Tagged: Didi Gregorius

The Yankees signed Ruben Tejada to possibly be the backup infielder

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Ruben Tejada – ESPN

On Monday, the Yankees signed infielder Ruben Tejada to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp. He is most known for his years with the Mets as he was drafted by them in 2006 and then made his debut in 2010 and spent the first six years of his career with the Metropolitans.

On March, 15 of 2016, the Mets placed Tejada on waivers and released him the next day. After clearing waivers, the 27-year-old from Panama, signed a one-year contract worth $1.5 million with the St. Louis Cardinals. He ended up playing in 23 games for the Cardinals last season and 13 games for the San Francisco Giants.

Tejada was expected to take over for the injured Jhonny Paralta at shortstop but Tejada sustained an injury of his own in the final spring training game before the season, which put him on the disabled list. This caused him to become a back-up at third, shortstop and second in the games he appeared in.   After not having much success, he became a free agent at the end of May after declining his outright assignment.

The Giants signed him on June 13, and he was in their minor league system until being called up on June 29 when he started at third for the injured Matt Duffy. Out of his 13 games that he appeared in with the Giants, he started at third in nine of those while committing two errors. He also only had five hits in his 32 at-bats (.156) before being designated for assignment to make room for starting pitcher Matt Cain.

He played for Panama’s national baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.

Tejada, who is known for his defense and versatility in the field, idolized Yankee great shortstop and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter as well Omar Vizquel, who is one of the best defensive shortstops of all time. Tejada will now get to appear at the same shortstop position for the Yankees that Jeter did.

His best season came in 2012 as a 22-year-old. He was the team’s starting shortstop after Jose Reyes signed with the Miami Marlins in the offseason. Tejada played in 114 games and had a career-high 464 at-bats. He had a solid .289 average with one homer, four steals, 25 RBIs, 26 doubles and 134 hits.

Tejada also played 964.2 innings at shortstop in 2012 and had a very good .974 fielding percentage, and in 2014 when he played 939.1 innings at short he had an even better .984 fielding percentage (eight errors).

After sustaining a strained right quad in 2013 and missing much of the season, his average declined in both 2014 and 2015. In the 2015 season, he had a 23 doubles, 28 RBI and a .261 average. That season he played in 81 games at short (.982 fielding percentage), 19 at third (.962 fielding percentage) and 13 at second (1.000 fielding percentage). However, what he is most remembered for is what happened in the 2015 National League Division Series.

The last play of his career with the Mets was when he broke his leg as a result of Chase Utley’s overly aggressive slide into second. Tejada’s career has trended downward since then. Utley’s hard slide into second when Tejada was trying to turn the double play caused him to be out for the rest of the playoffs and led to new rules governing how players are allowed to slide into second.

The Yankees have Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius as starters at second and shortstop, respectively, but Tejada could serve as a valuable back-up infielder because he can reliably play second, short and third. Based on last season, Castro and Gregorius will perform better than the average shortstop and second baseman on offense, which can make Tejada a useful back-up middle infielder who can also play third when Chase Headley gets a day off. Joe Girardi likes his back-up players to be able to play different positions on defense and that is exactly what Tejada does.

The diminutive Ronald Torreyes performed well overall last season as the backup infielder in his first season with the Yankees. It seems imminent that there will be a competition between Tejada and Torreyes for the backup infielder spot in spring training. Torreyes played in 72 games last year, had a .258 average and had a .978 fielding percentage. He started games at third (27), shortstop (11) and third (nine).

There is no risk in this move because if he outperforms Torreyes then Tejada will likely be the backup infielder and if not then Tejada will probably request to be waived. Tejada could be the favorite because he is the veteran and has started.

Tyler Austin’s two-run homer in the 7th gave the Yankees a win over the Red Sox

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Tyler Austin – ESPN

The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-4, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night for their second win in a row. The win also ended Boston’s 11-game winning streak.

The win kept them mathematically alive for the second wild card spot as they are four games behind the Baltimore Orioles with five games left in the season. Their chance is virtually impossible but it is positive to see that the players are still fighting as Joe Girardi has been saying.

To lead off the scoring for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning, Gary Sanchez hit a two-run homer off of David Price for his 20th blast of the season. He matched Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves as the fastest players in major league history to reach the 20-homer milestone. The have both hit 20 home runs in 51 games played. Sanchez or the Tigers Michael Fulmer are the two contenders for AL Rookie of the Year.

Another rookie, Tyler Austin, hit a two-run homer off of Price in the seventh inning when the score was tied at four. That was his fourth homer and after hitting a homer in his first career at-bat his other homers this season have all come in clutch situations. He 3-3 game raised his average from .197 to .230. He along with others on the team expect greatness when Sanchez steps to the plate.

“Everybody on the team calls home run when he steps up there,” Austin said.

Price has a 1-3 record with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season. He struggled once again as he allowed six runs on 12 hits, one walk and three homers against the Yankees. He has been an ace for much of his career but the Yankees have basically always had his number from when he was a Tampa Bay Ray, to when he was a Toronto Blue Jay to now with the Red Sox.

“I was trying to stay with my approach and go from there,” Austin said. “I just try to do the same work I have been doing all year and go from there. It is unbelievable to see these guys doing well up here.”

This is David Ortiz‘s last series of his career against the Yankees, and the longtime star designated hitter for the Red Sox finished the game by going 0-5. He has 37 homers and 124 RBI this season, which is the best for a player in his age 40 season, but he struck out with a chance to tie the game in the 9th inning.

The third homer that the Yankees hit was a solo homer by Didi Gregorius in the sixth inning. That homer came after the Red Sox scored their first two runs of the game in the top of the sixth. Gregorius’s 20th homer of the season proves he has greatly improved offensively this year as he only hit nine homers in all of 2015, which was his previous career-high.

Gregorius’s homer also made history because he and Starlin Castro are now the first Yankees middle infielders to each hit 20 or more homers in a season. Castro, who is in his first season with the Yankees after being traded from the Chicago Cubs, has hit 21 homers. Castro’s previous career-high was 14 homers back in 2014.

Castro and Gregorius are also only the third second base and shortstop combination 26 or younger (they are both 26) to hit 20 or more homers in a season. The other two are Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa (Astros) this season and David Bell and Alex Rodriguez in 1999 (Mariners). This is a middle infield that should be productive for the Yankees for years to come and Gregorius has been better offensively this season than anyone expected.

Luis Cessa pitched very well as he had his first start where he didn’t allow a home run and that helped him only allow two runs in six innings. He had two big strikeouts in the sixth inning. He struck out Ortiz swining with runners on second and third, and then struck out Hanley Ramirez swinging to end the inning after the second run of the inning scored on Mookie Betts’s ground out.

In eight games as a starter his ERA is a very solid 3.72. His slider was excellent, which helped keep the Red Sox guessing and off balance. It appears that Cessa can be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 option in the rotation next season since he has four pitches and can be relied upon to throw a quality start or better.

Tyler Clippard struck out two batters in the ninth inning for his second save of the season. The Yankees have two more games in the series against the Red Sox and they will honor Ortiz before Thursday’s game. His 52 homers with the Red Sox against the Yankees are tied with Carl Yastrzemski for second all-time behind Ted Williams’s 62.

The Yankees beat the Rays 5-4 after Tyler Austin’s walk-off blast and Brian McCann’s multiple solo homers

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Tyler Austin – ESPN

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night for their fifth win in a row. After the win they gained half a game on the Baltimore Orioles to improve to only two games behind them for the second wild card spot. They also are still four games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

Everything is clicking right now as the Yankees are playing well on offense and defense. They have scored five runs or more in four of the last five games and have allowed four runs or less in five of the last six games. Also, since the Yankees traded lockdown relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller before the trade deadline, the team is an outstanding 7-0 in one-run games and 3-0 in extra-inning games.

After the win, the Yankees improved the 41-28 at Yankee Stadium and are now a season-high nine games above .500 (74-65). Tyler Austin was the star of the game as he had two hits and his third career homer won the game for the the Bronx Bombers.

Austin hit the walk-off homer on a 3-2 two-seamer after he was up 3-0 in the count. It was an inside out swing for an opposite field homer to left field. He rewarded Joe Girardi’s faith in him since he could have sent in Mark Teixeira to pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at four.

The walk-off homer was the first by a Yankee rookie since Melky Cabrera had one on July 18, 2006. Austin hit his first homer in his first career at-bat on August 3. He thinks his walk-off was a more significant homer.

“That might top the first game up here,” Austin said. “It was a huge team win for us and a special moment.”

“I like the way Austin is swinging the bat,” Girardi said. “He is in the game. A lot of times it is a lot easier if your are in the game. It’s amazing what these kids have been able to do for us. A couple of hits tonight. It is hard to explain.”

Austin has a .245 average this season (13-53 in 17 games) but he has found a lot of success hitting in the Bronx. He has nine hits in 26 at-bats at Yankee Stadium (.346) with three homers, four runs scored and six RBI. He hit his second homer of the season, a two-run blast, in the team’s big 7-6 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday. In the last five games (all at Yankee Stadium), Austin has been in the zone at the plate as he is 7-16 (.438) with two homers, two doubles and five RBI.

The previous two runs that the Yankees scored were on solo homers by Brian McCann, and one of his homers was a 412-foot round tripper into the suite level. He has found his stroke since the end of August and has improved on offense. In the last 10 games the veteran catcher, who has mainly been the DH since the trade deadline, is 11-37 (.297) with three homers, four runs scored and five RBI.

In the first inning, Didi Gregorius hit a single to score Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury scored after an error by Rays starter Alex Cobb.

CC Sabathia was only able to pitch four innings after being taken out of the game after throwing 87 pitches and allowing three runs on three solo homers. Tampa Bay had seven hits against him in seven innings but the positive was that nobody was on base when the Rays hit their three homers. Two of the three solo blasts were by Kevin Kiermaier with one going to the upper deck. He is 20 for 50 in his last 12 games.

“He made some mistakes,” Girardi said about Sabathia. “Hopefully the shorter outing will refresh him and we will get him going for his next start. He didn’t have his best stuff.”

However, the Yankees bullpen bailed out Sabathia even though Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Luis Severino were not available. Jonathan Holder gave the Yankees two solid innings in the fifth and sixth as he allowed one run on two hits and left the game with the score tied at four.

Chasen Shreve, Blake Parker, Kirby Yates and Tommy Layne prevented the Rays from scoring over the final three innings. Everybody on the roster has really stepped up during this stretch and that includes the bullpen. Brian Cashman got Parker and Layne off of waivers and Shreve and Yates have been up and down from Triple-A. Shreve hasn’t allowed an earned run in five of his last six appearances and is pitching with more confidence.

“It is a sign that the moment is not too big for them,” Girardi said in reference to the young players on the team. “You get more faith in them and you understand they can handle the situation.”

The Yankees are a remarkable 52-9 when scoring five or more runs this season. They will look to continue scoring five or more runs during their next three games against the Rays. Sweeping the series will help them gain more ground in the wild card and in the division. They will need help from other teams to make the playoffs, but they are giving themselves a chance with they way they have been playing recently, and it will be possible with all of the games left that they have against teams ahead of them in the standings.

“We have a shot (at the playoffs) and in this game that is what you look forward to,” Girarid said. “I feel better than I did a few weeks ago.”

 

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.

 

 

The Yankees won after trading away Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova

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Carlos Beltran – ESPN

After trading away Carlos Beltran, who was the team’s best offensive player in the first four months of the season, and Ivan Nova, who had been a pitcher with the Yankees since 2010 and was signed when he was 16, on Monday, the Yankees beat the Mets 6-5 in 10 innings.

The Yankees made the right decision in trading away their most valuable assets before the trade deadline because they had to improve the minor league system. They now have likely the best collection of prospects in baseball and those prospects will either be part of the next championship team or can be traded for players who can help the team win.

The Yankees had a middle of the pack farm system before trading Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Beltran but their minor league system has now vaulted to the top. Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner hit the reset at the right time because the team did not have a realistic chance at making the playoffs and in making these trades they are closer to winning their next World Series. If they didn’t make these trades the team would have been in contention for the second wild card spot for the next few seasons, which is not the goal that the Yankees have.

In return for Beltran, who should make it to the Hall of Fame when he retires, and two of the top five relievers in baseball in Miller and Chapman, the Yankees received a total of 10 prospects and Adam Warren. For Beltran, they received two lower profile prospects and Dillon Tate, from the Rangers, who is a pitcher that was the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft. For Miller, they got back highly rated outfield prospect Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P. Ferereisen.

Frazier’s “bat speed and raw power are among the best in the Minor Leagues and suggest the ceiling of an All-Star” according to his MLB Pipeline scouting report. Frazier will be in Triple-A Railriders lineup on Tuesday, and Heller, a relief pitcher, has also been assigned to Triple-A.

Chapman is the only pitcher in baseball who can throw 105 mph. When the Yankees traded him the Cubs, who needed a closer, last week, the Yankees got back Warren, the Cubs top shortstop prospect in Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.

In addition to those trades, Cashman also traded Nova just before the 4 p.m. trade deadline for two players to be named later. This made sense because Nova had struggled this season (4.90 ERA) and they likely would not have signed him in the offseason anyway. They also reacquired Tyler Clippard from the Arizona Diamonbacks for Vicante Campos. Clippard and Warren are not as talented as Miller and Chapman, but those two pitchers will be able to be valuable in the 7th and 8th innings and were important to get back since they lost so much production in the bullpen.

Cashman was able to get back a lot of top prospects for Miller and two players who might be rentals for the Cubs and Rangers. The Yankees had help from players who will be part of their present and future when they beat the Mets on Monday.

Didi Gregorius hit a two-run single in the 8th inning to tie the score at five. He has an impressive .291 average and is only 12 RBI away from setting a career-high. Starlin Castro was 0-3 but his sacrifice fly to right in the 10th that scored Jacoby Ellsbury ended up winning the game for the Yankees.

Dellin Betances, who is now the closer, recorded his first save of the season after James Loney, who owns the Yankees, doubled to leadoff the 10th. Betances was able to execute his pitches after that as he struck out Curtis Granderson to end the game after throwing two batters out at first.

The Yankees attempted to run more on the bases than before all of these trades. Austin Romine had his first steal of the season, Castro had his third steal of the season and Brett Gardner was thrown out at home attempting an inside the park home run.

Jacoby Ellsbury scored the first run of the game for the Yankees on a wild pitch and then the Yankees scored their second and third runs in the 5th. Brett Gardner had an RBI double and Ellsbury’s single drove in Gardner.

Warren and Clippard were big contributors out of the bullpen as they combined to pitch three innings, only allow one hit, not allow a run and strikeout four. This was Warren third appearance out of the bullpen since the trade and after struggling with the Cubs he has pitched like he did the previous few seasons with the Yankees, as he has only allowed one hit and no runs in four innings pitched.

The Yankees are now a game over .500 and can now play like they have nothing to lose since there is not much pressure after all of the trades thad were made. The Yankees recalled Ben Gamel and Nick Goody on Monday and will could bringing up catching prospect Gary Sanchez on Wednesday. Outfielder Aaron Judge, who is about to be reinstated from the disabled list and has performed well this season, and Tyler Austin, will both likely be called up in the next few weeks to continue the youth movement.

Since Sanchez will be coming up to the Yankees will have to decide what they will do with Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has not hit at all recently (one hit in his last 16 at-bats) so they could cut him, but they might decide to have him DH until he hits his 700th homer (he is at 696). However, the Yankees don’t really want him taking at-bats away from a younger player.

 

CC Sabathia struggled once again as the Yankees lost to the White Sox on July 4th

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CC Sabathia -ESPN

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.

 

Headley’s slide into home after Chirinos’s passed ball led to the second walk-off win in a row for the Yankees

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Didi Gregorius – ESPN

Chase Headley scoring on a passed ball by Robinson Chirinos in the ninth inning with Carlos Beltran at the plate led to the Yankees winning their second walk-off win in a row over the Texas Rangers. They won 2-1 in a matinee game and closer Aroldis Chapman got his second win of the season.

The star of today’s game was Michael “Big Mike” Pineda. He pitched six dominant innings while allowing only one run, two hits, three walks and a season-high 12 strikeouts. According to Katie Sharp, all 12 of his strikeouts were swinging strikeouts, which doesn’t happen very much. He allowed a homer to Shin-Soo Choo to leadoff the game and then was impressively able to rebound from there and keep the Rangers offense off of the scoreboard.

“I feel really good,” Pineda said. “It’s what I am looking for, just pitching good and I am trying to help the team. I want to finish strong.”

This is what Pineda said in reference to how he rebounded from allowing Choo’s homer: “It’s the first batter, so I tried to be aggressive with my fastball and he got it. Then, I was walking on the mound, and said ‘OK, Big Mike, keep your head up, be focused right now and give my team the opportunity to win the game.”

This was impressive because in earlier starts Pineda has gotten frustrated at himself and has allowed one early run to turn into a few runs. It seems like he is figuring out how to motivate himself on the mound.

He has a lot of talent and when his cutter, slider and change are located he is tough to hit. Pineda was much better in June than he was in May. In 37 innings (six starts) he allowed 11 runs, did not allow more than three earned runs in any start and allowed one run three times while striking out 49 and only walking eight batters.

Big Mike has really improved as he has lowered his ERA from 6.92, when the Yankees considered dropping him from the rotation, to the much more respectable 5.24 ERA that it is now. He now seems like a starter that the Yankees will want to give an extension.

The Yankees scored their first run of the game on a homer to right by Didi Gregorius off of Rangers starter A.J. Griffin in the 5th. This was his second homer in two days and yesterday’s blast was the walk-off 3-run homer in the 9th. He has really improved on offense from last season, and he should get strong consideration for a spot on the All-Star team since he ranks near the top in homers, RBI and average among shortstops in the American League.

In 27 games in June, Gregorius had a .337 average with 11 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs, 15 runs scored and a .906 OPS. His extra-base hits included one triple, four homers and six doubles. The Yankees would not have won these last two games against the best team in the American League without Gregorius and it is a positive sign that he is coming into his own and showing real improvement at the age of 26.

“We never give up,” Gregorius said. “Hopefully we go on our best foot forward from now on and end the first half on a good note. We are doing stuff the right way lately and we just have to keep it up. I am trying to put the barrel on the ball, that’s all I’m trying to do. For me, I am just trying to get good at-bats and get something to show for it.”

The Big Three in the bullpen of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were dominant like normal. They combined to pitch the last three innings, allow only two hits and strike out four Rangers. Betances has only allowed one run in his last 10 appearances (9 innings), Miller has only allowed two runs in his last 10 appearances (10 innings) and Chapman has allowed four runs in his last 10 appearances, but two of those came in one game (9 innings). There is a good chance that the Yankees will win if all three pitch in the same game.

With today’s win, the Yankees earned a split against the Rangers who have the best record in baseball, and it was close to being three out of four since the second game was delayed a few hours due to rain with the Yankees having the lead in the 9th. The Yankees are back to .500 once again and will look to keep the winning streak going in San Diego.

The Bronx Bombers will play a 3-game series at Petco Park against the Padres, who are 13 games below .500 (33-46). They have the worst record in the NL West and just traded away their best reliever, Fernando Rodney, to the Marlins. He has a 0.31 ERA and 17 saves.

The Yankees struggled to maintain momentum the last few times they reached .500, so they will try to reverse that trend against the Padres. If they can win the first two games against San Diego they will be two games above .500 for the first time since they were 4-2. If they sweep the lowly Padres they will be three games above .500 for the first time all season.

Alex Rodriguez will not play in the series against the Padres unless he comes into the game as a pinch hitter. He is strictly a designated hitter now and there is no DH in National League stadiums. If the Yankees sweep the Padres that could prove that the team is turning the corner since they were not able to do so against the Twins.