The Yankees (40-42) did not have a memorable 4th of July since they lost 8-2 to the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field to begin their series against the 4th place team in the AL Central. The Yankees have continued their trend of struggling once getting to .500 since they got to .500 on Thursday at 39-39 but have gone 1-3 since then.
CC Sabathia, who was on track to possibly be in the All-Star Game as of the middle of June, has really struggled in his last three starts. Against the White Sox on July 4th, he allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks, and this was his third consecutive start where he gave up five or more runs.
Sabathia has allowed 11 runs in his last three starts after limiting the opposition to 13 runs in his previous 10 starts. Also, in his last three starts, Sabathia’s ERA has increased from 2.20 to 3.48. All pitchers have stretches in the season where they struggle and Joe Girardi said he believed that these three starts are not really cause for concern. However, it is important that he shows signs of improvement in his last start before the All-Star break so that he can pitch the Yankees to a win and prove that he can still have his previous effectiveness.
A player who was a borderline All-Star before this game was Didi Gregorius. He is still a small possibility but his chance has likely gone away as a result of going 0-4 (0-3 with runners in scoring position) and committing three errors (one throwing and two on ground balls). His 11 errors are only two fewer than his high for an entire season. He is usually very reliable on defense but sometimes doesn’t make the routine play.
Gregorius’s offensive numbers are much better than last season and he still ranks near the top among shortstops in the American League. His .287 average is fifth best among shortstops, his 38 RBIs are sixth best among shortstops, his nine homers are tied for 8th best and his 13 doubles are tied for 8th most among shortstops. However, a stat that will likely keep him out of the ASG is that his 11 errors are ninth most in the league among shortstops.
The offensive stars in this game for the Yankees were Starlin Castro and Chase Headley but they did not nearly have enough help. Castro was 4-4 with a run scored to raise his average from .246 to .256. He was 0-12 in his previous four games, so this could be a sign of him starting to hit like he did earlier in the season. He only has three RBIs in his last 10 games, and it is important for him to drive in runs since he has been the No. 5 or 6 batter in the lineup.
Headley was 1-2 and drove in both runs that the Yankees scored in the game on his 364 foot homer to right in the second inning. Headley had a .150 average at the end of his inept April, a much improved .208 average on May 25 and his average now is all the way up to .247. He and Carlos Beltran have been the team’s best hitters the last two months, but in Monday’s game he and Castro did not have enough help.
Castro and Headley combined to have five hits but the rest of the lineup combined for only three hits. Those three hits were all singles and the Yankees combined to go a pathetic 0-13 with runners in scoring position.
Tim Anderson, Brett Lawrie and Dioner Navarro all drove in two runs for the White Sox, which gave them all the runs they would need to win the opening game of the series. Toms River, NJ, native Todd Frazier drove in one run for Chicago and is having a Dave Kingman like season since he has a .212 average with 23 homers.
It is looking more and more like the Yankees should at least be partial sellers at the trade deadline for the first in about 26 years. They lost two out of three games to the San Diego Padres from Friday to Sunday. The Padres have the worst record in the NL West at 36-47 and have already started trading some of their best players in James Shields and Fernando Rodney.
The Yankees are seven games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East and are now 4.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild-card spot. It will be tough to make up that deficit since the Yankees would have to play much better than they have been and there are five teams between them and the Blue Jays.
If the Yankees trade Beltran and Aroldis Chapman to a team that is on track to make the playoffs they will be able to get back players who will help them be a much better team next season and improve their depth. The Yankees play two more games against the White Sox and then travel to Cleveland to play four games against the red-hot Indians before the All-Star break. The Indians have won 15 of their last 17 games.
After losing their two games in Denver at Coors Field against the Rockies, the Yankees started their series at Target Field against the Twins (20-46) with a win. CC Sabathia got his fifth win of the season after only allowing one run in six innings. He gave up six hits, three walks and struck out seven Twins.
Sabathia is not the power pitcher that he used to be, and has figured out how to reinvent himself at 35 after a subpar 2015 season (4.73 ERA), but he has been just as effective this season as he was in the prime of his career. He deserves to be an All-Star since in his 11 starts this season he has an outstanding 2.20 ERA, 56 strikeouts and has only allowed two homers. In 2014, when he only made eight starts due to injury, he had a 5.28 ERA and allowed 10 homers.
Proving how dominant Sabathia has been since the beginning of May is that in his past seven starts he has a 4-2 record, a remarkable 0.82 ERA (four runs combined), 41 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP. His 0.82 ERA since the beginning of May is the lowest in all of baseball.
In his last three starts, Sabathia has allowed a total of only one run while not allowing a homer and striking out 16 batters. Sabathia has allowed three runs or less in all of his starts this season and he was not able to get a win in three starts this season when he allowed two runs or less because the Yankees didn’t score enough runs.
However, he got the win on Thursday, his 219th of his career, since Didi Gregorius smashed a 3-run homer to right in the top of the seventh that drove in Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann. Gregorius’s homer off of Fernando Abad, who had just come into the game, broke a 1-1 tie. The Yankees would not have won the game without Gregorius because he scored the team’s first run of the game on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single to center.
Gregorius, who struggled against lefties in 2015 hitting only .247 against them last season, is hitting .368 in 57 at-bats against lefties this season. He was able to make an adjustment in the offseason that has really improved his production.
Gregorius, who is more known for his offense, has improved overall offensively compared to last season and is on track to improve his numbers in many categories. He finished last season with a .265 average, 24 doubles, nine homers, 56 RBIs and five steals. As of Thursday night’s game, he has a .280 average, 10 doubles, six homers, 28 RBIs and two steals.
The backend of the bullpen trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman dominated like usual to closeout the game. They combined to pitch three innings, allow only one hit and strike out four.
Sabathia is doing all he can do get the Yankees into the postseason race but they might not have enough on their roster to do so. The Yankees, who are currently 32-34 and 4.5 games out of a playoff spot, have their next eight games against the Twins and Rockies, who are both under .500.
These next eight games will go a long way towards determining if they will get back into the playoff race. Even if they do as a result of these games, the Yankees haven’t shown the ability to win on the road or beat teams above .500. It will likely be best if they trade Chapman before the trade deadline to get a few players who will be able to help the team next season.
On Wednesday, in the middle game of their three-game series at Camden Yards, the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-0 to end their six-game losing streak. Before Wednesday night’s game, the Yankees had only scored more than four runs once in their previous 10 games.
The Yankees are currently last in the American League with 89 runs scored after finishing last season with the second most runs scored in the AL, which means that the team is due to continue to score runs more runs than they had been the previous 10 games. They will need to based on the teams that they play coming up.
CC Sabathia did not allow a run in seven innings pitched to go along with only allowing six hits and recording six strikeouts. It was a throwback performance for Sabathia, who was the ace of the staff when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, as this was the first time that he allowed zero runs in seven innings pitched since April of 2013. He was able to lower his ERA from 5.06 to 3.81 and picked the perfect time to have his best start of the season.
Sabathia, who won his 99th game as a Yankee, entered the season as the team’s No. 5 starter but his ERA is second best of the five starters, he has allowed the second fewest hits and his one homer allowed this season is lower than any other starter.
He does not pitch with the same velocity that he used to, but he has figured out how to change his pitching style to be more reliant on his change-up and still be effective. The Yankees will need Sabathia, who is in his 17th season, to continue pitching more like a No. 3 starter than a No. 5 because Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino have been struggling.
The offense for the Yankees had a much needed seven-run outburst. They were able to do this after Alex Rodriguez was put on the 15-day disabled list earlier on Wednesday due to a strained right hamstring that he suffered while running to first on Tuesday. A-Rod was only hitting .194 on the season but his five homers are most on the team and his 12 RBIs are tied for most on the team with Starlin Castro.
A positive sign from Wednesday’s game offensively was that Jacoby Ellsbury was 3-3 with two walks, two steals and one run scored. He was active on the basepaths, which the Yankees need him to do more of. Ellsbury has five hits in his last three games (including Wednesday night’s game) after previously only having one hit in four games. The Yankees need Ellsbury to continue to get hits and steal bases at the top of the lineup.
It was a scoreless game going into the sixth inning but then Ellsbury scored on a Carlos Beltran sacrifice fly, Brett Gardner scored from second after Brian McCann’s single and then Mark Teixeira scored after an error by Orioles pitcher Tyler Wilson with Castro batting.
The Yankees would add four more insurance runs in the eighth inning. McCann’s double to deep right scored Beltran and Teixeira, Didi Gregorius’s single scored McCann and Gardner’s hit by pitch scored Gregorius. This was a much needed performance from McCann since he had not had a homer or RBI in his previous eight games. The Yankees were 4-12 (.333) with runners in scoring position, which is an improvement on how the team has hit in the clutch in many games this season.
Aaron Hicks, who will be playing a lot more now since Beltran will mainly be the DH with A-Rod on the DL, went 0-4. He will make the outfield defense better because he covers more ground and has a much better arm than Beltran, but he needs to start to produce offensively. Hicks only has two hits in his 30 at-bats this season, which gives him a very low .067 average.
Hicks’s performance was basically the only negative. Dellin Betances, who had allowed a homer in each of his previous three appearances, was able to retire both batters that he faced and strikeout one of them. The Yankees bullpen will get even better and deeper when Aroldis Chapman returns from his suspension on Monday.
The Yankees, who are now 9-16 after the win over Baltimore, will go from May 5 until May 22 without an off day. They will need solid performances from the starting pitchers so that the dominant bullpen will not be overworked. This 18-game stretch could go a long way towards determining if the Yankees will be able to turn their season around.
During these next 18 games, they have one more in the series against Baltimore (15-11), then three against the Red Sox (16-11), four against the Royals (14-13), three against the White Sox (19-9), three against the Diamondbacks (12-17) and then four against the Athletics (13-16). The Yankees need to pitch and hit like they did on Wednesday during the next 11 games because those teams have a combined 64-44 record.
CC Sabathia, who at 35 will likely be the Yankees No. 5 starter after struggling the last two seasons, recently said “I feel the best I have in three years.” That could be a sign that the former ace will produce much closer to how he did in 2012, when he finished with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.140 WHIP, 197 strikeouts and 15 wins, than he did last season.
Sabathia, who went on the disabled list on August 23 with right knee soreness and then had to miss the team’s wild-card playoff game due to checking himself into alcohol rehab, finished the 2015 season with a 4.73 and a 1.422 WHIP in his 29 starts. However, he pitched much better after returning from the DL than he did before and a factor that led to his improved results was that he started wearing a knee brace on September 9.
In his five starts while wearing the brace, the former Cy Young winner had an outstanding 2.17 ERA, which included winning the game that clinched the team a birth in the wild-card playoff game. Sabathia allowed one earned run or less in four of his five starts after coming off of the disabled list and the opposition only hit two homers off of him in those five games.
If he can stay healthy like he did in 2013 and have an ERA mid way between the ERA he had in 2012 (3.38) and in 2013 (4.78) then he will be a valuable pitcher at the backend of the rotation. The brace combined with being out of rehab could lead to him allowing fewer homers and having a much more respectable ERA this season. The 28 homers that he allowed last season were the second most in the American League.
Sabathia also said in a text to the NY Post that he is excited to get to Tampa with a clear head and a healthy body. Sabathia said in December that he had been sober since his stay in rehab when he checked in the day before the wild-card game, but also added that he is in the early stages of his recovery from alcohol abuse.
“I’m definitely in a good place,” Sabathia said in an interview with the Daily News. “You’ve never got this think beat; it’s always there and I’m always going to be a recovering alcoholic, but I’m in a good place. I’m excited about what’s coming ahead, not only in the season, but personally. I’m ready to go.”
Another positive development is that the big lefty said that his knee feels much better and his upper body feels stronger than it was when he had a 4.73 ERA last season. Sabathia was an All-Star in 2012 and then his velocity decline began in 2013. However, his struggles the last three seasons might have been due alcohol issues, undergoing arthroscopic surgery in his left elbow to remove a bone spur in lat October of 2012, losing 40 pounds in 2013 and then being put on the DL on May 12 of 2014 due to right knee inflammation, which ended up leading to a stem-cell shot in his knee.
Sabathia experienced swelling in his right knee in a rehab appearance for Double-A Trenton and ended up only making eight starts in the 2014 season. His renewed health in his elbow and knee combined with his stay in rehab could lead to him being a reliable workhorse similar to what he was a few seasons ago. He was able to locate his pitches where he wanted them, which included using his changeup very effectively, after coming off of the DL last season, and that could be a preview of what is to come in 2016.
The Yankees will need Sabathia, who has the PitCChIn Foundation that supports inner city youth, to be a better pitcher than he was in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons if they are going to make the playoffs again this season.
The Yankees (77-60) play the final game of their three-game set against the Orioles tonight before their important three-game weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees have split the first two games with the Bronx Bombers winning the series opener 8-6, as a result of Greg Bird‘s 3-run homer, and the Orioles winning the second game, as a result of Chris Davis’s homer off of reliever Chasen Shreve. The Yankees are currently 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East.
CC Sabathia will get the start tonight after not having pitched in a game since August 23. He was put on the disabled list on August 24 due to knee inflammation after feeling pain in his surgically repaired knee. He had to leave his start on the 23rd after allowing two runs on four hits and four walks in only 2.2 innings pitched.
Before that start against the Cleveland Indians, Sabathia had pitched six or more innings in three straight starts and allowed two runs or fewer in two of them. That is an improvement from earlier in the season, and the Yankees will be looking for him to give them a least six innings tonight against the Orioles. They can use length out of him because the Blue Jays offense that they will be facing in the upcoming series is more powerful than what the Orioles have, so it will be helpful to save the bullpen.
“I am looking forward to it and excited about it,’’ said Sabathia. “These games are big and I want to perform well. We control our own destiny. It’s sitting in our lap and that’s all you can ask for.’’
Since their two most effective weapons out of the bullpen will be available tonight after they needed Tuesday off, it will be ideal if Sabathia can pitch 7.0 innings, Dellin Betances can pitch the eighth inning and then Andrew Miller can come in for the save in the ninth. That is provided that the Yankees offense can score more than the one run that they scored on Tuesday night.
The Yankees were 0-3 with runners in scoring position last night and left seven runners on base. That will have to improve against Ubaldo Jimenez. A recipe for success offensively will be to take advantage of when runners are in scoring position and hit one or more homers because they are 42-11 when they hit two or more homers in a game this season.
Tonight against Jimenez, Brett Gardner is out of the lineup for the third consecutive game because his shoulder is not fully healed. Gardner jammed his shoulder after diving for a ball at the outfield fence during Saturday’s game. He was optimistic that he would play today when interviewed on Tuesday, but Joe Girardi is cautious because Gardner is often diving on the base-paths and in the outfield.
Gardner only has one hit in his last 13 at-bats and has a 3-17 average in his career against Jimenez. Dustin Ackley, who the Yankees acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline on July 31, will get the start in right field. Ackley is 6-11 against Jimenez, which means that he has had a lot of success in a small sample size.
Here is the rest of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Orioles:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Greg Bird 1B
Dustin Ackley LF
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B
The Yankees (61-51) lost to the Cleveland Indians, 2-1, in the second game of the series as the offense only had four hits in the game. The Yankees have now scored only nine runs in their last seven games and that low run output has led to them losing six of those games.
As a result of the Toronto Blue Jays 10-game winning streak the Yankees are half a game out of first and are now in second place for the first time since July 1. “Obviously you want to be in first place,” Girardi said. “The end date is the most important date to be there. It is going to come down to what we do the next 50 games or whatever we’ve got left.”
Brian McCann’s homer in the second inning was the only run that the Yankees scored in the game. McCann’s 19 homers this season leads all MLB catchers. “We just have to show up tomorrow and get a win,” McCann said.
Danny Salazar, who only allowed one run in 7.1 innings and had 8 strikeouts, retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings and the Yankees had trouble hitting his overpowering fastball. Salazar has now allowed a combined two earned runs in his last three starts and besides McCann’s homer the Yankees only got a runner to second or third twice against him.
The Yankees were 0-3 with runners in scoring position, were 1-11 with runners on base and Alex Rodriguez hit into two double plays. The top of the lineup continued to struggle as the 1-4 hitters went a combined 2-13 with five strikeouts. The top of the lineup needs to contribute offensively if the Yankees are going to win consistently again.
“I thought we swung the bats better,” Girardi said. “They made some good plays. We hit some balls deep. Unfortunately we were not able to do much.”
One positive was that the pitching continued to do its job for the team. CC Sabathia allowed 11 base runners in his six innings pitched, but he was able to limit the Indians to only two runs in six innings while recording two strikeouts and pitching very effectively with runners on base. He got Chris Johnson to hit into a double play to end the third and got Johnson to hit into another double play to end the fifth after the Indians scored their first run.
Sabathia, who lowered his ERA from 5.34 to 5.23, has now pitched well in his last two starts as he allowed one earned run, eight strikeouts and only three hits in six innings in his start last week against the Red Sox. He is improving since he has allowed three runs combined in his last two starts after allowing 10 runs in his previous two starts.
“I think my stuff was better last time,” Sabathia said. “My main focus is always to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win. I think I accomplished that tonight.” Limiting the opposition to two runs while allowing 11 base runners is very impressive and he pitched well enough to earn his 213th win of his career.
“He is working the ball in and out,” McCann said. “He is getting the cutter in. He made some huge pitches tonight.” McCann got to first in the ninth after Roberto Perez’s throw after his dropped third strike hit him, and John Ryan Murphy ran for him, but he was stranded at first after Carlos Beltran lined out and Didi Gregorius struck swinging to end the game.
The Yankees were coming off of a 16-inning marathon of a game so they needed some distance from Sabathia. He was able to throw 110 pitches, which is tied for the most he has thrown this season.
“I knew I had to lean on him tonight, but he was still throwing the ball well,” Girardi said about Sabathia. “I stuck with him.”
Hal Steinbrenner, who is the managing general partner of the Yankees, still has confidence in the team and its chance of winning the division. “I said in the offseason several times that if we stayed healthy, which is something we haven’t been able to do the last couple years, and if the middle of the lineup produced, which they didn’t do last year, then we were going to be contenders, and we are,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday from baseball’s owners meetings in Chicago. “It’s still ours to lose.”
The Yankees offense is trending the wrong way at the wrong time, with their power hitters, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, struggling, but there is still time for them to find their swing and hit like they did earlier in the season. The Blue Jays will also not continue to win games at the pace that they have been.
The Yankees will play the series finale on Thursday night and the offense will look to bounce back and prevent a sweep to the last place Indians. Nathan Eovaldi will be pitching for the Yankees and the erratic Trevor Bauer will get the start for Cleveland.
In the second game of the three game series against the Indians at Progressive Field, CC Sabathia will get the start for the Yankees and Danny Salazar will get the start for the Indians. Salazar has an impressive 3.38 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 125.1 inningns pitched and has only allowed one run and four hits in his previous two starts.
Sabathia is coming off of his best start of the season when he allowed only one run while allowing three hits and striking out eight in six innings pitched. He lowered his ERA from 5.54 to 5.34.
Those three hits that the Red Sox had off of him were the fewest that he had allowed in a game this season. If he continues to pitch well the Yankees could turn to a six-man rotation when Michael Pineda returns possibly in the end of August.
After yesterday’s 16-inning loss to the Indians, the Yankees called up Nick Goody and Chris Capuano from Triple-A Scranton. Capuano, who would have started today for the RailRiders, will be able to give the Yankees length in case Sabathia has to come out of the game early. Garrett Jones has been designated for assignment and Branden Pinder, who allowed the game-winning run in the 16th inning last night, was sent back down to Triple-A.
In tonight’s game, Jacoby Ellsbury will get the night off, Brett Gardner will get the start in center and Chris Young will play left field. Young has been playing against all lefty starters, since he has a .348 average against them this season, but is getting the start against the righty as a result of Ellsbury getting the game off because he had started 27 of 28 games since coming off of the disabled list and is hitting only .105 (with two homers) in nine August games.
The Yankees, who have lost four consecutive games, currently only have a half a game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. Here is the lineup for tonight’s important game against the Indians.
Brett Gardner CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Didi Gregorius SS
Chris Young LF
Stephen Drew 2B