The Yankees play the Baltimore Orioles at 7:15 p.m. EST on Saturday at Camden Yards in the second game of the series. The Yankees lost the first game of the series and will look to avoid losing their first series since they lost three out of four to the Oakland Athletics from May 28-31.
Chase Headley is back in the lineup after having to leave yesterday’s game in the fifth inning since he was hit by a grounder in his upper thigh. Mason Williams will make his second consecutive start in center field after hitting a homer for his first major-league hit last night. Jacob Lindgren (5.14 ERA in seven innings over seven games) was sent down to Triple-A Scranton this afternoon to work on his weaknesses and Jose Ramirez, who has a 2.25 ERA in 28 innings pitched with the RailRiders, was called up from Triple-A to be another pitcher who can give Joe Girardi some length.
Alex Rodriguez, who has 1,999 career RBIs going into the game, will look to become the third player with 2,000 RBIs. Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are the only ones who have driven in more than 2,000 runs.
Here is the lineup for tonight’s game:
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B
Mason Williams CF
Chase Headley, who was acquired at the trade deadline last season, was re-signed by the Yankees to a four-year, $52 million contract. He is a 30-year-old third baseman who hit .243/.328/.372 last season in 135 games with the San Diego Padres and Yankees, but in 58 games with the Yankees after being traded, he hit a much better .262/.371/.398 with six homers, 17 RBIs and eight doubles.
He played in 77 games with the Padres and 55 with the Yankees and had almost the same amount of homers (7 and 6) and doubles (12 and 8) in 22 fewer games. His average while playing for the Yankees was also much better than when he played in the National League with the Padres. The Yankees had to resign Headley because he proved that he was able to improve his stats while playing under the bright lights and he makes and his return entails that the defense in the infield will be elite at first base, shortstop, third and catcher.
He was productive with the Yankees and liked being in New York City. He makes their defense much better than it would have been without him. Headley also admitted that he took a discount to stay with the Yankees, which proves that he appreciates that the Yankees traded for him last July and desperately wants to play in the playoffs. Stats that prove how important bringing back Headley is for the Yankees are that as a Yankee, he was 7th in OPS, 11 in slugging, 7th in times on base and 5th in OBP among all third baseman. He is an elite defender and is an abover average hitter for a third baseman.
His signing also ensures that Alex Rodriguez will have little value to the Yankees in 2015. If A-Rod is healthy and somewhat productive, he should get at-bats at DH and will possibly be a back-up first baseman. Headley, who hit 31 homers and drove in 115 runs in 2012 when he finished fifth in MVP voting and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award, has not come close to having a season like that since, but his chances at repeating his success from 2012 are improved this upcoming season based on how he played after the All-Star break and the increased protection that he has in the Yankees lineup.
The Yankees will be dramatically improved defensively as well as to a lesser extent on offense at the second base, shortstop and third base positions in 2015. Martin Prado is now slated to be the everyday second baseman, and he should be much better than Brian Roberts, who was the primary second baseman last season. Didi Gregorius isn’t better than Derek Jeter in his prime, but he has much more range than Jeter had the past few seasons and even had a better OPS than Jeter did last season. Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson played third before Headley’s arrival, and they don’t combine to be nearly the player that Headley is. The infield defense will prevent more runs from scoring than last season, which will be important based on the pitching staff that the team will have.
Another benefit to Headley and the Yankees agreeing on a deal is that Rob Refsnyder will be able to get some more seasoning at AAA-Scranton to improve his defense at second base and then can get called up in June. Refsnyder is an elite second base prospect who hit .297 with 24 homers and 142 RBIs in three minor league seasons, but he really started to make everyone pay attention to him last season when he .318 with 14 homers, 63 RBIs and nine steals while playing 60 games at AA Trenton and 77 games a AAA Scranton. Refsnyder has to improve his defense, and he did last season as he nine errors for Trenton but only three while playing for Scranton.
He played outfield in college, and that versatility will make him valuable at either second or outfield since it is likely that Carlos Beltran will miss some time next season because of injury. The Yankees envision Refsnyder as their second baseman of the future, and with Headley’s return and Prado’s move to second, he will not feel the pressure in spring training of starting the season at second.
Headley can definitely be productive until his contract ends when he is 34. His ability to make the routine and Gold Glove caliber play at third shouldn’t decline and his overall stats could even improve if he doesn’t get injured again. “I enjoyed my time last year in pinstripes probably more than I have ever enjoyed playing the game,” Headley said on Yankees Hot Stove. “I am going to be a great teammate to all of my teammates. Obviously when you lose Derek Jeter there is no replacing him. I think we have a chance to be a really good defensive club and that is getting more and more important in today’s game.”
Headley thinks that coming to New York and having dangerous hitters around him made him a better hitter. He said that a major reason that he signed with the Yankees is that he wants to win and the Yankees offer him a better chance to do so than the Padres ever did. He proved to have a flair for the dramatic as he hit a walk-off hit in extra innings in his very first game as a Yankee. He will try to give fans many more moments like that during the years to come.
The next move that the Yankees need to make is adding a dominant starter. They reportedly don’t want to give Max Scherzer the contract that he wants, but that could change.
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.
Chase Headley’s home run to right field gave the Yankees a much-needed walk-off win against the Red Sox on Thursday night. It was their second win of the three-game series against Boston. Since the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners also won, the Yankees are still four games behind the Tigers and 3.5 games behind the Mariners.
“He is tough,” Headley said. He (Koji Uehara) has got a great split finger so you just try and get the ball deep and if he beats you with the fastball you live with it. I got a split and I was able to put a good swing on it. It was just another win, one more twoards where we want to go.” Headley’s first walk-off hit with the Yankees came in his very first game with the team on July 22 against the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees were losing 4-3 in the ninth inning, but Mark Teixeira hit a game-tying homer to the second deck in right field. He is supposed to be a power hitter in the middle of the lineup, but his previous homer came all the way back on August 17 and his last one before that was on August 2. Teixeira had only driven in two runs since August 17. If he can continue to hit for power the rest of the season it will greatly help the offense.
The first three runs that the Yankees scored were in the third-inning. Derek Jeter hit a double to deep center with one out in the third that scored Ichiro Suzuki and Jacoby Ellsbury. Jeter has been hitting the ball with much more power the past two games. With two outs in the inning, Carlos Beltran’s single to center scored Jeter.
Chris Capuano started the game and had by far his shortest appearance in his eight games with the Yankees. He allowed three homers, six hits and four runs in only 4.1 innings. He allowed a two homers to David Ortiz and another to Brock Holt. Holt also made an outstanding diving catch going into center field from second base in the fifth inning. Since Capuano struggled, Girardi decided to take him out of the game after 76 pitches and mix and match his expanded bullpen to try to keep the Red Sox scoreless.
Rich Hill, Esmil Rogers, Josh Outman, Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren combined to only allow one hit in 4.2 innings. Warren was able to get out of trouble in the ninth, with the Yankees losing by one, since he hit Allen Craig with a pitch and then made an error trying to get Xander Bogoerts out at first causing runners to be on first and second with no outs. However, he was able to get Daniel Nava to fly out to left and then get two ground outs to end the inning.
“With Craig I just led the fastball get away and hit him,” Warren said. “I expected the bunt and then kind of panicked after that instead of staying under control. I just tried to get ahead of guys once that happened and just tried to get outs, especially on the ground. It was a great win for us and we need to build on that tomorrow.”
After the winning the series against the Red Sox, the Yankees will continue their home stand with a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals currently have a one-game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central, so if the Yankees sweep them they could directly make up ground on them. Kansas City has won three in a row but has only gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. Kansas City has been much better in the second-half of the season, and their .263 batting average is the third best in all of baseball.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the Royals:
Friday 7:05 p.m. on YES
RHP Michael Pineda (3-3, 2.09 ERA)
RHP James Shields (12-7, 3.38 ERA)
Saturday 4:05 p.m. on Fox Sports 1
RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-4, 2.80 ERA with the Yankees)
LHP Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42 ERA)
Sunday 1:05 p.m. on YES and TBS
RHP Shane Greene (4-2, 3.88 ERA)
Yordano Ventura (11-9, 3.38 ERA)