The Yankees (38-33) beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Wednesday night and in doing so were able to sweep the first place Blue Jays. The Bronx Bombers are now only 1.5 games out of first place and they couldn’t have started their 15-game stretch against division opponents any better.
David Phelps had his second consecutive impressive start as he only allowed two runs and struck out seven in seven innings. In his previous start, against the Athletics on June 13, he pitched 6.2 shutout innings in a 7-0 Yankees win. He was very into the game as he showed a lot of emotion when he got an out to end an inning. The Yankees were also helped by Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira all picking up two hits.
There were a few non-pitching related plays that Phelps made that greatly helped his cause. In the first inning, after Melky Cabrera singled and Jose Bautista walked, Phelps was able to pick off Cabrera at second. Then, in the fifth inning, Phelps was able to make a great defensive play as the ball deflected off of him and he ran after it to just barely throw Cabrera out at first.
Manager Joe Girardi was impressed by Phelps’s performance against the powerful Blue Jays lineup. “Great performance by David Phelps,” Girardi said. “We really pushed him tonight. He located his fastball and cutter extremely well. His pick off in the first was the biggest play of the game.”
Girardi had Phelps throw more pitches than he had all season because Dellin Betances and David Robertson were both not available after having pitched two days in a row. Phelps was not able to get Cabrera out in the third as the only mistake that Phelps made was the two-run homer that the former Yankee hit off of him.
The Yankees had a balanced offensive attack with Jeter, Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Kelly Johnson and Yangervis Solarte all driving in runs. Solarte, who came into the game after Johnson left with bruised fingers, picked up an RBI after being walked with the bases loaded.
Ellsbury hit a sacrifice fly to left in the first inning to drive in the first run of the game for the Yankees. Johnson hit a sac fly to right to score Beltran in the second. Beltran showed signs of busting out of his slump as he hit a sac fly to left in the third and then hit a ground rule double that scored Ellsbury in the fifth. This was Beltran’s first multiple RBI game since April 22.
It was the 16th consecutive win by the Yankees over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. After struggling to score more than four runs for many games before June 12, the Yankees have now scored more than four runs in five of their past seven games. Going back to the game on June 5, the Yankees have won nine of their past 13 games.
To begin the series in Baltimore against the Orioles, Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees and the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez will pitch for the Orioles. Baltimore is currently in third place in the AL East, one game behind the Yankees.
To improve their winning streak to four games and overall record to 35-31, the Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 7-0 on Friday night at O.co Coliseum in Oakland. David Phelps had his best start of the season as he pitched 6.2 two-hit innings for his second win of the season, and seven different Yankees had RBIs.
Phelps had four strikeouts and allowed three walks while throwing 102 pitches. He was able to pitch well with runners in scoring position since the Athletics did not convert on any of their three chances. Phelps allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings in his last start, which proves that he was able to rebound very well.
Phelps’s dominating pitching performance was important, but it was just as significant that the offense scored six or more runs for the second consecutive game. Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts all had two hits for the Yankees, while everyone else in the lineup besides Carlos Beltran had a hit. They did their damage off of small ball as they scored all of their runs off of singles and a sacrifice fly. Also, the Yankees have drastically improved their hitting with runners in scoring position as they are 6-13 in their last four games.
Jacoby Ellsbury‘s single to left in the first inning that drove in Gardner for the first run of the game gave him a 17-game hitting streak. Later in the first inning, off of Oakland starter Sonny Gray who came into the game with a 2.83 ERA, Mark Teixeira’s sac fly to center scored Jeter. Ellsbury has improved his average from .258 to .290 since the start of his hitting streak. Over his last four games, Ellsbury has five RBIs, one homer and three runs scored and is hitting like he should remain in the three hole.
Ellsbury is impressed with how the offense has improved over the last four games and knows that the team has talented hitters. “When a team is clicking offensively it builds confidence with the team,” Ellsbury said. “We have very good hitters one through nine. We like where we are at right now.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ellsbury is the first Yankee since Reggie Jackson in 1977 to have the game winning RBI in each of the Yankees last four games.
Another player that has recently been on a hot streak is Jeter. He has improved his average from .259 to .275 in his last seven games. He has four multi-hit games in his last four games and has scored five runs and stolen two bases in that span. Jeter has always said that baseball is a game of momentum and he is proving that he can continue being a productive player for the rest of his final season.
The other Yankees who drove in runs were Gardner in the second, and Ichiro, Roberts and Kelly Johnson all drove in runs off of singles in the eighth inning.
Dellin Betances, the rookie from New York City who could be the Yankees’ first set-up man All-Star since David Robertson, picked up his ninth hold of the season and recorded two more strikeouts in his 1.1 innings of relief of Phelps. Even though he is a relief pitcher, his is in 30th place of all pitchers in the American League in strikeouts (65), and has the second most strikeouts among Yankees pitchers behind Masahiro Tanaka.
Betances now has an outstanding ERA of 1,63 and a WHIP of 0.75. His control, which was not so reliable earlier in his career, has been remarkable as he only 10 walks compared to his 65 strikeouts. He can throw a 99 MPH fastball and throws his slurve in the mid 80s.
Saturday’s game will start at 10:05 p.m. EST and if the Yankees are able to stretch their winning streak to five, they will have their second winning streak of that many games of the season. A win would validate the winning streak that started in Seattle because the Athletics have the best record in the American League, and it would also mean that they would win the series.
The Yankees lost 6-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night in the second game of the series at Busch Stadium. David Phelps, who grew up 20 minutes from the stadium, was not able to get the win while pitching in front 26 friends and family, but the offense and defense did not help him.
The offense was shutout by Lance Lynn, who is one of the Cardinals dominating young starters. He only allowed five hits and three walks in his complete game. Brian McCann and Brian Roberts both hit doubles off of Lynn, but the offense was not able to get a clutch hit with them in scoring position.
Phelps allowed five runs (three earned) in six innings, while striking out five and walking two. The defense let him down in the third inning when the Cardinals scored four runs. With the bases loaded and one out Allen Craig was safe at first on an error by Kelly Johnson, who was playing first since Mark Teixeira was out with stiffness in his wrist. Matt Holliday scored as a result of the error. The sloppy fielding was contagious as Roberts made an error on a routine grounder hit by Johnny Paralta, which allowed Matt Adams and Yadier Molina to score the third and fourth Cardinals runs.
Phelps pitched almost 30 pitches in the first inning and loaded the bases before Johnson’s error so it was not all the defenses’s fault. However, he did take the high road when asked about the errors. “I am never going to be frustrated with my defense,” Phelps said. “You look at the game, Ellsbury runs down a ball the first batter of the game, they pick me up more than they let me down.”
The catch that Jacoby Ellsbury made in the first inning off of leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter’s drive to the warning track was outstanding. He had to fully extend himself to rob Carpenter of at least a double.
The Yankees will try to find more offensive success against Shelby Miller in the series finale at 8:15 EST on Wednesday. A win in the rubber game would give them the edge in the three-game series and would give them a 5-4 record on the road trip against the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Cardinals.
Miller, who has a 3.18 ERA, is younger than Lynn and doesn’t have nearly as many strikeouts. Lynn has 61 strikeouts and Miller has only 45. Miller also has 30 walks, which is not a great strikeout to walk ratio. His 1.39 WHIP puts him in 37th place in the National League, so the Yankees should have a better chance of putting runs on the scoreboard tonight.
Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees and will look to improve the team’s record to 28-24. He will also look to bounce back from his last start when he was taken out of the game after 4.2 innings. He allowed four runs (two earned) and gave up eight hits, two walks and a homer. Kuroda’s pitched much better in his start on May 17 as he allowed three runs in six innings and struck out seven.
He will try to locate his splitter and breaking balls to end his streak of not having won a road game since getting the win at Texas last July 25.
The Blue Jays, who have won eight in a row, currently lead the AL East this late in the season for the first time since the year 2000. The Yankees are three games behind in second place.
The good news on the injury front for the Yankees is that Carlos Beltran did not have any issues with his 30 dry swings. It is still not known if he will avoid elbow surgery that would lead to him missing eight to 10 weeks, but his has to be promising. Also, Michael Pineda was able to get through two innings of an extended spring training game without any pain. He threw 20 out of his 28 pitches for strikes. He has been on the DL since May 6 with a right strained teres major muscle.
On Wednesday, the Yankees won the second and final game of the series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After losing the first game 6-1 after Tanaka allowed three earned runs and picked up his first loss since August of 2012, the Yankees won in 13 innings on Thursday as Preston Claiborne picked up the win as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in his first MLB at-bat.
After Jeff Samardzija had yet another outstanding start but did not get the win as a result of the Yankees scoring two runs in the ninth to tie the game, Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Claiborne and David Robertson, who picked up his ninth save in as many chances, combined to only allow two hits in four innings.
Chase Whitley, who was making his second start, held his own once again as he allowed one run in 4.1 innings while striking out three. Dellin Betances came on in relief of him to pitch 1.2 perfect innings and add three more strikeouts. He now has an impressive 45 strikeouts in 26 innings.
In the ninth inning, when the Yankees were losing 2-0, Ichiro Suzuki scored after grounding into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop and then Brendan Ryan scored the tying run after defensive replacement Darwin Barney made an error throwing to first.
The Yankees came through in the clutch off of Cubs closer Hector Rondon. The offense came up big once again in the 13th inning. After Ryan singled to leadoff the inning and Yangervis Solarte walked, Claiborne’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt in front of the pitcher advanced the runners to second and third with two outs. Ryan, who came into the game in the ninth inning, scored the winning run on a wild pitch by former Yankee Jose Veras, and John Ryan Murphy’s single sent Solarte home from third.
Murphy is now hitting an impressive .406 in 32 at-bats. Solarte, who had two hits in four at-bats and scored that insurance run, improved his average to .317. He is still leading the team in average, on-base percentage (.394), RBI (24) and total bases (70). The Yankees (24-21) would not be in first place in the American League East without Solarte, who had previously spent his career in the minors in both the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers organizations.
The Yankees will now move onto the south side of Chicago where they will play the White Sox for four games at US Cellular Field. Thursday’s game will be at 8:10 p.m. EST. The White Sox, who have a 23-25 record and have lost three of their past five games, are third in MLB in runs scored, seventh in batting average and seventh in slugging percentage.
However, the White Sox are now without impressive rookie Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. He was leading the team in homers (15), RBI (42), and runs scored (29). He is also currently leading the AL in homers and RBI. The Yankees are lucky that their depleted pitching staff will not have to face him in this series.
On Thursday night, White Sox ace Chris Sale will make his return from the disabled list. His last start came on April 17 when he allowed one run in seven innings to the Red Sox. Sale had a 1.23 ERA in two starts against the Yankees last season.
For the Yankees, David Phelps will get his third start of the season since Michael Pineda was put on the disabled list. Phelps has allowed one, four and zero earned runs respectively in those three starts. His best start came on May 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates as he struck out a season-high five batters and walked three in five scoreless innings. He was able to earn his first win of the season.
On Wednesday it was revealed that Pineda, who is on the disabled list as a result of a back strain, is making progress and looked comfortable during a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. This obviously means that he has not suffered a setback, which is a good sign.
The starting pitcher on Friday for the Yankees will be Hiroki Kuroda (3-3, 4.61 ERA), and the starter for the White Sox will be former Yankee Hector Noesi (0-3, 5.32 ERA). On Saturday, at 2:10 p.m. EST, Vidal Nuno (1-1, 5.82 ERA) will face John Danks (3-4, 5.64 ERA). In the series finale, at 2:10 p.m. EST on the YES Network, Andre Rienzo, who is a rare baseball player from Brazil, will get the start for the White Sox. Masahiro Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA), the rookie sensation from Japan, will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season.
This will be the first series that the Yankees have played against the American League Central this season.
The Yankees, who have been offensively inept recently, lost to the Orioles, 11-3, on Saturday. It was their fourth loss in a row and they now have gone 5-12 in their last 17 games. The theme of this game was the ineffectiveness of the starting pitcher.
The Yankees had previously won the last nine games against American League East opponents that David Phelps had started but this start for Phelps left much to be desired. In only 2.1 innings pitched he allowed on nine earned runs on nine hits.
He gave up Chris Davis’s 29th homer in the first inning (a three-run homer) and Ivan Nova would allow his major league leading 30th home run in the sixth inning. Davis, who had five RBI and would have beaten the Yankees by himself, has six more homers than anyone else in baseball (Miguel Cabrera has 24).
Ivan Nova pitched a solid 5.2 innings in relief of Phelps, but with the current state of the offense and the recent struggle to win games the starters can’t be allowing more than five runs.
Brett Gardner had the best game of any Yankee as he was 2-5 and drove in his 30th run of the season. Gardner, Robinson Cano (who is seven for his last 17), and Ichiro Suzuki are the only Yankees who have been consistently hitting of late. Zoilo Almonte, who was hitting .583 after his first 12 at-bats, has predictably cooled off and is now hitting .310. He needs to be patient and hit like he did a few games ago. He is only the second Zoilo in MLB history.
They desperately need some of their injured players to return like Eduardo Nunez, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter because the bats have been struggling to score runs. David Adams, Jayson Nix and Lyle Overbay, the current third baseman, shortstop and first baseman, respectively, have not been producing on offense, which makes acquiring a corner infielder important.
An infielder that the Yankees should trade for in the coming weeks is Michael Young. He is in the middle of his 13th season as a starter, and first with the Philadelphia Phillies after a long stint with the Texas Rangers. Young has a .287 average with five homers and 21 RBI, can play any infield position but is primarily a first or third baseman, and would be an upgrade over David Adams at third.
The Yankees don’t have much hope currently with a punchless offense that includes Nix, Overbay, Wells, Adams, Overbay and Austin Romine. Like I have said before, they need to hope that Wells and Overbay can hit like they did earlier in the season, they acquire an offensive upgrade via trade and that some of the injured Yankees can return soon.
The Yankees can also look forward to Michael Pineda coming off of the disabled list to bolster the pitching rotation. He will be able to replace Phil Hughes or Phelps. He has had a long path back to the majors after shoulder surgery caused him to miss the 2012 season (he was also out of shape). Five days ago, in his first start for Double-A Trenton, he was able to throw six shutout innings after only 78 pitches. He struck out four and only allowed two hits.
In that start, Pineda’s fastball peaked at 96 MPH and it was consistently between 91 and 94 MPH. It appears that he might only need one more start before he comes up to the Bronx. He was the Rookie of the Year for the Mariners in 2011.
The Yankees concluded the three game set against the Houston Astros with a 5-4 victory. Mariano Rivera picked up his eleventh save in 11 chances helping the Yankees improve to an impressive 17-10 record on the season.
A sweep of the three game set against the Astros, who are currently 8-20, would have been ideal, but even though the Astros do not have the most imposing offense Andy Pettitte was due for an off game on Monday. He came into the contest with an excellent ERA of 2.22, reminding fans of the way Pettitte pitched earlier in his career, but his ERA now sits at 3.86.
The Yankees currently have a grand total of eight regulars on the DL, which makes it even more impressive that they have 17 wins in their first 27 games. Brian Cashman should get a lot of credit for acquiring players before the team left Florida who have been able to replace the starters in an exemplary manner so far.
One of Cashman’s off-season signings, Ben Francisco, has not worked out like his others so far, but he did hit a solo home run in the third inning that would help the Bronx Bombers take a 4-0 early advantage. Francisco was brought to the Yankees to provide a productive righty bat off the bench, so hopefully his walk and homer will help him be more productive.
Ichiro was the only Yankee with two hits and Robinson Cano hit his eighth home run of the season. That solo homer by Cano was his 185th of his career, which ties Paul O’Neil for 17th place on the all-time list of the storied franchise. Besides Francisco and Cano, the other runs were scored by Ichiro, Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez.
David Phelps, who made his first start of the campaign, as a result of Ivan Nova being put on the disabled list, allowed four runs in 5.2 innings. He fell apart in the fourth inning as he hit two batters and allowed all four of Houston’s runs, but was successfully able to limit any further damage in the fifth inning.
As has happened many times the past few weeks the bullpen was basically flawless. Over 3.1 innings, the trio of Boone Logan, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for four strikeouts, two hits and no runs. This excellent relief pitching should last all season, but is even more necessary while the Yankees are without their offensive stars.
However, Vernon Wells (.298 and 6 homers), Lyle Overbay (4 homers), Travis Hafner (.304 and 17 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis when he was healthy, have performed better than expected and have been instrumental in the team getting off to the start that they have. It seems like Curtis Granderson will return to the Yankees in about two-three weeks after after a rehab stint with about 50 at-bats.
Granderson’s return will present a dilemma for manager Joe Girardi because they will have four quality starters for three outfield spots. It will depend on who stays hot, but Ichiro will likely be put into a platoon as a result of how much Wells is helping offensively.
The Yankees have an off day on Thursday and then conclude the 10 game home stand with a three game series against the Oakland Athletics. It will be their first series of the year agains Oakland who has the seventh best record in the league (16-13).
Update: On Wednesday, The Yankees acquired Chris Nelson, who can play second and third base, from the Rockies for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He was hitting .242, with six runs scored and four RBI so far this season. He is a former first-round pick in 2004 who was recently designated for assignment by the Rockies. He will be able to give Cano or Jayson Nix a day off, which the Yankees were not able to do previously with their injury situation.
Even though Ivan Nova and David Phelps have comparable stats in spring training, Nova should be the fifth starter instead of Phelps because he has proven that he can be a dominating starter in the regular season, and Phelps is a better fit out of the bullpen.
The first four starters in the rotation will definitely be C.C Sebathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte. That is a solid first four and based on last season success should be able to give them length and many quality starts.
Two seasons ago, Nova finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting, after finishing with a 16-4 record and a 3.70 ERA. After being recalled from a brief stint to the minors, he had an 8-0 record with a 3.18 ERA in the last two months. The Yankees will need the starting pitching to be as good as or better than last season because the offense will surely not be scoring quite as many runs. Another advantage of Nova is that he has proven to have the ability to get out of trouble within an inning, in the past.
Nova also has four plus pitches which makes him ideal as a starter as opposed to coming out of relief. The pitches that he has in his arsenal include a four-seam fastball that he throws between 92-97 MPH, a circle change at about 85 MPH, a slider and a nasty 12-6 curveball that he delivers at a deceiving 79-82 MPH.
Super Nova had a season that was not up to his standards in 2012, where he had a 12-8 record with a sky-high 5.02 ERA. However, he is more of the pitcher that he was in 2011 than he was in 2012. Nova had a 2-5 record with a 6.40 ERA in 10 starts after the All-Star Break, but that is partly due to rotator cuff inflammation that he had.
However, he proved that he was motivated to win back his spot in the rotation after not earning his way into the postseason rotation last season. He showed up a few weeks early to spring training and in his last outing he only allowed four hits in four innings. So far in spring training, Nova has appeared in three games, pitched nine innings and has only allowed one run. He has also recorded five strikeouts.
It is also very conceivable for Nova to bounce back because many rookies who perform well experience a sophomore slump. This happens as a result of the scouting report making its way around the league and the hitters becoming more familiar with the pitcher (or vice versa). Examples of recent players who have bounced back after their sophomore slump include Jason Hayward, Austin Jackson, John Jaso and due to injury in his second season, Buster Posey.
In the exhibition season, he has expertly repeated his pattern from 2011 of being able pitch into and out of trouble by limiting the damage. The other candidate, David Phelps, has stats wise had an even more impressive exhibition season. He has appeared in four games, pitched 14 innings, while recording six strikeouts and only one run.
However, Phelps will be need more as a “utility” pitcher, since he can be effective as spot starter, as a seventh inning pitcher or coming out of the bullpen in long relief. A stat that proves this is that he made 11 starts last season, and came out of the bullpen 22 times, but still finished with an ERA of 3.34. This proves that he is able to pitch effectively in any role.
It is important for the Yankees to have somebody like Phelps who is ready to start in case of an injury. Also, in case of ineffectiveness, the Yankees would be much better off with Phelps relieving Nova in the rotation than the other way around. Putting Phelps in the bullpen will make that part of the pitching staff even deeper, while complimenting the starting rotation, which will be the strength of the team.