The five-game winning streak came to an end last night thanks to a rather spectacular bullpen meltdown. Oh well. That’s going to happen from time to time. The Yankees have lost consecutive games just twice this season — first two games to the Astros then two games to the Orioles — and to avoid their third set tonight they will have to overcome what feels like a pitching disadvantage.
Ivan Nova has been New York’s worst starter this season — it feels like he has not had a single easy inning yet — but his last start was his best, so hopefully he’s heading the right direction. Rays righty Chris Archer has been good this year but his last start was his worst, a seven-run beatdown. He crushed the Yankees in three starts last season, though that was completely different lineup. I’m not sure his history against the Bombers means much of anything. Here is the Rays lineup and here is Joe Girardi‘s lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- RF Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- 2B Brian Roberts
- SS Dean Anna
RHP Ivan Nova
It is warm, humid and raining in St. Petersburg. The Tropicana Field roof will take care of all that though. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Mark Teixeira Update: Teixeira (hamstring) played seven innings in an Extended Spring Training game this morning, his third straight day of game action. He is eligible to be activated off the 15-day DL tomorrow and he insists he is ready.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (groin) threw 16 pitches and faced five batters in an ExST game. He is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Tuesday and the expectation is that he will indeed be activated.
Rotation Update: As expected, Joe Girardi confirmed Vidal Nuno will start tomorrow’s game. There’s a pretty good chance he will then be shipped to Triple-A Scranton before the team’s next game to clear a rotation spot for Robertson.
According to Chad Jennings, infielder Scott Sizemore confirmed he has a minor league option remaining. That could come into play when Mark Teixeira is activated off the 15-day DL, either tomorrow or in the coming days. Since he was called up to the MLB team, the May 1st (and August 1st) opt-out in Sizemore’s contract goes away.
Sizemore, 29, is 4-for-12 (.333) with two doubles in four games since being called up a few days ago. With Yangervis Solarte tearing the cover off the ball and Dean Anna needed as the backup shortstop, Sizemore sure seems like the obvious candidate to go down to Triple-A whenever Teixeira is ready. If he is, I imagine it won’t be the last time we see him this year. Useful player to have in the organization. · (42) ·
Interesting quote from CC Sabathia tonight: “I think the chemistry on this team is really good as opposed to the past couple of years.” Hm.
— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) April 18, 2014
When I read that quote, my first thought was that Sabathia was talking about Alex Rodriguez. How could you not think that? Were Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera the bad eggs? Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain? Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher? If the Yankees had a chemistry issue in recent years it isn’t unreasonable to think A-Rod was the root cause given all his off-the-field nonsense. The man is a living, breathing distraction and it is no doubt tiresome.
For what it’s worth, Sabathia clarified his comments to Wally Matthews yesterday — “It just seems like the team is having more fun this year than last year. We added a lot of good guys, Mac, Jacoby, Carlos. It’s just a good group of guys this year” — and it seems like he was referring to all the roster turnover they dealt with last season. I imagine it’s tough to develop chemistry when you have a new shortstop every week and a revolving door of faces in the clubhouse. Would Sabathia really take a veiled shot at A-Rod like that?
Anyway, I bring this up because the Yankees have placed a renewed emphasis on character and good clubhouse guys in recent years. They’ve admitted as much. It started back during the 2008-09 offseason, then they brought in Sabathia and Swisher, among others, and it has trickled down into their scouting and development staff. Strong makeup is definitely something the team emphasizes and they should. Every teams wants players who are good people and hard workers. I imagine it’s a tough thing to scout but it’s not impossible.
The value of good team chemistry is unknown. It is absolutely a good thing, there’s no denying that, but how much does it actually help a team win? I don’t think we’ll ever be able to put a number on it despite some, uh, weak attempts. Chemistry is a chicken or the egg question, really. Does winning comes from good chemistry or does good chemistry come from winning? I think the answer is both. You need a strong group of guys as a foundation and when the wins start to pile up, the chemistry improves. At least that’s my opinion as a layman. Talent is extremely important as well, obviously. Chemistry only goes so far.
Baseball is all about commitment. The 162-game season is a real grind and these guys practically live with each other from February through October. If they don’t get along well, the team is almost doomed from the start. There are exceptions to rule, sure, but by and large teammates have to get along well for a club to be successful. When you have new faces in the clubhouse every week like the Yankees did last season, that chemistry is tough to build. The team added some great players and high-character guys this winter, and in addition to on-field production, one of the most important things they added was stability.
11:49pm: The Yankees just announced that Cabral has indeed been designated for assignment. Matt Daley was called up from Triple-A Scranton as the corresponding move. The Queens native had 13 strikeouts in five innings for the RailRiders.
11:43pm: Via Marly Rivera: Cesar Cabral was designated for assignment following tonight’s game. He failed to retire any of the six batters he faced tonight, including three hit batsmen. It was ugly.
There is no word on the corresponding roster move just yet, but it’s worth noting Danny Burawa threw 51 pitches last night and Mark Montgomery has pitched in each of the last two days. Fred Lewis and Al Aceves both pitched tonight as well. Not sure who is getting called up. Maybe Matt Daley? Here is our Bullpen Workload page for your perusal. · (55) ·
It was bound to happen eventually. The Yankees came into Friday’s game with five straight wins and the bullpen with 17 consecutive scoreless innings. Both streaks came to crashing halt with an ugly come-from-ahead 11-5 loss to the Rays. Let’s recap the carnage:
- If You’re Going To Blow It, Might As Well Really Blow It: Even without David Robertson, the Yankees’ bullpen had been very strong over the last two weeks or so. They got their collective asses kicked on Friday, with five relievers combining to surrender eight runs on nine hits and one walk in 2.1 innings. Ugly. Adam Warren was on the mound for the biggest blows in the seventh and poor Cesar Cabral failed to retire any of the six batters he faced. Not coincidentally, five of the six were righties. He also plunked three batters. Let us never speak of this meltdown again.
- Early Runs: It looked like the Yankees were headed for another laugher, scoring three runs on Scott Sizemore‘s bases-clearing double in the second inning to jump out to early 3-0 lead. Brett Gardner plated another run with a ground out two batters later, then Alfonso Soriano singled in the fifth run later in the game. Five runs is enough to win most nights. This was not most nights.
- Kuroda’s Grind: “Not having it” was a common theme for the pitchers on Friday. Hiroki Kuroda battled his command and his trademark splitter was non-existent all night, and the result was three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He only struck out two. With his splitter not working, Kuroda had nothing to go to in two strike counts and the Rays worked him hard. Hrmph.
- Leftovers: All eleven Rays runs scored with two outs. Ridiculous … Jacoby Ellsbury was the only Yankee with two hits, though Soriano and Yangervis Solarte both singled and walked … the Yankees only had two hits after the ineffective Erik Bedard was knocked out of the game in the fourth … Ichiro Suzuki made an excellent running grab in the ninth that ultimately meant nothing.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Sometimes, the bullpen is just going to melt down spectacularly. What are you gonna do? These same two teams will play the third game of their four-game series on Saturday night — yes, a stupid Saturday stupid night game — when Ivan Nova squares off against Chris Archer.
11:14pm: Phelps is fine, Joe Girardi confirmed after the game. I imagine he’s a little sore, but he’s not actually injured.
10:03pm: David Phelps left tonight’s game after being hit by a line drive in the right side, pretty much right in the ribs. Matt Thornton was brought in to replace him and it appears it was to get the left-on-left matchup. Phelps might have been coming out of the game anyway. For what it’s worth, he remained in the dugout after exiting. Seems like he is okay, but it was a pretty good shot. Stay tuned for an update. · (2) ·
Sorry for the lack of a minor league update last night, but thankfully commenter Get Phelps Up picked up the slack. Here is his recap. The highlight of the night was OF Aaron Judge‘s first professional homer, which you can see in the video above. It was a bomb.
In other news, RHP Al Aceves was added to the Triple-A Scranton roster according to Chad Jennings. He had been getting stretched out in Extended Spring Training. Also, RHP Rafael DePaula placed tenth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Lehigh Valley in eleven innings)
- RF Ramon Flores, DH Corban Joseph & SS Carmen Angelini: all 0-5 — Flores walked, scored a run, struck out, and threw a runner out at the plate … Angelini struck out
- 2B Jose Pirela: 2-6, 1 R, 1 E (throwing)
- CF Zoilo Almonte & 1B Russ Canzler: both 1-4, 1 K — Almonte walked, Canzler drove in a run
- 3B Adonis Garcia: 4-5 — yep, third base … he’s been working out on the infield since winter ball in an effort to improve his versatility
- LF Ronnie Mustelier: 1-5
- C Austin Romine: 0-3, 2 BB, 2 K
- RHP Al Aceves: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 6/3 GB/FB — 53 of 79 pitches were strikes (67%) … right back where it all started, in DotF
- RHP Shane Greene: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 13 of 20 pitches were strikes (65%) … believe it or not, this is his first appearance of the season
- RHP Preston Claiborne: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 15 of 29 pitches were strikes (52%)
- LHP Fred Lewis: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 15 of 29 pitches were strikes (52%)
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, zeroes, 0/2 GB/FB — seven of 13 pitches were strikes (54%) … still super early, but only six strikeouts in 6.1 innings so far
The Yankees have won five games in a row (six of their last seven!) and they’ve done it with offense, with pitching, and with defense. One phase of the game is not carrying them, it’s all three. Unlike last April, when the team played well but it felt like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop for certain players (Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner, specifically), this year’s success feels far more sustainable. I can’t be the only who feels like that, right?
Anyway, Carlos Beltran is not in tonight’s lineup after tumbling over the right field wall in foul territory last night. According to the various beat writers on the scene, Beltran had an MRI on both his wrist and shoulder and everything came back clean. He is sore though, and he will skip batting practice today and instead receive treatment. Beltran hopes to play tomorrow but Joe Girardi is fond of giving players that one extra day when they’re banged up. We’ll see. Here is the Rays lineup and here’s the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Yangervis Solarte
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- 3B Scott Sizemore
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
It is hot, humid, and pouring in St. Pete tonight, but none of that matters because of Tropicana Field. It’ll be a climate-controlled 72 degrees (or thereabouts) for tonight’s game whether you like it or not. First pitch is scheduled for just after 7pm ET and you can watch live on YES and, depending on where you live, MLB Network. Enjoy the game.
The Yankees are starting to get healthy. Or, really, several of their players have started working their way back after being shut down for various lengths of time. No one has actually come off the DL yet. Here are some updates on the walking wounded, courtesy of George King, Erik Boland, and Jorge Castillo.
- Mark Teixeira (hamstring) went 0-for-1 with two walks during an Extended Spring Training game yesterday and 1-for-5 with a strikeout today. He played the field both games and had to run hard on several occasions. “I will be fully ready to play Sunday and disappointed if I don’t.,” said Teixeira, who is eligible to activated off the DL on Sunday.
- David Robertson (groin) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session yesterday and is scheduled to throw in an inning in Extended Spring Training tomorrow. “Get Sunday and Monday off and be ready to go Tuesday,’’ said Robertson. He’s eligible to be activated off the DL on Tuesday.
- Brendan Ryan (back) got several at-bats in a simulated game this morning, his first game action since getting hurt. Because he missed just about all of Spring Training, Ryan’s rehab will be much longer than a handful of minor league games. He’s still a few weeks from returning.
- Jose Ramirez (oblique) was one of the pitchers to face Teixeira this morning. He missed all of Spring Training but is throwing now, so that’s good. No word on when he’ll rejoin one of the minor league affiliates.