Game 13 Quick Recap: OAK 5 NYY 2

Early runs, no big hits with RISP, pitcher stung by one bad inning.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Nathan Eovaldi was the victim of the one bad inning and the lack of offensive support last night.  His body of work wasn't bad (6 IP, 3 ER, 7 K), but he gave up 3 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles, and a sac fly by the first 5 batters of the 4th inning and that was all it took to set him up for the loss.

The offense didn't get completely shut out.  Didi Gregorius staked the Yankees to an early lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd.  But they didn't score again until the bottom of the 8th and that was on another solo shot by Carlos Beltran.  In between it was a whole lot of nothing.

That home run would have meant a realistic chance at a tie or walk-off win in the 9th had it not been for Branden Pinder in the top half of the inning.  He loaded the bases on 11 pitches (2 singles, walk) and Khris Davis cashed in with a 2-run single up the middle.  4-run lead heading into the final 2 innings might as well be a 4,000 run lead against this pathetic Yankee offense.

I haven't been watching a lot of the recent games because I've been participating in Milwaukee Beer Week, but it sounds like that's been for the best.  Not a lot of fun to be had watching this team right now.

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Game 13: Graveman vs. Eovaldi

Welcome to tonight's game thread. Here are the lineups:

Oakland A's New York Yankees
Billy Burns, CF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Chris Coghlan, 2B Starlin Castro, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF Carlos Beltran, RF
Danny Valencia, 3B Mark Teixeira, 1B
Stephen Vogt, C Brian McCann, C
Jed Lowrie, DH Alex Rodriguez, DH
Khris Davis, LF Chase Headley, 3B
Yonder Alonso, 1B Didi Gregorius, SS
Marcus Semien, SS Aaron Hicks, LF
Kendall Graveman, SP Nathan Eovaldi, SP

Enjoy the game.

Game 12 Quick Recap: OAK 3 NYY 2 (11 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_81059" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Gardner vs OAK 16 Brett Gardner notices a black widow spider near home plate and removes his batting helmet to crush it. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] I'm giving this game the quick treatment because it doesn't really need or deserve any in-depth commentary.  We've seen this game time and time again over the last few years.  Blown leads, blown chances, and an offense that completely disappears from the face of the earth and leaves the bullpen hanging in the late innings.  The Yankees stink right now.  That is a fact.

They jumped out to an early lead in the 1st on a 2-out rally started by a Carlos Beltran double and completed by an Alex Rodriguez RBI base hit.  Of course Michael Pineda gave that right back in the top of the 2nd on a trio of singles.  Two of them were ground balls against the shift, which is not Big Mike's fault, but you can't be getting behind 3-0 to a guy and forced to throw a meatball strike in that situation.

The Yanks regained the lead in the 5th when Brett Gardner walked, moved to third base on Starlin Castro's double, and scored on a Beltran sac fly. Aaaaand then Pineda gave that lead right back by giving up a leadoff triple to Danny Valencia in the 6th and watching him score on a GB single.  Gardner gave a heck of an effort but that ball was falling in for a triple regardless.  That's on Mike.

After that the offense went in the toilet.  They wasted 2 baserunners in the bottom of the 6th and went down in order in the 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th.  Chase Headley singled to start a rally in the bottom of the 9th, but pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal to snuff it out.  The bullpen hosses did all they could to extend the game, but Johnny Barbato got touched up for a couple hits in his second inning of work in the top of the 11th and the deal was sealed.

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Quick Hit: Calling All Questions

Less than 7% of the Yankees 2016 is in the books. Let that sink in for a moment. In this era of hot takes (or #hottakes), instant gratification, and inane (or insane) editorials by Randy Levine, we all want to draw conclusions from the precious little information that we have in front of us. Is Jacoby Ellsbury - he of the .240/.296/.337 (74 wRC+) line since September of 2014 - toast? Is Deldrew Millances a force for fascism in Major League Baseball? Should the rotation's credo be 'Masahiro Tanaka, and pray for four days of rain?' Could Starlin Castro really be one of the five-best second basemen in baseball?

Some of these questions are answerable, based largely on the same information that we had to work with before the season actually began. Eleven baseball games - again, less than 7% of the season - doesn't offer a whole lot of information, after all. But where's the fun in that?

With all that being said, I submit the following to you, the readers: ask me whatever question(s) your heart may desire about the Yankees or baseball on the whole. Nothing is too silly or too complex. You may ask it right here in the comments, or on Twitter.

I shall do my best to answer every question with limited sarcasm. Unlike most 'all questions answered' posts, however, I will not be responding in the comments or on Twitter. Instead, I will make a longer post right here on Friday.

You may fire when ready.

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Tuesday Morning Links: 4/19/16

Remember when I said I was changing up the regular Friday links routine and going for 2 or 3 mini links posts per week?  Yeah, well I guess I'm a dirty, rotten liar.  I think this is the 3rd or 4th week in a row that I've done links on Tuesday.  Whatever.  I'm like the Yankee front office.  The actions never seem to match the words, gotta keep people on their toes.  Here they are: - Last Thursday, Stacey analyzed Nathan Eovaldi's entire career to date over at BP Bronx to see if we can reasonably expect his results to ever improve enough to match his stuff.

- Chad Jennings discussed the Yankees' early problems with bench production and hitting left-handed pitching.  Good to know some things never change.

- Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs evaluated Ronald Torreyes' strange tool makeup and MLB potential with his KATOH system.

- On Friday, Alphonso of It Is High... worried that this year is already shaping up to be the same as last year.  Don't lose that confidence!

- On Saturday, Matt Provenzano of Pinstripe Alley took a look at Johnny Barbato's stuff through the PITCHf/x microscope to show how it's plenty good enough to stick in the show.

- On Sunday, Matt Imbrogno of RAB shone the spotlight on A-Rod's early struggles against the fastball.  This is concerning only because we saw the exact opposite early on last year.

- On Monday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog investigated the trend of American League bullpens getting deeper and better and the impact that may be having on offensive production in the league.

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About Last Night: Betances and Miller. Holy s%^&!

An extensive number of articles have been written about the construction of the New York Yankees' bullpen leading into the season and in most of them, they've made mention of the appearance of the ternary of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman and how it would mean bad things for opposing batters. Yesterday afternoon against the Seattle Mariners, Yankee fans finally saw what two of the three ternary members are capable of when the Yankees' starter lasts through the seventh and has handed them a lead going into the eighth inning. To say it was incredible would almost be an understatement. It was wondrous, marvelous, amazing, otherworldly, and every other word you can think of to describe something that's genuinely awesome and immensely fun to watch. Here's how Miller has pitched so far this season. Granted it's a minuscule sample size, but it's still splendid:

export (5)

Notice the strikes to balls ratio and how few balls have been in play. He has struck out 12 batters, hasn't walked a batter and has only given up two singles in five innings of work. Oh, and he hasn't given up a run.

Here's how Betances has pitched so far this season. Again, small sample size, blah blah blah. Just look:

export (6)

Betances has had more appearances and has pitched a full inning more than Miller, but even so, his numbers are also quite impressive. He has struck out 15 batters, walked two and has given up three hits. Betances has three runs in his stat line, but they were unearned thanks to that error against Houston.

As I said in the intro, yesterday's game was fun because we finally got to see a starter make it through the seventh inning with a lead (Thanks for running Brett Gardner!) which set up an appearance for Betances and Miller alone—none of the middle relievers were needed. And what did they do yesterday? Oh, nothing, they just struck out the side in each inning in which they appeared.

Ho hum.

Here's Betances:

Betances threw eight curveballs in the inning and threw five four-seam fastballs.

Here's how he mixed his pitches by velocity (from a low of 83.8 mph to a high of 99.1 mph):

BetancesPitchspeed

Betances finished all three of his at bats with his curveball.

betanceslastpitchAB

Honestly, how the heck is anyone supposed to hit that?

Here's Miller:

As you can see from the video, Miller had his slider working. It was really sliding and when it does that, it's impossible to hit or in some cases, even swing.

When you have an out pitch like that, you use it for strike three and yesterday it worked every time.

lastpitchofABmiller

Here's how Miller mixed his pitches by velocity (from a low of 83.8 mph to a high of 98.2 mph):

pitchspeedMiller

Again, when these guys are on, it's impossible to do anything against them.

I mentioned the following numbers in yesterday's recap, but it bears repeating: In their last nine innings, Betances and Miller have not given up an earned run, have only allowed two hits, they have not surrendered a walk and they have struck out 23 batters. They have a 22.5 and 21.6 K/9 for the season, so far, respectively.

And here's a bonus fun fact that was blasted all over Twitter after yesterday's win: Of the 33 outs recorded by Betances and Miller this year, 27 of them have been strikeouts.

So yes, it's very early, and yes, we are still awaiting Aroldis Chapman's arrival, but yesterday, the eighth and ninth innings were a lot of fun to watch and let's hope that they were a sign of good things to come.

[Heat maps, charts, and numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info and Brooks Baseball]

Monday Morning Musings: 4/18/16

Two weeks down, many more to go.  The Yankees snapped their pesky losing streak yesterday with a 1-run win over the Mariners.  They've got another off-day today before welcoming the A's and Rays to town for the rest of this week.  6 games this week, all at home.  That's a helluva good opportunity to turn this recent offensive slump around and get back over .500.  Here are some thoughts on the happenings over the first 2 weeks: - It was good to see Alex Rodriguez get off the schneid with his 2-run homer to left to get the scoring started yesterday.  It was even better to see him do it against a fastball, which has given him plenty of problems over the first 10 games.  According to Brooks Baseball, A-Rod has seen 44 4-seam fastballs so far and has swung and missed at over 20% of them.  He's also swung and missed at over 13% of the 2-seamers he's seen, so clearly the heat is giving him some trouble.

Last year he surprised a lot of people by showing good bat speed and squaring up a lot of good fastballs.  This year it's been the exact opposite.  Iwakuma doesn't exactly throw smoke either, so I'd still like to see A-Rod do some damage against something moving 94, 95, 96 like he did so often last season.  Hopefully he can use yesterday as a springboard to correct whatever's been causing the early fastball struggles.

- Speaking of fastballs, it was better than good to see the return of Masahiro Tanaka's FB velocity yesterday.  He threw 10 4-seamers and averaged 93.2 MPH on those pitches, maxing out at 94.5.  He also hit 93 with his sinker a few times, both of those values far above what he was throwing in his first 2 starts.  We heard Larry Rothschild say recently that Tanaka needs to stop thinking so much on the mound and trust his arm and his stuff.  Perhaps yesterday was the first instance of him taking that advice and letting it go with the heater.  He looked like a much different pitcher yesterday than he did in his first 2 starts, like he wasn't holding anything back.  If he can consistently stay 92-94 with his fastball, it's going to make the rest of his offspeed stuff that much more effective.

- Carlos Beltran certainly looks like he's picked up right where he left off last year.  After hitting .292/.364/.513 in the second half, he's off to a .341/.357/.610 start in his first 11 games.  He's not going to sustain that line over the whole year or even the rest of this month, but the hot start and the positive eye test is an encouraging sign that he can remain productive in this final year of his deal.  He looks completely relaxed and balanced at the plate, and his at-bats more than anybody else on the team's seem to end with hard contact.

- On the opposite end of that spectrum, the bench production has been lacking in the early going.  Dustin Ackley doesn't have a hit in 8 plate appearances, Aaron Hicks only has 1 in 13, and Austin Romine hasn't made anybody forget that he's Austin Romine.  The only player swinging a decent bat off the bench is Ronald Torreyes, who is 6-12, and he was expected to be the weakest offensive link of the bench group.  It could just be a matter of adjusting to irregular playing time and I'm sure Joe is going to start working Hicks in more to keep his outfield starters fresh, but it would be nice to see these guys hit a little bit when they're in the game.

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Game 11 Quick recap: Yankees 4, Mariners 3

Alex Rodriguez's 689th home run not only snapped an 0-19 skid, but it helped the Yankees win today's game, stave off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners and it helped avoid an overall five-game losing streak.

Phew!

Other good stuff from today's much needed win:

  • Masahiro Tanaka became the first Yankees starter this season to pitch through the seventh inning. Coming into today's game only the Yankees, Reds, and Marlins were among that elite club of ineptitude. Tanaka gave up three runs on six hits in those seven innings and he also struck out six. Another good sign from Tanaka was that he was reaching 94 on the radar gun. Velocity issues? What velocity issues?
  • Dellin Betances came into the game in the eighth inning and struck out the side. He's done that in each of his last four appearances.
  • Andrew Miller came into the game to close and boy did he ever. He also struck out the side. This is what their last nine innings look like: 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 23 K which works out to a 22.5 (Betances) and 21.6 (Miller) K/9. Can you imagine what the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings will look like once Aroldis Chapman joins the team?

Shocked-Cat

One bad thing: The Yankees were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position this afternoon. But hey, it's better than having an 0fer, I guess.

Another bad thing: Jacoby Ellsbury's misplay in the fifth on Norichika Aoki's triple which led to Seth Smith tying the game on a single. This is not the first time that a Ellsbury misplay in the outfield has hurt the Yankees, but thankfully, they scored in the sixth and ended up winning the game.

The Yankees get to enjoy today's win with an off day tomorrow before welcoming the Oakland A's to the Stadium for a three-game series that starts Tuesday night.

Sunday Morning News And Notes: 4/17/16

Sorry I wasn't around yesterday, gang.  Milwaukee Beer Week started yesterday and there were some festivities in which I had to participate after a long work week.  Let's catch up on what's been happening the last few days, shall we? - The Yankees have lost each of the first 2 games of this Seattle series, both very winnable games that the Mariners seemingly did everything in their power to give away.  The Yanks were done in by their ridiculous run of early-season RISPFail and the dreaded "1 bad inning" from their starters.  But hey, the bullpen still looks great, right??

- The RISPFail has been really, really bad.  The team is 3-46 with runners in scoring position over their last 5 games, and if I'm not mistaken I believe 2 of those 3 hits only advanced a runner to third and did not score him.  That makes it pretty easy to understand how the Yanks have gone 1-4 in those last 5 games and scored 10 total runs.

- Alex Rodriguez is 0 for his last 19 after taking an 0-5 with 3 Ks yesterday and is down to .103/.235/.207 on the year.  It looks to me like he's seeing the ball well enough, his swing is just a little slow.  It's way too early to start fretting about how bad he'll be for the rest of this year, but I have to think Joe will bump him down in the order today for Carlos Beltran.  You can't have your worst hitter batting third while your team is struggling to score runs.

- One good thing the Yankees are doing offensively right now is stealing bases.  They swiped 3 yesterday and come into today's series finale tied with the Astros for the MLB lead with 11.  Interestingly enough, Chase Headley is tied for the team lead with 3.  He didn't steal a single base last year.  Something something, you can't predict baseball.

- Also, the bullpen.  Holy crap it's been good.  Tops in MLB in fWAR (1.1), FIP (1.78), and K rate (33.1%).  Collectively they've faced 136 batters in 32.1 innings pitched and struck out 45 of them.  That's insane.  Dellin Betances has fanned 12 of the 21 guys he's faced so far, and Andrew Miller has K'd 9 of the 14 he's faced.  Admittedly this group is top-heavy, with Betances, Miller, Chasen Shreve, and Johnny Barbato doing the heavy lifting and combining for a 0.00 ERA, but the numbers aren't any less impressive.

- And how about Barbato?  Another scoreless appearance yesterday, giving him 5 on the young season in 6.0 IP.  He's struck out 9 to just 2 walks and given up only 2 hits.  His stuff continues to look plenty good to be effective at this level and he pitches with the aggressiveness that some of the Yankees' other Triple-A shuttle guys lacked last year.  No chance he should even be in consideration for a shuttle trip if he continues to pitch well.

- James Kaprielian made his second start of the MiL season yesterday.  He didn't allow an earned run in 7 innings, but it was his defensive error that led to 3 unearned runs.  He also only gave up 1 hit and struck out 4, so it doesn't look like his time in Tampa is going to be very long.

We'll have a game thread later this afternoon and I'll be back for the recap later tonight, I promise.  Let's see if the boys can't break out of this funk today and win one.

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Game 11: Try not to get swept, thanks

Today is a big day in Japan. Five years after they were teammates in Japan Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma will become the first former teammates from Japan to start against each other in the majors. They were matched up against each other back in 2014, but that game was rained out. Today's contest will be airing at 2:05 a.m. over in Japan and a big audience is expected to tune in. As for what's happening here in the states, the Yankees are trying to avoid getting swept by Seattle and also trying to avoid a five-game losing streak overall. Their last win was on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. Tanaka got the start, but didn't get the win.

Today, Joe Girardi is switching things up a bit in the starting lineup. Alex Rodriguez, who is in an 0 for 19 skid has been moved down to sixth while Carlos Beltran has been moved up to third. A-Rod, who says he's having mechanical issues with his swing, is 3-3 with three strike outs in his career against Iwakuma. Anyone else thinking home run? No?

Also, Ronald Torreyes is getting the start at third over Chase Headley who is also ice cold so far this season.

Here are the lineups (courtesy of Gameday):

41716LINEUPS

Enjoy the game!

Game 10 - CC vs The King

The New York Yankees are in a bit of a slide and can use a win. Facing the ace of the Seattle Mariners' staff doesn't seem to help. If the Yankees can make Nathan Karns and Vidal Nuno look like All Stars, how will they compete against Felix Hernandez? The beauty of baseball means anything can happen. CC Sabathia goes for the Yankees.

The Lineups:

Seattle Mariners:

  1. Nori Aoki - LF
  2. Ketel Marte - SS
  3. Robinson Cano - 2B
  4. Nelson Cruz - DH
  5. Franklin Gutierrez - RF
  6. Chris Iannetta - C
  7. Dae-ho Lee - 1B
  8. Leonys Martin - CF
  9. Luis Sardinas - 3B

Felix Hernandez - SP (0-1, 0.69 ERA)

New York Yankees

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

CC Sabathia - SP (1-0, 4.50 ERA)

The game starts at 1:05 and can be seen on The YES Network and on The MLB Network. Enjoy the game!

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Game 9: Karns vs. Severino

It looks like Joe Girardi is shaking things up a bit - and, no, I'm not talking about Alex Rodriguez getting the day off. Chase Headley is batting ninth tonight, and the sweet-swinging middle infield duo is moving on up.

Seattle Mariners New York Yankees
Nori Aoki, LF Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Seth Smith, DH Brett Gardner, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B Mark Teixeira, 1B
Nelson Cruz, RF Brian McCann, C
Kyle Seager, 3B Carlos Beltran, RF
Adam Lind, 1B Dustin Ackley, DH
Chris Iannetta, C Starlin Castro, 2B
Leonys Martin, CF Didi Gregorius, SS
Ketel Marte, SS Chase Headley, 3B
Nate Karns, SP Luis Severino, SP
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The Underrated Jackie Robinson

[Note: This piece was originally published in 2013, but I felt that it made sense to revisit it today. - Domenic] Over the past week or so, there has been much ado about Jackie Robinson - and deservedly so, at that. To many, myself included, Robinson towers over the game of baseball a la the Colossus at Rhodes, marking a turning point in not only the game that we all know and love, but in the United States as a whole. The courage and grace that Robinson displayed has become a part of the mythology that is our sport's history, transmogrifying the man himself into something of a myth. That is not to say, of course, that Robinson is not deserving of the mighty stature that has been affixed to his memory. Rather, that the narrative has markedly obscured one simple fact that seems to be glossed over in discussions and commemorations of the man who broke baseball's color barrier:

Jackie Robinson was really freaking good at baseball.

I am quite certain that this statement elicited its fair share of groans, duhs, and eye rolls. Of course Jackie Robinson was a great baseball player - he's in the Hall of Fame, for heaven's sake! If only it were that simple.

A simple Google search regarding whether Jackie Robinson was overrated, or whether Jackie Robinson belongs in the Hall of Fame will elicit a staggering amount of pooh-poohing over the "politics" of Robinson's induction. You will find dozens of arguments revolving around his abbreviated career, comparisons of his raw career totals to others that are clear-cut non-Hall of Famers, and so forth. Some of this is certainly argued out of either a quest for attention or a flag in the sand for non-conformity, and yet it is disheartening all the same.

Beyond the meandering discourse that is the Internet as a whole, much of the discussion of Jackie Robinson on the ESPN's and MLB Network's of the world has echoed similar sentiment. It was presented much more eloquently, to be sure, but there was nevertheless a concerted effort eschewing Robinson's resume in favor of his legend. Listening between the lines, you can discern something of an ignorance to Robinson's greatness on the field - once more, with much of it beginning and ending with his comparatively brief career.

All the blustering aside, I am quite certain that relatively few realize just how great a ballplayer Jackie Robinson was. Consider Robinson's ranks among second basemen with at least 4000 career plate appearances (to Robinson's 5802):

  • Fourth in wRC+ (tied with Joe Morgan)
  • Tenth in BB%
  • Sixteenth in FanGraphs WAR (among 205 2B with 4000+ PA)
  • Seventeenth in BsR (base-running runs)

Impressive placement in all categories, to be sure. The latter two categories - WAR and BsR - are made all the more impressive by Robinson's brief career, as both are counting statistics. And to those who may suggest the contrary for his ranks in wRC+ and BB% (that is, his career was shorter and lacked the standard decline phase), consider that Robinson did not make it to the Majors until he was 28 years old, and past the traditional athletic prime for most players.

At his peak - which, again, came after his athletic prime (spent in the Negro Leagues and in the United States military) - Robinson was even better than the above numbers would suggest. Robinson led the National League in Baseball-Reference WAR in 1949, 1951, and 1952, and finished in the top-ten on four additional occasions. In 1949, Robinson won the NL MVP - the first and only time that he took home the hardware. However, he may well have deserved the award in 1951 and 1952.

In 1951, the award went to fellow Dodger Roy Campanella. It goes without saying that Campanella was great that season, posting 6.7 WAR, and placing in the top-five in the NL in batting average, doubles, home runs, SLG, OPS+, and RBI. Robinson, however, was greater, with 9.7 WAR, and besting Campanella in batting average, runs, SB, and OBP.

In 1952, the NL MVP was given to Chicago Cubs outfielder Hank Sauer, who led the league in home runs and RBI, and placed fifth with 5.7 WAR. Once more, Robinson led the league in WAR, besting Sauer in WAR (by 2.8!), batting average, runs, stolen bases, walks, OBP, and OPS+.

Over the ten years that Robinson played in the Majors, only Stan Musial and Ted Williams produced more FanGraphs WAR. Only fifteen players produced a better wRC+. No player stole more bases. From 1949 to 1953 - Robinson's peak - only Musial produced more FanGraphs WAR, and only Williams, Musial, and Kiner bested him in wRC+. Again, Jackie Robinson was really freaking good at baseball, comparing favorably to his peers ... who just so happened to be some of the very best to play the game.

Inevitably, the legend of Jackie Robinson will continue to cast an inky shadow over his statistical resume. And, handwringing aside, it is difficult to suggest that that should not be the case. Robinson is the most important player in the history of Major League Baseball, and his greatness on the field need not presuppose that fact. Regardless, it is a credit to Jackie Robinson's memory to take a peak behind the curtain, and realize that one of the greatest men in the history of the game was also one of the finest players to step onto the diamond.

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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.

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Game 8: Eovaldi vs. Stroman

New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Kevin Pillar, CF
Brett Gardner, LF Josh Donaldson, 3B
Alex Rodriguez, DH Jose Bautista, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Brian McCann, C Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Carlos Beltran, RF Michael Saunders, LF
Chase Headley, 3B Chris Colabello, 1B
Starlin Castro, 2B Russell Martin, C
Didi Gregorius, SS Ryan Goins, 2B
Nathan Eovaldi, SP Marcus Stroman, SP
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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.

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Game 7: Pineda vs. Happ

You know the Yankees have a deep lineup when a career .545/.583/.818 hitter is batting eighth.

New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Kevin Pillar, CF
Aaron Hicks, LF Josh Donaldson, 3B
Alex Rodriguez, DH Jose Bautista, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Carlos Beltran, RF Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Starlin Castro, 2B Michael Saunders, LF
Chase Headley, 3B Russell Martin, C
Ronald Torreyes, SS Justin Smoak, 1B
Austin Romine, C Ryan Goins, 2B
Michael Pineda, SP J.A. Happ, SP
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Quick Hit: McCann's Toe Injury

If you watched last night's game, you were probably a little uneasy seeing Brian McCann limp around the bases for his game-tying home run and move gingerly in general after taking a foul ball off his left foot in the middle of the game.  It was serious enough for him to get checked out by trainers on the field at one point, but not serious enough for him to come out of the game until the 9th inning. The early concern was that his left big toe could be broken and there were plans to have McCann X-rayed after he came out.  Instead he had some blood drained from the toe and a fluoroscope taken at Rogers Centre.  That doesn't sound like an actual medical procedure to me, but I'm not a doctor and it showed no break, so for now the team is calling it a bruised left toe and waiting to see how McCann feels today.

Joe announced after last night's game ended that McCann would get tonight off, so bare minimum this is something serious enough to keep him out of action for 1 game and get him tagged with the old "day-to-day" label.  Beyond that we don't know right now, although I imagine we will find out more as today progresses.  It goes without saying that losing McCann for any extended period of time would be a big blow.  He's been the hottest hitter in the lineup since Opening Day.  Hopefully this is something that keeps him out for a day or 2 and doesn't linger as the season goes on.

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