Gary Sanchez had an outstanding two months in the majors this season and should finish first or second in the Rookie of the Year voting. In 53 games this season (201 at-bats), Sanchez hit .299 with 20 homers, 42 RBI, 12 doubles, an outstanding 1.032 on-base plus slugging percentage and had a solid 41 percent caught stealing percentage.
He will rightfully go into spring training as the everyday catcher and the league will get to see what kind of power numbers Sanchez will be able to produce after playing the whole season. Even though Sanchez, who has greatly improved defensively this season than in the last few in the minors, is now the starting catcher and not Brian McCann, the Yankees still should not trade away McCann in the offseason.
“Listen,” McCann said. “Gary is the starting catcher here. He’s going to be that for a long, long time. Just have to kind of see where my role fits in; see where everything fits.”
McCann can have value for the Yankees next season as a mentor for Sanchez, as the designated hitter since he still has power and as the backup catcher. He could be CC Sabathia‘s primary catcher.
Sabathia credits McCann for helping him adjust as a pitcher. He really improved this season with his improved cutter (with some help from Andy Pettitte) as he had a solid 3.91 ERA, made an impressive 30 starts for the 12th time in his career and had 152 strikeouts. The last time before this season that the six-time All-Star and 2007 Cy Young winner had an ERA below 4.00 was in 2012 when it was 3.38. In 2015, Sabathia made 29 starts, but had a much higher 4.73 ERA and a 1.422 WHIP.
Defensive shifts have caused McCann’s average to be lower than it was earlier in his career when he hit .270 or above ever season from 2005-2011, but McCann still hits for power as this season was his ninth consecutive season that he has slugged at least 20 homers. In 2016, he had a .242 average with 13 doubles, 20 homers, 58 RBI, a .413 slugging percentage and a .335 on-base percentage. He also had a .995 fielding percentage and had a 23 percent caught stealing percentage.
In 2015, the seven-time All-Star, won his sixth Silver Slugger award as he hits 26 homers and tied his career-high with 94 Runs Batted In. If he is primarily the designated hitter that could help him have similar power numbers as he did in 2015.
McCann, who will be 33 in February, is capable of throwing out a greater percentage of base stealers since in 2015 he threw out 36 percent and in 2014 he threw out an even better 37 percent of base stealers. He still has value behind the plate because he knows the pitchers and what they like to throw, which means that he should catch occasionally.
He has two more years left on his contract at $17 million per year, which means that Brian Cashman might not get that much in return for him. He might be due for even better power numbers next year based on how well he hit at the end of the season. McCann had a .266 average in September, which was better than any average he had in any previous month of the season. In September combined with two games in October, he hit four of his 20 homers, drove in seven of his 58 runs and finished the season with five hits in 12 at-bats with a homer.
The 32-year-old from Georgia is one of only four players to ever hit 20 homers in 10 different seasons in which his primary position was catcher. The others were Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza. Pizza is regarded as the best hitting catcher of all time. His left-handed swing is made for Yankee Stadium, and since he wants to return it would make sense for him to spend 2017 playing his home games in the Bronx again. There were rumors about McCann being traded back to the Braves in July but the Yankees would really have to be blown away with major league ready talent to trade him in the offseason.
“I hope I’m back,” McCann said. “I’m not sure how it’s all going to play out, but the future is extremely bright here. … I love it here. I love everything about it. Bright future. And I hope I’m a part of it.”
The Yankees could even trade him before the trade deadline if they are in they are in the race for the division or wild card, which they should be, and he could help them improve at another position of need.
The Yankees were swept by the Boston Red Sox in a four-game series over the weekend and basically saw their hopes of making the postseason fade away. They are now eight games behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East and four games behind Toronto for the second wild card, but four games ago, before the Red Sox series, they were four games behind the Red Sox and only two games out of the second wild card.
If the Yankees had a .500 record on the road this season then they would be in position for a playoff spot right now. As of now, they have a 44-31 record at Yankee Stadium but are only 33-41 in away games. The Yankees have lost six of their last seven games on the road but have won seven of their last 10 games in the Bronx. This five-game losing streak that the Yankees are on, that has brought them from 77-67 to 77-72 is a result of the team running out of steam and having the inability to hold onto leads in games.
The first loss in the losing streak was to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 84-65 and have a four game lead for first place in the NL West. Pineda and the first three pitchers in the bullpen did not allow any runs in the 2-0 loss to the Dodgers but in the ninth inning the previously normally reliable Dellin Betances allowed two unearned runs to lead to the loss. Starlin Castro made an error on the first batter of the inning and Betances made an error when throwing home to lead to the second run.
In the series against the Red Sox, the Yankees blew a 5-1 lead in Game One and ended up losing 7-5, they blew a 5-2 lead in Game Three and ended up losing 6-5 and then in Game Four the Yankees had a 4-0 lead and ended up losing to the Red Sox 5-4. It is rare that a team will lose leads of four, three and four runs in one series.
A major reason that the Yankees lost the series was that they were not able to contain the dangerous Hanley Ramirez. The Red Sox scored 25 runs in the series and Ramirez had seven Runs Batted In. Ramirez was 9-18 in the series and in Game Four he hit two homers and drove in four of the team’s five runs.
Ramirez hit a three-run homer Sunday night in the fifth inning off of CC Sabathia that landed right above the Green Monster to make the score 4-3. In the seventh inning, Ramirez’s solo homer to left off of Tyler Clippard ended up being the game winner for the Red Sox. That was only the second earned run that Clippard has allowed in his 22 games (20 innings) with the Yankees this season since being traded from the Diamondbacks.
Gary Sanchez continued his remarkable month and a half since being called up from Triple-A by hitting a solo homer in the second to make the score 2-0. That was his 16th homer and 30th RBI in only his 41st game this season. Only four catchers have more homers than he does in the American League.
In Game One of the series, when the Yankees had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning, the Yankees bullpen totally fell apart in the last two innings. After Masahiro Tanaka only allowed one run in seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.97, which is the best ERA in the AL, Adam Warren gave up a solo homer in the 8th to make the scored 5-2.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the 9th inning off of Blake Parker and Betances. Parker walked the only batter he faced and that runner would later score and be charged to him. After Betances walked Dustin Pedroia and got Zander Bogaerts to hit into a fielder’s choice, five runs would score with two outs.
David Ortiz hit an RBI single to make the score 5-3, Mookie Betts hit an RBI single to left to make the score 5-4 and then Ramirez hit his first homer of the series, a three-run walk-off homer to make the score 7-5. That was a heartbreaking loss by the Yankees because it was a game that it appeared that they would win going into the 8th and 9th.
The Yankees have been relying on many young players like Luis Cessa, Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder and Ronald Torreyes among others. Aaron Judge is another rookie that was starting but he is out for the season due to injury. Jacoby Ellsbury is now listed as day-to-day with a right bone bruise after his knee hit the wall when he was making a catch on Saturday.
“We’ll see how he feels,” Girardi said. “With a bone bruise, we’ll try to get him back as quick as we can, but being a center fielder, you’ve got to be able to run. That’s the bottom line.”
Second baseman Starlin Castro was also injured during Saturday’s game as he hurt his hamstring when running to second during a double. His diagnosis is a Grade 1 hamstring strain and he could be done for the year.
It appeared that the Yankees would have a chance at getting to first place before their five-game losing streak began, since they had a four-game deficit with four games against the first place Red Sox, but now the Yankees can only play to try to stay close to the second wild card spot. It is not likely, but if the Yankees go 10-3 the rest of the season they will tie their record from last season when they finished 87-76. After the the trades the Yankees made at the trade deadline, Joe Girardi had the Yankees playing very well up until the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If the Yankees can finish the season 8-5 and three games out of the second wild card that will be a successful end to the season.
Masahiro Tanaka pitched very well in five of his six starts in August and there is a chance that he could win the Cy Young if the can continue pitching like he has recently.
In Tanaka’s last three starts of August he allowed two, zero and zero runs, which lowered his ERA from 3.40 to 3.12. In his two starts before that outstanding three game stretch, he gave up one run in six innings and then four runs in seven innings. He was hurt by the long ball as the Rays hit two homers off of him leading to his four runs, but the Rays only had five hits against him and Tanaka recorded eight strikeouts and no walks, which is a great strikeout to walk ratio.
His ERA during August would have been even better if not for the Mets scoring six earned runs against him on August 2 but his ERA for the month was still a very good 3.00. He had a 3.40 ERA after that start at Citi Field against the Mets and it’s now a much improved 3.12. Also, showing his dominance during the month is that he had 38 strikeouts and only one walk. Only allowing one walk in the span of six starts is outstanding control and rarely seen in major league baseball.
Overall this season, Tanaka is seventh in the American League in ERA (3.12), sixth in the AL in WHIP (1.06) and third in the league in K/BB ratio (5.21). His 4.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is the seventh highest among qualified starters in the league, the .268 on-base percentage that opponents have against him is the second best in the league and the .360 slugging percentage that opponents have against him is fifth best in the league.
After the All-Star break this season, Tanaka has really excelled as he allowed two runs or less in six of his nine starts. He allowed zero runs in three of those starts and one run twice.
He will definitely be considered for the Cy Young if he can continue pitching at the success rate that he has after the All-Star break. (He will have to not have another start where he allows six runs.) Tanaka currently is not far from being first in ERA in the AL as Aaron Sanchez, who has made 25 starts this season to Tanaka’s 27, has a 2.88 ERA. Tanaka is also close to the pitchers immediately ahead of him as Chris Sale has a 3.10 ERA and Corey Klueber is in 5th place with a 3.09 ERA.
Tanaka has been by far the Yankees best starting pitcher this season. His 11 wins are most on the team by three, his 3.12 ERA is much lower than any other starting pitcher, his 1.06 WHIP is much better than the other starting pitchers, his 16 quality starts are four more than CC Sabathia who is in second place and he has been able to throw 29 more innings that any other pitcher on the team.
Tanaka, who is 27 and in his third season since coming over from Japan, is also on his way to having his best season in pinstripes since he is on track to pitch the whole campaign. In 2014, his rookie season, he had an excellent 2.77 ERA but that was after pitching only 136.1 innings and 20 starts. He has already made 27 starts this season and thrown 173.0 innings, which makes his performance up until now in this season more impressive than 2014.
He signed a 7-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees before the 2014 season and he is pitching this season like he deserved that contract and is beyond the injury he suffered in 2014. In his rookie season, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list in the beginning of July due to right elbow inflammation and an MRI revealed a partially torn UCL. He ended up returning at the end of September after multiple doctors said that Tommy John surgery was not necessary.
The rookie campaign was very impressive for Tanaka and he has been able to dominate even more this season based on the array of plus pitches that he has. He relies primarily on his sinker (90mph), slider (84mph) and splitter (87mph) while also throwing a four-seam fastball, cutter and curve.
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.
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.
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.
The Yankees (24-27) lost Tuesday night’s game in Toronto to the Blue Jays, 4-1, as CC Sabathia pitched well once again but the offense wasn’t able to score enough runs to get him his fourth win. Sabathia has been a huge success for the Yankees, as he has allowed two, zero, one and zero runs in each of his last four starts, but the struggling offense has prevented the team from going above .500.
The Yankees were 22-22 after their win on March 24, which was the last win of their six-game winning streak, but after that game the team has gone 2-5 in their last seven games. They scored four runs or less in six of those seven games. Proving their recent offensive ineptitude is that in their last three games combined they have only scored five runs.
In Tuesday’s loss, the Yankees were only 1-8 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were much better in that category when they went 13-5 earlier in May. The middle of the order – Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Starlin Castro – combined to only have one hit in 11 at-bats.
It is much harder to win games when the three, four and five batters in the lineup do not contribute offensively. The rest of the lineup had five hits but they did not do enough with runners in scoring position (RISP). The only hit with RISP came when Austin Romine, who has been much better on offense this season, had a infield single in the second to advance Chase Headley to third after he doubled.
An opportunity was wasted in the second inning since the Yankees had runners on second and third with no outs and only scored one run. Didi Gregorius would fly out to center, Aaron Hicks’s fielders choice scored Headley and then Jacoby Ellsbury’s fly ball was caught in foul territory to end the inning.
Castro, who is tied for second on the team with 21 RBIs, has really struggled at the plate recently. He had a solid .276 average on May 22 but now his average is all the way down to .245. Castro only has three hits in his last 33 at-bats. The only upside of only having three hits in 33 at-bats is that two of those have been homers.
The Yankees need him to improve at the plate and hit like he did earlier in the season. From the end of April to the beginning of May he had six multi-hit games in 10 games, which proves that he is capable of really heating up.
Mark Teixeira is not hitting at the plate right now just like Castro, but unlike Castro he hasn’t really helped the team on offense this season. Teixeira only has three hits in his last 34 at-bats going back to May 17 and has 13 strikeouts in that span. The highest that his average was in May was .225.
He has a very low .190 average this season and only has eight extra-base hits the whole season (three homers). Joe Girardi has said that he will leave Teixeira in the lineup. Teixeira will have to give the team more production because the No. 3 hitter in the lineup is relied on to hit homers and drive in runs. He only has 12 RBIs in 158 at-bats this season after having 79 RBIs and 31 homers in 392 at-bats last season (111 games).
Headley did nothing in April and really turned it around in May as he had a .150 average in April but his .298 average in May has pushed his average up to a more respectable .236. Teixeira, who is 36 years old and has a -0.4 Wins Above Replacement, will be looking to have a turnaround similar to the one that Headley had. Teixeira traditionally starts the season slowly, but usually picks it up in May after struggling in April.
If Castro can start to hit like he did earlier in the season and Teixeira can hit like he did during his productive 2015 season then the offense will get better. The Yankees have five more games of their 10-game road trip as they have one more in Toronto, a makeup game in Detroit and then three games in Baltimore. The Blue Jays (28-26), who have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games, are currently in third place and 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees.
After beating the Oakland Athletics, 5-1, on Saturday in Oakland, the Yankees are not in last place in the American League East for the first time since April 23. That was their longest stretch in last place since the last four weeks of the 1990 season. They have gone 11-5 in their last 16 games and have really turned their season around, as they are now 20-22 and 6.5 games out of first place.
This was their fourth consecutive win and in each of those wins their starting pitchers have pitched six innings or more and have impressively allowed only one run. CC Sabathia came off of the disabled list on Friday and showed the same dominance that he did in his start before going on the DL as he allowed one run on three hits and a walk. He struck out a season-high eight batters, and it appears that his knee brace has really been helping him.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start in Saturday’s game and allowed one run on five hits and two walks in seven very effective innings. In the fifth inning, with the Yankees leading 4-0, Danny Valencia hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored catcher Matt McBride, who walked to lead off the inning. Tanaka, who has been the team’s best starting pitcher this season, has a 3.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 50 strikeouts. This was a big bounce back game for Tanaka because he was able to rebound after allowing four and six runs in his last two starts, respectively.
The fifth run that the Yankees scored, a double by Starlin Castro in the seventh that scored Ronald Torreyes, was able to allow Nick Goody to pitch the last two innings and give the team’s big three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman the game off. Goody, who was pitching in his seventh game this season and made his debut in 2015, allowed one hit and no walks in his two innings pitched. He has a 1.64 ERA (two earned runs) and 12 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched this season. Girardi might rely on Goody more as some of the other middle relievers before the big three haven’t been very reliable.
Entering the bottom of the fourth the score was still 0-0, but then the Yankees would score all the runs they would need off of Oakland starter Sean Manaea for the win. The Yankees, who scored five runs off of Manaea, capitalized off of a pitcher who had been struggling this season since he had allowed 8, 4, and 4 and three of his four other starts this season.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Carlos Beltran hit a single to left center that scored Jacoby Ellsbury for the team’s first run. Then, with one out, Aaron Hicks hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Castro. To make the score 4-0, Rob Refsnyder hit a double to deep right that scored Beltran and Mark Teixeira. Refsnyder, who was playing right field, appeared in a game for the first time since being called up from Triple-A with Luis Cessa and James Pazos on May 17.
Refsnyder has really mastered Triple-A pitching since he had a .293 average with two homers and 10 RBIs in 133 at-bats this season, but from April 26 until May 12 he had a 16-game hitting streak with six multi-hit games and nine runs scored. He also slugged his first two homers of the season in his second to last game before being called up. He will be able to provide offense off of the bench while being able to play right field, third and second.
Castro, who has the highest batting average of any regular on the team, was 3-5 to improve his average to .277. He has adapted well to playing with the Yankees after being traded from the Cubs in the offseason and he forms a solid young middle of the infield with Didi Gregorius. Castro was able to break out of his mini slump since he had only one hit in 13 at-bats before Saturday’s game.
Beltran, who leads the team in RBIs with 26, was two for four to improve his average to .268. After finishing April of 2015 with a very low .162 average, Beltran has been able to continue the improved production that he had during the last five months of last season. He has been a major part of the team going 5-2 in the last week as he has .385 average (10-26) with four runs scored, four doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in the last seven days.
With a win Sunday afternoon against Oakland (4:05 p.m. EST) they will have swept the Athletics and will have finished the road trip with a 5-2 record. After this series in the Bay Area the Yankees will return for three games against the last place Toronto Blue Jays and then go on a 10-game road trip. Those 10 games will be important because nine of those 10 games will be against AL East teams.
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.