Yankees power their way to a 7-0 win at Toronto

Good game. Would watch over and over. Jordan Montgomery had one of his best ML starts and the bats hit nothing but extra-base hits to rout the Blue Jays. The Yankees now stand at 32-21 with a .604 winning percentage.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Good Gumby

This is probably the best we’ve seen of Jordan Montgomery in his young career. He went 6 innings, allowed no runs, only 3 hits and struck out 5. Well, he also walked 3 but none of them ended up haunting the Yankees.

For what it’s worth, here is his pitch chart for the day:

bandicam-2017-06-04-05-12-53-007

What I see here is a lot of pitches towards the different edges of the strike zone (besides the up-and-in vs. RHB’s), which is good. Montgomery is not a guy who can overpower hitters by just throwing fastballs in the zone. It’s fun to watch him when he can locate with different pitches and fool hitters. Speaking of which, his curveball was absolutely working today. Per Brooks Baseball, batters whiffed on his curve 7 times, which may not sound like a lot but it’s good for a 29.2% rate. He’s not really a guy who gets swing-and-misses with his fastball (only 2 from today) so secondary pitches working like that is vital.

After today’s game, Montgomery’s ERA dropped to 3.67. His 3.54 FIP suggests that his peripherals reflect well on his basic stats. He’s been striking out close to a hitter per inning (8.47 K/9 IP) while limiting hits (50 allowed in 56.1 IP) and home runs (0.80 HR/9 IP). It’s really hard to ask more from a rookie starter. Montgomery is here to stay for awhile.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

All the extra base hits!

The Aarons hit a pair of RBI doubles to give Joe Biagini a pair of unearned runs in the third inning. Rob Refsnyder reached on base with a Troy Tulowitzki error and stole second. He moved to third on a long fly out off Brett Gardner‘s bat. With two outs and runner on third, Aaron Hicks hit a bloop double dropped perfectly between the second baseman and right fielder (a hit probability of 9%). Aaron Judge, however, hit an absolute bullet double 116.2 mph off the bat to make it 2-0 Yankees. It was hit so hard that it deflected off of Kevin “Superman” Pillar’s glove. It seemed like he might have been able to make a Sportscenter-worthy jump catch but he just couldn’t come down with it.

The Yankees scored another run in the seventh thanks to doubles. Starlin Castro led off the inning with a bloop double to left. Didi Gregorius, not to be outdone, followed it up with another bloop double to left to drive Castro in, 3-0 Yankees. It was not left fielder Darwin Barney’s finest defensive inning. At that point, the Yankees had four base hits and all of them were doubles.

But wait, the fun was just starting. In the top of the eighth inning, the Jays brought in Jason Grilli to relieve Joe Biagini. Gardner led off the inning with his 12th HR of the year. That was also his 12th homer in the past 124 at-bats, which is mind-boggling. The calendar just barely flipped to June and the man’s way ahead on pace to shatter his career-high (17 in 2014). He’s also hitting .270/.356/.524 after today. Not a slash that you’d expect from Gardner. That’s awfully similar to Edwin Encarnacion’s from last year (.263/.357/.529). I have no idea how long Gardy will keep it up but I’m enjoying it.

Grilli went on to retire Hicks (line out) and Judge (strike out) … then all heck broke loose. Matt Holliday, Castro and Gregorius hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to make it 7-0 in a hurry. So many home runs! That was immensely fun to watch. Holliday jogging back to the dugout, yelling “I got you Gardy!” was a crowd pleaser as well. These guys are winning and having fun. What more could you want? On the flip side, Grilli became just the third reliever ever to allow four home runs in no more than 0.2 IP, per Diane Firstman.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Leftovers

Many things went right for the Yankees in this game and one of them was bullpen. Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard, and Dellin Betances worked quite flawlessly (3.0 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K’s combined) in a relatively stress-free ending to a game. Today was Betances’ first appearance since May 27 vs. the Athletics. It was not a save situation but I figured that Joe Girardi wanted to put him in for some work so he can stay sharp. Betances has been as good as any reliever this season – 33 strikeouts in 18.1 IP with only 1 ER allowed all season. Folks, he is… good.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have secured at least a split in this series. They will go for the series win tomorrow with Luis Severino on the mound. He will face off Marcus Stroman. Should be a good matchup. Have a good Saturday, everyone.

Saturday Open Thread

Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. I hope the weather wherever you are is as great as it is here in New York today. The Mets are playing later tonight and MLB Network will air a regional game later on as well. Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals is on too. Talk about that stuff or anything else here. Just not religion or politics. Get that outta here.

Game 53: Due For A Win

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The Yankees have alternated wins and losses for a week now, which I guess means they’re due for a win this afternoon. Go home, nothing to see here, game is already in the bag. If only, huh? The offense has come back to life — the Yankees have scored 40 runs in their last six games — and now it’s time to get the pitching back on track.

This afternoon the ball will go to rookie Jordan Montgomery, who hasn’t pitched all that well in three of his last four starts. General baseball randomness, or the league catching up to him? Whatever it is, he and the Yankees could use a good outing today. I’m not sure how many more duds Montgomery can manage with Chance Adams looming. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

The Rogers Centre roof is going to be open this afternoon, which means it’s a lovely afternoon in Toronto. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) has been shut down. His headaches have returned. He’ll see a neurologist when the Yankees get back to New York on Monday. I guess this solves the “Hicks has to play every day” problem for the foreseeable future. This stinks though. Brain injuries are no joke. Hopefully Ellsbury is okay … Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) threw a light 15-pitch bullpen session today. Joe Girardi estimated a return date of June 15th.

Yankees can’t overcome Pineda’s rough start, fall 7-5 to Jays

Some games it seems like you’re just not meant to win, and this was one of them. The Yankees had Francisco Liriano on the ropes in the early innings of Friday night’s game, but they never capitalized, and the Blue Jays raced to a 7-5 win. Drat. The Yankees are now 12-12 in their last 24 games, which is mildly annoying. At least they’re still in first place in the AL East (by 2.5 games) and have the AL’s second best run differential (+64).

Devon Travis' life flashes before his eyes. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Devon Travis’ life flashes before his eyes. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Cursed By The RISP Gods
This game was lost in the first three innings. Well, maybe not entirely, but the Yankees wasted way too many chances. Brett Gardner was stranded at third in the first inning after a leadoff three-base error by Ezequiel Carrera — Carrera dropped a routine fly ball because (I think) he thought he was going to run into Kevin Pillar — and then Aaron Hicks was left standing at second base following a one-out double in the second.

The third inning was when it really started to feel like it just wasn’t their night. With the Blue Jays already up 3-0, the Yankees put runners on first and second via a ground rule double (Chris Carter) and a walk (Gardner). Gary Sanchez then hit a 107 mph rocket … right at the second baseman Devon Travis for a line out. After Aaron Judge worked a walk to load the bases with one out, Matt Holliday hit a 109 mph rocket … on the ground and right at Josh Donaldson for an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. SIGH. Seven hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first three innings. There’s yer ballgame.

Big Mike‘s Big Dud
I suppose Michael Pineda was due for a stinker. After allowing no more than three earned runs in any of his previous nine starts, Pineda gave up three runs in the first inning Friday night, and they came on two very loud home runs. He hung the hell out of a slider to Donaldson, who smacked it over the left field wall for a solo home run. Three batters later Pineda split the plate in half with a fastball to Justin Smoak, who cranked it off the luxury box windows for a two-run shot. The pitch locations:

michael-pineda-josh-donaldson-justin-smoak

Yeah. Not great. Pineda also hung a slider that inning to Jose Bautista, who just got under it and flew out. Giving up a solo homer to Donaldson is whatever. It happens. The Smoak homer was the killer. The two-out walk to Kendrys Morales that preceded it was the accomplice. Pineda has allowed 13 home runs in eleven starts so far this season, and only twice in those eleven starts was he able to keep the other team in the ballpark. As good as he’s been overall this year, the long ball has been an issue.

The Blue Jays tacked on two more runs against Pineda with a third inning sacrifice fly and fourth inning wild pitch. Like I said, it was just one of those nights. After the home runs, there were a lot of ground balls with eyes and bloops that dunked in. Less exit velocity is more, I guess. Pineda gave up a hit to Luke Maile, a career .178/.208/.297 big league hitter, in an 0-2 count with a pitch up at shoulder level. What can you do? Some nights things don’t go well.

The most telling number about Pineda’s night: one. That’s how many strikeouts he had. And he didn’t get that strikeout until the fifth inning, against the 27th and final batter he faced (Maile). Pineda’s slider wasn’t good at all, so much so that midway through the game he started going to his changeup more than his slider. He never does that. The final tally: 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K. Shake it off and come back in five days, Mikey.

Not Enough Fighting Spirit
The offense tried and tried to get back into the game, but the bullpen just wouldn’t let it happen. The Yankees struck for four runs in the top the sixth to turn a 5-0 game into a 5-4 game. Judge hit a two-run home run into the second deck in right field — opposite field second deck! — and Starlin Castro hit a laser two-run home run juuust over the right field wall. A Sanchez single and a Holliday made those two-run homers possible.

Alright, one-run game! The Blue Jays answered right back with a run in the bottom of the sixth, unfortunately. Donaldson took Jonathan Holder deep and it wasn’t even a bad pitch. Donaldson went down and got a curveball.

jonathan-holder-josh-donaldsonGreat hitter does great hitter things. The 5-4 game became a 6-4 game. It became a 6-5 game in the top of the seventh with a quick strike two-out rally. Judge drew a walk and Holliday doubled into the right-center field gap. He has a knack for hitting these opposite field fly balls that just carry and carry and carry. I thought it was a routine fly out off the bat. Next thing you know, Pillar is leaping and unable to make the catch at the warning track.

Okay, great, the Yankees were back within one. That didn’t last long though. The Blue Jays scored another insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. The inning started with a Smoak ground ball deep into the shift, which Castro got to and was able to first to first. The problem? Carter gave up on the play, thinking it was a hit. He was late to first base and Smoak beat him. The Yankees challenged the play to see whether Carter’s toe touched the bag, but alas. Pretty terrible.

Troy Tulowitzki followed with a loud double to right, and Travis got the run in with a hard-hit sacrifice fly to left. Adam Warren was on the mound that inning. Every time the Yankees scored runs to get to within one, the bullpen gave a run right back. The bats let them down early with the RISPFAIL and the bullpen let them down late with all those tack-on runs. At least they didn’t go down quietly.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Leftovers
Every starter had a hit except Gardner and Chase Headley. Gardner drew a walk. Headley did nothing. He’s down to .232/.306/.356 (80 wRC+) on the season. Remember his great start? It feels like a lifetime ago. The Yankees are going to have to think about making a change at third base in the near future. Maybe that means Ronald Torreyes, maybe it means Gleyber Torres, maybe it means a trade. But this can’t go on forever.

Your nightly Aarons update: Judge went 1-for-3 with the homer and two walks while Hicks went 2-for-4. Judge is hitting .326/.431/.691 (198 wRC+). Hicksie is hitting .323/.438/.585 (175 wRC+). Why don’t they just make the entire team out of Aarons? Those guys are awesome. I love Sanchez, he’s the man, but I wish Hicks was hitting second.

The one reliever who didn’t allow a run was Chasen Shreve, who struck out Donaldson and Bautista as part of a perfect ninth inning. I know he gave up that moonshot to (future Yankee?) Mike Moustakas a few weeks ago, but Shreve has been pretty darn good since coming back up.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com has the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game weekend series continues with the third game Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular 1pm ET start. Hooray for that. Jordan Montgomery and reliever-turned-starter Joe Biagini are the scheduled starting pitchers.

DotF: Andujar extends hitting streak, Sheffield takes tough luck loss for Trenton

Here are the day’s notes:

  • So long, RHP Ernesto Frieri. He has indeed opted out of his contract. There was some confusion about that. Frieri told D.J. Eberle he’s opting out because the Yankees have too much young pitching, and he thinks he has a better chance to get back to MLB with another team.
  • Another goodbye: LHP Jason Gurka has been released, the team announced. The Yankees signed him to a minor league contract over the winter, and with all the young arms moving up, they need the roster spots. The journeyman gets the axe.
  • RHP Yefry Ramirez left last night’s start after throwing his warm-up pitches in the fourth inning, and Matt Kardos says he had a problem with his thumbnail. It’s not a big concern and he’s expected to make his next start.
  • RHP Chance Adams (fourth) and 3B Miguel Andujar (ninth) both made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Adams struck out a career-high 12 the other day. Andujar has an 11-game hitting streak.

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Toledo)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — leadoff home run against the formerly good at baseball Anibal Sanchez
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
  • 3B Gleyber Torres: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) — now 8-for-33 (.242) in ten Triple-A games … he also has four errors in those ten games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4 — this is day 15 of his 20-day rehab assignment … I assume he’ll be activated off the disabled list for the start of the homestand Monday
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI
  • LF Mason Williams: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI,  SB
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 7/6 GB/FB — 59 of 100 pitches were strikes
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 21 of 36 pitches were strikes (58%) … first walk of the season! … now has a 39/1 K/BB in 27.1 innings
  • RHP Ben Heller: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 22 of 39 pitches were strikes (56%)

[Read more…]

Game 52: Party like it’s 2010

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Last night’s win was one of those wins that makes you feel good all day, you know? The Yankees had a tough go of it in Baltimore, but they came out and laid a beating on the Blue Jays early in the series opener. Always nice to see them turn things around so quickly. Hopefully it continues tonight.

Tonight the Yankees have a chance to do something they haven’t done since way back in 2010, and that’s win 32 of their first 52 games. At 31-20, the Yankees currently have their best record through 51 games since that 2010 team also went 31-20. Only three times this century have the Yankees won 32 of their first 52 games: 2002 (34-18), 2004 (33-19), and 2010 (32-20). Pretty cool the Yankees are where they are. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Michael Pineda

The internet tells me it is cool and cloudy in Toronto tonight. I’m not sure whether the Rogers Center roof will be open. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:07pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) was scheduled to hit a little bit today. Joe Girardi said it is unlikely Ellsbury will be activated during this series.

Awards!: Congrats to Judge, who was named AL Rookie of the Month for the second straight month. He’s the first Yankee ever to win the award twice, and he did it back-to-back months. Sanchez won it last August, so Yankees have been named AL Rookie of the Month in three of the last four months. Is that good? That seems good.

2017 Draft: Sam Carlson

Sam Carlson | RHP

Background
Carlson, 18, hails from the noted baseball talent hotbed of Minnesota. He attends Burnsville High School in the Minneapolis suburbs, and he’s committed to Florida.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-4 and 195 lbs., Carlson has the ideal pitcher’s frame, and he also throws three pitches. That’s rare for a high schooler, especially one from Minnesota. Last summer in showcases Carlson sat mostly in the low-90s, but he’s come out this spring firing 93-95 mph and touching 97 mph regularly. His fastball is even better than the velocity indicates because the pitch has natural running action back in on righties. Carlson’s second best offering is a hard slider, and he also throws a quality changeup. He uses all three pitches regularly and locates well. It’s a pretty advanced repertoire for a kid from a cold weather state. Carlson is a really good athlete — his future lies on the mound, though it’s worth noting he’s a good enough hitter that he’ll also play some outfield for the Gators, should he not sign for some reason — and he repeats his delivery well, though there’s some thought he’d benefit from lengthening his stride a bit.

Miscellany
Carlson is one of the rare prospects who gets all the scouting publications to agree on his place in the draft class. Baseball America ranked him as the 14th best prospect available while both MLB.com and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him 15th. Hard to get much closer than that. The Yankees hold the 16th pick. As with most cold weather state kids, one of the biggest issues for Carlson is a general lack of exposure. He was a regular on the summer showcase circuit last year, though scouts don’t have much time to see him this spring because his high school season started only a few weeks ago.