After clinching a spot in the wild card game on Thursday against the Red Sox and having their game against the Orioles rained out on Friday, the Yankees will play a double header in Baltimore today. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium and with the win they snapped their two-year postseason drought. The Yankees also won their 10,000th game in franchise history after previously losing three games in a row.
The Yankees were an underdog coming into the season since some predicted them to finish in last place, which makes this postseason appearance especially meaningful.
“This was really rewarding because I’ve had a chance to be on a lot of teams that have made the postseason fortunately and this one was probably as much of a grind as any one,” Joe Girardi said. “This one, there was probably as much uncertainty even on a daily basis. There were a lot, a lot of moving parts, so I think this was probably as rewarding as any club that I’ve been on that made the playoffs.”
Thursday’s postseason clinching win was made more significant because it was at home and it came over the Red Sox. The Yankees had lost four of their previous six home games and it was great for the players on the team that they were able to get this win in front of their home fans and be able to celebrate in their stadium.
The Yankees currently have a 2.5 game lead over the Houston Astros for the first wild card spot with three games to play, which means that it is almost a guarantee that the wild card game will be played at Yankee Stadium. Houston has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card and the Minnesota Twins are a game behind the Angels. It will be a better matchup for the Yankees if they play the Angels in the wild card game because the Astros ace, Dallas Keuchel, has a 2.48 ERA this season and did not allow a run in his two starts against the Yankees.
Joe Girardi is prioritizing resting his regulars during today’s double header over putting his best players on the field in Game 1 to try to clinch home-field in the wild card game. However, if the Yankees do get a win against the Orioles, who are not playing for anything, they will clinch home-field in the wild card game.
Austin Romine will make his first career start at first base, Jose Pirela will play right field giving Carlos Beltran the game off, John Ryan Murphy will get his second consecutive start at catcher and Brendan Ryan will play shortstop instead of Didi Gregorius.
Murphy gave an epic interview during the Yankees post game celebration on Thursday. He has hit very well for a back-up catcher this season and in his last four games he is 4-13 (.308) with one run scored and one double. It can be hard for back-up catchers to hit for a high average because they usually get inconsistent at-bats.
Rookie Rob Refsnyder has also hit very well recently while getting increased playing time at second. In his six starts during the home-stand, Refsnyder had eight hits in 20 at-bats (.400) with one runs scored, one homer, one steal, two RBIs and two doubles. He will likely get the start in the wild card game, against Keuchel if they play the Astros, based on his performance in those six games.
Girardi announced that Ivan Nova will start today’s game at 12:05 p.m. and that Luis Severino will start the second game, but that could change if the Yankees secure home field advantage before the second game starts. Michael Pineda will get the start on Sunday.
Brett Gardner CF
Rob Refsnyder 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Chris Young LF
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Jose Pirela RF
Austin Romine 1B
Brendan Ryan SS
Brett Gardner, who is in his eighth year with the Yankees, was the AL Player of the Week for the week of June 22-28. He had an outstanding .500 (13/26)/.581/.885 slash line with two homers, four doubles, six RBIs and nine runs scored during the previous week. In the last six games, his average has improved from .279 to .300. The Yankees went 3-3 in those six games.
He has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup with Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list. Ellbury, who completed one final running test before the game on Sunday in front of Joe Girardi and Yankees personnel, was to begin a minor league rehab assignment today. He had a .324 average with a homer, six RBIs and 14 steals in 37 games as of May 19 when he went on the disabled list due to right knee sprain.
Gardner will likely go back to hitting second in the lineup when Ellsbury finishes his minor league rehab at the end of the week. When Ellsbury is healthy, the Yankees will have two players capable of wreaking havoc at the top of the order who can steal bases, get on base at a high rate and score a lot of runs.
Gardner, who went to the College of Charleston and is from South Carolina, has been hitting very well for all of June and especially the previous 10 games. Gardner has an outstanding seven multi-hit games in his his previous 10 games, and in the month of June he has a higher than normal .343 (35-102) average with two homers, nine doubles, 18 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
He has only missed six out of the 76 games this season, which proves how durable he has been. Besides Sunday’s game when he let a ball drop between him and Garrett Jones, he has played outstanding defense the whole season. He is locked in at the plate right now and his 19 doubles are tied for fifth in the American League, his 58 runs scored are tied for first in the AL, his .373 on-base percentage is 12th in the AL and his 15 steals are tied for second in the league.
He will be batting leadoff once again tonight in the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. During their series in Houston against the Astros the Yankees (41-35) won two games and lost two games. Jose Pirela will play second with Stephen Drew getting the night off and John Ryan Murphy will be behind the plate with Brian McCann getting the game off due to a lefty pitching.
The Yankees (36-30, one game out of first in AL East) begin a three-game series tonight at Yankee Stadium against the Detroit Tigers. After Alex Rodriguez’s two hits last night, he is only one hit away from 3,000 for his career. He has a .357 career average with four homers in 28 at-bats against Tigers starter Justin Verlander.
Brian McCann will get the night off and back-up John Ryan Murphy will start instead of him. The Yankees lineup will not be as deep, but Mason Williams, who had two doubles last night, is hitting well at the bottom of the lineup.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the third place Tigers (34-32):
RHP Adam Warren (4-4, 3.78)
RHP Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.60)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-2, 5.12)
RHP Alfredo Simon (7-3, 2.58)
7:15 p.m., YES Network
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 2.49)
RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-7, 4.65)
1:05 p.m., YES Network
The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-3, at Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon. They avoided a sweep as they had lost the previous two games in the series.
The Yankees (34-28) are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East. The Toronto Blue Jays, who are on an 11-game winning streak, are now only a game behind the Yankees and Rays.
Adam Warren allowed three runs, three walks and six hits in 4.2 innings, but he was able to rebound from allowing two runs in the first inning. After Nolan Reimold hit a single that drove in Manny Machado and Adam Jones in the first, Warren went onto retire the next eight batters that he faced.
Warren’s 4.2 innings were the fewest he had pitched over his last six starts. He had also allowed two runs or less in each of his last four starts, which proves how much he had dominated before this start. (This could be his last start in the rotation because Ivan Nova will be ready to come off the DL and he is needed more in the bullpen.)
However, he was able to keep the team in the game even though he didn’t have his best stuff.
“I think just collect yourself and get back to your mechanics,” Warren said in reference to how he bounced back after Reimold’s two RBI single. “I just want to focus on my next side (session) and get better from there.”
John Ryan Murphy hit a 2-run double off of Manny Machado’s glove with two outs in the fifth to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew had previously struck out with the bases loaded after Garrett Jones’s bases loaded walk against Brian Matusz, who was pitching in relief of starter Mike Wright.
“Nothing has changed,” Murphy said, who improved his average from .208 to .250 with his three hits. “I got into a good count, 2-0, and he gave me a good pitch to hit.”
In the first inning, Mark Teixeira doubled to left to score Brett Gardner for the team’s first run of the game. In the second, Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Gregorius.
However, the Yankees should have scored more in the second as they had the bases loaded with no outs. Murphy came through in the clutch for the Yankees as they were 1-11 with runners in scoring position not including his two-run double. Gregorius was 0-3 with RISP, rookie Mason Williams was 0-2 with RISP and the team combined to leave 10 men on base.
After not performing well the past three games, the bullpen pitched 4.1 no hit innings in relief of Warren. Chasen Shreve, who got his third win of the season, pitched 1.1 innings to lower his ERA to an impressive 2.05. Justin Wilson, who picked up his ninth hold of the season, had three strikeouts and has now not allowed a run in his last nine appearances (9.0 innings). Wilson and Shreve will likely primarily combine to pitch the eighth inning while Andrew Miller in on the disabled list.
Dellin Betances had a strikeout in the ninth (55th strikeout in his 33.1 innings) inning on the way to recording his third save of the season and first as the closer while Miller is on the DL. He has been the best relief pitcher in the league as he has allowed one earned run (0.27 ERA) and has a 0.78 WHIP.
“Today was one of those days that Justin Wilson wasn’t going to get hit no matter who was at-bat, and (Dellin) Betances did more of the same,” Murphy added.
All three Yankees struck out in the sixth. Alex Rodriguez, who struck out to end the inning, is only five hits away from being the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits. He will likely either hit his 3,000th hit in their upcoming two-game series against the Marlins in Miami (where he grew up) or when they play a two-game series against the Marlins and then a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers from June 17-21 at Yankee Stadium.
Major League Baseball’s official statistician is the Elias Sports Bureau. They only started keeping track of RBIs as a statistic in 1920, otherwise Babe Ruth (2,214) and Cap Anson (2,075) would also officially be in the 2,000 hit club.
Monday’s game starts at 7:10 p.m. at Marlins Park, and Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for the first time against the Marlins.
It was announced that John Ryan Murphy will be Brian McCann’s back-up at catcher for the 2015 season. The Yankees designated Austin Romine for assignment because he is out of options. Murphy was the favorite to be the back-up catcher coming into spring training and Romine didn’t do anything to prove that he deserved the position.
Neither player hit very well in spring training, but Murphy definitely had the edge as he had a .250 average and Romine’s average was .182. Last season, Murphy was chosen instead of Romine to be McCann’s back-up while Francisco Cervelli was injured and Murphy had a .284 average in 81 at-bats with one homer and nine RBIs. Romine is a very low .204 average in 167 at-bats.
Murphy caught 201 innings last season and had one error, a .994 fielding percentage and threw out 17 percent of potential base stealers. His caught stealing percentage is low, but his percentage from 2013 and in the minors indicates that it should improve. It makes sense that the Yankees kept Murphy because he is better offensively and is as good or better than Romine defensively.
Brian McCann will likely start about 120 games behind the plate this season, as he will have days off and be the DH during some games. It will be important for Murphy to hit for about a .270-.280 average, drive in runs when they are in scoring position with less than two outs, improve his caught stealing percentage and be reliable behind the plate.
(McCann played catcher in fewer games than normal last season (108 games) because he played in 16 games at first base because the Yankees didn’t have a back-up first baseman.)
With Murphy being named the back-up catcher, the Opening Day roster is finalized:
Catchers: Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy
First Base: Mark Teixeria and Garrett Jones
Second Base: Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit
Shortstop: Didi Gregorius and Gregorio Petit
Third Base: Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez
Outfield: Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Chris Young
Designated Hitter: Alex Rodriguez
Rotation: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nate Eovaldi and Adam Warren
Bullpen: Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Chasen Shreve and Chris Martin
John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine will be competing in spring training to be Brian McCann’s back-up at catcher. Murphy, who will be 24 in May, has the advantage because he was the one chosen to be the back-up catcher last season when Francisco Cervelli was put on the 60-day disabled list because of his hamstring injury.
Romine, who is already 26, was not very impressive when he filled in as Chris Stewart’s back-up in 2013. In 135 at-bats (60 games), Romine had a .207 average with one homer, 10 RBIs, a .255 OBP and 37 strikeouts. He has also been called up for short stints in 2011 and 2014. In 76 games (181 plate appearances), he has a .201 average with one homer, 11 RBIs, 10 doubles, 46 strikeouts and a .281 SLG%. On the defensive side, he has four errors and has only thrown out 24% of potential stolen base attempts.
Going into the 2010 season, Romine was rated the Yankees’ second best prospect, according to Baseball America. In the 2010 season, Romine was a participant in the All-Star Futures Game, which is for the best up-and-coming players in baseball. However, he has obviously not developed as anticipated.
On the other hand, Murphy had a .284 average with one homer, nine RBIs, four doubles and a .370 SLG% in 81 at-bats (32 games). His eight-game hitting streak from the end of April to the middle of May included three multi-hit games, which proves that he can help the team offensively for a sustained stretch of games. In his 48 games between 2013 and 2014, he has a .252 average with one homer, 10 RBIs, five doubles and a .327 SLG%.
Murphy has also produced better on defense than Romine. He has one error and his caught stealing percentage is 28%. (His CS% was 17% in 2014) League average for a catcher last season was 27%, which is basically the same as his CS% was in the minors (26%).
Brian McCann will ideally play in 140 games like he did last season, which means that the back-up catcher will not have much impact. In addition to McCann’s off days, he will be the DH for some games giving the back-up additional time behind the plate.
Murphy should and most likely will get the edge over Romine because he hits for a higher average, is more consistent, is more reliable behind the plate. The back-up catcher should be able to be productive when called upon while helping the team win a few games and that’s exactly what Murphy can do.
Romine is out of options, which means that he can’t go to Triple-A Scranton without passing through waivers. He will be trying to impress the Yankees in spring training, and competition is always a plus, but Romine hasn’t proved to be an asset on the major league level. Romine will make more sense starting the year with Triple-A Scranton or with another team.
On Wednesday, 11/12, the Yankees traded back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Justin Wilson, who is a left-handed reliever.
After acquiring Chris Stewart and Russell Martin, Cervelli is now the third catcher that the Pirates have received who previously played for the Yankees since November of 2012. This trade makes a lot of sense for the Yankees because they receive a lefty who can have the role out of the bullpen that Boone Logan had from 2010-2012, Wilson is a lefty who throws in the mid 90s and struck out 61 batters in 60 innings last season for the Pirates.
Wilson, who is 27 and in the prime of his career, had a 4.20 ERA in 70 appearances. He has actually held right-handed hitters to an average of only .206 in his career. Wilson is 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 136 appearances during his three seasons. He played college baseball at Fresno State University and was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team in his junior season.
It makes sense that the Yankees traded Francisco Cervelli because they had an excess of back-up catchers with him on the roster. Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy both have experience being the back-up catcher with the Yankees for periods of time, and Cervelli was able to get back more in a trade than Romine or Murphy would have been able to. The Yankees were able to deal from a deep position and get back a potentially reliable lefty reliever, which they lacked since Logan signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Briann McCann’s contract with the Yankees lasts for the next four seasons, so there was no point in having a more expensive back-up catcher in Cervelli. He is second-year arbitration eligible and has a career average of .278 after hitting .301 with two homers last season. Cervelli is already 28, so it makes much more sense to have a cheaper and younger back-up catcher.
Murphy has proven to be more talented than Romine, who is more known for his defense. It is not known which way the Yankees will go, and it is still possible one of them could be included in a trade for a shortstop, but Murphy would make sense to start the year behind McCann. Murphy, who is 23 years old, was drafted in 2009, and made his debut with the Yankees as a September call up in 2013. He hit .154 in 26 at-bats in 2013, but played performed a lot better this past season.
In 2014, many of the 32 games that he appeared in were a result of Cervelli’s hamstring injury, and he played well offensively and defensively. In 81 plate appearances, which does not include his four walks, he hit .284, with four doubles, had one homer and drove in nine runs. Defensively, he caught 201 innings behind the plate, had 10 assists and only one error. He needs to work on throwing out base runners since he only retired two out of 12 runners, but that could improve since he threw out half of them in 2013.
Murphy’s claim to fame in his career so far has been being the catcher during Mariano Rivera’s final appearance with the Yankees. He was on the mound when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to take Rivera out of the game for the last time. This past season on April 26, the catcher formerly known as J.R., hit his first career home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium. He also had his first multi-RBI game as he combined to drive in three runs.
He has a caught stealing percentage of 26 percent in the minors, and the league average in the majors for this past season was 27 percent. This is a good sign for Murphy, and he should be able to improve on his caught stealing percentage from this past season. The Yankees still have to get the David Robertson situation resolved and acquire a shortstop, among other needs, but this trade got rid of a player who wasn’t needed and added one who could have an impact next season.