Yankees 6, Rays 1: New York clinches home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game behind Montgomery’s solid outing

With this win tonight, the Yankees have clinched home-field advantage for the AL Wild Card Game (if that becomes their destination). Also, with the Red Sox loss, the division deficit has reduced to three games. Slim hope but it’s still there. The recipe for tonight’s win was simple: Jordan Montgomery pitched well, the offense scored enough runs and the bullpen tossed three no-hit innings to make it as least stressful as possible. 88th win of the season – that’s the Yankees’ most since 2012, when they made it to the ALCS. Let’s recap this thing.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Six solid

Montgomery started the game dicey very early on. He allowed soft singles to Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza just past the infielders and walked Evan Longoria to immediately load the bases in the first. He got a breather by striking out Logan Morrison for the first out. However, Wilson Ramos drove a deep drive to right center that looked to be just going over the fence… until Aaron Hicks denied it. Hicks made a well-timed jump to rob Ramos of a grand slam. That would have been a devastating start for the Yankees but they held the Rays to merely a run. Huge. Not bad for a guy who just came off a DL suffering an oblique injury.

After the shaky start, Montgomery settled in and followed with five scoreless innings. In those frames, he allowed only five baserunners (one of them on a strike out wild pitch in which Adeiny Hechavarria reached first) and struck out three. He may not have the flashiest stuff, but boy he can mix up pitches. Per Brooks Baseball, Montgomery threw 34 fastballs (both two-seam and four-seamers combined), 8 changeups, 9 sliders and 29 curveballs. Of those 29, six of them generated whiffs. He’s had a nice season for a guy who’s a pitchability lefty in the AL East – 9-7, 3.96 ERA/4.11 FIP in 150 IP. Even though Montgomery’s had his ups and downs this season, if you told me he’d end up with these numbers back in March, I would have taken it ten out of ten times.

Thinking about it again… that Aaron Hicks catch was big. There’s a huge difference between getting out of the first inning with no outs, bases-loaded jam with only one run allowed and allowing a grand slam and suffering a meltdown for a start. Credit to Montgomery for bouncing back nicely for the rest of the night though.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Score four

You know how the Yankees have been making opposing starting pitchers throw tons of pitches in early parts of the game? That happened tonight as well. This time, they knocked Blake Snell out of the game with no out in the second inning.

The Yankees started the inning with a bang. Starlin Castro, who donned high socks tonight, led the inning off with a long, 445-feet home run into the left field bleachers to tie the game at one a piece. After that, the Fraziers and Ronald Torreyes all singled to load the bases in a flash for the Yankees. Hicks, fresh off the disabled list (and that amazing catch an inning earlier) walked to score the Yankees’ go-ahead run. At this point, Snell seemed to have completely lost his command. Even after the mound visit, Snell could not throw a strike against Aaron Judge and forced in another run, 3-1 Yankees. After getting only three outs and having throw 49 pitches, the lefty was out of the game and Kevin Cash put in the former Yankee Chaz Roe to face Gary Sanchez.

Sanchez squared one to the right side… but it found Hechavarria’s glove and Hicks was doubled off at the second. Not ideal. However, during Matt Holliday‘s at-bat, Roe’s slider got away from Ramos way outside, resulting in a run-scoring wild pitch. Sloppy pitching by the Rays in this frame. But hey, the Yankees will take it.

Score two more

The scoreboard was full of goose eggs after the bottom of the second till the eighth inning. With Austin Pruitt pitching for the Rays, Torreyes worked a rare walk to get on base with one out. During Brett Gardner‘s at-bat, Toe advanced to second on a wild pitch and onto third on a groundout. Judge, as Judge does, walked to get on base to make it runners on corners. Sanchez followed it up with an RBI single to center to make it 5-1 Yankees and Holliday tacked on another with a bloop one to the shallow center. 6-1 Yankees and that’s how the score would remain for good.

Leftovers

The Yankee bullpen tossed three perfect innings tonight. Tommy Kahnle got the seventh inning and absolutely dominated Daniel Robertson, Peter Bourjos and Kiermaier – groundout, strikeout, strikeout, respectively – all in just 11 pitches. Kahnle has yet to allow an earned run in the month of September (10 IP) and that’s a really good sign heading into the postseason.

Taking care of the eighth was David Robertson, who struck out one and walked one in a scoreless frame. It seemed like Aroldis Chapman was going to enter the ninth for a save. But as the Yankees scored two in the bottom of the eighth, the save situation became null and Joe Girardi put in struggling Dellin Betances to end the game. Betances retired the side in only seven pitches (four strikes) to end the game rather swimmingly. Sure, he didn’t strike out anyone or anything but I’ll definitely take this from him. This should be considered a positive step for the big guy after a rough month he’s had.

Castro went 3-for-3 tonight. His home run in the 2nd inning was his first at Yankee Stadium since June 11, as unbelievable as that might sound. Torreyes, the little machine that could, maintained his status as a solid utility guy by going 2-for-3, a walk and two runs scored. Judge did not hit a home run today. Bust! However, he did go 1-for-3 with two walks, a strikeout and an opposite-field double. It was almost an on-brand game for him.

Box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA

Here are tonight’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will continue the three-game series against the Rays tomorrow at the Bronx. Luis Severino will be up against Matt Andriese for a 7:05 pm game start.

Thoughts during the homestretch of the regular season

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

The Yankees, as we all know, are chasing the AL East division title and, as much as they’d hate to admit it, solidifying their status as the top AL Wild Card team. The Red Sox look like clear AL East winners and the Yankees seem to be gearing up for the AL Wild Card game (most likely at home). Anyways, here are some thoughts I’ve got.

1. The Dellin BetancesAroldis Chapman duo was ballyhooed all offseason to be a cream of the crop eighth-ninth inning bullpen duo. Both of them are not having bad seasons, but the performance has not reached the expectations. As of now, Dellin Betances has a 3.02 ERA in 56.2 IP. While he’s still striking out hitters at an exorbitant rate (15.53 K/9 IP), his walk rate has almost doubled from last year (3.45 to 6.83 BB/9 IP, yeesh). Chapman? This is his worst season as a big leaguer since 2012. He has a 3.50 ERA and a 2.68 FIP – both of them higher than marks from 2012-16 seasons. Both relievers have been inconsistent all season, Jekyll and Hyde-mode. What is interesting, however, is the pattern of how they did it. Take a look at their monthly stats:

April
Betances: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 14 K, 1.13 ERA
Chapman: 9.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 15 K,  0.96 ERA

May
Betances: 9.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 18 K, 0.00 ERA
Chapman: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 10.80 ERA

June
Betances: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 9 BB, 15 K, 4.50 ERA
Chapman: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1.93 ERA

July
Betances: 12.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 13 BB, 21 K, 4.26 ERA
Chapman: 13.0 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 16 K, 2.77 ERA

August
Betances: 12.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 17 K, 1.50 ERA
Chapman: 8.0 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 8 K, 9.00 ERA

September
Betances: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 14 K, 7.04 ERA
Chapman: 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 13 K, 0.00 ERA

As you see, they’ve been pretty much see-sawing it after April. If the Yankees want to go deep into the postseason, they can’t afford to have one of them be off again. Imagine if they were dominant together for one or two more months of the season. Given that the Yankees have lost a lot of one-run games this season, we could be talking about the AL East division-leading team. What’s giving me hope for Chapman is that he seems to have found the root of his problems and fixed it. Betances? It’ll take a few good outings in a row for Yankee fans to feel comfortable seeing him on mound in cutthroat October situations.

2. The last time the Yankees made the postseason was 2015. It’s kind of staggering to think how different the team was only two seasons ago. For instance, they had guys like A-Rod and Mark Teixeira playing vital roles most of the season. We had no idea what was coming with guys like Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge. Also unlike that top AL Wild Card team, this likely-top AL Wild Card team seems to have a much brighter forecast in October. While momentum in September does not necessarily correlate with how the team fares in playoffs, the 2015 team did not have a lot of good things going for them towards the AL Wild Card game. Teixeira was declared out for rest of the season after a painful bone bruise. In September/October 2015, the Yankees were 14-17 and got swept by the Orioles in a three-game series to end the regular season. Two years later, at this moment of the season, the Yankees are on upswing of things. They are 16-6 so far in September and, barring a late-season losing streak at home, they’ll head to the AL Wild Card (assuming that’s what they’ll end up doing) in quite a positive vibe.

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

3. I’m wondering if Todd Frazier‘s in the Yankees’ plans for 2018. Dude’s had a fine September (went into yesterday’s hitting .207/.390/.569 for a .959 OPS) and has commented that he wants to be back. He’s certainly a productive player. He gets on base, can hit for power and displays really nice third base defense. Those aspects alone should give the team some thoughts on offering him a contract before free agency season hits. However, I don’t know if they would offer him anything more than a one or two-year deal. Maybe Frazier could take a one-year deal and try to re-build his value to what it was back when he was a Home Run Derby-winning, top-tier slugger. *If* he can do that, that would be a win-win for both the player and the team – Yankees would get solid production before letting Gleyber Torres take over full-time and Frazier could make a good amount of money from some other team after 2018. However, it’s too bold to assume that kind of theory to come to life. Him, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, etc. could very well play the role of mentor to Torres when the top prospect comes up to the bigs next season. Another aspect that he could be valuable is what him and Headley have been able to do in 2017 – alternating positions and filling in hole at the first base if (or when) Greg Bird becomes unavailable. I would personally very much welcome it if Frazier were to sign a short-term contract. If it will be something like three years, hopefully it won’t be backloaded. There’s always risks and careful calculations when making decisions like this. Whatever the Yankees decide to do with Frazier, they will give it some deep thought looking at a big picture, I’m sure.

For what it’s worth, Frazier has provided above-average run production with a good glove for the past few seasons. He’s also walked quite more this season than he had in his entire career. Next year will be his age-32 season so he’s presumably got few more years of keeping up current level of performance. So far with the Yankees, Frazier’s had a .803 OPS. That figure would be the highest by a non-A-Rod Yankee third baseman since… 2002 Robin Ventura (.826 OPS). Boy, that’s awhile ago.

4. Joe Girardi was recently asked about kneeling during the national anthem, Donald Trump’s comments on the NFL players, and whether he would visit the White House if the Yankees were to win the World Series. If you don’t live under the rock, you know the deal. Randy Miller of NJ.com wrote an article about it and Girardi, I think, played it as safe as he can.

“It’s not something that I would choose to do,” Girardi said Sunday before the Yankees’ game with the Toronto Blue Jays. “It’s my opinion. I’m entitled to my opinion and others are entitled to their own opinion. There’s going to be a lot of things in this world that you may not agree with. I think it’s a player’s right. That’s the country we live in. It’s a player’s right. You don’t necessarily have to agree with it, but it’s what people do.”

Girardi never really struck me as a hugely political guy and he probably was instructed by the front office to “say the right things.” That could mean a lot of different things. But from what I can decipher, it seems like he worded his statement in a way that would not incite loud reactions from the both sides. It just sounded like a “let’s get this question over with and talk about baseball” kind of thing. This quote, in particular, really struck me as one that reflected his tone: “Those are my personal reflections and I’m not going to necessarily dive into it because that just opens up a huge can of worms and allows you to write stories for weeks.”

I personally stand on the side of the players protesting. That being said, I would be disappointed if the Yankees choose to visit the White House if they win the 2017 World Series. I know CC Sabathia himself has said that he won’t go at all and it’s possible that he’s not alone in the Yankees on that side. However, it is easy to assume that the baseball locker room culture is not as racially diverse as the NFL teams, where team-wide protests took place Sunday. Chris Archer of the Rays has spoken out that he would not be comfortable voicing his opinion within his own clubhouse, which is a damn shame. Only 7.7 percent of all MLB players are African-Americans and, the odds are that they share the locker room with many players with conservative backgrounds. Gotta understand where Archer is coming from. That makes what Bruce Maxwell did much more gutsy and impressive.

Anyways, didn’t mean to get too political here. Politics have been a big part of my life since I first moved to U.S. so it’s hard not to think about societal + sports concerns. And, as you could tell from this past NFL Sunday, these two subjects really do go hand-on-hand, whether you like it or not.

(Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

5. Alright, something lighter here. You can make a case for AL MVP for any of these five guys right now: Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve, Chris Sale, Mike Trout and Jose Ramirez. Besides Trout, all of them play for a playoff-bound team and have been playing some of the best baseball of their lives. From what I can gather though, it looks like it could come down to a Altuve-Judge match. Trout, the best player of this generation, is posting career-high peripherals but that missed time from thumb injury is really going to hurt his case. Ramirez is putting up stupendous numbers but his basic stats aren’t strong as Judge or Altuve’s. Chris Sale is the current fWAR leader in all of the baseball but his hype train has slowed down a bit in the second half and it became unclear if he would even win the AL Cy Young Award. (Corey Kluber really, really stepped it up as of late, didn’t he? You could also make an MVP case for the Indians righty as well.) Altuve and Judge both get love for their basic and sabermetric stats and seem like the two strongest candidates for the 2017 AL MVP award. Depends on what metric you look at, they’ve both been productive in almost equal way – just in different manners. Judge, as you know, hits for massive power, a decent average, strikes out a lot, etc., and Altuve is a Swiss Army knife kind of guy who hits for high average, plays scrappy defense, steals bases, etc. Unfortunately for Judge, his two-month cold streak will seem to work against him. He went from a clear MVP favorite hitting .330/.440/.700~ish in early-July to .270/.410/.570 by early-September. That’s still a great line! But during that period, from July 8 to September 9 (53 games), Judge hit for a .186 average, 9 HRs and struck out 84 times. And you know some writer are going to reference that when they write to explain their MVP votes.

As you know, however, from September 10 on, Judge has been on fire and could be making a case for some MVP votes. In those 14 games, he’s hit eleven home runs with a 1.678 OPS. I assume he could be extra-wired for the last home stretch with a lot of fun things in stake – the rookie home run record, the Yankees AL East run (if not, clinching the top AL Wild Card spot) and, of course, making the last push for his MVP case. He may not talk about it, but I bet it is in his head somewhere. He’s been a better home hitter (1.150 OPS) than road (.910 OPS) so get excited for the next six games! My question is, how much of a push push would he need to make the last six games to earn some votes? I think, unless Judge goes absolutely ballistic (something like, reaching 55 home runs), Altuve will still be the favorite. Getting to 50 home runs (because what a nice, round number that is for a Major League rookie!) could help, but Altuve is leading the league in hits, batting average, and has arguably been the best member of the top 2 team of the league. Also, for someone his size, boy he’s getting every bit and inch out of the talent that’s given. Judge has a clear flaw in his game (strikeouts) but Altuve is almost flawless. Besides that he’s really, really undersized among his MLB peers. I know there are many ways to spin to argue that Judge has been more valuable than Altuve but, at least for this moment, the consensus seems to point to the latter. Obviously it would be really cool to see Judge be the first AL player to win both ROY and MVP since Ichiro Suzuki. We’ll see how it goes though.

Yankees 11, Twins 3: Score all the runs


Source: FanGraphs

Won the game and swept the series. After falling behind 3-0, the Yankee bats scored 11 unanswered points to take this one Wednesday afternoon. Luis Severino wasn’t his usual self so, of course, the bullpen and the lineup picked him up. Wouldn’t it be neat if New York played Minnesota all the time? Anyways, it was a matinee game so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • 46 pitches: Remember when this was the start that Sevy was supposed to skip? I kind of figured that he wouldn’t really go a long distance today because 1) he’s a young starter who’s upped the innings pitched from last year, and 2) the Yankees probably want to save some bullets for October. Turned out that he didn’t go past three innings today, for better or worse. He really labored in the top of the third. With one out, Kennys Vargas hit a soft infield single to shortstop and Jason Castro followed it up with a line drive single to put runners on corners. Brian Dozier worked a full-count walk to make the bases loaded and up came Joe Mauer, who is not really someone you want to face in situations like this. Mauer really, really worked Severino to a 13-pitch at bat until finally getting an RBI single to the right field. Jorge Polanco followed it up with another single through the right side for a 2-RBI single. 3-0 Twins. He retired the next two hitters but, by then, Sevy had thrown a 46-pitch inning. It’s one thing to have thrown 71 pitches but it’s another when you threw more than half of it without taking a break in the dugout in between. The Yankees decided to go to bullpen starting the fourth.
  • Tying it up: But fear not, here comes the Young Yankee Hitting Machine. In the bottom of the third, Greg Bird got on base with a double and Aaron Judge followed it up by hitting an opposite two-run shot. It was one of those homers that made the small Yankee Stadium tiny. Dude hits home runs like he’s playing pinball. Gary Sanchez, not to be outdone, hit a solo homer into Monument Park to tie the game at 3-3. That was quick. But hold on, the fun was far, far from done.
  • Let the runs pile in: After Chasen Shreve threw a clean fourth, the Yankee bats really brought it in the bottom of the frame. After Matt Holliday fouled out, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a triple into the left center because he’s friggin’ Jacoby Ellsbury. Todd Frazier followed it up with a walk and Bird brought Ellsbury in with his second double of the day (and knocked Bartolo Colon out of the game, who may or may not have thrown his last pitch at the Yankee Stadium. We’ll see). Brett Gardner‘s RBI single against the new pitcher Tyler Duffey brought in Frazier and made it 5-3 Yankees. Judge struck out but Sanchez singled to right to tack on another run and Didi Gregorius hit a three-run homer into the second deck to make it a 9-3 rout. The Yankee rally continued on in the fifth. The former Yankees 2008 50th round pick (no, really) Nik Turley took the mound for the Twins and, well, it didn’t go well for him:

bandicam-2017-09-21-06-18-27-317

  • Extend the netting: There was a huge scare in the fourth inning when a Frazier liner hit a young girl in the mouth, briefly interrupting the game. While Joe Girardi said after the game that the young girl is “doing OK”, it was a very, very scary moment where you did not know whether the carelessness of the team and the league cost a precious life. Every player on the field looked very shaken while the medics were looking after her and I bet that they would choose in a heartbeat to install a netting across the infield to protect the fans. Not to get too voiced here but there’s a proverb “fixing the barn door after your cow escaped” in Korea and I really hope this will not apply to this situation. After a foul ball from Judge struck a fan in the stands few months ago, the team said they are “seriously exploring” he idea of extending the netting but haven’t taken an action. That’s ridiculous. There’s one thing to “obstruct” fans’ view but it becomes a much graver thing when the non-athletes have to go out of the way from a 105 mph liners.
  • Leftovers: Guess who came a home run shy of the cycle? Ellsbury. He had a 3-for-4 day with a walk. In his last at-bat in the bottom of the eighth, Ellsbury was clearly swinging for the fence but had to settle for a flyout in the center. Bum! Judge stayed on-brand by having a 1-for-3 day with a home run, a walk and a strikeout. Sanchez and Bird each had a 3-for-4 day and that’s just music to my ears. Clint Frazier also had a triple in his pinch-hit AB for Gardner, making it his 17th extra-base hit of his 30 total. On the bullpen side, Shreve had an almost-perfect 3 IP outing, allowing only a walk while striking out three. Ben Heller tossed a scoreless inning and Domingo German finished the game up with a 2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K outing. Neat all around.

Here are today’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA chart from Fangraphs. The Yankees have a break tomorrow and will head up north to face the Blue Jays for the final road trip of the regular season. Masahiro Tanaka is penciled in to start against Marco Estrada for the Friday series opener.

Yankees 5, Twins 2: Sabathia tosses six solid, bats score runs here and there

Good game. Would watch again. Old man CC Sabathia held his own and the bullpen did their thing. The bats did not take advantage of a lot of the RISP advantages, but they scored enough runs to get the game win and the series win. Because the Red Sox won yet another extra innings game at Baltimore, the AL East deficit remains at 3. Oh well. Anyways, let’s recap this thing.

(Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

The only two runs allowed

The Twins got the bases loaded awful quick in the first inning – in four pitches, to be precise. Brian Dozier singled on the first pitch to get it going and Joe Mauer *and* Jorge Polanco both bunted for a single. Not gonna lie, that’s a hell of a strategy. Whether it angers Sabathia or not, I don’t know why more teams don’t do it. However, Eduardo Escobar quickly grounded into an easy 6-4-3 double play to do CC a favor. Sure, they scored a run but it also raised the out count from zero to two. Also it was very early on in the game and you could count on the Yankee bats to make up for it (they did).

Flash forward to the top of the third, with the game tied at 1-1, Sabathia allowed a leadoff homer to Max Kepler. He tried to sneak a slider into the zone but it hung like it was placed on a tee. Kepler, who came into the game with a .375 OPS (!) against lefties this season, did not miss any of it. In the tale of unlikely outcome, that was also the first home run that Sabathia allowed to lefties all year. Stuff like this happens. From there though, CC went on a roll, retiring the next ten hitters in a row until Dozier singled in the top of the sixth. Sabathia ended up pitching six full innings while allowing two runs while striking out five – while needing only 77 pitches (51 strikes). I’ll take this outing from him any day. After tonight’s win, Sabathia improved to a 12-5 record with 3.81 ERA.

(Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Runs despite RISPFails

Jose Berrios is a pretty damn good young pitcher. He faced the Yankees once prior to today and got a win on a 1-ER, 6.1 IP outing. However tonight, the Yankee bats made him work. In only 3.1 IP of work, the young righty threw 90 pitches and walked four. That’s a heck of a thing to do against a starter who carried a 2.78 BB/9 IP into the game. Because of the early departure, the Twins had to tap deep into their bullpen for rest of the game and ended up using seven relievers. Gotta love expanded rosters.

The Yankees, even when they did not score, kept stacking up baserunners and increasing pitch counts. In the bottom of the first, they had an Aaron Judge single and Didi Gregorius walk to put two runners on but failed to score. The next inning, however, they did. Starlin Castro drew a walk to lead it off. While both Jacoby Ellsbury popped out and Todd Frazier flied out to alleviate the situation for Berrios, Greg Bird worked a walk and Brett Gardner came to rescue by hitting an RBI double to the left center. Judge followed it up with a big fly ball that he just missed and was caught by the CF Byron Buxton. Could have been a more exciting inning but he just got under the ball. Oh well.

Two innings later, with the Twins leading 2-1, the Yankees made another rally to get ahead. Ellsbury’s double and Bird’s walk made it two runners on with one out. Gardner, who came up clutch the previous time up, did it once again by squaring an RBI single to tie the game and knock Berrios out of the game. Paul Molitor put in Alan Busenitz to face Judge. The righty uncorked a wild pitch that advanced both runners to the scoring position and Judge hit another big fly ball that did not quite reach to the seats – but good enough for a go-ahead sac fly. 3-2 Yankees.

The Yankees added on another in the bottom of the fifth. Facing the former Mets great Dillon Gee, the Yankees loaded the bases with a Chase Headley HBP, a Castro single and a Frazier walk. With Bird coming up with bases loaded and two outs, Molitor put in the lefty Buddy Boshers (what a great name) to face him. Bird hit a grounder to the 1B Mauer… who could not handle it. Mauer is usually sure-handed at first base and he just happened to have made an error in that crucial spot. A one-run game became a two-run one and that’s a big deal when you’re facing the Yankee bullpen. New York added one more in the bottom of the sixth. Judge and Gary Sanchez hit back-to-back singles against Ryan Pressly. Gregorius lined out to second sharply and Headley struck out to make it two outs pretty quick. However, Castro hit a single right past the second baseman Dozier to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead. The score would stay that way for good.

Lost in all that scoring is that they did leave a whopping 14 runners left stranded this game. It would have been much more annoying had the Yankee pitcher allowed a couple more runs, but you know what, once they took that 3-2 lead, they did not look back.

Leftovers

Told you that the bullpen did their job, right? After Sabathia’s 6 innings Chad Green, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman took care of an inning each to close it out tidily. Green did not have his best outing – allowing a walk and a hit while striking out no one – but, as they say, he got the job done. That was only the fifth time this season that Green pitched without a strikeout. Au contraire, D-Rob was lights out, striking out the side in a perfect frame. Chapman, coming off of a five-out save from last night, got the fastball up to 103 mph and struck out one en route to his 20th save of the season. Chapman has been very good in September, allowing 0 runs while striking out 13 in 8 innings. Need him to keep that going while Dellin figures it out.

Judge had a rare strikeout-less game. He went 2-for-4 with a sac fly. It was something a bit different especially considering that the two hits were singles. Speaking of hits, both Gardner and Castro had three hits each and three RBI’s combined.

Box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA

Here are tonight’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees will look to sweep the Twins tomorrow in an afternoon game at the Bronx. Luis Severino will be on the mound against the 2011 Yankee great Bartolo Colon.

Orioles 6, Yankees 4: Gray struggles and the late rallies fall short


Source: FanGraphs

On paper, this was a much-favored matchup for the Yankees. However, you gotta play the game and see how it turns out and, boy, it didn’t really quite go the Yankees’ way. Sonny Gray was hurt by a barrage of two-out hits and the Yankee bats went silent against Ubaldo Jimenez as they dropped the series and season finale versus Baltimore. Oh well. On the other side, the Red Sox lost so the AL East deficit stays at three games. It’s the weekend so let’s do this bullet-point style.

  • The back-and-forth: Gray surrendered the first run to the O’s in the top of the second. Chris Davis hit a double that should have been caught by Clint Frazier. However, Frazier thought it was going over the left field fence and attempted to make a leaping grab by the wall. Instead, the ball was falling behind him and bounced off his glove as Davis reached second. A Seth Smith grounder advanced Davis to third and Gray later allowed an RBI single to rookie Austin Hays. 1-0 O’s. However, the Yankees got one right back in the bottom of the frame. Didi Gregorius led off with No. 24 for the season. That ties the all-time single-season franchise shortstop home run record with 1999 Derek Jeter. How about that?
  • More troubles: The Orioles weren’t going to go down quietly. After Gray struck out Time Beckham, Manny Machado singled to right to get on base. Gray struck out Jonathan Schoop but allowed an RBI double to Trey Mancini to give the lead right back. Things got worse in the fourth. Smith walked to lead off the inning but Gray retired Mark Trumbo and Hays to get two outs. However, Caleb Joseph singled to extend the inning and Beckham hit a 85-mph slider right down the pipe into the left field bleachers for a 3-run homer. Wasn’t a cheapie either – he crushed that for a 456-footer. Ouch. Not what you want. 5-1 Orioles.  Gray’s outing today lasted for only four innings. Sometimes you get a stinker like that from someone as reliable as Gray. It was the fewest innings and most amount of runs that Gray has allowed as a member of the Yankees.
  • Rallies, and falling short: Sixth inning, down 6-1, the Yankee bats were facing one of the O’s relief aces Mychal Givens. With one out, Gary Sanchez walked and a hitter later, Starlin Castro reached on an infield single to make it two outs and two runners on. Matt Holliday got a hold of one into the left field for a two-run double, cutting the deficit to three runs. Two innings later, against Brad Brach, Aaron Judge doubled to left to lead off the eighth. Sanchez struck out swinging but Didi reached on a Beckham error to make it one out with runners on corners. Castro hit a sac fly to right to make it 6-4 Orioles. After Brach walked Holliday to load the bases, Showalter brought in Britton to get a four-out save, and that’s exactly how it went. He struck out Sanchez with runners on corners to end the game after Judge was intentionally walked, putting the tying run on base.
  • Leftovers: The bullpen went combined: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7 K today. The sole run came from Bryan Mitchell‘s 3 IP outing as well. Not bad. They did what they could do to keep the Yankees in the game. The offense? Not so much. Against one of the worst starting pitchers of the MLB, they struck out 10 times in five innings while getting only three hits. Tommy Kahnle pitched in the top of the ninth and it was, by far, the most crisp he has seen in awhile. 11 pitches, 7 strikes and 2 strikeouts. So there’s something encouraging in this loss.

Here are today’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA chart from Fangraphs. The Yankees will host the Twins starting tomorrow for a three-game series at Bronx.

Yankees 5, Rays 1: A five-run inning good enough to take the series opener

That was a relatively stress-free win. I like. CC Sabathia allowed a run in the second inning but the Yankee bats jumped on Jake Odorizzi in the fourth and never looked back. This win pulled the Yankees within 3 games of the Red Sox in the AL East and gave them a 4-game lead in the AL Wild Card standings. A productive night! Let’s recap this thing.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Decent, but no cigar

The Rays struck first. Lucas Duda, playing in the Citi Field for the first time since being traded to the Rays, walked on four pitches against Sabathia to begin the bottom of the second. After CC retired Cesar Puello and Cesar Ramos, he allowed an RBI triple to Adeiny Hechavarria to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. The Rays shortstop grinded out a nine-pitch at-bat and CC threw a cutter that stayed a bit middle.

Sabathia got into another pickle in the bottom of the third. Peter Bourjos led it off by bunting (!!!) for  base hit and Kevin Kiermaier followed it up with a soft grounder single to the pitcher. Two nubbers in a row that Sabathia couldn’t field. However, Sabathia struck Trevor Plouffe out looking to get the first out. On the next batter, Evan Longoria, the Rays attempted a double steal and Kiermaier was called out for over-sliding second base as Starlin Castro kept the tag on him. Longoria grounded out to third to end the inning. That could have gone much worse.

.. was given a 5-1 lead after the fourth inning, but could not finish the fifth. He walked Bourjos, struck out Kiermaier and allowed a single to Plouffe. The problem was that all three encounters resulted in lengthy at-bats. Even though he had allowed only a run at that point, he seemed to be laboring in that inning – not to mention that Longoria, who owned Sabathia all his career, was coming up. Joe Girardi pulled the plug on him right away and put in David Robertson to relieve. D-Rob, being the Houdini himself, struck out Longoria and Duda to get out of the jam. Girardi went the safe route and CC might not have been happy about it, but Yankees got out of it unscathed.

Five is all you need

After being no-hit by Odorizzi for the first three innings, the Yankees got a rally going in the top of the fourth. They started it out by getting runners on the corners with an Aaron Judge walk and a Gary Sanchez single. Didi Gregorius tied the game up with a sacrifice fly. Castro followed it up by striking out swinging to make it two outs. On a full count, Matt Holliday hit a grounder that went under 3B Trevor Plouffe’s glove and trickled down all the way down the left field line. It should have been an inning-ending ground out but instead, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead. Not sure what exactly happened there. Third base is a hard position (hence why they call it the hot corner) but that’s a play that gets made at least 9.5 out of 10 times.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees took full advantage of Plouffe’s blunder. After Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an all-time leading 30th catcher’s interference, Todd Frazier went deep for a three-run homer. That was no cheapie – it hit the facing of the second deck of the left field seats. 5-1 Yankees. Tyler Austin, not to be outdone by his teammates, squared a hard double to the left to keep the rally going. Brett Gardner followed it up with a walk and Kevin Cash decided that he’s seen enough. It took Odorizzi 51 pitches to get two outs in the fifth and he was pulled out of the inning for Chaz Roe. Three no-hit innings and get piled on in the fourth. Life comes at you quick.

Leftovers

Ellsbury set the all-time MLB record today… in drawing catcher’s interference. In the fourth inning, he swung at a full-count pitch that went foul but his bat nicked the catcher’s mitt. That, by definition, was catcher’s interference and the 30th of Ellsbury’s career. He surpassed Pete Rose’s record as the king of the category in the ML history.

As mentioned, D-Rob came into relief for Sabathia in the fifth inning and took care of the business through the seventh – a seven-out outing for him! That is the first of his career. He also threw 36 pitches while at it. I guess Girardi really wanted to prioritize holding the lead rather than saving him for tomorrow – he will probably go to someone like Tommy Kahnle in a similar situation.

Dellin Betances followed to pitch in the eighth. He made things a liiiittle bit interesting by allowing two baserunners early on (Longoria single, Duda K, Puello walk). However, in a typical Dellin fashion, he struck out pinch-hitting Logan Morrison for the second out and escaped out of it after retiring Hechavarria with a flyout. Aroldis Chapman, who has regained his role as the ninth-inning guy, pitched a swift 1-2-3 in the ninth to close it out. The Yankees win!

Box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA graph

Here are box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA graph from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees continue on the series vs. the Rays at Citi Field tomorrow at 7:05 pm. Sonny Gray will be on the mound against Blake Snell.

Yankees 3, Rangers 1: Severino sensational, the offense rallies late to get the win


Source: FanGraphs

This game went from frustrating to gratifying in a matter of few innings. The Yankee bats couldn’t score a run against Andrew Cashner while Luis Severino was up there just straight-up dealin’. However, they rallied in the eighth and the ninth to tie it up and take the lead. It’s the weekend so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • Sevvy great: It’s hard to choose Severino’s signature game from this season. He’s had a lot of great starts this season and this has to be up there as one of the best. He went 7.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB with 10 strikeouts. Really hard to ask any more from your starter. From 100 pitches thrown, Sevvy threw 18 changeups, which is not too many fewer than the amount of sliders (27) he threw – a big indicator of how far he has come with his pitch development. Although he did not get the win today, his ERA has decreased to 2.96. Also, he has 211 strikeouts in 176.1 IP. That’s really darn good, folks.
  • The lone mistake: It’s hard not to make at least a mistake or two during a start. Severino allowed his only run on the only hit that he (and the Yankees) allowed today. In the fifth inning, Sevy walked Joey Gallo to start the frame. Will Middlebrooks hit into a fielder’s choice groundout. Severino struck out Rougned Odor to get the second out but allowed an RBI double to Brett Nicholas, a September call-up catcher. 1-0 Rangers. Crappy way to lose a no-no and let the other team go ahead. On the other side, Cashner was simply dealing, holding the Yankee bats scoreless for the first seven innings while striking out four. However…
  • Tying it up: The Rangers pulled Cashner out in the eighth inning after he plunked Todd Frazier on the first pitch of the frame. He was in command all day and the Yankee hitters were probably glad to see him gone. Matt Holliday, pinch-hitting for Greg Bird to face the lefty Alex Claudio, lined a single to right to make it runners on corners with no out. Brett Gardner popped out for the first out but Chase Headley tied it up with a sac fly. A run! Gary Sanchez swung at 3-0 pitch for a single past Elvis Andrus and Yankees, once again, had a runner in the scoring position. However, Didi Gregorius grounded into the shift to end the inning.
  • The ninth-inning rally: Joe Girardi brought in David Robertson for the bottom of the eighth. D-Rob responded with an easy eight-pitch inning. In the top of the ninth, Starlin Castro led off with a single to right and Aaron Judge grounded into a fielder’s choice out. With one out and runner on first, Jacoby Ellsbury fought for an eight-pitch at-bat and lined a base hit to right to put runners on corners – huge at-bat, huge outcome. With Frazier coming up, Jeff Bannister put in the righty Ricky Rodriguez. On a 1-2 count, Rodriguez hit Frazier on the left triceps to load the bases. Tyler Austin, who took over for Bird at the first base, followed it up with an RBI single to left to finally give the Yankees a lead. Gardner popped out (again) for the second out, but Headley worked a walk to extend the lead to 3-1. That’ll do.
  • Leftovers: Aroldis Chapman was the closer for today. He had a solid past two outings and I assume that was enough to restore some faith in him. The lefty threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts to close it out and earn his first save since August 15.

Here are today’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA graph from Fangraphs. The Yankees will play the series finale at Arlington tomorrow. It’ll be a Jordan Montgomery vs. A.J. Griffin matchup for a 3:05 pm EST start.