The Yankees lost to the Indians 5-4 in 16 innings at Progressive Field on Tuesday night. It was their fourth consecutive loss and their fifth in their last six games, which combined with the Blue Jays nine consecutive wins, has reduced their lead in the American League East to only half a game.
Luis Severino pitched well in his second career start, but the story of the game was the offense’s struggles yet again. The Yankees only had eight hits in 16 innings and were only 2-7 with runners in scoring position. Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann, who are the 1-5 hitters in the order and are counted on to get on base and drive in runs, combined to go 1-30 with 11 strikeouts and zero RBIs. They are also a pathetic 2-66 in the last three games.
“It’s baseball,” said manager Joe Girardi, whose team was swept three straight by Toronto last weekend. “That’s it. If you’re ready to give up, give up. I’m not ready to give up.”
Stephen Drew’s solo homer in the sixth inning ended the team’s 31-inning scoreless streak, which has been partly due to the lack of production from the top of the lineup. Carlos Beltran hit a solo homer in the eighth to tie the score at two and that run forced extra innings as a result of Didi Gregorius being stranded at second after his double to leadoff the third inning.
In the 10th inning, Gregorius hit a single to load the bases, with Carlos Beltran on second and Chris Young on first, which ended the team’s streak of 21 at-bats without a hit with a runner in scoring position (6 games). Later in the inning, with two outs, Chase Headley hit a pinch-hit single to right to score Beltran and Gregorius on a 3-2 pitch to give the team a 4-2 lead.
However, the Yankees lead would not last long as Andrew Miller blew his first save after recording a save in his first 24 chances. After Carlos Santana hit a sacrifice fly to score Francisco Lindor, Yan Gomes would hit an RBI single to right to make the score 4-4.
“It stinks,” Miller said. “I put us in a terrible situation. I had a chance to close out the game, didn’t do it. I’m frustrated. I feel bad I let us down with the game won. I screwed it up.”
The Indians won the 5:04 minute marathon of a game in the 16th inning when Michael Brantley’s single to right off of rookie Branden Pinder scored Jose Ramirez.
Severino allowed one more earned run in this start than in his MLB debut, but his performance was more impressive because he pitched six innings instead of five and rebounded very well from a rocky first two innings. In his six innings, his seven hits and one walk led to two earned runs, but he allowed five of his seven hits in the first two innings.
Severino, whose lack of command in the first two innings led to his pitch count going up, really limited his pitches in the fourth and fifth innings as he retired all six batters he faced in that span. He was able to get Lonnie Chisenhall to ground out to second to end the sixth, and pitch well enough to get his first win, but the Yankees were only able to score two runs in eight innings off of Carlos Carrasco.
The Yankees used eight relief pitchers Tuesday night, which will give Joe Girardi fewer options in the rest of the series in Cleveland. It is important that the Yankees win the final two games of the series against the last place Indians so that they can maintain their slim lead in the division. Gregorius not scoring in the third inning was costly because that run could have been the run that won the game for the Yankees in nine innings.
CC Sabathia will get the start on Wednesday night for the Yankees to try and snap their four-game losing skid. It will also be important for the 1-5 hitters in the lineup to be more productive than they have been recently.
The seven-game winning streak that the Yankees were on is over as they had a 4-2 lead entering the top of the eighth inning but ended up losing to the Washington Nationals 5-4 in 11 innings. Denard Span hit an RBI infield single in the 11th off of Chris Capuano to score Tyler Moore in what was the winning run.
“Dellin Betances was down today and Andrew Miller is going to end up on the DL with a strain in his flexor muscle (forearm),” Joe Girardi said. “He will not throw the ball for 10 days to two weeks and then we will go from there.” Girardi didn’t use Betances because he had been used a lot recently.
The bullpen ruined a solid start by Nathan Eovaldi as he threw seven innings while allowing three runs on eight hits. He had four strikeouts and was able to give the team much more length than he did in his previous two starts. Span drove in the first run of the game in the third inning as his double down the left field line scored Danny Espinosa.
If Betances did not need a day off he likely would have been pitching in the eighth inning when the Nationals tied the game. With rookie Jacob Lindgren pitching, pinch-hitter Michael Taylor hit a two-run homer to right to drive in Ian Desmond to make the score 4-4. However, if Stephen Drew didn’t have trouble getting the ball out of his glove and converted the double play in the eighth then Taylor would not have come to the plate in the eighth.
The Yankees scored four runs in the seventh inning, but they ended up needing one more run to get the win. Brandan Ryan, who was appearing in his first game of the season, hit better than expected as his triple to center scored Chris Young (and was his second hit of the day). Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez both hit run scoring doubles and then Brian McCann had an RBI single after his grounder up the middle hit second base and prevented Desmond from catching it.
Rodriguez now needs only eight more hits to be the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits. The seventh inning was the only positive from the offensive standpoint as the Yankees left eight runners on base and were 0-6 with runners in scoring position outside of the seventh inning.
Miller told Girardi after the game on Tuesday that he had pain in his flexor muscle. During his nine pitches thrown during Tuesday’s game his body language was different than normal, which was an indication of his injury. Girardi said that everyone will be pushed back an inning and that Betances will be the closer while Miller is on the DL.
“It was hard to get loose sometimes and it became too much of a distraction,” Miller said. His control has not been as efficient as it was earlier in the season since he has thrown much more pitches recently. This hurts the Yankees since they will not have a shutdown reliable eighth inning pitcher like they have had with Betances.
The loss of Miller for what will probably be more than three weeks will hurt since he was having an All-Star season to this point. He has pitched 26.1 innings (26 games) and has a 1.03 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 17 saves in 17 chances, 43 strikeouts and only 10 walks.
Girardi will now likely use a mixture of Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson in the eighth inning with Miller out. It will be important for Betances to continue pitching in the ninth the same way he did in the eighth, but he is more of a sure thing than the eighth inning options are.
Pinch-hitter Garrett Jones struck out swinging to end the game. Before today’s game, Jones had raised his average from .186 to .262 from May 23 to June 5.
The Yankees, who are 33-26 and have a two-game lead in the AL East, have another off day on Thursday and will start a series against the fourth place Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox 8-5 on Sunday Night Baseball and with the win they swept a series against the Red Sox that was three games or longer for the first time since the 2006 season. The Yankees finished in first place in the AL East with a 97-65 record during the 2006 season. The Yankees have completely turned around their season from when they struggled during the first nine games as they have now won 13 of their last 16 games to give them a 16-9 record.
The Yankees had not swept the Red Sox at Fenway since CC Sabathia has been on the team and he thought it was awesome that they did so.
“I’ve never seen it,” CC Sabathia said. “It’s awesome to be able to come in here and do this. Tampa, the same thing; we hadn’t swept them (on the road) since I’ve been here, too. Hopefully it’s turning around and a sign of good things for us.”
Jacoby Ellsbury and to a lesser extent Brett Gardner were the offensive stars of the game for the Yankees. Ellsbury, who has 19 hits in his last 40 at-bats, was four for four with two runs scored. He raised his batting average to a .351, which is the eighth highest in the American League. Gardner, who has had two hits in each of his past two games to raise his average to .320, was two for six with a homer, two runs scored and three RBIs.
The top two hitters in the lineup were six for 10 with four runs scored and three RBIs. That is a lot of offensive production from the top of the lineup. Gardner’s three-run homer came in the sixth inning and gave the Yankees an 8-0 lead. The homer with Didi Gregorius and Gardner on base gave him three RBIs for the second consecutive game.
The other homer in the game by the Yankees was hit by Mark Teixiera. He hit a homer in the first inning while Gardner was on base to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Teixiera only has a .202 average but his nine homers are third in the American League and his 20 RBIs are tied for sixth in the league. The most important part of Teixiera’s offensive game is his power production and he is giving the team all they can ask for in that department.
Three runs were scored between Teixeira and Gardner’s homer and they would need them since the Red Sox scored five run in the sixth inning. Brian McCann had a two-run double in the third for his 15th run batted in of the season and later in the inning Carlos Beltran doubled to right to score McCann.
After his extremely slow start to the season, Beltran appears to be slowly turning his season around since he now has a .300 average in his last seven days and is 4-8 with two doubles and two RBIs in his last two games. He has raised his average from .161 to .197 in the last eight days.
Those doubles by Beltran and McCann proved to be valuable since the Yankees had an 8-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth but Warren allowed four runs in the sixth and Esmil Rogers allowed one runner to score. Warren pitched very well in the first five innings as he got the first nine batters he faced out and was able to get Daniel Nava to hit into a double play and then there was a foul out to McCann to end the fifth.
However, in the sixth, he allowed a single, double, a hit by pitch and another single all with two outs. Rogers came in with runners on first and second, after two runs had already scored in the inning, and allowed a three-run homer over the Green Monster to the dangerous Mike Napoli. Rogers was able to get the new Red Sox catcher, Blake Swihart, to strikeout swinging with runners on first and second to end the sixth.
David Carpenter and Andrew Miller did not allow a hit in the final 1.2 innings as the bullpen continued their dominance. Carpenter threw only one pitch in the eighth and was able to get a double play to end the inning and Miller had two more strikeouts en route to picking up his 10th save in as many chances. Miller was able to get his former teammate, David Ortiz, to hit a hard line drive to Ellsbury to end the game.
The Yankees are firing on all cylinders right now and will start a three-game series at Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays on Monday at 7:07 p.m.
On Friday morning, the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius, a 24-year-old shortstop from the Netherlands, in a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The relief pitcher prospect Robbie Ray went from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks, and the Yankees sent starter Shane Greene to the Tigers.
The Yankees only had to give up Greene, who is already 26 and started 14 games last season only because the Yankees had many injuries in their rotation, to get their shortstop who will take over for Derek Jeter. The Yankees have depth in their rotation, which means that this is a deal that they had to make.
Gregorius is coming off of a season where played in 80 games with the Dbacks and hit only .226 with six homers and 27 RBIs. However, he played more games in 2013 (103) and his offensive production was better as he had 16 doubles versus nine in 2014, a .252 average, seven homers and 28 RBIs. He had a .310 average in 57 games in 2014 while playing for the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate in Reno, which proves that he has the ability to hit for a higher average.
(Stats in the Pacific Coast League are usually inflated based on the ballparks since it is known as a hitter friendly league, but it was only his average that was higher and not his power numbers.)
Gregorius, who is known for his defense, might not have the ability to hit 15 homers in a season like Derek Jeter did nine times in his career, but he is a plus defender with the ability to go to his left and right. Jeter wasn’t able to have much range during his last few seasons, which means Gregorius will be an upgrade in that regard. In 67 games at shortstop in 2014, Gregorius had five errors, had a .983 fielding percentage, turned 39 double plays and had 189 assists.
In the minors, he had six errors in 19 games during the 2014 season at shortstop. He is athletic and has shown promise while playing for Arizona, which means that he has the ability to improve. Gregorious came out of left field because the Yankees would usually have acquired a higher profiled shortstop, but since they only had to give up Greene to get this young shortstop with promise the deal makes sense.
Former Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers had very complementary words to say about Gregorius in 2012. “When I first saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter,” Towers said. The test will come in April when he will have to show if he can handle the media scrutiny in New York City after previously playing in Cincinnati and Phoenix.
The Yankees offense needs a bounce back this season, but in order for it to do so Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira will have to perform better than they did las season. It will be a successful first season offensively if Gregorius can hit .255 with eight homers and about 55 RBIs.
On Friday afternoon, the Yankees continued their busy day with the signing of relief pitcher Andrew Miller. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were a finalist to land him along with the Astros, and he ended up being correct. The Yankees signed the dominating lefty reliever to a four-year, $36 million contract.
The 29-year-old is coming off of a season where he pitched in 50 games for the Boston Red Sox and 23 for the Baltimore Orioles while recording an ERA of 2.02, 62.1 innings, 103 strikeouts, five wins and only 17 walks. David Robertson might not return because he also wants a four-year contract, but the Yankees should have a hard-throwing shutdown bullpen with Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Jacob Lindgren and Esmil Rogers.
Lindgren was a second-round pick in June out of Mississippi State who is projected to make an impact. He had a 2.16 ERA across four levels of the minors this season.
Miller and Betances both have the ability to close, and they could be the closer by committee this season so they can both pitch in high leverage situations. Miller faced 64 batters in save situations last season and held them to a .070 average with 36 strikeouts. Miller (42.6%) and Betances (39.6%) ranked second and fourth among all relievers last season in strikeout rate. That’s a dominating and imposing lefty-righty combo at the back of the bullpen.
Miller has a career ERA of 4.91, but that is inflated because he struggled early in his career. From 2006 until 2011 his season ERA was never under 4.84, but he never pitched in more than 29 games in any of those seasons. He has proved to be much more successful the past three seasons with an increased work load in the prime of his career. He had a 3.35 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 2012, and in 2013, Miller had a 2.64 ERA with 48 strikeouts.
If Miller has a season similar to the one he had last season, and if Lindgren, Wilson or Warren can emerge as a reliable seventh-inning option, the Yankees bullpen could turn out to be similar to the one that helped the Kansas City Royals advance to the World Series in 2014. However, this bullpen dominance and comparison to that of the Royals last season would be even more comparable and if David Robertson returns.