Game 67 Quick Recap: NYY 7 DET 2

[caption id="attachment_76119" align="aligncenter" width="525"]A-Rod 3000th Hit Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

If you tuned in even a little bit late to this game, you missed the biggest fireworks.  Alex Rodriguez made like his buddy and teammate Derek Jeter and got his 3,000th career hit in style, smacking an oppo field home run on the first pitch of his first at-bat of the game against Justin Verlander.  Verlander tried to throw him an outer half fastball for a gimme strike and A-Rod was looking fastball and ready to swing.  Another smart home run from an incredibly smart hitter.  The crowd went wild, his teammates mobbed and hugged him, and for the 194th time this season the Yankees had an early lead.

From that point on it was the Adam Warren & Brett Gardner show.  Warren had a tough top of the 2nd, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and a hit batsman, but he quickly recovered, found his command again, and ended up working a career-high 8 innings without any more runs crossing the plate.  He retired 9 in a row after the 2nd, worked out of a few jams when he had to, and struck out 2 in his final inning of work.  If this was his last chance to keep himself in the rotation, it would have been hard to do better.

Gardner did most of the heavy offensive lifting after A-Rod’s moment.  He hit a 2-run homer off Verlander in the 5th to put the Yankees ahead for good, scored a run on a wild pitch in the 7th, and singled home the last insurance run in the 8th.  4 hits, 2 runs, 3 RBI.  Guess he’s not slowing down after all. Continue reading Game 67 Quick Recap: NYY 7 DET 2

Game 66 Recap: Yankees 9 Marlins 4

[caption id="attachment_76088" align="aligncenter" width="525"]A-Rod vs MIA The at-bat before THE at-bat. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

DH makes all the difference.  After slogging through 2 losses in Miami earlier this week, the Yankees returned home and snagged 2 straight wins with their most important bat back in the lineup.  The Alex Rodriguez march to 3,000 was at the forefront of the game again last night, and highlighted a collection of good performances from pitchers and hitters alike that helped create a 5-run win.

The Yankees are the best 1st inning team in baseball.  That can’t be debated.  They scored in the 1st again last night, on 3 straight singles to open the game, and have now scored 62 1st-inning runs this season.  The next closest team (Orioles) have 47.  A-Rod was the third and run-scoring hit in the bottom of the 1st, giving him 2,998 and setting the stage for a potential record-setting night later.

CC Sabathia made the 1 run stand up the first turn through the Miami lineup.  I don’t know how he did it, but he went 9 up/9 down and struck out 4 batters.  You’ll take a chunk of innings like that from the big guy whenever you can these days, and they helped control the bleeding when things started going south in the middle innings.  Dee Gordon led off the 4th with a triple to right, one that was aided by Carlos Beltran‘s slow-footed chasing of the ball.  He came around to score on an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1, and another leadoff hit, a hit batter, and a Jeff Mathis sac fly in the 5th gave the Marlins the lead.  CC always walks the fine line and he couldn’t stay on the right side in those innings.  When Giancarlo Stanton did Giancarlo Stanton things in the 6th and smashed a solo homer to left, things started looking glum.

Then the offense finally broke through again against Matt Latos.  They had wasted opportunities to score more in the 3rd and 5th innings, but not in the 6th.  With 2 outs and nobody on, Mason Williams doubled to center to turn the lineup over.  This gave Brett Gardner a fourth look at Latos and it sure looked like he knew what to expect.  Gardner took 2 changeups for balls to force a fastball count, and Latos obliged and threw him one.  Gardner did what he’s gotten really good at doing in these situations and crushed the ball out over the short porch for a game-tying home run.  More underratedly brilliant hitting by Gardy.

After that it was on.  Carlos Beltran came through with a 2-run shot of his own the next inning to put the Yankees ahead 5-3, and they really got nasty on reliever Sam Dyson in the 8th.  Walk, walk, lineout, single, wild pitch, double and his night was over with 3 more runs on the board.  Stephen Drew tacked on the 9th with a sac fly later in the inning and it was all over but the crying.

Which Chris Martin seemed more than willing to induce in the mop-up 9th.  Miami put together 3 hits off him to plate a fourth run and it took a great defensive play by Didi Gregorius for the second out of the inning to prevent it from being more.  He eventually did pull it together and close the game, but damn. Continue reading Game 66 Recap: Yankees 9 Marlins 4

Game 65 Recap: Yankees 2 Marlins 1

[caption id="attachment_76037" align="aligncenter" width="625"]Betances K vs Stanton Byyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeee… Courtesy of MLB.com[/caption]

The last time he took the mound, Michael Pineda was coming off a week plus of rest and it showed.  His command was bad, his slider had little movement, and he got hit around by the same Baltimore Orioles he owned the last time he faced them.  Last night, starting on regular rest, Pineda looked much more like the dominant starter we saw for most of April and May.  The Yankees needed that too, as they scratched together just enough runs to support Big Mike and get a win.

As they always seem to do at home, the lineup gave Pineda a very early lead.  Chase Headley was hit by a pitch with 1 out in the bottom of the 1st and moved to second on a Brian McCann groundout to bring up Al from Miami.  A-Rod singled back up the middle to bring home Headley and bring himself within 4 hits of 3,000.  More to come from him.

Staked to that 1-run lead, Pineda came out firing against the Marlins lineup.  He retired the first 11 batters he faced into the 4th inning, using mid-90s heat and a biting slider to generate a lot of swings and misses and infield contact.  He didn’t give up a hit through 6 and hadn’t even allowed a ball to be hit into the outfield, which got everybody a little excited heading into the game’s final third.  Then Christian Yelich got ahold of a first-pitch fastball to lead off the top of the 7th and hit it for a shutout-and-no-hitter-ruining solo home run.  Immediate bummer, but Pineda had a high pitch count and wasn’t going to be allowed to go all 9 innings anyway, so no biggie.

Also no biggie because the homer wasn’t enough to tie the game.  Alex Rodriguez was at the center of a 5th-inning rally that brought in the Yankees’ insurance run.  He singled with 2 outs and Headley on 1st to put a run in scoring position and put some pressure on Miami starter Jose Urena.  He didn’t respond well to it, walking Garrett Jones on 4 pitches in the next at-bat to load the bases.  It was Carlos Beltran‘s turn and he came through with a run-scoring single to center to make it 2-0 at the time.  A-Rod got thrown out at home by about a quarter mile trying to score, which killed the chance for more 2-out runs, but with the way Big Mike was pitching I think it was worth the send.

Joe didn’t play around with his bullpen after the Yelich home run.  Chasen Shreve came on to get the final out of the 7th and Justin Wilson got the ball in the 8th.  He worked into trouble by walking a batter and getting burned by an Ichiro infield single with 1 out, and he got hooked for Dellin Betances.  It was shades of early career Mo as Betances wiggled out of the 8th without any damage and then flexed his muscle a bit with 2 strikeouts in a scoreless 9th, the first of which was Giancarlo Stanton.  It was a master class in changing levels and a big out in what ended up being a 5-out save. Continue reading Game 65 Recap: Yankees 2 Marlins 1

Game 64 Recap: Marlins 12 Yankees 2

[caption id="attachment_75961" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Eovaldi vs MIA Nasty Nate. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

Not much needed to explain this one really.  Nathan Eovaldi was terrible, had an all-time terrible stat line that put his team in a deep hole from the get go, and the rest of the team laid down and died behind him.

Eovaldi got the leadoff hitter out easy enough in the bottom of the 1st, then it all fell apart pretty quickly.  The next 6 batters all singled to make it 4-0 Marlins, then Adeiny Hechavarria broke up the monotony with a 2-run triple to make it 6-0.  Eovaldi did retire opposing starter and former Yankee David Phelps for the second out (hooray!!!), then gave up a single to Dee Gordon as the lineup turned over and a 2-run double to Derek Dietrich to end his night.  2/3 of an inning, 36 pitches, 9 hits, 8 earned runs.  His defense didn’t do him any favors in the inning, but this was all on Eovaldi.  He didn’t locate, he didn’t put guys away with 2 strikes, and he didn’t show any signs that he was going to figure it out.

Little surprising that Joe didn’t just leave him out there to take his medicine and save the bullpen, but it was only the 1st inning so maybe he thought his offense would mount a comeback.  Yeah right.  The admittedly crappy lineup did what you’d expect it to do, generating 2 runs against Phelps in his 7 innings of work.  A 2-out single-walk-single rally in the 6th ended with a Brian McCann RBI hit to get the Yankees on the board, and Mason Williams doubled with 2 on and 2 out in the 7th to bring home Stephen Drew.  Shocking that a lineup featuring Didi in the 2-hole, Chase Headley and Carlos Beltran hitting 5-6, and Chris Young and Brendan Ryan (?!?!) in against a righty didn’t go hog wild scoring runs.

Of course, those 2 Yankee runs came after Miami really put them out of their misery in the 5th.  Chris Capuano tired close to 80 pitches and left with 2 men on and 2 men out.  Chris Martin came in to face Giancarlo Stanton and he made the classic mistake of throwing a pitch somewhere where Stanton can drive it.  He smoked it out the other way for a 3-run homer and the public shaming was complete. Continue reading Game 64 Recap: Marlins 12 Yankees 2

Game 63 Recap: Marlins 2 Yankees 1

[caption id="attachment_75921" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Tanaka vs MIA Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

Road interleague games are not made for this version of the Yankees.  The loss of their regular #3 hitter at the expense of a pitcher hitting for himself is a huge blow to the currently shaky offense, and the lack of run support typically associated with a weakened lineup was the reason for last night’s loss.  Masahiro Tanaka pitched another good game and still lost to a guy I’ve never heard of.  TO quote Joe Girardi, that’s not what you want.

There was another early lead in the cards for the Bombers last night, courtesy of Mark Teixeira‘s 18th home run of the season.  He got a 3-1 fastball from Miami starter Tom Koehler to lead off the top of the 2nd and he didn’t waste it, launching it well over the right center field wall.  It really is amazing what Teix is doing this year.  Too bad he’s not a Kansas City Royal.  Then he’d make the All-Star Game for sure.

The early lead would also be a short lived one, as the Marlins struck back in the bottom half against Tanaka.  Derek Dietrich laced a 1-out double to left to start the quick rally and Adeiny Hechavarria wrapped it up with a base hit to left to plate Dietrich.  Both hits came on poorly placed fastballs in hitters’ counts, and that was really Tanaka’s biggest problem last night.  He didn’t have the command of his sinker that he needed and it cost him a few hits.

Those few hits sure would have done the Yankee lineup some good.  They managed just one over the next 5 innings after Teix’s homer, a Didi Gregorius double in the 5th.  They went down in order in the 3rd and 4th innings, and wasted a leadoff walk in the 7th.  That came around to bite them damn quick when Tanaka got burned by a bad fastball to Dietrich again.  This time Dietrich hit it for a go-ahead solo home run of his own.

The Yankees went down quietly in the last 2 innings, striking out for all 3 outs in the 9th and spoiling a Brian McCann leadoff walk in the 9th.  In another questionable decision, Joe went to Jose Ramirez in the 8th to relief Tanaka in a 1-run game.  Ramirez promptly loaded the bases on 11 pitches with a single, HBP, and 4-pitch walk, and Sergio Santos had to come into that mess to keep the deficit where it was.  Amazingly enough, he was able to do that, so props to him.  But another example of how tough life is when you only have a few good relievers. Continue reading Game 63 Recap: Marlins 2 Yankees 1

Game 62 Recap: Yankees 5 Orioles 3

[caption id="attachment_75875" align="aligncenter" width="525"]JRM vs BAL Moment of the game. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

It’s been an ugly few days for the Yankees.  They gagged one away at home against the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon, then went to Baltimore and played piss poor baseball on their way to getting mollywhopped in the first 2 games of this series.  They needed a win today to stem the tide and salvage a little something from this series if nothing else, and they did enough to get that win.  I don’t want to go too far in stretching 1 game into a “this is what good teams do” narrative, but all things considered it did feel a little bit like that kind of win.

Adam Warren got the stopper start today and he wasn’t nearly as good as he had been in the starts leading up to this one.  The O’s got him for 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st after he loaded the bases with 1 out and gave up a 2-run single to Nolan Reimold, and he gave up another in the 4th on a walk, single, double exchange.  The O’s made him work, drawing 3 walks and fouling off 19 pitches, and they knocked him out of the game after putting 2 runners on with 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th.  It was a bit of a quick hook by Joe, but it was hard to say it wasn’t warranted.

Luckily for Warren, the offense did enough to get him off the hook for the loss before he was really in danger of taking it.  They scored 1 in the 1st on a Brett Gardner leadoff single and Mark Teixeira 2-out RBI double and another in the 2nd on a Gardner sac fly with the bases loaded.  The 5th inning was the turning point, however, as the top of the order walked the bases loaded to force Baltimore starter Mike Wright from the game with nobody out.  Garrett Jones drew another walk against Brian Matusz to even the score at 3, and after a pair of strikeouts it was John Ryan Murphy coming through with a big 2-out, 2-run double to put the Yankees ahead.

Once Warren left with the lead in the bottom of the 5th, it was up to what’s left of the reliable bullpen crew to hold the lead.  Chasen Shreve cleaned up Warren’s mess in the 5th and pitched a scoreless 6th to keep his hot streak going, Justin Wilson worked a perfect 2 innings with 3 strikeouts to get the game to the 9th, and Dellin Betances recorded his third save of the season with a clean 9th.  Those guys are all going to take on bigger roles with Miller out, and today they lived up to those roles. Continue reading Game 62 Recap: Yankees 5 Orioles 3

Game 59 Recap: Nationals 5 Yankees 4 (11 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_75754" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Lindgren vs WAS Shucks. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

Objectively this game sucked.  It should have been a win, it wasn’t, and to lose in extras when you come back late and then give one away always hurts.  GIven that the Yankee had won 7 straight prior to this 1 loss, and given the more important long-term developments with Andrew Miller, this has to be chalked up as a bump in the road and something from which you just move on.

It was a slow go early for the Bombers.  They managed a paltry 2 hits off Washington starter Gio Gonzalez through 6 innings.  Lotta GB outs and no real scoring opportunities.  It was a shame too, because despite a few rough patches it was actually a pretty good outing for Nathan Eovaldi.  He gave up a run in the 3rd on back-to-back doubles and another in the 5th on a hanging curve to Danny Espinosa that ended up as a solo home run.  Other than that, he was solid.  His fastball was upper 90s all day, he was mixing his splitter and curveball in pretty regularly, and he was getting a lot of outs on the ground.  In small doses, you can see the pitcher Roth wants him to be starting too emerge.

After 7 innings of 2-run ball, Eovaldi was in line to be the tough luck loser.  Then the offense woke up.  Chris Young started the inning with a single, the newly activated Brendan Ryan hit a triple (!?!?) to score Young, and Gio’s day was over.  Someone named Felipe Rivero came in and he was rudely welcomed to the game by Brett Gardner with a game-tying double down the right field line.  Rivero got Chase Headley though, and passed the ball to righty Aaron Barrett to face Alex Rodriguez.  A-Rod smoked an 0-1 fastball down the middle out to the warning track in center for the go-ahead double, then came around for a tack-on run after Teix got plunked and Brian McCann singled up the middle.  5 hits, 4 runs, 3 extra-basers, 3 pitchers, 1 hit batsman, and 1 awesome comeback.

Until the game got the bullpen.  Joe went with Jacob Lindgren in the 8th after Eovaldi went back out and couldn’t get an out.  Lindgren got Bryce Harper to fly out for the first out, and got what looked like an inning-ending double play ball to Chase Headley off the bat of Ian Desmond.  But Stephen Drew bobbled the transfer and couldn’t complete the play, which gave Michael Taylor a chance to hit with 2 outs and a man on first.  Lindgren threw him a 1-2 sinker that stayed way up and Taylor hit it out over the short porch for a game-tying, gut-punching 2-run homer.  Tough situation for Lindgren, questionable decisions all around by Joe, bad play by Drew.  Everybody shares a slice of blame pie there.

So onto extra innings.  The Yanks had something started in the 10th when Teix led off with a single, but the rally was extinguished when McCann struck out and pinch runner Didi Gregoirus got caught for the back end of a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play to end the inning.  Justin Wilson had given way to Chris Capuano at this point, and Washington put together a single-sac bunt-groundout-infield RBI single sequence together to push the go-ahead run across.  The Yankees went down quietly in the bottom half and a day of big ups and big downs was over.  But remember, 7-1 in the last 8 is damn good. Continue reading Game 59 Recap: Nationals 5 Yankees 4 (11 Innings)