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.
During a matinee game on Labor Day, the Yankees got a big 5-3 win over the first place Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. They have now won two games in a row and they started off the home stand playing well as Monday’s game was the first of 10 consecutive games in the Bronx. After two more games against the Blue Jays the Yankees will play the Tampa Bay Rays and then the Los Angeles Dodgers.
To the surprise of many around the league as of now and after the Yankees traded away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran before the trade deadline, the Yankees are still very much in contention for the second wild card spot. The Yankees are now 71-65 and 5.5 games behind the Blue Jays for first place in the AL East. Yesterday’s win allowed them to keep pace with the teams ahead of them in the wild card race because they all won their previous game.
The Bronx Bombers are 3.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers for the second wild card spot and 1.5 games behind the Houston Astros. After this series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees will still play Toronto four more times and will closeout out with three games against the Orioles. If the Yankees can play in September slightly better than the did in August when they were 17-11 then that series against the Orioles could be very important.
Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best command of his pitches but but was still able to limit the Blue Jays to only two runs in 6.1 innings. This was his fourth consecutive start that he has allowed two runs or less, which proves how dominant he has been recently. He struggled as his pitches were not on par compared to recent starts as he allowed seven hits and three walks, after not walking more than one since July 27.
“I felt like I was all over the place,” Tanaka said through his translator.
However, Tanaka was able to step up and make quality pitches when he needed to since the Blue Jays were 2-9 with runners in scoring position (RISP) against him. The two hits the Blue Jays had with RISP came in the first inning but Tanaka held Toronto to only one run in the first. Tanaka was taken out of the game after walking Ezequiel Carrera and then allowing Dioner Navarro to fly out to Aaron Judge in right, who made a great catch at the top of the wall.
The bullpen wasn’t very effective in the seventh as Jonathan Holder allowed two straight walks with two outs and then Edwin Encarnacion hit a 2 RBI single off of Ben Heller to make the score 5-3, which is how the inning would end (and would be the final score).
Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances, who are the two most reliable members of the bullpen, pitched the eighth and ninth innings and did not allow a hit or walk while striking out a combined three batters.
R.A. Dickey, who only allowed one run in five innings in his previous start against the Yankees on August 15, did not have the same command of his knuckleball as the Yankees scored five runs on seven hits in four innings against him.
Jacoby Ellsbury gave the momentum back to the Yankees in the first inning as he hit a two-run homer to right for his 7th homer of the season. His single to right in the third inning that scored rookie Tyler Austin made the score 3-1 and was his second of three hits during the game. Ellsbury has played well in his last six games as he is 9-23 (.391) with one double, one homer, two runs scored and six RBI.
In the fourth inning, Austin gave the Yankees all the runs that they would need for the win with his double to deep left that scored Starlin Castro and Austin Romine. Tyler Austin only has a .205 average in 44 at-bats since being called up with Judge in the beginning of August, but in 17 at-bats at Yankee Stadium he has a solid .294 average (5-17) with one homer, two runs scored, two doubles and three RBI.
Judge is the rookie out of the two who has struggled a little more offensively. He had been the higher rated prospect of the two but has had trouble making adjustments and avoiding the strikeout. Judge’s average is only .169 and he struck out in all three of his plate appearances on Monday.
Judge, who is 6-7 and 275 pounds, has struck out in an alarming 35 of his 65 at-bats this season, which is more than half of his at-bats. He got off to a bang with a home run in his first major league at-bat but has struggled since then. However, the Yankees have been able to win without offensive production from Judge and it does take some rookies longer to make the adjustment from Triple-A pitching. He has played a very good right field as he has been able to make catches going back to the wall as well as diving for shallow line drives.
Rookie Luis Cessa will get the start for the Yankees and Aaron Sanchez will get the start for the Blue Jays in the middle game of the series on Tuesday night. Cessa has given up three runs in six innings in each of his last two starts and Sanchez leads the league American League with his 2.88 ERA.
The Yankees were able to end their three-game losing streak with their 5-4 win over the Detroit Tigers in Detroit on Thursday night. They previously lost three consecutive games in Toronto where they scored a total of only three runs.
Michael Pineda got the start during this makeup game from the beginning of the season and he definitely pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. General Manager Brian Cashman talked before the game about demoting him from the rotation if had another subpar start. Going into last night’s game, Pineda’s 6.92 ERA was the worst ERA of any pitcher who had thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
However, in this game, he pitched like he is capable of as he allowed one earned run in 5.2 innings pitched. He recorded an impressive eight strikeouts, allowed seven hits and didn’t walk a single Tiger. He has been limiting the walks and piling up the strikeouts most of the season, but he has struggled mightily in the first inning and with the long ball and with allowing minor issues to turn into multiple runs.
This game was different for Pineda compared to what had happened to him in many previous starts. He struck out Cameron Maybin to begin the game, but then allowed back-to-back hits to J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. However, this time he didn’t allow those runners to score since he was able to get Victor Martinez to hit into a double play to end the frame. Proving how much the opening frame has been a problem for Pineda is that 36 percent of the runs that he has allowed this season have come in the first inning (15 of the 42 earned runs).
He allowed more hits (7) than innings pitched but he managed to limit the damage to only one earned run. His slider was a strength tonight – generating 13 whiffs with the slider tonight, good for a 40.6% rate. When his slider is on it is a sign that Pineda is pitching well. What is so frustrating about Pineda is that last season on Mother’s Day he had 16 strikeouts and allowed only one run to the Orioles and this season he has now allowed two runs or less in a start five times, which proves his potential.
However, what has led to his ERA being 6.41 in the beginning of June is that he has given up five runs or more five times (with one start where he allowed three runs). Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild hope and need him to be more consistent than he has shown because he has been by far the worst pitcher in the rotation.
Last season he ended the campaign with a 4.37 ERA but he was able to truly show what he is capable of in the 2014 season. He missed about a month and a half due to injury but was able to have an outstanding 1.89 ERA in 13 starts. He had 59 strikeouts and seven walks, which is a very good strikeout to walk ratio, and he allowed two runs or less in 12 of his 13 starts.
He has the ability to be a No. 2 type starter. Thursday’s start could be the one that leads to him having sustained effectiveness similar to what he showed in 2013, which was his first healthy season as a Yankee after being traded to the team before the 2012 season. They will need Pineda to pitch well to have a chance of getting back in the race in the AL East.
It appeared that the Yankees would win easily as they had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Yankees exploded for four runs in the seventh on a Rob Refsnyder RBI single that scored Chase Headley, an RBI single by Aaron Hicks that scored Austin Romine and a triple to deep right by leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury that scored Refsnyder and Hicks.
However, in this game, the trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, which has been extremely reliable when all pitching in the same game, was not during the seventh through ninth innings. But they were able to luckily limit the damage to three total runs, which led to the Yankees escaping Detroit with a win.
Betances struck out three in his 1.1 innings but he allowed an RBI double to make the score 5-2. Miller, who still has a very low 1.25 ERA, walked two batter in the eighth and gave up an RBI double. Chapman was really able to get out of trouble in the ninth since he loaded the bases with no outs and then got J.D. Martinez to hit into a double play, which scored the Tigers fourth and final run.
Refsnyder, who has gone back and forth from Triple-A Scranton this season, should stay with the Yankees. They would not have won the game without him since he scored the team’s first run in addition to scoring and driving in a run in the seventh. He is now hitting .400 in 10 at-bats this season and is valuable off of the bench because he produces offensively and can play second, third and outfield.
The Yankees, who are now 25-28 and 6.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox (32-22) for first place in the AL East, will begin a three-game series in Baltimore against the second place Orioles (30-22) on Friday night. It will be important that the team continues to get the offensive production that they did on Thursday during the series in Baltimore.
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.
The Yankees announced this morning that they have signed Chris Denorfia, who is a 35-year-old outfielder, to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp. He will give the team depth in the outfield and has experience playing left field, centerfield and right field, which means that he can be a versatile asset off of the bench.
Denorfia, who is from Connecticut and entering his 11th MLB season, spent last season with the Chicago Cubs and before that he played with the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds. He has played in at least 103 games in each of the last five seasons, and his best season of his career was in 2013 when he had a solid .279 average in 144 games with 132 hits, 10 homers, 47 RBIs and 11 steals.
Last season with the Cubs, Denorfia had .269 average in his 212 at-bats with three homers, 18 RBIs, 18 runs scored and a .319 on-base percentage. In his career, he has 587 hits, 41 homers, 196 RBIs, 56 steals, a .272 average and a .330 on-base percentage. He is very reliable defensively as he has only made 14 errors in his career and didn’t make a single error in his 431 innings in the outfield last season.
It is not a guarantee that he will make the team after spring training, but if he does, he will be fifth on the depth chart behind center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, right fielder Carlos Beltran, left fielder Brett Gardner and athletic back-up outfielder Aaron Hicks. He has mainly served as a back-up outfielder in his career and that is what he would be if he made the team.
He has an opt-out clause in his contract should he not make the MLB roster after spring training in order to be able to be signed to another team’s MLB roster instead of being sent to Triple-A Scranton. Denorfia was brought in to help bolster the right-hand-hitting outfield depth in the Yankees system.
Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott are two other candidates to be the fifth outfielder after Hicks. If Denorfia performs very well in March it could make sense to have him on the roster so that Williams and Heathcott can play everyday at Scranton. However, Williams and Heathcott both played well last season when replacing injured Yankee outfielders and will likely serve a role at some point this season as well.
Heathcott, who is 25 and made his MLB debut last season, was 10-25 (.400) with two homers, six runs scored and eight RBIs. He also has a lot of range in center field and right field. Williams, who is 24 and also made his MLB debut last season, was 6-21 (.286) with one homer, three RBIs and three runs scored. Williams hit a homer during his first MLB game on June 12.
The Yankees now have a grand total of 70 players in big league camp. That number will go down gradually as the days get closer to April and the beginning of the season.
Denorfia would be the option if Girardi decides to go with experience and Williams or Heathcott would be the option if he thinks they would not benefit from anymore time in the minors. However, it is possible that neither Denorfia or the young outfielders will make the opening roster since Dustin Ackley can be a back-up in the outfield as well as in the infield.
Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees (86-71) tonight in Game 3 of their four-game series against the Boston Red Sox (77-80). In three starts against the Red Sox this year, Tanaka has gone 3-0 and held Boston to a .234 average. However, Tanaka will look for better results tonight since he has allowed four, three and three runs in his starts this season against Boston.
Tanaka is currently lined up to start the wild card game for the Yankees. He is the logical choice because he has allowed three runs combined in his last three starts while not giving up more than two runs in any of them and besides Luis Severino is the most reliable pitcher in the rotation right now. He held the powerful Blue Jays lineup to zero runs in seven innings on September 13, which proves that he is capable of shutting down the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees have a three-game lead with five games left to play for the right to have home field in the wild card game. The Angels are currently in sole possession of the second wild card spot and the Astros are half a game behind. The Twins are only half a game behind the Astros after their win today over the Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota would be the best matchup for the Yankees in the one-game playoff.
If the Angels stay in second that would be better for the Yankees because they have really struggled against Houston’s ace Dallas Keuchel this season. However, if they are going to keep the top spot and win the wild card game their offense will have to improve. The Yankees have gone 3-4 in their last seven games and have averaged only 2.57 runs per game. They have scored less than three runs in four of those games.
One player who has been hitting very well recently has been Jacoby Ellsbury. In Ellsbury’s last 13 games, he has a .347 average (17-49), a .429 slugging percentage, three steals, four doubles and eight runs scored. The Yankees need him to continue to hit well at the top of the lineup.
The Yankees can clinch a wild card spot if they win tonight and if they get help from the teams below them. The Yankees will also have won their 10,000th game in franchise history with a victory tonight over their rivals. Wade Miley, who has a high 4.39 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, will take the mound for the Red Sox and he allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in his last start.
The lineup that the Joe Girardi is sending out tonight is the one that will likely be on the field for the wild card game if a lefty is pitching. Rob Refsnyder is getting another start at second against a lefty and he has a .417 average (5-12) in his four starts against lefties this month. Here is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Red Sox.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Chris Young LF
Greg Bird 1B
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Didi Gregorius SS
The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, 3-1, in the final game of their series at Tropicana Field. It was a big win for the Yankees because they were able to stay three games behind Toronto in the AL East since the Blue Jays routed the last place Atlanta Braves 9-1. After last night’s win, the Yankees are now only seven wins away from 10,000 in franchise history.
Luis Severino only allowed one run in 5.2 innings pitched while striking out seven in what was his most important start as a Yankee. The Yankees still have a chance in the AL East partly because they have won four of the last five games that he has started. The team could not have asked for anything more from their highly regarded rookie as he has a 3.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts in his eight starts and has allowed two runs or less in six of those starts.
“It’s great to help the team win,” Severino said after the game.
He has only allowed more than two runs twice, and both of those starts came against the Blue Jays. He allowed three runs in six innings in his first start against Toronto, which means that nine of the 15 runs that he has allowed have come against Toronto. That is not surprising because the Blue Jays have scored 102 runs more than the the Yankees, who have scored the second most runs in baseball.
In his previous start, on September 11 against the Blue Jays, Severino gave up six runs on six hits and three walks in only 2.1 innings, which means that he was able to rebound very well after that sub-par performance. Severino had not allowed a run until the sixth inning when Steven Souza Jr. doubled to center with one out to score James Loney. He struck out Nick Franklin swinging with two outs and then Justin Wilson came on in relief as Severino had thrown 94 pitches.
“He bounced back extremely well, which is good to see,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Some rookies will struggle after performing like Severino did against Toronto, but he was impressively able to pitch like he previously had.
Chase Headley had what ended up being the game-winning RBI in the top of the sixth inning with his single to shallow left that sent Brian McCann home to make the score 2-0. That was Headley’s only hit of the game and that hit snapped his 10 at-bat hitless streak.
Greg Bird, who was 2-4, drove in the first and third runs that the Yankees scored. He was once again a critical part in a Yankees win. In the second inning, to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead, Bird hit a double to right center to score Carlos Beltran. In the ninth inning, to give the team an insurance run, Bird hit his seventh homer in his 29 game played of the season. Seven homers and 21 RBIs are very productive power numbers for a rookie who has not even played in 30 games.
The bullpen pitched 3.1 combined innings and only allowed one hit. Wilson only need 12 pitches to strike out two in his inning, Dellin Betances threw 1.1 innings and had to get out of trouble as he walked the bases loaded in the seventh and Souza Jr. hit a single off of him in the eighth, but he was able to get a key double play and strike out. Andrew Miller (1.80 ERA) struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to record his impressive 34th save of the season in his first year as a closer.
Chris Archer, who pitched well against the Yankees once again, allowed the first two runs that the Yankees scored. He pitched six innings and allowed four hits and four walks. He broke the Rays’ single season strikeout record with his third inning strikeout of Brett Gardner. That was his 240th strikeouts, which broke Scott Kazmir’s record.
The other positive offensively was that Jacoby Ellsbury, who had not had a hit in his previous 22 at-bats, went 2-5 in what was his first multi-hit game since September 6. The Yankees need this to be a sign of him hitting with more consistency.
The Yankees have their last off day of the season today before playing 17 games in 17 days to end the season. The Yankees play three games against the Mets at Citi Field starting on Friday and after that series will play an important three-game series at the Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays. Those six games will go a long way towards deciding if the Yankees win the division or get one of two wild card spots.