9/4 to 9/6 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Schoop and Machado. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Schoop and Machado. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees swept the Orioles in Yankee Stadium way back in June, outscoring them by 30 runs over three games. By the time that series was over the Yankees were 37-23, and were in the running for the best team in baseball. Some notes from the series:

  • The Yankees hit twelve home runs in the series as a whole – Aaron Judge and Starlin Castro hit three apiece, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez had two each, and Didi Gregorius and Matt Holliday both chipped in one.
  • Judge was leading the league in the Triple Crown categories at the end of the series, batting .344 with 21 home runs and 47 RBI. He also hit this home run, which is still the longest of 2017.
  • While the offense was the story of the weekend, the contributions of the Yankees young starting pitchers shouldn’t be overlooked. Jordan Montgomery (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K) and Luis Severino (7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K) appreciated all of the run support, but they pitched more than well-enough to win on most nights.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun statistics from the series.

Injury Report

The Orioles are relatively healthy right now. Craig Gentry just hit the disabled list with a fractured right finger, but the team is expected to otherwise be at full-strength for this series. J.J. Hardy has been on the DL since mid-June, for what it’s worth, but he’s expected to return today or tomorrow.

Their Story So Far

Baltimore is 70-67 and just 1.5 games out of the Wild Card game, despite a -23 run differential. They’ve won 8 of their last 10, a stretch that includes back-to-back sweeps of the Mariners and Red Sox, and they look far smarter for buying at the deadline than they did at the time.

Tim Beckham, of all people, was their big trade deadline acquisition. He’s batting .364/.385/.587 in 32 games with the Orioles, and he has slotted into the top of their lineup with gusto. Beckham is best known for being something of a bust with the Rays, posting a 97 wRC+ in his first three seasons in the majors, and never putting up the sort of jaw-dropping numbers in the minors that one would expect from a player of his stock. He’s still only 27, though, and he has a 115 wRC+ in 493 PA this year.

The Lineup We Might See

Buck Showalter has had a fairly steady hand with his lineup on a day-to-day basis, with the first six or seven spots in the lineup being incredibly consistent. He has utilized some platoons, but he seems to prefer to have defined roles for his hitters. Based on that:

  1. Tim Beckham, SS – .291/.335/.463, 18 HR, 6 SB
  2. Manny Machado, 3B – .271/.324/.497, 30 HR, 9 SB
  3. Jonathan Schoop, 2B – .309/.354/.543, 30 HR, 1 SB
  4. Adam Jones, CF – .281/.318/.475, 26 HR, 1 SB
  5. Trey Mancini, LF – .291/.338/.507, 23 HR, 1 SB
  6. Chris Davis, 1B – .224/.319/.437, 22 HR, 0 SB
  7. Mark Trumbo, DH – .246/.301/.415, 21 HR, 1 SB
  8. Welington Castillo, C – .300/.339/.512, 18 HR, 0 SB
  9. Seth Smith, RF – .269/.353/.459, 13 HR, 2 SB

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (2:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Dylan Bundy

Bundy’s season is something of a small miracle. The 24-year-old did not pitch in 2013, and threw a combined 63.1 IP between 2014 and 2015. He was mostly healthy last year, throwing 109.2 IP between the rotation and the bullpen, but he clearly tired down the stretch. And yet heading into today’s start he has 155.1 IP of 3.94 ERA (109 ERA+) ball, his velocity has remained steady, and he has been markedly better in the second half (4.33 ERA/7.0 K/9 before the break, 3.04 ERA/10.1 K/9 since). One can’t help but worry that he’ll wear down, but it’s a great story nonetheless.

Last Outing (vs. SEA on 8/29) – 9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

To Jimenez’s credit, he has stayed healthy throughout his career, and has been (as far as we know) gracious in accepting whatever role changes the Orioles throw his way. That’s about all the positivity one can muster on his accord, though, as he has a 6.11 ERA (70 ERA+) since the beginning of last year, and he has transitioned from flame-thrower to someone with average velocity over the last four seasons.

Last Outing (vs. SEA on 8/30) – 2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Wednesday (7:05 PM EST): Sonny Gray vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson

The Orioles were mocked a bit for buying at the deadline, given that they were 50-54 at the time. They sport a 20-13 record since then, however, and have eked back into the playoff race. Hellickson, their “major” acquisition, has not contributed all that much to that success, pitching to a 6.55 ERA (66 ERA+) in 6 starts with his new team. He has been serviceable for the majority of his career, pitching to a 98 ERA in parts of eight seasons, but that’s a far cry from the expectations on a consensus top-ten prospect.

Hellickson is a true five-pitch pitcher. He throws a low-90s four-seamer, a low-90s sinker, an upper-80s cutter, a low-80s change-up, and a mid-70s curveball. His change-up is generally his best pitch but, by FanGraphs’ reckoning, it has been his worst this year (and one of the worst in the game, at that).

Last Outing (vs. TOR on 8/31) – 4.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 2 K

The Bullpen

The Orioles have exceeded both expectations and Pythagoras over the last several years, and the bullpen has played a tremendous part in that. This year, however, the group has been largely mediocre, with several of their core relievers regressing heavily. That was to be expected, given that Zach Britton had a 0.54 ERA in 67.0 IP last year – but that made the team’s margin for error that much slimmer this year. It is worth noting that the bullpen has gradually rounded into form, pitching to a 3.09 ERA in the second-half, with most pitchers clustering within that range.

Britton is still the closer, and Mychal Givens and Brad Brach handle the set-up duties. Darren O’Day and Richard Bleier are both specialists, but Showalter will use both against most anyone. They also have Miguel Castro is a dedicated long-relief role, but Showalter has used him to get some big outs.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I enjoy every pitch that I get to see from Bundy, so he will have free reign of this section whenever he pitches against the Yankees. It amazes me that he came back from so many injuries and so much organizational turmoil to be a solid starter at the highest level.

Beyond that, this is yet another important series for the Yankees. They’re 3.5 games ahead of the Orioles in the standings, but we’ve seen how quickly things can shift – and these two teams will meet again next weekend.

2017 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Monday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is now only hours away, not days. The Yankees addressed their fifth starter’s spot yesterday by acquiring Jaime Garcia from the Twins, two weeks after addressing their bullpen by acquiring David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox. They also added a stray Todd Frazier along the way. My hunch is the Yankees are not done.

Over the last few days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) we learned the Yankees are still looking to add another starting pitcher even after picking up Garcia yesterday. A first baseman and a left-on-left matchup reliever are also on the shopping list, though they aren’t top priorities. We’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right up until the 4pm ET trade deadline, so keep it locked right here. All timestamps are ET.

  • 3:10pm: Sonny Gray will be a Yankee. It’s Gray and $1.5M in international bonus money for James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo, and Dustin Fowler, per reports.
  • 2:46pm: A trade! But a small one. The Yankees traded Yefry Ramirez to the Orioles for more international bonus money, the team announced. The deal clears a 40-man roster spot, which could be useful soon.
  • 2:40pm: The latest non-update: the Yankees and A’s are still talking about Gray. [Sherman]
  • 12:11pm: The Athletics are said to be “infatuated” with Mateo, for what it’s worth. [Sherman]
  • 11:55am: Apparently the A’s want 3-4 players beyond the Torres/Frazier tier for Gray. The two sides have agreed to some names but are still haggling about the others. [Heyman]
  • 11:48am: The Yankees and Athletics are gaining traction for a Gray trade, and it now seems more likely than less to happen. [Sherman]
  • 11:42am: The A’s initially wanted a Gleyber Torres/Clint Frazier package for Gray and backed away from that. They then wanted a Jorge Mateo/Estevan Florial package, but the Yankees won’t do that either. Huh. [Sweeny Murti]
  • 11:31am: The Braves’ interest in Gray has cooled, which is good news for the Yankees. One fewer suitor. Right now it seems the Yankees and Dodgers are the only teams on Gray, and the Dodgers seem to be focusing on Darvish. [Sherman]
  • 10:44am: The Yankees checked in with the Padres about Brad Hand yesterday, though it seems it was due diligence more than anything. Plenty of clubs are in on Hand. [Sherman]
  • 10:11am: The Yankees and A’s are “close enough to get over the hump” and complete a Gray trade today. The two sides still need to work some things out first. [Jerry Crasnick]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees and Athletics made “zero progress” yesterday during Sonny Gray trade talks. Apparently the A’s have set their price and the Yankees have made their offer, and that’s where things stand. [Bob Klapisch]
  • 10:00am: The Yankees are still in touch with the Rangers about Yu Darvish, though they’re not making a hard push for him. The Yankees are not included in Darvish’s ten-team no-trade list, for what it’s worth. [Joel Sherman, Jon Heyman]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

Yankeemetrics: Dingers, runs, wins, oh my! (June 9-11)

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

Well, that was a fun series, eh? As we like to say here at River Ave. Blues … Love. This. Team.

Just getting warmed up…
Friday’s game began as a pitchers duel but turned into an easy victory for the Yankees, who scored six runs in the final three innings after entering the sixth deadlocked at 2-2 with the Orioles.

Aaron Hicks provided the power boost, clobbering two home runs. Only three other Yankee centerfielders have ever had a multi-homer game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium: Bernie Williams (1996), Mickey Mantle (1960) and Joe DiMaggio (four times, when they were known as the St. Louis Browns). #YankeeLegends

Starlin Castro also got a free trot around the bases with his 10th homer of the season in the second inning. Combined with Hicks reaching the double-digit mark, that made the Yankees the first major-league team to have five players with 10-plus homers in 2017. In case you were wondering, the Red Sox didn’t have a single player with 10 homers through Friday.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Holy Sweet Sixteen
Friday’s 8-2 win was a nail-biter compared to the 16-3 shellacking that the Yankees put on the Orioles Saturday night. The offensive numbers were mind-boggling – 18 hits, seven singles, six doubles, five homers – but perhaps the most impressive part was how productive the lineup was from top to bottom.

Five different players had at least two hits, including a homer, and drove in multiple runs. It was just the third time in franchise history they had five guys do that in the same game. The first time was a 23-2 win on June 28, 1939 against the Philadelphia A’s, and the other instance was July 22, 2007 in a 21-7 win over the Devil Rays.

In a yet another example of how different this team is compared to last year, the Yankees have become the Blowout Kings of baseball in 2017. Saturday’s win was their major-league-leading 18th victory by at least five runs; Last year they had 17 wins by five-plus runs the entire season.

Aaron Judge kicked off the offensive explosion with a laser shot in the first inning that left the bat at an otherwordly 121.1 mph, the fastest base hit ever record by Statcast (which began in 2015). He added a scorching 116-mph two-run double in the fifth inning, making him the only player in the Statcast Era with multiple hits of 116 mph or more in the same game.

Gary Sanchez capped off the Yankees unreal power-hitting performance with a bullet line-drive homer in the eighth inning that had an exit velocity of (a mere) 115 mph and a launch angle of 15 degrees. That was the hardest-hit homer in Sanchez’s career, and matched Justin Smoak (on May 14) for the lowest launch angle of any home run hit this season.

With Sanchez’s 115-mph longball and Judge’s 121-mph longball, they became the first set of teammates in the Statcast Era to hit homers of 115-mph or more in the same game. Yea, Baby Bombers.

Amidst all the fireworks, it was easy to forget Luis Severino delivering yet another ace-like performance. Let’s take a look at Severino’s last five starts: 33 1/3 innings, 1.35 ERA, 37 strikeouts, eight walks. That’ll do.

He has at least seven strikeouts and no more than two earned runs allowed in each game, becoming the third right-handed pitcher to put together a streak of five such starts in Yankees history. The others were pretty good: Roger Clemens in 2001 and Mike Mussina in 2003.

(USA Today Sports)
(USA Today Sports)

#TooManyRuns
In Sunday’s 14-3 rout, the Yankees ‘statistically’ may not have topped their offensive numbers from Saturday, but that didn’t keep them from obliterating the record books.

We need bullet points, just the facts, because recapping these ridiculous feats don’t require fancy words. First, the team perspective. This is the …

  • First time ever the Yankees have scored at least eight runs and hit multiple homers in five straight games.
  • Second time in franchise history they hit at least three homers in four straight games. The 1956 team also did it July 27-30.
  • Second time ever the Yankees have won five straight games, each by six or more runs. The 1938 team holds the record with an 8-game streak.
  • Fifth time in franchise history they’ve outscored their opponents by at least 46 runs in a five-game stretch. The others were in 2007, 1939, 1938 and 1937.
  • Ninth time that a Yankees squad has a run differential of plus-115 or better at the 60-game mark. They won the World Series in each of the previous eight seasons this happened (1998, 1953, 1939, 1937, 1936, 1932, 1928, 1927). So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

Before we get to Mr. Judge, let’s heap some praise on El Gary Sanchez. He broke the game open with a three-run 450-foot bomb in the first inning to make it 5-0, the longest homer of his career. It was also his 30th home run in the big leagues, a milestone that only three other players in major-league history reached as quickly as Sanchez did (in his 90th game): Rudy York, Mark McGwire and Jose Abreu.

Judge takes center stage now, as we put into perspective his four-hit, four-run, two-homer performance, which included a ho-hum 495-foot blast that CLEARED THE BLEACHERS in left-center at Yankee Stadium.

  • He is the third Yankee age 25 or younger to have at least four hits, two homers and four runs scored in a game. You might have heard of the others: Mickey Mantle (1956), Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Lou Gehrig (1928, 1929).
  • The only other Yankees in their age-25 season or younger to hit 20-plus homers before the All-Star Break (since 1933) are Roger Maris (1960), Mantle (three times, lol), and DiMaggio (1937). Yup, we’re still more than a month away from the break.
  • He’s just the fifth Yankee – regardless of age – to hit 21 or more homers in the team’s first 60 games. This list is good: A-Rod (2007), Maris (1961*), Mantle (1956) and Babe Ruth (six times, LOL).
  • His 495-foot home is the longest in baseball this season and the longest by an American League player since Statcast began tracking distances in 2015. The only longer one in MLB was a 504-foot shot by Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton on August 6, 2016.

And, oh by the way, he’s currently leading the AL Triple Crown categories after Sunday’s slate. The only Yankees to win the Triple Crown are a couple fellas with the last name of Mantle (1956) and Gehrig (1934).

6/9 to 6/11 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Trey Mancini after a walk-off (Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)
Trey Mancini after a walk-off (Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)

After taking two of three from the Red Sox, the Yankees close out their two weeks in the AL East with a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s sit 3.5 back (four in the loss column) and are in third place.

The Last Time They Met

Long time, no see, eh? Yankees faced the Orioles just a week and a half ago, losing two of three starting on Memorial Day.

  • Jordan Montgomery struggled through the first game, needing 34 pitches to finish the first inning. He gave up three runs in five innings and the Yankees fell, 3-2, despite another home run from Aaron Judge.
  • Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday each hit two home runs and the Bombers rode 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball from Luis Severino to an 8-3 victory. Severino lowered his ERA to 2.93 and struck out eight.
  • Masahiro Tanaka was tagged for seven runs and the Orioles took the series finale, 10-4, with eight RBI between Adam Jones and Chris Davis.

Be sure to check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post from the set at OPACY.

Since They Last Met

  • The O’s split a four-game set at Camden Yards with the Red Sox, winning the first two before losing the final pair.
  • They then swept a pair at home with the Pirates in dramatic fashion. They came back from 4-1 down, 5-3 in the 9th inning, on Tuesday thanks to a game-tying two-run shot from Jonathan Schoop and a 10th-inning walk-off single from Mark Trumbo.
  • The next night, Tony Watson blew another save (with the help of old friend Johnny Barbato) and the Orioles won despite being down to their last out. Trey Mancini did the honors with a game-tying two-run homer in the 9th and a three-run shot in the 11th to win it.
  • The O’s lost a makeup game with the Nationals, 6-1, in Washington on Thursday. They struck out 15 times.
  • They’ve called up veteran RHP Edwin Jackson and former Scranton RailRider Ruben Tejada, replacing LHP Donnie Hart and SS Paul Janish on the roster.

Injury Report

Big injury news with Baltimore: Third baseman Manny Machado suffered a strained left wrist, which caused him to sit out Thursday’s loss to the Nationals. He took a spike from Andrew McCutchen to the wrist on Wednesday and had to leave the game early. For more on the injury, check out the Baltimore Sun.

In his place, the Orioles put Davis at third on Thursday. He avoided making any errors, but his replacement at first, Trumbo, wasn’t so lucky.

Zach Britton is still on the DL and won’t be back during this series. Utility man Ryan Flaherty (right shoulder strain) is still on shelf and could return soon. Starting catcher Welington Castillo is still on the DL after a ball deflected off Didi Gregorius‘s foot on a HBP into Castillo’s groin area. Yikes. Get well soon, Wellington.

Lineup We Might See

With Machado out on Thursday, the O’s put together a weird lineup while in a National League park. Jones also got a day off. Buck Showalter always mixes up his lineups depending on opposing pitchers, platoons, etc. He’ll face an extra question mark with Machado’s health.

Here’s something resembling what Showalter will throw at Montgomery on Friday.

1. Joey Rickard, LF
2. Adam Jones, CF
3. Mark Trumbo, RF
4. Trey Mancini, DH
5. Chris Davis, 1B
6. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
7. Caleb Joseph, C
8. J.J. Hardy, SS
9. Ruben Tejada, 3B

Against RHPs, he tends to take out Rickard and move Seth Smith into the leadoff spot, playing RF. If Machado’s healthy, the lineup Domenic wrote up in last week’s Series Preview is a pretty good idea of what it’ll look like. Heck, you should read his piece regardless.

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Friday (7:35 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Dylan Bundy

These are literally the same three pitching matchups as we saw in Baltimore last week, so I won’t bore you with the details on each pitcher, referring you again to Domenic’s terrific work on that series preview. Instead, let’s look at each of the three O’s last time out.

After holding the Yankees to two runs on Memorial Day, Bundy was a little shaky in a 5-2 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday. He allowed just two runs in five innings but wasn’t very economical, needing 100 pitches to get through the frames. A 31-pitch fourth inning did him in. He gave up a two-run homer to Hanley Ramirez in that inning. Still, he allowed just five baserunners, but long at-bats were his downfall.

Saturday (7:15 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Chris Tillman

Tillman was battered by the Yankees for five runs last Tuesday, including three home runs. He didn’t get much better results come Sunday against the Red Sox.

He lasted six innings this game but earned a loss with five runs (three earned). He put 10 Boston hitters on base, four with walks, and allowed a home run to Andrew Benintendi. Believe it or not, his 43 game score was actually his best performance since his May 19 start vs. the Twins. He’s allowed at least three earned runs in every start since his season debut on May 7.

Sunday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Kevin Gausman

Thirteen Yankees got on base vs. Gausman last Wednesday, yet he held them to three runs (two earned) while beating Tanaka. He had a better outing with superior control on Monday.

Facing the Pirates, he gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings, although he was better than that line makes him seem. The Pirates strung together three runs in the second while Gausman scattered eight hits over his outing. He walked just one and struck out five. He was in line for the loss until the Orioles’ late-game heroics.

The Bullpen

They needed three innings from Ubaldo Jimenez and one inning from Richard Bleier on Thursday night. It was Bleier’s second straight night of work (just two pitches on Wednesday). They needed work from their two other long relievers, Jackson and Mike Wright, on Wednesday while Brad Brach and Mychal Givens each pitched both games vs. the Pirates.

Yankees Connection

Vidal Nuno is down in the minors, but there’s still Buck Showalter, Bleier and Davis, the latter who was a former Yankees draft pick who didn’t sign.

But there’s a new one with Tejada, who spent spring training with the Yankees and was in Triple A Scranton until he was traded to the Orioles last week.

Who (Or What) to Watch?

The big thing to watch will be Machado. If he comes back, will he be at full health? If not, how will the Orioles manage their defense without the two-time Gold Glove winner? Machado played 319 out of a possible 324 in 2015-16, so he’s typically durable.

Beyond that, this is the last time the Yankees face the O’s until Sept. 4. Closing out this stretch of division play strong before heading on a trip out west would be a nice feather in the Bombers’ collective caps.

Yankees trade Ruben Tejada to Orioles for cash

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)
(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

The Yankees have traded infielder Ruben Tejada to the Orioles for cash considerations, the team announced. That likely means Tejada exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league contract, and rather than lose him for nothing, the Yankees found a team willing to add him to their roster, so they got some cash out of it.

Tejada, 27, hit .269/.345/.462 (125 wRC+) with six home runs in 37 games for Triple-A Scranton this season. The Yankees gave him a look for the utility infielder’s role following the Didi Gregorius injury in Spring Training, but that went to Pete Kozma, who was lost on waivers a few weeks ago. Now Tejada is gone too. He was not on the 40-man roster, by the way.

The recent Gleyber Torres promotion gave the RailRiders a few too many infielders, so the Tejada trade helps clear up that logjam. The Yankees still have Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder in MLB, Donovan Solano as veteran depth in Triple-A, and youngsters Tyler Wade and Torres in Triple-A as well.

Yankeemetrics: Camden Yards, House of Horrors (May 29-31)

(AP)
(AP)

The Full Monty
The Orioles entered this week on a seven-game losing streak and playing their worst baseball of the season. Yet they were probably happy to see the Yankees coming to town given their recent run of success in Baltimore against their division rival.

After the 3-2 loss on Memorial Day, the Yankees dropped to a miserable 8-23 at Camden Yards since 2014, the second-worst mark at the ballpark among all American League teams over the past four seasons; only the Indians (2-8) have been worse.

Jordan Montgomery struggled early, needing 34 pitches to navigate the first inning, and that inefficiency foreshadowed the rest of his labored performance. He consistently fell behind hitters and got into deep counts, reaching a full count on seven (!) of 23 batters. That’s the most full counts faced by any Yankee pitcher this season – and he did it while pitching only 4 1/3 innings.

The lone offensive highlight came from the bat of – no surprise – Aaron Judge, who sent a screaming line drive into the center field seats in the seventh inning. It was Judge’s 17th blast of the season as he moved into first place on the MLB home run leaderboard.

If he can maintain that top ranking, he’d join a select group of Yankee outfielders to win the major-league home run title: Roger Maris (1961), Mickey Mantle (1956), Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Babe Ruth (nine times … LOL).

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Bald Bombers
The Yankees got their offensive mojo back on Tuesday as they pounded out 14 hits and hammered the Orioles, 8-3. It was their 15th game scoring eight-or-more runs, the most in the AL and tied with the Rockies for the MLB lead entering Wednesday. The last season that the Yankees scored eight-plus runs this many times before their 50th game was 1998, a pretty good year if we remember correctly.

Four of the 14 hits left the ballpark, with Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday each going deep twice. Those were the 10th and 11th homers of the season for both guys, making the Yankees the first AL team this season to have three players reach double-digit homers.

For Gardner, it was his third game with at least two homers this season – which somehow gave him the most multi-homer games among all AL players through Tuesday. He also became just the third player in franchise history to have three or more multi-homer games while hitting out of the leadoff spot, joining Alfonso Soriano (2002) and Bobby Bonds (1975).

Holliday’s two-homer night was less surprising but still put his name on a fun list of Yankee designated hitters to hit two-plus homers in at Camden Yards: Gary Sheffield (2005), Jason Giambi (2002) and Darryl Strawberry (1996) are the others.

Gardner and Holliday were the first Yankee teammates to homer twice in the same game since … May 2 when Gardner and Judge each went deep twice against the Blue Jays. Over the last 60 years, there’s been just one other season in which the Yankees had two games where two players hit multiple homers: 2005.

Luis Severino continued to make his case as the early-season ace of the staff, lowering his ERA to 2.93. He scattered seven singles over 6 1/3 innings, and most of those hits were weak grounders that never left the dirt or somehow found holes through the infield. The average exit velocity on batted balls against Severino was 82.4 mph, the lowest mark for any start in his career. As you can see in this batted ball spray chart from Tuesday’s start, there’s a ton of blue (low exit velocity) and barely any red (high exit velocity):

luis-severino-1

Following his gem against the Orioles, Severino has five starts with no more than one earned run allowed while striking out at least six batters. The only other pitchers in the majors to have five such starts (through Tuesday) were Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Ervin Santana and Dallas Keuchel.

Deja Vu, Terrible Tanaka
Camden Yards, once known as Yankee Stadium South, has officially become a House of Horrors for the team up north. The Yankees have lost 11 straight series at the ballpark after getting blown out by the O’s on Wednesday night. That’s the second-longest road series losing skid against any opponent in franchise history, behind only a 12-series streak at Oakland from 1985-91.

How long has it been since the Yankees celebrated a series win in the Charm City? The last time Yankees won a series at Camden Yards, Mariano Rivera was the winning pitcher in the series-clinching game on September 12, 2013.

(Getty)
(Getty)

The Orioles broke the game open with a four-run third inning, though Masahiro Tanaka did reach a milestone in that ugly frame. He whiffed Manny Machado on a slider for the second out, the 500th career strikeout of his career. Tanaka is the fifth Yankee to reach 500 Ks within his first four major-league seasons, a group that includes Andy Pettitte, Lefty Gomez, Orlando Hernandez and Mel Stottlemyre.

That was the lone highlight for Tanaka, who got shelled for seven runs on nine hits before exiting in the sixth inning. It was the third time in 11 starts this season he allowed at least seven earned runs; in his first three major-league campaigns, spanning 75 starts, he never gave up more than six earned runs in any outing.

This awful performance capped a miserable month of May for Tanaka: six starts, 8.42 ERA, 11 HR, 48 hits, 31 innings pitched. The most glaring number from that mess is the 11 homers, which ties the most ever by a Yankee pitcher in a calendar month. The good news is that the guy he matched is named Ron Guidry (September 1985). The bad news is that he allowed 11 freaking home runs in 31 innings. Welp.

5/29 to 5/31 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(Rick Yeatts/Getty Images North America)
(Rick Yeatts/Getty Images North America)

Happy Memorial Day, folks!

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees hosted the Orioles for a three-game series to close out April, winning two. It was a high-scoring affair – the Yankees outscored the Orioles 30-22 – with two of the games going into extra innings, and it left the two tied atop the AL East. It was an excitingly frustrating (or frustratingly exciting) series. Some notes:

  • The Yankees were trailing 11-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth in game one. Jacoby Ellsbury brought them within 2 runs with an RBI groundout, and then Starlin Castro tied it with a two-run home run. And then Matt Holliday walked it off in the bottom of the tenth.
  • Didi Gregorius made his season debut in that first game, and he returned in style by going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. He went 7-for-15 in the series, putting the ball in play in 14 of his 15 plate appearances.
  • Aaron Judge had himself a series, going 5-for-9 with 7 runs, 3 HR, 5 RBI, a steal, and more walks (6) than strikeouts (4).

Injury Report

Closer Zach Britton has been sidelined with a left (pitching) forearm strain since early May, and is not expected back until late June. The Orioles had a top-five bullpen by most measures last year, due in no small part to Britton’s staggering 0.54 ERA in 67.0 IP (as well as his 47 saves in 47 chances). They’re a middle-of-the-pack group this season, and they’ve already blown eight saves, as compared to fourteen in 2016 as a whole.

Utility player Ryan Flaherty is also on the DL (right shoulder strain). There’s a slim chance that he could be back during this series, but a June return seems much more likely. And Adam Jones was out of the team’s lineup on Saturday and Sunday due to hip and ankle soreness; he isn’t expected to head to the DL, but he may be limited this week.

Their Story So Far

The Yankees are meeting the Orioles at a fairly opportune time, as they have lost seven in a row by a combined score of 38-17. The Orioles have had a rough May in general, posting a 10-15 record over the last four weeks. They currently sit third in the AL East at 25-23, and their -7 run differential suggests that they are a true talent .500 team (as has been the case for much of Buck Showalter’s tenure).

Underperformance may well be the defining characteristic of their first two months. Manny Machado (98 wRC+), Adam Jones (91 wRC+), Mark Trumbo (93 wRC+), and J.J. Hardy (52 wRC+) have disappointed with the bat, and Chris Tillman (95 ERA+), Kevin Gausman (67 ERA+), and Ubaldo Jimenez (58 wRC+) have struggled in the rotation. Most of these players were expected to perform much, much better, and there’s reason to expect them to rebound – but the Orioles must be getting antsy.

The Lineup We Might See

Showalter has mixed-and-matched his lineup more often than in years past, due to injuries, underperformance, and attempting to find a fit for new additions. He also utilizes a couple of platoons, notably in the corner outfield. Assuming that Adam Jones will be playing, however, it’s a fairly safe bet that we’ll see something like this:

  1. Seth Smith, RF
  2. Adam Jones, CF
  3. Manny Machado, 3B
  4. Chris Davis, 1B
  5. Mark Trumbo, DH
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Trey Mancini, LF
  8. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (1:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Dylan Bundy

Bundy was a consensus top-five prospect heading into 2013, due to his overpowering stuff and advanced pitchability (especially for someone who would spend the entirety of the 2013 as a 20-year-old). A series of injuries limited him to 63.1 IP over the next three seasons, and many wondered if he’d ever be able to contribute at the highest level as a result. He had a solid (and mostly healthy) 2016 as a swing man, tossing 109.2 IP of 4.02 ERA (107 ERA+) ball as a rookie. And he’s been even better this year, with a 142 ERA+ in 64.2 IP through ten starts.

All of those injuries took their toll on Bundy, as he’s now limited to a low-90s fastball. He also throws a low-80s slider, low-80s change-up, and a mid-70s curveball. The slider and change-up are his best pitches, and both are used to pick up whiffs.

Last Outing (vs. MIN on 5/23) – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Chris Tillman

Shoulder bursitis kept Tillman out until May 7, so he has only made four starts in 2017. He was the nominal ace of the Orioles from 2013 through 2015, and, despite a poor 2016, hopes were fairly high that he would be healthy and effective this year. The early returns have been less-than-stellar, but he did come back a bit earlier than expected.

Tillman’s fastball usually sits in the low-90s, but it has been limited to the upper-80s since his return from the DL. He throws a four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter, and all are right around the same velocity. He also throws a slider, a change-up, and a knuckle-curve.

Last Outing (vs. MIN on 5/24) – 5.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Wednesday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Kevin Gausman

Gausman may well be the most disappointing player on the Orioles, given his prospect pedigree and the promise he showed in 2016. His strikeout (from 23.0% to 14.9%), walk (6.2% to 8.6%), and home run (1.40 per nine to 1.67) have trended in the wrong direction, and an increase in velocity implies that there isn’t an injury limiting him. The Yankees have hit him heard both times they faced him this year, so here’s hoping that trend continues.

Last Outing (vs. HOU on 5/26) – 6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K

The Bullpen

The repercussions of the loss of Britton cannot be overstated, as the Orioles bullpen was very dependent upon pre-assigned roles (sound familiar?). The rest of the bullpen is just 11 for 19 in save opportunities, and Brad Brach has struggled since inheriting the closer’s mantle. Him, Mychal Givens, and Darren O’Day are Showalter’s high-leverage arms, and the aforementioned Jimenez has become the long-man out of the bullpen (he went 6 IP yesterday, allowing 2 runs). Brach didn’t pitch this weekend, and Givens and O’Day only went once apiece, so the core group is fairly well-rested.

Yankees Connection

I mentioned Buck Showalter, Vidal Nuno, and Chris Davis last time around. You can now add the immortal Richard Bleier to the list, as he has thrown 11.2 IP out of the bullpen since his call-up on May 3. He spent all of 2016 in the Yankees organization, posting a 1.96 ERA in 23 IP in the majors. And, as much as I’d like to make a joke about the Yankees giving up on him, he’s a 30-year-old journeyman with an extremely limited track record.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I’m interested in watching Dylan Bundy, given his tumultuous journey to the majors and his still-impressive stuff. The Yankees saw him four times last season (two starts), but his stuff has improved dramatically this season.