Wild Card Game Recap: Astros 3 Yankees 0

[caption id="attachment_78892" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Yankees WC Loss vs HOU Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

Well that was a huge bummer.  The Yankees went out of the postseason as sadly and quietly as they entered it, getting shut out and 3-hit at home in the Wild Card game by Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros.  The bats never showed up, Tanaka’s home run problem was front and center again, and the Astros will advance to play Kansas City in the ALDS while the Yankees will go home and start preparing for next year.

This was the biggest start to date for Masahiro Tanaka and he came out looking pretty good.  His fastball was lively and popping the glove and he threw a lot of good, tight sliders in a 1-2-3 1st inning with 2 strikeouts.  Colby Rasmus came up to lead off the top of the 2nd and hit the first pitch he saw DEEP into right for a solo home run.  It was a fastball meant for the outside corner that ended up about thigh high on the inside corner and Rasmus was all over it.  1-0 Houston.

That homer seemed to rattle Tanaka a bit, and he labored through a busy 2nd.  George Springer doubled to start the 3rd, but Tanaka stranded him with 3 big outs and appeared to be settling back in.  Then Carlos Gomez came up to lead off the top of the 4th and he hit the first pitch he saw out to left center field for a solo home run.  It was a classic cement mixer slider, starter belt high, middle and stayed there.  Terrible pitch, 2-0 Houston.

Those 2 runs were all Houston would get against Tanaka, who was finished after 5, but it was more than enough for their ace Dallas Keuchel.  He put the Yankee hitters in a diaper for the third time this season, twirling 6 shutout innings with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts.  Where Tanaka missed way off the corners and left meatballs out over the plate, Keuchel nicked the corners for called strikes and kept the ball out of the good parts of the hitting zone.  He got some help from home plate umpire Eric Cooper, which was to be expected, but Keuchel didn’t need any help.  He absolutely overwhelmed the Yankee lineup.

The one time he did get into a bit of potential trouble was the 6th, when Didi Gregorius hit a leadoff single and Carlos Beltran singled with 2 outs to bring Alex Rodriguez to the plate for a third time.  Houston manager AJ Hinch came out to talk to Keuchel, who said what his manager needed to hear to stay in the game and rewarded that faith by getting A-Rod to fly out harmlessly to center on a first-pitch cutter.  That was the best and only real good scoring chance the Yankees had all night and it lasted about 75 seconds, including mound visit.

Joe went with his best bullpen arms after pulling Tanaka, which was the only decision to make in what should have been a close 2-run game.  Justin Wilson got all 3 in the 6th and Luis Valbuena to ground out to start the 7th and that was it for him.  Joe went to Dellin Betances for the real heavy lifting and Betances responded by walking Chris Carter on 5 pitches.  The Astros put their bench to work, pinch running Jonathan Villar and having him steal second base to put a runner in scoring position.  With 2 outs, Jose Altuve came up and just put the bat on an 0-1 curveball enough to dink it out into left field and score Villar.  It was a big insurance run and there was nothing Betances’ followup 3-K 8th inning could do to change that.

The bats went weakly in the 8th and 9th.  6 up, 6 down, no balls out of the infield.  At least Jacoby Ellsbury got to pinch hit.  You wouldn’t want to waste that bullet after letting Gardner put up a silver sombrero.  Bah. Continue reading Wild Card Game Recap: Astros 3 Yankees 0

Game 162 Quick Recap: BAL 9 NYY 4

[caption id="attachment_78825" align="aligncenter" width="375"]Joe vs BAL Better figure out some magic for Tuesday night, sparky. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

I have neither the time nor the inclination to recap this game in full detail.  I have to spend the next 2 days convincing myself that the Yankees aren’t going to get shut out 6-0 at home on Tuesday night.

Game Notes:

Michael Pineda puked on his shoes today in his final 2015 regular season start.  Didn’t make it out of the 4th inning, gave up 4 runs on 6 hits.  Finishes the year with a 4.37 ERA.  That’s pretty terrible when you consider where he was at before the ASB.

Carlos Beltran went 3-3 with a walk today and Greg Bird, Dustin Ackley, and Didi Gregorius all had 2 hits.  I’d bat them 1-4 in some order on Tuesday.

Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-10 with 3 Ks combined.  I’d bat them 7th and 9th respectively.

Chris Capuano sucks, Bryan Mitchell sucks, Caleb Cotham is pretty bad, and James Pazos is nothing special.  Just throw a name at a dart board for the final few bullpen spots on Tuesday’s roster.  There’s really no better way to decide.

Brian McCann hit .199/.307/.398 after the ASB.

– The Yankees went 1-5 in their final 6 games against 2 sub-.500 divisional opponents and got outscored 47-23 in those games.  That’s not stumbling to the finish line, that’s tripping, falling, snapping both your legs in half, and spontaneously combusting at the finish line. Continue reading Game 162 Quick Recap: BAL 9 NYY 4

Game 161 Quick Recap: BAL 4 NYY 3

Whatever.  I didn’t want home field advantage for the WC game anyway.  The Yankees followed up yesterday afternoon’s loss by completing the wrong side of the sweep in the nightcap and dropping both games to the Orioles.  They’ve lost 5 of 6 and 8 of 13 as they stumble into the postseason.

Can’t put this one on Luis Severino.  He gave up a solo home run to Nolan Reimold on the second pitch of the game and got into big trouble in the bottom of the 1st, but he held that damage at 2 runs and settled down quickly to turn in a pretty good start.  Manny Machado bopped a solo shot off him in the 3rd for Baltimore’s third run, then Severino worked the next 4 innings efficiently and scorelessly to keep his team in the game.

The Yankees battled back from the early deficits with a Didi Gregorius sac fly in the 2nd and a big rally against Ubaldo Jimenez in the top of the 5th.  Rob Refsnyder doubled, Didi singled, and Slade Heathcott doubled to score one run, and a hit batsman (Jacoby Ellsbury) and bases loaded walk to Carlos Beltran scored the second to tie the game at 3.

The offense went dormant after the 5th, however, managing a lonely base hit in the 9th that was immediately erased by Rico Noel getting picked off first base.  This came after the O’s put runners on the corners in the bottom of the 8th against Dellin Betances and scored the go-ahead run on a Betances wild pitch.  Of all the ways to lose in late innings, this was a new one. Continue reading Game 161 Quick Recap: BAL 4 NYY 3

Game 160 Quick Recap: BAL 9 NYY 2

This one wasn’t pretty.  Not that you would or should have expected it to be with the lineup Joe put out there and Ivan Nova on the mound.  Oh well, guess we’re just going to have to wait until later tonight to clinch that Wild Card home field.

Nova was about as sterotypically Nova as he was in his last outing.  Threw a lot of pitches, gave up a lot of hits, and got burned by home runs on horribly located pitches.  The Orioles got him for a run in the bottom of the 1st on a GIDP after the first 2 batters of the inning singled, another in the 3rd on a ribbie groundout after he hit a batter and Gerardo Parra doubled, and the last in the 5th when Manny Machado finally stopped hitting ground balls and homered off him,  Nova created all his own trouble and wasn’t consistently good enough to get out of all of it.  Nova 101 really.

Nova exited with 2 on and 2 out in the 6th and watched as the batting practice pitcher formerly known as Chasen Shreve further sullied his line.  Shreve went single, single, single, wild pitch, walk to the first 4 batters he faced to make it 7-0 Baltimore and put the Yankees out of their misery.

The half-squad offense didn’t do much against Wei-Yin Chen.  They wasted opportunities with 2 men on in the 3rd and 4th innings and didn’t do nearly enough damage against him when he tired in the 7th.  After 2 walks sandwiched around a Jose Pirela single, the Yanks pushed across just 2 runs on a ribbie groundout and Rob Refsynder single to center.  That was all the offense had to show for its troubles on the day.

Still got the nightcap coming up.  We already know there won’t be any Gardner, A-Rod, or Headley. Continue reading Game 160 Quick Recap: BAL 9 NYY 2

Game 159 Recap: Yankees 4 Red Sox 1

Yankees WC Celebration I

Yankees WC Celebration II

Yankees WC Celebration III

Yankees WC Celebration IV

There it is!  Now was that so hard?  The Yankees finally got to the 10,000 win plateau last night, beating the Red Sox 4-1 to salvage a game from this series and knock their AL Wild Card magic number down to 0.  The Yankees are going back to the postseason for the first time since 2012, and just like in 2012 they’ve got CC Sabathia to thank for it.

Sabathia took the ball last night and turned in another callback CC start.  It wasn’t the CC of 2012 or 2009 who could go for 7-8 innings and 125 pitches, but it was a good enough approximation and a reminder that this guy can still get it done.  CC put a man on in every inning and worked out of almost every jam.  He got Xander Bogaerts to ground into an inning-ending double play with 2 on and 1 out in the 3rd.  He got another double play to eliminate Travis Shaw‘s leadoff single in the 4th.  After 3 singles in 4 batters put the Sox on the board and within 1 in the 5th, he knuckled down and got a groundout from Jackie Bradley Jr. and a flyout from Shaw to end the threat.  CC didn’t have much left in those final few pitches, so he definitely emptied the tank.  It was good for 5 innings of 1-run ball and that’s about the best Joe could have asked for.

CC did leave with the lead thanks to a 2-run bottom of the 2nd.  It started with Carlos Beltran‘s solo home run, his 19th of the season, and ended with Brendan Ryan singling to left to score a run.  In between, John Ryan Murphy and DIdi Gregorius drew walks.  Gotta love when the bottom of the order makes a rally go.

Outside of that inning, the Yanks didn’t do much against Rich Hill over his 6 innings.  He ended his night by striking out the side in the 6th.  Boston went to Jean Machi in the 7th and that move came back to hurt them almost immediately.  Murphy grounded out to start the inning, which brought up Greg Bird.  Facing a right for the first time on the night, Bird saw 5 changeups from Machi in the at-bat.  He connected on the fifth one for a solo home run to put the Yankees ahead 3-1.  A Rob Refsnyder home run to lead off the 8th made it 4-1 and put the Yankees on the brink of clinching.

There would be no bullpen meltdown this time.  Adam Warren, in the “sneaky most valuable player of the game” role, pitched 3 big shutout innings in relief of CC to eliminate the B and C-squads from the equation.  He struck out 3, threw 51 pitches, and laid out the save for Dellin Betances.  Dellin set the Sox down swinging, popping out, and swinging and the celebration was on.  The Yankees are back in the playoffs.  Tuesday is going to be fun. Continue reading Game 159 Recap: Yankees 4 Red Sox 1

Game 158 Recap: Red Sox 9 Yankees 5 (11 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_78762" align="aligncenter" width="375"]Betances vs BOS Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

Full disclosure, I fell asleep last night when this game was 4-4.  And boy am I glad I did because this one didn’t end pretty.  The Yankees dropped their third straight to Boston, clawing back from an early 3-run deficit, briefly taking the lead in the later third of the game, and then watching their crumbling, leaky bullpen give it right and lose the game in extras.

The big story last night was Masahiro Tanaka‘s return.  Joe said he would be ready to throw 100 pitches and there were no restrictions on him, but Tanaka sure didn’t look that way to the naked eye.  To me, he looked like a guy who was pitching to protect his hamstring.  He didn’t throw a lot of fastballs, didn’t throw many hard ones when he did, and none of his offspeed pitches had their usual bite.  The Red Sox hitters squared him up a lot in the top of the 1st to create a 2-out rally, starting with Xander Bogaerts‘ single and ending with Travis Shaw‘s 3-run home run to right.

The Yankees got a little 2-out rally of their own going in the bottom of the 2nd.  Chris Young singled, Greg Bird drew a walk, and new platoon second baseman Rob Refsnyder rocketed a ground-rule double to right to plate Young.  Bad break on the ball going over the wall, as Bird probably would have scored if it bounces off the wall and stays in the park, but the Yankees were on the board.

And right back in a 3-run hole in the top of the 3rd.  Dustin Pedroia led off with a G-R double to left, moved to third on Bogaerts’ sac fly, and scored on a David Ortiz single to left-center.  Everything was a little off for Tanaka – missing off corners, leaving splitters up, pitches up in the strike zone – and the Red Sox hitters really seemed to be identifying different pitches well.  Tanaka got through the 5th without any more damage, but he threw a ton of 3-ball counts and Joe ended his night at 95 pitches.

Wade Miley had also been worked hard by the Yankee lineup over the first 4 innings, and they got to  him in the 5th for 3 big runs.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, Alex Rodriguez drew a 1-out walk, and Carlos Beltran doubled to deep right-center.  Once again, the ball bounced over the wall and the Yankees only got 1 run.  But no worries, because Brian McCann hit a grounder to first to score A-Rod, and Chris Young came through with a single to score Beltran and tie the game at 4.

Matt Barnes came on to pitch for Boston in the 6th, and he got rudely greeted by A-Rod with 2 outs and nobody on.  After taking a fastball for ball 1 and swinging and missing one for strike 1, A-Rod took a changeup for a ball on pitch 3.  Up 2-1 and having just seen the change, A-Rod went hunting for another fastball and got one in the kill zone that he drove out to left for a solo home run.  Helluva time for one too.

The lead should have been in good hands going to Millances, but Dellin quickly killed the vibe by serving up a meatball to Mookie Betts to lead off the 7th.  Betts tied the game at 5 with a solo shot and the offense went in the tank after the 8th.  They drew three straight walks to start the inning, 4 overall, and didn’t score a run.  Ellsbury got picked off, Beltran and Gardner grounded out.  It was the last good chance they’d have.

With Betances and Miller already used, Joe had to take his chances with the rest of the crew in the 11th.  He went with Andrew Bailey and Chasen Shreve and those moves blew up in his face big time.  Bailey gave up 3 base hits to set the table, Shreve knocked everything off and onto the floor on another Mookie Betts home run.  Ballgame. Continue reading Game 158 Recap: Red Sox 9 Yankees 5 (11 Innings)

Game 157 Quick Recap: BOS 10 NYY 4

[caption id="attachment_78747" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Pineda vs BOS III Us too, Mike. Us too. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

Blech.  That was gross.  I’ve tried to be a calm, rational, steadying force through the ups and downs of this season, but the Yankees have played some bad baseball at the absolute worst time these last few games.  They aren’t pitching, they aren’t hitting, they aren’t fielding, and they got their butts kicked by the Red Sox again last night to put themselves in a 2-0 series hole and further delay the 10,000th win and clinching of the Wild Card.

Michael Pineda sucked last night.  Say whatever you want about limiting damage and keeping the game close and grinding through 6 innings, but 7 runs in 6 innings is bad and 6 of those runs coming in the first 7 batters of the game was brutal.  The Red Sox hitters were smoking balls off him and his 2-strike approach and execution stunk.  It would have been nice to get a solid Big Mike start ahead of Tanaka’s return.  Instead we got Average Sized Mike.

The lineup made it look like we were going to be in for a fun back-and-forth offensive battle when they struck back for 4 in the bottom of the 1st against Rick Porcello.  Leadoff double, single, RBI groundout, double, 2-run home run is a good way to get yourself back into a ballgame, and Carlos Beltran (double) and Dustin Ackley (homer) both came up with their big hits with 2 outs.  Then Porcello did that thing he did the last time he faced the Yankees and went into shutdown mode.  The Yankees only scratched out 2 more hits against him and he racked up 8 strikeouts over his 8 innings of work.

The Sox piled on with a Mookie Betts solo shot in the 5th, a Blake Swihart 2-run home run off Bryan Mitchell in the 8th, and some good manufacturing against Chris Martin in the 9th.  Joe wasn’t going to waste his useful relief arms in a game he was losing.  Not surprising that good hitters beat up crappy pitchers.

Game Notes:

– Brett Gardner was the only Yankee with multiple hits.  He also did something he almost never does and stole a base.  Good for him.

– Ackely’s now rocking a .295/.319/.682 slash line as a Yankee.  Your 2016 starting second baseman, ladies and gentlemen!

– Pineda since coming off the DL: 5.08 ERA, 4.60 FIP in 39 innings pitched.

– Alex Rodriguez went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts.  Him never really coming back offensively has really hurt the lineup with Teix out. Continue reading Game 157 Quick Recap: BOS 10 NYY 4

Game 156 Quick Recap: BOS 5 NYY 1

[caption id="attachment_78724" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Nova vs BOS III Homers always beat sac bunts. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

This game was all kinds of frustrating.  A “classic” Ivan Nova start, early chances not fully realized thanks both to bad hitting and bad decision making, and a disappearing offense in the later innings.  The Wild Card clincher and 10,00th win will wait another day.

Ivan Nova looked pretty good over the first few innings last night.  His sinker had great movement and he threw some good swing-and-miss curveballs.  He also worked around leadoff baserunners in the 1st and 2nd innings and 2 walks in the 3rd, so it wasn’t like he was in total control out there.  The baserunner bug finally bit him in the top of the 6th, when future AL batting champ Xander Bogaerts snuck a double down the third base line and Travis Shaw followed up with a 2-run home run to left.  It came on a dead middle first-pitch fastball, not a good pitch.  Jackie Bradley Jr. cracked a 2-run dinger of his own the next inning and what looked like a really good night in the making for Nova was marred.

The Yankees tallied 3 hits in the bottom of the 1st inning against Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez, they loaded the bases for Alex Rodriguez in the 2nd, and they came away with 1 run.  That’ll come back to haunt you 100 times out of 100 and it definitely did last night.  Brett Gardner’s decision to sac bunt with no outs in the game after a Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff double was an unforgivably bad one, and A-Rod swinging way late at fastballs never leaves you with a good feeling.  After the 2nd, the Yanks managed get a total of one guy past second base, and that didn’t happen until the top of the 9th.  This was another night where they really needed Teix. Continue reading Game 156 Quick Recap: BOS 5 NYY 1

Game 155 Recap: Yankees 6 White Sox 1

[caption id="attachment_78699" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Noel-Headley vs CHW Rico Noel stuntin’ in his pinch runner shades. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

I said before I left for the weekend that the Yanks taking 3 of 4 against the White Sox would be great, and lo and behold that’s exactly what they went out and did.  They locked up the final win of the series with another strong team pitching performance and some late offensive insurance.

In typical 2015 Yankee fashion, they came out and scored quickly in the top of the 1st.  Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff walk, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran reaching on back-to-back Jose Abreu errors, Brian McCann sac fly.  I don’t even know if that counts as manufacturing runs because of the 2 errors, but I’ll take it.  Of course, in keeping with the “typical 2015 Yankee fashion” theme, they failed to add any more runs in that inning and went dormant through the next 4 innings despite creating plenty of opportunities against Chicago starter Erik Johnson.

The 1 early run stood up thanks to Luis Severino and some spectacular double play timing.  Severino wasn’t his usual dominant self yesterday, at least not compared to what we’ve seen from him when he is, but he got the job done.  He had at least 1 runner on in every inning except the 3rd, but he got key double plays to end the 1st (6-3), 2nd (strike ’em/thrown ’em), and 6th (6-3).  Severino himself even got into the act as part of a 3-6-1 double play to record 2 quick outs in the 5th, making a nice scoop on Didi Gregorius‘ throw.  He was hittable (only 5 swinging strikes), but stayed in control and got timely outs.  Another nice start by the 21-year-old.

Despite a high pitch count to open the bottom of the 6th, Robin Ventura stuck with Johnson.  That decision proved to be his team’s undoing.  Dustin Ackley started off the inning with a solo home run, Slade Heathcott and Brendan Ryan both singled with 1 out, and Johnson walked Gardner with 2 outs to load the bases.  Still he remained in the game.  Johnson threw a wild pitch to Beltran in the next at-bat and Heathcott scampered home.  Thanks, Robin.

The Yanks continued to tack on with a run in the 7th on a Greg Bird double, Heathcott walk, A-Rod infield single, and Ellsbury single, and 2 in the 8th on a Beltran single, an error on a pickoff attempt, Bird single, Chase Headley double, and Heathcott sac fly.  Justin Wilson ruined the shutout by serving up a solo homer to Avisail Garcia in the top of the 7th, but Dellin Betances and Bryan Mitchell had no problems closing things out with the bigger cushion.  The magic number, she is 3. Continue reading Game 155 Recap: Yankees 6 White Sox 1