One run ain’t enough; Yankees drop opener to Red Sox 5-1

The 10,000th win in franchise history will have to wait. The Yankees no-showed on offense again — they’ve now scored 22 runs in their last eight games — and the result was Monday night’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox. Boston beat the Yankees at their own game with a bunch of homers.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Classic Nova
I thought Ivan Nova had his best sinker of the season in this game. The pitch averaged a healthy 93.9 mph but it wasn’t just the velocity. It was running all over the place as well. On more than one occasion Nova seemed to throw a sinker right down the middle and let the natural movement take it off the plate for a swing and miss. He got 15 of those.

That doesn’t mean Nova dominated, however. He pitched in and out of jams all night — the Red Sox made two outs on the bases in the first inning, including one at the plate with the infield in — which has always been a Nova trademark. The Red Sox burned him with two two-out two-run homers. Travis Shaw hit one in the sixth, then Jackie Bradley Jr. did the same in the seventh. Both meatballs. Two of the few sinkers that didn’t sink.

With any luck, this will be Nova’s final start of the regular season. Maybe he starts Game 162 after they clinch a postseason spot or something, but no more meaningful games. Masahiro Tanaka will rejoin the rotation Wednesday and there’s no reason Nova should be considered for the postseason rotation. He was demoted to the bullpen two weeks ago and that’s where he belongs.

This game was classic Nova. A giant tease who looks great at times but always seems to leave the mound with four runs on the board. Tommy John surgery just gave him an excuse.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Missed Chances
Boy the Yankees were all over Eduardo Rodriguez early Monday night. Six of the first eleven men they sent to the plate reached base, yet they only scored one run because they kept playing for one run. So … mission accomplished? Jacoby Ellsbury‘s leadoff ground-run double in the first was followed by Brett Gardner‘s sac bunt. Gardner almost certainly did that on his own. Joe Girardi never calls for bunts that early.

Anyway, Ellsbury scored on Alex Rodriguez‘s sac fly deep to right field. Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley followed with back-to-back singles before Greg Bird stuck out. Three hits and four hard-hit balls in the inning, but only one run. That’s what they played for. In the second, Didi Gregorius popped up an awful bunt after John Ryan Murphy started the inning with a single. It was as bad a bunt as you’ll see. Didi can do a lot of things on the field. Bunting is not one of them.

The Yankees loaded the bases later that inning on a walk (Ellsbury) and a Dustin Pedroia error (Gardner), but A-Rod struck out with the bases loaded. So six of the first eleven Yankees reached base with some other hard-hit balls mixed in. Rodriguez wasn’t fooling anyone — he gave up another single and some more rockets in the third inning — so who knows what happens without those bunts. Never bunt, hit dingers. Words to live by. Especially during Nova starts.

Predictably, the Yankees never mustered much after those early chances. Rodriguez retired 13 of the final 16 batters he faced and the Yankees had just two runners reach second base after the second inning. That was Rob Refsnyder in the fourth, who singled and moved up on a ground out, and Murphy’s leadoff double in the ninth. Murphy was their only runner to make it as far as third base after the second inning. He moved up on Refsnyder’s fielder’s choice and was later stranded.

Somehow Gregorius was the only starter without a hit. Murphy was the only starter with two hits. The other seven starters had exactly one hit. Ellsbury and Murphy had doubles and the rest of the hits were singles. Ellsbury and Didi drew the only walks. The game was there for the taking in the first two innings, the Yankees didn’t take advantage, and that was that. That’s happened way too often of late.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

I can’t remember ever seeing a runner flat out miss first base while going down the line, but Ellsbury did it in the fourth inning. He hit a weak tapper back to the mound that Rodriguez bobbled before firing to first. Ellsbury beat the throw but missed the bag. His foot was an inch or two short. Also of note: Murphy hit a line drive Bradley ran down, but he didn’t realize it, so he stood at second thinking it was a double.

Nova went seven innings but don’t worry, Girardi still managed to use five relievers. Andrew Bailey got one out, Chris Capuano got two outs, Caleb Cotham got two outs, James Pazos got no outs, and Nick Rumbelow got one out. Cotham allowed a solo homer for the fifth run. September Girardi is unbearable. Someone take all these relievers away from him.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for Monday’s game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains three as of this writing and the tragic number in the AL East is down to two. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Red Sox are just getting started. They’ll play game two of this four-game set Tuesday night, when Michael Pineda and Wade Miley get the ball. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for any of the team’s three remaining regular season home games.

Game 156: 10,000?


As a franchise, the Yankees are currently sitting on 9,999 wins. Tonight is their first chance to join the 10,000 win club, which includes the Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, Reds, and Pirates. Those seven clubs have all been around since the 1880s though. The Yankees didn’t come along until the early-1900s. At .569, the Yankees have by far the best winning percentage in baseball history. The Giants are a distant second at .538.

Getting that 10,000th win tonight would be pretty cool, but, more importantly, it would whittle the magic number for a postseason spot down to two. There was some fancy math going around earlier today saying the Yankees can clinch a spot tonight, but that’s not actually the case. The scenario presented– Yankees win and Astros or Angels lose — completely ignored the Twins and failed to take into account how the tiebreaker games for the AL West would fudge things up. Whatever. Just win, baby. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Ivan Nova

It has been pretty cloudy in New York all day but there is no rain in the forecast tonight, so that’s good. Later in the week? Eh, rain might be an issue then. Hope not. Tonight’s game is set to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) ran and performed fielding drills for the first time since getting hurt … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) played catch again but will not be ready for the wildcard game. He could rejoin the team for the ALDS should they advance, however … Stephen Drew, who has played eight innings in the last two weeks, has been dealing with dizziness and went for concussion tests. There’s no timetable for his return just yet.

Rotation Update: Tanaka apparently came through all his workouts well, because the Yankees announced he is starting Wednesday. That allows him to start the wildcard game with an extra day of rest next week. Michael Pineda will start tomorrow and CC Sabathia goes Thursday. Sabathia would be able to start the wildcard game on regular rest if Tanaka can’t go. They could also go with Pineda on two extra days of rest (that would require a spot starter in Game 162). Hopefully that’s not necessary.

TiqIQ: With Eyes Still On AL East, Yankees Host Rival Red Sox In Last Home Series Of 2015

The New York Yankees are on life support right now regarding their chances of winning the AL East, being four games back of the division rival Toronto Blue Jays with just a week remaining in the 2015 Major League Baseball season. While it’s appearing certain that the Yanks will still enter the postseason with one of the two Wild Card berths, they would much rather avoid that do-or-die play-in game, in which anything can happen.

Enter New York’s arch nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, who will be on the outside looking in for the second year in a row when the playoffs commence in just over a week. At the same time, they can still somewhat salvage their season by potentially dealing the final blow to the Yankees’ chances at first-place in the division. The two rivals will begin their latest heated series opposite one another on Monday evening.

As huge as this late-season series is, the value is incredible for Yankees tickets when they match up against the Red Sox in their final home series of the campaign. In fact, none of the four games in this series even top $97 on average, with the Oct. 1 finale being the most expensive at just $96.86 on the secondary market. The cheapest of the series is Tuesday night’s game two, which sports an average ticket price of $66.39, meanwhile, the series opener on Monday night also comes relatively cheap, being $73.99 on average on the secondary market. Tickets on the primary market from Ticketmaster are still available and start at just $20 for each of these rivalry games.

Tickets to see the Yankees and Red Sox battle need very little convincing, as this is arguably the most storied rivalry in all of baseball. Plus, there’s important playoff implications with each game in the series. On one side, the Yankees are trying to officially lock up their residency in the 2015 postseason, while also looking to catch Toronto in the division. In that regard, they’re going to need some help also, as the Blue Jays will have to lose about half of the games they have left over the final week in order to catch them at the top.

On the other side, the visiting Red Sox can make the best of a losing season if they are able to put a dent in New York’s aspirations for first-place. Not only that, they also have a little something to play for, as they try to avoid finishing in the division cellar for the second year in a row. At the moment, they’re a half-game up on the Tampa Bay Rays to avoid that distinction, and a series win over the Yankees would certainly help their cause even further, and perhaps even fault them ahead of the Baltimore Orioles to jump into third-place.

Each side, of course, has their big names to lean on. While the Bronx Bombers no longer have Mark Teixeira for the remainder of the year, they still boast some exceptional bats in the form of Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, and Brett Gardner. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have their own signature sluggers, being paced by the likes of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees have taken 10 of the 15 matchups between the two clubs this season, and will need to continue that notable success if they want to continue their pursuit of first in the division. With Boston recognizing that, it won’t be easy, but at the very least, this should be a very entertaining four-game series, making tickets for each game a tremendous value overall.

Second wildcard spot chaos good for the Yankees heading into October

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

At some point soon, the Yankees will clinch their first postseason berth since 2012. Their magic number is three and there are seven games left in the season, meaning they control their own destiny. The AL East title is not completely off the table yet, just very unlikely, so the focus has understandably shifted to the wildcard game.

The Yankees have a comfortable 4.5-game lead over the Astros for the first wildcard spot (five in the loss column), making it likely the wildcard game will be played in Yankee Stadium one week from tomorrow. That’s good. I know the Yankees haven’t played so well at home in the second half, but I can’t imagine anyone wants them to go on the road for that game.

Who will the Yankees play in that wildcard game? That question is not close to being answered right now. Here are the wildcard standings:

AL wildcard standings 092815

The Indians, Orioles, and Red Sox are all mathematically still alive, but, realistically, the second wildcard race is between the Astros, Angels, and Twins. Those three clubs do not have any head-to-head games remaining this season. The ‘Stros control their own destiny while the Angels and Twins need some help.

It’s impossible to predict how one individual baseball game will play out, so I don’t think you can make an argument the Yankees are better off playing one of those teams instead of one of the other two. Would I rather see them play the Twins given their history against Minnesota? Oh yeah. But it really doesn’t mean anything. I also don’t want to see them face Dallas Keuchel, but again, who knows?

As far as I’m concerned, the longer the second wildcard race goes on, the better it is for the Yankees. The Astros, Angels, and Twins won’t have the luxury of resting their players and, more importantly, lining up their pitching. For example, Keuchel started yesterday and is scheduled to start again Friday. Houston might need him to make that start just to get into the postseason, which means Keuchel would either have to start the wildcard game on three days’ rest or not start it at all.

Again, we all know anything can happen in any given game, but boy, the Astros having to use Keuchel next weekend would be pretty huge for the Yankees, wouldn’t it? I know I’d prefer that to happen. There’s also the matter of those teams potentially wearing out their bullpens — there is an off-day before the wildcard game, so this might not be that big a deal — and older position players down the stretch just to get to the postseason.

I have no idea whether any of this has a tangible on-field benefit for the Yankees, I just know it seems like they’re be better off facing a team that has to battle right down to Game 162 to make the wildcard game. The less of a breather their opponent can take, the better I’ll feel. I’ll be rooting for a three-team race for that final wildcard spot all week.

9/28 to 10/1 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox


It’s the final home series of the season. The Red Sox are in the Bronx for a four-game set starting tonight, and if all goes as planned, the Yankees will clinch a postseason berth at Yankee Stadium this week. The Yankees are 10-5 against the Red Sox this year, but only 3-3 at Yankee Stadium. They’ve won each of the last four series these two teams have played.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The Red Sox swept the Orioles at home this weekend, and they didn’t just sweep them, they shut them out all three game. They outscored the O’s 17-0 in the three games. Boston is 75-80 with a -6 run differential overall, good for fourth place in the AL East race. Their tragic number is one, so the Yankees can officially eliminate the BoSox from postseason contention this series. That’ll be sweet.

Offense & Defense

The Red Sox are averaging 4.65 runs per game with a team 98 wRC+ this season, but they’ve been much better of late, averaging 5.21 runs per game with a team 107 wRC+ since the All-Star break. They’re without OF Hanley Ramirez (89 wRC+) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (75 wRC+), who are done for the season with a shoulder injury and pneumonia, respectively. A total of 957 position players have appeared in a game in 2015. Sandoval and Hanley are tied for 957th with -1.9 fWAR. Woof.

Ortiz. (Presswire)
Ortiz. (Presswire)

Interim manager Torey Lovullo — manager John Farrell is away from the team undergoing cancer treatment — still builds his lineup around DH David Ortiz (134 wRC+), who, after a slow start, has typical David Ortiz numbers now. OF Mookie Betts (116 wRC+) and SS Xander Bogaerts (112 wRC+) have been Boston’s two best players this year, and 2B Dustin Pedroia (120 wRC+) just recently returned from his latest injury. UTIL Brock Holt (101 wRC+) is now filling at third after playing second while Pedroia was out.

OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (122 wRC+) and OF Rusney Castillo (81 wRC+) surround Betts in the outfield — Bradley had that insane hot streak a few weeks but has cooled off big time recently — and IF Travis Shaw (120 wRC+) is getting most of the playing time at first base. C Blake Swihart (86 wRC+) and C Ryan Hanigan (84 wRC+) share catching duties. The crop of September call-ups features C Sandy Leon, IF Deven Marrero, and IF Josh Rutledge.

The Red Sox have a very good team defense now that Hanley and Sandoval are out of the picture. Betts, Bradley, and Castillo are all good to great in the outfield and both Pedroia and Bogaerts are strong up the middle. Shaw and Holt are fine on the corners. Not great but not a disaster either. Hanigan rates as a strong pitch-framer while Swihart is average. Both throw out an average number of base-stealers too.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. BOS) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (vs. NYY)
This has been a good but not great rookie campaign for the 22-year-old Rodriguez, who has a 3.97 ERA (4.04 FIP) in 20 starts and 115.2 innings. The BoSox have been spacing out his starts of late to control his workload. Rodriguez has average-ish peripherals across the board — 18.8 K%, 7.3 BB%, 43.4 GB%, and 1.01 HR/9 — and has been much better against righties (.292 wOBA) than lefties (.359 wOBA). That’s because no one bites on his mid-80s slider. He has nothing for lefties other than his mid-90s four-seamer. Rodriguez does have a good mid-80s changeup though. The Yankees have faced Rodriguez three times this year and they’ve scored exactly two runs all three times (6.1 innings, seven innings, and five innings.)

Tuesday (7pm ET): TBA vs. LHP Wade Miley (vs. NYY)
Miley, 28, has a 4.39 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 188.2 innings across 31 starts in his first season with the Red Sox. Neither his strikeout (17.9%) nor walk (7.5%) rates are anything special, though both his grounder (48.9%) and homer (0.81 HR/9) numbers are better than average. That’s his game, getting ground balls. Righties (.326 wOBA) have had a little more success against him than lefties (.294 wOBA). Miley works right around 90 mph with both his two and four-seam fastballs, in the low-80s with his slider and changeup, and in the upper-70s with his curveball. The curve is his seldom-used fifth pitch. He also works extremely fast. Gets the ball and throws it, no walking around or anything. Miley has seen the Yankees three times this year: two runs in 5.1 innings in April, three runs in seven innings in May, and six runs in 5.1 innings in July.

Porcello. (Presswire)
Porcello. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): TBA vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
The overall numbers are ugly (5.04 ERA and 4.29 FIP) but the 26-year-old Porcello has been much better in six starts since coming off the DL (2.98 ERA and 3.10 FIP). That’s not necessarily a “he’s healthy now” thing. It’s more of a “they let him focus on his sinker again” thing. Porcello’s strikeout (19.9%) and grounder (45.5%) rates are about average, his walk rate (5.3%) is very good, and his homer rate (1.38 HR/9) is very bad. He’s also been hit much harder by lefties (.358 wOBA) than righties (.326 wOBA). Both Porcello’s sinker and four-seamer sit in the low-90s, and his go-to offspeed pitch is a mid-70s curveball. He’ll also throw mid-80s sliders and low-80s changeups. Believe it or not, the Yankees have faced Porcello just once this year, scoring three runs (one earned) in eight innings earlier this month.

Thursday (7pm ET): TBA vs. LHP Rich Hill (vs. NYY)
Baseball is weird, man. Hill, now 35, started his career as a promising starter with the Cubs from 2005-07, then he suddenly couldn’t throw strikes in 2008. He moved to the bullpen, bounced around from 2009-14 — he appeared in 14 games for the Yankees last September — and wound up in an independent league earlier this season. Hill moved back into the rotation with the Long Island Ducks, dominated in two starts (11 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 21 K), got scooped up by Boston, and now he’s in their rotation. Naturally, Hill has a 1.17 ERA (1.63 FIP) in three starts with the Red Sox this month. He’s struck out 30, walked two, and allowed ten hits. For what it’s worth, Hill attributes his newfound success to being “able to figure out the most efficient way for me to pitch.” He chalks it all up to experience. There’s been no change in his stuff at all — four-seamer right around 90 mph, a big-breaking curve in the low-70s, and a few low-80s changeups per start — so I guess it’s just a matter of throwing strikes and whatnot. Baseball, man.

Meanwhile, aside from Nova, the Yankees rotation remains unsettled this week because of Masahiro Tanaka‘s hamstring. He could return pretty much any day now, though Thursday is the absolutely latest he could start a game and then be available for the wildcard game next Tuesday. That’s the deadline, basically. So the Yankees are currently listing three TBAs while they wait for Tanaka to get the okay.

Bullpen Status
The Boston bullpen has been a weakness all season, and they’re now without closer RHP Koji Uehara and setup man RHP Junichi Tazawa. Uehara was hit by a comebacker and broke his wrist, and Tazawa was shut down because his workload was getting crazy. RHP Jean Machi (5.20 ERA/4.58 FIP) and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. (3.99/4.05) have taken over as Lovullo’s late-inning duo.

LHP Tommy Layne (4.08/3.74) is the matchup lefty while RHP Alexi Ogando (4.19/5.49) and RHP Noe Ramirez (4.38/6.15 in limited time) will see some setup work because there are no other options. LHP Craig Breslow (4.22/5.11) is also in the mix. RHP Jonathan Aro, RHP Matt Barnes, RHP Ryan Cook, RHP Heath Hembree, and RHP Roman Mendez are the extra September arms. Ramirez, Layne, and Ross pitched yesterday.

Keep tabs on Joe Girardi‘s relief crew with out Bullpen Workload page. Over the Monster is the place to go for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Yankeemetrics: Stayin’ alive (Sept. 24-27)

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Not for Sale
It was another one-man offensive show on Thursday night, this time starring the 38-year-old Carlos Beltran. His bullet line-drive three-run homer in the third inning was the difference in the Yankees 3-2 win over the White Sox.

Beltran turned on a 98-mph fastball from lefty Chris Sale, the second time in less than a week he’s hit a pitch that fast over the fence. (On Sept. 19 against the Mets, he crushed Noah Syndergaard’s 99-mph heater into the right field seats.) Since Pitch F/X tracking began in 2008, those are the only two home runs Beltran has hit off pitches 98 mph or faster.

One of the guys on base for Beltran’s blast was Alex Rodriguez, who scored his 2,000th run on that play. A-Rod joined Willie Mays and Barry Bonds as the only players in major-league history with at least 2,000 runs scored, 300 homers and 300 stolen bases in a career.

Michael Pineda scattered eight hits over six strong innings, allowing just one run with six strikeouts and no walks. That pinpoint control is something we’ve probably taken for granted with Pineda — he’s riding a streak of 43 straight starts with two or fewer walks, including all 38 with the Yankees. The former streak (43 starts) is tied for the eighth-longest in the last 100 years by any pitcher, and the latter streak (38) is the longest by a Yankee since at least 1914.

Double trouble
Another night of wasted opportunities doomed the Yankees on Friday night against the White Sox. Despite putting 14 guys on base, they scored just two runs in a crushing 5-2 loss that dropped them further behind the can’t-lose Blue Jays in the AL East race.

The loss also snapped a nine-game home win streak against the White Sox, which was the team’s longest since winning nine in a row against the South Siders at Yankee Stadium in 1951-52.

Yankees had their chances against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who couldn’t find the strike zone, but four rally-killing double plays really hurt them. The Yankees entered the game with the second-fewest double plays grounded into in the AL and third-fewest in MLB.

Rodon’s lack of control resulted in five walks, two hit by pitches and a wild pitch. The last pitcher to reach each of those totals in a game versus the Yankees was Chan Ho Park in 2003. To find a guy that did all that, plus allow just two or fewer runs like Rodon did against the Yankees, you have to go back more than 50 years — Jim Kaat with Twins in 1962.

Double your pleasure
Two runs weren’t enough to win on Friday, but it got the job done on Saturday thanks to a terrific performance from not-fill-in starter Adam Warren and a lockdown bullpen effort from the Circle of Trust.

Warren allowed just one run on three hits in six innings pitched, and then handed the ball off to the Justin WilsonDellin BetancesAndrew Miller trifecta, who sealed the 2-1 win with three perfect frames. It was an important victory in more ways than one — it was win No. 85 on the season, one more than they had all of last year.

Warren isn’t flashy but he gets the job done — this was his 12th straight start of no more than three runs allowed dating back to the beginning of May. That the longest streak of its kind in a single season by a Yankee pitcher since Ron Guidry in 1981, and the longest by a righty since Jim Bouton in 1965.

Severino stops Sox
It is rare when a pitching prospect lives up to the hype, especially in the Bronx, but Luis Severino is doing that and more this season. He dominated the White Sox on Sunday afternoon with six scoreless innings for his fifth win, lowering his ERA to 2.77 in 10 starts.

Severino is the first Yankee in the last 100 years with eight starts of no more than two runs allowed within his first 10 career games. He wasn’t the only Yankee rookie that shined on Sunday, though.

Greg Bird chipped in with two hits and an RBI. He now has eight doubles and 10 homers in his 39 games, becoming the only Yankee in the last 100 years to reach each of those totals before his 40th career game.

Slade Heathcott went 2 for 3 and now owns a .391/.400/.696 line in 14 games. That’s the best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of any guy on the Yankees roster right now.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 28th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (21 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 86-69 (741 RS, 651 RA, 87-68 pythag. record) 4.0 GB in ALE, 5.0 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: vs. Red Sox (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Orioles (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?