If you’re looking for some Sunday morning reading, here is a harrowing story from Greg Hanlon about former Yankees outfielder Chad Curtis, who was recently sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for molesting students at the Michigan high school where he worked. Curtis is completely insane and delusion, blaming the victims and using religion to justify his actions. It’s a long and somewhat terrifying read that details the incidents, the court cases, his troubles in MLB clubhouses, and much more. Check it out. Scary, scary stuff. · (54) ·
Following Friday night’s seven-run outburst, the Mark Teixeira-less lineup went right back to sleep. The Yankees were shut out by R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon by the score of 4-0. It was 1-0 until the bottom of the eighth.
Big Mike Is Here To Stay
The Yankees have been waiting a long time for this. Michael Pineda finally made his first start for the club on Saturday, two years and one shoulder surgery after being originally acquired from the Mariners. He looked very good in Spring Training but that only means so much. The regular season is a different animal, as is the Blue Jays lineup and their hitter-friendly ballpark. The Yankees were probably hoping he would be their ace by now, but instead he is the fifth starter and an unknown.
In his first big league start since September 2011, Pineda held that Blue Jays lineup to one run in six innings of work. A well-struck double and a bloop single led to the run in the second inning, but not after he threw the first scoreless first inning (!) of the team’s season. The other four starters allowed at least one run in the first inning in their starts. Crazy. Pineda struck out five, walked zero, and got six ground ball outs and six air ball outs. He threw 58 of 83 pitches for strikes (70%), including eleven swings and misses. Here is the breakdown, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
- 31 fastballs, 17 strikes, two swings and misses, averaged 94.4 mph, topped out at 96.1 mph
- 33 sliders, 27 strikes (!), seven swings and misses, averaged 84.2 mph, topped out at 86.8 mph
- 18 cutters, 13 strikes, two swings and misses, averaged 94.3 mph, topped out at 96.1 mph
- one changeup, one strike, 88.4 mph
The first time through the order, left-handed batters went 4-for-5 with two doubles against Pineda while righties went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He came to the Yankees in a need of a changeup to better combat batters of the opposite hand, and he still needs that two years later. Changeups don’t magically develop while on the DL, apparently. After that first time through the order though, Pineda retired 12 of the final 13 batters faced, including all six lefties. Like Masahiro Tanaka on Friday, he shook off a slow start to the game and finished very strong.
Pineda topped out at 75 pitches or so in Spring Training, so it was no surprise Joe Girardi lifted him when he did. They need to take it easy on him following the shoulder surgery, especially early in the season. This is no time to push things. Pineda always stood out from other live-armed youngsters because of his control, and that is evident in all those strikes he threw. Thirteen of 22 batters faced got a first pitch strike and seven saw an 0-2 count. Four batters saw a three-ball count and only two saw a two-ball count after the second inning. Pineda was very, very good. This was a fantastic and tremendously encouraging start.
Middle of the LOLineup
What an ugly game for the rebuilt middle of the order. Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano each went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and they combined to kill a pair of rallies. With two on and no outs in the sixth, Beltran bounced into a 6-4-3 double play and McCann lined out softly to short. In the same situation in the eighth, Beltran and Soriano sandwiched strikeouts around a McCann ground out. Soriano struck out on a pitch that bounced about five feet in front of the plate. Why Girardi didn’t pinch-hit Brett Gardner for Soriano against the fresh out of the bullpen righty in the eighth, I’ll never know.
McCann came into the game with four hits in 13 at-bats (.308), but neither Beltran (now 3-for-19) nor Soriano (0-for-16!) have yet to get going. Those guys have to start hitting and soon. The Yankees can’t rely on Yangervis Solarte and Ichiro Suzuki spot starts to drive the offense, especially with Teixeira injured and no bonafide superstar like Robinson Cano to anchor the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury did his part again (3-for-4) and Derek Jeter was on base twice, but no one was able to bring them home. Ugly.
The Yankees blew two on, two out rallies in the fifth and seventh thanks to a Dean Anna strikeout and a Brian Roberts pinch-hit pop-up, respectively. The score was still close then. Ellsbury struck out to end in the game with two on in the ninth inning, but by then the score had gotten out of hand. So, if you’re keeping score at home, the Yankees had two runners on base in each of the last five innings, but scored zero runs. This lineup is partying like it’s 2013.
So yeah, David Phelps is not right. Either not right or just not very good. After getting roughed up in his first appearance the other day, Phelps allowed three runs on three hits in two innings on Saturday, putting a winnable game completely out of reach. The three hits all came in a row: Melky Cabrera homer, Colby Rasmus ground-rule double, Jose Bautista homer. That’s three homers allowed in 3.1 innings. At this rate the Yankees offense won’t be able to out-homer Phelps. Unless they’re going to send him to Triple-A Scranton in favor of someone like Cesar Cabral or Preston Claiborne, they have to keep him out of close games. Mop-up duty only.
Weird moment to end the third inning, when Frankie Cervelli was thrown out at the plate on Ellsbury’s single. It appeared as though catcher Josh Thole blocked the plate before he had the ball, which is not allowed under the new rules. He had to stand there to catch the throw, however. Girardi argued, the umpires reviewed the play — Girardi did not challenge, it was the umpire’s call to review — and they determined he did not block the plate. Of course, replays showed Cervelli probably slid under the tag anyway. Girardi didn’t challenge the safe/out call within the designated time because he was arguing the block. Surprisingly, not everyone has the new plate blocking rules down pat five games into the new season.
Solarte took a 92 mph Aaron Loup fastball to the side of his right knee in the seventh inning and was in quite a bit of pain. He stayed on the ground and was looked at by the trainer for a little while, but eventually limped down to first and remained in the game. Seems to be fine even though it looked quite painful. He went 2-for-3 at the plate. Cervelli went 2-for-3 with a double. Like Solarte, he was also hit by a pitch. Kelly Johnson went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and the Anna/Roberts mash-up went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Between Pineda and Phelps, Vidal Nuno walked Adam Lind on six pitches. If you’re the second lefty in the bullpen, walking the only left-handed batter you face probably isn’t a good way to climb up the depth chart. It didn’t come back to hurt them, but still. throw strikes, Vidal.
The Yankees still have not hit a homerun this season, hence the Phelps joke earlier. It’s their fifth streak of 5+ homerless games this century; they did it once in 2006 and three times last year. The Royals are the only other team without a homer this season. Where have you gone, Bronx Bombers?
The Yankees and Blue Jays will play the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday afternoon. The rotation turns back over, so CC Sabathia will get the ball against Drew Hutchison. It’s the last game of their six-game, season-opening road trip. Baseball will be back in the Bronx on Monday.
OF Tyler Austin left Extended Spring Training in Tampa and is on his way to Double-A Trenton, according to his mother’s Twitter feed. Yes, his mother’s Twitter feed. Austin’s missed a chunk of last season with a wrist problem and it slowed him down again in camp. He was behind the other position players, so he stayed back in ExST to prepare. Glad he’s back so soon.
Triple-A Scranton‘s doubleheader was rained out. They will make up one game as part of a doubleheader tomorrow and the other as part of a doubleheader on June 26th.
Double-A Trenton (6-5 win over New Hampshire, walk-off style)
- CF Mason Williams: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — walk-off single … he’s off to a nice start
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K — still looking for his first hit of the year
- 3B Rob Segedin: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI
- C Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — has two hits this year, and they’re both doubles
- DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 2 K
- RHP Zach Nuding: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 9/1 GB/FB — 60 of 95 pitches were strikes (63%)
- SwP Pat Venditte: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — 18 of 29 pitches were strikes (62%)
Yes, it is only two games, but man these last two games were a lot of fun. The Yankees got their first looks at Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, two 25-year-old right-handers who are expected to anchor their rotation for the next few years. Both pitched well, especially after rocky second innings. Their combined pitching line: 13 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 13 K against a good Blue Jays lineup. The outcomes of the two games are almost secondary. Tanaka and Pineda look like legit rotation building blocks.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. MLB Network will air a game, though who you see depends on where you live. The Final Four is on plus the Nets, Devils, and (hockey) Rangers are all playing tonight as well. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, Tanaka, Pineda, or anything else right here. Have at it.
(Video of Pineda’s start is not embeddable for whatever reason. Here’s the link.)
Via Jack Curry: The Yankees do not appear to have any interest in Ike Davis. The Mets have made it no secret they are open to trading their first baseman, but they have turned down a bunch of offers these last few months according to Andy Martino. The Yankees lost Mark Teixeira to a right hamstring strain and the 15-day DL on Friday.
Davis, 27, is currently riding the bench as Lucas Duda gets an extended audition at first. He hit .205/.326/.334 (90 wRC+) with nine homer in 103 games last year, and was so bad in the first half that he was shipped to Triple-A for a month. Davis hit .227/.308/.462 (111 wRC+) with 32 homers as recently as 2012. He has big lefty power and patience, two things the Yankees love, plus he has at least one option left and can go to Triple-A. Davis would made sense as a depth player and reclamation project for the Yankees. · (14) ·
The Yankees got their first look at Masahiro Tanaka last night and things went very well following a rough first two innings. This afternoon they will finally get their first look at Michael Pineda, who has not thrown a meaningful pitch these last two years because of shoulder surgery. Both Hector Noesi and Jesus Montero have flamed out (obligatory they’re still young, yadda yadda yadda) and Jose Campos has yet to escape Low-A ball. It’s been 802 days since the trade. 802!
Pineda is finally ready to help the Yankees. He pitched well in Spring Training but, most importantly, he looked healthy. His delivery was free and easy, the ball came out of his hand well, and his slider was allergic to bats. He checked every box in camp. Regular season baseball is a different animal though, and I’m sure he’ll be a little nervous even though he’s pitched in the big leagues before. After missing this much time, he probably feels like a rookie again. Either way, Big Mike is finally here.
In case you missed it earlier, Mark Teixeira has been placed on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain. Austin Romine was called up and Frankie Cervelli will see some time at first base. Joe Girardi told Dan Barbarisi that David Robertson is not available this afternoon after working back-to-back days, so Shawn Kelley is the closer du jour. Wouldn’t be surprised if Matt Thornton gets the call for the final few outs if lefties are due up. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- RF Carlos Beltran
- DH Brian McCann
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- C Frankie Cervelli
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
- 2B Dean Anna
RHP Michael Pineda
It is really cold and drizzling in Toronto, so I assume the Rogers Centre roof will be closed for the game. First pitch is scheduled for 1:08pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
11:07am: As expected, Teixeira has been placed on the 15-day DL. Joe Girardi confirmed it isn’t a bad strain, but enough that they don’t want to play shorthanded.
11:05am: The Yankees have called up Austin Romine, meaning Mark Teixeira and his stained right hamstring are likely headed to the DL. Frankie Cervelli will reportedly work out at first base along with Kelly Johnson. · (48) ·
I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to a regular season game as much I did Friday’s. Maybe Jesus Montero‘s debut a few years ago? I’m not sure. The Yankees got their first look at Masahiro Tanaka on Friday and he helped them to a 7-3 win in the series opener against the Blue Jays.
Masahiro My Hero
The start was not good. Tanaka began his Yankees career by serving up a homerun on his third Major League pitch, a hanging splitter to Melky Cabrera leading off the first inning. Not ideal. Tanaka rebounded to retire the next three batters, including strikeouts of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jays pushed across two runs in the second inning with ground balls — one through the right side of the infield, one up the middle, and one through the left side. Mark Teixeira also made an error when he threw the ball away trying to get a force at second.
The first time through the lineup, the Blue Jays scored three runs and put four of nine men on base. After that, Tanaka allowed just two base-runners and retired 16 of the final 18 men he faced, including eight in a row at one point. We’ve been hearing about his makeup and all that for months, but we saw it in action in this game. Things were going poorly early on, but Tanaka didn’t get rattled at all. He settled down, got a groove, and cruised for his final five innings.
Tanaka’s final line was those three runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks in seven innings. He struck out eight (including Bautista twice) and got eight ground ball outs compared to five in the air. Sixty-five of his 97 pitches were strikes, including 13 swings and misses. Here is the pitch breakdown, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
- 45 fastballs, 29 strikes, two swings and misses
- 23 sliders, 15 strikes, three swings and misses
- 12 splitters, nine strikes, six swings and misses
- 11 curveballs, eight strikes, one swing and miss
- six cutters, four strikes, one swing and miss
Outside of sheer dominance, this was probably the next best thing. Tanaka showed the ability to shake off a bad start to the game and still give the team a quality outing, against a good lineup at that. It’s obvious he’s no Kei Igawa, right? If you were worried about that, you don’t need to be anymore. Hell of a first impression. Tanaka was pretty much as advertised and that’s very, very good. Can’t wait to see him in five days.
The Yankees jumped all over Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan in the first inning, scoring two runs on five hits, all within the first six batters. Ichiro Suzuki struck out and Yangervis Solarte fouled out with the bases loaded, so they didn’t do as much damage as they could have in the inning. Such is life. Two runs is better than no runs.
Two innings later, the first official use of the new instant replay system in Yankees history contributed to a two-run rally. Ichiro appeared to beat out an infield single with two outs, but first base umpire Dana DeMuth called him out. Joe Girardi challenged — after the team’s video people gave him the thumbs up, of course — and the call was overturned. Solarte made the Jays pay by following the replay with a two-run double on a ball that I thought was a pop-up off the bat. It just kept going and going and going until it clanked off the wall. Hooray technology! It certainly helped the Yankees in this one.
The $153 Million Man
What a game for Jacoby Ellsbury. New York’s new leadoff hitter went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and two stolen bases, plus he robbed Dioner Navarro of a base hit with a nice sliding catch to end the sixth. The one out he made was a line drive back to the pitcher that Steve Delabar knocked down and threw over to first. Ellsbury took over the game and we’ve seen what that’s like from the other side. It’s much more fun when he does it wearing a Yankees uniform, no doubt about it. Great game by him.
Dellin Betances‘ control problems reared their ugly head as only three of his 13 pitches were strikes. He walked two of three batters faced. Matt Thornton retired both men he faced before that (struck out the only lefty) and David Robertson retired all three men he faced after that. Would have been nice for Betances to get those last three outs, but he was very wild and Girardi couldn’t take his chances. So it goes.
In case you missed it earlier, Teixeira left the game in the second inning with a right hamstring strain. Apparently he caught a spike in the turf while going after a foul ball. There is no word on the severity and if he has to miss more than a few days, the Yankees will be in some trouble. They don’t have a true backup first baseman on the roster and their Triple-A options (Russ Canzler, basically) aren’t great either.
The Yankees scored insurance runs in the eighth (Gardner single) and ninth (Solarte double). Gardner went 2-for-4 with a walk and stolen base while Solarte went 2-for-5 with two doubles off the wall. Something tells me he’s going to get another start on Saturday. Kelly Johnson went 2-for-5 with a triple, Ichiro went 3-for-5 with two infield singles, and Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Teixeira all singled in a run. Dean Anna went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first career game, so congrats to him. Sixteen hits and four walks overall. Total team effort.
Because the first challenge was successful, Girardi got another one and he used it in the eighth to challenge Delabar’s play on Ellsbury. The replay confirmed he was out, but I liked the challenge there because there was a man on base and a chance to put together a big inning. That late in the game, it was unlikely to be needed later. I’d rather see Girardi roll the dice on a play like that than not use it.
The Yankees still have not hit a homerun yet this season. It’s the first time they failed to hit a homer in the first four games since 1990, when they didn’t hit their first longball until their eighth (!) game. I sure hope this team doesn’t wait that long to hit a dinger. I’ve been waiting for ‘em all winter.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees went from last place to third place today, so that’s cool.
Same two teams on Saturday afternoon, in the middle game of this three-game set. Michael Pineda will finally make his first start for the Yankees, more than two years after the trade that originally brought him to New York. He’ll be opposed by knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
11:20pm: Teixeira may go for tests when the Yankees return to the New York on Monday, Joe Girardi said after the game. Right now nothing is planned. That’s … good news? I guess.
8:54pm: Teixeira left the game with a strained right hamstring, the Yankees announced. No word on the severity though. The Yankees don’t have a backup first baseman, not even in Triple-A, so they have a problem on their hands if Teixeira has to miss more than a few days.
8:28pm: Mark Teixeira left tonight’s game for an unknown reason. Replays showed him grabbing his right hamstring after fielding a foul ball, so it doesn’t appear to be his surgically repaired wrist. Still no official word yet though. It is the same hamstring he hurt during the 2010 ALCS. Stay tuned for updates. · (51) ·
Baseball America published a list of the youngest players at each level (no subs. req’d). Who is youngest player in MLB? Bryce Harper, even though he is now in his third big league season. Crazy. OF Ramon Flores is the fourth youngest player in the Triple-A International League, C Gary Sanchez is the sixth youngest in the Double-A Eastern League, and C Luis Torrens and 3B Miguel Andujar are the second and tenth youngest players in the Low-A South Atlantic League, respectively.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They’re going to play a doubleheader tomorrow. Donnie Collins says RHP Chase Whitley will start the first game, RHP Graham Stoneburner the second game. This will make it each to get both C John Ryan Murphy and C Austin Romine a game behind the plate.
Double-A Trenton (7-3 loss to New Hampshire)
- OF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 BB – threw a runner out at third
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-5, 2 K
- C Gary Sanchez: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
- LF Ben Gamel: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
- LHP Jeremy Bleich: 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HB, 4/1 GB/FB — 50 of 82 pitches were strikes (61%) … not sure how starting will work for him, but he’s in the rotation because they need some arms early in the season
- RHP Branden Pinder: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K