And just like that, the Yankees have won four straight games. They hung on for a 4-3 win over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon, in the first game of their doubleheader. The Yankees have allowed four runs total in their last four games.
Early Runs … Then Nothing Else
The start of the first game was outstanding. The Yankees managed to load the bases with no outs against Charlie Morton in the first inning despite not hitting the ball out of the infield — Brett Gardner walked, Derek Jeter bunt singled, and Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch. Mark Teixeira continued to turn the clock back to 2009 with a two-run single to right-center, then Brian McCann plated another run with a single to center. The Yankees were up 3-1 before making their first out.
An Alfonso Soriano strikeout and a hard-hit Yangervis Solarte double play ended the rally, but the Bombers scored their fourth run when Gardner doubled in Kelly Johnson in the second inning. The double was all speed and hustle. Most players are held to a single on that play. After that though, Morton settled right down and retired 16 of the final 17 men he faced. The one exception was a Zoilo Almonte single, and he was picked off first base immediately. Morton faced the minimum after allowing seven of the first ten batters he faced to reach base.
Good Kuroda, Bad Kuroda
Neil Walker started the afternoon with a monster solo homer in the first inning, but Hiroki Kuroda got into a groove and retired the next nine men he faced before escaping a bases loaded, two outs jam in the fourth. The fifth inning was a bit of a mess thanks to a Tony Sanchez leadoff homer and a Clint Barmes (!?) double, which gave Pittsburgh two runs to cut the Yankees’ lead to 4-3 and put Kuroda on the ropes. He hung around for another inning and finished the day with the bare minimum quality start: six innings, three runs.
During that stretch of nine straight being set down, Kuroda looked like the good version of himself, dotting the corners with his fastball and getting hitters to reach for offspeed stuff out of the zone. He caught way too much of the plate in the fifth inning — Pedro Alvarez fouled off a middle-middle meatball before striking out to end the inning, a pitch he could have hit into the third deck — and looked more like the Kuroda who has struggled for most of the season. Getting through six innings was important in the first game of the doubleheader.
I get the feeling Joe Girardi was not willing to use David Robertson in both games of the doubleheader, so it made sense that he went to his closer for the four-out save with a one-run lead in the first game, especially with the off-day coming on Monday. Robertson fanned Starling Marte to strand Andrew McCutchen at second base as the tying run to end the eight inning — Marte was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, swinging and missing eight times out of 17 pitches — and then he retired the side in order in the ninth for his eighth save in eight chances. Turns out the elite setup man is a pretty good closer, huh? Weird. Matt Daley (two outs), Matt Thornton (one out), and Adam Warren (one base-runner, two outs) helped navigate the seventh and eighth innings. The bullpen will be a little short in Game Two, but preserving the lead in the first game had to be the priority.
Teixeira got hosed in the sixth inning, when he took a Morton curveball to the left knee. Rather than being awarded first base, third base ump Balkin’ Bob Davidson said he swung at the pitch. Replays showed he wasn’t even close to swinging. Didn’t even go halfway around. Terrible call. Teixeira struck out a few pitches later and said either “thanks a lot, Bob” or “good job, Bob” as he walked off the field. The knee seems to be fine.
I was surprised Girardi went to Thornton to face Travis Snider with two outs and the bases empty in the seventh inning, only because Alvarez was due up in the eighth and it was obvious Snider was going to lifted for a pinch-hitter. It all worked out in the end, I just expected Girardi to save his only lefty for one of the premier left-handed power hitters in baseball in the one-run game.
The Yankees did not have a base-runner after Zoilo’s single/pickoff combination. Morton and lefty reliever Tony Watson combined to retire 19 of the final 20 players New York sent to the plate. Gardner had the double while Jeter, Teixeira, McCann, Johnson, and Almonte had one single apiece. Gardner drew his walk and Ellsbury was hit by a pitch. Johnson also stole a base. That’s it. That was the offense.
The Yankees and Pirates are playing a single admission doubleheader on Sunday, so Game Two is minutes away/being played right now. Vidal Nuno and former Yankees first round pick Gerrit Cole is the pitching matchup.
- Carlos Beltran (elbow) received a second cortisone injection and will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on Tuesday. The second opinion was apparently always scheduled, but the second injection indicates the first isn’t helping much. It’s looking more and more likely Beltran is heading for surgery.
- Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw a 28-pitch bullpen session this afternoon as scheduled, and everything went fine. He will rest the next two days, then throw a 30-40 pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. Big Mike will start facing hitters after that, presumably in live batting practice or a simulated game.
- Shawn Kelley (back) will play catch on Monday and Tuesday, throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, then make a minor league rehab appearance on Friday. He hopes to be activated off the 15-day DL and rejoin the team next Sunday.
Via Wally Matthews: Michael Pineda threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Friday and reported no pain in his strained back/shoulder. “It’s really encouraging,” said Joe Girardi to Dan Martin. “Obviously, as the intensity heats up a little bit, you pay attention to how he’s doing, but so far, he’s had no setbacks and he’s doing well.”
Pineda. 25, is scheduled to throw a 25-pitch bullpen session today and he could soon head to Tampa to ramp up workouts. He has been on a throwing program for about a week now and Friday was his first time pitching off a mound since landing on the disabled list earlier this month. Big Mike will likely throw several more bullpen sessions before getting into minor league rehab games, so he is still several weeks away. Early-June seems like the earliest he will return. · (15) ·
- LHP Fred Lewis and LHP Cesar Cabral were both demoted from Triple-A Scranton to Double-A Trenton while SwP Pat Venditte goes the other way.
- RHP Brett Gerritse went from Double-A Trenton to High-A Tampa. C Radley Haddad joins Tampa as well. He’s up from Extended Spring Training.
- C Jackson Valera, OF Dustin Fowler, and RHP Angel Rincon all went from ExST to Low-A Charleston. LHP Omar Luis went the other way.
Triple-A Scranton (6-3 loss to Pawtucket)
- SS Dean Anna: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 CS
- RF Adonis Garcia & LF Ramon Flores: both 1-4 — Garcia struck out twice, Flores once
- 2B Scott Sizemore: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K
- 1B Kyle Roller: 0-4, 2 K
- RHP Brian Gordon: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 6/5 GB/FB — 66 of 96 pitches were strikes (69%)
- RHP Branden Pinder: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 21 of 38 pitches were strikes (55%)
Now that’s more like it. The Bronx Bombers lived up to the nickname on Saturday afternoon, swatting five homeruns en route to a 7-1 win over the Pirates. They should do that more often. Let’s recap the win:
- Five Scoreless: David Phelps threw some of the ugliest five scoreless innings you’ll ever see. He was in trouble all afternoon, allowing five hits, three walks, and a hit batsman, yet he did not allow a single run because Alfonso Soriano threw a runner out at the plate and some hard hit balls were hit right at people. Phelps navigated the 2-3-4 hitters with two on and no outs in the fifth thanks to a gift called strike three and two balls smashed right defenders. It was very ugly but it was effective. Phelps and the Yankees got away with one.
- Dingers: The Yankees had six hits against Edinson Volquez in 6.1 innings, and four left the yard. Mark Teixeira hit a two-run Yankee Stadium cheapie in the first inning, then Zoilo Almonte, Brett Gardner, and Soriano clubbed legit blasts later in the game. Zoilo’s a moonshot into the right field bleachers. Pretty good chance it was the team’s longest homer of the year to date. Volquez was good in the middle innings (retired nine in a row at one point), but the Bombers got to him early and late in his outing. Brian McCann tacked on a two-run shot in the eighth against the bullpen. It was the Yankees’ second five-homer game of 2014 after doing it once all of last year.
- Bullpen on Parade: Phelps struggled for five innings and did not allow a run, so, naturally, Dellin Betances gave up a solo homer on his first pitch of the game. Baseball is weird. Betances allowed just the homer in two innings, striking out only three. He’s slacking. Adam Warren threw an uneventful eighth against the middle of the lineup, then Matt Daley finished it up in the ninth. Nice and easy.
- Leftovers: I don’t know why, but four of the first eight hitters the Yankees sent to the plate showed bunt. I know Pedro Alvarez stinks at third base, but it’s Edinson Volquez. Swing the bats … Soriano went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double. Including his double in the last game against the Mets, it looks like he’s about to go on one of his tears. He’s always been streaky … Derek Jeter had two singles and Brian Roberts had one. Every other hit was a homer or Soriano’s double … Yangervis Solarte went 0-for-4 and now has back-to-back 0-for-4s for only the second time in his brief MLB career … the Yankees have allowed one or less in three straight games for the first time since June 2012.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees and Pirates will wrap up this three-game series with two games on Sunday as part of a rare single admission doubleheader. Hiroki Kuroda will start the first game, Vidal Nuno the second. Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole will be on the bump for Pittsburgh, though I’m not sure who is pitching which game. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch two games for the price of one on the final day of the homestand.
On this date in 1998, David Wells threw the 15th perfect game in baseball history. To this day he says he was hungover and half-drunk (his words) during that start. I don’t doubt him at all. Wells went into the game with a 5.23 ERA and then he pitched to a 2.93 ERA the rest of the way.
Anyway, this is your open thread for this lovely evening in New York. MLB Network will air a game tonight (who you see depends on where you live) and that’s it. No NBA or NHL playoffs. Good night to go out and forget about sports. Talk about whatever you like here.
Two games in three days. That’s a lot of baseball but I’m not complaining. The Yankees are coming off back-to-back shutouts over the Mets and they need to get themselves on a little bit of a roll these next ten days or so. No offense to the Pirates, Cubs, and White Sox (the next three teams they’ll play), but the schedule won’t get any softer the rest of the season. Grab a win before going into the bullpen killing doubleheader tomorrow. Here is the Pirates lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- DH Kelly Johnson
- 2B Brian Roberts
- LF Zoilo Almonte — Jacoby Ellsbury was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms
RHP David Phelps
It absolutely poured last night, but it is gorgeous in New York today. Lots of sun and few clouds. No threat of rain at all. Perfect day for baseball. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start at 4:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally or Fox Sports 1 nationally. Here’s the Fox Sports 1 channel finder. Enjoy the game.
Injury Updates: Girardi said he would be surprised if CC Sabathia (knee) returns when his 15-day DL stint expires. He will be on crutches until Monday … Carlos Beltran (elbow) feels a little better … Shawn Kelley (back) is scheduled to play catch on Monday … Ichiro Suzuki (back) is available off the bench today.
We are now less than three weeks away from the 2014 amateur draft, which will surely be fun even though the Yankees do not have a first round pick. There’s a ton of pitching in this draft and more than a few quality arms will be available for their first pick in the second round, the 55th overall selection. Here’s a collection of miscellaneous draft links:
- Keith Law’s Mock Draft v1.0 (subs. req’d): Law has the Astros taking California HS LHP Brady Aiken, the consensus top talent in the draft, with the first overall pick. He also has NC State LHP Carlos Rodon falling to the Cubs with the fourth overall pick. The mock draft is for the first round only, so the Yankees are not included, but there’s a ton of info in there about which way clubs are leaning.
- Baseball America’s Mock Draft v2.0 (no subs. req’d): Meanwhile, Baseball America has Rodon going to Houston. Interestingly enough, hard-throwing (like 100+ mph) Texas HS RHP Tyler Kolek is said to be sliding because he throws so hard and teams are worried about his mechanics and his 6-foot-5, 250+ lb. frame. Again, the mock draft only covers the first round, so no Yankees.
- MLB.com’s Mock Draft v1.0: And finally, MLB.com also has the Astros taking Aiken first overall in their latest mock draft. No Yankees again, unfortunately. First round only. Based on the information in these three mock drafts, it doesn’t seem like ECU RHP Jeff Hoffman or UNLV RHP Erick Fedde are expected to fall out of the first round despite recently having Tommy John surgery.
- Baseball America’s Top 100 Draft Prospects: The recently updated list is free but the individual scouting reports are subscriber-only. By my count, 62 of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects are pitchers, so yeah, lots of arms this year. The Yankees have a ton of position player prospects and could use some more pitchers. I’m not saying they should pass on quality position players in favor of pitchers this year to fill a need but there’s a good chance the best available player for their first few picks will do his work on the mound.
- Keith Law’s Top 100 Draft Prospects (subs. req’d): Sixty-one of Law’s most recent top 100 draft prospects are pitchers, including 15 of 20 prospects in the 45-65 range. Talent tends to come of the board linearly these days thanks to the spending restrictions (the best players go first, they rarely fall), so the players in that 45-65 range are as good a bet as any to wind up being selected by the Yankees with that 55th overall pick.
Via Ken Davidoff: Hal Steinbrenner indicated a willingness to take on salary and beef up payroll to add players during the season. “[We’re] always willing to look at options come July. Come the trade deadline,” he said. “And I think we’ve shown that. Some years we’ve done stuff, like last year with [Alfonso] Soriano. Some years we haven’t. But we’re not going to ever lay down and die. We’re going to do what we need to do to stay in.”
According to Cot’s, the Yankees opened the season with a $197M payroll this year after spending between $207M and $213M from 2010-12. (The $228M payroll last year was a bit of an anomaly because of the injuries.) If ownership is willing to spend as much as they did from 2010-12, the Yankees can add roughly $10-16M in payroll during the season, which is a ton. The team clearly needs another starting pitcher, maybe even two, and another infielder wouldn’t hurt either. The money seems to be there, so the question now is whether they have the prospects to swing any deals. · (36) ·
RHP Ty Hensley faced hitters today and didn’t have any problems, according to his Twitter feed. He’s working his way back from both hip and hernia surgery. Meanwhile, both 1B Greg Bird and OF Jake Cave made the “In The Team Photo” Section of this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. 3B Eric Jagielo was featured in today’s Minor League Roundup after swatting two homers last night.
Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Lehigh Valley)
- SS Dean Anna: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing) — already his sixth error in only 17 Triple-A games
- RF Adonis Garcia: 2-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — 23-for-53 (.434) during his 13-game hitting streak
- LF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 K
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
- DH Kyle Roller: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 BB
- LHP Matt Tracy: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 7/1 GB/FB – 47 of 77 pitches were strikes (61%) … Triple-A debut after a mediocre showing in Double-A