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Sunday Night Open Thread

For whatever reason the folks at MLBAM decided to chop this afternoon’s Derek Jeter retirement ceremony into eight (!) different videos, and I’m not embedding all of them here. That’s too many. Jeter’s predictably perfect speech is above (full text) and you can see all the ceremony videos right here. (Andy Pettitte was not in town because of a prior family engagement.) The Yankees pulled out all the stops, even bringing in astronauts and Michael Jordan. Astronauts! I didn’t hear it myself, but apparently one of the broadcast microphones picked up Jordan saying “I heard you’re getting married?” to Jeter, so that’s a thing. Leave it to Jeter to keep an engagement secret. Anyway, the ceremony was way cool. What a great afternoon.

Here is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a good one, the Giants at the Tigers (Hudson vs. Lobstein). The late NFL game is the Colts and Broncos. Hooray football. Talk about those games, the Jeter ceremony, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.

Sunday Night Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the final few hours of the weekend. All of the video from Old Timers’ Day this afternoon is right here. Team USA is playing in the World Cup right now (on ESPN), and following that the Rangers and Angels will be the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Darvish vs. Shoemaker). Talk about those games, Old Timers’ Day, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.

The Tanaka Era begins with 7-3 win over Jays

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.

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

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.

Hooray Replay!
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.

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

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.

Leftovers
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.

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

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.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
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.

Two Games, Two Losses: Yanks fall 3-1 to Astros

The dream of 0-162 is still alive. The Yankees dropped their second game of the season on Wednesday night, losing 3-1 to the Astros. Houston is 2-0 for the first time in eleven years. Really glad the Yankees are taking advantage of his soft early-season schedule, you guys.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Who Needs Runs When We Have Each Other?
Believe it or not, the Yankees had a bunch of chances in this game. They just couldn’t capitalize on any of ‘em. Their only run scored on a double play (more on that in a bit) and they stranded a runner on second in the third, a runner on first in the fourth, runners on the corners in both the fifth and sixth, and runners on second in both the seventh and eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury flew out and grounded out to end the third and fifth inning rallies, respectively.

The Yankees went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and the biggest RISPFAIL came in the eighth, after Carlos Beltran led off the inning with an opposite field double. The next three batters, the 4-5-6 hitters, all struck out. Brian McCann went down on five pitches, Mark Teixeira on four pitches, and Alfonso Soriano on six pitches. Matt Albers got eight (!) swings and misses out of the 15 pitches he threw those guys. I don’t even.

The early-season offensive ineptitude reminds me of the 2002-ish through 2008 Yankees, who never seemed to hit in April. I remember there used to be columns written pretty much every year about trading for Ken Griffey Jr. to improve the offense. Eventually those teams hit and hit a ton, and I suspect this offense will do the same at some point. Right now though? These last two games have been a hot mess. When Brian Roberts (3-for-4 on Wednesday) has been your most productive hitter, you’ve got issues.

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

Death By Dexter
Poor Hiroki Kuroda. He must have feel 2013 never ended. The Yankees gave their ace only 3.19 runs of support per start last season, the third lowest among qualified starters. They couldn’t buy a run for him on Wednesday* even though he held up his end of the bargain. Kuroda held the Astros to two runs on three hits and one walk in six innings, striking out five. He got seven ground ball outs and six fly ball outs.

* Well, they did score the one run. Wouldn’t want to sell them short.

Unfortunately, all three of those hits were extra-base hits, including a solo homer by Dexter Fowler to lead off the game. Two innings later, he tripled to center and scored on Robbie Grossman’s ground out. Fowler’s killed the Yankees these last two games. Four total hits, all for extra bases. Kuroda pitched around a Grossman one-out triple in the sixth, his final inning. Two triples and homer with no other hits allowed. It’s the first time a pitcher has done that since … Felix Doubront against the Yankees last September. Lame.

Aside from some long at-bats, Kuroda looked like vintage Hiroki Kuroda, mixing sinkers with splitters and sliders and whatever else he has in that bag of tricks. I chalk the long at-bats up to early-season rust. Joe Girardi told Chad Jennings before the game that they plan to treat Kuroda like Andy Pettitte this year, meaning they won’t push him deep into the game or much beyond 100 pitches. That’s why his night ended at six innings and 91 pitches. Sounds like a plan to me.

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

Leftovers
So about that run-scoring double play? It was Yangervis Solarte‘s first career at-bat. He pinch-hit for Kelly Johnson against the left-handed Kevin Chapman with runners on the corners and no outs in the seventh. Yeah, it scored a run, but that double play took the wind right out of the Yankees’ sails. I know he had a great spring, but Solarte isn’t exactly a weapon off the bench. He shouldn’t pinch-hit for anyone in a big or semi-big spot.

David Phelps really doesn’t look right. He was sitting 87-88 mph all spring and he was throwing max effort to hit 90 in this game, giving up a solo homer and putting two other guys on base in his 1.1-inning outing. Phelps missed more than two months with a pair of forearm strains in the second half last season and I dunno, he doesn’t look so hot right now. Maybe keep him out of close games for a little while. Matt Thornton (one ground out, one intentional walk) and Shawn Kelley (ground out) cleaned up Phelps’ mess in the eighth.

Roberts and Brian McCann (2-for-4) combined for five of the team’s seven hits. Beltran (double) and Brett Gardner (single) had the others. Gardner, Ellsbury, and Derek Jeter each drew a walk. Teixeira built upon his strong Opening Day by going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Soriano looks like a mess right now and has gone 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in each of the first two games. He did miss a ton of time of camp with the flu, so maybe he’s just behind. Same with Ellsbury and his calf. Maybe.

The Astros had a pre-game ceremony for Jeter before the game, giving him a set of golf clubs and a pair of fancy cowboy boots. Former Yankees (and Astros) Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens were both on hand. The Astros then came out of the dugout to give Jeter a standing ovation before his first at-bat, which was kinda weird considering they still have another game tomorrow.

Adam Warren has warmed up in each of the first two games, and given how Girardi always makes sure his guys are rested, he might not be available tomorrow. He’s almost certainly a better late-inning option over the current version of Phelps. That reminds me: don’t forget about our Bullpen Workload page now that the season has started.

If you’re looking for a good omen, the Yankees have been held to two runs or less in their first two games of the season for the first time since … 1998. That turned out okay.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some more stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Spoiler: the Yankees are still in last.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Hilariously, the Yankees will try to avoid being swept (!) by the Astros (!!!) on Thursday night. That’s another 8pm ET start. Those are the worst. Give me 7pm or 10pm, nothing in between. Ivan Nova and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer will be the pitching matchup.

Prospect Profile: Jose Ramirez

Changeup! (Presswire)
Changeup! (Presswire)

Jose Ramirez | RHP

Background
Ramirez is from the relatively small town of Yaguate, which is Michael Pineda‘s hometown and roughly 30 miles outside San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees signed him as a 17-year-old in 2007 to an unknown but small bonus. The size of the bonus wouldn’t be unknown if it was anything substantial. He was a low-profile signing.

Pro Career
The Yankees kept Ramirez in the Dominican Summer League for his first pro season in 2008. He managed a 4.15 ERA (3.25 FIP) in 39 innings while walking 18 and striking out 39. The club brought Ramirez stateside in 2009 and he pitched to a 1.41 ERA (3.07 FIP) in 64 innings for their Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate. He struck out 55 and walked 16, and even made a one appearance cameo with High-A Tampa.

Assigned to Low-A Charleston to begin the 2010 season, Ramirez posted a 3.60 ERA (3.04 FIP) with 105 strikeouts and 42 walks in 115 innings before being shut down due to shoulder fatigue in August. He simply ran out of gas. The Yankees moved him up to High-A Tampa to open 2011 but that was a disaster (8.14 ERA and 4.23 FIP in 24.1 innings), so he returned to Charleston for the remainder of the season. Ramirez had a 4.78 ERA (4.17 FIP) with 74 strikeouts and 32 walks in 79 innings in his second tour of duty with the River Dogs and was again shut down in August, this time with an elbow/forearm problem.

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