Tagged: Ichiro Suzuki

Chris Young was worth bringing back as the fourth outfielder

Chris Young playing for the Yankees last season.

Chris Young playing for the Yankees last season.

On Sunday, the Yankees signed the 31-year-old outfielder Chris Young to a one-year contract that is worth $2.5 million. He will be able to make $3,825,000 more in performance bonuses based on plate appearances. He will earn $200,000 for 275 at-bats, $300,000 for 300 at-bats, $350,000 for 350 at-bats, 375,000 each for 375 and 400 and $475,000 for 450 plate appearances.

Young hit a combined .222 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs last season with the Mets and Yankees. However, in 23 games after being signed by the Yankees to a minor league contract on August 27, Young hit .282, with three homers, eight doubles and 10 RBIs. The eight doubles were only four fewer than he hit in 88 games with the Mets. His month with the Yankees included hitting a homer in three straight games and stealing home.

He is a career .234 hitter with 155 homers, 486 RBIs and 130 steals. In 2010, when he was an NL All-Star while playing in his fourth of seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he hit .257 with 27 homers, 91 RBIs, 28 steals and 33 doubles. The Houston native will be the team’s fourth outfielder and was worth bringing back because if he can play the way he did in September he will give the Yankees a player off of the bench that the didn’t have in 2014.

In 2014, Ichiro Suzuki was the number four outfielder (and sometimes starter) and wasn’t able to supply the power numbers that Young will be able to. Ichiro’s .340 slugging percentage last season was the lowest among any Yankee outfielder with at least 300 plate appearances since Bill Robinson had a .281 slugging percentage in 1967. Ichiro had a solid .284 average last season, but only had one homer, 13 doubles and 22 RBIs. Young had eight doubles in only 23 games.

General Manager Brian Cashman had help from his analytical department in signing Chris Young and the signing was able to finalize the outfield for the 2015 season. He will be the fourth outfielder behind Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.

(Analysts) Steve Martone and Mike Fishman pushed for me to sign Chris,” Cashman said. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract. We wanted a right-handed bat with power, which doesn’t exist much in the game anymore, it seems like. He fit that category.”

Young can play all three outfield positions, has a career .990 fielding percentage and when he is on he has a solid combo of speed and power. He adjusted well to his move from Queens to the Bronx and should be able to fill in if an injury happens. The Yankees just need him to play like he did in September and not like he did the previous five months.

He also allows the Yankees to get younger because he is 31 and has played eight MLB seasons while Ichiro is 41 and has played 14 MLB seasons after coming over from Japan.

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Michael Pineda’s dominating start led the Yankees to their second win in a row

Michael-Pineda-1

The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on Monday in the first game of their four-game series against the Orioles. Michael Pineda’s 7.1 dominating innings helped the Yankees win their fifth game in their last six games. They are now four games out of the second wild card spot with six games to play.

It is an extreme long shot that the Yankees will pass the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, but Derek Jeter has helped the Yankees improve their play and keep the team alive right until the end.

Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka both dominated in back-to-back games, which is a great sign for the Yankees for next season. They will be a very formidable one and two in the rotation in 2015. In Pineda’s 7.1 innings, he retired 22 of the 24 batters that he faced, recorded an impressive eight strikeouts and the only hit that he allowed came in the fifth inning to J.J. Hardy. He retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings and had all of his pitches working for him.

Tonight, my slider was working pretty good, and my changeup too, everything is working good,” Pineda said. “When my release point is finished in the front, the slider has good movement, it is really good. The changeup is a really good pitch, and before I didn’t use it a lot in the games, and now I am using it more. It is really good.”

Pineda is becoming even more dangerous as a pitcher because he is developing a very good changeup to go along with his fastball and slider. He now has a 1.94 ERA in his 12 starts, which means that he has the lowest ERA in baseball out of all starters who have made 10 or more starts.

Offensively, Derek Jeter continued to hit well and drive in runs during his last home stand before he retires after Sunday’s game in Boston. Jeter was 1-3 with three RBIs and walk against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen and Evan Meek. Since ending his 0-28 hitless streak the game before this home stand began on 9/17, Jeter has gone 10/24 (.416) with four runs scored, three doubles, one homer and six RBIs. He has raised his average from .249 to .256.

In the third inning, Jeter hit an RBI groundout to score rookie Jose Pirela to make the score 2-0. Then, in the fifth inning, he slugged a double to the wall in left to score Pirela and Brett Gardner. “This is a game of adjustments, and I am going to continue to make those adjustments until I am out of games,” Jeter said. “I don’t want to jinx anything. I feel pretty good. It is fun, I mean the fans have been energetic, that makes it fun for us to play.”

For the first run of the game, Pirela tripled to deep left center to score Ichiro Suzuki in his first career at-bat. Pirela, who had been in the minors for eight years, singled in his second at-bat and was very grateful to be playing in his first major league game. “To see my dream coming true is unbelievable for me,” Pirela said. Chase Headley hit his fifth homer with the Yankees and 12th of his season in the eighth inning.

The Yankees will look to win their third game in a row on Tuesday. Brandon McCarthy, who has a 2.54 ERA in 13 starts with the Yankees, will get the start for the home team. He has allowed four runs combined in his last three starts. Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a high 4.90 ERA, will start for the Orioles. Baltimore has already clinched the division, which means that these games don’t mean much to them.

The Rays beat the Yankees 6-1 on Wednesday at Tropicana Field

Derek Jeter warming up at Tropicana Field

Derek Jeter warming up at Tropicana Field

The Yankees lost to the Rays on 6-1 on Tuesday for their fifth loss in their last six games. The Yankees have now only scored seven runs in their previous six games, which has been a major reason for all of the losses.

Tuesday’s game stands out because it was the fifth time that a Yankee had been hit in the last four games by the Rays. Joe Girardi was so frustrated that after Derek Jeter was hit on the wrist in the eighth he was thrown out of the game. “Five times in four games we have been hit,” Girardi said. “Twice in the elbow, once in the chin, a ball at Gardy’s head last night, another ball at Chase’s ribs last night. I am all for pitching inside, but you got to know how to pitch inside, because it is extremely dangerous. Chase Headley is lucky that he is OK. I don’t know what they expect.”

Jeter and Headley have both been hit twice since Sept. 9 and Brian McCann has been hit once. “No one likes to get hit,” Jeter said. Obviously when it happens it’s unfortunate; when it happens a lot, then yeah, people get frustrated.”

After Jeter was hit in the eighth both benches were warned, which led to umpire Rob Drake ejecting Girardi, Tony Pena and David Phelps from the game. Phelps was ejected when he sent a fastball near Kevin Kiermaier’s chin to the backstop in the eighth. Drake ruled this intentional even though Phelps was only making his second appearance since August 3. This also caused Pena to be ejected since he was the acting manager with Girardi out of the game.

The game was close through the sixth inning as the Rays only had a 2-1 lead at that point. Michael Pineda rebounded well from his last start since he only allowed one run in 5.1 innings. He was not able to give the team much length since he had 100 pitches when he was taken out. Pineda has now allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his 10 starts this season giving him an impressive 2.15 ERA.

The only run that the Yankees scored in the game came off of a single by Ichrio Suzuki that scored Chris Young in the second inning off of Jake Odorizzi. The Yankees had seven hits and two walks but were only 1-10 with runners in scoring position. Brett Gardner and Brian McCann, the three and four hitters counted on to drive in runs, were both 0-4 and McCann grounded into a double play with Jeter on first in the eighth. In the seventh inning, after Antoan Richardson stole second, Brendan Ryan and Jacoby Ellsbury both lined out to the outfield in consecutive at-bats.

The Yankees relief pitchers fell apart in the seventh inning as three pitchers combined to allow four runs on four hits. Three of those runs were charged to Esmil Rogers and the fourth was charged to Rich Hill. The Rays scored their first run of the seventh when the dangerous Evan Longoria hit a single that sent Ben Zobrist home and David DeJesus to second. DeJesus’s single to right advanced Zobrist to second. Hill gave up two consecutive singles to James Loney and Nick Franklin, which led to DeJesus scoring the second run of the inning.

A play that is barely ever seen happened with Wil Myers hitting and Phelps pitching. Myers hit a sac fly to center and Longoria scored from third and Loney scored from second. Part of the reason they both scored was that Ellsbury had to dive to make the catch. Girardi likely protested the game after this play.

In an almost fitting ending to the drama-filled game, Brendan Ryan struck out swinging with runners on first and second.

The only memorable part of the game besides Pineda’s performance was that Jeter was honored before the game with a ceremony. Jeter does not have a hit in his last 26 at-bats, but will likely remember and enjoy the kayak in Yankee colors with the No. 2 on it and a framed Rays jersey of Tampa Bay senior advisor Don Zimmer, who died last year. Jeter developed a clos relationship with Zimmer while he was the bench coach with the Yankees and would touch him for good luck.

In Jeter’s final game at Tropicana Field, on Wednesday, Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy will pitch for the Yankees. McCarthy has allowed two runs or less in six of his last eight starts, and he allowed zero runs in three of those eight starts.

Ryan Hanigan’s block at the plate in the fifth led to the Rays beating the Yankees

Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew

The Yankees lost a frustrating game to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are now 3-4 during the first seven games of their nine-game homestand. That is not how Joe Girardi wanted to begin a crucial stretch of home games in September. 

Hiroki Kuroda allowed four earned runs and nine hits in only 3.1 innings against the Rays. He had previously allowed two runs or less in his last four starts. He struck out the side in the first inning, but James Loney led off the second with a homer to right, and then Kuroda’s four singles allowed in the third inning led to two more Tampa Bay runs. Evan Longoria and Loney hit RBI singles to center in consecutive at-bats. Kuroda allowed three consecutive singles in the fourth with one out before being taken out of the game with the Yankees losing 4-0.

Seven Yankee relief pitchers actually combined to pitch 5.2 innings and only allow two hits and zero runs. Girardi has so many relief pitchers at his disposal since the roster expanded on September 1. David Huff allowed two hits in his 1.2 innings and David Robertson pitched a scoreless ninth and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 5.1 innings.

However, instead of Kuroda, the loss can be blamed on a Yankees offense that scored three runs or less for the third time in their last four games (they didn’t score a run in two of those games). Out of the seven hits that the Yankees had, only Jacoby Ellsbury’s home run in the fourth inning was not a single. One controversial play with Stephen Drew stands out in the fifth inning.

In the fifth inning, the first three batters that came to the plate got on base, as Chase Headley was hit by a pitch and Ichiro Suzuki and Drew both singled. Chris Young then hit his first hit in his first start with the Yankees. His single scored Headley and Ichiro. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a single with Drew on second but Drew was ruled out at home. Drew should have scored according to the rules or been held at third.

Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan was clearly blocking the plate and the only way that Drew could have scored is if he ran Hanigan over. According to the new rules this season, if the catcher is blocking the plate the runner is supposed to be ruled safe. “You almost have to encourage the runner to run the catcher over,” Girardi said. “The only thing he could do is run him over, that is it.”

The Yankees could have had their fourth run right there, but third base coach Rob Thomson said that he should have held Drew at third to have runners at second and third with no outs. “Just a bad send,” Thomson said. “An error on my judgement. I take full responsibility for it.” To end the fifth inning, Derek Jeter hit into a double play where Young was doubled off of second.

Another play that hurt the Yankees chances was in the seventh inning when Ichiro had third stolen with one out, but Drew swung at the pitch and hit a line drive to right field causing a double play. If Drew would have been more aware and not have swung, he could have driven in Ichiro with a sacrifice fly.

The deflating loss to Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his career, makes the team’s hope of getting the second Wild Card far fetched at this point. They are now 5.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals with only 20 games to play.   

The offense was only 1-8 with runners in scoring position in the loss to the Astros

Michael Pineda

Michael Pineda

The Yankees lost to the Houston Astros, 5-2, at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. It was their second consecutive loss to the Astros and they are now 1-3 against Houston, who have a 54-73 record.

The Yankees are now 2-7 in their last nine games and a major reason for that is that they have not scored more than four runs in any of their last nine games. In fact, they have scored four runs twice in those nine games and have scored two or fewer runs four times.

In Wednesday night’s game, the Yankees actually out hit the Astros 10-9, but the Yankees only went 1-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. Mark Teixeira was 0-4 and 0-2 with runners in scoring position. Martin Prado and Brian McCann were also 0-4.

There were plenty of opportunities for the home team to score runs. Teixeria had a 3-0 count with runners on first and second in the first inning but ended up striking out. McCann popped out to the shortstop with runners on second and third to end the first. Brett Gardner grounded out to the shortstop with runners on second and third to end the second.

In the fifth inning, Derek Jeter grounded out to third with Ichiro Suzuki on second with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury’s bunt single that scored Ichiro was the only hit that the Yankees had with runners in scoring position. The Yankees continued to be unsuccessful with runners in scoring position and two outs as Ellsbury struck out with runners on second and third to end the seventh inning.

I don’t see them doing anything different than they are in their other at-bats, we are just not getting it done,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes it is a little bit foul, sometimes they just miss out, we are just not getting it done. These guys get better every day and it is just not happening.” 

Michael Pineda had his second consecutive impressive start since coming off of the disabled list. In his first start, he allowed one run in five innings, and on Wednesday, he allowed two runs in six innings and deserved to get the win. He had three strikeouts and only gave up four hits in six innings. He was taken out of the game after throwing only 89 pitches, and Joe Girardi could have left him in longer since Dellin Betances and David Robertson were both not available. 

Pineda said that coming out of the game after allowing a walk to Jason Castro in the seventh was out of his control. “I am feeling good, I had good energy, but I don’t have control for this situation,” Pineda said. “Today it was a pretty good slider.”

After David Huff gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez, Esmil Rogers allowed three runs on four consecutive singles, including a two-run single to Robbie Grossman. Only two of those runs were charged to him as a result of Pineda’s walk and single that Huff allowed. The results in the seventh might have been different if Pineda was still pitching or if Shawn Kelley or Betances were pitching. 

With their last two losses, the Yankees are now five games behind the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card. After Thursday’s series finale, the Yankees will play three games at home against the Chicago White Sox, who are 59-68 and in fourth place in the AL Central. The Yankees need to win the last four games of the homestand in order to make up ground and have a chance of playing meaningful games down the stretch. 

Thursday’s game will be a matinee at 1:05 p.m. Brandon McCarthy will look to allow two runs or fewer for his seventh time in eight starts with the team, but it is just as important that the offense finally score more than four runs. 

Brandon McCarthy won his fourth game with the Yankees in the series opener against the Tigers

Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy

The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers and last year’s Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, 2-1 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium. They have now won two games in a row and are only a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second Wild-Card.

Brandon McCarthy allowed zero earned runs (one unearned) with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched. The Yankees have won all of his five starts since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he has picked up the win in four of those starts. He also has a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts, and Brian Cashman gets a lot of credit for  significantly upgrading the Yankees rotation. Going from a team that is 11 games out of the playoffs in the Diamondbacks to the Yankees, who have so much prestige and a realistic chance of making the postseason, has gotten McCarthy to pitch like it is 2012.

The reason he had zero earned runs was that Marin Prado’s throwing error at third on Eugenio Suarez’s grounder led to Andrew Romine scoring on Ian Kinsler’s single. McCarthy threw 34 of his 116 pitches in the second inning, but the Yankees would not have won the game if he did not step up with runners on base. The bases were loaded with one out but McCarthy impressively got Alex Avila and Suarez to strikeout.

Joe Girardi has been impressed by how effectively McCarthy has used his curve ball. “Brandon McCarthy has used his curve ball really well,” Girardi said. “He has used it more than I thought he would.”

The Yankees scored both of their runs in the third inning. They would have scored more runs, but Ezequiel Carrera’s leaping catch near the warning track with the bases loaded and no outs might have been the catch of the year. Ichiro Suzuki ended up scoring on that catch because he tagged up from third. After Carlos Beltran lined out to second, Brian McCann’s single to right scored Brett Gardner.

Chase Headley had not played first at all in his career, but he got the start because Mark Teixeira missed the game as a result of light- headedness that began about an hour before the game started. “I have kind of given Headley a heads up that he might go over there,” Girardi said. “I told Chase this week that if I give Tex a day off you will probably play first base. I didn’t know it would be at 6:15 today.”

Gardner made an uncharacteristic mistake in the fourth as he was caught in a run down to end the inning. Prado was on third, but this base running error did not end up being costly because the bullpen was dominant once again. Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson combined to throw 3.1 one-hit innings while Kelley had one strikeout and Robertson had two.

David Robertson picked up his third save in as many days. “When I came in I told Joe I was good. Fortunately we got a lead and I was able to hold it down. It was a great game and I feel great that we got the win.” With his 30th save in 32 chances he is tied for second in the American League in saves. The Yankees should resign Robertson soon, as Mark Feinsand wrote, so that they can keep their dominant bullpen in tact for at least a a few more years.

Jacoby Ellsbury had his first multi-hit game since July 22nd. He was impressed by how McCarthy has pitched. “He has been tremendous ever since he came over here,” Ellsbury said. “His pitching has been great.” Gardner also had two hits and with Headley’s single he now has one or more hits in eight of his past 10 games. The Yankees, who are facing the last three Cy Young winners in the first three games against the Tigers, will be opposed by David Price on Tuesday. Price won the Cy Young in 2012.

Joe Girardi won his 700th game as an MLB manager. With Derek Jeter’s single in the third inning, he is now only three more hits away from tying Honus Wagner for sixth place on the all-time hits list. He will likely either tie and pass Wagner, who played from 1897 to 1917, this series against the Tigers or the following series at home against the Cleveland Indians.

The Yankees’ struggling offense led to the Rangers winning their first series since the end of June

Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night, and in turn ended up losing the series to the last place Rangers. The Rangers had lost their last seven consecutive series, going back to the end of June, before winning two out of three at Globe Life Park against the Yankees. Derek Jeter, who had a pre-game ceremony with George Bush, Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young before going 0-4, received a standing ovation before his final at-bat.

The theme of the game was once again offensive ineptitude by the Yankees. Brett Gardner hit a solo homer to leadoff the game to deep right near the Right Field Grill. This was his fourth homer of the series in which he hit .571. The Yankees would load the bases with two outs, but Francisco Cervelli grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit his ninth homer of the season to right center in the third inning. That would be the last run that the Yankees would score since they only had two hits besides those two homers. Carlos Beltran had two hits, but they were both singles. Cervelli had his 10-game hitting streak end and the Yankees ended the game with 19 consecutive outs after Ellsbury’s homer. They also had six strikeouts and only two walks.

“I thought we hit some balls pretty good and just didn’t have much to show for it,” Joe Girardi said. “We need consistency in our offense. We just didn’t score enough runs.” Not scoring enough runs was a huge understatement. Colby Lewis, the journeyman starting pitcher, had a 6.23 ERA coming into the game, and the Yankees were only able to score two runs in seven innings off of him. Not including Tuesday’s game in which the Yankees won 12-11, they only scored four runs combined against the worst team in baseball.

Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs in the first inning, as Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Leonis Martin drove in runs, but he rebounded to not allow any runs in the next six innings. He pitched well enough to get the win, but the offense was once again not able to help him. He has pitched the most quality starts while getting a loss of any pitcher in baseball since his career began with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.

Kuroda was helped by a successful wheel play in the fourth inning by Chase Headley to get J.P. Arencibia out at third, and by getting Rougned Odor to strike out and Shin-Soo Choo to ground out with runners on first and second in the sixth.

The Yankees are 5-29 when they score two runs or less, which proves that the Yankees have scored two runs or less many times, and that Brian Cashman needs to acquire an outfielder who will be an improvement over Ichiro Suzuki in right before the 4:00 p.m. July 31 trade deadline.

The Yankees began their 16-game stretch after the All-Star break with a 7-1 record, but they have gone 1-4 since then. That includes losing the last two games to the Toronto Blue Jays and two out of three to the Rangers. It was important that the Yankees score a lot of runs off of Lewis, but with the loss, the Yankees now have scored four runs or fewer in nine of their past 11 games.

July 31 will bring an off day, and then the Yankees will start a three-game weekend series against the rival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. They need to win two or three games in order to keep pace and/or make up ground in the wild card and division standings.