Game 152 Recap: NYY 0 TB 2

Game 152 was painful as the Tampa Bay Rays shut the Yankees out, 2-0. Luis Cessa pitched a fine game, giving up two runs in six innings of work, but it was all for naught as the Yankees could not scratch in a run despite numerous opportunities.

Blake Snell started for the Bay Rays and pitched five stressful innings. He gave up five hits and walked three. But like Bruce Willis in "Die Hard", he defied the odds and got the outs he needed.

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Quick Hit: Gary Sanchez and the Various Flavors of WAR(P)

This post was originally entitled "Gary Sanchez is the best player on the Yankees," but that failed to capture what I was going for. That statements is all but fact at this juncture, as Sanchez has been the team's best player since he was called-up for good in August. His incredible bat and surprisingly stout defense have been a veritable breath of life into this team, and it is difficult to exaggerate what his presence has meant to the team on both sides of the ball. That much is obvious.

What is less obvious, albeit somewhat expected given the ups and downs of most everyone on the roster, is that Sanchez has been the best Yankees position player for the entirety of the 2016 season. Check it out:

With last night's incredible performance under his belt, Gary Sanchez now leads Yankees position players in all forms of WAR(P) - and Baseball Prospectus doesn't even have last night's action added in as of this writing. You may think that these metrics overrate his defense, or underrate Gregorius' defense, but it is clear that his overall production in just under two months cannot be overstated.

And, just for fun, I plugged 180 PA into FanGraphs as the minimum PA on their WAR leaderboard. Keep in mind that WAR is a counting stat, so this is not a matter of a small sample size blip in batting average or even wRC+. And Sanchez checks in at 58th out of the 357 players that have reached that threshold; and only one of the players ahead of him (Trea Turner) has fewer than twice as many plate appearances. 

It's been a hell of a ride so far, and I can't wait to see the encore.

Game 151 Recap: NYY 11 TB 5

This is a Gary Sanchez world and we are just googly-eyed visitors. The kid did it again (and again) and powered the New York Yankees to a win in dreary Tropicana Field against the Bay Rays. All Sanchez did was go three for four with a walk, two more homers and five runs batted in. Have you ever seen one of those strongman exhibitions where one big guy is pulling a bus or something? Right now, that bus is the Yankees and Sanchez is that strongman.

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Podcast Episode 53: Red Sox Series, Country Breakfast, Adam Jones

EJ and Scott discuss the end of the Yankees' playoff run, what Dellin Betances's struggles tell us, the hilarious-to-us Billy Butler's signing, and how an escalation of the Adam Jones support for the Collin Kaepernick protest would play in baseball in light of the very different political and racial compositions of the MLB and NFL player populations and fan bases. 

This post is supported by My Bookie. Here, they analyze the top MLB series of the week, and provide online MLB sportsbook odds

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Game 150 Recap: NYY 5 TB 3

They're all must-wins from here on out and the Yankees finally got a win to end their 5-game skid last night in Tampa.

Michael Pineda was his usual self, racking up high strikeout and pitch count numbers in a start that lasted fewer than 6 innings.  He also worked himself into trouble with 2 strikes and 2 outs in his one bad inning.  With a runner on first and 2 outs in the bottom of the 3rd, Evan Longoria picked up an infield single and Brad Miller took a hanging 3-2 slider and hit it for a 2-run triple.  2 strikeouts to start the inning, 2 runs to finish it.  Luckily that was all the danger Pineda would find himself in while he was out there.

The offense got off to a slow start against Tampa's Drew Smyly, but they were awakened by the 2-run deficit that Pineda put them in and responded immediately in the top of the 4th when Mark Teixeira cranked a deep solo home run to left field to cut the lead in half.  The big rally came in the top of the 7th when Smyly exited and Brad Boxberger came on.  A trio of singles tied the game at 2, the run-scoring hit coming off the bat of Brett Gardner, and 2 batters later Gary Sanchez put the Yanks ahead for good with a monster 3-run shot.

The bullpen was solid in its work behind Pineda.  Tommy Layne got the one batter he faced to strike out, Luis Severino picked up 4 outs to get the game to the 8th, and Tyler Clippard didn't let a leadoff triple spiral into anything big in the bottom of the 8th.  The run scored, but he got the next 3 batters in a row to never bring the tying run to the plate.  A rested Dellin Betances worked a 1-2-3 9th on 16 pitches.

Game Notes:

- Sanchez led the offense with the 3-run dinger and 2 walks.  Ronald Torreyes and Billy Butler each had 2 hits.  Both of Butler's were doubles.

- Aaron Hicks was back in the lineup and batting 2nd against a lefty starter.  He went 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout.

- Pineda's 11 K's were 1 off his season high he set back on June 30th.  He's had 12 starts with 8 or more strikeouts this year and he's just 5 away from 200 for the season.  If only he didn't give up a .900 OPS with 2 outs.

- With the Orioles losing last night, the Yankees stand 3 games back of the Wild Card with a dozen to play.  Like I said, every game is a must-win now if you even want to pretend to stay in that race.