CC pitches a big one but offense can’t support him as the Yanks fall 2-1 in Detroit

Well, that was disappointing. I was hoping that Yankees would either hold on to a 1-0 lead or score more insurance runs. But the Tigers scored two in the bottom of seventh and held on to that lead. The offense couldn’t show up and the winning streak got cut short at three. For shame.

(Source: Getty)

I CC-you, Sabathia

The hefty lefty didn’t necessarily have a great first two starts, but, as many mentioned, he had the peripherals that suggested he’s pitching better than his ERA suggested.

Tonight, Sabathia delivered easily the best outing of the young 2015 season. He tossed eight innings, allowed two runs (only one ER), seven hits, three walks and struck out five. He kept inducing ground balls (50% GB rate) and his season rate remains a high 61.4 %. Even though his fastball was around 89~91 miles per hour range, CC dominated the hot Tigers lineup (lead AL in wRC+ prior to tonight’s game with 136) and did what he could do to deserve a win.

Besides the result, I think tonight’s performance also affirmed that CC’s new ground ball-happy approach can get him nice outings. Sure, we all miss the old overpowering Sabathia but when you don’t have the heat anymore, but baseball doesn’t adjust to you – you have to adjust to baseball. I remember Mike Mussina saw his effectiveness decline after his average fastball velocity went down from 88.6 mph in 2006 to 87.1 mph in 2007. Then in 2008, he managed to turn in his first-ever 20-win season “…observers noticed him pitching down and in more effectively, changing speeds like a master.”  If CC can have that kind of renaissance for the remaining portion of contract, sign me up.

Anyways, good game, CC. But life ain’t a box of chocolate, nor a bed of roses…

The 7th Inning Wretch 

CC. was chugging along up to the seventh inning. In fact, he could have gotten out of it unscathed. Rajai Davis led off with a base hit but CC got the next two big hitters – Kinsler and Cabrera – out.

With two outs and the runner on first, the Yanks decided to intentionally walk Victor Martinez. Even though Martinez was 0-for-2 at the time, he tattooed the ball in each previous at-bats – Gardner robbed him of an XBH in the second inning and Ellsbury did the same in the fifth. Also, he’s got a pedigree of, you know, being a dangerous hitter so they decided to pitch to the next hitter, J.D. Martinez.

Now, I thought it was interesting that Yanks chose to pitch to J.D. rather than Victor. I assume it was based a lot on how CC fared against them. As I mentioned, Victor hit the ball hard twice against Sabathia while J.D. struck out and, well, lined out to center. I guess it came down to that New York felt more comfortable having Sabathia pitch to J.D..

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Martinez hit a hard liner towards Didi Gregorius and it deflected off the shortstop’s glove and trickled down slowly to left field, allowing Davis to score. Ugh. That just adds to Didi’s “replacing the Jeets” saga, doesn’t it? I know, I really wish Didi would’ve been able to handle that but again, that was a very hard-hit ball – the bottom line is that Yanks got the short end of the BABIP dragon’s favor. That could have gone either way. Hopefully Didi makes that play in the future.

The next hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, squeaked a grounder through the middle to drive in another run. CC did his job inducing a grounder but it just didn’t go to his ideal way. J.D. Martinez was caught in a rundown between second and third base for the final out of the inning but the damage has been done – the Tigers took a 2-1 lead and the score didn’t change again.

WOOSH (Source: Getty)

Offense Comes Up Short

I don’t feel like making another pun so I’m going with an uncreative section title here but… it’s true. Tigers’ starting pitcher, Alfredo Simon, is no scrub honestly. I know ERA is not a perfect stat but since 2012, in 358.1 IP, the man has a 3.11 ERA (121 ERA+). But with Sabathia delivering his best start in long while, I really wish the offense had given more support.

Leading off the second inning, Mark Teixeira hit a diving 84 miles per hour splitter for a solo homer. He had to reach way down to drive it and, honestly, on the first glance, I didn’t know it was going to be anywhere close to the seats. It’s also his first left-handed homer of the season so that’s that. Tex hitting a homer like that makes me feel that his power’s come back but… that was pretty much the only bright spot in offense.

After the Tex homer, Simon held the Yankees scoreless. Yanks weren’t particularly successful in driving the ball as they grounded out a whopping 11 times and only McCann managed for another XBH with a second-inning double.

Oh and this one hurt. In the eighth inning with one out, Gregorius, who hasn’t had the best time with his bat, hit a single to knock Simon out of the game. Detroit brought in the former Yankee prodigy pitcher Joba Chamberlain to face Jacoby Ellsbury. The speedy center fielder grounded into a rally-killing double play to end the threat. Womp.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Here’s the boxscore and updated standings. And, of course, the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Oh, and if there’s any more positive from tonight’s game, the bullpen arms got to rest thanks to CC’s complete game. Everyone should be ready to go tomorrow. Hope Nathan Eovaldi can go longer than five innings this time though.

Up Next

Tomorrow the Yanks are back at it again at the same time, same place. Two young pitchers – Nathan Eovaldi and Kyle Lobstein – will be facing off. Better luck tomorrow, start a new win streak, etc.

Game 13: Streakin’


The Yankees have two nice little streaks going right now. One, they’ve won three straight games for the first time this season. Two, they’ve scored at least five runs in four straight games. The first streak is cool but not exactly rare. Even last year’s team managed eleven winning streaks of at least three games. It’s a very long season. Three-game winning streaks happen.

The 5+ runs thing is bit more uncommon. In fact, the Yankees never once scored at least five runs in four straight games last season. Not once. They did it in three straight games on four different occasions, but never once in four consecutive games. You have to go back to September 2013 for the last time New York put up five or more runs in four straight games. The Yankees are in Detroit tonight looking to extended both streaks. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

It has been raining in Detroit pretty much all afternoon but it is supposed to clear out in time for tonight’s game. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:08p ET and you can watch live on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy.

2015 MLB Draft: Ian Happ

Ian Happ | OF

Happ, 20, is a Pittsburgh kid who went undrafted out of high school in 2012. He stepped right into the starting lineup as a freshman for Cincinnati and hit .322/.446/.489 with 26 doubles, eleven homers, 79 walks, 67 strikeouts, and 44 steals in 54 attempts in 107 games his first two years on campus. Happ went into the weekend hitting .386/.509/.693 with nine doubles, ten homers, 34 walks, 34 strikeouts, and five steals in eleven attempts in 37 games this spring. (No relation to J.A. Happ as far as I can tell.)

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-0 and 205 lbs., Happ is a switch-hitter who is more refined from the left side but has a quick bat and line drive stroke from the both sides of the plate. He has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and good power potential that is starting to blossom this spring. Happ is just an okay runner despite his impressive stolen base totals as a freshman and sophomore, and he’s still learning the nuances of the outfield after playing second base earlier in his college career. It’ll be interesting to see if whichever team drafts him decides to give Happ another try on the infield in pro ball. He’s an aggressive, high energy player who will earn the “gritty” label in a hurry.

Keith Law (subs. req’d),, and Baseball America ranked Happ as the sixth, 15th, and 17th best player in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. This draft is really light on bats though and, as a college hitter with big stats, I wouldn’t be surprised if Happ came off the board earlier than projected. (The Yankees pick 16th overall.) As a switch-hitter with plate discipline and promising power, Happ seems like the kind of player the Yankees always try to have in their lineup. That he excelled in the Cape Cod League — Happ hit .329/.433/.503 with 12 doubles and four homers in 43 games with the Harwich Mariners last summer and was ranked as the sixth best prospect in the circuit by Baseball America — only makes him more of a target for New York.

4/20 to 4/23 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

The Yankees have won four of the first six games of this ten-game road trip, but the last four games figure to be the toughest. They’re in Detroit tonight to start a four-game series against a Tigers team that has been the best in baseball in the early going this year. And in case you’re wondering, no, the Yankees will not face Shane Greene this series. He started yesterday.

What Have The Tigers Done Lately?

Like I said, the Tigers have been the best team in baseball so far this year. They just took two of three from the White Sox — losing only to Chris Sale — and are 10-2 on the young season. Manager Brad Ausmus’ club has the best record and the best run differential (+33) in baseball right now. It’s super early of course, but no team in all of MLB has been better than the four-time defending AL Central champs.

Offense & Defense

Yesterday afternoon’s game was the sixth time in 12 games this year the Tigers scored at least seven runs. Six times in 12 games! They’re averaging 5.67 runs per game with a team 138 wRC+. That’s pretty damn good. It helps to be healthy on offense — Detroit doesn’t have a single position player on the DL or even listed as day-to-day.

Miggy. (Gregory Shamus/Getty)
Miggy. (Gregory Shamus/Getty)

As always, Ausmus’ lineup revolves around the incredible 1B Miguel Cabrera (220 wRC+), who is simply the best hitter of his generation. OF J.D. Martinez (129 wRC+) and OF Yoenis Cespedes (152 wRC+) provide some complementary right-handed pop and the switch-hitting DH Victor Martinez (108 wRC+) is off to a nice start as well. SS Jose Iglesias (188 wRC+) is living the good BABIP life right now (.459).

OF Rajai Davis (118 wRC+) and OF Anthony Gose (190 wRC+) platoon in center field and 3B Nick Castellanos (125 wRC+) is the former top prospect trying to build on an okay rookie year. C Alex Avila (119 wRC+) is still the starting catcher and 2B Ian Kinsler (112 wRC+) is seemingly the “weak spot” on offense right now. IF Andrew Romine, IF Hernan Perez, and C James McCann round out the rarely used bench.

Defensively, the Tigers are strongest up the middle thanks mostly to Gose, Kinsler, and Iglesias. Davis isn’t as rangy as you’d expect someone with his speed to be and Avila is just an okay pitch-framer. Castellanos and Cabrera are comfortably below-average on the infield corners and Martinez is in right field because of his bat, not his glove. Cespedes is an above-average defender thanks mostly to his arm, not his range. That said, the Tigers are much better defensively than they have been these last few years.

Pitching Matchups

The Yankees have been talking about possibly using a spot sixth starter this week (Chase Whitley? Kyle Davies?) to give everyone in the rotation an extra day of rest, but the forecast for Detroit the next few days isn’t pretty. The rotation might get that extra day of rest thanks to a rainout rather than a sixth starter. We’ll see.

Monday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. DET) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (Career vs. NYY)
The Simon trade was one of the weirder trades of the offseason because he seemed like such an obvious fluke last season — Simon had a 2.70 ERA (4.33 FIP) with a .232 BABIP in 116.2 innings in the first half last year, went to the All-Star Game, then had a 4.52 ERA (4.34 FIP) with a .309 BABIP in 79.2 innings in the second half. Still, the Tigers traded for him, and it’s worked out so far. The 33-year-old Simon has allowed three runs in 13.1 innings across two starts, though he’s only struck out three. His strikeout rate has fallen from 19.3% in 2012 to 17.6% in 2013 to 15.5% in 2014 to 10.2% in the super early going this year. (To be fair, he moved from the bullpen to the rotation in 2014.) Simon is basically a four-pitch pitcher but it’s not the usual fastball/slider/changeup/curveball mix. He throws a low-90s two-seamer, a mid-80s cutter, a low-80s splitter, and a mid-70s curve. Lefties have traditionally given him a much harder time than righties despite the splitter.

Lobstein. (Gregory Shamus/Getty)
Lobstein. (Gregory Shamus/Getty)

Tuesday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. DET) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (Career vs. NYY)
The 25-year-old Lobstein is in Detroit’s rotation thanks to the first DL trip of Justin Verlander’s career — he suffered a triceps injury late in Spring Training and is slowly working his way back. Verlander’s still several weeks away from returning. Lobstein, a former Rule 5 Draft pick, got a cup of coffee last season (4.35 ERA and 3.82 FIP in 39.1 innings) and has made one start this year, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings against the Indians. Last season in Triple-A he had a 4.07 ERA (3.45 FIP) with 19.9 K% and 6.6 BB% in 146 innings. Lobstein is the quintessential finesse lefty — he sits 86-89 mph with his fastball and uses low-80s cutters and changeups to keep hitters off balance. Every once in a while he’ll flip a low-80s curveball just to keep everyone honest. Lobstein is the opposite of overpowering and the Yankees will have to make sure they lay off his soft stuff just off the plate.

Wednesday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. DET) vs. LHP David Price (Career vs. NYY)
The Yankees get stuck facing Price this series, but you know what? It’s better than facing him six times a year like they did when he was in Tampa. Price, 29, is off to an incredible start, allowing just one earned run in 22.1 innings across three starts. He’s struck out 20, walked five, and allowed only 13 hits. Last season was arguably the best of his career — which is really saying something considering he won the Cy Young Award a few years ago — thanks to a 3.26 ERA (2.78 FIP) in an MLB leading 248.1 innings. His strikeout (26.9 K%) and walk (3.8 BB%) rates were off the charts. Price is the ultimate combination of power and precision. He still sits mid-90s with both his two and four-seamers and can paint the corners of both sides of the plate with both pitches. His mid-80s slider gradually morphed into an upper-80s cutter these last few years and Price will also throw a handful of mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs per start. He throws the two-seamer, four-seamer, and cutter a combined ~80% of the time. There’s no messing around here. Price dares hitters to hit his fastball and it no one has been able to do it consistently for years now.

Thursday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. DET) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (Career vs. NYY)
Sanchez has been a personal favorite for a few years now but he’s off to a rough start this season, allowing 14 runs on 20 hits in 16.1 innings. Seventeen strikeouts and four walks are nice, five homers allowed is not. (He allowed four homers in 126 innings in 2014.) Sanchez, 31, had a 3.43 ERA (2.71 FIP) with 19.8 K% and 5.8 BB% last season and put up similar numbers for several years now. He’s a deep arsenal guy, using low-90s four-seamers, low-90s sinkers low-90s cutters, mid-80s splitters, mid-80s sliders, and upper-70s curveballs fairly regularly. He’ll throw just about anything in any count too. Sanchez is off to a slow start this year but he’s real tough most days.

Avila and Soria. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)
Avila and Soria. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

Bullpen Status
The bullpen is always an issue for Detroit, isn’t it? This year their relief crew has a 3.00 ERA (2.33 FIP) overall, which actually has them among the best in MLB, but it’s still early. They are without closer RHP Joe Nathan, who is on the DL with an elbow issue. RHP Joakim Soria (1.58 FIP) has stepped in as closer and given Nathan’s big time struggles since the start of last season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Soria keep the job the rest of the season.

Among those setting up Soria are RHP Al Alburquerque (2.99 FIP), LHP Tom Gorzelanny (1.36 FIP), and RHP Joba Chamberlain (0.59 FIP). LHP Ian Krol (2.09 FIP) will see matchup duty against lefties and the last two bullpen spots belong to LHP Blaine Hardy (4.61 FIP) and RHP Angel Nesbitt (2.56 FIP). Despite their early season success, this non-Soria group of relievers isn’t the steadiest in the world. Get the starter out early enough and you can take advantage. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of New York’s bullpen and then check out Bless You Boys for everything you need to know about the Tigers heading into the series.

Yankeemetrics: April 17-19 (Rays)

Welcome back, Alex. (Photo credit: Chris O'Meara/Associated Press)
Welcome back, Alex. (Photo credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)

Back to the future, Part I
Alex Rodriguez delivered a vintage performance in the series opener against the Rays, leading the Yankees to a 5-4 win at Tropicana Field. A-Rod was almost literally the entire Yankees offense on Friday night. Seriously.

Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with four RBI and scored two runs; the rest of the lineup produced one run and went 2-for-26 in the game. Each of his three hits either gave the Yankees the lead or tied the game: his second-inning solo homer put the Yankees up 1-0, his sixth inning two-run blast tied the game at 4-4, and his eighth inning single drove in the game-winning run.

Let’s give A-Rod’s performance the proper Yankeemetric treatment, in bullet-point form:

• His first homer traveled 477 feet, according to, the longest home run in the majors this season and the second-longest by any Yankee over the last 10 seasons. The only longer one was a 488-foot shot by Rodriguez on June 15, 2006 off Cliff Lee at the old Yankee Stadium.

• He is the second-oldest Yankee ever to have multi-homer game with four-or-more RBI, behind only a 43-year-old Enos Slaughter July 19, 1959 vs. the White Sox.

• He ended the night with four homers and 11 RBI after the first 10 games of the season. A-Rod is the first Yankee in franchise history to hit that many homers and have that many RBI in the team’s first 10 games at the age of 39 or older. The last 39-year-old (or older) on any team to reach those totals this early into the season was Eddie Murray for the Indians in 1995.

A-Rod’s eighth-inning heroics were set up by a lead-off single from Carlos Beltran. It was his 1,000th hit in the American League, making him the eighth player in major-league history with at least 1,000 hits in both leagues. The others are Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Vladimir Guerrero, Fred McGriff, Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano.

Back to the future, Part II
Masahiro Tanaka tossed his first (and hopefully not last) gem of the season on Saturday night as the Yankees clinched their first series win of the season with a 9-0 victory. It was the second-biggest shutout win for the Yankees at Tropicana Field, behind only a 10-0 blowout on April 10, 2010.

Tanaka dominated the Rays lineup, throwing seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, no walks and two hits allowed. The last Yankee right-hander with a performance like that – at least eight strikeouts, zero walks and no more than two hits given up – was Mike Mussina in his near-perfect game against the Red Sox on Sept. 2, 2001.

The game was a pitchers duel until the sixth inning when Brian McCann ripped a two-run triple to break a scoreless tie. It had been more than 15 years since a Yankee catcher hit a go-ahead triple that late in a game. Jorge Posada‘s sixth-inning bases-loaded triple on April 13, 2000 was the game-winning hit against the Rangers.

Chris Young turned the game into a rout with a grand slam in the seventh inning. He is the first Yankee right-fielder with a grand slam against the Rays since Paul O’Neil on August 16, 2001. Before Young, no Yankee right-fielder had ever hit a grand slam at Tropicana Field.

How sweep it is
The Yankees finished off their first sweep of the season with a 5-3 win on Sunday. Last year the team didn’t record its first series sweep of three games or more until June 10-12 at Seattle.

Yes, the Yankees have certainly lived up to their Bronx Bombers nickname this season (17 homers in 12 games) but don’t underestimate their ability to play smallball, too. They scored two of their five runs via sacrifice flies on Sunday, bring their total to an MLB-best 10 sac flies on the season. It is just the second time since they became an official stat in 1954 that the Yankees have hit double-digits sac flies in the team’s first 12 games (had 12 in 1997).

Andrew Miller struck out three batters after giving up a leadoff double for his fourth save of the season. It was his third consecutive outing with a save and at least three strikeouts, the first Yankee reliever ever to have a streak of games like that (Mariano Rivera never did it more than two appearances in a row, believe it or not).

Fan Confidence Poll: April 20th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-2 (33 RS, 23 RA)
Season Record: 6-6 (64 RS, 56 RA, 7-5 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Tigers (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), vs. Mets (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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 Features tab in nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

DotF: Mitchell and Lindgren lead RailRiders to a win

Bad news: LHP Ian Clarkin has elbow inflammation, assistant GM Billy Eppler told Josh Norris. Clarkin will be shut down for a few weeks. At least it’s not something more serious, I guess. This has already been a pretty tough year for injuries in the farm system.

Triple-A Scranton (4-1 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4 — he has eleven hits and only five are singles (two doubles, one triple, four homers)
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — got picked off first … that’s five errors in nine games now … he had 12 errors in 122 games all of last season
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 11/3 GB/FB — 59 of 94 pitches were strikes (63%) … very nice outing on his 24th birthday
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 21 of 30 pitches were strikes (70%) … 27 of the 32 batters he’s faced this year have either struck out (nine) or hit a ground ball (18) … just wasting bullets down here

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