an elbow problem. Forgive me while I self-promote, but read this. LHP Brett Cecil (2.97 FIP) and RHP Sergio Santos (3.21 FIP in limited time) are now handling setup duties. LHP Darren Oliver (4.16 FIP), LHP Aaron Loup (3.54 FIP), RHP Neil Wagner (3.63 FIP), and RHP Brad Lincoln (5.35 FIP) fill out the rest of the seven-man relief corps.
The Yankees are in good bullpen shape thanks to yesterday’s off-day, though Warren might not be available after throwing 57 pitches on Saturday. Both Boone Logan and Shawn Kelley have made three appearances in the last five days, but neither has thrown more than nine pitches in a game since Thursday. Check out the Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage details. For the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays, check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.
The Yankees have signed RHP Edwin Fierro out of the Mexican League, reports Matt Eddy. The 19-year-old had a 3.03 ERA and 3.87 FIP in 38.2 innings for Campeche, which is pretty impressive considering the Mexican League is usually somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A. The Yankees have a knack for digging up prospects in Mexico — RHP Al Aceves, LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Gio Gallegos, for example — so Fierro might be someone worth keeping an eye on.
In other news, both RHP Bryan Mitchell and RHP Manny Barreda have been bumped up to Double-A Trenton, reports Mike Ashmore. To clear room on the roster, 1B Saxon Butler was sent to High-A Tampa and LHP Aaron Dott was placed on the DL. The Thunder are likely going to postseason, so expect them to get some reinforcements in the coming weeks. With that in mind, let’s update the standings. It’s been a while.
Triple-A Scranton (8-2 loss to Lehigh Valley) 62-68, 9.5 games back in International League North Division
- C J.R. Murphy: 0-4, 2 K — feels like he catches everyday, but he does indeed get days off once in a while
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K — threw a runner out at third
- RF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 RBI
- RHP Chris Bootcheck: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 9/5 GB/FB — 65 of 108 pitches were strikes (60%)
I don’t know about you, but I was still pretty pumped about last night’s game when I woke up this morning. That doesn’t happen very often. Writing a recap usually gets me over a game pretty quickly, but not after something like that. All the drama of Ryan Dempster vs. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Fenway Park … all of that made for a rather intense 4+ hours. It was awesome. I couldn’t decide whether to use the Dempster vs. A-Rod video or that GIF of Joe Girardi nearly punching home plate ump Brian O’Nora, so I went with both. Why not?
Anyway, the Yankees are off today, so here is an open thread for the night. MLB Network will air a game, but who you see depends on where you live. I suspect Tri-Staters will see the Rays and Orioles, a game with implications for the Yankees. The Steelers and Redskins are your Monday Night (Preseason) Football game on ESPN, and later on ESPN2 with air the Red Sox at the Giants. Talk about any of that stuff and more right here. Enjoy.
(.GIF via Guyism)
Via Bob Nightengale: MLB has formally requested permission from Alex Rodriguez’s camp to publicly release all of their evidence against him. “While we believe that your public comments are already in breach of the confidentiality provisions of [the Joint Drug Agreement], we will agree to waive those provisions … with respect to Rodriguez’s entire history under the Program, including, but not limited to, his testing history, test results, violations of the Program, and all information and evidence,” said MLB VP Rob Manfred in a letter to A-Rod’s lawyer.
This is really getting to be silly. MLB has been leaking information for weeks — like clockwork, really, every day during the 5-6pm ET hour something new comes out — but now they’re asking permission? A-Rod’s camp has already said no (as they should have), but now the leaks will continue anyway. Maybe they won’t leak the actual evidence, but there will still be stories about this and that intending to scare Rodriguez. The league has definitely succeeded at making this whole situation messier than it needs to be with this mudslinging. Crazy idea: Respect due process and everyone shut up until the appeal hearing. · (59) ·
It’s hard to believe we’re at the point of discussing expanded rosters, but here we are. In 13 days teams will be allowed to carry as many 40 players on their active roster as part of September call-ups, another one of baseball’s little quirks. A lot of people don’t like them because it changes the rules at the most important time of the year, but I say reward the contenders with depth and let non-contenders evaluate young players. If my third catcher and extra starter are better than yours, why shouldn’t I be allowed to take advantage?
Anyway, Triple-A Scranton currently sits in fourth place in the five-team International League North Division, and they’re about a week away from being eliminated from postseason contention. Their regular season ends on September 2nd, meaning the Yankees will be able to recall pretty much everyone the very next day. Most years teams will call up just the bare minimum — third catcher, extra reliever or two — and leave enough players in the minors as a courtesy to their various affiliates during the minor league postseason. The Yankees won’t have to worry about that this year, they can summon everyone almost immediately.
So, with two weeks to go before rosters expand, let’s take a look at who the Bombers may bring up to bolster the roster as they try to fight their way into playoff position down the stretch. Here’s the 40-man roster for reference.
This is, by far, the most interesting call-up situation on the position player side of things. The Yankees only have two catchers on their 40-man roster at the moment (not counting the suspended Frankie Cervelli), meaning they will have to add a catcher to the 40-man for the season’s final month. A third catcher is a September staple. Every team adds one.
Bobby Wilson is the veteran in Triple-A and he’s having an okay year (92 wRC+), but he doesn’t have a long-term future in the organization. The alternative is J.R. Murphy, who’s had a very good year split evenly between Double-A Trenton (116 wRC+) and the RailRiders (111 wRC+). The 22-year-old is one of the team’s better prospects and the Yankees will have to add him to the 40-man roster after the season to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft anyway. They could speed up the process and call him up as the third catcher in September. New York did exactly that with Austin Romine two years years ago, so don’t be surprised if they do it again with Murphy.
I guess it’s possible one of the extra infielders the Yankees add to the roster next month is Derek Jeter. The Cap’n and his strained calf have been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls down in Tampa, but he has yet to run the bases. Not at half-speed, not at 75%, nothing. Needless to say, he isn’t close to returning to the team even though he was eligible to come off the DL yesterday. Given how Jeter quickly re-injured himself the first two times he came off the DL, don’t be surprised if the Yankees play it safe and drag out his rehab. I suppose that could change depending on the severity of Eduardo Nunez‘s hamstring injury.
Otherwise, David Adams is the only other infielder who is a) healthy, b) on the 40-man roster, and c) not in the big leagues. He’ll rejoin the team next month. Corban Joseph is done for the year with a shoulder problem and Luis Cruz was recently designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Mark Reynolds. Alberto Gonzalez, who had two brief stints with the Yankees earlier this year, is playing in Triple-A but has since been removed from the 40-man. If the team is willing to clear a spot, he could return in September. That may depend on the health of Jeter and Nunez more than anything.
Melky Mesa, who has torn the cover off the ball this month, is the only obvious call-up candidate here. The Yankees already have five outfielders on the 25-man roster, so adding another is not a huge priority, but Mesa will give Joe Girardi a legitimate pinch-runner and defensive replacement option in the late innings. Melky2.0 is a flawed player, especially at the plate, yet he can be useful because of his speed and defense. Those are two useful skills to have lying around when rosters expand. If Zoilo Almonte‘s ankle ever heals up, he’ll join the team in September as well. Double-A Trenton’s Ramon Flores is also on the 40-man but I don’t think we’ll see him next month.
There are three categories of pitchers currently on the 40-man but not in the big leagues: the no-doubters, the injured guys, and the maybes. The no-doubters are the guys who will unquestionably be called up, namely Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances. The injured guys are the ones who would be called up if healthy, like Vidal Nuno (groin) and Michael Pineda (shoulder). Nuno recently started a throwing program and I suppose has a chance to return as a reliever next month. Pineda has yet to start throwing as far as I know, plus the team may decide to keep him down for the sake of manipulating his service time.
The maybes are the guys might get called up but are not locks, as you probably guessed. Brett Marshall is the most notable pitcher in this category. He’s had a poor year overall in Triple-A (5.26 ERA and 4.91 FIP) but has pitched better of late, plus he was up with the Yankees earlier this season. Surely you remember his 108-pitch long relief outing. Even though they have both Adam Warren and David Huff available as long men, I’m guessing the team calls Marshall up next month as an extra long reliever, allowing Huff to be used as more of a lefty specialist.
Two other maybes are far less likely to be called up. Right-hander Jose Ramirez has been on the Triple-A DL since late last month and I haven’t seen any kind of recent update about him, so I’m guessing he’s a non-option in September. Had he been healthy, it would have been interesting to see if he got a chance to work out of the bullpen down the stretch. That’s likely his ultimate destination given his career-long problems with staying healthy as a starter. Lefty Nil Turley (4.31 ERA and 4.08 FIP) has been just okay with Double-A Trenton and is unlikely to be recalled.
The final few maybes are the non-40-man guys who might get added to the roster for the season’s final month. David Herndon, who has thrown well (2.83 ERA and 2.08 FIP) in limited since returning from Tommy John surgery, figures to be added to the 40-man after the season since he could be a useful middle reliever next year. The Yankees pulled the Jon Lieber/David Aardsma trick with him, grabbing a rehabbing player with an eye towards next year. Herndon has a 3.85 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 117 career big league innings, all with the Phillies.
Upper level right-handers Shane Greene, Tommy Kahnle, Danny Burawa, and Chase Whitley have all had good to great years and will be Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter. Lefty Cesar Cabral has been very good since shaking off the roster following his fractured elbow. I don’t think any of those guys will be called up in September and I’m not even sure any will be added to the 40-man after the season either. Kahnle’s name surfaced in several trade rumors prior to the deadline, which might be an indication the team would prefer to unload him rather than add him to the roster. Whitley is pretty much big league ready and Cabral has the southpaw thing going for him, so they’re probably the best bets to be added. Still don’t think that happens in September.
* * *
So, after all that, it seems like the Yankees are poised to call up Murphy, Adams, Mesa, Claiborne, Betances, and Marshall once rosters expand in September. Jeter will be activated at one point or another, obviously. Gonzalez is on the fence depending on the health of other infielders. Almonte, Nuno, Pineda, and maybe Ramirez are wildcards depending on health. Gonzalez and Murphy would require 40-man moves, which I suppose could involve calling up injured players (Manny Banuelos? Joseph? Almonte?) and placing them on the 60-day DL. Regardless, if the Yankees are playing important games in September, the call-ups are unlikely to see much playing time anyway. The regulars will continue to run out there until something is clinched, whether it be a postseason berth or a fourth place finish.
As of this morning, the Yankees have a 5.4% chance of making the postseason according to Baseball Prospectus. Cool Standings is slightly more optimistic at 8.3%. Both systems give the team a less than 1.5% chance of winning the AL East even though the Bombers come into today six back of the both the division lead and second wildcard spot in the loss column. Is it possible New York’s odds of winning the division are better than they are for winning a wildcard spot?
Yesterday I quickly broke down the schedule of the seven teams currently in the mix for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees are at a disadvantage not only because they’re the furthest back, but also because they only have seven games left against their six wildcard competitors. This late in the year, those head-to-head meetings are crucial. It’s the only chance you get to control what you and your opponent do.
Because four of the six teams the Yankees are competing with for that second wildcard spot come from the AL Central or AL West, they’re going to need a lot of outside help to get into the postseason. They’ll need the Mariners and Angels to beat the Rangers and Athletics, the White Sox and Twins to beat the Indians and Royals, stuff like that. That’s not good; counting on other teams to do your dirty work is not where you want to be heading into September.
The AL East race is much different, however. As usual, the last few weeks of the season are heavy on intra-division games, and the Yankees will play 21 of their final 39 games against the three teams ahead of them in the AL East. That’s seven games against the Red Sox, seven against the Orioles, and seven against the Rays. Furthermore, those three clubs play a bunch of games against each other down the stretch, guaranteeing one will lose (loose?) on a given night.
The Yankees have much more control over what happens down the stretch in the division than they do the wildcard race thanks to those 21 games against Boston, Tampa, and Baltimore. They still need help, don’t get me wrong, but at least now less lies in the hands of other teams. The downside is that the three AL East teams are probably better and tougher matchups than the other wildcard contenders, but that’s life. No one ever said digging out of this hole would be easy.
Because of how the system works, the Yankees would almost certainly climb into a wildcard spot before taking the lead in the AL East. That’s just the way it’s set up. The only way that doesn’t happen is if the various AL East teams simultaneously hit slumps while other clubs, say the Athletics and Indians, get hot and finish with better records. Possible but unlikely. The Yankees will be happy to get into the postseason either way at this point, but all those head-to-head meetings say that, no matter how unlikely, we shouldn’t rule out a division title just yet.
Record Last Week: 5-2 (51 RS, 34 RA)
Season Record: 64-59 (491 RS, 498 RA, 61-62 pythag. record), 7.5 GB ALE/6.0 GB WC
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Blue Jays (four games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Rays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week started with four games against the Angels, and Hiroki Kuroda carried the Yankees to a win in the opener. The offense picked up CC Sabathia in the second game and another blowout followed in the third game on Wednesday. They were unable to complete the sweep in the finale.
- A trip to Boston for a three-game set with the Red Sox was next. The Yankees crushed their rivals in Friday’s win but Boston returned the favor on Saturday. The Bombers took the series finale after Ryan Dempster threw at Alex Rodriguez.
- Injury News: Derek Jeter (calf) has started taking batting practice but has yet to run. Eduardo Nunez (hamstring) left yesterday’s game. Travis Hafner (shoulder) is rehabbing but not close to returning. Both Vidal Nuno (groin) and Ty Hensley (hip) have started throwing programs. Slade Heathcott (knee) and Mark Montgomery (shoulder) were both placed on the minor league DL.
- The Yankees signed Mark Reynolds to platoon with Lyle Overbay and called up lefty David Huff. In corresponding moves, Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances were sent down, David Phelps was transferred to the 60-day DL, and Luis Cruz was designated for assignment. Lefty Mike Zagurski opted out of his minor league contract.
- Impending free agent Phil Hughes indicated a willingness to pitch out of the bullpen next season. Kuroda is still undecided about his plans for 2014.
- MLB is prepared to implement an expanded replay system that includes manager challenges. It will go up for final approval in November.
- A-Rod has started the process of filing a medical grievance against the Yankees for the way they handled his hip injury.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
That was simultaneously the most amazing and most infuriating game of the season. Pretty much classic Yankees-Red Sox, really. The Bombers walked away with a tense, hard-fought, and stressful 9-6 win that had you writing them off before being reeled back in. What a game.
The Hit-By-Pitch That Turned The Season Around?
People don’t like Alex Rodriguez. Fans don’t like him, the Yankees front office certainly doesn’t like him, opposing players don’t like him … heck, I’m sure some of his own teammates don’t like. It’s understandable at this point. Ryan Dempster, however, was the first to take matters into his own hands.
Dempster threw the first pitch of the second inning behind A-Rod‘s legs. The second was inside around waist-high, the third inside and knee-high. The fourth time was a charm I guess — Dempster planted one right in Alex’s ribs. It was oh so obviously intentional. Here are the first and fourth pitches. I’m sure you can figure out which is which:
So clearly intentional and yet … nothing. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora warned both benches and that was it. Dempster remained in the game. To no one’s surprise, Joe Girardi was furious. He stormed out of the dugout and get into a pretty heated yelling match with O’Nora, eventually being ejected. He appeared to call Dempster a big pussy before walking off the field as well, so that was cool. The two benches cleared but there weren’t any punches or anything like that, just a bunch of standing around.
The plunking and arguing and all that made it easy to forget that hey, the Yankees had a leadoff base-runner. Once things settled down, Curtis Granderson following the plunking with a hustle double down the right field line, then Eduardo Nunez plated A-Rod for the team’s first run of the night with a single back up the middle. Lyle Overbay brought home Granderson with a single to second. Dempster may have gotten his message across, but he blew his team’s two-run lead in the process.
C(onsistently) C(rappy) Sabathia
After two good but not great starts, CC Sabathia struggled big time against the Red Sox on Sunday. He allowed two runs after loading he bases with one out in the first, another on a David Ortiz ground out in the third, two more on Stephen Drew sacrifice fly and Will Middlebrooks solo homer in the fourth, and another when he walked Daniel Nava with the bases loaded in the fifth. The final tally was six runs allowed on seven hits (three doubles, one homer, three singles) and five walks in 5.1 innings. Yuck.
Sabathia now ranks 79th out of 89 qualified pitchers with a 4.83 ERA this season. The Yankees are unlikely to make to the postseason and CC’s rapid descent from ace to fringe starter — he zoomed right passed mediocre, he’s pitching like a sixth starter right now — is a huge reason why. I don’t know if it’s physical or mechanical or something else entirely. It’s a major problem going forward though and he club needs the big left-hander to figure out just what the hell is going wrong. With each disaster start that passes, I am a little less confident he’ll figure it out.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
The Red Sox piled on Sabathia pretty well and took a 6-3 lead into the sixth inning when (who else?) A-Rod led off the frame. Dempster didn’t throw at him this time, but he probably would have been better off planting another one in his ribs because Alex launched a monster solo homer to dead center to bring his team to within two runs. He clapped his hands will trotting around first and took a second to point to the sky when he reached home, two things I can’t ever remember seeing him do before. A-Rod enjoyed that one, no doubt.
The Yankees did not stop there. They loaded the bases with one out on singles by Nunez and Overbay before Chris Stewart drew a walk. That was the end of the line for Dempster, who was replaced to get the left-on-left matchup against Brett Gardner. Rookie southpaw Drake Britton has been pretty good in limited time for Boston, but he made a huge mistake pitch in an 0-1 count and Gardner crushed it out to center field. I thought it was gone off the bat, but ultimately it was just short of the wall. A bases-clearing triple that turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead did the job just fine though.
By WPA (+.325), Gardner’s triple was the team’s 14th biggest hit of the season. That definitely doesn’t feel right given the context of the game, something WPA doesn’t take into consideration. I don’t know if it was the biggest hit of the year, maybe A-Rod’s homer was considering everything went on earlier in the night, but it’s certainly in the conversation. That was so incredible.
Bullpen On Parade
It’ll get lost in everything else that happened in the game, but big ups to the bullpen for keeping the Red Sox off the scoreboard after Sabathia left the game. Shawn Kelley cleaned up a two on, one out jam in the sixth with a strikeout and a ground ball before giving way to Boone Logan for the seventh. Logan struck out David Ortiz and coaxed a double play out of Jarrod Saltalamacchia after walking Jonny Gomes. David Robertson allowed a two-out double to Middlebrooks in the eighth but otherwise struck out the side. His curve was as good as it’s been all season — he was dropping it in for strikes and buried it in the dirt for swings and misses.
The three-run lead in the ninth fell on the shoulders of Mariano Rivera, who had not pitched since blowing his third consecutive save opportunity last Sunday. Two weak ground outs make it look like the inning would be a breeze, but Ortiz beat the shift with a single before Gomes drew a walk. Just like that, the tying run was at the plate. Saltalamacchia put a good swing on an outside cutter, but laced it right at Alfonso Soriano for the 27th out. I don’t know if Mo was off because he’s been off of late or because he was rusty after six days of inactivity, but at the end of the day, he did his job. This one was a nail-biter right to the end, but major props to the four relievers for taking care of business.
The Yankees scored two tack-on runs in the late innings. First, pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds singled in a run with two outs in the seventh after the lefty Franklin Morales was brought in to face Overbay. Amazing what happens when you have a legit platoon partner for Lyle. Stewart knocked a ground ball single through the left side in the ninth for the team’s ninth and final run. Every run counts in Fenway, no lead is ever safe. The Yankees know that first hand.
Every starter had at least one hit except for the scorching hot Soriano, naturally. He took an ugly 0-for-6. Yuck. Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki had two knocks apiece while Cano, A-Rod, and Nunez had three each. Granderson doubled, Overbay singled, and Stewart singled and drew the only walk. The Yankees went 4-for-4 in stolen base chances — two by Nunez, one by Nix, one by Granderson. They ran wild on Salty all weekend. Nunez left the game with tightness in his hamstring, which he apparently felt after the second steal. They’ll know more about the injury on Monday.
The Yankees never did hit a Red Sox batter as retaliation for A-Rod, which I’m sure will be spun into some kinda “see, the Yankees hate A-Rod!” narrative. What’s wacky though is that the Sawx hit three (!) more Yankees after the benches were warned. None were intentional — they were all offspeed pitches that got away — but still. What’s the point of the warning? Are we just ignoring the rules now? Amazing (and inexcusable) how the Red Sox hit four Yankees and the only person to get ejected was the Yankees manager.
Anyway, Dempster wimped out and tried to play the hit-by-pitch incident off as trying to establish the inner half after the game. He’s a real tough guy, you see. Man enough to throw at baseball’s easiest target but too chicken to admit it. Manager John Farrell dealt the same crap during his in-game interview. It was rather hilarious watching him stumble with his words while lying through his teeth. These guys took it upon themselves to defend the honor and integrity of baseball and managed to look like complete buffoons in the process.
Girardi, meanwhile, continued to stand up for his embattled third baseman at a time when everyone wishes he would just go away. The Yankees and MLB may be out to get A-Rod, but Girardi has his back to the very end. Joe killed it after the game. His post-game press conference is worth a watch whenever it goes up on the YES Network’s site.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Now that is a fun graph. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are six back in the loss column in both the AL East and second wildcard race. Cool Standings says they have an 8.3% chance of making the postseason. Here’s what I have to say about that.
The Yankees will enjoy a well-earned off-day on Monday before welcoming the Blue Jays to town for four games in three days. Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Esmil Rogers, and Mark Buehrle are all scheduled to start during Tuesday’s doubleheader. I’m just not sure who’s starting the day game and who’s starting at night. We’ll find out soon enough. Check out RAB Tickets for … well, tickets.
11:14pm: Nunez left the game with a tight right hamstring, the Yankees announced. No word on the severity of whether tests or planned, anything like that.
10:27pm: Eduardo Nunez left tonight’s game in the sixth inning with an apparently ankle or leg injury. It appeared he hurt himself running the bases. Stay tuned for updates. · (5) ·
Man I hate Sunday night games. I like to chill out and relax with no baseball as the weekend ends, and you and I both know this game probably won’t end until midnight or so. A win would make it all better, if for no other reason than to make the Red Sox’s life a little more complicated. The Yankees have such a small chance of making the postseason right now that playing spoiler might be as good as it gets from here on out. Here’s the lineup Joe Girardi is sending out there against Ryan Dempster:
- CF Brett Gardner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- DH Curtis Granderson
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is left-hander CC Sabathia, who has been better of late but still far off from what he was even last year. If the big man was ever going to put up a big performance, this would be the night to do it.
The weather’s fine in Boston, so don’t worry about rain or anything. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. Try to enjoy.
Rotation Update: Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes will start the two games of Tuesday’s doubleheader in whatever order. They’ll need to come up with a spot starter for Saturday’s game against the Rays, and Joe Girardi indicated they are leaning towards Adam Warren.