Tagged: Aaron Hicks

Gary Sanchez hit his 11th homer in August in the Yankees 13-5 win over the Orioles

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Gary Sanchez – ESPN

The Yankees, who beat the Baltimore Orioles 13-5 on Saturday afternoon, are now a season-high six games above .500. They have now won four games in a row, including the first two games of the series against the Orioles, and are now only 2.5 games behind Baltimore for the second wild card spot.

In their previous two games the Yankees were an impressive 9-14 with runners in scoring position, and in Saturday’s win the team was 7-17 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees had a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning and then they would score seven runs in the next two innings to put the game away. Gary Sanchez made history yet again as he hit a homer that bounced off of the right-center field wall in the bottom of the fourth for his 11th homer to give the Bronx Bombers a 5-2 lead. Sanchez went 1-3 with two walks, and he now has an outstanding slash line .400/.467/.900 with 11 homers and 21 RBI in 21 games this season.

“It’s fun to watch,” Starlin Castro said. “Every time he goes to the plate, we feel like something is going to happen in a good way.”

Sanchez has played better than anyone could have expected so far and has been able to adjust well to pitches during games. He appeared in two games last season, which gives him 11 homers in 23 career games. Sanchez, who is 23 years old, has reached 11 homers faster than anyone else in major league history. His 11 homers in August are also the most in one month by a rookie since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun hit 11 in 2007, and are the most by an American League rookie since Oakland’s Mark McGwire hit 15 in May of 1987.

Sanchez is a big factor in the Yankees being very much in contention for a playoff spot. Baseball prospectus gives the Yankees a 9.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, but the number is increasing with every win. That percentage is also relatively high because the Orioles, who currently have the second wild card spot, are given a 28.6 percent chance of getting to the playoffs.

In Sanchez’s last seven days (six games), he has 10 hits in 22 at-bats (.455) with two doubles, five homers, seven runs scored and nine RBI. He could be on his way to winning his second American League Player of the Week award. Sanchez has also helped the Yankees behind the plate since being called up on August 3 since the pitchers have praised how he calls a game and his rocket of an arm has helped him throw out six of nine potential base stealers.

Chris Davis’s homer to center was Baltimore’s league leading 200th home run of the season but that would quickly be canceled out by Starlin Castro’s RBI single that scored Mark Teixeira to tie the game. Then, to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the third, there was a rarely seen double steal of home. After about a two-minute review, Didi Gregorius was ruled safe after a great slide where he got his back hand on home plate before the tag. That was his sixth steal, which is a career-high.

Brian McCann’s double to left in the third that scored Castro was his 50th RBI of his season. He is in third place on the team after Gregorius (58) and Castro (60).

Mark Trumbo and Davis both hit solo homers in the fifth off of Yankees starter Chad Green. Baltimore’s 202nd homer forced manager Joe Girardi to bring in relief pitcher Tommy Layne with two outs in the fifth. Layne would end up earning his first win with the Yankees.

In the bottom of the fifth, Castro and Aaron Hicks both smashed two-run homers to make the score 9-4. Hicks has really improved at the plate since he has been playing everyday in the outfield since the beginning of the month as he has a .310 average in August (22-71) with four homers, eight runs scored and nine RBI.

He has really been locked in during the last five games as he has a .467 average (7-15) with a homer, two runs scored and three RBI. This month is proving that Hicks could be a part of the team’s future. After struggling in the first four months with inconsistent playing time, consistency and work with Marcus Thames has helped him increase his average from the .185 it was at the beginning of the month to .218.

The Yankees scored three more runs in the sixth inning. McCann had his second RBI, Hicks had his third RBI on a single that scored Castro and then McCann would score the team’s 12th run on an infield single by Brett Gardner. Friday and Saturday’s games stood out in the memorable history of the Yankees.

On Friday, the Yankees scored 14 runs, had 18 hits and hit three homers and on Saturday, the Yankees scored 13 runs, had 18 hits and hit three homers. This was the first time in the last 100 years that the Yankees have had back-to-back games with 13+ runs, 18 hits and three homers. Friday and Saturday were also the first back-to-back games where every starter got a hit since July 26-27, 2009. That year was also the last time that the Yankees won the World Series.

The Yankees bullpen pitched well as Layne, Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Kirby Yates combined to pitch 4.1 innings, allow five hits, record four strikeouts and only allow Yates’s run in the ninth. Girardi’s team will somewhat miraculously be able to trim the wild card deficit to only 1.5 games if the Yankees can sweep the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Some counted the Yankees out after they trade Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova before the trade deadline but Clippard, Warren, Sanchez, Luis Cessa, Aaron Judge and other young players have stepped up to get the team closer to a playoff spot than they were before.

CC Sabathia will get the start for Sunday’s 1:05 EST game. He will look to pitch like he did in his previous game on the 23rd in Seattle when the 36-year-old lefty only allowed one run in seven innings while striking out seven.

 

 

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Gary Sanchez hit his 9th homer in his 21st career game in Wednesday’s win over the Mariners

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Gary Sanchez – ESPN

Joe Girardi picked up his 800th career win as the Yankees manager in their 5-0 win over the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. The Yankees won two out of three against the Mariners, who had 12 of 16 games coming into the series. The Yankees have also won five of their past six series.

Yankees starters have allowed one earned run or less in eight of the last 10 games. In their last nine games the Yankees starters collectively have an ERA of a very low 2.25. In this start, Tanaka throw seven scoreless innings and this came after throwing six scoreless innings in his previous start.

Tanaka, who now has a very good 3.11 ERA after his outstanding previous two starts, threw 69 of his 106 pitches for strikes and recorded six hits, one walk and five strikeouts.

He was able to pitch well when he had runners in scoring position as he got two ground outs in row with runners on second and third in the second inning and in the third inning, with runners on first and second, Tanaka got former Yankee great Robinson Cano to hit into a double play. Tanaka has been the best Yankees starting pitcher this season and he showed that again on Wednesday.

“His stuff really got good in the 4th inning, and then it just seemed like he found everything,” Joe Girardi said. “He went to work and gave us seven strong innings.”

Tyler Clippard recored two outs in the eighth in addition to allowing two hits, and he has now not allowed an earned run in 10 of the 11 games that he has appeared in since rejoining the Yankees before the trade deadline.

Dellin Betances picked up the final four outs of the game and recorded his sixth save since taking over for Andrew Miller. Betances added three more strikeouts to increase his season total to an impressive 108 and hasn’t allowed a run in nine of his last 10 appearances.

Gary Sanchez is the 5th player all time with nine homers through 21 career games. He is also the first Yankee ever to hit nine homers in his first 21 games with the team. “It has been phenomenal,” Dellin Betances said. “I don’t think I have ever seen a start like that to a young guy’s career.”

“You feel like he is going to hit the ball hard,” Girardi said about Sanchez. “It is fun to watch.”

Sanchez, who is a rookie, has an outstanding .389 average in 19 games this season to go with six doubles, nine homers, 16 RBI, eight walks, an .847 slugging percentage and even one steal.

Sanchez hit a home run in the first inning to kick off the scoring for the Yankees. He has always been known for his hitting in the minors but the rate that he is hitting homers to begin his career has rarely been seen in the history of baseball. Also, Sanchez has greatly improved behind the plate and he has been calling games with confidence and has even thrown out five of the eight runners that have attempted to steal on him.

Four other Yankees drove in runs during Wednesday’s game. In the second inning, Tyler Austin, who had been struggling the last few games, drove in fellow rookie Aaron Judge. Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to score Aaron Hicks, Mark Teixeira singled to left center to score Gardner in the 7th and then Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardner in the ninth. Teixeira, who is only hitting .197, drove in his first run since August 7.

Teams that are playing well drive in runners on third with less than two outs and that was how the Yankees were able to score two of their five runs.

Gary Sanchez was intentionally walked in the ninth to load the bases after also being intentionally walked earlier in the game. Sanchez was deservedly walked after Didi Gregorius hit a ground rule double that landed in the stands in shallow left.

“You don’t see it,” Girardi said in reference to a rookie like Sanchez being intentionally walked. “It says a lot about his abilities. He has developed, he is comfortable and he knows what he needs to do. I don’t think you would expect this out of anyone. I’ve never seen a young player come up and do what he has done.”

After Sanchez walked, Teixeira struck out looking for the first out and then Castro hit a sacrifice fly to left field that easily scored Gardner to make the score 5-0. Judge then struck out looking on a 1-2 pitch for his third strikeout of the game.

According to Katie Sharp, Sanchez is the first Yankees to be intentionally walked twice in his first 21 career games (he played in two games last year) since Joe Gordon in 1938.

The Yankees, after having won 11 of their last 18 games, will start a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The Orioles currently have the second wild card spot and the Yankees are five games back, which makes the series important for gaining ground. Six of the next nine games that the Yankees play will be against the Orioles and the other three will be against the Kansas City Royals, who are also five games back and have won nine of their last 10 games.

 

The Yankees had a season-high 20 hits in their 9-0 win over the White Sox

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Masahiro Tanaka – ESPN

The Yankees played well in all phases of the game on Tuesday night in Chicago in beating the White Sox 9-0. Masahiro Tanaka had a bounce back performance as he did not allow a run in 7.2 innings pitched after giving up six runs in six innings in his previous start.

Tanaka allowed six hits, one walk and struck out six batters. He recorded nine ground ball outs, 13 fly ball outs and was taken out of the game after throwing 103 pitches. He pitched like an ace against the White Sox and was taken out after recording two outs in the 8th because Joe Girardi said that about 100 pitches was his limit. His ERA is now down to a solid 3.12 and he probably needed a few more one or two run games to be an All-Star like 2014.

The Yankees offense did most of their damage off of White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who saw his ERA rise from 4.24 to 4.50 after allowing six runs (five earned) on 12 hits and two walks. Carlos Beltran, who is 39 years old and was selected to his ninth All-Star team on Tuesday night, hit a single to right to drive in Rob Refsnyder in the second for the team’s first run. Later in the second inning Brett Gardner scored on an error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.

It is a great accomplishment for Beltran to be selected to another All-Star team especially after the way he started last season. Beltran has been the team’s best offensive player in the first half, and the Yankees would not nearly have the 41-42 record without his .302 average, 17 doubles, 19 homers, 54 RBIs and .571 slugging percentage.

He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame after he retires based on his postseason success and the fact that he has more than 400 homers (411), almost 1,500 RBIs (1,497), 2,537 hits and 311 steals. Also, when he hit his 400th homer earlier this season he became only the fourth switch-hitter to hit that many homers. (Mark Teixeira recently became the 5th  switch-hitter to hit 400 homers.)

In the third inning, Chase Headley hit a homer to drive in Starlin Castro for his seventh round-tripper of the season. He has really turned it around at the plate in the 1.5 months. In the fourth inning, Teixeira’s double scored Beltran, and in the fifth, the Yankees hit their second homer of the game. Austin Romine’s blast to left center made the score 6-0 and was what led to a relief pitcher coming in for Rodon.

The Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth as Refsnyder’s double scored Headley and Aaron Hicks‘s double to deep center scored Refsnyder. Refsnyder continued his impressive season at the plate as his two hits increased his average to .288 and he now has nine RBIs and a .354 on-base percentage in 73 at-bats.

Hicks went 1-4 and has improved in the last three games after struggling before that. He has four hits in his last 11 at-bats after previously not having a hit in 19 at-bats. Hicks’s defense is much better than his offense but this recent stretch could be a sign of him being more consistent and showing his ability.

The Bronx Bombers recorded a season-high 20 hits, which helped them move to within one-game of .500. According to James Smyth, the only two other times since 1940 that the Yankees have had 20 hits and pitched a shutout were in 1977 against Toronto Blue Jays and in 1997 against the Minnesota Twins.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were the two other All-Star selections for the Yankees. This will be Betances’s third consecutive season going to the All-Star Game, and it is Miller’s first time being named an All-Star.

Betances said after yesterday’s game that he thought that Miller deserved to be an All-Star last season when he had a 100 strikeouts, only 20 walks and an impressive 2.04 ERA. Miller added after the game that he is looking forward to having Betances with him so that they can soak it in together and so that he will be able to ask him questions about the experience.

They both deserved to be selected after their outstanding first three months, and Betances has the most strikeouts among relievers and Miller is in second place. Miller has a 1.47 ERA with 66 strikeouts and only six walks in 36.2 innings while Betances has a 2.63 ERA with 74 strikeouts and only nine walks in 41 innings.

Chicago is currently 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the race for the second wild card spot. With a win tonight the Yankees will get back to .500 again and win the series against the White Sox before closing out the first half in Cleveland against the Indians. The Yankees will have to hit well and pitch well if they are going to win the series against the red-hot Indians.

Betances, Miller and Chapman pitched three perfect innings as the Yankees beat the Twins

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Masahiro Tanaka – ESPN

The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-3, at Yankee Stadium on Friday night to get back to .500 (36-36). They have gone 2-2 in their last four games but the previous time that they were .500 before they were 34-34 the Yankees went on to lose four out of five games.

The Yankees will look to win the next two games against the Twins to extend the winning streak to four games and give them momentum heading into the series against the Texas Rangers. Minnesota has the worst record in all of baseball so it is important that the Bronx Bombers take advantage of playing an opponent that they are better than.

Joe Girardi’s ideal scenario happened in this game as Masahiro Tanaka pitched six innings and kept the Yankees in the game, which led to the Big Three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman closing out the game while not allowing a hit.

Minnesota committed three errors, which helped Tanaka leave the game with a 4-3 lead. Carlos Beltran hit a double to left to score Brett Gardner and then Alex Rodriguez singled to left to score Beltran to tie the score at two. The Yankees scored two more runs in the fourth off of a sacrifice fly by Austin Romine and a RBI single to left by Rob Refsnyder.

Refsnyder, who will likely not be playing first as much with Mark Teixeira coming off the disabled list on Saturday, is hitting 6 for 17 (.353 with four runs scored, two doubles and two RBIs in his last five games. His average is an impressive .286 in 56 at-bats this season, which proves that he really knows how to produce offensively when given the opportunity.

Tanaka ended his start with his sixth quality start in his past seven. He allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. He also had a higher swing and miss percentage than most starting pitchers. Tanaka had allowed two runs or less in five of his previous six starts, but he was able to make pitches when he needed to in this one.

“Tanaka has the ability to pitch and get big outs when he needs them,” Joe Girardi said.

Aaron Hicks, who was playing against his former team, hit a solo home run with one out in the 8th to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. His homer landed in about the second row in left field. That was his first right-handed homer of the year and third homer overall. He now has a .310 average with two RBIs in his last 11 games.

“I am feeling good on both sides,” Hicks said. “I feel like as the season goes on my at-bats are getting better.” He was hitting .205 on June 12 and his average is now up to .217 and he has at least one hit in six of the last seven games he has started.

Tanaka got Kurt Suzuki to ground into a double play to end the sixth inning in what ended up being his last batter because Betances was ready to come into the came with the Yankees leading. Betances had a 10-pitch inning in the seventh, and he got Robbie Grossman to strike out on a nasty curve that bounced before getting to the plate.

Miller pitched the 8th inning and came into the game having struck out 50 percent of the batters he had faced. That is an outstanding ratio and only two relief pitchers have done that before. His fastball and slider combo worked to perfection in the eighth as he retired the side in order and struck out the dangerous Brian Dozier to lower his ERA to 1.14.

Aroldis Chapman struck out the first two batters on six pitches and all of the pitches were above 100 mph. He would strikeout out the side on a 90 mph off speed pitch. He threw a circle change that completely froze Suzuki to end the game.

In the ninth inning, Chapman threw 10 pitches that were 101 mph or faster and then his 11th pitch was 90 mph. There is basically not another relief pitcher in baseball who could have 11 consecutive pitches like the ones that Chapman had.

“They are going to have their lumps but I feel pretty good about them,” Girardi said about the Big Three.

In 10 games Betances, Miller and Chapman have appeared in together before this game they had a combined 1.48 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Those numbers are even more impressive after Friday’s game.

The Yankees play their next 16 games until the All-Star break against teams outside of the AL East, which is a positive for the Yankees since they are 10-17 against AL East opponents this season. Saturday’s game will be at 1:05 p.m., and Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees. He will look to rebound from allowing three runs on one homer and six hits in 5.1 innings in his last start.

Michael Pineda’s best start of the season allowed him to keep his spot in the rotation

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Michael Pineda – ESPN

The Yankees were able to end their three-game losing streak with their 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers in Detroit on Thursday night. They previously lost three consecutive games in Toronto where they scored a total of only three runs.

Michael Pineda got the start during this makeup game from the beginning of the season and he definitely pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. General Manager Brian Cashman talked before the game about demoting him from the rotation if had another subpar start. Going into last night’s game, Pineda’s 6.92 ERA was the worst ERA of any pitcher who had thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

However, in this game, he pitched like he is capable of as he allowed one earned run in 5.2 innings pitched. He recorded an impressive eight strikeouts, allowed seven hits and didn’t walk a single Tiger. He has been limiting the walks and piling up the strikeouts most of the season, but he has struggled mightily in the first inning and with the long ball and with allowing minor issues to turn into multiple runs.

This game was different for Pineda compared to what had happened to him in many previous starts. He struck out Cameron Maybin to begin the game, but then allowed back-to-back hits to J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. However, this time he didn’t allow those runners to score since he was able to get Victor Martinez to hit into a double play to end the frame. Proving how much the opening frame has been a problem for Pineda is that 36 percent of the runs that he has allowed this season have come in the first inning (15 of the 42 earned runs).

He allowed more hits (7) than innings pitched but he managed to limit the damage to only one earned run. His slider was a strength tonight – generating 13 whiffs with the slider tonight, good for a 40.6% rate. When his slider is on it is a sign that Pineda is pitching well. What is so frustrating about Pineda is that last season on Mother’s Day he had 16 strikeouts and allowed only one run to the Orioles and this season he has now allowed two runs or less in a start five times, which proves his potential.

However, what has led to his ERA being 6.41 in the beginning of June is that he has given up five runs or more five times (with one start where he allowed three runs). Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild hope and need him to be more consistent than he has shown because he has been by far the worst pitcher in the rotation.

Last season he ended the campaign with a 4.37 ERA but he was able to truly show what he is capable of in the 2014 season. He missed about a month and a half due to injury but was able to have an outstanding 1.89 ERA in 13 starts. He had 59 strikeouts and seven walks, which is a very good strikeout to walk ratio, and he allowed two runs or less in 12 of his 13 starts.

He has the ability to be a No. 2 type starter. Thursday’s start could be the one that leads to him having sustained effectiveness similar to what he showed in 2013, which was his first healthy season as a Yankee after being traded to the team before the 2012 season. They will need Pineda to pitch well to have a chance of getting back in the race in the AL East.

It appeared that the Yankees would win easily as they had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Yankees exploded for four runs in the seventh on a Rob Refsnyder RBI single that scored Chase Headley, an RBI single by Aaron Hicks that scored Austin Romine and a triple to deep right by leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury that scored Refsnyder and Hicks.

However, in this game, the trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, which has been extremely reliable when all pitching in the same game, was not during the seventh through ninth innings. But they were able to luckily limit the damage to three total runs, which led to the Yankees escaping Detroit with a win.

Betances struck out three in his 1.1 innings but he allowed an RBI double to make the score 5-2. Miller, who still has a very low 1.25 ERA, walked two batter in the eighth and gave up an RBI double. Chapman was really able to get out of trouble in the ninth since he loaded the bases with no outs and then got J.D. Martinez to hit into a double play, which scored the Tigers fourth and final run.

Refsnyder, who has gone back and forth from Triple-A Scranton this season, should stay with the Yankees. They would not have won the game without him since he scored the team’s first run in addition to scoring and driving in a run in the seventh. He is now hitting .400 in 10 at-bats this season and is valuable off of the bench because he produces offensively and can play second, third and outfield.

The Yankees, who are now 25-28 and 6.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox (32-22) for first place in the AL East, will begin a three-game series in Baltimore against the second place Orioles (30-22) on Friday night. It will be important that the team continues to get the offensive production that they did on Thursday during the series in Baltimore.

 

Betances, Miller and Chapman were used in a game for the first time in the Yankees 2-1 win over the White Sox

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Ivan Nova – Yankees

The win that the Yankees had on Saturday afternoon was one that Brian Cashman envisioned when he traded for Aroldis Chapman in the offseason. Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox was the first time that the flame-throwing trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman all pitched in a game and they lived up to their potential.

Chapman’s first game active this season was May 9 after being suspended for 30 games due to domestic violence, and Saturday was the first game when Joe Girardi thought it made sense to use all three given the score and that each of the three were rested. Betances came into the game in the sixth after Ivan Nova walked Todd Frazier with two outs and then pitched 1.1 innings while striking out every batter he faced, Miller only allowed a single in the eighth inning and Chapman struck out two of the three batters he faced while getting his second save as a Yankee.

“We knew these would be the type of games that we would use all three of them, and that if we could line them up, it’d be pretty good,” Girardi said.

In total, Betances, Miller and Chapman pitched 3.1 innings while allowing only one hit, no walks and they combined to strikeout eight of the 11 batters that they faced. The most fearsome trio in baseball could not have been any better and all three will likely be available for Sunday’s game, when the Yankees will try for the third consecutive series win.

Dellin Betances has three more strikeouts (32, 2.20 ERA) than any other reliever in the American League, Miller has a near flawless 0.61 ERA and has only six fewer strikeouts than Betances and Chapman’s 116 strikeouts were tied for the 45th most in the National League last season and were 25 more than any other relief pitcher in the NL. Chapman also threw 77 of the 77 fastest pitches in Major League Baseball last season, which proves how much faster he throws than every other pitcher.

Nathan Eovaldi threw a 101.6 mph fastball last season and Chapman was able to actually throw 77 fastballs that were faster. He overpowers hitters with his fastball and catches them off guard with his slider that can be 13 or 14 mph slower than his fastball.

Nova had his second consecutive dominant start since replacing CC Sabathia in the rotation, who went on the disabled list due to a strained left groin on May 6. In Saturday afternoon’s game, Nova pitched 5.2 innings, gave up only four hits and only allowed Todd Frazier’s solo homer to left in the fourth inning. He is still getting stretched out after pitching in the bullpen before May 9, but was able to throw 48 of his 74 pitches for strikes. Nova’s sinker was really working on Saturday since 12 of the 17 outs that he recorded were via the groundout.

Nova only allowed one run in 4.2 innings in his start on May 9 and should be able to stay in the rotation for at least a few more starts. Luis Severino went on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain after his start on Friday. He will likely need more than the required 15 days and he hasn’t been anything like the pitcher he was during the last two months of last season anyway.

Severino, who is 22 and made his big league debut last August, made 11 starts from the beginning of August through the end of September last season and had an impressive 2.89 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 2.0 Wins Above Replacement. However, possibly partly due to his triceps strain, this season he has a 7.46 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, eight homers allowed and a -0.7 Wins Above Replacement in seven starts. It might make sense for him to throw a few starts at Triple-A before coming off of the DL.

The Yankees did all of their scoring in the second inning. Aaron Hicks continued his improvement on offense as he was 1-3 and had an RBI double in the second. In the last seven days, Hicks has a .333 average (8-24) with one homer, two doubles, four RBIs and five runs scored. He has raised his average from .122 to .210 in the last seven days and is playing like the player that the Yankees thought they were getting when they traded for him in the offseason.

Didi Gregorius’s RBI single in the second that scored Hicks ended up being the winning run for the Yankees. Gregorius was 3-3 during the afternoon and the bottom third of the order had all five of the team’s hits. Gregorius has six RBIs in his last four games, which are as many as he had in his previous 17 games combined.

It is a positive sign that the Yankees have been getting more production from the bottom of the lineup recently. The Yankees will have a dangerous offense when the top, middle and bottom of the order are locked in at the same time.

Jose Quintana has been one of the best pitchers in the American League as he only has a 1.54 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in eight starts this season, but the Yankees were able to do just enough to even the series.

Masahiro Tanaka will get the start in the series finale and will look to get the team a series win against the first place team in the AL Central. Chase Headley will get the day off at third and will be replaced by Ronald Torreyes and Dustin Ackley will get the start in right with Hicks getting rest.

The Yankees lost to the Royals on Wednesday as Pineda struggled in the 1st inning again

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Aaron Hicks – MLB

The Yankees (13-19) lost to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night, 7-3, at Yankee Stadium. Michael Pineda allowed six runs in 5.2 innings pitched, but he allowed four of his six runs in the first inning. This continued his trend of struggling early in the contest but then rebounding. He needs to find consistency, so that he is a reliable pitcher in the beginning of the game.

He has really struggled in the first two innings this season as 20 of the 27 earned runs that he has allowed this season have come in the first two frames. He has been a completely different pitcher after the second frame, but his inability to prevent runners from scoring in the first two stanzas has led to him having a very high ERA of 6.28, a WHIP of 1.60 to go along with hitters having a .306 average against him in his seven starts.

After Alex Gordon’s sacrifice fly scored Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez would go onto smash a three-run homer to left that gave the Royals their fourth run of the first inning. That homer by Perez ended up being the difference in the game. Pineda has struggled with the long ball this year as his nine homers given up are tied for the fourth most in the American League.

Pineda has allowed a solid two earned runs in four of his seven starts, but that is not good enough because in his other three starts he has given up six, seven and six runs, respectively. He is obviously not injured based on the way he has pitched after the second inning, but he just needs a different mindset so that he doesn’t have starts where he allows four runs in the first inning.

With Wednesday night’s loss, the Yankees now have a 5-3 record in the last eight games. They are starting to turn the season around because in their previous eight games they had a record of 1-7. A factor in the team winning more games in the last eight contests is that they have scored 38 runs in that span versus only 17 runs in the stretch when they went 1-7.

A positive development during this stretch of improved offense has been the play of Aaron Hicks, who was traded to the Yankees in the offseason. He has gotten consistent at-bats since he has been playing everyday in the outfield as a result of Carlos Beltran being the DH with Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list. Hicks was 3-4 on Wednesday night, and in the last seven games he is an impressive 9-21 (.429) with one double, two homers, five RBIs and five runs scored. His average was .067 on May 4 and is now a much more respectable .216.

Beltran, who was 2-4 last night with a solo home run, has hit well during the month of May. He is 10-36 (.278) with three homers, four doubles, five runs scored and six RBIs. There have been 10 of the team’s 32 games during May, and three of his seven homers have come during May in addition to six of his 15 RBIs.

Beltran also hit his 399th career homer last night, which puts him in a three-way tie for 54th on the all-time list with Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga. Three Yankees are in the top five on the all-time switch hitter home run list as Mark Teixeira has 397, Beltran has 399 and Chipper Jones retired with 468, Eddie Murray retired with 504 and Mickey Mantle retired with 536.

Chase Headley had a single to shallow left in the second inning to score Hicks for his only hit of the game. He has a very low .178 average this season, but the third baseman has a .278 average (5-18) in the last seven days to show some signs of improvement. However, Headley still does not have an extra base hit this season and has only four RBIs. Proving how Headley has not done his part as an everyday player is that 26 pitchers have an extra base hit this season while Headley does not have one.

The Yankees will play the series finale against the Royals tonight at 7:05 p.m. They will win the series if they win tonight’s game that will be started by Nathan Eovaldi (4.78 ERA). In Eovaldi’s previous start, he dominated in eight innings as he allowed two runs and struck out six.

Joe Girardi has said that the goal is to win consecutive series that they play, and the Yankees should be able to get back into the race in the American League East if they can win the next five series that they play. They went into this series having won their previous two.