Michael Pineda’s dominating start led the Yankees to their second win in a row


Michael-Pineda-1

The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on Monday in the first game of their four-game series against the Orioles. Michael Pineda’s 7.1 dominating innings helped the Yankees win their fifth game in their last six games. They are now four games out of the second wild card spot with six games to play.

It is an extreme long shot that the Yankees will pass the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, but Derek Jeter has helped the Yankees improve their play and keep the team alive right until the end.

Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka both dominated in back-to-back games, which is a great sign for the Yankees for next season. They will be a very formidable one and two in the rotation in 2015. In Pineda’s 7.1 innings, he retired 22 of the 24 batters that he faced, recorded an impressive eight strikeouts and the only hit that he allowed came in the fifth inning to J.J. Hardy. He retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings and had all of his pitches working for him.

Tonight, my slider was working pretty good, and my changeup too, everything is working good,” Pineda said. “When my release point is finished in the front, the slider has good movement, it is really good. The changeup is a really good pitch, and before I didn’t use it a lot in the games, and now I am using it more. It is really good.”

Pineda is becoming even more dangerous as a pitcher because he is developing a very good changeup to go along with his fastball and slider. He now has a 1.94 ERA in his 12 starts, which means that he has the lowest ERA in baseball out of all starters who have made 10 or more starts.

Offensively, Derek Jeter continued to hit well and drive in runs during his last home stand before he retires after Sunday’s game in Boston. Jeter was 1-3 with three RBIs and walk against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen and Evan Meek. Since ending his 0-28 hitless streak the game before this home stand began on 9/17, Jeter has gone 10/24 (.416) with four runs scored, three doubles, one homer and six RBIs. He has raised his average from .249 to .256.

In the third inning, Jeter hit an RBI groundout to score rookie Jose Pirela to make the score 2-0. Then, in the fifth inning, he slugged a double to the wall in left to score Pirela and Brett Gardner. “This is a game of adjustments, and I am going to continue to make those adjustments until I am out of games,” Jeter said. “I don’t want to jinx anything. I feel pretty good. It is fun, I mean the fans have been energetic, that makes it fun for us to play.”

For the first run of the game, Pirela tripled to deep left center to score Ichiro Suzuki in his first career at-bat. Pirela, who had been in the minors for eight years, singled in his second at-bat and was very grateful to be playing in his first major league game. “To see my dream coming true is unbelievable for me,” Pirela said. Chase Headley hit his fifth homer with the Yankees and 12th of his season in the eighth inning.

The Yankees will look to win their third game in a row on Tuesday. Brandon McCarthy, who has a 2.54 ERA in 13 starts with the Yankees, will get the start for the home team. He has allowed four runs combined in his last three starts. Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a high 4.90 ERA, will start for the Orioles. Baltimore has already clinched the division, which means that these games don’t mean much to them.

Masahiro Tanaka’s strong 5.1 innings in his return from the disabled list led the Yankees to a win over Toronto


Derek Jeter before his third at-bat.

Derek Jeter before his third at-bat.

The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon. Derek Jeter, who only has four more games at Yankee Stadium, became the first Yankee to get four straight multi-hit games at age 40 or older. His two hits, RBI and a run scored helped the Yankees get their fourth win in their last five games and raised his average to .255.

Jeter, who received a standing ovation before and during every at-bat, is now 9-19 since snapping his 0-28 hitless skid. He has stepped up in front of the home fans the past few games like he has so many times during his remarkable career.

The Captain thought that the key to winning the game and the series was the clutch offensive hitting and pitching. “I thought we came up with some timely hits, but it all starts with pitching,” Jeter said. Out pitching staff was good, our starters were, out bullpen was good and we came up with some big his. We are playing pretty good right now.”

Masahiro Tanaka, who made his first start since July 8 as a result of his partial tear of his UCL in his elbow, pitched just like he did in most of his starts before his injury. He had an excellent 2.51 ERA before going on the disabled list, and was able to lower it to 2.47 after Sunday’s start. He was on a pitch limit of 70-75 pitches, and he threw 70 pitches in 5.1 innings while only giving up five hits and not allowing a walk. If he can pitch like this again on Friday against Boston then it is likely that he will not need surgery and will be able to have a normal offseason pitching program.

Overall, I’m pretty excited with how I pitched today,” Tanaka said. The injection of platelet-rich plasma into his elbow and not throwing for three weeks obviously helped the elbow recover. “It’s pain free,” Tanaka said. This is great news for the Yankees.

The only run that Tanaka allowed came off of an Edwin Encarnacion double play that scored Jose Reyes from third in the first inning. Tanaka did not allow a hit in the third, fourth or fifth innings. His splitter was working and his curve ball was effective, which is a good sign, but it will be key how he recovers the next few days.

The Yankees scored their first run of the game off of a Brain McCann solo homer to right against Drew Hutchison, which brought an ovation from the crowd. In the fifth inning, Brett Gardner hit a homer to right to make the score 2-1 and give the Yankees the lead for good. This homer was the 15,000 home run in Yankees’ history and that milestone was posted on the Jumbotron shortly after.

“I knew a few days ago that we were a couple away, maybe within four or five, but I wasn’t sure if it was the one I had hit or the one McCann had hit,” Gardner said. “It is definitely something I will never forget. I have it (the ball) right now, somebody might try to get it from me. It came in a good game and it was a good win for us.”

In the seventh inning, the Yankees scored two more runs to make the score 5-1. Derek Jeter hit a double down the line in right to score Gardner, who had doubled to lead off the inning. That was the last time that many fans at the stadium will see Jeter get a hit. He then saw an opening and easily stole third and scored on McCann’s second homer of the game. This was McCann’s 22nd homer of the season. “Brian has been swinging the bat extremely well the last month or so, it seems like he has found his stroke,” Jeter said. “It seems like he is pretty comfortable now.”

McCann’s contract goes for four more seasons and it is key that he has really taken advantage of the short porch in right. He now has 18 homers at Yankee Stadium this season and four during road games.

ESPN gives the Yankees a 0.1 chance of making the playoffs since they are currently 4.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals for the second wild card spot with seven games to play. The Yankees will begin a four-game series at home against the first place Baltimore Orioles on Monday and Michael Pineda (3-5, 2.15 ERA) will pitch against Wei-Yin Chen (16-4, 3.58 ERA).

Jeter on the Jumbotron during his third at-bat.

Jeter on the Jumbotron during his third at-bat.

Derek Jeter’s homer helped the Yankees win their second consecutive game 3-2


Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter.

The Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday for their second consecutive 3-2 win. One game after Derek Jeter ended his 0-28 hitless streak, Jeter hit his first home run at Yankee Stadium of the season. The Yankees won because Chase Headley was the hero once again in the ninth.

The first Yankees run came in the fifth inning after Stephen Drew hit a deep double to right to drive in Headley and then Jeter slugged a homer to left off of an 82 MPH R.A. Dickey fastball. Jeter was able to take advantage of the fastball instead of having to figure out Dickey’s usual knuckleball.

I always look for a fastball,” Jeter said. “I have faced him (Dickey) quite a bit. He mixes them in every once in a while so I wasn’t surprised by it. It was a big hit for us at the time. I am happy we were able to hang on there. Obviously this year up until this point hasn’t turned out how I would like it to, but you got to keep fighting and battling. I am going to play hard until we are out of games.”

Shane Greene had yet another dominating performance for the Yankees. Greene didn’t allow a run and had six strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Greene retired the side in order in the second, fourth and fifth innings while only allowing three hits. He has an impressive 3.24 ERA in 13 starts this season, and Greene has proven that he deserves a spot in next year’s rotation.

Greene was not able to get the win because Shawn Kelley threw a high fastball that Jose Bautista easily hit out of the park for a two-run homer. Kelley has been much less reliable recently, but the Yankees were able to get magic in the ninth.

In the ninth inning, right fielder Chris Young hit a single to center, Antoan Richardson pinch ran and easily stole second and got to third on Brett Gardner’s bunt and then Headley hit a grounder that went through Adam Lind’s legs at first for an error to send Richardson home to win the game. It was Headley’s third walk-off with the Yankees.

Derek Jeter helped the Yankees win the first game of his final homestand at Yankee Stadium. Jeter and Greene both said that the Yankees are trying to win every one of their remaining 10 games since they are not mathematically eliminated from getting the second wild card (five games behind the Oakland Athletics). Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed one run in his last outing, will start Friday’s game for the Yankees.

Earlier this season, Jordan Brand released a tribute commercial for Jeter that had celebrities such as Spike Lee, Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Billy Crystal and Carmelo Anthony tip their cap to Jeter. Yesterday, Gatorade put out a commercial that had a much more local feel. Jeter asked to be let out of his car early and then greeted fans of all ages while walking to Yankee Stadium. He was serenaded by Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” while going into Stan’s Sports Bar for the first time and seeing the mural of himself outside that establishment.

Here is the outstanding Jeter Gatorade commercial that has over two million views in 24 hours:

Derek Jeter helped the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays by ending his long hitless streak


Brandon McCarthy pitching for the Yankees.

Brandon McCarthy pitching for the Yankees.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Wednesday night during the last game of their three-game series at Tropicana Field. The Yankees got back in the win column after losing their last three games and five of their previous six. The three runs that the Yankees scored were as many as they had scored in their previous three games combined.

Derek Jeter was 0-28 coming into the game but his hit in the sixth inning snapped his second longest hitless streak of his career. He scored what ended up being the game-winning run on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly to right.

The Yankees scored their first two runs off of Rays starter Alex Cobb in the fifth inning. After being hit during Tuesday’s game, Chase Headley hit a double to deep center that scored Chris Young. Then, Brendan Ryan who usually doesn’t hit for much power, hit a ground rule double that landed near the foul pole in right to score Headley.

Brandon McCarthy had yet another dominating start for the Yankees. He pitched seven impressive innings, only allowed two runs and picked up four strikeouts. Evan Longoria was the only Ray that did damage off of McCarthy. He hit a solo homer in the first and had a RBI ground out in the sixth.

In the seventh inning, McCarthy wrapped up his start with an “immaculate inning” that included recording three strikeouts on only nine pitches. This feat is very rarely seen in baseball and was a great way to conclude his dominating performance. He has proven that the Yankees should make every effort to bring him back next season. Joe Girardi has been impressed with how McCarthy has been pitching.

I think his sinker has been really good and I think his curve ball has been really effective,” Girardi said. “I think that he gets some strikes with it, he puts some guys away with it and it has been really effective. But I think the command of his sinker has been the most important thing.”

McCarthy, who had struggled before being traded to the Yankees but had excelled in 2011 and 2012, has now allowed two runs or less in seven of his last nine starts. He needed only 91 pitches to get through seven innings and had 12 ground ball outs and eight fly ball outs.

The other pitching highlight from this game was that Dellin Betances, the flame throwing set-up man who was born in Washington Heights, recorded his 131st strikeout of his season. In his first full major league season, he set the record for most strikeouts in a season by a Yankee reliever. Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera previously set the record with his 130 strikeouts in 1996. His knee buckling slurve and 99 MPH fastball has led him to a dominating 1.33 ERA.

I got a bunch of text messages (about the record),” Betances said. “I am happy we came out on the winning side. It is pretty incredible to think about the whole year and how everything has gone. I definitely feel honored, especially to be a part of this group and part of this organization. Just to be mentioned around his name (Mariano Rivera), you are talking about the best closer & reliever in the game, just to be around the same breath as him, I take thrill in that.”

“You think about the people that he (Betances) has passed in the last few weeks, Goose Gossage and Mariano Rivera, one Hall of Famer and one who has just got to wait his turn basically, it is pretty impressive what he has done,” Girardi said. “What he went through, some of the struggles that he went through, those struggles help you. When you struggle and are able to get back up and fight through it, it helps you down the road because it is not always going to be easy in this game.”

The Yankees won Derek Jeter’s final game at Tropicana Field after David Robertson got Nick Franklin to strike out swinging to end the game. Robertson picked up his 37th save of the season, which is the third best save total in the American League.

Young, who scored the Yankees first run, should be brought back as a fourth outfielder if he is willing to take a discount. His average on the season is .219, but since his first game with the Yankees on September 2, he has hit .324 in 34 at-bats with three homers and eight RBIs.

The Yankees and Blue Jays will begin a four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Rookie Shane Greene (5-3, 3.56 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees and the veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will get the start for Toronto.

The Rays beat the Yankees 6-1 on Wednesday at Tropicana Field


Derek Jeter warming up at Tropicana Field

Derek Jeter warming up at Tropicana Field

The Yankees lost to the Rays on 6-1 on Tuesday for their fifth loss in their last six games. The Yankees have now only scored seven runs in their previous six games, which has been a major reason for all of the losses.

Tuesday’s game stands out because it was the fifth time that a Yankee had been hit in the last four games by the Rays. Joe Girardi was so frustrated that after Derek Jeter was hit on the wrist in the eighth he was thrown out of the game. “Five times in four games we have been hit,” Girardi said. “Twice in the elbow, once in the chin, a ball at Gardy’s head last night, another ball at Chase’s ribs last night. I am all for pitching inside, but you got to know how to pitch inside, because it is extremely dangerous. Chase Headley is lucky that he is OK. I don’t know what they expect.”

Jeter and Headley have both been hit twice since Sept. 9 and Brian McCann has been hit once. “No one likes to get hit,” Jeter said. Obviously when it happens it’s unfortunate; when it happens a lot, then yeah, people get frustrated.”

After Jeter was hit in the eighth both benches were warned, which led to umpire Rob Drake ejecting Girardi, Tony Pena and David Phelps from the game. Phelps was ejected when he sent a fastball near Kevin Kiermaier’s chin to the backstop in the eighth. Drake ruled this intentional even though Phelps was only making his second appearance since August 3. This also caused Pena to be ejected since he was the acting manager with Girardi out of the game.

The game was close through the sixth inning as the Rays only had a 2-1 lead at that point. Michael Pineda rebounded well from his last start since he only allowed one run in 5.1 innings. He was not able to give the team much length since he had 100 pitches when he was taken out. Pineda has now allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his 10 starts this season giving him an impressive 2.15 ERA.

The only run that the Yankees scored in the game came off of a single by Ichrio Suzuki that scored Chris Young in the second inning off of Jake Odorizzi. The Yankees had seven hits and two walks but were only 1-10 with runners in scoring position. Brett Gardner and Brian McCann, the three and four hitters counted on to drive in runs, were both 0-4 and McCann grounded into a double play with Jeter on first in the eighth. In the seventh inning, after Antoan Richardson stole second, Brendan Ryan and Jacoby Ellsbury both lined out to the outfield in consecutive at-bats.

The Yankees relief pitchers fell apart in the seventh inning as three pitchers combined to allow four runs on four hits. Three of those runs were charged to Esmil Rogers and the fourth was charged to Rich Hill. The Rays scored their first run of the seventh when the dangerous Evan Longoria hit a single that sent Ben Zobrist home and David DeJesus to second. DeJesus’s single to right advanced Zobrist to second. Hill gave up two consecutive singles to James Loney and Nick Franklin, which led to DeJesus scoring the second run of the inning.

A play that is barely ever seen happened with Wil Myers hitting and Phelps pitching. Myers hit a sac fly to center and Longoria scored from third and Loney scored from second. Part of the reason they both scored was that Ellsbury had to dive to make the catch. Girardi likely protested the game after this play.

In an almost fitting ending to the drama-filled game, Brendan Ryan struck out swinging with runners on first and second.

The only memorable part of the game besides Pineda’s performance was that Jeter was honored before the game with a ceremony. Jeter does not have a hit in his last 26 at-bats, but will likely remember and enjoy the kayak in Yankee colors with the No. 2 on it and a framed Rays jersey of Tampa Bay senior advisor Don Zimmer, who died last year. Jeter developed a clos relationship with Zimmer while he was the bench coach with the Yankees and would touch him for good luck.

In Jeter’s final game at Tropicana Field, on Wednesday, Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy will pitch for the Yankees. McCarthy has allowed two runs or less in six of his last eight starts, and he allowed zero runs in three of those eight starts.

The Yankees have been officially eliminated from winning the American League East


Shawn Kelley throwing a pitch for the Yankees.

Shawn Kelley throwing a pitch for the Yankees.

The Yankees lost 1-0 in their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field. Their offense has been anemic recently since it was their fourth time being shutout in their last 11 games. With yesterday’s loss, the Yankees officially can’t win the American League East.

For the Yankees, the theme this year has been an inability to score runs, and the Yankees have only scored six runs combined in their previous five games. This includes Monday’s shutout, a shutout against the Orioles last Friday and a game where they only scored one run in the first game of their doubleheader on Friday. They had an outside chance at getting the second wild card before going 1-4 in their last five games, but it will now be virtually impossible to make up six games with 13 games to play.

“For whatever reason, we’re not hitting,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s frustrating. Eventually I think it’s got to turn, but it better turn pretty quickly here.”

Tampa Bay starter Alex Colome and Yankees starter Chris Capuano both did not allow a run. Colome allowed six hits and a walk in 6.2 innings, but Ichiro Suzuki’s double in the seventh was the only extra base hit that Colome allowed. Brian McCann flied out to center with runners on first and second to end the seventh.

The Yankees had Mark Teixeira on third and Carlos Beltran on second with one out in the second inning but Ichiro popped out to the shortstop and John Ryan Murphy flied out to right. That was their best opportunity to score while Colome was pitching, but the season-long struggle with runners in scoring position continued.

Brett Gardner, who was 0-4, said that the Yankees continued the trend of struggling to score. “Same story, we have been pitching really well, but it has just been hard for us to score runs,” Gardner said. “We have had flashes of being pretty good, but for the most part, we have just struggled to get guys across the plate, and it is frustrating because with all the injuries that we have had to our rotation the guys that have come up and come in from other places have really stepped up.”

Capuano had his second start with the Yankees where he allowed zero earned runs. He pitched six innings, walked four batters and only allowed two hits. Girardi took him out of the game after throwing 101 pitches. Capuano easily should have had his second win as a Yankee, but the Yankees were held scoreless by a Rays starter who was making only his second start of the season. Four Rays relief pitchers held the Yankees hitless over the final 2.1 innings, and Joel Paralta got the win as a result of Ben Zobrist‘s walk-off.

It was a questionable decision by Girardi to pitch Shawn Kelley in the ninth instead of Dellin Betances, and that decision did end up backfiring. Matt Joyce’s walk after James Loney and Logan Forsythe hit singles earlier in the inning loaded the bases with two outs. Zobrist, who is in his ninth season playing with the Rays, hit his walk-off passed Ichiro in right for the game-winning hit.

It is almost a fitting “ending” to the Yankees season that Martin Prado, who was a key trade deadline acquisition and really helped the offense before his injury, will miss the rest of the season because he had an appendectomy and had surgery on Tuesday. He had a .316 average with seven homers and 16 RBIs since being acquired via trade from Arizona on July 31. He has two years left on his contract and will likely be the team’s second baseman for the next two seasons.

The starters for the middle game of the three-game set will be Michael Pineda for the Yankees and Jake Odorizzi for the Rays. Pineda will look to rebound from his worst start of his season where he allowed four runs and 10 hits in 7.1 innings against the Rays on September 11. Besides that start, Pineda has allowed two runs or less in his nine other starts this season.

The Yankees bullpen pitched 8.2 dominating innings in their win over the Tampa Bay Rays


Chris Young

Chris Young

The Yankees snapped their two-game losing streak with a come from behind 8-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. This win was their 35th win of the come from behind variety this season. 

Chris Capuano allowed four runs in the first inning and was taken out of the game by Joe Girardi after only getting one out. Six out of the seven hitters he faced had either a hit or a walk, which included Logan Forsythe’s single that scored Wil Myers. Ryan Hanigan’s sacrifice fly that scored James Loney came with Chase Whitely pitching, but that run was charged to Capuano. He did not have his stuff on Wednesday, but the bullpen did because five pitchers combined to allow allow one run in 8.2 innings. 

Dellin Betances pitched the last out of the seventh and the eighth inning and allowed one hit and struck out his 126th batter of the season. “We take a lot of pride,” Betances said. “We try to feed off of each other. It helps us out that we have a lot of guys out there.”

The offense did their part in this game as well. The Yankees were an improved 3-9 with runners in scoring position and two of their nine hits were home runs. Wednesday’s game was the second time that they had scored more than three runs in their last five games.

Brian McCann hit his 18th homer of the season in the bottom of the first to put the Yankees on the scoreboard. McCann drove in the team’s second and third runs in the third inning with his single that scored Chris Young and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees tied the game at four in the fourth with Young’s first homer with the Yankees. Young had only one three-hit game in 88 games with the Mets this season. He had his first 3-hit game in his fifth game tonight with the Yankees. 

In the past two games, Young is 4-7 (.571), with four RBIs, a homer and two runs scored. He was signed to a minor league contract on August 27, and after struggling with the Mets this season, his bat has come alive with the Yankees. “I’m just trying to hold my own,” Young said. “I am just trying to do my part.” 

Mark Teixeira‘s unlikely triple in the fifth inning scored McCann to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Chase Headley, who was 2-3, hit a single off of relief pitcher Jeff Beliveau to drive in Teixeira. That run was the sixth charged to Rays started Jake Odorizzi. 

The Yankees tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth inning with a run scoring double by Ichiro Suzuki and then a double to left by Young that scored Ichiro.

Evan Longoria smashed a homer off of Esmil Rogers in the ninth to make the score 8-5. Rogers would rebound to get Myers to pop out to Stephen Drew at second to end the game. The last time that the Yankees scored eight runs in a game was on August 27 when they beat the Detroit Tigers 8-4. 

The Yankees have 19 games left in the regular season and are currently 4.5 games out of the second wild card spot, as a result of losses by both the Mariners and Tigers. The Yankees will likely have to win 15 or more games the rest of the season to have a chance.  

Ryan Hanigan’s block at the plate in the fifth led to the Rays beating the Yankees


Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew

The Yankees lost a frustrating game to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are now 3-4 during the first seven games of their nine-game homestand. That is not how Joe Girardi wanted to begin a crucial stretch of home games in September. 

Hiroki Kuroda allowed four earned runs and nine hits in only 3.1 innings against the Rays. He had previously allowed two runs or less in his last four starts. He struck out the side in the first inning, but James Loney led off the second with a homer to right, and then Kuroda’s four singles allowed in the third inning led to two more Tampa Bay runs. Evan Longoria and Loney hit RBI singles to center in consecutive at-bats. Kuroda allowed three consecutive singles in the fourth with one out before being taken out of the game with the Yankees losing 4-0.

Seven Yankee relief pitchers actually combined to pitch 5.2 innings and only allow two hits and zero runs. Girardi has so many relief pitchers at his disposal since the roster expanded on September 1. David Huff allowed two hits in his 1.2 innings and David Robertson pitched a scoreless ninth and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 5.1 innings.

However, instead of Kuroda, the loss can be blamed on a Yankees offense that scored three runs or less for the third time in their last four games (they didn’t score a run in two of those games). Out of the seven hits that the Yankees had, only Jacoby Ellsbury’s home run in the fourth inning was not a single. One controversial play with Stephen Drew stands out in the fifth inning.

In the fifth inning, the first three batters that came to the plate got on base, as Chase Headley was hit by a pitch and Ichiro Suzuki and Drew both singled. Chris Young then hit his first hit in his first start with the Yankees. His single scored Headley and Ichiro. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a single with Drew on second but Drew was ruled out at home. Drew should have scored according to the rules or been held at third.

Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan was clearly blocking the plate and the only way that Drew could have scored is if he ran Hanigan over. According to the new rules this season, if the catcher is blocking the plate the runner is supposed to be ruled safe. “You almost have to encourage the runner to run the catcher over,” Girardi said. “The only thing he could do is run him over, that is it.”

The Yankees could have had their fourth run right there, but third base coach Rob Thomson said that he should have held Drew at third to have runners at second and third with no outs. “Just a bad send,” Thomson said. “An error on my judgement. I take full responsibility for it.” To end the fifth inning, Derek Jeter hit into a double play where Young was doubled off of second.

Another play that hurt the Yankees chances was in the seventh inning when Ichiro had third stolen with one out, but Drew swung at the pitch and hit a line drive to right field causing a double play. If Drew would have been more aware and not have swung, he could have driven in Ichiro with a sacrifice fly.

The deflating loss to Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his career, makes the team’s hope of getting the second Wild Card far fetched at this point. They are now 5.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals with only 20 games to play.   

Preview of the series between the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium


Hiroki Kuroda will get the start on Tuesday.

Hiroki Kuroda will get the start on Tuesday.

The Yankees had their last off day of the season last night and the Seattle Mariners won their game, which means that the Yankees are now five games behind Seattle for the second wild card with 21 games left to play. The Cleveland Indians are half a game ahead of the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers are 4.5 games ahead.

The Yankees are trying to remain optimistic at this point even though they will likely have to go at least 15-6 to have a chance, which will mean that the offense will have to score more runs than they have been recently. 

Derek Jeter, who saw Michael Jordan, Dave Winfield and Cal Ripken Jr. come to Yankee Stadium as surprise guests for Derek Jeter Day, is one player who is not giving up on the season, as his career winds down. “We’re still in a position where if we win our games, then we’ll be all right,” Jeter said.

Chase Headley, who has never played in the playoffs before, is also remaining optimistic and knows that all the team can do is win as many games as possible. “Well, it’s obviously not the easiest path that we have built for ourselves, but we’re going to keep fighting,” Headley said. “We’ve got to take care of our own business. We’ve got to go out and win games and win series. That’s all we can really focus on.”  

The Yankees play the rest of their games against American League East division opponents. Eight of their games will be against the first-place Baltimore Orioles, who have won five of their past seven games, and they will end their current nine-game homestand, in which they are 3-3 so far, with a three-game series against the fourth-place Tampa Bay Rays. 

In their previous series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees offense didn’t score any runs in two out of the three games. Shane Greene and especially Michael Pineda both pitched very well in the two losses but couldn’t get the win because of the inept offense. The Yankees only had three hits in Friday’s loss, and in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat, the offense only had four hits. They can’t repeat that offensive performance if they are going to sweep the Rays. 

Tampa Bay, who has lost seven of their past 12 games, is 23rd in all of baseball in runs scored and 20th in all of baseball with their .248 batting average. When the Yankees played the Rays from August 15-17, at Tropicana Field, the Yankees won two out of the three games. David Robertson, who has been a bright spot for the Yankees this season with his 35 saves, saved both games that the Yankees won. 

Chris Archer, who will pitch against the Yankees during Tuesday’s game, has had a lot of success against the Bronx Bombers in his career. He has a 1.98 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season and had a 1.23 ERA in three starts against the Yankees last season. However, Archer has allowed 13 runs combined in his last two starts and the Yankees will need to take advantage of his recent struggles by scoring a few runs off of him.

For the Yankees, Hiroki Kuroda has allowed two runs or fewer in all of his last four starts.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium: 

Tuesday 7:05 p.m. on YES

Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.78 ERA)

vs.

Chris Archer (8-8, 3.60 ERA)

Wednesday 7:05 p.m. on YES

Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.46 ERA)

vs. 

Jake Odorizzi (10-11, 3.84 ERA)

Thursday 7:05 p.m. on YES

Michael Pineda (3-4, 1:80 ERA in nine starts)

vs. 

Alex Cobb (9-7, 2.83 ERA)

Chase Headley’s error and an offense that didn’t hit led to a Yankees loss to the Royals


James Shields

James Shields

On Friday night, the Yankees lost to the Kansas City Royals, 1-0, in the first game of their series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost even though the Royals did not score an earned run off of them. The hopes of getting the second wild card are fading since they are now 4.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners. It is important that, as Joe Girardi said, the Yankees win most of their remaining 23 games.

Michael Pineda pitched seven innings, only allowed three hits, had four strikeouts and allowed his unearned run in the third inning. In the third inning, Alcides Escobar ended up being safe at second as a result of a hard hit ground ball that kicked over Headley’s glove for an error. Norichika Aoki was the next batter and his single to center scored Escobar for Kansas City’s only run. Escobar was the only Royal who advanced to second off of Pineda.

Pineda has now allowed two runs or less in all eight of his starts this season and has an outstanding 1.80 ERA. However, he only has three wins this season because the offense has combined to score six runs in the games that he has gotten a no decision or loss. He has pitched better than the Yankees could have hoped for and since returning from his more than three-month stay on the disabled list he has only allowed one walk in five starts.    

“Tonight, my change up worked really good and my fastball too,” Pineda said. “Everything was working good. I had control and good command of the ball tonight.” 

The Yankees offense went up against James Shields, who is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he is firing on all cylinders. He definitely was on Friday, as he pitched 8.1 innings, had six strikeouts, zero walks and only allowed three hits. Shields, whose nickname is Big Game James, won his 13th game and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth-inning when Brett Gardner hit a double to the wall in right center. However, Brian McCann popped out to third with runners on first and second to end the inning. That was the best scoring opportunity that the Yankees would have the whole game. 

In the sixth inning, Gardner just missed hitting a home run but his fly ball to right was caught by Lorenzo Cain right in front of the wall on the warning track. Shields allowed six runs against the Yankees at Kaufman Stadium on August 25, but in this game he located all his pitches and resembled the pitcher he was in 2011, when he finished with a 2.82 ERA and was an All-Star. 

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was impressed with Shields and thought he was much better than when they faced him last time. “He just didn’t make any mistakes,” Girardi said. “There were no balls in the middle of the plate. He has got really good stuff.” Shields has actually pitched better against the Yankees recently since he has a 3.67 ERA against them in his last seven starts but a 4.33 lifetime ERA against the Bronx Bombers. 

After Friday’s start, Shields has now pitched 200 innings in eight consecutive seasons. 

Derek Jeter hit a single to center in the ninth inning, but the dominating reliever, Wade Davis struck out Carlos Beltran looking on an outside fastball to end the game. 

The Yankees will look to have their bats wake up against Danny Duffy on Saturday. He has a 2.42 ERA on the season, but the 25-year-old has a 4.76 in one start against the Yankees this season. Brandon McCarthy will start the 4:05 p.m. game for the Yankees. McCarthy, who has a 2.80 ERA in 10 starts with the Yankees, will try to avoid his third consecutive loss. 

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