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.
Masahiro Tanaka pitched very well in five of his six starts in August and there is a chance that he could win the Cy Young if the can continue pitching like he has recently.
In Tanaka’s last three starts of August he allowed two, zero and zero runs, which lowered his ERA from 3.40 to 3.12. In his two starts before that outstanding three game stretch, he gave up one run in six innings and then four runs in seven innings. He was hurt by the long ball as the Rays hit two homers off of him leading to his four runs, but the Rays only had five hits against him and Tanaka recorded eight strikeouts and no walks, which is a great strikeout to walk ratio.
His ERA during August would have been even better if not for the Mets scoring six earned runs against him on August 2 but his ERA for the month was still a very good 3.00. He had a 3.40 ERA after that start at Citi Field against the Mets and it’s now a much improved 3.12. Also, showing his dominance during the month is that he had 38 strikeouts and only one walk. Only allowing one walk in the span of six starts is outstanding control and rarely seen in major league baseball.
Overall this season, Tanaka is seventh in the American League in ERA (3.12), sixth in the AL in WHIP (1.06) and third in the league in K/BB ratio (5.21). His 4.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is the seventh highest among qualified starters in the league, the .268 on-base percentage that opponents have against him is the second best in the league and the .360 slugging percentage that opponents have against him is fifth best in the league.
After the All-Star break this season, Tanaka has really excelled as he allowed two runs or less in six of his nine starts. He allowed zero runs in three of those starts and one run twice.
He will definitely be considered for the Cy Young if he can continue pitching at the success rate that he has after the All-Star break. (He will have to not have another start where he allows six runs.) Tanaka currently is not far from being first in ERA in the AL as Aaron Sanchez, who has made 25 starts this season to Tanaka’s 27, has a 2.88 ERA. Tanaka is also close to the pitchers immediately ahead of him as Chris Sale has a 3.10 ERA and Corey Klueber is in 5th place with a 3.09 ERA.
Tanaka has been by far the Yankees best starting pitcher this season. His 11 wins are most on the team by three, his 3.12 ERA is much lower than any other starting pitcher, his 1.06 WHIP is much better than the other starting pitchers, his 16 quality starts are four more than CC Sabathia who is in second place and he has been able to throw 29 more innings that any other pitcher on the team.
Tanaka, who is 27 and in his third season since coming over from Japan, is also on his way to having his best season in pinstripes since he is on track to pitch the whole campaign. In 2014, his rookie season, he had an excellent 2.77 ERA but that was after pitching only 136.1 innings and 20 starts. He has already made 27 starts this season and thrown 173.0 innings, which makes his performance up until now in this season more impressive than 2014.
He signed a 7-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees before the 2014 season and he is pitching this season like he deserved that contract and is beyond the injury he suffered in 2014. In his rookie season, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list in the beginning of July due to right elbow inflammation and an MRI revealed a partially torn UCL. He ended up returning at the end of September after multiple doctors said that Tommy John surgery was not necessary.
The rookie campaign was very impressive for Tanaka and he has been able to dominate even more this season based on the array of plus pitches that he has. He relies primarily on his sinker (90mph), slider (84mph) and splitter (87mph) while also throwing a four-seam fastball, cutter and curve.
Joe Girardi picked up his 800th career win as the Yankees manager in their 5-0 win over the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. The Yankees won two out of three against the Mariners, who had 12 of 16 games coming into the series. The Yankees have also won five of their past six series.
Yankees starters have allowed one earned run or less in eight of the last 10 games. In their last nine games the Yankees starters collectively have an ERA of a very low 2.25. In this start, Tanaka throw seven scoreless innings and this came after throwing six scoreless innings in his previous start.
Tanaka, who now has a very good 3.11 ERA after his outstanding previous two starts, threw 69 of his 106 pitches for strikes and recorded six hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
He was able to pitch well when he had runners in scoring position as he got two ground outs in row with runners on second and third in the second inning and in the third inning, with runners on first and second, Tanaka got former Yankee great Robinson Cano to hit into a double play. Tanaka has been the best Yankees starting pitcher this season and he showed that again on Wednesday.
“His stuff really got good in the 4th inning, and then it just seemed like he found everything,” Joe Girardi said. “He went to work and gave us seven strong innings.”
Tyler Clippard recored two outs in the eighth in addition to allowing two hits, and he has now not allowed an earned run in 10 of the 11 games that he has appeared in since rejoining the Yankees before the trade deadline.
Dellin Betances picked up the final four outs of the game and recorded his sixth save since taking over for Andrew Miller. Betances added three more strikeouts to increase his season total to an impressive 108 and hasn’t allowed a run in nine of his last 10 appearances.
Gary Sanchez is the 5th player all time with nine homers through 21 career games. He is also the first Yankee ever to hit nine homers in his first 21 games with the team. “It has been phenomenal,” Dellin Betances said. “I don’t think I have ever seen a start like that to a young guy’s career.”
“You feel like he is going to hit the ball hard,” Girardi said about Sanchez. “It is fun to watch.”
Sanchez, who is a rookie, has an outstanding .389 average in 19 games this season to go with six doubles, nine homers, 16 RBI, eight walks, an .847 slugging percentage and even one steal.
Sanchez hit a home run in the first inning to kick off the scoring for the Yankees. He has always been known for his hitting in the minors but the rate that he is hitting homers to begin his career has rarely been seen in the history of baseball. Also, Sanchez has greatly improved behind the plate and he has been calling games with confidence and has even thrown out five of the eight runners that have attempted to steal on him.
Four other Yankees drove in runs during Wednesday’s game. In the second inning, Tyler Austin, who had been struggling the last few games, drove in fellow rookie Aaron Judge. Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to score Aaron Hicks, Mark Teixeira singled to left center to score Gardner in the 7th and then Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardner in the ninth. Teixeira, who is only hitting .197, drove in his first run since August 7.
Teams that are playing well drive in runners on third with less than two outs and that was how the Yankees were able to score two of their five runs.
Gary Sanchez was intentionally walked in the ninth to load the bases after also being intentionally walked earlier in the game. Sanchez was deservedly walked after Didi Gregorius hit a ground rule double that landed in the stands in shallow left.
“You don’t see it,” Girardi said in reference to a rookie like Sanchez being intentionally walked. “It says a lot about his abilities. He has developed, he is comfortable and he knows what he needs to do. I don’t think you would expect this out of anyone. I’ve never seen a young player come up and do what he has done.”
After Sanchez walked, Teixeira struck out looking for the first out and then Castro hit a sacrifice fly to left field that easily scored Gardner to make the score 5-0. Judge then struck out looking on a 1-2 pitch for his third strikeout of the game.
According to Katie Sharp, Sanchez is the first Yankees to be intentionally walked twice in his first 21 career games (he played in two games last year) since Joe Gordon in 1938.
The Yankees, after having won 11 of their last 18 games, will start a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The Orioles currently have the second wild card spot and the Yankees are five games back, which makes the series important for gaining ground. Six of the next nine games that the Yankees play will be against the Orioles and the other three will be against the Kansas City Royals, who are also five games back and have won nine of their last 10 games.
The Yankees edged the San Francisco Giants, 2-1, on Friday night. They have now won seven of their last 10 games and are 4.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild card spot.
Chapman threw a few 104 mph fastballs in the ninth and then threw a 93 mph slider Brandon Belt and then struck out Belt on a a 103 mph fastball to end the game. He recorded his 20th save of the season. Gregor Blanco doubled to left to leadoff the inning but Chapman was able to come through in the clutch by getting three outs in a row.
Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller struggled more than normal but the Yankees still escaped with a win over the Giants, who are in first place in the NL West. The impressive 31-inning scoreless streak by the bullpen ended when Betances allowed a run in the seventh on a wild pitch. Andrew Miller, who picked up his sixth win, allowed three hits and one run in the 8th to tie the score at two.
The Yankees scored the winning run in the bottom of the 8th as Austin Romine grounded into a fielder’s choice and Chase Headley scored on a throwing error by Brandon Crawford. That was the normally very reliable shortstop’s third error of the game.
Carlos Beltran drove in the team’s second run of the game as his double in the second scored Ronald Torreyes. That was his team-leading 61st RBI of the season and he could definitely be traded before the trade deadline because the 39-year-old will be able to get back quality prospect and the Yankees likely would not resign him after the season.
Masahiro Tanaka pitched very well on regular rest after struggling in some of his starts that were not on extra rest earlier in the season. He gave up one run in his previous start so he was able to continue his momentum and he has been by far the team’s best starting pitcher since 3.00 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Against the Giants, he didn’t allow a run, recorded four strikeouts and only gave up four hits.
Beltran made a perfect throw in the third to get Blanco out at home to prevent a run from scoring and complete a double play. Blanco missed home and Romine was able to tag him out. In the sixth inning, Beltran, who has lost much of his speed, was also able to make a running catch near the warning track to prevent a double from happening.
“It helped me a lot,” Tanaka said in reference to Beltran’s throw home. “That double play made it really easy for me.”
Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann were all not in the lineup to start the game because Madison Bumgarner was pitching but the offense was still able to do enough off of them. The Yankees will have a good chance at winning the next two games because Saturday and Sunday’s starters for the Giants are not nearly as good as Bumgarner, who is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.
The Yankees played well in all phases of the game on Tuesday night in Chicago in beating the White Sox 9-0. Masahiro Tanaka had a bounce back performance as he did not allow a run in 7.2 innings pitched after giving up six runs in six innings in his previous start.
Tanaka allowed six hits, one walk and struck out six batters. He recorded nine ground ball outs, 13 fly ball outs and was taken out of the game after throwing 103 pitches. He pitched like an ace against the White Sox and was taken out after recording two outs in the 8th because Joe Girardi said that about 100 pitches was his limit. His ERA is now down to a solid 3.12 and he probably needed a few more one or two run games to be an All-Star like 2014.
The Yankees offense did most of their damage off of White Sox starter Carlos Rodon, who saw his ERA rise from 4.24 to 4.50 after allowing six runs (five earned) on 12 hits and two walks. Carlos Beltran, who is 39 years old and was selected to his ninth All-Star team on Tuesday night, hit a single to right to drive in Rob Refsnyder in the second for the team’s first run. Later in the second inning Brett Gardner scored on an error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
It is a great accomplishment for Beltran to be selected to another All-Star team especially after the way he started last season. Beltran has been the team’s best offensive player in the first half, and the Yankees would not nearly have the 41-42 record without his .302 average, 17 doubles, 19 homers, 54 RBIs and .571 slugging percentage.
He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame after he retires based on his postseason success and the fact that he has more than 400 homers (411), almost 1,500 RBIs (1,497), 2,537 hits and 311 steals. Also, when he hit his 400th homer earlier this season he became only the fourth switch-hitter to hit that many homers. (Mark Teixeira recently became the 5th switch-hitter to hit 400 homers.)
In the third inning, Chase Headley hit a homer to drive in Starlin Castro for his seventh round-tripper of the season. He has really turned it around at the plate in the 1.5 months. In the fourth inning, Teixeira’s double scored Beltran, and in the fifth, the Yankees hit their second homer of the game. Austin Romine’s blast to left center made the score 6-0 and was what led to a relief pitcher coming in for Rodon.
The Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth as Refsnyder’s double scored Headley and Aaron Hicks‘s double to deep center scored Refsnyder. Refsnyder continued his impressive season at the plate as his two hits increased his average to .288 and he now has nine RBIs and a .354 on-base percentage in 73 at-bats.
Hicks went 1-4 and has improved in the last three games after struggling before that. He has four hits in his last 11 at-bats after previously not having a hit in 19 at-bats. Hicks’s defense is much better than his offense but this recent stretch could be a sign of him being more consistent and showing his ability.
The Bronx Bombers recorded a season-high 20 hits, which helped them move to within one-game of .500. According to James Smyth, the only two other times since 1940 that the Yankees have had 20 hits and pitched a shutout were in 1977 against Toronto Blue Jays and in 1997 against the Minnesota Twins.
Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were the two other All-Star selections for the Yankees. This will be Betances’s third consecutive season going to the All-Star Game, and it is Miller’s first time being named an All-Star.
Betances said after yesterday’s game that he thought that Miller deserved to be an All-Star last season when he had a 100 strikeouts, only 20 walks and an impressive 2.04 ERA. Miller added after the game that he is looking forward to having Betances with him so that they can soak it in together and so that he will be able to ask him questions about the experience.
They both deserved to be selected after their outstanding first three months, and Betances has the most strikeouts among relievers and Miller is in second place. Miller has a 1.47 ERA with 66 strikeouts and only six walks in 36.2 innings while Betances has a 2.63 ERA with 74 strikeouts and only nine walks in 41 innings.
Chicago is currently 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the race for the second wild card spot. With a win tonight the Yankees will get back to .500 again and win the series against the White Sox before closing out the first half in Cleveland against the Indians. The Yankees will have to hit well and pitch well if they are going to win the series against the red-hot Indians.
The Yankees did not play well for the first eight innings but they miraculously scored six runs in the ninth inning to beat the Rangers, 9-7, on Wednesday night. The Yankees had been 0-36 when trailing after eight innings this season, but thanks to Didi Gregorius they are now 1-37.
The bats truly came alive for the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th to end their 3-game losing streak. Brett Gardner hit a single to center field that ended up scoring Rob Refsnyder on an error by Ian Desmond. Two batters later, Brian McCann hit a 3-run homer to drive in Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury to tie the game at seven.
After Starlin Castro walked, Didi Gregorius hit a 2-run homer that landed over the Lays sign in right field to give the Yankees a stunning walk-off win. Gregorius should be an All-Star this season based on how he has performed in the first half. Among shortstops in the American League, his .290 average is third highest, his seven homers are seventh highest, his 35 RBIs are fifth highest and he has played very good defense.
This was a big win for the Yankees because the offense, which has struggled for much of the season, was able to lead the team to a win against the best team in the American League.
Besides Gregorius, McCann was the offensive star of the game since he also hit a homer to right in the eighth inning. He hit his 11th and 12th homers of the season and he drove in four of the team’s nine runs.
McCann grabbed his knee after his first homer because he has some patella tendinitis, but he said that it wasn’t a big deal and he was obviously able to remain in the game.
“We got to show up everyday and put W’s on the board,” McCann said. “We have three months to get this done. I thought Cessa did a great job going three innings.”
Masahiro Tanaka, who has been the most consistent starter for the Yankees along with CC Sabathia, had a subpar performance as he allowed six runs in six innings pitched.
Tanaka tied his career worst in allowing six runs but after allowing five runs in the first three innings he was able able to pitch much more effectively the next three innings. “I gave up two easy hits, a walk and a double,” Tanaka said. “The damage was pretty much done there. I wish I had done better.”
Luis Cessa, who is a rookie from Mexico, got his first major league win as he pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings while only allowing one run on a homer to likely future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre. He said he was a little nervous but he felt back to normal after his first pitch. He also said it was the best feeling ever after realizing he got the win. He was trying to put zeros on the board and that’s exactly what he did except for the solo homer.
When asked about his mindset when the Yankees were down by four runs Girardi said that as a manager he tries to stay even keeled because things can change quickly. That’s is exactly what happened in the ninth inning.
Girardi said that hopefully this win will give us some momentum going forward since the team needs to win games
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only Yankees shortstops to hit a walk-off home run in the last 70 years were Mickey Mantle (1954 against the White Sox in a game he started in center field), Gene “Stick” Michael (1971 vs. Detroit) and Derek Jeter (2005 vs. Boston).
The Yankees play at 1:05 p.m. on Thursday in the series finale against the Rangers and they will look for their second win in a row against the team with the best record in the AL. A win will also give the Yankees a .500 record once again.
The Yankees won a come from behind 5-2 game on Monday night against the Angels (26-31) at Yankee Stadium as they did not have the lead until the bottom of the eighth inning. Carlos Beltran’s homer to right just over the wall drove in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to break the 2-2 tie from the seventh inning.
That homer was Beltran’s team leading 14th of the season and he now also has a team leading 36 RBIs. His is leading the team in both categories by a wide margin as Starlin Castro and Brian McCann are tied for second with eight homers and Castro is second in RBIs with his 24. Beltran, who should be a DH instead of a right fielder at this point, has been performing very well at the plate since May of last year, and the Yankees would definitely be further under .500 than they are right now without the 39-year-old Beltran (27-30).
McCann and Castro smashed back-to-back mammoth homers in the seventh inning to tie the score at two. McCann pulled a pitch from Matt Shoemaker to the suite level in the second deck in right field and Castro pulled a pitch from Shoemaker that went 413 feet to left field.
“There’s power in this offense,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They can do it, and do it quickly.”
McCann’s homer was a much needed one since before this game he had previously only had two hits in his last 29 at-bats. His previous hit during the loss to the Blue Jays on May 30 was also a homer. It was a rarely seen at-bat by McCann because he just missed a homer since the previous ball did not stay fair and then he hit the round tripper on the very next pitch. His average is all the way down to .222 and the Yankees need him pick up his production on offense.
Masahiro Tanaka had another dominant performance to give the Yankees a chance to win the game. He pitched seven strong innings and only allowed two runs on six hits and two walks but got another no decision because the Yankees only scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Even though he has an ERA of 2.76, which is the eighth best in the American League, he only has three wins this season because he has eight no decisions.
The Yankees have repeatedly not scored runs for Tanaka this season but he has been an elite pitcher this season. His 1.01 WHIP is the third lowest among starters in the AL this season and has been able to command his sinker, slider, splitter and cutter while not having to rely as much on his splitter.
Tanaka has allowed a combined four earned runs in his last four starts, which has lowered his ERA from 3.51 to 2.76. He has remarkably allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of the 12 starts that he has made this season. Giving up too many walks can lead to trouble for a starting pitcher and Tanaka has eight starts this season with one or zero walks.
Former Yankee David Huff will pitcher for the Angels in the second game of the series at Yankee Stadium. Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees, and he will be looking to have similar results as he had in his last start. He struck out eight and walked none while allowing one run against the Tigers last week.
After beating the Oakland Athletics, 5-1, on Saturday in Oakland, the Yankees are not in last place in the American League East for the first time since April 23. That was their longest stretch in last place since the last four weeks of the 1990 season. They have gone 11-5 in their last 16 games and have really turned their season around, as they are now 20-22 and 6.5 games out of first place.
This was their fourth consecutive win and in each of those wins their starting pitchers have pitched six innings or more and have impressively allowed only one run. CC Sabathia came off of the disabled list on Friday and showed the same dominance that he did in his start before going on the DL as he allowed one run on three hits and a walk. He struck out a season-high eight batters, and it appears that his knee brace has really been helping him.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start in Saturday’s game and allowed one run on five hits and two walks in seven very effective innings. In the fifth inning, with the Yankees leading 4-0, Danny Valencia hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored catcher Matt McBride, who walked to lead off the inning. Tanaka, who has been the team’s best starting pitcher this season, has a 3.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 50 strikeouts. This was a big bounce back game for Tanaka because he was able to rebound after allowing four and six runs in his last two starts, respectively.
The fifth run that the Yankees scored, a double by Starlin Castro in the seventh that scored Ronald Torreyes, was able to allow Nick Goody to pitch the last two innings and give the team’s big three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman the game off. Goody, who was pitching in his seventh game this season and made his debut in 2015, allowed one hit and no walks in his two innings pitched. He has a 1.64 ERA (two earned runs) and 12 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched this season. Girardi might rely on Goody more as some of the other middle relievers before the big three haven’t been very reliable.
Entering the bottom of the fourth the score was still 0-0, but then the Yankees would score all the runs they would need off of Oakland starter Sean Manaea for the win. The Yankees, who scored five runs off of Manaea, capitalized off of a pitcher who had been struggling this season since he had allowed 8, 4, and 4 and three of his four other starts this season.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Carlos Beltran hit a single to left center that scored Jacoby Ellsbury for the team’s first run. Then, with one out, Aaron Hicks hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Castro. To make the score 4-0, Rob Refsnyder hit a double to deep right that scored Beltran and Mark Teixeira. Refsnyder, who was playing right field, appeared in a game for the first time since being called up from Triple-A with Luis Cessa and James Pazos on May 17.
Refsnyder has really mastered Triple-A pitching since he had a .293 average with two homers and 10 RBIs in 133 at-bats this season, but from April 26 until May 12 he had a 16-game hitting streak with six multi-hit games and nine runs scored. He also slugged his first two homers of the season in his second to last game before being called up. He will be able to provide offense off of the bench while being able to play right field, third and second.
Castro, who has the highest batting average of any regular on the team, was 3-5 to improve his average to .277. He has adapted well to playing with the Yankees after being traded from the Cubs in the offseason and he forms a solid young middle of the infield with Didi Gregorius. Castro was able to break out of his mini slump since he had only one hit in 13 at-bats before Saturday’s game.
Beltran, who leads the team in RBIs with 26, was two for four to improve his average to .268. After finishing April of 2015 with a very low .162 average, Beltran has been able to continue the improved production that he had during the last five months of last season. He has been a major part of the team going 5-2 in the last week as he has .385 average (10-26) with four runs scored, four doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs in the last seven days.
With a win Sunday afternoon against Oakland (4:05 p.m. EST) they will have swept the Athletics and will have finished the road trip with a 5-2 record. After this series in the Bay Area the Yankees will return for three games against the last place Toronto Blue Jays and then go on a 10-game road trip. Those 10 games will be important because nine of those 10 games will be against AL East teams.
The Yankees lost their spring training game on Sunday in Clearwater against the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, but Masahiro Tanaka pitched well in his first game action of the exhibition season.
Tanaka was not perfect but was effective against the Phillies. In his two innings pitched, Tanaka did not allow a run, recorded two strikeouts while allowing two hits and a walk. He was still finding his control based on his two walks, but he was able to use his movement and his array of plus pitches to not allow any of the three runners to score.
A scout who was in the stands during Sunday’s game said that Tanaka’s fastball was 87-88 in the first inning, got up to 90-91 in the second inning and his slider and splitter were both effective. It is a positive that he was able to increase his velocity in the second inning and that his slider and splitter showed good movement.
“His feel for pitching, command and control were excellent,” the scout said.
In the second inning, with runners on first and third, Rob Refsnyder, who is learning how to play third so that he can back-up the position, made an outstanding play to start a double play. With runners on first and third and two outs, Tanaka was able to throw a slider to strikeout David Lough. The righty was pleased with his performance.
“Pretty satisfied (with) how I pitched out there,” Tanaka said. “… For me also, just to see how I feel the next day (is) important. Other than that, mechanics is one of things I’m aware of. Also, just being able to hit my spots.”
In 2015, according to Brooks Baseball, he relied primarily on his (elite) splitter (88mph) and slider (84mph), while also mixing in his four-seam fastball (93mph), cutter (90mph) and curve (77mph). His splitter is his most effective pitch. His splitter generates more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ splitters. His slider has a 12-6 movement, which leads to more fly balls than other pitchers’ sliders and his cutter results in more flyballs than that of other cutters and has slight above average velocity, according to Brooks Baseball.
It was an important sign that he was able to hold the Phillies scoreless because two weeks after after he pitched for the Yankees during their loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card Game, Tanaka underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. This was his first major step towards proving that he is recovered from the surgery. Going into Sunday’s game, manager Joe Girardi wanted to see how Tanaka would command the strike zone.
After finishing last season, which was his second season with the Yankees after coming over from Japan, having pitched 154 innings (24 starts) with a 3.51 ERA, an outstanding 0.99 WHIP, 139 strikeouts, only 27 walks, 12 wins and a .221 opponents batting average, his goal is to be able to significantly increase his workload this season.
“The goal is to go 200 innings, and I think that the important part is to be healthy enough to pitch throughout the season,” Tanaka said.
In his rookie season, in 2014, Tanaka was the first Yankees rookie to win 12 games by the All-Star break, which helped lead to him being selected to the All-Star Game as a reserve. Tanaka and Dellin Betances were the first Yankee rookie pitchers to be selected to the All-Star Game since Spec Shea in 1947. He made 20 starts in 2014 (136.1 innings) and finished the season with an excellent 2.77 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.3 WAR, 141 strikeouts, 21 walks, 13 wins, three complete games and one shutout.
The 27-year-old, like other members of the Yankees rotation, needs to prove that he can stay healthy the whole season. In his rookie season, he experienced discomfort in his right arm after his loss to the Cleveland Indians on July 8. This led to him being placed on the disabled list the next day due to elbow inflammation. An MRI revealed that he had a partially torn UCL, and doctors recommended that he get a PRP shot and rest for six weeks instead of having Tommy John surgery.
After Tanaka’s six weeks of rest and rehab, he would only make two more starts that season. He returned on September 21 winning his 13th game of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays, and in his final start of the season he allowed seven runs in 1.2 innings against the Boston Red Sox. On April 28 of last season, Tanaka was placed on the disabled list due to forearm and wrist soreness, and would make his next start on June 3 against the Seattle Mariners. He pitched seven innings and recorded nine strikeouts while leading the team to a 3-1 win.
The Yankees need him to be a workhorse at the top of the rotation this season. When he is using his splitter with confidence to go along with the rest of his pitches he is one of the best pitchers in the American League. Tanaka pitched well to end last season as he allowed three runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts and allowed two runs or less in three of his last five starts.
Girardi will likely be very gradual in increasing his pitches per outing during spring training to try to keep him healthy and durable. There is no need for him to be overworked during exhibition games, and he just needs to be able to have command of all of his pitches so that he can dominate the opposition during the regular season. If he does indeed throw 200 innings then that will increase the team’s chances of making it back to the postseason and it will put less pressure on the rest of the rotation.