Game 32 Quick Recap: KC 7 NYY 3

For all intents and purposes, this one was over after the top of the 1st inning.  Another Michael Pineda misfire at the start of the game put the Yankees in a hole they could never climb out of as they dropped the third game of this 4-game series. I don't know what it is with Pineda and the 1st inning this season.  This isn't the first time he's done this.  He couldn't locate his fastball, he was leaving slider after slider too far up in the zone, and yeah, he did get burned by the hotshot grounder that Mark Teixeira probably snares to start a double play but Dustin Ackley didn't even touch.  But Pineda was all-around terrible in the top of the 1st and the dead center slider he threw to Salvador Perez for a 3-run home run was one of the worst pitches you'll ever see.

And of course Pineda "rebounded" after that and pitched the next 4 innings scoreless with 6 strikeouts.  This gave the Yankees the chance to chip away at the early KC lead.  They did that on a Carlos Beltran solo home run and Chase Headley bloop RBI single in the 2nd and a Brian McCann RBI groundout in the 5th.  They had a great chance for another run when Aaron Hicks singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch to lead off the 4th, but the next 3 batters failed to get the ball out of the infield.

Pineda tired and put 2 on with 2 outs in the 6th, and Joe went to Nick Goody to escape the jam and keep the game close.  Probably not the right move, at the time or in hindsight.  Goody hit Alcides Escobar with a pitch to load the bases, then gave up a 2-run single to Lorenzo Cain to push the Royal lead back to 3.  The offense went to sleep after that and Joe burned through Phil Coke to get through the rest of the game.  Got a loaded relief deck to win the series today.

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Game 31 Recap: Yankees 10 Royals 7

Last night I posed the question on the IIATMS email chain about how good Masahiro Tanaka would have to be for the Yankees to win last night.  They were without yet another key bat in the middle of the order in Mark Teixeira, they had Dustin Ackley hitting in the 5-spot, and they still have Chase Headley toiling around in the bottom third of the order.  Well as the old saying goes, you just can't predict baseball, Suzyn.  The Yankee bats made up for an off night from Tanak and the usually reliable Andrew Miller, slugging their way to a 10-7 victory. Tanaka has done a great job keeping the ball in the yard so far this season, but he got bit hard by the long ball last night.  His slider command wasn't up to par and the Royals teed off on it twice for multi-run home runs.  Chester Cuthbert hit a 2-run home run off it in the 2nd and Lorenzo Cain smashed one for a deflating 3-run shot in the 5th.  Cain also hit a YS3 cheapie in the 3rd, totaling up the 3 homers and 6 earned runs Tanaka served up.  He did complete 7 innings and he didn't walk a batter, so it wasn't a total garbage start.  Just a night where Tanaka wasn't as sharp as we've seen him in previous starts and got hit by the defending World Series champions.

And he picked a good night to have an off-night because the Yankee B-squad lineup was feeling it last night.  They battered KC starter Kris Medlen for 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 2+ innings and made sure this was going to be a long night for the Royal 'pen.  Didi Gregorius was in on a lot of the early action, hitting a leadoff double and coming around to score in the bottom of the 2nd and clearing the bases with another double to put the Yankees ahead 5-3 in the 3rd.

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Early Returns on Some Former Yankees

Delving into the production of ex-Yankees is something of a tradition - both for fans of the team, and for myself in my time with The Yankee Analysts and It's About the Money. We cannot help but wonder what the departed players are doing; not in a creepy ex-significant other sort of way (I hope). Rather, we use it a form of hope. Generally speaking, it is hope that the Yankees made the right move by letting the player walk or, alternatively, sending the guy back. Although, to be fair, sometimes it's fun to play the hindsight game from the other perspective, as well ... I still miss Never Nervous Yangervis. With that in mind, I figured I would look into a dozen players that have headed elsewhere over the last two seasons, focusing on those that had some semblance of a role with the Yankees.

Chris Capuano, Milwaukee Brewers 17.0 IP, 17 H, 13 BB, 17 K, 3.71 ERA, 6.42 FIP, -0.3 fWAR

Capuano was something of a punching bag last year - both on the field, and among fans (particularly here). He has been less awful this year, based solely on run prevention, but his peripherals suggest that he's a strong breeze away from being just as bad in 2016. He's a serviceable mop-up pitcher (a role that most any pitcher in Triple-A or the Majors could fill) ... so ... there's that.

Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates .296/.408/.347, 11 R, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB, 114 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR (120 PA)

Cervelli has been the second-best catcher in baseball since the beginning of 2016 by both wRC+ and fWAR (behind only Buster Posey in both categories). He showed flashes of this when he was with the Yankees (he hit .278/.348/.381 in pinstripes, after all), but he never put it all together. The most important aspect of his rise may be the simple fact that he has been able to stay healthy since heading to Pittsburgh.

Stephen Drew, Washington Nationals .143/.167/.257, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB, 9 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR (36 PA)

We were angry last season when Drew blocked Rob Refsnyder. Imagine the vitriol that he is facing in Nationals fans circles, as he (and the similarly inept Danny Espinosa) block Trea Turner - a legitimate top-20 prospect.

Ramon Flores, Milwaukee Brewers .188/.288/.219, 5 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 39 wRC+, -0.1 (73 PA)

Flores may have never earned a real shot in pinstripes, much to the chagrin of our very own Brad Vietrogoski, but he's still just 23. The rebuilding Brewers are allowing him to play in some capacity nearly every day, so it bears watching to see if he can earn his keep.

Garrett Jones, Yomiuri Giants (NPB) .217/.329/.400, 12 R, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB (140 PA)

Jones seemed poised to contribute as a back-up option at 1B, LF, RF, and DH last season, but the opportunity never really came to pass. Perhaps the Yankees saw something, though, as Jones didn't earn another shot in the Majors after the team initially cut him loose. His base salary this year is $2.8 MM, so I'm guessing that he's not complaining.

John Ryan Murphy, Minnesota Twins .075/.119/.100, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, -52 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR (44 PA)

As Aaron Hicks shows flashes of turning it around, Murphy finds himself in Triple-A trying to figure things out (he's batting .111/.182/.111 in three games since the demotion). He's a few days shy of his 25th birthday, and he was quite good in 2014 and 2015, so this feels like a prolonged slump. I still think that he can be a solid-average big league catcher.

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox 14.2 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 17 K, 1.23 ERA, 1.98 FIP, 0.5 fWAR

By bWAR, 2015 was Robertson's worst full season. His 3.41 ERA and 115 ERA+ were his highest since 2010, even as he posted career-best marks in BB/9 and K/BB, without becoming much more hittable. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. Robertson was still very effective, though, and he's been quite good thus far in 2016. Fun fact: he's tied for 3rd among all relievers in fWAR since coming up for good in 2009.

Brendan Ryan, Syracuse Chiefs (Triple-A) .263/.305/.382, 7 R, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB, 99 wRC+ (83 PA)

If Ryan could hit like this in the Majors, he might be an everyday player, even with his defense regressing to the slightly above-average range. Unfortunately, he can't.

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Game 30 Quick Recap: NYY 6 KC 3

Too many damn home runs.  That's what the Yankees hit last night on their way to a series-opening victory over the defending champs, and I was tickled pink to see it.  This team could use a few more dingers with A-Rod on the mend.  Hell, it could use more runs however it can get them. The homer parade started early when Brian McCann cracked a solo shot to right-center off Kansas City starter Chris Young in the 1st to put the Yanks up 1-0.  After Alex Gordon tied the game in the the 2nd with a solo shot, the Bombers came right back with one of their own in the bottom half off the bat of Carlos Beltran.

Things really got nuts in the bottom of the 3rd.  Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks went back yard job to start off the inning to make it 4-1 Yanks, and Beltran came through with his second shot of the night with 2 outs to make it 5-1.  5 runs on 6 hits, 5 of them homers, in 2.2 innings against Young.  The last one put the pin in his night and gave the pitching staff plenty of lead to work with.

I say "pitching staff" because it was a lot of hands on deck last night in Ivan Nova's first start in place of CC.  He was scheduled for about 75 pitches and he needed 81 to record 14 outs.  The Royals put plenty of men on base against Nova but could never come up with the big one to plate anybody.  He left with only the Gordon home run against him, and the tandem of Phil Coke and Kirby Yates did a very nice job of getting the game through 7 without letting any more across.

That was the job of Chasen Shreve, who gave up another home run in the 8th, and Aroldis Chapman, who gave up a double and got burned by some shaky infield defense to get charged with a run in the 9th.  He also flashed the stuff that's made him the best reliever in baseball over the past few years, striking out the first 2 batters he faced in pinstripes on 97 and 101 MPH fastballs.  That'll work.

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Monday Afternoon Links: 5/9/16

Got a little extra time today.  Let's catch up on what else is moving and shaking around the Yankosphere. - On Wednesday, Jason Cohen of Pinstripe Alley explained why the Yankees don't have many options to "shake things up" despite so many calls from the fanbase for them to do so.

- On Thursday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog looked at some early season performance trends for the Yankees and the rest of MLB.

- On Friday, Evan Davis of BP Bronx made the case for keeping faith in Luis Severino and keeping him up in the big league rotation to work on things.  I think last night's performance speaks perfectly to this argument.

- On Saturday, el duque of It Is High... celebrated David Ortiz's freakout on Friday night and the Yankees coming out on the winning side of it.  Even if everything else falls apart, it's good to know we can still share in our enjoyment of David Ortiz's unhappiness.

- On Sunday, Matt Imbrogno of RAB pinpointed the connection between Nathan Eovaldi's splitter and high HR rate early this season, and gave reasons why we should expect that rate to go down moving forward.

- On Monday, Marly Rivera of ESPN had Aroldis Chapman's thoughts on returning from his suspension.

From the IIATMS team:

- Last Monday, William discussed the difficulties in accepting the new way of doing things in Yankeeland and the resulting changes in Yankee team building and recent performance.

- On Tuesday, Dom broke down the Yankees' putrid stretch of play through various statistical lenses.

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Game 29 Quick Recap: BOS 5 NYY 1

(Editor's Note- I'm sure everybody has noticed the lack of game threads and comment access over the last few days.  We've deactivated the comment section plugin on the blog because we believed it to be the source of some of the recent spam/site access problems that we've had lately.  We're working on making the fixes to eliminate that problem, but for now we're going to keep everything off until we can be sure that the bugs have been fixed.  The site is still active and there will still be new posts.  Just stick with us while we figure out the tech stuff.  Thanks.) Just when you think the Yankees are maybe getting over these early-season blues, they drop a game like last night's in your face.  This game was everything that's wrong with the Yankees on display: inconsistent starting pitching, complete lack of offense, depth issues, and a shaky front end of the bullpen.  Oh well, still a series victory.

Luis Severino really wasn't bad last night.  His outing really did come down to 3 or 4 bad pitches.  Eliminate those pitches and he threw almost 7 innings of 1-hit ball.  His fastball location was much better than it has been both down in the strike zone and on the corners.  His slider continues to make its way down and out of the strike zone where it can be more often swung and missed at.  Severino retired 10 straight from the 1st to the 4th innings and struck out 4 in a row during the run.  In that sample, he was brilliant.

But those 3-4 bad pitches led to the 4 Boston runs that would make the difference in the game.  One was a Yankee Stadium Special home run off the bat of Dustin Pedroia in the top of the 1st.  The luck on the home run location was bad, but Severino gave Pedroia that chance by throwing a fastball up and down the middle with 2 strikes.  He did the same thing to David Ortiz in the 3rd and Ortiz hit it into the right field bleachers.  And just for good measure, Severino grooved another heater for Ortiz to lead off the 7th and watched that one go sailing over the bullpen too.

Any combination of those home runs was enough to best the weak Yankee lineup.  They can never hit knuckleballers and Steven Wright had his working last night.  He threw a complete game on 101 pitches, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 7.  Brett Gardner got him for a meaningless solo home run in the 9th.  Other than that, Wright put the Yankee hitters in a diaper and left them there all night.  Now we get to hear about how much facing this guy threw them off their game when they score 6 runs combined in the next 4 games.

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Game 27 Quick Recap: NYY 3 BOS 2

It wasn't pretty or easy, but the Yankees squeaked one out last night to join the ranks of the double-digit win teams.  And on Sauv Blanc Day at The Stadium no less!  Congratulations, boys. The Michael Pineda Experience was in full effect to start the game last night.  He got 2 quick outs in the top of the 1st and then gave up a double down the line and a 2-run home run to David Ortiz on a 2-strike slider that hung right in the kill zone.  It looked like we were going to be in for another long night, but to his credit Pineda got it together and pitched 5 more innings without allowing another run.  He had to work out of trouble at times, but he managed to do so without giving up any more back-breaking 2-out, 2-strike hits.  That's a step in the right direction for him.

The offensive output came in 3 short bursts.  Brian McCann doubled in Jacoby Ellsbury to cut the Boston lead in half in the bottom of the 1st and Dustin Ackley singled in Starlin Castro to tie the game in the 2nd.  We stayed knotted up into the late innings when Aaron Hicks finally came through with a big hit.  Rick Porcello threw him a first pitch changeup to start the bottom of the 7th and Hicks was on it all the way, driving it out into the right field bleachers for a go-ahead home run.  It was left up just enough to square up and it sure looked like Hicks was waiting for it.

The finish was not without drama.  Dellin Betances got into some trouble with 2 outs in the 8th and Joe went to Andrew Miller for the 4-out save.  Miller himself got into big trouble by loading the bases with 1 out in the 9th, but he got some help from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa during David Ortiz's at-bat.  Say what you want about the 3-1 pitch, and it looked like it was a strike, but the 3-2 pitch was low.  Kulpa gave Miller the call, punched out Ortiz, and Miller got Hanley Ramirez swinging to end the game.  I'll take it.

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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.

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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 gorgeous changeup outside and down, walked Chris Davis, then erased the walk by inducing a ground ball double play off the bat of Mark Trumbo.

For this piece, I want to focus on CC's strikeouts. He struck out six last night: five swinging and one looking. In fact, the Orioles were swinging at a lot of his pitches.


And they were whiffing on a balls out of the strike zone, especially righty batters like Jones.


Here are their whiffs against CC's changeup which was really working last night:


And now my favorite strikeout of the night, the aforementioned Adam Jones at bat in the sixth:


The best pitch of the at bat was the last one, pitch number five. Jones made a feeble attempt to make contact with an 85.4 mph changeup that tailed away from the plate and stuck out for out number one of the inning.

In this chart, you will notice that four out of CC's six strikeouts were on balls out of the zone:


And these are the pitches he used to finish his at bats. Notice the whiffs on the changeups. Also notice the highest velocity is 91.2 mph:

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

This is the CC Sabathia we all wanted to see. The one whose velocity isn't as high as it used to be, but whose movement tricks batters into weak swings at pitches out of the zone. The crafty lefty. And while it's great that Sabathia stopped the losing streak and contributed in large part to the first shut out of the season for the pitching staff, it's more important that he returned to Baltimore for the first time since one of the darkest points in his life, and he was able to pitch his best game of the season.

[Courtesy of Brooks Baseball]

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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About Last Night: The good, the real ugly, and what's wrong with Betances?

Last night's game was frustrating, maddening, and pathetic to watch. The Yankees' offense, which had been the bane of the team's existence for most of this young season, actually broke out in a good way in Fenway Park against Red Sox starter David Price, but Nathan Eovaldi decided to follow up his near no hitter performance in Texas last week with a positively dreadful performance in Fenway that ruined the Yankees' chances of snapping a four-game losing streak, and instead, extended it to five.

The Good

Alex Rodriguez is suddenly not dead, you guys! It's amazing how 35 plate appearances will make everyone (i.e. beat writers) think that someone's career is over. And I'm not saying that A-Rod didn't look awful in the first eight games of the season, he most certainly did, but that is not a big enough sample size to declare that someone needs to hang it up and call it a career. He was hitting .100/.229/.200 through those first eight games, but since then, he's hit .282/.333/.667. His OPS+ is now an above-average 108. Again, everything is skewed and looks bad because of those first eight games.

So what did A-Rod do last night? He went 2-4 with a home run and double and accounted for four of the six runs the Yankees' offense scored.

His home run swing in the third actually looked kind of weird to me, as if he didn't get all of the ball, but he still hit it to centerfield, just like his home run on Friday night.

Here's last night's home run:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (11)

It was a 93 mph fastball that was high, but caught way too much of the plate and Alex hit it 430 feet.

Then, in the fifth inning, Price made the same mistake, catching too much of the plate with a 94 mph fastball on the fourth pitch of the at bat (and with two strikes) and A-Rod hit it to the same part of the ballpark. He didn't quite get all of it. Instead it was a long, two-run double.

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (12)

So what's different about A-Rod at the plate? In another small sample size, since 4/27, A-Rod has hit three home runs, two doubles and a single. And in some good news, all but one of those hits were off fastballs. Maybe it was just a matter of Rodriguez getting his timing back at the plate. That's a novel concept.

And yes, Rodriguez will go through more rough patches as the season progresses, but this is baseball, and they happen. Maybe next time, some people won't be so quick to bury a player just because he's struggling for eight games.

The real ugly

On the flip side, feel free to want to throw things at Nathan Eovaldi because he is one of the most frustrating players I've ever had the displeasure to watch. It's unbelievable that a guy with his "stuff" can be so awful. And why can't anyone fix him?

Last night in Fenway, he gave up 10 hits in five innings—nine singles and one home run. According to ESPN Stats and Info, four of the singles were off his slider, four were off his fastball, Ortiz's in the fifth was off a splitter, and the home run was a 76 mph curveball that Travis Shaw reached down and poked out of the park.

The most infuriating thing about Eovaldi is that he has good stuff and when it's working, he's un-hittable. Then something happens and he loses everything. Also, Boston has one of the best offenses in the league, and they don't get fooled on many pitches so you have to really mix up your arsenal in order to get them out. That didn't happen for Eovaldi and he threw 100 pitches in five innings. He only struck out three batters, he walked three and the home run to Shaw was a gut punch.

What's wrong With Betances?

Speaking of gut punches, what is wrong with Dellin Betances? He's given up three home runs and a single in his last three outings and last night's long ball to Christian Vazquez, whoever the hell he is*, turned out to be the game-winner.

Vazquez's shot was a first-pitch 97 mph fastball that was right over the plate:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (14)

On Friday, he gave up a home run to David Ortiz on an 83 mph slider that wasn't anywhere near the plate, but Ortiz is Ortiz and he poked it the opposite way over the Green Monster.

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (15)

And last Monday night, during Eovaldi's last outing, he gave up a surprising home run to someone named Brett Nicholas, which luckily didn't effect the outcome of the game, otherwise, the Yankees would be on a seven-game losing streak instead of a five-game losing streak.

It was an 81 mph curveball that didn't curve quite enough:

trumedia_baseball_heatmap (16)

I was always used to "What's Wrong With Mo Week" happening sometime in August, so to see Betances going through his own "What's Wrong Week" this early in the season is odd. Hopefully it's just a blip and he'll return to making guys look silly at the plate.

*The NY Post's back page called Christian Vazquez "someone named Christian Vazquez" and I thought it was funny. People in Boston didn't, but who cares about them.

[Numbers and heat maps courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info and Fangraphs]

Game 23 Quick Recap: BOS 8 NYY 7

There was heavy rain in the forecast all of last night, and there were questions as to whether the Yanks and Sox would get last night's series finale in.  A rainout would have been a better outcome for the Bronx Bummers, as they gagged away another one late to drop the series, their 5th straight game, and their record to a lowly 8-15 on the season. It was all about blown leads for Yankee starter Nathan Eovaldi.  He was given a 3-1 lead in the 3rd after a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI double and a 2-run home run by Alex Rodriguez and he promptly blew it in the bottom half by giving up 3 runs on 4 singles and a walk.  The offense came back with 3 runs in the 5th on a 2-run double by A-Rod and RBI single by Mark Teixeira, and Eovaldi blew that lead in the bottom of the inning by serving up a 2-run homer to Travis Shaw.  For once it wasn't the offense's fault.  They gave Eovaldi plenty of run support and he couldn't make any of it stick.

The 6-6 tie lasted until the bottom of the 7th, when Ivan Nova sandwiched 2 outs around a Shaw base hit and exited for Dellin Betances.  Betances has been scuffling lately with some poorly placed curveballs, but it was the heater that failed him last night.  Christian Vazquez was sitting fastball on the first pitch and Dellin threw one right down the pipe.  Vazquez hit it for the go-ahead 2-run shot, giving him his first home run of the season and the Red Sox the sweep of the series.  The Yankees scratched a run across on a double and a wild pitch in the 8th, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback.  5 losses in a row, 9 of the last 12, and 13 of the last 17.  Truly pathetic stuff.

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Game 22: Pineda vs. Porcello

Chase "Deadball Era Power" Headley has not had an extra-base hit since September 27, 2015. That's a stretch of 24 games and 92 PA with nary a double, triple, or home run. That being said, he is a career .286/.333/.571 hitter against Rick Porcello, with a double and a home run in 15 PA. Could tonight be the night that he rediscovers some semblance of pop?

New York Yankees Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Mookie Betts, RF
Brett Gardner, LF Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B David Ortiz, DH
Alex Rodriguez, DH Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Brian McCann, C Travis Shaw, 3B
Starlin Castro, 2B Brock Holt, LF
Didi Gregorius, SS Christian Vazquez, C
Chase Headley, 3B Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Michael Pineda, SP Rick Porcello, SP
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Game 21 Quick Recap: BOS 4 NYY 2

I didn't catch a second of this game and I'm really glad about that.  Feels like I've already said that 2 or 3 times this season.  That can't be a good thing.  Whatever, the Yankees aren't a good thing either.  They stink. - Masahiro Tanaka was a beast for the first 6 innings, holding the Red Sox lineup to 3 hits and no runs.  He tired in the 7th, put a few runners on, and Joe left him in the game one batter too long.  Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a 2-out, 2-run double off the Green Monster to tie the game at 2 and end Tanaka's night.

- Dellin Betances was ready to enter in the 7th and Joe didn't go to him.  He came out in a tie game in the 8th and served up his second straight home run to a left-handed batter, David Ortiz to be specific, to put the Yankees behind 4-2 and take the loss.  From a 2-0 lead with 2 outs in the 7th to a 4-2 deficit in a handful of batters.  Those are the type of games the Yankees expect to win, but the bullpen formula failed this time.

- The offense was non-existent again.  A-Rod hit a solo home run early, Starlin Castro went 2-3 with a triple, and Brett Gardner had 2 hits and a ribbie single.  The rest of the team went 1-18.

- Chase Headley Watch: 0-3 at the plate and made his second error of the season in the field.  He's hitting .140/.265/.140.

- The Yankees have scored 74 runs in 21 games.  They've been held to 2 or less in 11 of those 21 games.  It's pathetic.  It really is.

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