Game 27: Porcello vs. Pineda

Boston Red Sox New York Yankees
Mookie Betts, RF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Brett Gardner, LF
Xander Bogaerts, SS Mark Teixeira, 1B
David Ortiz, DH Brian McCann, C
Hanley Ramirez, 1B Carlos Beltran, DH
Travis Shaw, 3B Starlin Castro, 2B
Brock Holt, LF Aaron Hicks, RF
Jackie Bradley, Jr., CF Didi Gregorius, SS
Christian Vazquez, C Ronald Torreyes
Rick Porcello, SP Michael Pineda, SP

Continue reading Game 27: Porcello vs. Pineda

Game 26 Quick Recap: BAL 1 NYY 0 (10 Inn)

Well I hope you didn’t miss the big offensive breakout on Wednesday night, because it might have been a one-time show.  The Yankees fell back into their bat coma last night, dropping the final game of the road trip 1-0 in extra innings to the Orioles.

Masahiro Tanaka threw his best start in a long time.  He carved the Orioles up with a sick mix of sinkers, splitters, and sliders, and gave his team ample opportunity to dumb luck their way into a run and win the game.  He was hardly ever in any situation resembling trouble, his command was spot on, he generated a ton of weak ground balls, and he looked every bit the stud he was in 2014 before the injury problems started.  Fantastic outing.  Bravo, sir.

The offense?  Booooo, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  They did what they do.  They couldn’t execute a bunt to move a runner over in the 3rd and it stalled a rally before it could start.  They wasted a Starlin Castro leadoff double in the 4th.  They grounded into a double play to end the inning the instant they got another baserunner on in the 7th.  It was a collection of all the 2016 greatest hits and then some.  Maybe this is a really bad string of luck and things are going to even out eventually and maybe these guys really are better hitters than they’re showing.  But they don’t hit.  Period.  That’s all that matters.

The game went into the 10th inning after Tanaka finished 8 and Dellin Betances handled the 9th, and Joe’s brain went in the toilet.  Instead of using a well-rested Andrew Miller to keep the game tied and make sure his team had another chance to hit and score the winning run, Joe elected to use Johnny Barbato and give the home-hitting Orioles the much better chance of scoring that winning run first.  The Orioles singled twice off Barbato and Joe finally went to Miller, who gave up the game-losing sac fly to Pedro Alvarez.  Nothing like having literally no margin for error.  Fitting end to a very bad road trip. Continue reading Game 26 Quick Recap: BAL 1 NYY 0 (10 Inn)

About Last Night: CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia did something that a Yankee starter hadn’t been able to accomplish all season. He kept the opposition from crossing home plate. This may seem like a silly thing to say because most people with a brain know it to be true, but when your starting pitcher can keep the other team from scoring early, it helps your offense immensely. Especially the Yankees’ offense which only seems to come alive later in games. Another thing that helps? Shutdown innings. After the Yankees scored three in the sixth inning, Sabathia came out and first got Adam Jones swinging on a Continue reading About Last Night: CC Sabathia

Game 25 Recap: Yankees 7 Orioles 0

Hey, a win!  How about that?  In a stunning turn of events, the Yankees managed to score more runs than their opponent for the first time in 7 games last night.  They scored a lot more runs than their opponent in fact, turning the tables and shutting out the Orioles thanks to a stellar performance by CC Sabathia and big offensive contributions from Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.

Sabathia didn’t turn back to the clock to his prime and fire a bunch of heaters past the Baltimore hitters.  He actually walked the figurative tightrope for most of the evening.  Baltimore put at least one runner on base in each of the first 5 innings, including 2 in the 3rd and 4th.  Sabathia avoided trouble by inducing inning-ending double plays in both innings and also worked around runners on the corners with 1 out in the 5th by striking out Joey Rickard and getting Manny Machado to line out to center field.  This wasn’t vintage CC so much as it was the type of evolved, lower velocity CC we’ve been waiting for years to see.  He located his fastball well, he used his changeup marvelously, and he kept the Baltimore lineup off balance all night.  He even through in another inning-ending double play in the 6th for good measure.

For a while it looked like it was going to be a wasted outing for CC.  The lineup stumbled out of the gate when Ellsbury led off the game with a double, moved to third base, and then got thrown out at home trying to score on a ground ball to first base.  They were swinging early against starter Tyler Wilson and beating a lot of balls into the ground.  But they finally struck gold in the top of the 6th when Ellsbury singled and stole second with 1 out then moved to third on Brett Gardner‘s single.  Carlos Beltran brought home the first run with a sac fly, and after a Mark Teixeira walk the Yanks tacked on 2 more on a Brian McCann base hit and a throwing error by Wilson.  It took a while, but the cushion was established.

Once it was, the Bombers didn’t take long to build on it.  They put up 4 more runs in the top of the 8th on pairs of singles, doubles, walks, and a hit by pitch.  McCann’s 2-run double was the biggest blow and the 7-run lead was more than enough to preserve CC’s win.

Not that there wasn’t a tiny bit of drama in that preservation.  Joe went with Kirby Yates in the bottom of the 8th in an attempt to rest his bullpen aces.  Yates responded by loading the bases on 2 walks and a double after striking out the first batter of the inning, and in a semi-panic move Joe went to Dellin Betances to put out the fire.  Betances did just that by freezing Chris Davis with 3 straight curveballs and inducing a harmless pop out to end the inning.  Was he needed there?  Probably not.  Do I blame Joe for going to him given the 6-game losing streak and the way his club had been playing coming into last night?  Absolutely not. Continue reading Game 25 Recap: Yankees 7 Orioles 0

Game 25: Sabathia vs. Wilson

Here’s a quick preview and/or pre-emptive recap:

The 2016 Yankees

New York Yankees Baltimore Orioles
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Joey Rickard, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Manny Machado, SS
Carlos Beltran, DH Adam Jones, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B Chris Davis, 1B
Brian McCann, C Mark Trumbo, DH
Starlin Castro, 2B Nolan Reimold, LF
Aaron Hicks, RF Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Didi Gregorius, SS Caleb Joseph, C
Chase Headley, 3B Ryan Flaherty, 3B
CC Sabathia, SP Tyler Wilson, SP

Continue reading Game 25: Sabathia vs. Wilson

Quick Hit: A-Rod To The DL With A Hammy Strain

Well this isn’t going to help the offense break out anytime soon.  The Yankees announced earlier that they are placing Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.  The team also announced that they called up lefty reliever James Pazos to take A-Rod’s spot on the roster.  This is a double blow for A-Rod and the Yankees because he had been coming around with the bat after a painfully slow start.  Coming into last night’s game, Alex had hit 3 home runs, 3 doubles, and driven in 7 runs in his previous 5 games.  Without his hot bat in the middle of the lineup, the near lifeless offense will have a major void to fill.

As for Pazos, I highly doubt he’ll be in contention to pick up A-Rod’s lost DH at-bats.  The decision to call him up rather than a position player indicates the Yankees are going to give more regular playing time to Aaron Hicks and Dustin Ackley and rotate guys through the DH spot as needed.  Honestly, that’s probably a better plan than calling up Swisher or Refsnyder, and it’s not like the Yankee ‘pen has been as stellar lately as they were in the early weeks of the season.

Worst of all, the Yankees become a lot more boring with A-Rod out of action.  He remained one of the few reasons to tune in and watch this team and now they really need a spark to pull them out of this extended malaise.  Here’s hoping guys like Teix and Beltran and Gardner can step up and lead a rally while A-Rod recovers. Continue reading Quick Hit: A-Rod To The DL With A Hammy Strain

Game 24 Recap: Orioles 4 Yankees 1

[caption id="attachment_81188" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Severino HS vs BAL Too high. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

It’s official.  This team has completely come off the rails.  I made a point to stay awake long enough to watch the entire game last night, which was a stupid move on my part.  Everything I saw was indicative of a baseball team that’s not just slumping, but isn’t actually a good baseball team.  Bad takes, bad swings, missed pitch locations, dropped throws, failure to tag up on the basepaths, getting doubled off for ranging too far of a base.  Tons of little mistakes that bad teams make.  There clearly isn’t a shakeup to be made with this bunch, not unless somebody or somebodies get hurt and hit the DL.  But damn, they sure could use it because they are plain awful.

Luis Severino was back on the hill after his 3-inning disaster start in Texas, and while this one wasn’t quite that bad it wasn’t good by any means.  Severino battled his fastball command all night, missing by over a foot at times, and his worst misses got crushed.  He left a 2-strike fastball up to Mark Trumbo in the bottom of the 2nd and watched it get crushed to left field for a game-tying home run.  He did the same thing with a changeup in the 5th and Trumbo hit that one over the left field wall too for a 2-run home run.  Inability to hit spots with his fastball and absolutely zero respect for his offspeed pitches from opposing hitters.  That’s a tough combo to work through as a young big league pitcher.

When he wasn’t serving up gopher balls, Severino was putting on a clinic in how to not field your position.  With 2 on and 2 out in the 3rd, he wasn’t quick enough getting to first base to cover on a ground ball hit to Mark Teixeira and he dropped the toss as he tried to find the base with his foot.  Severino did manage to get Manny Machado to pop out and end the threat, but he wasn’t so lucky in the 4th when he did it again on a Ryan Flaherty grounder and Jonathan Schoop came around to score on the error.

Those 4 runs, earned or not, were all on Severino and they provided plenty of cushion for Baltimore starter Chris Tillman.  The Yankees got to him for a token run in the top of the 2nd on a Brian McCann walk and 2 singles by Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius and then basically withered up and died.  They put a runner on base in every inning except the 7th, including leadoff walks in the 4th and 6th, but never got any big hits to capitalize on the opportunities.  The biggest blow was in the 6th, when Mark Teixeira drew the leadoff walk and Brian McCann singled to left to put 2 on with nobody out.  Betran lined out for the first out and McCann got nabbed off first when Starlin Castro hit a soft liner to second base.  Not sure where McCann was going on that one, but it was a pretty brutal baserunning misread considering the situation.

Tillman racked up 9 strikeouts in 7 strong innings and the Baltimore bullpen made sure there would be no comeback.  The losing streak has reached 6.  The Yankees have scored 13 total runs in those 6 games.  7 of them came on Sunday night. Continue reading Game 24 Recap: Orioles 4 Yankees 1

The Anatomy of Losing 9 of 12

As of this writing, the Yankees are a bad team. Over the past two weeks, they are – by winning percentage – the third worst team in baseball. It’s no secret, to be sure, but it still feels strange to put it in writing, and see the words staring back at me. The worst part of it may well be that the Yankees are bad at everything right now.

How did we get here?

The Yankees are batting .223/.280/.327 in their last 12 games. That’s a 69 wRC+, good for 28th in the Majors over that time. They’re four points behind the 27th place Dodgers in that metric, so we can’t spin it to say that they’re bunched up with several other teams, either. The team’s .104 ISO is 29th over that same time, ahead of only the lowly Braves. That mark is particularly egregious, as well, as six of those twelve games were in the Bronx, with the other six coming in hitter-friendly Fenway Park and Globe Life Park in Arlington. This may be due to the team’s 27.8% hard-hit percentage, which ranks 26th in the league. And the once patient offense also ranks 26th in BB%.

During this time, Alex Rodriguez (172 wRC+), Starlin Castro (132), and Jacoby Ellsbury (121) have been quite good (if not great). The next-best hitter, however, is Austin Romine, with an 86 wRC+ in 10 PA. Then come Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner, both sporting a 64 wRC+. The team’s fourth and fifth best hitter’s have slashed a combined .206/.301/.269 in the last two weeks.

Add that all together, and the Yankees are dead last in runs over the last two weeks, with 32 – six behind the 29th place Braves. That’s 2.4 R/G. And the pitching staff has been equally as offensive, pitching to a 5.31 ERA.

Masahiro Tanaka posted two strong starts in that span, and Nathan Eovaldi spun a gem. Despite this, the Yankees starters have a 5.08 ERA during this stretch, as CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino combined to allow 25 ER in 35.2 IP.

The justifiably hyped bullpen has been even worse, with a 5.73 ERA. Andrew Miller has been lights out in five appearances, and Kirby Yates and Nick Goody have performed well, too. The rest of the bullpen has allowed 22 ER in 24.2 IP – that’s an 8.03 ERA. And, as Stacey recently pointed out, not even Dellin Betances has been immune to this stretch of horrors.

To be fair, the Yankees defense has almost certainly hindered the efforts of the pitching staff. The team ranks 26th in UZR/150 at this juncture, and 28th in Defense Runs Saved. Or, if you prefer non-advanced metrics on this side of the ball, the team has made 6 errors in the last twelve games – a number that does not include some notably poor routes taken by Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks. And this from a team that has largely prioritized defense over the last few years.

An obvious caveat applies here – it’s only May 3rd. Twelve games represents just over 7% of the season, and the team has been bad in the early goings before. The staff’s ERA is more than a run above its FIP, and nearly two runs ahead of its xFIP. Despite the hideous ERA, the pitchers are still 1st in the Majors in GB% during this stretch, 2nd in BB/9, and 12th in K/9. And the defense should rebound, given the reputations and histories of … well … everyone, save for Carlos Beltran.

There is reason for hope when the Yankees take the field.

The offense, however, remains incredibly disconcerting. This may well be a prolonged cold spell (it has been below-average for most of the season, after all) – but this is an older team, with only two regulars under the age of 32. I do not expect this group to continue to battle for a spot in the bottom third of all offenses, but its days as a top-tier team may be over.

Again, though, I am not panicking. And you shouldn’t, either. If that time does come, it will be a few weeks from now, if not a couple of months. But the frustration is palpable at this point, and a glass half-empty approach is more than reasonable. Continue reading The Anatomy of Losing 9 of 12

Thin Hope And Acceptance

The 2016 season of the New York Yankees has not gone well. Those of us who watch the games every day have a sense of doom every inning, every pitch, every at-bat and every bullpen decision. Nothing has gone right and everything has gone wrong. Joe Girardi‘s body language in the dugout looks like a man being leeched by some 19th Century doctor. For this generation of Yankee fans, this is unprecedented and shocking. Perhaps, what is needed is a new perspective to get us over these troubled waters.

First of all, this is a fan generation that has not seen a Yankee team with a losing record since 1992. That first season under Buck Showalter saw a team finish ten games under .500 and twenty games back from first place. This is also a fan generation that has not only seen consistent above .500 teams but also teams that only failed to make the playoffs three times since 1995.

You all know that such sustained success is impossible right? You understand it is also unnatural, right? That kind of run doesn’t happen in sports. Perhaps the closest thing to that kind of sustained success would be the New England Patriots. And sooner or later, that run will come to an end too. It has to. Continue reading Thin Hope And Acceptance