The Yankees (61-51) lost to the Cleveland Indians, 2-1, in the second game of the series as the offense only had four hits in the game. The Yankees have now scored only nine runs in their last seven games and that low run output has led to them losing six of those games.
As a result of the Toronto Blue Jays 10-game winning streak the Yankees are half a game out of first and are now in second place for the first time since July 1. “Obviously you want to be in first place,” Girardi said. “The end date is the most important date to be there. It is going to come down to what we do the next 50 games or whatever we’ve got left.”
Brian McCann’s homer in the second inning was the only run that the Yankees scored in the game. McCann’s 19 homers this season leads all MLB catchers. “We just have to show up tomorrow and get a win,” McCann said.
Danny Salazar, who only allowed one run in 7.1 innings and had 8 strikeouts, retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings and the Yankees had trouble hitting his overpowering fastball. Salazar has now allowed a combined two earned runs in his last three starts and besides McCann’s homer the Yankees only got a runner to second or third twice against him.
The Yankees were 0-3 with runners in scoring position, were 1-11 with runners on base and Alex Rodriguez hit into two double plays. The top of the lineup continued to struggle as the 1-4 hitters went a combined 2-13 with five strikeouts. The top of the lineup needs to contribute offensively if the Yankees are going to win consistently again.
“I thought we swung the bats better,” Girardi said. “They made some good plays. We hit some balls deep. Unfortunately we were not able to do much.”
One positive was that the pitching continued to do its job for the team. CC Sabathia allowed 11 base runners in his six innings pitched, but he was able to limit the Indians to only two runs in six innings while recording two strikeouts and pitching very effectively with runners on base. He got Chris Johnson to hit into a double play to end the third and got Johnson to hit into another double play to end the fifth after the Indians scored their first run.
Sabathia, who lowered his ERA from 5.34 to 5.23, has now pitched well in his last two starts as he allowed one earned run, eight strikeouts and only three hits in six innings in his start last week against the Red Sox. He is improving since he has allowed three runs combined in his last two starts after allowing 10 runs in his previous two starts.
“I think my stuff was better last time,” Sabathia said. “My main focus is always to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win. I think I accomplished that tonight.” Limiting the opposition to two runs while allowing 11 base runners is very impressive and he pitched well enough to earn his 213th win of his career.
“He is working the ball in and out,” McCann said. “He is getting the cutter in. He made some huge pitches tonight.” McCann got to first in the ninth after Roberto Perez’s throw after his dropped third strike hit him, and John Ryan Murphy ran for him, but he was stranded at first after Carlos Beltran lined out and Didi Gregorius struck swinging to end the game.
The Yankees were coming off of a 16-inning marathon of a game so they needed some distance from Sabathia. He was able to throw 110 pitches, which is tied for the most he has thrown this season.
“I knew I had to lean on him tonight, but he was still throwing the ball well,” Girardi said about Sabathia. “I stuck with him.”
Hal Steinbrenner, who is the managing general partner of the Yankees, still has confidence in the team and its chance of winning the division. “I said in the offseason several times that if we stayed healthy, which is something we haven’t been able to do the last couple years, and if the middle of the lineup produced, which they didn’t do last year, then we were going to be contenders, and we are,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday from baseball’s owners meetings in Chicago. “It’s still ours to lose.”
The Yankees offense is trending the wrong way at the wrong time, with their power hitters, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, struggling, but there is still time for them to find their swing and hit like they did earlier in the season. The Blue Jays will also not continue to win games at the pace that they have been.
The Yankees will play the series finale on Thursday night and the offense will look to bounce back and prevent a sweep to the last place Indians. Nathan Eovaldi will be pitching for the Yankees and the erratic Trevor Bauer will get the start for Cleveland.
The Yankees missed the chance to sign Yoan Moncada, who is a 19-year-old Cuban sensation. He has been compared to Robinson Cano, and he obviously could have been the long-term replacement for Cano if the Yankees had signed him.
On Monday, the Boston Red Sox gave Moncada a record-setting 31.5 million bonus, which will translate to a nearly $63 million hit to the Red Sox because they have exceeded the amount allowed by the league for international signings. They had seven of the top 100 prospects in baseball before signing him, and Moncada will now likely move to the top of that list.
The Yankees reportedly offered Moncada $27 million, which was $4.5 million less than the bonus that the Red Sox gave him. Brian Cashman wanted to sign him, but Hal Steinbrenner didn’t want to pay what would have amounted to about $60 million to the 19-year-old because the Yankees are also above the limit for international signings. However, spending the extra money for Moncada would have been worth it because he could have prevented the best prospect in baseball from playing for their rival to the north.
Keith Law thinks that Moncada is on par with other stars that have come out of Cuba in recent years such as Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu. There is obviously a small chance that Moncada does not pan out, but it was worth the risk because he could turn out to have a similar impact that Puig and Abreu had in their first seasons. When Moncada was in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2012, he led the league in batting average, OBP and slugging with a league-best 20 steals.
Since Moncada hasn’t played in organized games since December of 2013 he will spend spring training with minor leaguers and most likely will not reach the majors until the 2016 season.
Brian Cashman spoke glowingly of Moncada, but he was not able to convince Hal Steinbrenner to increase his offer.
“He’s got a lot of ability and projects to be a quality player,” Cashman said. “I don’t think anybody disagrees with the ability. It just comes down to how much money you were willing to commit.” The Yankees were obviously not willing to commit the amount of money ($4.5 million) that the Red Sox were to sign a potential star who could play second or even right or left field. The $4.5 million is about what the Yankees are paying mediocre starting pitcher Chris Capuano.
The Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Yankees each made initial offers of about $25 million, but Boston was the team that wanted him more than the other three. It is likely that if George Steinbrenner was still alive that he would have outbid the Red Sox for Moncada so that Yankees could have had the next Cuban sensation. The last true impact Cuban that played for the Yankees was Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez (he helped the Yankees win three championships), but the latest Cuban import will be in enemy territory making an impact for the Red Sox instead.
“Hello! My name is Masahiro Tanaka. I am very happy to be a Yankee.” That was what Tanaka said in English to open his press conference at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. He will likely be the No. 3 starter, following CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, after signing seven-year, $155 million contract on Jan. 22.
After having under a 2.00 ERA in each of the past three seasons for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, the Yankees will need Tanaka to have a successful season in his first season. The Yankees are counting on him having an ERA in the low to mid 3.00 range and picking up about 15 wins. Tanaka, who is 25, had a remarkable 1.27 ERA last season and struck out 183 batters while only allowing 32 walks. An adjustment period is expected during April, based on the new hitters, new mound and new ball, but he should be able to have success based on how Bobby Valentine and others have supported him.
In order to get to his press conference in the Bronx, he paid $195,000 to rent a 787 Dreamliner for himself, his pop star wife, his toy poodle and few others in his entourage to get to JFK Airport in style. It took him more than eight hours to get from where he lives in Japan to Naruta Airport based on snowy conditions. He needed such a big plane for not many people apparently because there were not many at the airport. His grand entrance into NYC definitely lives up to his $155 million contract.
There were 200 reporters at the press conference. This was the largest press conference that the Yankees have had for a new player since Hideki Matsui’s in 2003. This is partly because of all of the Japanese media that were in attendance.
The rest of what Tanaka told the media was through his interpreter. Tanaka’s number one goal with the Yankees is to win the world championship. He first came to NYC in high school, and Tanaka remarked that it was very cloudy. He said that there is a lot of sunshine this time so he has a good impression of New York. When he first came to New York he notably ate sushi that he bought at a grocery store nearby.
Tanaka would not comment if another team offered more money. This caused Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and Randy Levine to smile in approval. He wanted to pitch in the MLB to see where he could get to with his ability. He looks forward to exploring and learning more about NYC. He liked the draw of the rich history and tradition of the Yankees. He is used to the spotlight based on pitching in the World Baseball Classic as well in important games for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Cashman thought it helped that the Yankees had been on TV so much in Japan because of Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. The Yankees have scouted Tanaka since 2007. Tanaka added that when he spoke to Matsui before signing with the Yankees, he didn’t tell him much, but said that New York is a great city.
Matsui, who is still involved with the team and lives in NYC most of the year, Ichiro and especially Kuroda, should be able to help Tanaka with his transition. Kuroda, who is a pitcher who has pitched well in his first two seasons with the Yankees, and had ERAs between 3.07 and 3.76 in his four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, should be able to help him with his adjustment to pitching with the Yankees and to MLB hitters. He will also be able to help him adjust the constant media scrutiny.