The Yankees defeated the Kansas City Royals, 7-3, on Thursday night in the Bronx. That victory gave them the series win over the defending World Series champions and their second consecutive series win.
The Bronx Bombers, who are now starting to earn their nickname again, have won six of their last nine games to pull within five games of .500 (14-19). Their winning percentage has been equal to or worse than five games below .500 everyday since April 27 when they were 8-12.
Offensively the Yankees scored six runs or more for the fourth time in their last six games. They had previously scored three runs or less in five of six games. The Yankees are becoming a good team and the Yankees were able to have production from the bottom of the lineup in this game, which teams need to have in order to win consistently.
Chase Headley was 2-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs and his first home run of the season. His homer in the second inning that drove in Carlos Beltran was his first extra-base hit of the season as well. Noah Syndergaard, who is a starting pitcher, had two homers for the Mets on Wednesday.
“It’s been a long time,” Headley said. “Felt like it’s been a really long time.” Headley finished 5th in the National League MVP voting in 2012 after his .286, 31 homer, 115 RBI season, so he is obviously capable of producing power numbers.
The Yankees need Headley, who was hitting 8th in the lineup, to continue his turnaround at the plate as he is 7-20 (.350 average) with five runs scored, one homer and four RBIs in his last six games. This improved play in the last week has increased his average from .151 to .194. Headley’s work in the cage after games recently is now showing on the field. He also made a Gold Glove caliber play to end the game on a ball that took a bad hop.
Didi Gregorius, who was hitting 7th Thursday night, was the second of three Yankees to hit a round tripper. Gregorius’s homer was his only hit of the game, but it was important as it gave the team two more insurance runs in the 4th after the Royals had made the score 3-2. His homer to deep right off of former Yankee Ian Kennedy over the WB Mason sign was off of a hanging curve ball.
It is always a positive when four of the team’s seven runs are driven in by the seven and eight hitters in the lineup.
Starlin Castro, whose .300 average is higher than any everyday player on the team, went 2-4 with two RBIs. He hit his fourth homer of the season in the first inning and singled to right in the seventh to score Headley. Castro is by far the best second baseman that the Yankees have had since Robinson Cano left to go to the Seattle Mariners after the 2013 season. Brian McCann gave the Yankees their seventh run on a bases loaded walk in the 7th, which was his team-leading 16th run batted in.
Nathan Eovaldi (3-2) did not pitch nearly as well as he did in his previous start when he allowed only two runs in eight innings, but he was able to keep the team in the game without having his best command of his pitches. The Royals scored three runs off of him in five innings off of eight hits and two walks.
The Yankees were leading 3-0 going into the 4th but then Alex Gordon hit a homer to deep right center and Christian Colon hit an RBI double to make the score 3-2. Eovaldi nearly finished the fifth inning without allowing a run but Eric Hosmer hit a double with two strikes and two outs. However, he was able to pitch will with two outs and a runner in scoring position since after Gordon’s RBI single he got Salvador Perez to fly out to right to end the inning.
Four Yankee relievers combined to pitch the sixth, seven, eighth and ninth innings and they combined to only allow one hit.
Kirby Yates, who pitched the sixth inning, has somewhat gone under the radar since he has not allowed a run in his last seven innings (7 games) and has struck out eight batters and lowered his ERA from 5.06 to 2.19. The 29-year-old Hawaii native, who is in his third season, is having much more success than he did last season for the Tampa Bay Rays when he had a 7.97 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 20.1 innings. He will be a valuable pitcher before Girardi gets to his Big Three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.
The duo of Betances and Miller combined to pitch the 7th and 8th innings and not allow a hit and strikeout two batters. Miller has an outstanding 0.66 ERA and the only run he has given up this year was a solo homer in the second game of the series against the Royals.
The Yankees had a 7-3 lead in the ninth so they were able to save Chapman for the opening game of the series against the first place Chicago White Sox on Friday night. Chicago is somewhat surprisingly 23-12 and five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The Yankees, who need to win their third consecutive series, could be facing the White Sox at the right time as they have lost their last two games.
The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on Tuesday to extend their winning streak to two games. They have two consecutive wins against the Royals, who are in first place in the AL Central with a 28-17 record, after previously being swept at home by the Texas Rangers, who had an 18-23 record before their three-game series (they are now 23-23).
Adam Warren only allowed one run on two hits in his 6.1 innings pitched. Joe Girardi took him out after only throwing 88 pitches. He threw an impressive 62 of his 88 pitches for strikes and this time Girardi’s decision to go to the bullpen when the starter was still pitching well worked. Warren had five strikeouts, including the dangerous Eric Hosmer twice, and retired the side in order in the first, second, third and fifth innings.
“Warren is pitching as well as anyone in our rotation right now,” Girard said after the game. His ERA is now down to a respectable 3.91 and he has been one of the best pitchers in the American League over his last three starts. In his last three starts, Warren has pitched 19.2 innings while only allowing six runs and striking out 16 batters. He deserves to stay in the rotation instead of Chris Capuano when Masahiro Tanaka comes off of the disabled list.
Girardi didn’t say that Warren will definitely remain in the rotation when Tanaka is ready to come off of the disabled list, but he did say that there is a possibility of him doing so.
“I think you see where you’re at as a ballclub and what your needs are,” Girardi said. Girardi doesn’t like to commit to anything ahead of time, but he will probably go with Warren because he will give the team a better chance to win than Capuano (7.36 ERA in two starts).
Carlos Beltran extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his single to left in the fourth inning. He is proving that he does have something left offensively after not doing anything the first month of the season. Beltran can’t field like he used to because he can’t run, which makes it necessary to put a back-up outfielder in the game for him in about the seventh inning.
Mark Teixeira was the offensive star of the game for the Yankees as he was 2-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs. He hit a two-run homer in the first inning that scored Alex Rodriguez and then hit a double to right center that scored Rodriguez and Chris Young in the fifth inning. This was Teixeira’s second four RBI game of the season. He is fully healthy this season as he has 14 homers and 35 RBIs already after hitting 22 homers and driving in 62 runs all of last season.
Dellin Betances pitched the eighth inning and struck out all three batters that he faced. Betances got Salvador Perez, Omar Infante and Paulo Orlando all to strike out swinging. Betances is pitching like the All-Star he was last season and has remarkably retired the last 28 batters that he has faced. After perfect inning on Tuesday, he had 38 strikeouts and 25 innings pitched and had not allowed a singled earned run.
Their win over the Royals gave the Yankees a 24-22 record and a half a game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the mediocre American League East.
Kevin Long, who had been the hitting coach for the Yankees the last seven seasons and saw the offense underperform the last two seasons, was fired shortly after the season ended in September. The Yankees are now going with a new approach with Jeff Pentland being the primary hitting coach and Alan Cockrell serving as the first assistant hitting coach in team history.
Pentland, who is 68, played three seasons in the minors in the San Diego Padres organization from 1969 until 1971. His first coaching position after retiring came at University of California, Riverside where he was an assistant coach from 1975 through 1982. His next step on his coaching journey took him to Arizona State where he was an assistant coach at his alma mater from 1983 through 1992. After those two collegiate coaching jobs, he made the step up to coaching in the minors and then the majors.
In 1993, he started coached in the minor leagues with the Florida Marlins and then became their Major League hitting coach in the second half of 1996. He has become well known around baseball as a solid hitting coach as he has served in that role for the Chicago Cubs (1997-2002), Kansas City Royals (2003-2005) and Seattle Mariners (2005-2008). His previous coaching role was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hired him in 2008 as the secondary hitting instructor and then he became the hitting coach from 2010 until July of 2011.
Pentland worked with Carlos Beltran when he was the hitting coach with the Royals and Beltran was nearing the end of his tenure with the team that signed him in 1995. They worked together for the 2003 season and 69 games of the 2004 season before Beltran was traded to the Houston Astros. In 2003, Beltran hit .307 with 26 homers, 100 RBIs, 41 steals and 10 triples. He was an All-Star in 2004 as he hit .278 with 15 homers, 51 RBIs and 14 steals in those 69 games.
Beltran is injury prone and not nearly the player he was when he was 27, 10 years ago, but it is possible that Pentland can help him regain his form from two years ago when he was an All-Star with the St. Louis Cardinals. Beltran was only able to play in 109 games last season due to a bone spur in his elbow and his wife’s miscarriage, which partly led to him only hitting .233 with 15 homers and only 49 RBIs.
He had a .296 average with 24 homers and 84 RBIs in 2013 with the Cardinals, and if Pentland can help Beltran get back to that level of productivity both of their seasons will have been a success. A bounce back year from Beltran is very important for the offense as a whole improving from last season.
Cockrell, who is 52 years old, will be the secondary person responsible for improving the Yankees offense. He was an All-American outfielder at the University of Tennessee and after being the ninth pick in the 1984 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants he ended up playing in the minor leagues for nine seasons. He played those nine seasons with five organizations, which included five with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, and played in nine games for the Rockies in September of 1996.
He is a leader with teaching skills that should enable him to help the hitters on the team. Cockrell was a manager/hitting coach for various teams in the Rockies organization, was the hitting coach for the Rockies during the 2007 season when their offense led them to the World Series and served the same position for the Seattle Mariners during the 2009 season and part of the 2010 season.
Having an extra mind with major league hitting coach experience on the bench could help Pentland as well as the offense. Pentland will be able to get ideas from Cockrell and one of the two might be able to help certain players better than others.
The Yankees, who have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, are counting on Pentland and Cockrell to help improve the underperforming offense as they were 20th in baseball in batting average (.245), OPS (.687) runs scored (633) and 22nd in RBIs (591). A new approach from the hitting standpoint can only help based on how the offense has “performed” the last two campaigns.
Marcus Thames is a name who was rumored to possibly be the next hitting coach and deservedly so, but he was named the next hitting coach at Triple-A Scranton. Rob Refsnyder, the second baseman of the future, credits Thames for overhauling his swing last season at Double-A.
After a successful 10-year career with the Yankees, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers, he has been a productive hitting coach in the Yankees organization for the last three seasons. The Yankees have opted to go with instructors with more experience, but it is a promotion for Thames as he was the hitting coach in 2012 at Single-A and in 2013 at Double-A.
On Friday night, the Yankees lost to the Kansas City Royals, 1-0, in the first game of their series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees lost even though the Royals did not score an earned run off of them. The hopes of getting the second wild card are fading since they are now 4.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners. It is important that, as Joe Girardi said, the Yankees win most of their remaining 23 games.
Michael Pineda pitched seven innings, only allowed three hits, had four strikeouts and allowed his unearned run in the third inning. In the third inning, Alcides Escobar ended up being safe at second as a result of a hard hit ground ball that kicked over Headley’s glove for an error. Norichika Aoki was the next batter and his single to center scored Escobar for Kansas City’s only run. Escobar was the only Royal who advanced to second off of Pineda.
Pineda has now allowed two runs or less in all eight of his starts this season and has an outstanding 1.80 ERA. However, he only has three wins this season because the offense has combined to score six runs in the games that he has gotten a no decision or loss. He has pitched better than the Yankees could have hoped for and since returning from his more than three-month stay on the disabled list he has only allowed one walk in five starts.
“Tonight, my change up worked really good and my fastball too,” Pineda said. “Everything was working good. I had control and good command of the ball tonight.”
The Yankees offense went up against James Shields, who is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he is firing on all cylinders. He definitely was on Friday, as he pitched 8.1 innings, had six strikeouts, zero walks and only allowed three hits. Shields, whose nickname is Big Game James, won his 13th game and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth-inning when Brett Gardner hit a double to the wall in right center. However, Brian McCann popped out to third with runners on first and second to end the inning. That was the best scoring opportunity that the Yankees would have the whole game.
In the sixth inning, Gardner just missed hitting a home run but his fly ball to right was caught by Lorenzo Cain right in front of the wall on the warning track. Shields allowed six runs against the Yankees at Kaufman Stadium on August 25, but in this game he located all his pitches and resembled the pitcher he was in 2011, when he finished with a 2.82 ERA and was an All-Star.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was impressed with Shields and thought he was much better than when they faced him last time. “He just didn’t make any mistakes,” Girardi said. “There were no balls in the middle of the plate. He has got really good stuff.” Shields has actually pitched better against the Yankees recently since he has a 3.67 ERA against them in his last seven starts but a 4.33 lifetime ERA against the Bronx Bombers.
After Friday’s start, Shields has now pitched 200 innings in eight consecutive seasons.
Derek Jeter hit a single to center in the ninth inning, but the dominating reliever, Wade Davis struck out Carlos Beltran looking on an outside fastball to end the game.
The Yankees will look to have their bats wake up against Danny Duffy on Saturday. He has a 2.42 ERA on the season, but the 25-year-old has a 4.76 in one start against the Yankees this season. Brandon McCarthy will start the 4:05 p.m. game for the Yankees. McCarthy, who has a 2.80 ERA in 10 starts with the Yankees, will try to avoid his third consecutive loss.
The series finale that the Yankees were supposed to play in Kansas City against the Royals at 8:10 EST was postponed because of rain. Monday’s game will now be played on Monday, August 25. The rainout will lead to the Yankees returning to Kansas City the day after their series against the Chicago White Sox ends in the Bronx and before they start a three-game series in Detroit.
The Yankees (31-31) had the opportunity to end the series on a positive note with a series split, since a victory would have meant they would have won the first and fourth games of the series, but the Yankees ended up losing two out of three games to the Royals, who are now 31-32. In addition, in their last 10 games the Yankees have only gone 3-7, and have averaged only 2.5 runs in those games. Put in different terms, the Yankees have scored more than four runs only once in their previous 11 games.
With three out of their five starters coming out of spring training currently on the disabled list, it seemed like starting pitching might have been the main issue, but scoring has been by far the major weakness. Brian McCann, Alfonso Soriano, Brian Roberts, and Derek Jeter have all not hit like they are capable of. The Yankees are currently 22nd in all of baseball in runs scored (249), 18th in on-base percentage (.315) and 18th in slugging percentage (.382).
They surely are not living up to their Bronx Bombers nickname right now since Mark Teixeira (10 homers) is the only player who has hit more than seven homers. Brian McCann, Yangervis Solarte and Teixeira are the only players with more than 25 RBIs after 38 percent of the season has gone by. Also, Solarte, who was the last player to make the roster out of spring training and had previously only been in the minor leagues, is leading the team in average (.299), RBIs (28) and on-base percentage (.368).
The AL East has struggled as a whole, as the Baltimore Orioles are in second place with a 32-20 record. The Toronto Blue Jays, who have been the biggest surprise in all of baseball, are in first place with a 39-26 record as a result of the best offense in the league and a pitching staff that has performed much better than expected. The Tampa Bay Rays, who were expected to finish first or second in the division, have the worst record in baseball largely because of injuries and players that have underperformed. Rounding out the division is the Red Sox, who after winning the World Series last season, were due for a regression, and that is exactly what has happened as they have a 28-35 record and are 4-6 in their last 10 games.
The Yankees will now be starting a six-game series on the west coast with three games against the Seattle Mariners (34-29 after winning eight of their past 10 games) and three games against the Oakland Athletics (39-25). Oakland’s record a half-game better than Toronto’s for the best record in the American League. The Mariners and Robinson Cano previously won three games at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees will be facing their former All-Star second baseman for the first time at Safeco Park.
To try and keep pace with the Orioles and Blue Jays, it is important that the Yankees go 3-3 or better on this road trip. The Yankees will be facing five very good pitchers in their next six games including Hisashi Iwakuma, Roenis Elias, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez, but the offense needs to find a way to take advantage of when the pitchers don’t execute their pitches.
In the first game of the series against the Mariners, at 10:10 PM EST on Tuesday, Vidal Nuno will pitch for the Yankees and Iwakuma will pitch for the Mariners. Nuno, who has a 5.33 ERA on the season while relying on off-speed pitches, allowed two runs in 4.2 innings pitched in his last start while not being able to keep his pitch count down. In three previous starts against the Yankees, Iwakuma has one win and a 3.18 ERA.
In Game Two, Masahiro Tanaka (9-1) will pitch for the Yankees and the 6-10 righty Chris Young will start for the Mariners. In Game Three, Chase Whitley, who impressively has a 2.42 ERA in five starts, will try to win his second game as a Yankee. Elias, the rookie from Cuba, will pitch for Seattle.
The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City 4-2 on Friday night to give the team a two-game winning streak. Chase Whitley got his first win of his career after pitching seven innings and allowing only two runs. The rookie from Alabama pitched more than five innings for his first time in his short five start career.
Whitley, who now has a very good 2.42 ERA in five starts, was able to keep his pitch count down while not giving up any walks. He actually has only allowed three walks in his 26 innings pitched, and the Yankees are 4-1 in his starts even though he won his first game on Friday. He has really stepped up since the injury to CC Sabathia.
Manager Joe Girardi was impressed by the rookie who finally got his first win after the offense prevented him from getting the win in some of his previous starts. “He has really done it every start,” Girardi said on YES. “He has been really good for us. This is the deepest he has went, but as we have talked about, he has been a reliever most of his career, and I give him a lot of credit. He did a heck of a job again tonight, throwing a lot of strikes, getting some quick innings and outs, he has been impressive.”
After Brian Roberts’s single to center that scored Mark Teixeira in the second, Brian McCann provided all of the offense that the Yankees would need to get the win. His three-run double to left in the third, that drove in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Teixeira, made the score 4-1 and was his only hit in four at-bats.
This was a good sign for McCann since he had only driven in two runs in his previous nine games. Based on his previous offensive success with the Atlanta Braves, where he was a seven-time All-Star and slugged 20 or more homers seven times, the Yankees are counting on him being a power hitter in the middle of the lineup, with a solid average. He hasn’t done that so far, but his three RBIs could be a sign of more power to come.
Ellsbury, who was 1-5, has a .386 average during the 11-game hitting streak that he is currently on. In those 11 games, he has scored six runs, stolen seven bases and has eight RBIs. The Yankees scored all of their runs off of Jeremy Guthrie, who only allowed one run in 6.2 innings against the Yankees last season.
Dellin Betances pitched the eighth inning and recorded his eighth hold of the season. His two strikeouts improved his season total to 61 in only 36 innings. He has been the team’s best set-up man since David Robertson in 2011, Joba Chamberlain in 2008 and Mariano Rivera in 1996.
Robertson didn’t make it easy for himself as he allowed a walk and a hit in the ninth, but he was able to get out of trouble to record his 14th save of the season with the help of two strikeouts. He was able to get Salvador Perez to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game. Robertson has rebounded well from allowing five earned runs on June 1 since he hasn’t allowed a run in his last three appearances while picking up two saves.
With the win on Friday the Yankees (31-29) moved from third to second place in the AL East. With a win Saturday night, the Yankees will have their longest winning streak since they won three straight from May 24-26. David Phelps (4.11 ERA), who allowed six runs in his last start, will pitch for the Yankees, and Danny Duffy (3.05 ERA) will get his sixth start of the season.