The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, 5-3, to keep their hopes of getting the second wild card spot alive. They have a very small chance as they are 3.5 games out with 12 games left in the season. They have two more games left in the series against the last place Rays and then end the season playing the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Orioles.
Michael Pineda proved his potential once again and showed that he has the ability to have an ERA a good bit lower than the 4.89 ERA that he has. He threw 5.1 innings, allowed only two earned runs on five hits and a walk, and added 11 more strikeouts to his season total. This means that 11 of the 16 outs that he recorded were via the strikeout.
“The last couple of games I have used my change up more,” Pineda said. “I have a good feel for it so I have used it.” He also used his slider very well against the Rays.
Pineda came into the game 7th in the American League in strikeouts with 184, but the 195 that he currently has puts him in 6th place in the league. His ERA should be lower based on the quality of pitches that he throws and that all of the pitchers with more strikeouts than he has have ERAs of 4.05 or lower. The only runs that the Rays scored off of him came off of a two-run triple by Brad Miller.
Pineda already had 98 pitches after 5.1 innings, so it was time for Joe Girardi to take him out of the game. He has been one of the worst pitchers in the first inning this season but has been a little better pitching in the beginning of the game recently. He was not able to get the win because the Yankees were losing 2-1 when he left the game.
Mark Teixeira hit a 407-foot homer to left in the fourth inning to give the Yankees their first run of the game. That was his 13th homer of the season and only his 38th RBI of his final campaign.
The more important homer of the game came in the 7th inning after Brett Gardner’s RBI single scored Ronald Torreyes. Gary Sanchez hit a hanging slider to left center for a 3-run homer off of Brad Boxberger to make the score 5-2. That homer gave the Yankees the runs they needed to win the game and end their five-game losing streak.
Teixeira, who has seen a lot as he has been in the majors since 2003, was very impressed with Sanchez after the game.
“Amazing, incredible, impressive,” Teixeira said. “He’s carried us. We’re not even close to talking about a playoff berth if Gary doesn’t come up and do what he does.”
Sanchez’s homer was significant in a few other ways.
That was Sanchez’s 17th homer of the season and his 17 homers tie the Boston Braves’ Wally Berger in 1930 for most homers hit in the first 44 games of a career. Sanchez has also homered in three consecutive games, which is the second time he has done that since being called up in the beginning of August. His next homer will match Alfonso Soriano’s 18 homers (2001) for most as a Yankees rookie. Soriano hit his 18 homers in 574 at-bats and Sanchez has hit his 17 homers in only 162 at-bats.
“He’s meant a lot,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Offensively and defensively. It’s kind of fitting that he got the big hit.” Sanchez has thrown out nine runners attempting to steal and has allowed 16 stolen bases, which equals a solid 36 percent caught stealing percentage.
Sanchez is currently on a five-game hitting streak and has at least one hit in six of his last seven games. He deserves to be the AL Rookie of the Year based on the impact that he has had on the Yankees since the beginning of August. The other player who might deserve to win Rookie of the Year is the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, but he has struggled in his last few starts.
Sanchez is leading all rookies in an advanced metric stat called fWAR that evaluates the overall statistics. Sanchez is 2.9, Chris Devenski is 2.7, Fulmer is 2.5 and Tyler Naquin is 2.1.
Tyler Clippard allowed his second earned run in his last two games in the eighth inning to make the score 5-3, but he was able to pick up his 10th hold since rejoining the Yankees on August 1. He has a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings, which is better than anyone could have expected.
The Yankees will look to sweep the remaining two games against the Rays to not lose any ground. The remaining games will be valuable for the young players on the team since they will continue to play in meaningful games with a playoff like atmosphere.
The 5-2 win that the Yankees had on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore over the Orioles was their most important win of the season. Their win prevented them from being swept by the Orioles, who have the second wild card spot, and improved the Yankees deficit to 3.5 games.
The Yankees have a 70-65 record before Monday’s game are are half a game up on Kansas City Royals, who are 70-66. The Houston Astros are currently two games behind the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers are tied with the Orioles for the second wild card spot. An offensive outburst was needed since the team had not scored a run in the first two games of the series against the Orioles.
“You can’t afford to lose three in a row to these guys,” Girardi said. “We know they play really well in this building. We lost a tough one (Saturday) night. To be able to bounce back is important. It keeps us alive.”
The starting lineup had five rookies in it but the veterans were the ones who drove in all five of the team’s runs.
In the first inning, Chase Headley’s single to left scored Brett Gardner and then backup catcher Austin Romine hit a single to left that scored Headley and Rob Refsnyder. In the third inning, Headley’s infield single to third scored Refsnyder and then the Yankees added an insurance run with Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. The Yankees had six hits in this game, which equals the amount of hits that they had in the previous two games combined.
Refsnyder was 1-2 with two runs scored after getting into his first game since rosters expanded on September 1. He spent the last few weeks with the Triple-A RailRiders, but he now has five hits in his last 10 at-bats with four runs scored.
Chase Headley, who had two big RBI in the first inning, is now 9-24 (.375) with one homer and six RBI in his last seven games. He has performed very well for the Yankees since the first month and a half of the season.
The bullpen really stepped up for the Yankees since the didn’t allow any runs after Michael Pineda was taken out of the game after four innings. In his four innings pitched he threw 87 pitches and allowed five hits, two walks and two runs. Throwing 87 pitches in only four innings is much more than normal.
Luis Severino came in next and continued his dominance as a relief pitcher. He pitched two innings while walking two batters, striking out two, and not allowing a hit. He has really performed well since he has been able to concentrate on his plus fastball and slider while not having to worry about throwing a third pitch (change-up).
Severino has surrendered only one hit in the 40 batters he has faced in relief this season. He has thrown 11.1 innings as a relief pitcher this season and has not allowed an earned run while striking out 13 batters and walking five. That is outstanding and could be a sign that his best role going forward could be as a relief pitcher and not as a starter since he does not really trust his third pitch.
The four other Yankee relief pitchers combined to allow one hit and strike out four. Dellin Betances pitched the final 1.1 innings, after not having appeared in a game since August 31, and picked up his 8th save. He is firing on all cylinders right now since he has pitched in 10 games since August 10, 11.2 innings, and has allowed only one earned run while limiting the opposition to four hits. He has also struck out 18 batters and only walked four in that 10 game span.
The Yankees play a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays from Monday to Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees need to at least win two out of three to stay in the race. It will be a challenging series as Toronto is in first place in the AL East with a 77-59 record.
The Yankees shutout the Orioles, 5-0, on Wednesday night behind six dominant innings from Michael Pineda. This was their fourth win in a row (three against the Orioles) and they are doing what is needed right now to not be sellers before the trade deadline.
In their last 10 games, the Yankees have done 7-3 and those games have all been against the Indians, Red Sox and Orioles, who would all be in the playoffs if the season ended today. They have been able to get three games closer in the division and are now six games behind the Red Sox after knocking the Orioles out of first place. They are five games out of the second wild card spot, but only two teams are now between them and the Blue Jays.
First time since 2003 that the Yankees have held the opposition to one run or less for four games in a row. The Yankees are 48-46 and are two games above .500 for the first time since they were 4-2 in the beginning of the season.
Pineda only allowed five hits in his six innings pitched and was able to rebound well after giving up five runs in each of his previous two starts. He had an impressive eight strikeouts and only two walks and 70 of his 113 pitches were strikes.
He showed great poise and heart in the sixth inning as he was able to prevent Mark Trumbo from scoring after he doubled to leadoff the inning. Pedro Alvarez hit a sacrifice fly to advance Trumbo to third and then Pineda struck out the next two batters. That run likely would have scored in some of Pineda’s other starts this season.
When you can get outs with runners in scoring position those are the most crucial outs of the game,” Joe Girardi said in reference to Pineda’s sixth inning. The Yankees still only had a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
Pineda’s slider and fastball were on point so he didn’t need to go to his change very much. Pineda stayed focused and didn’t hang any of his sliders. Pineda is third in the American League in most games with 8 or more strikeouts with 8.
After Pineda came out of the game in the sixth inning, the Yankees bullpen held the Orioles scoreless in the last three innings while not allowing a hit. Dellin Betances had one strikeout and Chasen Shreve recorded two strikeouts. A catalyst for the Yankees recently has been that they have 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings from their bullpen.
Carlos Beltran had two RBIs including a 399 foot homer to right in the 8th inning. In the sixth inning, Beltran did something that’s rarely seen from a power hitter. He had a push bunt on a shift off of Gallardo for a single to help give the Yankees an extra run since Mark Teixeira walked with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. The game was still close as Jacoby Ellsbury’s run on Teixeria’s walk made the score 3-0.
Brett Gardner hit the team’s second RBI sacrifice fly of the game in the seventh inning. His sac fly scored Ronald Torreyes, who had hit a triple to the wall.
Mark Teixeria, who was playing in his first game since July 16 after being hit by a ball, hit a homer in the fourth inning on a slider to go with his two walks. He really adds a lot to the offense if he can produce in the middle of the order as opposed to the lack of production that he gave the team earlier in the season.
Teixeira, who still has a low .189 average, now has five homers in his last 16 games after having only three in his first 48 games. Homers in the middle of the lineup is what the team is counting on from Teixeira.
Beltran, who is 39, leads the team in average (.304, homers (20), RBI (60) and hits (97). He is on track to have much better numbers than last season and in turn if the Yankees decide to sell they will be able to get talent back that will be able to really help the team next year and down the line.
Girardi said it was good to only use of one his big three in his game. “Tomorrow (Thursday) is an important game for us,” Girardi said. “You have to keep pushing. It starts with starting pitching. Michael did a good job and it starts with CC tomorrow.”
If the Yankees can get the win on Thursday they will have swept the Orioles and it will be their third four-game sweep of the season but first against a team as good as the Orioles.
Chase Headley scoring on a passed ball by Robinson Chirinos in the ninth inning with Carlos Beltran at the plate led to the Yankees winning their second walk-off win in a row over the Texas Rangers. They won 2-1 in a matinee game and closer Aroldis Chapman got his second win of the season.
The star of today’s game was Michael “Big Mike” Pineda. He pitched six dominant innings while allowing only one run, two hits, three walks and a season-high 12 strikeouts. According to Katie Sharp, all 12 of his strikeouts were swinging strikeouts, which doesn’t happen very much. He allowed a homer to Shin-Soo Choo to leadoff the game and then was impressively able to rebound from there and keep the Rangers offense off of the scoreboard.
“I feel really good,” Pineda said. “It’s what I am looking for, just pitching good and I am trying to help the team. I want to finish strong.”
This is what Pineda said in reference to how he rebounded from allowing Choo’s homer: “It’s the first batter, so I tried to be aggressive with my fastball and he got it. Then, I was walking on the mound, and said ‘OK, Big Mike, keep your head up, be focused right now and give my team the opportunity to win the game.”
This was impressive because in earlier starts Pineda has gotten frustrated at himself and has allowed one early run to turn into a few runs. It seems like he is figuring out how to motivate himself on the mound.
He has a lot of talent and when his cutter, slider and change are located he is tough to hit. Pineda was much better in June than he was in May. In 37 innings (six starts) he allowed 11 runs, did not allow more than three earned runs in any start and allowed one run three times while striking out 49 and only walking eight batters.
Big Mike has really improved as he has lowered his ERA from 6.92, when the Yankees considered dropping him from the rotation, to the much more respectable 5.24 ERA that it is now. He now seems like a starter that the Yankees will want to give an extension.
The Yankees scored their first run of the game on a homer to right by Didi Gregorius off of Rangers starter A.J. Griffin in the 5th. This was his second homer in two days and yesterday’s blast was the walk-off 3-run homer in the 9th. He has really improved on offense from last season, and he should get strong consideration for a spot on the All-Star team since he ranks near the top in homers, RBI and average among shortstops in the American League.
In 27 games in June, Gregorius had a .337 average with 11 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs, 15 runs scored and a .906 OPS. His extra-base hits included one triple, four homers and six doubles. The Yankees would not have won these last two games against the best team in the American League without Gregorius and it is a positive sign that he is coming into his own and showing real improvement at the age of 26.
“We never give up,” Gregorius said. “Hopefully we go on our best foot forward from now on and end the first half on a good note. We are doing stuff the right way lately and we just have to keep it up. I am trying to put the barrel on the ball, that’s all I’m trying to do. For me, I am just trying to get good at-bats and get something to show for it.”
The Big Three in the bullpen of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were dominant like normal. They combined to pitch the last three innings, allow only two hits and strike out four Rangers. Betances has only allowed one run in his last 10 appearances (9 innings), Miller has only allowed two runs in his last 10 appearances (10 innings) and Chapman has allowed four runs in his last 10 appearances, but two of those came in one game (9 innings). There is a good chance that the Yankees will win if all three pitch in the same game.
With today’s win, the Yankees earned a split against the Rangers who have the best record in baseball, and it was close to being three out of four since the second game was delayed a few hours due to rain with the Yankees having the lead in the 9th. The Yankees are back to .500 once again and will look to keep the winning streak going in San Diego.
The Bronx Bombers will play a 3-game series at Petco Park against the Padres, who are 13 games below .500 (33-46). They have the worst record in the NL West and just traded away their best reliever, Fernando Rodney, to the Marlins. He has a 0.31 ERA and 17 saves.
The Yankees struggled to maintain momentum the last few times they reached .500, so they will try to reverse that trend against the Padres. If they can win the first two games against San Diego they will be two games above .500 for the first time since they were 4-2. If they sweep the lowly Padres they will be three games above .500 for the first time all season.
Alex Rodriguez will not play in the series against the Padres unless he comes into the game as a pinch hitter. He is strictly a designated hitter now and there is no DH in National League stadiums. If the Yankees sweep the Padres that could prove that the team is turning the corner since they were not able to do so against the Twins.
For their second win in a row, and third win in their last four games, the Yankees (28-30) beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 6-3, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Michael Pineda also had his second consecutive solid start after allowing one run in 5.2 while striking out eight and walking none against the Tigers last week.
The Yankees are now 6.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East, two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for third place in the division and four games out of the second wild card spot. They could be in worse shape in the division and the wild card based on the start they have had to their season.
In Tuesday’s start against the Angels he allowed three runs in seven innings on one homer, two walks and four hits. Pineda, whose ERA was 6.92 on May 28, has lowered his ERA to 6.14 after his two consecutive solid starts where he has showed many signs of improvement.
One positive sign is that Pineda had better velocity on Tuesday since he was able to throw 97mph. He did a good job rebounding from allowing three runs in the fifth – on an RBI single and then a two-run homer by Kole Calhoun – to not allow a run in the sixth or seventh. That’s progress for him because he has often not been able to pitch well again after allowing runs to score.
Pineda said that working with Larry Rothschild has led to him lowering his arm angle to give him better movement on his slider. He has also been able to improve the movement on his cutter. The lower arm angle has led to more side-to-side movement on his slider.
Pineda said that he made this adjustment before his start last week against the Tigers. This arm angle adjustment could help him stay consistent the rest of the season and not have many more starts where he allows five or more runs, which he has done five times this season.
Offensively, the Yankees had 10 hits during the win over the Angels and Alex Rodriguez, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks all had two hits.
Carlos Beltran got the scoring started in the first inning with his homer to left center that drove in Rob Refsnyder. He is in fifth place in the American League with his 15 homers and in 14th place in the league with his 38 RBIs, which are great stats for a 39-year-old. According the Rodriguez, he has been a lifesaver for the team and A-Rod didn’t want to think of where the team would be without the contributions of Beltran.
Later in the first inning, Austin Romine, who has really improved at the plate this season, hit a single that scored Castro to make the score 3-0. He has a .290 average in 69 at-bats.
In the second inning, Refsnyder hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Hicks to give the Yankees all the runs that they would need to beat the Angels. Refsnyder, who has been the starting first baseman the past few games with Mark Teixeira on the DL, only has three hits in his last 16 at-bats, but those three hits were all doubles and he has scored four runs and driven in three in that span.
Then, in the third inning, Castro hit a solo homer off of the foul pole in right. That was Castro’s ninth homer of the season, which is the second most on the team. He has been one of the better performers on the team this season and the Yankees need him to continue to play well on offense and defense.
“This stadium is tailor made for Castro,” Rodriguez said. “He is a guy who can hit .300 and hit 25 homers.”
Rodriguez’s single in the seventh scored the team’s seventh and final run. The 40-year-old designated hitter has 10 hits in 29 at-bats in June (.345), which is a significant improvement than how he was hitting earlier in the season.
He has performed much better at the plate after being on the disabled list from May 4 until May 25. His average was .170 on May 31 and it is now all the way up to .214. It seems like his two weeks off and then his rehab assignment has helped him, and the offense is better with A-Rod hitting like he is right now.
“I feel pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I am getting shorter to the baseball and not trying to do too much.”
Beltran’s homer on Tuesday was his 1,000th extra-base hit of his likely Hall of Fame career. He is now the fourth switch hitter to reach that milestone, joining Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones and Pete Rose.
The Yankees have two more games against the Angels before continuing their homestand against the Detroit Tigers. Nathan Eovaldi, who had pitched very well in his previous three starts, will look to bounce back from allowing five runs on June 3 against the Orioles.
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.
The Yankees (13-19) lost to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night, 7-3, at Yankee Stadium. Michael Pineda allowed six runs in 5.2 innings pitched, but he allowed four of his six runs in the first inning. This continued his trend of struggling early in the contest but then rebounding. He needs to find consistency, so that he is a reliable pitcher in the beginning of the game.
He has really struggled in the first two innings this season as 20 of the 27 earned runs that he has allowed this season have come in the first two frames. He has been a completely different pitcher after the second frame, but his inability to prevent runners from scoring in the first two stanzas has led to him having a very high ERA of 6.28, a WHIP of 1.60 to go along with hitters having a .306 average against him in his seven starts.
After Alex Gordon’s sacrifice fly scored Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez would go onto smash a three-run homer to left that gave the Royals their fourth run of the first inning. That homer by Perez ended up being the difference in the game. Pineda has struggled with the long ball this year as his nine homers given up are tied for the fourth most in the American League.
Pineda has allowed a solid two earned runs in four of his seven starts, but that is not good enough because in his other three starts he has given up six, seven and six runs, respectively. He is obviously not injured based on the way he has pitched after the second inning, but he just needs a different mindset so that he doesn’t have starts where he allows four runs in the first inning.
With Wednesday night’s loss, the Yankees now have a 5-3 record in the last eight games. They are starting to turn the season around because in their previous eight games they had a record of 1-7. A factor in the team winning more games in the last eight contests is that they have scored 38 runs in that span versus only 17 runs in the stretch when they went 1-7.
A positive development during this stretch of improved offense has been the play of Aaron Hicks, who was traded to the Yankees in the offseason. He has gotten consistent at-bats since he has been playing everyday in the outfield as a result of Carlos Beltran being the DH with Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list. Hicks was 3-4 on Wednesday night, and in the last seven games he is an impressive 9-21 (.429) with one double, two homers, five RBIs and five runs scored. His average was .067 on May 4 and is now a much more respectable .216.
Beltran, who was 2-4 last night with a solo home run, has hit well during the month of May. He is 10-36 (.278) with three homers, four doubles, five runs scored and six RBIs. There have been 10 of the team’s 32 games during May, and three of his seven homers have come during May in addition to six of his 15 RBIs.
Beltran also hit his 399th career homer last night, which puts him in a three-way tie for 54th on the all-time list with Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga. Three Yankees are in the top five on the all-time switch hitter home run list as Mark Teixeira has 397, Beltran has 399 and Chipper Jones retired with 468, Eddie Murray retired with 504 and Mickey Mantle retired with 536.
Chase Headley had a single to shallow left in the second inning to score Hicks for his only hit of the game. He has a very low .178 average this season, but the third baseman has a .278 average (5-18) in the last seven days to show some signs of improvement. However, Headley still does not have an extra base hit this season and has only four RBIs. Proving how Headley has not done his part as an everyday player is that 26 pitchers have an extra base hit this season while Headley does not have one.
The Yankees will play the series finale against the Royals tonight at 7:05 p.m. They will win the series if they win tonight’s game that will be started by Nathan Eovaldi (4.78 ERA). In Eovaldi’s previous start, he dominated in eight innings as he allowed two runs and struck out six.
Joe Girardi has said that the goal is to win consecutive series that they play, and the Yankees should be able to get back into the race in the American League East if they can win the next five series that they play. They went into this series having won their previous two.
The Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-2, on Thursday night in Toronto to even their record at 4-4. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a fielder’s choice by Carlos Beltran that scored Alex Rodriguez and then a a wild pitch by Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman that sent Mark Teixeira home, but the Blue Jays would take the lead for good when the fearsome Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer to deep center in the fifth.
Stroman, who is a Long Island native and one of the best starting pitchers in the American League, threw 106 pitches and only allowed three hits and two runs in a dominant eight innings pitched. Further proving the Yankees offensive ineptness during Thursday’s game was that the only hits they had all game were singles by Teixeira, Brian McCann and Beltran.
The first three hitters in the lineup – Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Rodriguez – were a combined 0-10 with one run scored and a walk. It is a plus that they didn’t strikeout at all, which means that it could partly be due to bad luck since they put the ball in play every at-bat, but they have to be able to get on base at the top of the lineup. Gardner and Rodriguez have really struggled to begin the season as Gardner has a .174 average with only one steal and three runs scored in 23 at-bats and Rodriguez has only three hits in 25 at-bats (.120 average) with one homer and two RBIs.
The Yankees need Gardner to get on base often and steal bases from the two spot in the lineup and they need Rodriguez to have a similar statistical season as last season when he slugged 33 homers and drove in 86 runs. The issue could be that they haven’t really found their swing yet and will have better production by the end of the month. Sometimes established major league players have a slow start to the season like Beltran did last April, but they both need to show some signs of progress.
Nate Eovaldi, who made his second start of the season, only allowed a single, a walk and a double in the first four innings. However, his effectiveness ended in the fifth as he gave up a two-out three-run homer to Donaldson to give Toronto a 3-2 lead. Eovaldi needs to be a better pitcher with two outs and be more careful with hitters like Donaldson, who led the American League with 123 RBIs last season.
Eovaldi also allowed a solo homer to Troy Tulowitzki with one out in the sixth inning, which took away his quality start. He needs to prove that he can be successful pitching five and more importantly six innings and not fade after the fourth inning. Eovaldi ended up throwing 98 pitches in 6.2 innings while allowing four earned runs, seven hits, two walks and two homers. The only positive from Eovaldi’s performance was that he recorded eight strikeouts.
The bullpen has not surprisingly by far been the strength of the pitching staff so far. Rookie Johnny Barbato, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller all have 0.00 ERAs. Barbato, who is from Miami and came to the Yankees from the Padres in the Shawn Kelley trade in December of 2014, appears that he will be able to help the bullpen the whole season after getting outs in clutch situations.
However, Masahiro Tanaka is the only Yankees starter with less than a 4.50 ERA. It is a small sample size, but Tanaka has a 3.38 ERA in two starts, CC Sabathia has a 4.50 ERA in his one start, Luis Severino has a 5.40 ERA in his one start, Michael Pineda has a 6.55 ERA in his two starts and Eovaldi has a 6.94 ERA in his 11.2 innings pitched.
It will be important for the rotation to be more effective so that the bullpen will not have to be overworked. The bullpen will have more depth once Aroldis Chapman returns from his suspension, but the team will win a lot more games when the starters can effectively throw six or seven innings. The Yankees need Severino, who is in his first full season, to be similar to the pitcher he was in the final two months of last season when he had a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts.
For the Yankees to live up to their potential Pineda and Eovaldi will need to be consistent and pitch like they are capable of and Tanaka will need to step up and be the ace of the staff for the duration of the season. Proving Pineda’s inconsistency he allowed six earned runs in his first start and then two runs in his second outing.
Severino will look to regain his form from last season during today’s start against the Seattle Mariners. Based on how the starting pitching and some of the hitters have underwhelmed so far this season it is somewhat impressive that the Yankees are 4-4.
The Yankees announced on Sunday that Luis Severino, who allowed more than two earned runs in only three of his 11 starts during his rookie season last year, will get the start during the team’s first spring training game on Wednesday at home against the Detroit Tigers. The game will begin at 1:05 p.m. at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
After Severino, Ivan Nova will get the start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday and Bryan Mitchell will be the starter for the Yankees during Friday’s road game against the Tigers. This has nothing to do with the rotation that will begin the season and just has to do with when the various starters are ready to pitch in a game.
Severino threw a live batting practice on Friday, Mitchell threw a bullpen on Saturday and Nova threw live batting practice on Sunday. This is why they are the first three to pitch in games. Severino is slatted to be one of the five starters after his impressive final two months of the season after being called up, and Nova and Mitchell will likely be relievers in the bullpen.
Joe Girardi does not know yet who will start a game after Nova because Michael Pineda is the only one that has thrown a live batting practice so far. Based on the pattern outlined above, this could mean that Pineda will start the fourth spring training game. Girardi did add that Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka will throw a live batting practice soon.
“It’s more just determining when exactly we think that they’re ready to go,” Girardi said. “The other guys should start throwing BPs pretty soon, and then that will get them close.”
Severino finished last season with a very impressive 2.89 ERA in his 11 starts. He also had a solid 1.20 ERA with 56 strikeouts, 22 walks and a 2.0 WAR. The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic recorded a season-high of nine strikeouts against the powerful Blue Jays lineup on August 16 and struck out five or more batters in seven of his 11 starts.
He is an important piece of the rotation because he had a lot of success last season and he is the only one who does not have an injury question mark. The Yankees were basically forced to call him up based Pineda going on the disabled list and Severino’s dominance at Triple-A Scranton. Severino can be favorably compared to Yordano Ventura based on his size and pitch repertoire.
Pineda went on the disabled list on July 30 with a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm. He would return to the rotation on August 26, and he ended up pitching worse after coming off of the DL (he allowed four runs or more in five of eight starts) than he had in the first four months of the season.
He finished the season with a 4.37 ERA, 156 strikeouts and only 21 walks, but he is capable of finishing this season with a much better ERA based on his overpowering stuff and pinpoint control. The highlight of his season was when he struck out a career-high 16 batters in seven innings while not walking anyone in seven innings against the Baltimore Orioles on May 10. Pineda will have to prove this season that he can stay healthy the whole season after spending time on the DL last season and the season before.
According to Brooks Baseball, Severino primarily threw a four-seam fastball (96 mph) and slider (90 mph) while also mixing in an effective changeup (89 mph).
“His fourseam fastball generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has well above average velo. His slider is thrown extremely hard and generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders. His change is thrown extremely hard and has slight armside fade.”
Severino will need to continue utilize his change because he will need to be able to throw his three pitches in any count since other teams will have more of a scouting report on him. If he can come close to duplicating the success he had last season after facing teams for a second and third time he will be a very valuable member of the rotation and he definitely has the stuff to do so.
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