After losing their two games in Denver at Coors Field against the Rockies, the Yankees started their series at Target Field against the Twins (20-46) with a win. CC Sabathia got his fifth win of the season after only allowing one run in six innings. He gave up six hits, three walks and struck out seven Twins.
Sabathia is not the power pitcher that he used to be, and has figured out how to reinvent himself at 35 after a subpar 2015 season (4.73 ERA), but he has been just as effective this season as he was in the prime of his career. He deserves to be an All-Star since in his 11 starts this season he has an outstanding 2.20 ERA, 56 strikeouts and has only allowed two homers. In 2014, when he only made eight starts due to injury, he had a 5.28 ERA and allowed 10 homers.
Proving how dominant Sabathia has been since the beginning of May is that in his past seven starts he has a 4-2 record, a remarkable 0.82 ERA (four runs combined), 41 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP. His 0.82 ERA since the beginning of May is the lowest in all of baseball.
In his last three starts, Sabathia has allowed a total of only one run while not allowing a homer and striking out 16 batters. Sabathia has allowed three runs or less in all of his starts this season and he was not able to get a win in three starts this season when he allowed two runs or less because the Yankees didn’t score enough runs.
However, he got the win on Thursday, his 219th of his career, since Didi Gregorius smashed a 3-run homer to right in the top of the seventh that drove in Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann. Gregorius’s homer off of Fernando Abad, who had just come into the game, broke a 1-1 tie. The Yankees would not have won the game without Gregorius because he scored the team’s first run of the game on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single to center.
Gregorius, who struggled against lefties in 2015 hitting only .247 against them last season, is hitting .368 in 57 at-bats against lefties this season. He was able to make an adjustment in the offseason that has really improved his production.
Gregorius, who is more known for his offense, has improved overall offensively compared to last season and is on track to improve his numbers in many categories. He finished last season with a .265 average, 24 doubles, nine homers, 56 RBIs and five steals. As of Thursday night’s game, he has a .280 average, 10 doubles, six homers, 28 RBIs and two steals.
The backend of the bullpen trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman dominated like usual to closeout the game. They combined to pitch three innings, allow only one hit and strike out four.
Sabathia is doing all he can do get the Yankees into the postseason race but they might not have enough on their roster to do so. The Yankees, who are currently 32-34 and 4.5 games out of a playoff spot, have their next eight games against the Twins and Rockies, who are both under .500.
These next eight games will go a long way towards determining if they will get back into the playoff race. Even if they do as a result of these games, the Yankees haven’t shown the ability to win on the road or beat teams above .500. It will likely be best if they trade Chapman before the trade deadline to get a few players who will be able to help the team next season.
The Yankees lost 10-1 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in the first game of the series. They previously went 5-1 on their home-stand and swept the Baltimore Orioles, and they now have a 5.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays in the division as a result of the Rays winning and the Blue Jays losing on Friday.
Michael Pineda, who usually pitches well when he is on normal rest, allowed five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings pitched. The scoring started for the Twins in the first inning as rookie Miguel Sano hit a homer to straightaway center field to drive in Torii Hunter, who is back with the Twins after playing his first 11 years of his career with them. That homer was a sign of what was to come for Pineda, who struggled with his fastball and slider.
Kurt Suzuki drove in Eddie Rosario with a single in both the second and fourth innings and Aaron Hicks hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Trevor Plouffe before Suzuki’s single in the fourth. Pineda, who is a better pitcher than his 3.97 ERA, needs to be more consistent as he has now allowed four earned runs or more in two consecutive starts and has allowed one or more homers in three straight starts.
“It’s hard to say,” Joe Girardi said. “He made some mistakes with his fastball. He made a mistake to Sano. It was a few things. Sometimes their (starting pitchers) stuff isn’t as sharp and tonight it (Pineda’s) wasn’t.” He also made some mistakes with his slider, according to Girardi.
Brandon Pinder come on in relief and allowed a solo homer to Hunter in his 1.1 innings, but Chris Capuano, who is the long man, truly put the game out of reach after that. He allowed two homers and an RBI single to give the Twins a 10-0 lead. The Twins had 14 hits, only one starter didn’t have a hit and Suzuki, Rosario, Plouffe and Hunter all had multi-hit games against the Yankees.
The Yankees had opportunities to score more than one run as they had 10 hits, which included three by Mark Teixeira, two by Didi Gregorius and two by Stephen Drew. Brett Gardner singled to right in the sixth, which means that he has reached base safely in a career-high 25 games in a row. However, he would be stranded at first.
Gregorius, who had the first of this two hits against Phil Hughes, hit his first career homer in 2013 at Yankee Stadium against Hughes when Gregorius was playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Yankees had three straight singles with two outs in the seventh inning off of Hughes, but Jacoby Ellsbury, who was 0-4, lined out to left to prevent any runs from scoring. Hughes, who had a shutout in seven innings against his former team, didn’t walk anyone and has the lowest walks per nine innings in the league.
The ninth inning was the only other time when a Yankee got to third in the game.
Drew hit a single through the infield to left field to advance Didi Gregorius to third with one out in the ninth. Ellsbury hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Gregorius and put the Yankees on the scoreboard and make the score 10-1. Brett Gardner popped out to left to end the game.
The Yankees will look to bounce back against the surprising Twins, who are 52-44, when they play the second game of the series on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. EST. CC Sabathia will get the start for the Yankees and will look to prove that is really back on track.
He is coming off of two starts where he has allowed two runs or less. In his previous start, on July 19, against the light hitting Seattle Mariners, he had his best start in two months as he allowed one run in six innings while striking out seven. His 5.25 ERA is still not where he wants it to be, but he has been throwing his change up and throwing to all parts of the strike zone a lot better in his previous two starts
Tommy Milone, who has a 3.38 ERA in 12 games this season, will get his 13th start of the season for the Twins. He allowed five earned runs in 2.2 innings in his previous start.
The American League beat the National League, 5-3, in Derek Jeter’s final All-Star Game, and Jeter fittingly was 2-2 with a run scored.
In the top of the first inning, Jeter made an outstanding diving catch to get a hard grounder by Andrew McCutchen in the hole, but because McCutchen has blazing speed he just barely beat the throw to first. Jeter has made many diving plays similar to that one in his career, so starting his final All-Star Game with another vintage Jeter play made sense.
In the bottom of the first inning, after Bob Sheppard’s famous recording announced Jeter’s at bat and the crowd graciously gave him a one-minute standing ovation, Jeter hit a double to the wall in right field off of Adam Wainwright. Jeter said that he will always remember that Wainwright, along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy, made sure to step away to leave plenty of time for the lengthy standing ovation.
Jeter scored the first of five American League runs after All-Star Game MVP Mike Trout hit a triple to deep right. During Jeter’s at-bat where he hit a double an obnoxious person was heard clearly yelling “overrated” at him. Jeter’s double was the best response possible to his incorrect statement. Jeter seemingly can always get a hit clutch hit in an important game.
In his second at-bat, in the third inning, Jeter hit a single to shallow right off of Alfred Simon. It was a classic inside out swing by Jeter that he has used to get so many singles during his illustrious career. He would advance to second base on a wild pitch by Simon.
The single in the third led to Jeter’s third multi-hit game as an All-Star, which is the most in the legendary history of the New York Yankees. Jeter, who was playing in his 14th All-Star Game, now has 13 hits in the All-Star Game, which is second most among all American League players. In fact, according to MLB, at 40 years and 19 days, Jeter is the oldest player in All-Star Game history with a multi-hit game. Jeter finished his last All-Star Game with an outstanding .481 career average.
In the top of the fourth inning, with Jeter already at shortstop, John Farrell had Alexei Ramirez come to the position to take him out so that Jeter could get another lengthy standing ovation. This was a great move by Farrell because Jeter was able to get what he deserved. There was a three-minute standing ovation, and Jeter tipped his cap repeatedly to the crowd and hugged and thanked all of his teammates in the dugout while Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was appropriately playing at Target Field.
Jeter liked how he was taken out of the game. “My back was turned,” Jeter said. “I heard Cano yelling, but usually when he yells I ignore him (laughing). It was unscripted, but I like how it was handled.”
After the game, Jeter said that he never takes coming to the All-Star Game for granted he enjoys seeing the players that he admires for afar. He took the high road when the controversy started about Wainwright apparently trying to let Jeter get a hit in his first at-bat.
“He grooved them?” Jeter said. “The first was a little cutter he threw down and away. The second one was about 98 two-seamer that stayed on really good– I don’t know, man. (Laughter.) If he grooved it, thank you. You still have to hit it. I appreciate it if that’s what he did, thank you.”
This was yet another game that Jeter has played well in big moment. It would make sense if the Yankees can make the playoffs for the 17th time in his 19 year career, but making the playoffs at this point is an unknown since they are currently five games behind first place. Jeter has a very impressive .308 batting average in 650 at-bats, which proves that the pressure does not get to him. He still has a chance to add to his legacy in the last few month of his career, but the will definitely never be another player who will have the impact on baseball like Jeter has had.
Here is what Jeter had to say to his AL teammates before the All-Star Game. He continued the tradition as fellow member of the Core Four, Mariano Rivera, talked to his AL teammates before his final All-Star Game last season.
Here is what celebrities like Billy Crystal, Spike Lee, Regis Philbin, and Michael Strahan had to say about what Jeter means to baseball:
The Yankees, who won the first game of the series against the Minnesota Twins 7-4 on July 3 at Target Field after losing eight of their previous 10 games, will try for to push their winning streak to two on July 4th. This will be their second consecutive year playing the Twins at Target Field on the 4th of July.
Today is the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s legendary “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. According to Jeff Quagliata, other notable Yankees moments from July 4th in Yankees history include Mickey Mantle hitting his 300th homer on this day in 1960, Dave Righetti throwing a no-hitter on this day in 1983 and knuckleballer Phil Niekro recording his 3,000th strikeout on this day in 1984. Jorge Posada and Marcus Thames slugged extra-inning walk-off hits on July 4th in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
To help the Yankees win Thursday’s game, Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer in the fifth to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. Zelous Wheeler, who was called up to the Yankees before the game, hit a solo homer later in the fifth in his first career MLB game. He is the first Yankee to homer in his first major-league game since Andy Phillips in 2004.
The Yankees scored three more runs in the seventh inning and their fifth run was scored by Ichiro Suzuki after a double by Brendan Ryan. Those were all the runs that the Yankees would need as Trevor Plouffe scored the Minnesota’s fourth and final run in the bottom of the seventh. Masahiro Tanaka’s four runs allowed in this start were more than in any of his other starts, but he was able to American League leading 12th win as a result of the seven runs that the Yankees scored.
Phil Hughes, who pitched for the Yankees from 2007 until 2013, allowed seven runs in his 6.1 innings pitched. Hughes was the right pitcher for the Yankees to break out of their slump with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were 3-4 with RISP, which included Beltran’s homer.
Mark Teixeira was impressed by Wheeler’s homer that he hit against the Twins. He tweeted that: “We figured out the secret to scoring more runs… just put Zealous in the lineup. What a debut!
Chase Whitley will look to bounce back from his previous start where he allowed five runs in his second worst start of his brief career. During his last two starts Whitley’s ERA has risen from 2.56 to 4.70. It will be key for him to control the ball and not allow walks like he did in four consecutive starts.
Kyle Gibson, a 6-6 righty from Indiana, will get the start for the Twins. In his last two starts Gibson allowed two and seven runs, respectively, which proves he has been hit or miss. The Yankees will look to have another memorable Independence Day game.
Phil Hughes, who was one of the most highly rated and one of most anticipated prospects in the Yankees’ minor league system before being called up in 2007, is now a Minnesota Twin after signing a three-year, $24 million contract with the small market team.
He should see more success with Target Field as his home park and pitching in the American League Central as he had 3.88 ERA in away games last season. His overall ERA was 5.19, and his ERA at Yankee Stadium was 6.32, which is the main reason that the Yankees did not offer him a qualifying offer.
Phil Hughes had a 4.54 ERA in 780.2 innings with the Yankees. That is the third highest ERA in team history among the 88 pitchers to throw at least 500 innings for the Bronx Bombers.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune said that the deal is expected to be announced this week. A physical is now the only thing that is preventing the deal from being official. Another stat that will help Hughes’s transition to Minnesota will be his 1.89 ERA in 71 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians, who are in the AL Central.
He showed some potential to be a number two or three starter earlier in his career, which is what the Twins are expecting him to duplicate away from the pressure cooker that surrounds the Bronx. As recently as the 2012 season, Hughes picked up 16 wins and had a decent 4.23 ERA in 191.1 innings. However, his best season as a starter came in 2010, where he was 18-8 as a 24-year-old, and had a 4.19 ERA in 176.1 innings. He was an All-Star that season after pitching much better in the first few months than after the All-Star break.
It is unfortunate that Hughes did not pitch a little better last season, since he was 4-14 and the Yankees missed the playoffs by 6.5 games. If he would have pitched a little closer to how he did in 2012 they might have made the playoffs or finished a game or two out of the Wild Card. If that would have happened they could have offered the qualifying offer and received a high draft pick in return. He likely would have declined the qualifying offer in this scenario.
Given his 3.88 ERA in away games there is a definite possibility that Hughes could become an All-Star again for the Twins. A.J. Burnett, who was a starter for the Yankees from 2009-2011, had an ERA of 5.15 for the Yankees in 2011, but the next season for the Pittsburgh Pirates he ERA was a very respectable 3.51. Hughes, who is nine years younger than Burnett, could follow a similar path as that of the former post-game pie thrower.
In other Yankees news, Brendan Ryan has been officially brought back to the team as a back-up shortstop. He received a two-year, $5 million contract with a club and player option for a third year. With incentives, this contract could be worth $10 million.
It is surprising that he was not given a one-year deal based on his very limited hitting ability. He only has a .217 average over his last four years. However, he is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball and can be counted on to prevent runs defensively and be a suitable fill-in for Derek Jeter.
This contract signifies that the Yankees organization does not have much confidence in Eduardo Nunez. He had the opportunity to be the starting shortstop last season, as a result of Derek Jeter’s injury, but he was placed on the disabled list on May 12 because of soreness in his left rib cage. He also was rated highly as a minor leaguer, but has had a history of making too many errors and making plays that prove that he has a sub-par baseball IQ.