Game 78: Griffin vs. Pineda

Carlos Beltran is out again this afternoon, and is considered day-to-day. It makes sense for the Yankees to exercise caution with the 39-year-old right-fielder, as he is their best hitter and one of their best trade chips. They have nothing to gain by rushing Beltran back into the lineup, even with another taste of that sweet, sweet .500 record within reach.

If you're looking for something to peruse leading up to the game, I recommend this disconcerting piece about Alex Rodriguez, wherein Jeff Sullivan digs into the minutiae of his season to-date.

Here is today's lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Brett Gardner, LF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Brian McCann, C
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Chase Headley, 3B
  7. Didi Gregorius, SS
  8. Aaron Hicks, RF
  9. Ronald Torreyes, 2B

Game 77 Recap: NYY 9 TEX 7

Mark my words, people.  By this time next week we'll all be talking about how last night was the game that really turned the season around.  And then the same time the week after that, we'll all be back to complaining about how mediocre and inconsistent the Yankees are.  But last night was still pretty freakin' awesome.

We'll skip ahead to the bottom of the 9th because that's where all the action was.  The Yankees trailed 7-3 heading into the inning and they had the lineup set to turn back over against Ranger righty Matt Bush.  Rob Refsnyder started things off with a single and Bush walked Jacoby Ellsbury to put 2 on with nobody out.  Jeff Bannister didn't mess around and went with his closer Sam Dyson, and Dyson was greeted rudely by a Brett Gardner base hit to bring him Refs and make it a 7-4 game.

A-Rod was next and he made the first out of the inning, albeit a loud out on a well struck lineuout to second base.  That brought Brian McCann to the plate, the same Brian McCann who had hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th and appeared to tweak something in his knee rounding the bases.  McCann took a fastball for ball 1 and got another one thigh high on the inner half on the next pitch.  He was looking for it all the way and smoked it out into the right field seats for a game-tying 3-run homer.

But they weren't done.  Starlin Castro of all people drew a 5-pitch walk from the clearly rattled Dyson to keep the rally going, and Didi Gregorius sent everybody home happy with a walk-off 2-run dinger on the first pitch he saw.  It was as improbable a win as we'll see this year given how pathetic the offense has been for the majority, but it was exciting and it gave the Yankees a chance to salvage a split of the series.

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Game 77: Martinez vs. Tanaka

A scant few days ago, the Yankees were on top of the world ... by which I mean one game above .500. That seems like a distant memory now, as the team has been outscored 23 to 8 in the midst of their current three game losing streak. So it goes. 

Here is tonight's lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Brett Gardner, LF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Brian McCann, C
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Didi Gregorius, SS
  7. Chase Headley, 3B
  8. Aaron Hicks, RF
  9. Rob Refsnyder, 1B

They will be facing Nick Martinez, who struggled mightily in his first two starts, pitching to the following line: 10.1 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 6.10 ERA. He also has a career 4.57 ERA as a starting pitcher (47 starts, 260.0 IP), with a paltry 1.45 K/BB. Here's hoping that the Yankees can take advantage of what is, at least on paper, a fairly lopsided match-up.

My reverse jinxes don't work, so perhaps pointing out the obvious will.

Quick Hit: Blake Rutherford is Officially a Yankee

Just around noon, both the Yankees and Blake Rutherford Tweeted that the first-rounder had officially signed with the organization. As per Jim Callis, the bonus ended up being $3.282 MM, which was right around the maximum amount the team could give him without surrendering their top pick next season (and the margin was razor thin - we're talking about a difference of a couple hundred dollars).

You can read everything you need to know about Rutherford here, and then listen to EJ and I talk about the Yankees newest prospect here.

Game 76 Recap: TEX 7 NYY 1

Oof.  This one was a stinker.  If you can throw with your left hand, you'd have a 60/40 chance of throwing a great game against the Yankees this season.  Cole Hamels throws with his left hand and does it very well, and he plowed through the Yankee lineup for 7 shutout innings in what became a laugher late and the Yankees' third straight loss.

CC Sabathia got off to a rocky start on an Ian Desmond single and Adrian Beltre 2-run homer in the top of the 1st, but after that he was mostly the good version of himself that we've seen for most of this year.  He kept the Rangers at 2 through the 7th inning and then got burned by bad luck in the 8th.  He hit a batter with an 0-2 pitch, gave up consecutive singles on balls that deflected off him and Chase Headley's glove, gave up a legit double down the line for 2 runs, and then had Anthony Swarzak come in and tack 2 more runs to his line.  6 earned runs in 7+ innings doesn't sound great at all, but Sabathia didn't pitch that bad at all.

There's not much to talk about offensively, as you would have expected knowing how well Hamels has been pitching this month and how horrible the Yankee offense is.  Their best chance came in the 4th, when Didi Gregorius and Headley hit back-to-back singles to start a 1-out rally.  Aaron Hicks came up and lined one right at Beltre, who caught the ball and doubled Didi off second to end the inning.

The lone Yankee run came in the bottom of the 8th, when Jacoby Ellsbury hit a leadoff double and moved station to station on a pair of flyball outs to score.  Pretty pathetic.  And even more so when you remember that that run came right after Texas broke the game open with 5 runs in the top half of the inning.

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Game 76: Hamels vs. Sabathia

Between the rain delays (lest you forget that the start of the game was delayed for twenty minutes due to some foreboding clouds) and the game itself, last night's 9-6 loss took just under eight hours to play. Despite that, his recent injury history, and the Yankees purported commitment to giving their veterans plenty of rest, Mark Teixeira will be in the lineup for the fourth straight game - with a lefty on the mound, and Rob Refsnyder on the bench. 

Here's tonight's lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Carlos Beltran, RF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Didi Gregorius, SS
  7. Chase Headley, 3B
  8. Aaron Hicks, LF
  9. Austin Romine, C

It's Time to End the Nova Experiment

The alternative title to this post was "Ivan has gone supernova." I steered away from that tasty pun as I didn't want to step on Stacey's toes too much - yet I felt the need to reference it somewhere, as I am rather proud of it. And, for what it's worth, I do worry that some might give the term 'supernova' a positive connotation; Nova simply doesn't deserve that.

Through Nova's first three starts, it seemed as though the Yankees might have caught a break in the back of the rotation, as he pitched to the following line - 16.1 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 1.65 ERA, 67.3 GB%. There were chinks in the armor, as he allowed a home run in each start and failed to pick up swings and misses (which led to a 4.93 FIP), and his .224 BABIP was bound for regression ... but we had seen Nova pitch competently before. His sinker was sinking, his slider was sliding, and his control was spot on. Unfortunately, those warning signs turned into disaster in relatively short order.

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Game 75 Recap: TEX 9 NYY 6

If you were awake to see the finish of this one, my heart goes out to you.  I really hope you use a personal day or something to catch up on sleep because you deserve it after that.  The Yankees blew multiple leads last night in the series opener against the Texas Rangers, the final one after a 3+ hour rain delay in the top of the 9th.  Good grief.

Ivan Nova stinks, but you already knew that.  He kept the stench turned up last night, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings pitched.  Ian Desmond teed him up for a solo home run in the second at-bat of the game and it was typical Nova from there.  He doesn't have a third pitch and there are stretches when his sinker doesn't sink.  That makes it kinda tough to be an effective Major League starter.

The Yankee bats battled to support Nova with a barrage of singles against Texas starter Chi Chi Gonzalez.  Hard singles, bloop singles, it was a cornucopia of singles that produced 5 runs over the first 5 innings.  Mark Teixeira broke the cycle with a solo home run in the bottom of the 7th to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead, and that's when the shenanigans started.

The rain that had been present for most of the game started to pick up in the 7th inning.  Dellin Betances had no issues with it, cruising through a 1-2-3 inning on 11 pitches.  But it intensified in the 8th inning and Andrew Miller did the unthinkable and gave up a home run to a lefty in the bottom of the 8th.  By the time the 9th inning came, it was a downpour and the field was soaked.  Aroldis Chapman was having problems gripping the ball and threw 7 balls on his first 9 pitches, and after Joe came out to argue with the umpires about the conditions, the game was stopped.

It restarted 3 hours and 35 minutes later, and when it did it went down the toilet in a hurry.  Kirby Yates, in for Chapman, came back to strike the 3-1 hitter out for the first out of the inning.  He then hit the next 2 batters to load the bases and gave up the lead on a 2-run single by Adrian Beltre.  But that wasn't all.  Yates hit Prince Fielder in the next at-bat and gave up another 2-run single to Elvis Andrus to seal the game.  Helluva job.

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Game 75: Gonzalez vs. Nova

Earlier this evening, Josh Thomson wrote about the Yankees decision to sit Alex Rodriguez more often against right-handed pitchers. Rodriguez is batting just .200/.236/.348 against northpaws this season, which is ... well ... awful. Shifting him to the bench allows the team to improve its offense as well as its defense, as Carlos Beltran moves to the DH slot and Aaron Hicks starts in right (and his .247/.290/.388 line against righties does represent a bit of an upgrade over Rodriguez).

Here is the team's lineup for this evening:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Brett Gardner, LF
  3. Carlos Beltran, DH
  4. Brian McCann, C
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Starlin Castro, 2B
  7. Didi Gregorius, SS
  8. Chase Headley, 3B
  9. Aaron Hicks, RF

Weekend Recap: NYY vs. MIN

Friday- The Yankees kicked off their weekend series against the Twinkies with and on the right foot, using the formula of 6 strong innings from their starter and the final 3 from the big three to wrap things up.  Masahiro Tanaka wasn't at his best but he was still good enough to win, and the offense provided plenty of cushion for the late game trio thanks to solid games by A-Rod, Carlos Beltran, horrible defense by the Twins, and a rare Aaron Hicks home run.  Oh yeah, Aroldis Chapman threw the ball really hard in a 3-strikeout 9th inning.

Saturday- The offense got bested by Ervin Santana again, but Michael Pineda turned in easily his best performance of the season to lead the Yanks to their third straight victory.  He threw 6 innings of 1-run ball with 8 strikeouts and 1 walk, his only real mistake pitch resulting in a Brian Dozier solo home run.  Joe probably could have used him more, but he stuck with the late-game formula in a close game and was rewarded when the Minnesota defense gifted the Yankees a run in the 8th.  

Sunday- Yesterday's series finale was a classic "it's not what you want" game.  Nathan Eovaldi got shelled in his 6 innings, serving up the first 4 of what would become a 6-dinger day for the Twinkies, and the offense had already packed up its tent and loaded it in the car before the game even started.  Minny starter Tyler Duffey took a perfect game into the 6th and the Yankee bats only squeezed out 2 hits on the day.  One of them was a solo home run by Mark Teixeira, his first home run in a long time, but it was hardly enough.  For the second time in a week and the second time with Eovaldi on the mound, the Yankees dealt themselves a bad finish to what could have been a very good series.