Yankeemetrics: So good, so bad (June 9-10)

(Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)
(Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)

Another Cy Young winner? No problem
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Yankees recent seven-game win streak was the list of starting pitchers they beat along the way. After a 6-1 victory over the Nationals in the series opener, it included:

• two former Cy Young winners (Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez)
• two guys that have thrown a no-hitter (Hernandez, Jered Weaver)
• a couple recent top-25 prospects (Taijuan Walker, Mike Montgomery)
• a pitcher with the fifth-best ERA in the AL last season (Garrett Richards)
• a guy that started Game 1 of the World Series four years ago (C.J. Wilson)

On Tuesday night the Yankees countered with their own Cy Young hopeful, Masahiro Tanaka, who outdueled Scherzer in a battles of aces. Tanaka scattered five hits across seven innings, and his only mistake was a Bryce Harper solo homer in the fourth inning.

This was his fourth straight outing of at least six innings and no more than five hits and one run allowed, matching the longest such streak by any Yankee over the past 100 seasons. The last guy to do it was Orlando Hernandez in August 1998.

Stephen Drew book-ended the Yankees scoring with two solo homers, one in the third inning and one in the eighth inning, for his second multi-homer game in the past week. Each of his last four hits has been a homer; his last non-homer hit was June 2 in Seattle.

Drew joins Tony Lazzeri as the only Yankee second baseman in the last century to have two multi-homer games in a five-day span. Lazzeri did it in back-to-back games in 1936.

Extra, extra trouble
The Yankees longest win streak since 2012 came to end on Wednesday afternoon with a 5-4 loss in 11 innings to the Nationals. It was the first time the Yankees lost an extra-inning game at home to a Washington DC-based team since May 2, 1964 when the Washington Senators beat them 5-4 in 10 innings.

Fun fact: Don Zimmer was the leadoff hitter for the Senators in that game!

Not-so-fun fact: Yankees are now 1-4 in extra-inning games this season, the second-worst record in the AL, and have yet to record a walk-off win.

Even worse not-so-fun fact: Gio Gonzalez entered this game with a 7.30 ERA in seven starts against the Yankees, the highest ERA vs. the Yankees by any active pitcher who had made at least six starts against the team. So, of course, he held them scoreless for the first six frames.

The Yankees, though, rallied from a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the seventh inning. The key hit was a two-out, tie-breaking double delivered by Alex Rodriguez. It was A-Rod’s third go-ahead hit in the seventh inning or later in 2015 — the same number as all other Yankees combined this season.

But the bullpen faltered late in the game and the Yankees suffered a loss like none other this season. Before Wednesday, the Yankees were 15-0 at home when holding a lead entering the eighth inning.

Yankeemetrics: Heavenly sweep! (June 5-7)

This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning (USA TODAY Sports).
This is how you celebrate when you almost blow a 7-run lead in the 9th inning. (USA TODAY Sports)

Is it okay to breathe yet?
Yes … but it wasn’t okay for about 30 minutes on Friday night when it looked like the Yankees might do the impossible and blow an 8-1 lead in the ninth inning. Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances combined to allow six runs in the final frame before the Yankees were able to escape with a 8-7 win in the series opener.

How rare was this near-loss? The last time the Yankees gave up six-or-more runs in the ninth inning and still won the game was June 20, 1986 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Before Friday, the Yankees had allowed a total of four runs in the ninth inning in their first 54 games combined, the fewest of any AL team.

Rogers let the first five baserunners he faced to reach base and was pulled before retiring a batter. He was charged with five runs, becoming the first Yankee to allow at least five earned runs without recording an out in a game since Steve Howe on April 8, 1993 vs. the Indians. The last Yankee to manage that feat without allowing a home run was Tom Underwood on July 11, 1980 against the Rangers.

Dellin Betances finally has a non-zero number next to his ERA after allowing an earned run for the first time in 2015. His streak of 26 straight appearances to begin a season without giving up an earned run was the third-longest by any major-league pitcher in the last 100 years. Only Mike Myers (33 appearances in 2000) and Brad Ziegler (29 in 2008) had longer streaks.

First things first
The Yankees wasted no time in trying to erase the bad memories from Friday’s ninth inning debacle, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning and cruising to a stress-free 8-2 win on Saturday night.

It was the fourth time they plated six-or-more runs in the first inning, something that the Yankees hadn’t done in a season since 1948, according to STATS, Inc.

Adam Warren continued to state his case to remain in the rotation, pitching into the seventh inning for the fifth straight time and allowing just two runs on four hits. He’s the only Yankee pitcher this season with five consecutive quality starts and his ERA during this stretch — 2.70 since May 13 — is easily the best among the starters on the team.

Chris Capuano pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win, but he had to work hard for the final out as Carlos Perez fouled off seven pitches before Capuano got him swinging on the 13th pitch. It was the longest game-ending strikeout by any major-league pitcher since Billy Wagner on June 13, 2004 against the Twins’ Matt LeCroy.

Bronx broom-ers?
The Yankees finished off their second sweep in a row with Sunday’s 6-2 win at the Stadium. It was the first time the Yankees swept the Angels in New York since August 1995. How long ago was that? The winning pitcher for the third and final game in that series was Sterling Hitchcock!

CC Sabathia won his first game at home in nearly two years, despite getting ejected at the end of the sixth frame. His six-start losing streak in the Bronx was tied for the longest by any Yankee over the last 100 seasons.

It was the third time Sabathia had been ejected in his career. The others came with the Indians, on July 21, 2006 and July 4, 2003. Before Sabathia, the last Yankee starting pitcher to be ejected for arguing balls and strikes was Randy Johnson on Sept. 16, 2005 against the Blue Jays.

Jose Pirela hit his first career homer in the seventh inning off C.J. Wilson, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) vs. left-handed pitchers as a major-leaguer. That’s the best batting average against lefties by any player since Pirela’s debut last season on September 22 (min. 10 PA).

Yankeemetrics: Seattle sweep! (June 1-3)

This is what a game-winning homer looks like. (AP)
This is what a game-winning homer looks like. (AP)

King me!
The Yankees’ season-long trend of #weirdbaseball continued on Monday night when they destroyed one of the best pitchers on the planet, Felix Hernandez, tagging him for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 7-2 win over the Mariners.

Of course, this performance came less than 24 hours after they lost three-of-four games to the worst team in the American League (A’s), which followed a sweep of the best team in the American League (Royals). But you knew all that stuff already.

What you might not know is that:

• The Yankees were the first team ever to score at least seven runs and draw five walks against King Felix in a game.
Mark Teixeira is just the second player to hit a grand slam against Hernandez in Seattle (joining the legend of Alberto Callaspo).
• Teixeira now has six career homers against Hernandez, the most of any player against the former Cy Young winner.
• King Felix had a 1.79 ERA in his previous five starts against the Yankees, which was the second-best mark by any pitcher who started at least two games vs. the team in that span (since July 24, 2012).

Teixeira was the big star of the game, so let’s give him some more props here. He now has 18 homers at Safeco Field, which is the most of any visiting player at the ballpark. His grand slam was the first by any Yankee in Seattle since Bernie Williams hit one against J.J. Putz on May 16, 2005. And before Teixeira, no Yankee first baseman had ever hit a homer with the bases loaded against the Mariners. History, folks.

Jones, Drew … You gotta be kidding?
One of the Yankees’ most unlikely wins of the season was sparked by perhaps the most unlikeliest of heroes on Tuesday night.

Trailing 2-1 and down to the final strike, Stephen Drew and his .160 batting average knocked a game-tying double into right field to send the game into extras. Excluding pinch-hitters, it had been 40 years since a Yankee batting ninth in the order had a game-tying, two-out hit in the ninth inning (Rich Coggins in 1975 against the Brewers).

Garrett Jones then delivered the game-winner in the top of the 11th, crushing a three-run homer off lefty Joe Beimel to break the 2-2 tie. He became the first Yankee with a go-ahead homer in the 11th inning or later in Seattle since Kevin Maas on May 5, 1991.

How unlikely was the win for the Yankees? Not only were they 0-3 in extra innings this season before Tuesday, but they also had lost all 23 games this season that they trailed entering the ninth inning.

Hook, line and sinker
The Yankees finished off their sweep of the Mariners with a 3-1 win on Wednesday, extending their win streak in Seattle to eight games. That’s the team’s longest road win streak vs. the Mariners in franchise history.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched a gem in his first game back since going on the DL more than a month ago, striking out nine batters without a walk and allowing just one run in seven brilliant innings. The only other Yankee pitcher to put up that line (0 BB, at least 9 K, 1 run or fewer) in Seattle was Scott Sanderson on May 3, 1991.

This day was a milestone marker for Tanaka, his 25th game in the majors, and he’s done quite a lot in those 25 outings. Consider these numbers among pitchers to debut in the last 100 years:

• 16 wins are tied with Mel Stottlemyre for the most by any Yankee in his first 25 career games.
• 174 strikeouts are the most by any Yankee in his first 25 games, and the third-most by any AL pitcher, behind Yu Darvish (188) and Herb Score (180).
• 1.01 WHIP is the lowest mark by any Yankee in his first 25 games (min. 50 IP).

Mark Teixeira found the outfield seats at Safeco once again, clubbing his 379th career homer, which matches Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 67th place all-time. It was also his 35th home run against the Mariners, tied with Juan Gonzalez for the fourth-most against the franchise. Only Rafael Palmeiro (52), Manny Ramirez (39) and Frank Thomas (36) have hit more.

Yankeemetrics: West Coast mess (May 28-31)

Can I get some help, guys? (Ben Margot/AP)
Can I get some help, guys? (Ben Margot/AP)

B.A.D.
As Mike wrote on Thursday night (actually Friday morning), the Yankees series-opening defeat was not just a bad loss, it was a Bad Loss. How Bad, really? Sure, the Yankees squandered a three-run lead to the team with the worst record in baseball … but that doesn’t even begin to explain the extent of the Bad-ness.

Entering the game, Oakland:
• was 0-5 on Thursdays this season;
• had lost its last 10 games started by a left-handed pitcher;
• was 2-15 in one-run games this season, on pace to be worst such record by any team in the modern era (since 1900);
• had lost last its 12 home games decided by one run, the longest such streak since the 1894 Cubs (not a typo)

CC Sabathia didn’t pitch as poorly as his numbers in the box score, but regardless fell to 2-7 with a 5.67 ERA in 10 starts this season. He is the first Yankee with seven losses before the team’s 50th game of the season since Tommy John in 1989.

The 46-year-old southpaw had an eerily similar line to Sabathia’s after 10 starts (and the 44th game of the season), with a 5.80 ERA and 2-7 record. He was released by the Yankees after that 10th start against the Angels on May 25, and wouldn’t pitch in another major-league game in his career. Welp.

No chance
Sometimes mismatches on paper turn out to be … mismatches on the field, too. And that’s exactly what happened on Friday night in the Yankees 6-2 loss to Sonny Gray and the A’s.

Sonny Gray, an early Cy Young candidate, held the Yankees to four hits over eight innings. He’s the first A’s pitcher to allow fewer than five hits in eight-or-more innings pitched against the Yankees since Mark Mulder on May 11, 2003.

If you’re looking for highlights, look no further than the bat of Brian McCann, who extended his streak of games with a homer to four. He is just the fourth Yankee catcher to hit a home run in four straight games, joining Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra and Mike Stanley.

Belting it
The Yankees snapped a four-game losing streak in Oakland with a come-from-behind win on Saturday night. Entering the game, they had lost 11 of their last 12 games at the Coliseum, their worst 12-game stretch there since 1989-91.

Carlos Beltran was the hero with his two-run homer in the sixth inning that turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead for the Yankees. Before Saturday, Beltran had just three homers in 154 at-bats in Oakland, his lowest homer rate (one every 51 at-bats) at any ballpark he’d played at least 25 games.

McCann gave the Yankees the early 1-0 lead with a first-inning RBI single. It was his eighth straight game with a hit and an RBI, matching Allen Robinson (1946) and Yogi (1956) for the longest such streak by a Yankee catcher in franchise history.

One bad pitch
The Yankees wasted another strong outing by Adam Warren on Sunday afternoon, losing 3-0 to the A’s in the series finale.

Warren surrendered just two runs over seven innings, and his only mistake was a 1-1 fastball in the sixth frame that Stephen Vogt sent over the right field fence. He’s now got a 2.70 ERA in his last four starts, but the Yankees have won just one of those four games. Overall this season, Warren has six starts allowing no more than three runs without getting a win; the only AL pitcher with more such “hard-luck” starts is Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen (7).

Jesse Chavez put the Yankees’ bats on ice, holding them without a run over eight innings. He’s the first A’s pitcher to throw eight scoreless innings against the Yankees at home since Steve Ontiveros tossed a one-hit shutout nearly 20 years ago on May 27, 1995. Chavez also joined Vida Blue (1976) as the only pitchers to not allow a run or a walk with at least eight innings pitched against the Yankees in Oakland since the team moved to the west coast in 1968.

Yankeemetrics: A Royal Sweep (May 25-27)

Homers are awesome. (Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke/Newsday)
Homers are awesome. (Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke/Newsday)

Chicks dig the longball, right?
14 runs. Five homers. Seven extra-base hits. Win!

Well, I guess that’s one way to break out of the worst slump by a Yankee team in nearly 20 years. The Yankees entered this week having lost 10 of 11 games for the first time since 1995, and responded by pounding the Royals 14-1 in the series opener on Monday afternoon.

They also snapped a season-high six-game losing streak — and did so in historic fashion: It is the first time ever that the Yankees snapped a single-season losing streak of six-or-more games with a blowout win by 13-or-more runs. (On a side note, in 1902 they did end an 11-game winless streak, that included a tie, by beating the Tigers 15-1).

They wasted no time in trying to stop the skid, scoring eight times in the bottom of the first inning — a frame that included three homers, a double and four singles. It was their most first-inning runs since taking a 12-0 lead on July 30, 2011 against the Orioles. The last time they crushed three homers in the first inning of a game was August 6, 1999 at Seattle.

With nearly every guy making a positive contribution, let’s highlight two notable career-firsts: Slade Heathcott crushed his first homer and Jacob Lindgren pitched in his first game.

Heathcott put together an impressive line in his first four major-league games: 5-for-12 (.417), HR, double, three runs, three RBI. The only other Yankee outfielders in the last 100 years to hit .415 or better with that many runs scored and RBI in their first four career games were Joe DiMaggio (1936) and Joe Lefebvre (1980).

Lindgren pitched the eighth and ninth innings, allowing no hits or runs, to finish off the win. He’s the first Yankee age 22 or younger to pitch at least two hitless innings in his major-league debut since Stan Bahnsen in 1966.

Streakin’
After winning one game in a brutal two-week span, the Yankees won for the second time in two days … against the team with the best record in the league. Baseball, folks.

Mark Teixeira provided the power and Adam Warren the pitching, leading the Yankees to a 5-1 win on Tuesday night. Teixeira drove in four of the team’s five runs with a first-inning homer and a fifth-inning double. It was his 377th career home run, tying Norm Cash and Jeff Kent for 70th place on the all-time list.

Warren put together the best starting pitching performance of his career, holding the Royals to just one run on two hits in 6 1/3 innings. It was his third straight quality start, giving him an ERA of 2.75 over his last three turns. In that span (May 13-26), all other Yankee pitchers combined for three quality starts.

Big Mike is back
The Yankees completed a sweep of the defending AL champs (yes, I really wrote that) with a 4-2 win on Wednesday afternoon, giving the team some much-need momentum heading into its west coast trip.

Michael Pineda bounced back after getting roughed up in his previous two starts, giving up one run on six hits with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. His signature slider was back in form, netting him seven whiffs on 18 swings against the pitch. Pineda had gotten just six whiffs on his slider in his previous two outings combined.

A-Rod, of course, did the milestone thing again. His three-run homer in the third inning gave him 1,995 career RBI, which broke Lou Gehrig’s American League RBI record and moved him into sole possession of third place on the all-time list (or at least since 1920 when RBI became an official stat).

Despite allowing an unearned run, Dellin Betances kept his 0.00 ERA intact by striking out the final two batters in the eighth inning. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in any of his 23 appearances this year, the third-longest such streak to begin a season by any right-hander. The only righties with longer streaks are Todd Worrell (25 in 1995) and Brad Ziegler (29 in 2008).

Yankeemetrics: May 22-24 (Rangers)

Garrett Jones: Yankees new sixth starter? (Elsa/Getty Images)
Garrett Jones: Yankees new sixth starter? (Elsa/Getty Images)

Bad Mike
Nine runs? Check.
Three home runs? Check.
You’d think that would be enough offense to win a game, right? Wrong.

The Yankees descent towards mediocrity picked up steam on Friday night in a 10-9 loss to the Rangers. It was the first time the Yankees lost a game at home when they scored at least nine runs and hit three-or-more homers since Sept. 19, 1996 vs Orioles. (At this point, it’s hard to see this season ending the same way that season did.)

Most of the damage was done against Michael Pineda in a seven-run third inning. He is the first Yankees pitcher to allow at least seven runs in an inning against the Rangers since David Wells on May 6, 1998 in Texas, and first to do it at Yankee Stadium since Andy Hawkins on May 8, 1989.

The Rangers are quickly becoming Pineda’s kryptonite. He is now 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA in four starts vs. the Rangers, his worst record against any team and also his second-highest ERA against any team he’s faced more than twice.

Garrett Jones did his best to spark a Yankees rally, hitting a three-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning to cut the deficit to two runs. It was the first time a Yankee hit a pinch-hit homer against the Rangers since Don Baylor on July 11, 1985.

Rock bottom
Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse … Saturday afternoon happened.

An embarrassing 15-4 loss, punctuated by another third-inning implosion, and the Yankees had their fifth straight loss. This time the Yankees gave up a whopping 10 runs in the third inning, their most allowed in a single frame since April 18, 2009 against the Indians.

Combined with Friday’s seven-run third inning, it’s the first time the Yankees had back-to-back games allowing at least seven runs in an inning since playing an interleague series in Colorado in June 2002. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, before this weekend, the Yankees had never given up seven-or-more runs in an inning in consecutive games at Yankee Stadium — the old or new version.

CC Sabathia didn’t make it out of that third frame, giving up nearly as many runs (6) as outs recorded (7). He’s now lost his last six starts at Yankee Stadium, matching the longest such losing streak by any Yankee in the last 100 seasons. Four other Yankees in that span dropped six starts in a row in the Bronx: Red Ruffing (1931), Sam McDowell (1973-74), Orlando Hernandez (2000) and Phil Hughes (2013).

It gets worse, though. Sabathia’s ERA is 9.42 during the six-start losing streak, and he is the only pitcher in the group listed above to have also allowed at least four runs in each of the six starts. Welp.

Garrett Jones came in to get the final two outs of the ninth inning (and didn’t allow a hit or a run!), sparing another wasted bullpen arm in this pointless game. The only other Yankee position player to pitch in a game against the Rangers was Rick Cerone on July 19, 1987 in a 20-3 loss at Texas.

It’s not what you want
The slide continues, and where it ends, nobody knows.

The Yankees lost the Sunday night series finale, extending their season-high losing streak to six games, their longest in a single season since May 11-16, 2011. They’ve won just once in their past 11 games, their worst 11-game stretch in nearly 20 years — since they went 1-10 in an 11-game span from May 23-June 3, 1995.

The Rangers completed a rare sweep in the Bronx, winning every game in a series of three-or-more games at Yankee Stadium for just the second time since the team moved to Texas in 1972 (it also happened May 16-18, 2003).

The Yankees simply couldn’t stop giving up hits (and runs) against the Rangers, surrendering a total of 40 hits in the series. It’s the first time they’ve ever been swept in a series of three-or-more games at Yankee Stadium, allowing at least 12 hits in each game.

Yankeemetrics: May 19-20 (Nationals)

It's not what you want. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images )
It’s not what you want. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images )

The end of perfection
We knew it had to happen some time, right? Andrew Miller finally succumbed to the regression gods and gave up his first runs of the season – and unfortunately it came at a very ill-timed moment for the Yankees.

Tied 6-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Ryan Zimmerman smoked a 96-mph fastball from Miller off the right field foul pole to cap a Nationals’ comeback after trailing 6-2 in the fifth inning. Not only was it the Yankees largest blown lead of the season, it was also the Yankees first walk-off loss of the season and the first time Miller had surrendered an extra-inning homer in his career.

However, these dramatics were nothing new for Zimmerman. It was the second time he had hit a walk-off homer against the Yankees, with other coming on June 18, 2006 at RFK Stadium. Strange-but-true fact: since his debut in 2005, Zimmerman is the only player with two walk-off shots vs. the Yankees … and this is a guy, remember, that has played his entire career in the National League.

Zimmerman also joined a rare club with that decisive swing of the bat, as one of just three first baseman to hit a two-out, walk-off homer in extra innings against the Yankees over the last 75 seasons. The others were Bob Allison in 1960 and Mike Napoli in 2013. Go figure.

Before Miller’s streak came to an end, Dellin Betances pitched two scoreless innings to ensure that we’d get free baseball on Tuesday night. It was his 20th appearance of the season and the 20th time he gave up zero earned runs, establishing a new franchise record for consecutive games to begin a season without allowing an earned run. The previous record of 19 was set by Lee Guetterman in 1989.

National crisis?
As bad as last year’s team was, it never lost seven times in an eight-game span. With the Yankees 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday, the 2015 team has now already done that, and it’s not even the end of May.

Justin Wilson allowed the game-winning run when Denard Span hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, scoring Wilson Ramos. How unlikely was that hit? Before that at-bat, Span was 0-for-7 against left-handed relievers this season (and 2-for-21 vs. all lefties); Wilson had faced 21 left-handed batters this season prior to Span, and had given up a hit to only two of them.

A-Rod pinch-hit in the top of the ninth inning and struck out looking for the final out with Didi Gregorius on first base. If that sounds familiar … well, not really. The last Yankee pinch-hitter to take a called strike three to end the game with a man on base and the team trailing by a run was Chili Davis against the White Sox on May 22, 1999. Brutal.

Let’s end on a positive note, and celebrate the debut of Slade Heathcott, who pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the eight inning. Another (maybe not) hard-to-believe fact: he is the first player position player picked in the first round by the Yankees to play for the team in a non-September game since Derek Jeter made his debut in May 1995.