After clinching a spot in the wild card game on Thursday against the Red Sox and having their game against the Orioles rained out on Friday, the Yankees will play a double header in Baltimore today. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium and with the win they snapped their two-year postseason drought. The Yankees also won their 10,000th game in franchise history after previously losing three games in a row.
The Yankees were an underdog coming into the season since some predicted them to finish in last place, which makes this postseason appearance especially meaningful.
“This was really rewarding because I’ve had a chance to be on a lot of teams that have made the postseason fortunately and this one was probably as much of a grind as any one,” Joe Girardi said. “This one, there was probably as much uncertainty even on a daily basis. There were a lot, a lot of moving parts, so I think this was probably as rewarding as any club that I’ve been on that made the playoffs.”
Thursday’s postseason clinching win was made more significant because it was at home and it came over the Red Sox. The Yankees had lost four of their previous six home games and it was great for the players on the team that they were able to get this win in front of their home fans and be able to celebrate in their stadium.
The Yankees currently have a 2.5 game lead over the Houston Astros for the first wild card spot with three games to play, which means that it is almost a guarantee that the wild card game will be played at Yankee Stadium. Houston has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card and the Minnesota Twins are a game behind the Angels. It will be a better matchup for the Yankees if they play the Angels in the wild card game because the Astros ace, Dallas Keuchel, has a 2.48 ERA this season and did not allow a run in his two starts against the Yankees.
Joe Girardi is prioritizing resting his regulars during today’s double header over putting his best players on the field in Game 1 to try to clinch home-field in the wild card game. However, if the Yankees do get a win against the Orioles, who are not playing for anything, they will clinch home-field in the wild card game.
Austin Romine will make his first career start at first base, Jose Pirela will play right field giving Carlos Beltran the game off, John Ryan Murphy will get his second consecutive start at catcher and Brendan Ryan will play shortstop instead of Didi Gregorius.
Murphy gave an epic interview during the Yankees post game celebration on Thursday. He has hit very well for a back-up catcher this season and in his last four games he is 4-13 (.308) with one run scored and one double. It can be hard for back-up catchers to hit for a high average because they usually get inconsistent at-bats.
Rookie Rob Refsnyder has also hit very well recently while getting increased playing time at second. In his six starts during the home-stand, Refsnyder had eight hits in 20 at-bats (.400) with one runs scored, one homer, one steal, two RBIs and two doubles. He will likely get the start in the wild card game, against Keuchel if they play the Astros, based on his performance in those six games.
Girardi announced that Ivan Nova will start today’s game at 12:05 p.m. and that Luis Severino will start the second game, but that could change if the Yankees secure home field advantage before the second game starts. Michael Pineda will get the start on Sunday.
Brett Gardner CF
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Chris Young LF
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Jose Pirela RF
Austin Romine 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
It might not feel like it in New York City, but spring training has officially begun for the Yankees in Tampa, Florida.
Pitchers and catchers officially reported for their physicals at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa this morning. The Yankees will have their first full squad workout on Feb. 26 and will play their first spring training game on March 3 in Clearwater against the Philadelphia Phillies.
One pitcher that the Yankees will need to keep healthy the whole season is Masahiro Tanaka. He was outstanding when healthy last season, as he had 2.77 ERA, 141 strikeouts and only 21 walks in his 20 starts, but he missed 2.5 months because of a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. Tankaka also allowed five earned runs in only 1.2 innings in his final start of the 2014 season.
However, there is positive news from Tanaka as he threw his first bullpen session yesterday and came away feeling normal. He threw 21 pitches with pitching coach Larry Rothschild watching. A lot can’t be taken out of bullpen session at the minor league complex, but it is a good sign that he came out of it without any pain and “smiled and waved” after it was finished. Tanaka also added that he is confident that he will be able to make it through the whole season.
During Joe Girardi’s start-of-spring-training press conference, Girardi answered questions about distractions that A-Rod might cause, the injury question marks in the rotation (CC and Tanaka), the increased youth on the roster, the competition for various spots, the possibility of a six-man rotation and the possibility of co-closers. He said that they could decide to have a six-man rotation when they play 18 games in a row without an off day early in the season.
Here is Girardi’s response when he was asked about Alex-Rodriguez’s recent hand-written apology:
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.
Joe Girardi signed a four-year, $16 million dollar contract extension on October 9. This will make him the second highest paid manager after Mike Scioscia, who is the manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Schiocia’s contract pays him about $5 million a season.
It is a positive sign for the Yankees that he accepted their contract and did not hold out to see what the Cubs or Nationals would offer him at the end of October when his previous contract expired. He has proven that he has been able to manage talent since he led the team to win the World Series in 2009, and also is able to manage well during adversity since the team had a total of 21 players spend time on the disabled list, some more than once, while handling the situation with the media well during the Alex Rodriguez biogenesis controversy and in turn guiding the team to a respectable 85-77 record based on everything the team went through.
The Yankees were remarkably only one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot on September 12. They would have 15 games left in the season and the lack of talent would catch up with them. However, Girardi was able to lead the team to be in great position to make the playoffs with two weeks to go even though Derek Jeter only played 17 games, Mark Teixeira only played 15 games and Curtis Granderson only played in 61 games.
Before Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup in August, Lyle Overbay had to hit cleanup for much of the season. The Yankees were counting on players such as Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner to perform offensively for them. They hit better than expected in April and then faded after that. This proves how Girardi was able to mix and match with a lineup that lacked major league talent for much of the season.
Chris Stewart, who had always been a back-up before this season, was the starter for the Yankees, which proves the lack of talent they had at the catcher position. Stewart did play well compared to previous seasons, but he faded down the stretch of the season based on playing in 42 more games than he had in any other season. Rookie Austin Romine showed some promise at the catcher position.
Further proving that Girardi got the team to overachieve this season was that Jayzon Nix, Zoilo Almonte, Luis Cruz, Chris Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez and Melky Mesa all started games for the Yankees this season. Vernon Wells was even called on to play the ninth inning of a game at third base because of an injury to Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees were not expected to make the playoffs easily before the season started, but to be so close based on all of the injures and AAA players that had to play is a tribute to Giarardi’s managing.
Some criticize Girardi for going by his binder too much meaning that he decides on the pitcher that will come into the game or the hitter that will start too much on previous match-ups. He definitely should sometimes continue to play a streaky hitter or leave a starter in a few more batters. However, it is always possible that if the starter would have stayed in he would struggle based on too many pitches.
The Yankees obviously should not have been swept by the Mets or White Sox if their quest to reach the playoffs were to come to fruition. If they would have won two games against the Mets and White Sox that would have greatly increased their chance in September, but that is what happens when so many “second string” players were on the field. Girardi has his drawbacks, but at the end of the day, the team would have been worse of if the did not return.
He handled the return of A-Rod well, in addition to handling the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte with poise and professionalism. He could not have made a better decision in the moment when he let Mariano Rivera’s longtime teammates and members of the Core 4, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, take Rivera out of the game at Yankee Stadium for the final time. Here is video footage of the ceremony of Pettitte and Jeter coming to the mound.
Here is an interview that Jack Curry did with Joe Girardi and his wife after he signed the contract extension: http://web.yesnetwork.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=31139627