Game Recap · Uncategorized

Weekend Recap

This weekend the Yankees played a three game series against the Baltimore Orioles and boy was it a rough one to watch. It seems like every single year this team gets off to a bad start. Let’s just hope this April isn’t as bad as the last one.

Friday: Yankees 5, Orioles 6

The Yankees were up 5-1 at the halfway point of this game. The the offense looked good and starting pitcher Luis Severino was going strong having allowed just one run through 4 IP. He was throwing hard and using his changeup pretty effectively, which is exactly what we wanted to see. Then, with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the fifth, Sevy walked OF Adam Jones. Adam Jones, the guy with the 4.5% career walk rate. It was Severino’s lone walk of the game, but it cost him big, as instead of getting Jones out and ending the inning, he had two guys on based with Manny Machado coming up to the plate. Machado made him pay, as he does, by launching a 3-run home run to bring the O’s within 1.

Severino managed to get out of the inning with the lead intact, but it was his last of the evening. He finished with 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, and 6 K. Joe Girardi then handed the game over to the at that time shutdown Yankees bullpen. Holder and Layne combined for a perfect inning, but then in the seventh inning the bullpen’s scoreless streak came to an end. Jonathan Schoop reached second due to a throwing error by Chase Headley, J.J. Hardy bunted him over to third, and then Seth Smith hit the go-ahead two-run home run. That was that. The O’s bullpen retired the Yanks 6 up and 6 down in the eighth and ninth to seal the deal.

To make matters worse, Greg Bird had to leave the game late due to discomfort in his right ankle. That’s the same ankle he fouled a pitch off of in a March 30 Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. Apparently it’s been bothering him all season, which could explain his sub-par hitting so far. The good news is x-rays came back negative, so it looks like he’s just a little banged up. Hopefully with some rest he’ll be good as new in a few days.

There were a couple Yankees highlights this game. Both Matt Holliday and Gary Sanchez hit their first home runs of the season. Both of them were 2-run shots off Ubaldo Jiminez.

Holliday:

Have yourself a game, Matt Holliday! 💪🏼💪🏼

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Sanchez:

🚨🐙🚨🐙 The Kraken is back. 🚨🐙🚨🐙

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Nice to see some balls flying off of bats that don’t belong to Ronald Torreyes.

Saturday: Yankees 4, Orioles 5

More Blown leads! In a near carbon copy of Friday night’s game, the Yankees had the lead 4-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Starter Masahiro Tanaka was absolutely dealing. His pitch count was low, he was striking guys out and inducing a lot of weak contact. When guys were reaching, it was pretty much exclusively on bloop singles or infield hits. It was a completely different Tanaka than the one we saw in the opener.

But then the fifth happened. Seth Smith singled on a line drive to center, Tanaka plunked Adam Jones, Manny Machado hit an RBI double, Chris Davis walked, and Mark Trumbo drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Tanaka would go on to walk Wellington Castillo as well before ending an inning in which he threw 30+ pitches. The first four innings were primetime Tanaka. The fifth inning was anything but.

Adam Warren came in from the bullpen and pitched a shutout sixth inning, not much unlike Friday’s game. Warren also started off the seventh, but with the left-handed hitting Chris Davis coming up to the plate, Girardi opted to pull Warren and bring in southpaw Tommy Layne. Davis doubled, and Layne got pulled for Dellin Betances. Betances allowed an RBI single to Mark Trumbo, who stole second (!), and then was driven in by a Hyun Soo Kim single. And that was that. The Orioles took a 5-4 lead and never looked back. The O’s bullpen pitched a shutout eighth and ninth and took another win from the Yanks.

Of note is the fact that Baltimore stole 2 bases in the game on Saturday after having stolen 19 bases total in all of 2016. The last time they stole 2 bases in a game was October 1….2015.

Piling on to the Friday night parallels, Gary Sanchez had to leave the game in the fifth with an apparent injury after taking a hard swing in an at-bat. He tried taking another swing right after and winced. That was enough for the team to take him out of there. The official diagnosis is a right bicep strain, and Sanchez has been placed on the 10-day DL. Fuck. With James Kaprielian and Bird both being sidelined with injuries already, this is an especially hard pill to swallow. The only thing the Yankees and Sanchez can do now though is wait for as long as it takes until he’s 100% again. There’s no use rushing him back into game action and risk hurting him even more. It’s not like the Yankees are really competing this season anyway. At least they aren’t playing like it (Sorry, it’s just been a rough weekend. I don’t mean that. I know they’re trying very hard.).

Sunday: Yankees 7, Orioles 3

Finally, something good to come out of the weekend, although it didn’t start off that way. This game was looking more like the first two of the series until the sixth inning, at which point the Yankees were down 3-0. Orioles’s starter Wade Miley had allowed 7 walks in the five previous innings and the Yankees had managed to do absolutely nothing with all of the opportunities that were basically being handed over to them. They finished the game 2-10 with RISP and it was largely due to those first five innings.

Then in the sixth Aaron Judge hit a scorching line drive single to left. This wasn’t just any scorching line drive single though. This particular scorching line drive single landed at the base of the left field wall. Judge hit it so unbelievably hard though that it was already in the fielder’s glove by the time he got to first. You want some Statcast data? Well here it comes. The ball left Judge’s bat at an exit velocity of 115.9 MPH, the fourth fastest so far this season. At a launch angle of 17.3 degrees, it traveled 342 ft before bouncing off the left field wall. It was one of the most impressive singles you’ll ever see.

Austine Romine followed Judge with a single of his own, bringing Ronald Torreyes to the plate, that’s right, Yankees slugger Ronald Toreyes, who belted a ball deep to right field that landed in for a 2 RBI triple, putting the team on the board. Signs of life.

The Orioles got out of that inning, but then in the top of the eighth, the Yanks still down by one, Judge came back up to the plate, and this happened:

Finished the road trip with a win and we're (finally) coming HOME. See you in the Bronx tomorrow, Yankees fans!

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Now this might sound crazy, but that ball wasn’t nearly as well hit as the single. I mean look at it. It comes off the end of the bat. You barely even hear a pop. Judge is just so ridiculously strong that he’s still able to take that pitch yard to tie up the game.

Betances shut down the O’s in the eighth, and then between walks, hits, and errors the top of the ninth was an absolute free-for-all for the Yankees as they scored 4 runs, allowing them to turn the ball over to Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory.

A couple notes of interest. Although he didn’t play, this was C Kyle Higashioka’s first major league game in pinstripes after nearly a decade in the Yankees farm system. After Sanchez got put on the DL, apparently Higashioka got the call from the team while he was out to dinner with his wife in Buffalo. He got in a car almost immediately and was in Baltimore by 2 a.m. the day of the game. I can’t even imagine how exciting that must have been for him. Hopefully he gets to see a little game action soon.

Also of note, Matt Holliday walked 5 times in Sunday’s game in 5 plate appearances. Not only is he just 1 of about 100 MLB players to walk 5 times in one game, but he’s 1 of 20 players to do so in 5 plate appearances, and 1 of 12 to do so without getting walked intentionally at all. Wild stuff.

So yeah, not a great weekend for the Yankees overall with the losses and the injuries, but at least they ended it on a high note. Today is the home opener against the Rays. The game starts at 1:05 EST. Preview to come.

Game Recap

Game 3: Yankees 1, Rays 4

So this was kind of a hard one to stomach, mainly because everything I mentioned in the preview that had gone wrong for Michael Pineda last season happened last night. Well, that and the distinct lack of offense from the Yankees lineup. Let’s talk about Pineda first though.

Here’s the check list of issues I outlined in the preview: high home run rate, bad luck, difficulty finishing innings. Why don’t we run through them one by one?

High Home Run Rate. Check.

The trouble began almost instantly for Pineda when he gave up a leadoff home run to Rays DH Cory Dickerson. He missed his spot with his fastball and Dickerson made him pay for it. Off to a bad start.

Bad Luck. Check.

Pitchers can’t control everything that happens to them, particularly what happens to the ball after it comes off the hitter’s bat. Things like weird hops and fielding errors on routine plays happen all the time, and you can’t fault a pitcher for them. Sometimes, though, the field itself might decide to impose its will on the ball and screw things up for the pitcher. We saw it happen on Tuesday to the Rays on the fly ball to left that Matt Holliday hit. On Wednesday, we saw it happen to the Yankees. With no outs and a man on first in the second inning, Logan Morrison hit a towering fly ball to right field. At just about any other field it would’ve been a routine out. Not at the Trop though. The ball went so high that it bounced off of one of the catwalks on the roof of the dome and landed on the field in between Aaron Judge and Starlin Castro. There is literally nothing Pineda could have done about that, and instead of having a man on first with one out, he ended up with two runners on and no outs. Bad luck.

Difficulty Finishing Innings. Check.

After the funky pop-up single by Morrison, Pineda struck out Tim Beckham. 1 out. A wild pitch allowed Morrison and Steven Souza Jr. to advance to second and third. Still 1 out. Mallex Smith hits a week ground ball to the third base with Souza Jr. going home on contact. Headley makes the smart play and goes home with the ball. In spite of a bad throw, Sanchez was able to get the tag down (maybe?) on Souza Jr. for the out at the plate. Tampa challenged the call on the field, but it was upheld due to lack of sufficient evidence to overturn. 2 outs. Uh oh. With runners on first and third, Pineda proceeded to give up three straight singles, two of them on two strike counts. You just can’t do that. The Yankees could have gotten out of the inning unscathed, but instead the Rays put three on the board and the Yankees never caught up.

Pineda was pulled in the fourth inning. His final line was 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 6 K, 1 HR. On a more positive note, the Yankees bullpen continued their streak of excellence this season, with Tommy Layne, Adam Warren, and Chasen Shreve combining for 4.1 no-hit innings.

On the offensive side of the ball the Yankees were almost completely ineffective. The sole run came on a Jacob Ellsbury solo shot in the second. That’s right, #5 hitter and offensive juggernaut Jacob Ellsbury. He finished the day 3-4. Maybe Joe’s binders actually know what they’re talking about.

That was it though. The team scored just the one run on 8 hits, going 0-9 with runners in scoring position, which is just awful.

Gary Sanchez got his first hit of the season, a single on a hard hit ground ball through the shift. It’s nice that he at least has that weight off his shoulders. Of course, it’s not as though he’s really struggling at the plate. He’s continuing to tear the cover off the ball. In his first at bat he launched one to the warning track in center. The hits will come eventually. We just have to be patient.

The only other offensive highlight came in the top of the ninth inning, as hitting extraordinaire Chase Headley showed us yet another innovative way to beat the shift: by hitting the ball as hard as you can at the pitcher. On a 1-2 count and with the left side of the infield wide open, Headley hit a ground ball straight back to the mound. Rays pitcher Alex Colome tried to make a play on the ball, but it ended up deflecting off of his glove and rolling onto the outfield grass in left. A nearly identical play happened earlier in the inning when Ellsbury hit a line drive straight back to Colome that ricocheted off the pitcher and past second base. Lots of bad luck in this game.

Here’s the full box score and video highlights.

So, the Yankees dropped their first series of the season to the Tampa Bay Rays, losing 2 out of 3. More of the same as the team looks to continue their tradition of slow starts in April. That’s just the pessimistic fan in me talking though. The team has an off day today, but tomorrow they begin a 3 game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Previews to come.

Game Recap

Game 2: Yankees – 5, Rays – 0

It’s official: the New York Yankees will not suffer a winless season in 2017. What a relief.

Last night was the Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes show, and yes, you read that correctly. First off, the two infielders were responsible for 4 of the team’s 5 RBIs. Torreyes opened up scoring in the third inning, tearing a line drive home run over the left field wall.

Ronald Torreyes: Power hitter.

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It was a no doubter and Torreyes’s second career home run. You have to watch the video to fully appreciate the hit though. With Aaron Judge on first from a line drive single, Torreyes practically catches up to Judge in a near sprint around the bases after the home run. When the two meet at home plate, it looks like a father congratulating his son on his first little league home run. I don’t know if anyone is keeping track of the greatest height differences between players meeting at home plate after a home run, but I imagine this has got to be one of the biggest. Maybe that’s a market inefficiency yet to be exploited.

Headley had himself a day as well, going 2-4 with 1 R, 2 RBIs, and 1 home run, a solo shot to dead center. Here are the Statcast numbers on the home run: 102.9 mph exit velocity, 26 degree launch angle, 420 feet traveled. Nice. It’s only been two games, and I know I’ll jinx everything by saying this, but Headley actually looks pretty good at the plate. Of course after his April last season I’d consider just about anything out of him to be pretty good. So let’s be thankful for that.

In addition to their offensive performances, both of these guys were stellar in the field as well. Torreyes showed off his range all game and made a really nice bare handed play on a ball the deflected off Sabathia’s glove and dribbled just past the mound. At third Headley made a stabbing grab on a line drive straight down the line, saving what would have surely been a double off the bat of Peter Bourjos.

The one Yankees run that did not involve Torreyes or Headley came in the third thanks to the Tropicana Field dome. With Gardner on second, Matt Holliday launched a high fly ball to deep left field, not quite deep enough for a home run though. However, left fielder Bourjos lost the ball almost immediately in the roof, and it ended up landing safely on the warning track about 20 feet away from him. Because there were two outs in the inning, Gardner was basically already at home plate by the time the ball landed, so chalk it up as an RBI double for Holliday.

Starting pitcher CC Sabathia had a good day on the mound, although his line doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Sabathia went 5 IP and allowed 0 R on 3 H and 2 BB while striking out 2. 5 shutout innings is obviously a great way for CC to start his season. However, there were multiple times, especially in the fourth and fifth inning, when CC started losing a little command and really had to work hitters into deep counts. He threw about as many pitches in the fourth and fifth as he did in the first three. Still, he didn’t give up any extra base hits and rarely had to pitch with runners in scoring position. Overall a nice start.

A string of relievers including Bryan Mitchell, Tyler Clippard, Jonathan Holder, and Dellin Betances took over and more or less shut down the Rays lineup, combining for three shutout innings of work with 4 Ks, 2 H, and 1 BB. Then, with a five run lead, Joe Girardi handed the ball over to closer Aroldis Chapman and the game was as good as over. In his inning of work, Chapman allowed no base runners and struck out 2. Here’s the first K:

Baseballs aren't supposed to move like this.

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Are you kidding me? That’s an impossible pitch to hit. Chapman’s fastball gets a lot of attention, but you can’t ignore the fact that his slider is an elite pitch as well. Just filthy.

A couple afterthoughts. Greg Bird got his first hit of the season, a blood double down the left field line. I’m sure that’s a load off his mind. Gary Sanchez remains hitless, although he’s been making some really hard contact that’s been met with some bad luck. As long as he keeps hitting the ball hard, the hits will come.

Here’s the full box score and video highlights.

Great to see the Yanks pick up their first win of the season. They’ll be looking to build on that with their third game against the Rays tonight. Preview to come.

Game Recap

It’s the On-Season!

So yeah, due to various trips and a lot of coursework it’s been a while since the last time posted, but that’s okay because there’s only one person who really reads this blog anyway. Hey dad.

Nonetheless, yesterday of course was opening day, so there’s really no better time to get back into the proverbial swing of things. For whatever reason, the Yankees played the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday afternoon in the first game of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. Wow, it feels good to type that out. We are officially watching baseball that actually matters. After a fairly lackluster offseason around the league, this has been a long time coming.

Unfortunately, the Yankees were back to their old opening day tricks in game 1, losing their first game of the season for the sixth year in a row by a final score of 7-3. All 7 of the Rays runs came in the first 3 innings of the game, and all 7 were attributed to starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who only last 2.2 IP. It was a really really rough outing for Tanaka, especially after his near immaculate spring. It’s just another subtle reminder that spring training games don’t count I suppose.

As per his usual game strategy, Tanaka was pitching a lot to the lower half of the zone, which is typically good if you’re a pitcher and you want to keep the ball out of the air. That’s not the story of what happened though. While he managed to strike out 3, Tanaka only got one out on the ground, yielding a disproportionate amount of fly balls, two of which turned into home runs. The first was by the Yankee-killer himself Evan Longoria, who hit the first home run of the 2017 MLB season. It was a shot that just cleared the left field wall at Tropicana in the first inning. The second was a solo shot by Logan Morrison in the 3rd.

It’s just a part of Tanaka’s game that he’s going to give up a decent amount of home runs. In his first three seasons he’s had a HR/9 of 1.14 and a HR/FB % of 14.1, which is pretty terrible. The reason why Tanaka has been able to thrive as an MLB pitcher though is that he doesn’t allow a lot of runners on base, sporting an excellent career WHIP of 1.04. So, usually when the inevitable home run comes along, it’s relatively harmless.

Sunday was a bad combination of Tanaka allowing a lot of runners on base (9) and allowing a couple home runs in a very short span of game. You hate to see it happen, but Tanaka, much like the Yankees, has historically been a slow starter, so don’t take this first game as any indication of what his season will be like. I’m personally pretty high on the guy right now since he’s coming off one of his best seasons and he’s pitching in what could potentially be a contract year should he do well enough to opt out of his contract at the end of the season.

The one positive thing that came out of Tanaka’s poor performance was the fact that we got to see a good portion of the bullpen in action, specifically the middle relief guys who represent somewhat of a question mark for the team this season. They were pretty stellar all-in-all, allowing 0 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk in a combined 5.1 innings pitched. They also struck out 7. The order went Tommy Layne, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, each getting an inning of work with the exception of Warren, who went 2.1 IP.

Things were nearly but really not quite as bad on the offensive side of the ball as well. The team scored 3 runs on 9 hits, going 3-10 with runners in scoring position. The bottom half of the lineup essentially carried the team, with Starlin Castro, Chase Headley, and Aaron Judge combining to go 7-12 with 3 runs and 1 RBI. The Yankees opened their scoring in the top of the second inning with a couple of singles by Castro and Headley, followed by an RBI double by Aaron Judge. He absolutely smoked the ball into left field, a one-hopper off the wall. Judge finished the game 1-4, only striking out once, which sets his K% to 25% on the season, a drastic reduction from last year. Let’s see if it holds up.

Where the bottom of the lineup shined, the top of the lineup was absolutely miserable. Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Matt Holliday combined to go 1-17 with 1 BB and 4 K’s. The lack of output from these hitters and Tanaka’s rough outing are the two main takeaways from this game.

Thankfully, these are the types of performances that we have no reason to expect from these guys as we move forward into the season. It was a rough game, but there’s a reason why they play 162 of them. What the Yankees need to do is just focus on improving from their April last season, when they went 8-14 on the month. That’s a really difficult hole to climb out of. If the team had even gone .500 last April, they potentially make the playoffs. So, the first loss of the season? Not a huge deal. It was going to happen eventually. There’s a lot of young guys on the roster, and growing pains are inevitable. Hopefully this team can put things together relatively quickly though and get off to a better start this year.