Game 8 Quick Recap: TOR 4 NYY 2

[caption id="attachment_80982" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Eovaldi HR vs TOR Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

Well that got crappy in a hurry.  The Yankees looked like they were on their way to another series victory last night with a couple early runs and a downright dominant Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.  But a few bad pitches in the middle innings and an offensive disappearance flipped the script and the Yankees head back home with a disappointing loss in their pocket.

Eovaldi was a beast in the early going.  His splitter had great late movement, he was snapping curveballs in for called strikes, lighting up the radar gun with his fastball.  He struck out 5 in the first 4 innings, all scoreless, and worked out of a 2 on/2 out jam in the 5th by getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop up on the first pitch and striking out Michael Saunders.

The lineup wasn’t giving him much support against Marcus Stroman, but they did manage to scratch 2 runs across in the top of the 4th.  Stroman hit A-Rod with a pitch with 1 out, Mark Teixeira singled to right, and Brian McCann was credited with an infield single to load the bases.  Carlos Beltran drove in a run on a groundout to the right side of the infield, and after Chase Headley walked to reload the bases, Teix scampered home on a wild pitch.  Take ’em however you can get ’em.

Eovaldi handled the shutdown inning in the bottom half, but got into trouble with a walk to Russell Martin and a 2-out double by Kevin Pillar to give Josh Donaldson an at-bat with runners in scoring position.  Eovaldi hung a 1-0 splitter and Donaldson annihilated it to center field for a go-ahead 3-run home run.  It was brutal.  Eovaldi backed that up by hanging a slider to Tulo in the 6th that he hit for an insurance solo job.  Always nice to help break legit MVP-caliber players out of slumps.

The offense dried up for good after the 4th.  Stroman got through 8 innings with hardly another threat.  Jacoby Ellsbury walked and stole second in the 5th inning and the Yankees never put another man on base after that.  12 up, 12 down over the final 4 frames.  Donaldson homer took the wind out of their sails, tore the sails to shreds, lit those shreds on fire, and sank the boat with a laser-guided missile. Continue reading Game 8 Quick Recap: TOR 4 NYY 2

Game 7 Quick Recap: TOR 7 NYY 2

The good news is that Michael Pineda looked more like the good version of Big Mike that we want to see last night.  The bad news is that Ivan Nova stinks in the bullpen just as much as he did in the rotation.  The bad outweighed the good last night as the Yankees dropped the middle game of this 3-game road set.

Pineda was seemingly in trouble all night, but for the most part he managed to avoid turning it into big trouble.  He worked around 2 singles in the 1st inning, gave up a run on a walk and a double in the 2nd, and pitched around 2-out baserunners in the 4th and 6th.  The pothole in the road was the Ronald Torreyes throwing error that allowed a run to score in the bottom of the 5th, but that was set up by a leadoff walk and another double.  It was walks, doubles, and well-timed double plays all night for Pineda.  A few things go differently and maybe he finishes his 6 innings with 1 run against him.

The Yankee bats mustered up a pair of runs on an Aaron Hicks ribbie groundout and a Mark Teixeira solo home run that briefly brought them back within a run in the 8th inning.  But then Nova entered and put the game out of reach.  Double, wild pitch, double, groundout to advance, single, double, sac fly, HBP, single in a 20-pitch span and the Blue Jays had driven their lead to 7-2.  Nova was missing with his fastball and the Toronto hitters were looking to swing early on him.  Not a good combination. Continue reading Game 7 Quick Recap: TOR 7 NYY 2

Game 6 Recap: Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2

[caption id="attachment_80969" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Yankees Win vs TOR News being spread. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

The Yankees were a well-rested bunch heading north of the border for the first time this year for a meeting with the divisional rival Blue Jays.  The rainout on Sunday in Detroit made sure of that.  That extra day of rest meant Joe had the option of leaning on his lights out bullpen more if he needed to last night, and Joe didn’t hesitate to do that when the opportunity presented itself.  The bullpen did what they’ve been doing: prevented runs, provided distance, protected leads, and struck guys out, and the Yankees took the first game of the series.

Joe was probably hoping he wouldn’t have to ask a lot of his ‘pen in ace Masahiro Tanaka‘s second start of the year.  Tanaka was pretty good in his first start, but a lack of pinpoint command on the corners and a careful approach with men on base drove his pitch count up and he didn’t get through the 6th inning.  It was more of the same last night, as Tanaka racked up a lot of pitches early and only completed 5.

It started in the bottom of the 1st when he got 2 relatively quick outs before walking Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion on 13 pitches.  The Encarnacion at-bat was especially frustrating because Tanaka started him off with 2 swinging strikes and then never came close to putting him away on the next 4 pitches.  Tanaka survived the inning unscathed and worked around a leadoff walk in the second, but his command problems finally cost him in the 3rd, when a leadoff hit batsman in an 0-2 count turned into 2 Toronto runs on a Josh Donaldson single and Jose Bautista double.  To be fair to Tanaka, it was Jacoby Ellsbury‘s misread that allowed Bautista’s double to be a double.  Not sure what he saw, but it was a bad play and it gave Toronto an extra run.

It took the Yankees a while to match that 2-spot against Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez.  They got a run in the top of the 2nd on a pair of walks and a ribbie groundout by Starlin Castro, but for the most part Sanchez was in control.  He was hitting spots with his fastball, drawing big swings and misses with his curveball, and working around trouble.  The only real mistake he made on the night was a 3-2 fastball to Brian McCann in the 6th that drifted over the middle of the plate.  McCann crushed it for a solo home run to right to tie the game and set the stage for Ellsbury’s redemption.

Also credit the guys in front of him for their stage-setting performance as well.  Chase Headley welcomed Brett Cecil to the game with a leadoff single in the 7th, then Cecil conveniently walked Castro on 4 pitches.  This allowed Didi Gregorius to get down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, and here came Ellsbury.  He drew a full count against Cecil and went the other way with a 3-2 fastball, getting just enough of it to plop it in between the shortstop and left fielder for the go-ahead single.  It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done and gave the bullpen the lead.

Oh yeah, the bullpen.  All they did was throw 4 scoreless, hitless innings with 5 strikeouts.  Barbato to Shreve to Betances to Miller.  These guys are good and the Yankees are too.  4-2 in their first 6 games with Big Mike returning to the hill tonight. Continue reading Game 6 Recap: Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2

Game 5 Recap: Yankees 8 Tigers 4

[caption id="attachment_80934" align="aligncenter" width="525"]A-Rod HR vs DET Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

Somehow the Yankees and Tigers managed to forge on in the sub-arctic temperatures this afternoon, though clearly the Yankees were better equipped to win in those inhuman weather conditions.  They jumped out to an early lead, built a big cushion on one key swing, and used that cushion to make it comfortably to the finish.

The early lead came off of Detroit starter Mike Pelfrey, who really didn’t have much today.  Alex Rodriguez drove a 3-2 sinker into deep left field for a solo home run, his first of the year, to get the scoring started in the top of the 1st.  Didi Gregorius singled home Brian McCann with 2 outs in the 2nd to make it 2-0, and then that key swing came in the bottom of the 4th.

McCann got things started with a 1-out walk, back-to-back singles by Carlos Beltran and Starlin Castro loaded the bases, and a Didi sac fly plated McCann again to make it 3-0.  Ronald Torreyes singled on the infield to reload the bases, and the lineup turned over for a third time.  Jacoby Ellsbury was 0-2 on the day coming into his third at-bat, but he got a 1-0 sinker from Pelfrey that didn’t sink and he laced it into the right-center field gap to clear the bases and double the lead to 6-0.  It ended Pelfrey’s day and gave the Yankee pitching staff all the breathing room it would need.

CC Sabathia was the anchor of the staff today, making his first start of 2016 and trying to build off his strong finish to last season.  He sat down the Tigers in order over the first 3 innings and looked like the kind of lower-velocity pitcher we always hoped he’d become.  He was mixing all his pitches well, he was getting ahead in the count locating down in the strike zone, and generating a lot of weak contact that his defense easily handled.

Sabathia did get into trouble in the 4th and 5th, however, and the Tigers got 2 runs back in the 4th on a trio of walks and a 2-run single by James McCann.  CC wasn’t as sharp out of the stretch as he was in the first 3 innings, but he did a good job of limiting the damage to 2 and became the first Yankee starter to successfully navigate the 6th when he went 1-2-3 on the middle of the Tiger order.  Not a bad way for the old workhorse to get his year started.

The brief Tiger rally in the 4th was snuffed out by a monster Beltran home run in the top of the 5th and even a messy 7th inning wasn’t enough to cause anybody to break a sweat.  Joe went for the sure win by using Dellin Betances in the 8th and Andrew Miller in the 9th and they responded as they normally do.  The Yankees evened the series and have their ace on the mound tomorrow night as they look to go 2-2 in series wins. Continue reading Game 5 Recap: Yankees 8 Tigers 4

Game 4 Quick Recap: DET 4 NYY 0

First road game of the season, day game after a sorta-night game, short lineup to get some guys an early rest, short bullpen with a young starter pitching in cold weather.  This game had all the makings of a stinker and the Yankees lived up to those low expectations by going down quietly this afternoon in Detroit.  No matter, they didn’t win on Tuesday and they still took that series.  Rest up and come back tomorrow.

Luis Severino probably pitched better than his final results indicated today.  He gave up a run on an Ian Kinsler double and Miguel Cabrera single in the bottom of the 1st, and then got bad lucked to death in the 4th.  Jacoby Ellsbury misplayed a fly ball that would have been the second out of the inning into a single and from there Detroit put 2 more runs on the board on a pair of groundball singles and a groundout.  Could have easily been a 1-2-3 inning and it basically turned into the end of the game.

Reason being the Yankee offense didn’t show up.  It wasn’t fixing to be a high-scoring game with Joe giving A-Rod, Beltran, and Big Mac full days off, but the Yankee lineup managed just 3 hits all day, all of them singles.  Only 2 of those came against Detroit starter Jordan Zimmerman and Jacoby Ellsbury was the only Yankee to reach second base at any point during the game.  The game was never completely out of reach, but the bats never woke up to muster up any kind of a comeback.

That game was a giveaway, and Joe knew that going in.  I just hope he knows what he’s doing tomorrow.  He’s got a short bullpen and he’ll be counting on CC Sabathia for length in the game. Continue reading Game 4 Quick Recap: DET 4 NYY 0

Game 3 Quick Recap: NYY 8 HOU 5

[caption id="attachment_80908" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Teix HR vs HOU 16 Teix working on his Michael Jackson pose. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

I didn’t watch a second of this game yesterday, and I only followed the last few innings on Twitter and Gameday.  Shame too, because it seemed like this would have been a great game to watch.  The Yankees battled back from 2 early deficits to take a late lead and lock up a home-opening series win with their lockdown late-inning bullpen.

Those early deficits were caused by starter Nathan Eovaldi, who made like Mike Pineda and gave up 5 runs in 5 innings on a couple of long balls and no walks.  Tyler White and Preston Tucker each got ahold of Eovaldi’s splitter and hit it out in the top of the 2nd to make it 3-0, and then White came through with a 2-run single in the 4th to put Houston back up 3.

The Yankees chipped away at those 2 3-run leads over the course of 4 innings.  They got 1 in the 2nd on a Chase Headley sac fly, another in the 3rd on a Jacoby Ellsbury ribbie double, 2 in the 4th on solo homers by Brian McCann and Starlin Castro, and a run in the 5th to tie the game on an Alex Rodriguez base hit.  That set the stage for Mark Teixeira, who hit a 3-run home run off of Ken Giles in the bottom of the 7th to give the Yankees the lead.

That lead was well protected by Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.  They struck out 5 in 2 scoreless innings and backed up a solid scoreless 2-run performance by Chasen Shreve and Kirby Yates ahead of them.  An excellent team effort by the relief corps to send the Yankees to Detroit above .500. Continue reading Game 3 Quick Recap: NYY 8 HOU 5

Game 2 Recap: Yankees 16 Astros 6

[caption id="attachment_80868" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Castro vs HOU Have a day, Starlin. Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

What’s the best way to get over another Opening Day loss?  By coming out and whoopin’ up on that team that beat you in game 2.  That’s exactly what the Yankees did last night, forcing Houston to go to their bullpen in the 1st inning and never looking back on their way to a double-digit beatdown of the Astros.

That end result came no thanks to New York starter Michael Pineda.  After a strong start to his spring, Pineda came back to earth at the end of camp and his traditional set of problems were all front and center last night.  He threw fastball after fastball that drifted over the plate, he left slider after slider up in the strike zone, and he did both of those things with regularity when he had 2 strikes on guys.  The 2 pitches he threw that Carlos Correa tattooed for home runs were some of the worst pitches you’ll see, and the one that George Springer hit for a grand slam to briefly bring the Astros back into the game in the top of the 2nd wasn’t much better.

To his credit, Pineda did manage to complete 5 innings after looking like he was going to need the hook in the 2nd or 3rd.  And he didn’t walk a batter.  But he was far too hittable and his 2-strike execution was brutal.  It was a bad first start and he’s lucky he got the support that he did from his lineup.

Because that’s what this game was all about.  The lineup.  The textbook Yankee power and patience combo was on full display, well really more patience and power since they basically forced Houston starter Colin McHugh out of the game by taking a bunch of pitches and drawing walks.  Jacoby Ellsbury got on to lead off the bottom of the 1st on catcher’s interference in a 6-pitch at-bat, then Brett Gardner drew a walk on 7, A-Rod took one on 6 after going down 0-2, and Mark Teixeira singled on the 7th pitch of his AB to score Ellsbury.  From there, Brian McCann doubled to make it 3-1, Chase Headley singled to make it 5-1, and McHugh hit the showers with 1 out to his credit on 43 pitches.

The power took over from there, with Starlin Castro clubbing a 3-run homer to left in the bottom of the 2nd.  Teix followed that up with a 3-run shot to right in the 3rd that put the Yankees back up 12-5 and up for good.  They got their licks in against sacrificial bullpen lamb Michael Feliz and didn’t stop when he left.  Carlos Beltran banged a solo homer off of Tony Sipp to lead off the 6th and the bench got into the act when Ronald Torreyes tripled in 2 against Josh Fields in the 7th.

That made life very easy for Ivan Nova, who came out to replace Pineda in the top of the 6th and looked pretty darn good taking the game to the end in his first relief appearance of the year.  He gave up 4 hits in his first 2 innings, but worked efficiently out of trouble both times and struck out 5 over 4 innings, including Correa swinging in the 9th.  He really had the curveball working and it was probably good for him to have some early success in a low-stress setting.  If he has to settle into a relief role for the long term, that’s a nice way to start the process.

Yanks evened things up last night and they’ll have a chance to take the series win this afternoon if the weather allows.  The forecast looks pretty crappy and we’re on tap for first pitch a little after 4 PM.  If it happens, the starting pitchers will be Nathan Eovaldi and Mike Fiers. Continue reading Game 2 Recap: Yankees 16 Astros 6

Opening Day Game Recap: Astros 5 Yankees 3

[caption id="attachment_80814" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Betances Opening Day 2016 “Just throw it into his back, dude.”- Dana Demuth[/caption]

We had to wait 24 more hours for it, but Yankee Opening Day 2016 finally happened this afternoon.  It was a much better day for baseball, and that’s factoring in the low temperatures, high winds, and ice that had to be removed from the field prior to the game, and the Yankees jumped out to an early lead against budding arch nemesis Dallas Keuchel.  But the bats cooled down after the first few innings and a bizarre sequence in the 8th inning put the Yanks in a hole they didn’t have enough time to dig themselves out of.  It added up to a frustrating loss, the team’s 5th straight on Opening Day.

He was shaky to end Spring Training, but Masahiro Tanaka looked pretty good early on today.  He retired the first 9 Astros he faced in order and he managed to get out of runners on the corners and nobody out in the 4th with only 1 run against him.  Had Aaron Hicks not badly misplayed the first ball of the inning into a leadoff double, Tanaka could very well have gotten through the inning without issue.  His fastball was living high 80s, but he was locating it well and he was throwing it inside to hitters, something he failed to do with regularity last season.

That 1 run against held up to give the Yankees a slim lead through 5 thanks to their new second baseman.  After Carlos Beltran singled up the middle and Brian McCann drew a walk with 1 out in the bottom of the 2nd and they moved up on a Chase Headley groundout, Starlin Castro came to the plate with a chance to do some damage in his first Yankee at-bat.  He took a cutter from Keuchel for strike 1 and then got another one on the next pitch that didn’t get inside enough.  Castro pulled his hands in and muscled the ball down the left field line for a 2-run double.  The Yankees didn’t do enough with 3 Keuchel walks in the 1st and 3rd innings, and wasted a leadoff single in the 4th, but Starlin came through big and gave his team the early lead. Continue reading Opening Day Game Recap: Astros 5 Yankees 3

Spring Training Game Quick Recap: NYY 3 DET 2

It was basically the starting lineup paired with a contingent of roster-contending pitchers last night as the Yankees ticked another game off the rapidly shrinking ST schedule.  Of course the game wasn’t televised, and it’s a shame too because it ended up being a pretty good one.  The offenses were quiet early, but some late fireworks from the Yankee bats made for a satisfying comeback victory.

– Joe started Luis Cessa in this game, not wanting to show any of his regular starters to a Tigers team that the Yankees will face early in the regular season next week.  Cessa continued his strong spring with 3 shutout innings and 4 strikeouts.  He’s definitely a candidate for a bullpen spot right now, but I think it would make more sense for the Yanks to keep him working as a starter in Triple-A.

– It was mostly zeros for all the Yankee pitchers last night.  Johnny Barbato, Chasen Shreve, and Aroldis Chapman all threw shutout innings and Diego Moreno, who was reassigned to MiL camp after the game, pitched 2 clean frames to pick up the win.

– The only black mark on the pitching ledger came in the top of the 6th, when Nick Goody served up back-to-back home runs to Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton.  No shame in giving up dingers to those guys, but when it happens late in a ST roster battle it’s going to stand out.  Really bad timing for Goody.

– The Yankee bats finally stirred in the bottom of the 7th on a Mark Teixeira leadoff home run.  The comeback was completed in the 8th with a 2-out rally that culminated in a Dustin Ackley 2-run double.  The homer gave Teix a hit in 2 consecutive games, so maybe he’s starting to come out of that early spring funk. Continue reading Spring Training Game Quick Recap: NYY 3 DET 2