Tagged: Shawn Kelley

The Yankees traded Shawn Kelley to the Padres for right-handed reliever Johnny Barbato

Johnny Barbato pitching for the Lake Elsinore Storm

Johnny Barbato pitching for the Lake Elsinore Storm

On Monday, in a move that could help the Yankees towards the end of the 2015 season or in 2016, the Yankees traded relief pitcher Shawn Kelley to the San Diego Padres and received a minor league relief prospect named Johnny Barbato.

Kelley made 1.76 million this season and would have gotten a raise in 2015 through salary arbitration. The Yankees likely didn’t want to pay the 30-year-old the increased salary, so they traded him for a young relief pitcher with potential. Since the Yankees traded a right handed relief pitcher who pitched in 59 games last season they will likely acquire another established pitcher before spring training.

Kelley had spurts where he pitched well, like when he filled in for David Robertson last season and picked up four saves, but he was far too inconsistent overall. He had a 4.39 ERA in 53.1 innings in the 2013 season, and in 2014 he had an even worse 4.53 ERA in 51.2 innings. He allowed 45 hits and 20 walks this season in his 51.2 innings, which is far too many for a relief pitcher.

The Yankees were able to continue to get younger with their acquisition of Barbato as he is only 22. He has a 3.79 ERA in 139 appearances in four minor league seasons, but Barbato pitched much better last season at the more challenging Class-AA San Antonio than he did at Class-A Lake Elsinore. He had a 5.01 ERA and a 1.398 WHIP in 2013, but last season he had a 2.87 ERA in 31.1 innings, picked up 16 saves, had 33 strikeouts, only 10 walks and an impressive 1.149 WHIP.

Barbato, who was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2010 draft by the Padres, is a Miami native who went to Felix Varela HS. His fastball is his greatest asset as it tops out at 97 and averages 94. Other pitches that have helped him have a strikeout/walk ratio of 256-105 include a knuckle-curve and a decent changeup.

The other notable relief pitchers that the Yankees have acquired this offseason are Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson and they are similar to Barbato in that they are pitchers who throw hard and get strikeouts. This is now a theme throughout the bullpen. The Yankees also had to have been drawn to his better-than-average control because the manager never wants a reliever to come into the game and walk a batter.

The one negative about Barabato is that he was shutdown in June as a result of elbow issues, which has led to a report that he might need Tommy John Surgery. However, he is only 22, which means that if he has it he would still be a young 23-year-old pitcher when he returns in 2016.

The Yankees will be losing some comic relief with the departure of Kelley. The veteran relief pitcher wanted to make his teammates laugh so he started wearing a horse head mask on the field before games in August. He started to be called Seabiscuit and the team went on a five-game winning streak when he wore the mask that he found on Amazon.

In making this move, GM Brian Cashman praised Barbato’s arm as well as the fact that the Yankees will control him for several more years, but the 30-year-old Kelley will be a free agent after the 2015 season. The Yankees acquired a relief pitcher with upside who can help the bullpen for years to come while trading away a pitcher who is in decline based on his last two seasons.

The Yankees signed Andrew Miller and acquired Didi Gregorius in a three-team trade.

Didi Gregorius making a play for the Diamondbacks in 2013.

Didi Gregorius making a play for the Diamondbacks in 2013.

On Friday morning, the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius, a 24-year-old shortstop from the Netherlands, in a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The relief pitcher prospect Robbie Ray went from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks, and the Yankees sent starter Shane Greene to the Tigers.

The Yankees only had to give up Greene, who is already 26 and started 14 games last season only because the Yankees had many injuries in their rotation, to get their shortstop who will take over for Derek Jeter. The Yankees have depth in their rotation, which means that this is a deal that they had to make.

Gregorius is coming off of a season where played in 80 games with the Dbacks and hit only .226 with six homers and 27 RBIs. However, he played more games in 2013 (103) and his offensive production was better as he had 16 doubles versus nine in 2014, a .252 average, seven homers and 28 RBIs. He had a .310 average in 57 games in 2014 while playing for the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate in Reno, which proves that he has the ability to hit for a higher average.

(Stats in the Pacific Coast League are usually inflated based on the ballparks since it is known as a hitter friendly league, but it was only his average that was higher and not his power numbers.)

Gregorius, who is known for his defense, might not have the ability to hit 15 homers in a season like Derek Jeter did nine times in his career, but he is a plus defender with the ability to go to his left and right. Jeter wasn’t able to have much range during his last few seasons, which means Gregorius will be an upgrade in that regard. In 67 games at shortstop in 2014, Gregorius had five errors, had a .983 fielding percentage, turned 39 double plays and had 189 assists.

In the minors, he had six errors in 19 games during the 2014 season at shortstop. He is athletic and has shown promise while playing for Arizona, which means that he has the ability to improve. Gregorious came out of left field because the Yankees would usually have acquired a higher profiled shortstop, but since they only had to give up Greene to get this young shortstop with promise the deal makes sense.

Former Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers had very complementary words to say about Gregorius in 2012. “When I first saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter,” Towers said. The test will come in April when he will have to show if he can handle the media scrutiny in New York City after previously playing in Cincinnati and Phoenix.

The Yankees offense needs a bounce back this season, but in order for it to do so Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira will have to perform better than they did las season. It will be a successful first season offensively if Gregorius can hit .255 with eight homers and about 55 RBIs.

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On Friday afternoon, the Yankees continued their busy day with the signing of relief pitcher Andrew Miller. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were a finalist to land him along with the Astros, and he ended up being correct. The Yankees signed the dominating lefty reliever to a four-year, $36 million contract.

The 29-year-old is coming off of a season where he pitched in 50 games for the Boston Red Sox and 23 for the Baltimore Orioles while recording an ERA of 2.02, 62.1 innings, 103 strikeouts, five wins and only 17 walks. David Robertson might not return because he also wants a four-year contract, but the Yankees should have a hard-throwing shutdown bullpen with Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Jacob Lindgren and Esmil Rogers.

Lindgren was a second-round pick in June out of Mississippi State who is projected to make an impact. He had a 2.16 ERA across four levels of the minors this season.

Miller and Betances both have the ability to close, and they could be the closer by committee this season so they can both pitch in high leverage situations. Miller faced 64 batters in save situations last season and held them to a .070 average with 36 strikeouts. Miller (42.6%) and Betances (39.6%) ranked second and fourth among all relievers last season in strikeout rate. That’s a dominating and imposing lefty-righty combo at the back of the bullpen.

Miller has a career ERA of 4.91, but that is inflated because he struggled early in his career. From 2006 until 2011 his season ERA was never under 4.84, but he never pitched in more than 29 games in any of those seasons. He has proved to be much more successful the past three seasons with an increased work load in the prime of his career. He had a 3.35 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 2012, and in 2013, Miller had a 2.64 ERA with 48 strikeouts.

If Miller has a season similar to the one he had last season, and if Lindgren, Wilson or Warren can emerge as a reliable seventh-inning option, the Yankees bullpen could turn out to be similar to the one that helped the Kansas City Royals advance to the World Series in 2014. However, this bullpen dominance and comparison to that of the Royals last season would be even more comparable and if David Robertson returns.

The Yankees followed Jeter’s heroic Yankee Stadium finale with a win at Fenway Park

Jeter jumping for joy after Thursday's walk-off.

Jeter jumping for joy after Thursday’s walk-off.

After Derek Jeter hit the game-winning walk-off hit to beat the Baltimore Orioles in his final home game on Thursday, the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2 on Friday. Jeter’s walk-off was an inside out single to right that he has hit countless times in his career. David Robertson had the best blown save of his career in the top of the ninth to set up yet another clutch hit from Jeter.

After Brett Gardner sacrificed the fast Antoan Richardson to second, Jeter’s “Jeterian” single to right scored Richardson to win the game. Jeter leaped towards the sky after the run scored, walked back out to his position at shortstop to get one more view and then Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada fittingly came onto the field to greet their longtime teammate. It was a storybook ending to end Jeter’s career playing in front of the home fans in the Bronx.

Jeter even surprised himself with how the game ended. “I wouldn’t have believed it myself,” Jeter said. “I can honestly say I don’t think anyone played harder.” Jeter said that he is aware that other players have more talent, but his effort each and every day helped take him to the top. For the first time in his career, he asked to have Friday’s game off because he was so exhausted from Thursday and everything that happened after it.

I don’t know if I could play tonight if I wanted to play tonight,” he said. “Last night was as special as it gets.” He said that if he wasn’t going to play his last game at Yankee Stadium, the next best place is Fenway Park because of the rivalry. He will be the DH on Saturday and Sunday out of respect for the Red Sox.

“He had such a special night last night,” Chris Capuano said. “I think everyone can understand him just wanting to take a day.”

Jeter also hit a double to left in the first for his first RBI of the game. Hiroki Kuroda allowed only two runs in eight innings in what might have been his last start as a Yankee. He had a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts and didn’t fall apart like he did the last two seasons.

On Friday, Jeter received a “Derek Jeter” chant from the crowd even though he was only in the dugout. The Red Sox fans also proved that they recognize greatness since they booed when Jeter didn’t pinch hit in the ninth. The Yankees were able to get the win even though five rookies started the game. No one in the lineup had played more than 47 games for the Yankees this season.

Chris Capuano, who pitched in the beginning of the season in the bullpen for the Red Sox, did not allow an earned run in 6.2 innings pitched. He is a pitcher who the Yankees will likely consider for a spot in their bullpen next season. Allen Craig’s run in the second was unearned because Chris Young made an error on Craig’s single earlier in the inning. Capuano, who is 36, threw 91 pitches, struck out five and didn’t allow a walk.

Shawn Kelley, who allowed Rusney Castillo’s homer in the seventh, really faltered in the second half of the season. He has a 4.53 ERA, and his ERA in August was 7.59 and in September it was 4.70. Capuano might be a better option than Kelley next season. David Robertson, who was able to convert his 39th save of the season in the ninth, is in the last year of his contract and the Yankees could choose to let the cheaper Dellin Betances be the closer next season.

The Yankees had seven hits off of three Red Sox pitchers. Steven Wright, a relief pitcher who was making only his second start, allowed two unearned runs in five innings. Eury Perez struck out in the second but advanced to first as a result of a passed ball by Dan Butler. Francisco Cervelli’s single scored Perez and then Cervelli scored later in the inning on a throwing error by second baseman Mookie Betts, who is normally a center fielder.

In the seventh inning, Zelous Wheeler hit a sacrifice fly to score John Ryan Murphy to give the Yankees their third run. The Yankees need to win their last two games to match their 85 wins from last season.

Jeter during the game on 9/21.

Jeter during the game on 9/21.

The Yankees have been officially eliminated from winning the American League East

Shawn Kelley throwing a pitch for the Yankees.

Shawn Kelley throwing a pitch for the Yankees.

The Yankees lost 1-0 in their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field. Their offense has been anemic recently since it was their fourth time being shutout in their last 11 games. With yesterday’s loss, the Yankees officially can’t win the American League East.

For the Yankees, the theme this year has been an inability to score runs, and the Yankees have only scored six runs combined in their previous five games. This includes Monday’s shutout, a shutout against the Orioles last Friday and a game where they only scored one run in the first game of their doubleheader on Friday. They had an outside chance at getting the second wild card before going 1-4 in their last five games, but it will now be virtually impossible to make up six games with 13 games to play.

“For whatever reason, we’re not hitting,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s frustrating. Eventually I think it’s got to turn, but it better turn pretty quickly here.”

Tampa Bay starter Alex Colome and Yankees starter Chris Capuano both did not allow a run. Colome allowed six hits and a walk in 6.2 innings, but Ichiro Suzuki’s double in the seventh was the only extra base hit that Colome allowed. Brian McCann flied out to center with runners on first and second to end the seventh.

The Yankees had Mark Teixeira on third and Carlos Beltran on second with one out in the second inning but Ichiro popped out to the shortstop and John Ryan Murphy flied out to right. That was their best opportunity to score while Colome was pitching, but the season-long struggle with runners in scoring position continued.

Brett Gardner, who was 0-4, said that the Yankees continued the trend of struggling to score. “Same story, we have been pitching really well, but it has just been hard for us to score runs,” Gardner said. “We have had flashes of being pretty good, but for the most part, we have just struggled to get guys across the plate, and it is frustrating because with all the injuries that we have had to our rotation the guys that have come up and come in from other places have really stepped up.”

Capuano had his second start with the Yankees where he allowed zero earned runs. He pitched six innings, walked four batters and only allowed two hits. Girardi took him out of the game after throwing 101 pitches. Capuano easily should have had his second win as a Yankee, but the Yankees were held scoreless by a Rays starter who was making only his second start of the season. Four Rays relief pitchers held the Yankees hitless over the final 2.1 innings, and Joel Paralta got the win as a result of Ben Zobrist‘s walk-off.

It was a questionable decision by Girardi to pitch Shawn Kelley in the ninth instead of Dellin Betances, and that decision did end up backfiring. Matt Joyce’s walk after James Loney and Logan Forsythe hit singles earlier in the inning loaded the bases with two outs. Zobrist, who is in his ninth season playing with the Rays, hit his walk-off passed Ichiro in right for the game-winning hit.

It is almost a fitting “ending” to the Yankees season that Martin Prado, who was a key trade deadline acquisition and really helped the offense before his injury, will miss the rest of the season because he had an appendectomy and had surgery on Tuesday. He had a .316 average with seven homers and 16 RBIs since being acquired via trade from Arizona on July 31. He has two years left on his contract and will likely be the team’s second baseman for the next two seasons.

The starters for the middle game of the three-game set will be Michael Pineda for the Yankees and Jake Odorizzi for the Rays. Pineda will look to rebound from his worst start of his season where he allowed four runs and 10 hits in 7.1 innings against the Rays on September 11. Besides that start, Pineda has allowed two runs or less in his nine other starts this season.

Pitching matchups for the series between the Yankees and Rays at Tropicana Field

 

Shawn Kelley

Shawn Kelley

After being swept in the two-game set at Camden Yards against the Orioles, the Yankees will look to make up ground in the race for the second wild-card spot when they start a three-game series against the fourth place Tampa Bay Rays. 

After the loss on Wednesday, Shawn Kelley admitted that trying for the second wild-card is more realistic at this point. “I think we’re looking more at the second wild-card spot,” Kelley said. “That’s a little bit better number, it’s a little more achievable at this point. 

The Yankees have scored more than three runs only twice in their last nine games. They have also lost their last four games and are 1-25 with runners in scoring position in those four games. 

On Wednesday, the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 in a game that it appeared that they would win. In Michael Pineda‘s first start since April, after being out due to a 10-game pine tar suspension and suffering a strained lat muscle below his pitching shoulder while throwing a simulated game during his suspension, he only allowed one run and two hits in five innings pitched. He had four strikeouts and no walks and was pitching just like he did before his injury.   

As a result of Francisco Cervelli’s two-run homer in the third Pineda left in position to win the game. However, in a desperate move by Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances was left in to pitch more than two innings for only the second time this season. Betances had four strikeouts and only allowed one hit in his first two innings, but in the eighth, Betances gave up a game-tying homer to Jonathan Schoop with one out. In 2014, Schoop has an overall average of .217 but has four homers with a .379 average against the Yankees. 

Betances was taken out of the game after the homer and Shawn Kelley gave up a single, a walk and then a three-run homer to the dangerous Adam Jones on a fastball. Jones hits the fastball better than any other pitch, so Kelley should have known to throw something else. That homer sealed the game since the Yankees only scored one run in the ninth. Kelley, who has been much worse recently, has allowed seven runs in his past three appearances. 

After Thursday’s much needed off day, the Yankees will look to find their offense at Tropicana Field. They will luckily not have to face Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his five career starts against the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees will need to score with runners in scoring position and score many more runs against the Rays than they have the past few games.

The Rays are 60-61 and have gone 6-4 in their previous 10 games. Friday’s game will start at 7:10 p.m., and Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy get the start for the Yankees. In 2014, Cobb is 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA and has allowed two runs or less in each of his last six starts. McCarthy, who will be making his seventh start since being traded to the Yankees, has allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts with the Yankees. He has a 2.21 ERA with 36 strikeouts while pitching for the Yankees, and he has benefited from throwing his cutter more under Larry Rothschild.    

On Saturday, Shane Greene, is a rookie who pitched eight shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers in his last start and has a 2.89 ERA, will face the Rays for his first time. Drew Smyly will be making his third start for the Rays since being traded from the Tigers, and he threw 7.2 shutout innings in his last start. His ERA for the season is 3.73. On Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 4.03 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees and Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.03 ERA) will pitch for the Rays. 

The Yankees will need to win at least two out of three to stay in the race for the second wild-card. They are currently four games behind the Tigers and will have to pass the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners to catch Detroit. 

Carlos Beltran’s five RBIs were key in the 10-6 win by the Yankees over the Indians

Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran

The Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 10-5, as a result of a five-run first inning and a five-run sixth inning, on Friday night. The Yankees have now won three straight games and six of their past seven games going back to the series against the Boston Red Sox.

Esmil Rogers, who was acquired on July 31 after being put on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, pitched five innings while only giving up four hits and an earned run in his first start for the Yankees. He had pitched four scoreless inning out of the bullpen since joining the team. After being sent to the minors by the Blue Jays, Rogers was 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA in seven starts with AAA-Buffalo. Rogers, who got the start because David Phelps was put on the 15-day disabled list, has been another solid acquisition by Brian Cashman.

Joe Girardi has been impressed with his current rotation since the All-Star break, which only includes Hiroki Kuroda from the rotation that started the season. “Since the All-Star break, we have had a chance to win every game,” Girardi said. “That is because of them.” They would not have won three out of four against the Tigers without their impressive rotation and bullpen because they collectively had a 0.99 ERA.

Derek Jeter reached first in the first inning after Carlos Santana was not able catch a ball thrown to him by Jose Ramirez. This favorable hit ruling by the official scorer gave Jeter his 3,430th hit, which tied him with Honus Wagner for sixth most hits in baseball history.

Indians starter Trevor Bauer’s lack of control led to allowing five runs in the first inning. After a walk by Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran’s single drove Jeter home for the team’s first run. After Brain McCann walked to load the bases, Chase Headley walked on four pitches to send Ellsbury home. Beltran would score on Stephen Drew’s single to center, and then Martin Prado’s infield single scored McCann, while Jason Kipnis’s error allowed Headley to score from third.

Cleveland has one of the worst defenses in the American League, and that porous defense showed in this game because they committed two errors.

The Yankees were able to put the game out of reach in the sixth inning. John Axford, who was pitching in the sixth inning, had control problems as well. After Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner and Ellsbury all walked, Beltran hit a grand slam into the bleachers in right for his 14th homer of the season. This was his 16th game of five or more RBIs of his career. Beltran has turned it around offensively as he is hitting .366 in his last 10 games with with two homers and 10 RBIs.

Marc Rzepczynski, who came in after Beltran’s grand slam, allowed the 10th run to score, but that run was unearned because of Jose Ramirez’s throwing error. Drew grounded into a fielder’s choice to first, but Francisco Cervelli, who came into the game as a result of McCann’s mild concussion, scored on Ramirez’s error.

In the third inning, Mike Aviles’s foul tip hit McCann right in his face mask, which caused Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donahue to examine him on the field. “He felt like his jaw got jammed,” Girardi said. “And then when taking to him later when he came in, in the sixth, he said he felt a little fogy. He was having a hard time putting words to it, so I helped him. I said, ‘You’re out.’ It seems like McCann might have to go on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Shawn Kelley had an uncharacteristically subpar outing as he allowed four earned runs on two hits and two walks while only recording one out in the sixth, to make the score 10-6, but the rest of the bullpen threw a combined three innings and only allowed three hits. Adam Warren and Rich Hill did what they had to do and then Dellin Betances recorded two strikeouts in the ninth to end the game. Betances, who was an All-Star, has now allowed only one run in his past 10 appearances.

Michael Pineda had his second promising performance while pitching for the AAA Scranton RailRiders. He pitched 4.1 innings, allowed six hits, only one run and recorded an impressive seven strikeouts. He threw 72 pitches, which puts him on track for 85-90 in his next start. Girardi could choose to have Pineda pitch on Wednesday, or have Rogers get another start based on Friday’s performance.

With a win on Saturday, the Yankees would have a four-game winning streak and would be nine games above .500. The race for the second Wild-Card spot is very tight since four teams are between 1.5 games of each other, and the Yankees are half a game behind the surging Kansas City Royals, who have won 5 games in a row.

Paul O’Neill, who hated to lose and helped the Yankees win four World Series championships, will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park before Saturday’s game.

The Yankees only scored three runs in their loss to the Tampa Bay Rays

Brian McCann

Brian McCann

The Yankees lost 4-3 in 12 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Yankee Stadium. The Rays (36-49) currently have the worst record in the American League.

The Yankees have lost seven of their last nine games, but they have managed to only lose one game in the standings over those nine games based on how much the other teams in the American League East have also been struggling. The Rays continued their recent winning ways as they won their third consecutive game and have won seven of their past 10 games.

Joe Girardi thinks that the first half of the season could have been better, but he will take only being 2.5 games out at the midway point considering all of the injuries. “It’s been up and down,” Girardi said. “We have had out issues like a lot of teams in the division. You wouldn’t think we would be right in it at 41-40, but we are.”

David Phelps only allowed two runs in his 5.2 innings pitched, which was much better than his last start when the Toronto Blue Jays scored six runs off of him in five innings pitched. Phelps give up four hits and three walks while striking out four. However, the Yankees lost because the offense did not come through for the team once again.

The offense had nine hits in 11 innings, but they were 0-7 with runners in scoring position, including Brian McCann who was 0-2, and the team left eight runners on base. When asked how he would describe the first half of his season McCann said it was, “horrible.”

Tampa Bay scored their first two runs off of homers. Matt Joyce hit a solo homer to right center in the first, and Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo home run to right center in the third.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Yankees answered back with two runs of their own. Brett Gardner hit a triple to right that scored Ichiro Suzuki for the first run. Derek Jeter’s ground out to second scored Gardner from third to tie the score. After Jacoby Ellsbury stole second, Tampa starter Chris Archer got both Mark Teixeira and McCann out to prevent another run from scoring. Gardner already has 31 RBIs, which is only 21 less than his career-high of 52.

Archer limited the Yankees to only those two runs in his seven innings pitched. He struck out four, and the 25-year-old righty now has a 1.98 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season.

Dellin Betances came in to pitch in the eighth inning and he proceeded to allow a run for his first time in his last seven appearances. Ryan Hanigan’s single to left that scored Brandon Guyer off of David Robertson was charged to Betances since Betances left the game with Guyer on second and Logan Forsythe on first.

Brian Roberts, the struggling veteran second baseman who could be replaced at some point by Rob Refsnyder, hit a homer in the ninth that forced extra innings. That was Roberts’s fourth homer of the season while his average is only .236. Shawn Kelley pitched the 10th and 11th innings without allowing a run and struck out Ben Zobrist and Joyce with the bases loaded in the 11th to keep the score tied.

Jose Ramirez lost the game for the Yankees as Guyer scored after a shallow single to center by Forsythe. The Yankees were retired in order by Brad Boxberger in the bottom of the 12th to end the game.

The middle game of the series will start at 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday. Hiroki Kuroda will get the start for the Yankees to try and end their losing streak. He is coming off of two quality starts in a row. David Price, who could be traded before the trade deadline, will get the start for Tampa Bay.

Carlos Beltran’s homer with two outs in the ninth gave the Yankees a win over the Orioles

Carlos Beltran at his press conference after becoming a Yankee.

Carlos Beltran at his press conference after becoming a Yankee.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Carlos Beltran hit a walk-off three-run homer off of Zach Britton to give the Yankees a 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Brian McCann’s single in the ninth inning made the score 3-2, and with Francisco Cervelli on first and Kelly Johnson on second, Beltran hit his sixth career walk-off homer.

The first walk-off hit of the season gave the Yankees (39-33) their eighth win in their last 10 games. This win followed a sweep of the first place Toronto Blue Jays. It did not look promising because the Yankees had only gone 2-10 with runners in scoring position before the 9th inning but were able to come through when they needed to in order to win their fourth consecutive game.

It looked like the Yankees were not going to win yet another start that Hiroki Kuroda pitched well, but Beltran drove in his fifth run in his last two games. “When you feel good at the plate, you want to be in that spot,” Beltran said. “Thank God the past couple of days I’ve been feeling more comfortable at the plate. I’ve been putting good at-bats together.”

Kuroda pitched well for the third time in his last four starts. He was able to lower his ERA to a respectable 4.23. Kuroda pitched six solid innings while allowing two runs, striking out six and only walking one. The Orioles did not have a hit off of him through five innings, but Kuroda lost his command of his pitches in the sixth as Steve Pearce’s double scored Nick Hundley, which was followed by Adam Jones‘s RBI single.

Ubaldo Jimenez, who had struggled with a 4.86 ERA coming into the game, surprisingly only allowed one run through 5.2 innings. However, the Yankees were not able to take advantage of the six hits and six walks that he allowed.

Mark Teixeira got the scoring started for the Yankees with a double to right in the first that scored Jacoby Ellsbury. Teixiera has raised his batting average from .238 to .250 during his current nine-game hitting streak.

The two big offensive additions from the offseason, McCann and Beltran, were able to continue their recent improved hitting. McCann has four hits and six RBIs in his past three games, and Beltran has five hits, four runs scored, six RBIs and two homers in his past five games. The Yankees are counting on clutch offensive production from those two veterans.

David Huff, who was on the Yankees last season and was just recently reacquired from the San Francisco Giants, got the win after striking out two and allowing an unearned run in the ninth inning.

Another positive sign for the Yankees is that Shawn Kelley, who had previously allowed three runs in four appearances since coming off of the disabled list, was able to pitch 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of Kuroda. He is an important member of their bullpen, and the Yankees need to be able to rely on him to be able to pitch the way he did tonight against the Orioles.

The Yankees improved their record at Yankee Stadium to 17-16 and are now a season-high six games over .500.

Chase Whitley’s 7.2 solid innings led to the first three-game sweep of the season for the Yankees

Chase Whitley during spring training

Chase Whitley during spring training

The Yankees just finished a much needed three-game sweep against the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees improved their record to 34-31 and are 3.5 games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles have won two in a row and are tied with the Yankees for second place in the American League East.

On Thursday, the Yankees beat Robinson Cano and the Mariners 6-3 after yet another impressive pitching performance from rookie Chase Whitley. He only allowed two runs in 7.2 innings while not allowing a walk, striking out six batters and throwing 62 of his 82 pitches for strikes. Whitley, who has an excellent change-up, picked up his second consecutive win after four consecutive no decisions after joining the rotation after CC Sabathia’s injury.

Whitley credited outstanding defensive plays in the outfield for part of his success. “They (Mariners) were aggressive,” Whitely said. “They started being aggressive especially later on. What else helped was (Jacoby) Ellsbury making a heck of a catch and Gardy (Brett Gardner) making a heck of a catch.” He said his strikeout in the third was “huge because that was a shutdown inning and my goal is to always make sure that we always shutdown innings. To be able to do that especially in that situation, first and third, to get through that, that was big.”

The Yankees are now 5-1 in games that Whitley has started. Whitley has always put the team in position to win partly because of only allowing three walks in his 33.2 innings pitched. He has not allowed a walk in his past four starts, which usually means that a pitcher will have success. Seattle scored their first run off of Whitley via a homer by Logan Morrison in the 2nd inning and their second off of a James Jones single to center that scored Brad Miller.

Whitley was able to get the win because the Yankees had a 6-2 lead when he left the game. Ellsbury hit a 408-foot homer to right center in the first to drive in Derek Jeter and extend his hitting streak to 16 games. He is now living up to the hefty contract that the Yankees gave him. In the third, Alfonso Soriano’s double to left scored Ellsbury and Jeter, and Jeter’s single in the fourth sent Brian Roberts and John Ryan Murphy home. Jeter, who had three hits, and Murphy, who had two hits, were the two Yankees who had multiple hits, but every player except Roberts, Yangervis Solarte and Gardner had a hit.

Shawn Kelley, who was pitching in his first game since May 6 as a result of a lower-back strain, allowed a run off of two hits in the ninth inning. This led to David Robertson striking out the last two batters of the game for his 16th save of the season.

The Bronx Bombers, who scored more than four runs on Thursday for the first time since May 28, will now play three games in Oakland against the Athletics. The Athletics, who have scored the second most runs in baseball and have a very good pitching staff, currently have the best record in the American League and trail only the San Francisco Giants for the best record in all of baseball.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the series in Oakland:

Friday at 10:05 p.m. EST – David Phelps, (1-4, 4.88 ERA) who allowed seven runs in his last start, will start for the Yanks. The 24-year-old righty Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83 ERA) will pitch for the Athletics.

Saturday at 10:05 p.m. EST – Two pitchers who have recently been pitching well will face off. It will be Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20 ERA).

Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST – In the series finale it will be Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97 ERA, who is from California, pitching against righty Jesse Chavez (5-5, 3.04 ERA).

The bullpen, with the emergence of Betances and Warren, is now a strength for the Yankees

Dellin Betances

Dellin Betances

The Yankees won two out of their three games in Anaheim against the Angels. Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts both hit their first homer of the season in the series, and the Yankees had dominating starts from Hiroki Kuroda and Vidal Nuno in the two wins.

Nuno, who is from San Diego and was pitching in front of his family and friends for the first time since high school, had his second excellent start while replacing Ivan Nova in the rotation. In his first outing, on April 20, Nuno shutout the Rays and only allowed three hits in five innings, and on Wednesday, he pitched 6.1 innings, allowed four hits and only one run.

He is a 26-year-old who was pitching in the independent Frontier League for the Washington Wild Things in 2011 before the Yankees signed him and assigned him to the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Pennsylvania League. He does not throw very fast, but works deliberately on the mound and relies on a plus changeup and other off-speed pitches.

Nuno has been able to neutralize to potent offenses as he has pitched well against the Rays and Angels, which makes it seem like he could be a solid addition to the rotation for the long haul. He has a 5.47 ERA for the season, but his ERA would be much lower if it was not for the seven runs that he allowed in 3.1 innings of relief on April 8 against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees, whose bullpen was a question mark heading into the series as there wasn’t a proven set-up man or closer, have had a few members of their bullpen really step up this season. Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, Preston Claiborne, David Robertson and Shawn Kelley have all pitched well and have given Joe Girardi a number of options that he can rely on.

Specifically in the series against the Angels, Claiborne, who has pitched well this season after struggling in September of last season, pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, Betances allowed a run in 1.2 innings while striking out two and Robertson struck out one in the ninth to record his fifth save of the season.

On Monday, the bullpen had one of their few hiccups of the season, as Kelley’s three runs allowed in the eighth led to the lone loss of the series for the Yankees (and also bumped his ERA from 1.88 to 3.60). However, other than that game, he picked up four saves while Robertson was on the disabled list, had not allowed a run in 12 of his previous 14 appearances and has 16 strikeouts to seven walks on the season, which includes three walks from the game on Monday.

Betances, who went to high school in Brooklyn, has been a bright spot as he made the opening day roster for the first time. His strikeout to walk ratio is outstanding given that he has 30 strikeouts and only nine walks. After throwing many pitches as a starter, he has found success while predominantly throwing his upper 90s fastball and slurve in the bullpen. After not being able to throw his curveball for strikes in the 2012 regular season, his teammate in the Arizona Fall League, Michael O’Brien, showed him a new way to grip his curveball. It is a mixture between a curve and slider, hence the word slurve.

Betances has a 2.08 ERA so far, and he is starting to pitch in higher leverage situations based on how reliable he has been. He has impressively struck out two or more batters in 12 of his appearances and he can thank his increased control and slurve for that success.

It was expected for Robertson to pitch well and he has not disappointed. D-Rob missed 15 games early on as a result of a strained groin, but that has not limited him after his return. He has a 1.13 ERA, five saves and seven strikeouts to only four hits in his first season after taking over for the great Mariano Rivera.

Warren, who is in his second full season in the majors, has been a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen. The converted starter had a 3.39 ERA last season in the pen, and he is pitching much better this season. His confidence is showing as he has a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings, 16 strikeouts, four holds and only four walks. Warren’s emergence gives the Yankees three reliable arms behind Robertson in the bullpen, to go along with the veteran Matt Thornton.