The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Eovaldi’s timetable accelerated (also: piecing together Yankees’ wild card roster)

Nathan Eovaldi

As of Saturday, the plan for Nathan Eovaldi was to throw a 35-pitch bullpen today and face hitters somewhere down the road. There was some chance of him being in the bullpen for the division series, but the ALCS seemed more realistic.

In the wake of the CC Sabathia news, though, Eovaldi’s timetable has been accelerated.

This afternoon, Eovaldi threw a short 10-pitch bullpen, then he faced hitters for the first time since being shutdown with elbow inflammation in early September. Eovaldi said he hasn’t been told anything for certain, but he expects to be ready and available out of the bullpen if the Yankees advance to the division series.

“No chance tomorrow, especially after going today,” Eovaldi said. “But I would assume for Kansas City. I just got done out there, so I don’t know when I would be throwing next or what I need to do, but 25 or 30 pitches today. … Everything felt good. Felt good, just felt a little rusty. Other than that, it felt great.”

If the Yankees advance, they’ll have to find someone to fill Sabathia’s rotation spot. The most logical choices are surely Adam Warren or Ivan Nova. Warren probably makes the most sense, but losing him would deprive the Yankees of a go-to reliever. Maybe Eovaldi could fill that role while Warren helps fill Sabathia’s?

It would be a roll of the dice a little bit — Eovaldi hasn’t pitched in weeks, and he hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2011 — but that just might be the kind of risk the Yankees have to take under the circumstances.

They’re obviously hoping to face such a decision.

Rico NoelJoe Girardi said he will not announce a wild card game roster until tomorrow. Here are a few things we can piece together after a handful of conversations in the Yankees’ clubhouse.

1. Stephen Drew is back with the team, but he’s still dealing with concussion symptoms and doesn’t expect to play again this year.

2. Slade Heathcott and Rico Noel stopped short of saying they’re definitely on the wild card roster, but each said he thought he would be (I assume that’s just a product of two rookies not wanting to reveal something before it’s been announced). They seem to be in.

3. Caleb Cotham, Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder each said they’re flying to Tampa to throw at the minor league complex and stay ready in case they’re needed in a future series, but none of those three will be on tomorrow’s roster. Jose Pirela is also going to Tampa to take some at-bats and stay ready, but he too will not be on the roster. Nick Goody and Chris Martin already had their lockers cleared out, so they clearly aren’t on the roster.

4. Chris Capuano said he’s staying with he big league team, but he won’t be on the roster tomorrow.

5. Adam Warren said he will definitely be in the bullpen tomorrow. The Yankees aren’t holding him back so that he can start in the division series. If Warren becomes a starter in the next round, it will be after he’s been in the bullpen on Tuesday.

6. It’s hard to believe Michael Pineda would be available after pitching Sunday.

7. Chasen Shreve told Marly Rivera that he will not be on the wild card game roster.

Barring a choice to carry three catchers — the Yankees could carry either Austin Romine or Gary Sanchez just to make pinch hitting, pinch running and double switches a little easier — the team’s wild card roster seems set:

Catchers: Brian McCann, John Ryan Murphy
Infielders: Greg Bird, Dustin Ackley, Rob Refsnyder, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Brendan Ryan
Outfielders: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young, Rico Noel, Slade Heathcott
Designated hitter: Alex Rodriguez
Starter: Masahiro Tanaka
Bullpen: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Andrew Bailey, Bryan Mitchell, James Pazos, Ivan Nova, Luis Severino

If the Yankees have decided they don’t want both Nova and Severino — each of whom pitched Saturday and wouldn’t be able to give many innings — then they might as well carry a third catcher. Just to make it easy to either pinch run for someone or to use either McCann or Murphy as a pinch hitter.

Either way, it’s worth remembering this is a one-game-only roster decision. The Yankees can and will change the roster if they advance to the division series.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 5:27 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Cashman: Yankees will stick with Sabathia

Brian Cashman said he got a phone call from CC Sabathia early Sunday afternoon. That’s the first Cashman knew Sabathia had a drinking problem that required professional help. Sabathia explained the situation and detailed his plan to attend a rehab facility.

“I think CC is demonstrating a great deal of courage,” Cashman just said during a press conference. “… I applaud him for stepping up to do everything necessary (to deal with the issue).”

Cashman made it clear that the Yankees are standing by Sabathia and will stick with him through this process. Cashman said there was not, to his knowledge or that he can speak to, a single incident that led to this decision at this time. Cashman also said there was no attempt to convince Sabathia to postpone his treatment.

“What CC’s dealing with is a life issue,” Cashman said. “It’s bigger than the game we have tomorrow night.”

Cashman said Sabathia was given the option of taking an unspecified leave and the Yankees would have no-commented about the matter. It was Sabathia’s choice to be honest publicly about the nature of the situation.

“He’s taking the responsibility and the necessary step to try to fix this problem,” Cashman said.


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 2:48 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

CC Sabathia checking himself into alcohol rehab

Stunning statement from CC Sabathia. The statement was just released by the Yankees.

Nathan Eovaldi, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka“Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.

“I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.

“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.

“I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”

Associated Press photo



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 1:24 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Full of bravado, Astros bringing young confidence to Yankee Stadium

A.J. Hinch

You know all about the Yankees. Well, here’s a little something about the team they’re about to play. Bob Nightengale from USA Today was in Phoenix yesterday as the Astros clinched their wild card berth and made it clear that they expect to beat the Yankees on Tuesday. This is a young team, and it’s a confident team. Here’s Bob’s story:

PHOENIX – There is Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch, ignoring the live TV cameras in the middle of the clubhouse, giving a brief profanity-laden celebratory speech, as his players sprayed him in the face with beer and champagne.

There is Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus, running around the clubhouse shirtless, and feeling too exhilarated to even feel the ice-cold beverages dumped over his head.

There is Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, walking around in a swim suit and flip-flops as if he’s going to the beach, and not to the postseason, admiring it all in the back of the room with team president Reid Ryan.

Dallas KeuchelThe Astros, who have made their clubhouse celebrations legendary after regular-season victories, saved their best for Sunday, winning an American League wild card berth – even after losing, 5-3, to the Arizona Diamondbacks – and advancing to the postseason for the first time in 10 years.

They will be the Cinderella story of the postseason, facing the longest odds, beginning with a winner-take-all game Tuesday night against the powerful New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Yet, instead of showing any fear, any disappointment that their loss prevented them from hosting the wild-card game, they actually are savoring the idea they’re taking their act to New York.

This is where legends are made, and judging by the bravado displayed in the Astros’ clubhouse, the Yankees should be the ones afraid.

Just listen.

“Nobody else outside this clubhouse thought we had a chance,” Hinch yelled to his team in the middle of the clubhouse. “You can say a lot of things about this team, right?

“Well, the one thing they’ll say forever, is that we’re a (expletive) playoff team.

“It’s going to take a few more wins, and we’re going to have to earn them, but I’ll bet on this team.

“I love you (expletives).”

Hinch is immediately doused by his players, the music is cranked back on, and the party continues.

They don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

The Astros, with kids barely out of high school, let alone old enough to drink, are convinced they’ll beat the Yankees in that wild-card game.

“Every kid grows up dreaming of having that magical moment at Yankee Stadium,” Luhnow said. “To play a wild card game there, it’s a script you can’t write. We have a chance to beat them. These guys are young, they’re energetic, they can’t be stopped.

“Hopefully, they’ll be making a movie about this one day.”

Jose Altuve, Carlos CorreaThe Astros believe they’re a team of destiny, the team that was the laughingstock of baseball just two years ago, averaging 108 losses a year during a three-year stretch only to become the game’s greatest surprise.

If you don’t want to believe in them, show up Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, and they’ll show you themselves.

“It’s kind of cool it’s Yankee Stadium,” said Chad Qualls, 37, the only one in the clubhouse who was in the organization the last time the Astros reached the postseason in 2005. “It’s not old Yankee Stadium, but in the same retrospect, it’s still the New York Yankees, with their unbelievable history.

“It would be fitting for the Houston Astros, the team that’s made noise all year, and come out of nowhere, goes into Yankee Stadium to see if we can beat them and move on.”

If you want to know the cold-hearted truth, underneath their beer-soaked T-shirts, the Astros actually are quite confident they’ll be moving onto Kansas City and playing the Royals in the American League Division Series.

Really, can you blame them?

You see, they’ve got Dallas Keuchel on the mound Tuesday night, the same dude who likely will win the American League Cy Young award, and who overpowered the Yankees the two times he faced them during the season.

Ready for this? He’s 2-0 with a 0.00 in 16 innings against them this year, limiting them to nine hits, one walk and 21 strikeouts. If you want to break down the numbers, they’re even uglier for the Yankees: .161 batting average, .175 on-base percentage and .179 slugging percentage.

No wonder Hinch, with his eyes stinging from the champagne, refusing to wear goggles, had his arm draped around Keuchel in the clubhouse, giving him the official word that he will be the one starting Tuesday, pitching on three days’ rest.

Colby Rasmus, Jake Marisnick, George Springer“I think he’ll be just great, just like he has been all season,” Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick said. “He’s been doing it all year. We’re ready to show people how good we are, and there’s no one else we’d rather have than Dallas on the mound.”

Keuchel, the honoree of a quiet champagne toast Friday night by his teammates when he won his 20th game, says nothing could ever compare to the celebration on this day.

“This is my first time celebrating like this,” said Keuchel, who suffered through seasons of 107 and 111 losses his first two years in the majors. “We had been so bad, and now look at us. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m the happiest guy in the world.

“Going to Yankee Stadium, it’s the most electric atmosphere I’ve played in. I can’t wait. It was a blessing getting to the playoffs, and now we’re in, we’ll try to run with it.”

The Astros’ 111-loss season in 2013 prompted Luhnow to change his license plate to “GM111,” to remind himself each day how much work needed to be one. Now, they can’t help but feel that they’re atop the baseball world.

“No matter what team we play,” said All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, unaware they were playing the Yankees, “we’re going to go into the World Series.

“When we started this season, we closed our eyes, and as soon as we opened them, we were in first place, and we knew we have a big chance to be in this situation.”

Now, they have it.

The whole world is about to see it.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 11:59 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Had a bad week? The Yankees have certainly been there before

Masahiro Tanaka

One week ago, the Yankees actually weren’t playing all that poorly.

They’d just gone on the road to take two of three against the Rays, two of three against the Mets — who were hot and dangerous — and one of three against the Blue Jays. They’d come home to take three of four against the White Sox. In that stretch, they’d beaten Chris Archer, Noah Syndergaard and Chris Sale. They’d won nine of 14 overall and were 17 games above .500.

They weren’t going to catch the Blue Jays in the division, and they weren’t scoring a ton of runs, but they weren’t falling flat on their faces either.

Then the past week happened, and suddenly the Yankees look like a lost cause.

“Right now, the regular season is over,” Carlos Beltran said, after Sunday’s final indignation. “We can’t think about the regular season anymore. We have to just concentrate on this one game, and hopefully we’re capable of playing well. There’s nothing you can say to a team that’ll make us hit better or pitch better. We just have to do it ourselves.”

One week provides a convenient snapshot within a season. A week of a baseball schedule almost always begins with the start of one series and the end of another. It’s a nice capsule of time. And for the Yankees, their season seems to have changed wildly from week to week.

Throughout the year, the Yankees have been a team of extremes, and their best weeks have been awfully impressive. The Yankees have a winning record against the A.L.-leading Royals, they’ve beaten some of the top pitchers in baseball — though certainly not Dallas Keuchel — and they led the American League East for much of the season. In so many ways they outperformed expectations, but it’s hard to think about that when they’ve played so poorly at the end.

Question is, can a team that’s played below .500 since the first of August really string together a winning month against a series of playoff teams?

“We’ve been up and down,” Joe Girardi said. “And we’ve always seemed to bounce back when we need to bounce back.”

Since they’re coming off a brutal week, here are the Yankees’ worst weeks of the season — Monday through Sunday — along with the way they responded each time:

Mashiro Tanaka, Edwin EncarnacionAPRIL 6-12
Record: 2-4
Response: Went 4-2 the next week.

This was the first week of the season, and it was the beginning of a bad start to the year. The Yankees lost six of their first nine games and lost each of their first three series, but they responded by winning seven of their next eight and 13 of their next 16. They got on an absolute roll through early May, until…

MAY 11-17
Record: 2-5
Response: Lost their next five in a row.

This was the start of the Yankees’ worst stretch of the season. May 11 was a win, but starting on May 12, the Yankees went 1-10 including six straight losses at one point. This was a bad week that turned into a bad two weeks. In fact, if we’re measuring the worst Monday to Sunday stretches of the season, this complete meltdown gets to entries…

MAY 18-24
Record: 0-5
Response: Won the next three straight and 11 of their next 14 overall

Two off days might have been the only thing that kept the Yankees from an 0-for-7 week. This was the back end of that 1-10 stretch — it included the two games in Washington, and a three-game sweep by the Rangers — but the Yankees came out of it on fire, beginning with a three-game series against the Royals (which started with a 14-1 blowout in the opener). The Yankees also swept series in Seattle and against the Angels in the weeks that followed. The Yankees literally had their worst two weeks of the year, followed immediately by their best two weeks. Followed by…

Yankees Angels BaseballJUNE 22-28
Record: 3-4
Response: Lost five of their next seven

The record for that one week in late June really doesn’t do justice to the kind of struggle the Yankees fell into. That week of June 22-28 came right in the middle of an extended stretch during which the Yankees lost 12 of 20, including a 3-7 record in the final 10 games of June. Of course, that ugly stretch at the end of June gave way to a 17-7 month of July. That was the Yankees’ best month of the season, and it came immediately after one of their worst 10-game stretches. But when July ended…

Record: 2-4
Response: Split a six-game road trip through Cleveland (1-2) and Toronto (2-1)

The end of that week in early August was the start of a five-game losing streak that saw the Yankees lose their grip on first place in the division. As soon as that five-game losing streak ended, though, the Yankees won six of their next seven and pulled back into first place by two games. That 2-1 series in Toronto is when they went into Rogers Centre and snapped the Blue Jays 11-game winning streak. They were still in the mix until…

Record: 2-5
Response: Won five of their next eight, all on the road

This was probably the most disappointing week of the season. It started with a win and ended with a win, but in between the Yankees did nothing but lose including three in a row against the Blue Jays (that includes the doubleheader sweep at Yankee Stadium when the Yankees really let the division slip away). It was a really ugly and disappointing week, but the Yankees did legitimately bounce back to have a nice road trip against some tough pitching. And we all know what happened next…

Record: 1-6
Response: Wild card game on Tuesday

This past week was about as bad as it gets. The only win was the one that clinched a playoff spot, and the week ended with the Yankees wrapping up home field advantage in the wild card game, but the week was still a complete mess. Bad stretches are nothing new for this team, and given enough time, they’ve always bounced back to start winning again. This time, though, the Yankees have to get it turned around at a specific moment in a specific game and against a specific team. If they can’t turn this around in a hurt, their season will be finished on Tuesday.

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 9:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Postgame notes: “You win, you move on”

Chris Davis, Didi Gregorius

There was no celebration. Joe Girardi saw the Astros final on the scoreboard and began pulling his regulars for pinch hitters. Greg Bird said he heard some rumblings in the dugout, but it wasn’t until he got to the clubhouse that he was really sure the Yankees had clinched home field advantage.

“In order to win the World Series, you’re going to have to win on the road no matter what,” Bird said. “So we were prepared either way, but you want to play at home.”

The Yankees will do that. They ultimately accomplished what they need to accomplish this weekend. Everyone got a day off on Friday, the key relievers got a little bit of work to stay sharp Saturday and Sunday, and the team finished with the top wild card spot. They did not get there the way they wanted to get there, but they got there.

“I’ve been on teams that played extremely well going in and don’t get it done, and vice versa,” Joe Girardi said. “Tuesday is a new day. We’ll wake up tomorrow, it’s a new day and we’re where we want to be. We’re in the playoffs. I think the guys feel good about that and they’ll be ready Tuesday.”

Will they, though? Will this team that’s lost six of seven against a pair of non-playoff teams really be ready to handle Dallas Keuchel and the Astros? Is it possible to feel good about that right now?

“It is what it is,” Carlos Beltran said. “This is not the first time that we went through a bad stretch as a team. In the regular season, you’re going to go through stretches like that. Unfortunately for us, it happened at the end. The regular season is over. Tomorrow we have a practice. Now it’s about getting ready for what’s coming, focus on the game, and trying to do our best.”

This team has a losing record since the end of July, it’s struggled against lefties ever since Mark Teixeira got hurt, and today was one more example of how far the pitching staff has fallen. There’s no way to pretend the Yankees played well down the stretch or that they’re charging into the playoffs with momentum. There is only that familiar idea that the playoffs are something new, and winning a championship is all about playing the best baseball at the right time.

“Lose seven out of 10 or win seven out of 10, on Tuesday you’re still zero-zero,” Alex Rodriguez said. “You start again. So, veteran team, you know what you have to do. You win, you move on.”

Michael Pineda• Remember way back in early May when Michael Pineda struck out 16 batters, cut his ERA to 2.72 and looked like an All-Star who could be a legitimate No. 2 starter behind Masahiro Tanaka? Now he looks more like the Yankees’ fourth starter heading into the postseason, and that’s assuming he starts ahead of Adam Warren. He finished the season with a 4.37 ERA built on the strength of some terrific starts and dragged down by some truly awful starts. He did ready 160.2 innings, which pretty close to his previous high set in 2011. “Right now, I don’t feel very good,” he said. “I had a couple of years I don’t throw a lot of innings like this year, so I’m OK with that, you know? But now I don’t feel very good.”

• Pineda clarified that he doesn’t feel good only because he knows today wasn’t a very good start. “My shoulder feels good,” he said. “I feel fine with that. … I try to do the best today and got a couple of base hits in the first inning. I was in trouble for me, you know?”

• Why pull Pineda after just 83 pitches? “I didn’t think he threw horrible,” Girardi said. “He had thrown so many pitches in four innings, I thought if he’s going to do anything in (the postseason) he has to be good and I don’t want to wear him down. If he’s going to pitch, he’s going to pitch in the second round, so that’s why I took him out.”

• More on the decision to pull Pineda so early: He actually had good career numbers against the lefty Ryan Flaherty, but Girardi said he thought 83 pitches in less than four innings was too much. “Too many pitches,” Girardi said. “This is a guy that’s had major shoulder surgery. We can’t lose him. It’s not what I wanted to do — I was hoping he would roll through six or seven innings today — but it didn’t happen, so I have to think on the other side. I have to protect him.”

• Going to Chris Capuano was clearly an effort to replicate what Capuano did last week against the Red Sox when he struck out back-to-back lefties in a situational role. This was a pretty clear attempt to figure out if Capuano could play that sort of role in the postseason, but he gave up hits to the two lefties he faced. He’ll finish this year with a 1.82 WHIP and a 7.97 ERA.

• By the way, Adam Warren was told he would not be pitching today. He threw three innings on Thursday and the Yankees presumably want him available for long relief on Tuesday.

Caleb Cotham• For that left-on-left at-bat, any thought of going straight to Justin Wilson (even though it was the fourth inning)? “No,” Girardi said. “Too early.” Going to be very interesting to see who the Yankees put in the bullpen for this wild card game. Obviously Wilson, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Warren and CC Sabathia will be there (probably to serve as a just-in-case long man), but who else would Girardi trust in a big spot? James Pazos hasn’t done well against lefties, Bryan Mitchell’s been rocked lately, Caleb Cotham allowed a home run today, Andrew Bailey has a 1.73 WHIP and obviously Chasen Shreve has been a mess lately. I’m just not sure who the Yankees trust.

• If this had been a winable game, Girardi said he would have been comfortable using both Wilson and Miller for a full inning. Instead he had each of them get one out as a tuneup for Tuesday.

• Continuing a trend for the past two months or so, the top three spots in the Yankees’ lineup went 0-for-13 with three strikeouts (all by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner) and two walks (both by Rodriguez). “That’s not what you want,” Girardi said. “But I thought we swung the bats better today. It all starts over. Regular season doesn’t matter anymore. It comes down to Tuesday.”

• Ellsbury is going to finish the year with a .257 average and Gardner with a .259. Ellsbury has a .318 on-base percentage and Gardner a .343.

• For better numbers, look to Carlos Beltran who was 3-for-3 this afternoon and finished the year with a .276 average. The only Yankee who played as many as 25 games and finished with a higher average is John Ryan Murphy at .277. “I feel good,” Beltran said. “Thank God I was able to finish strong. That was important for me. After the first month, things weren’t going well, and I was able to make that adjustment, and I was able to make myself comfortable at the plate and consistent. That’s what you look for as a hitter.”

• Greg Bird finished the season with a seven-game hitting streak (in games with an at-bat) during which he’s hit .360 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI. Gardner’s seven-game hitting streak came to an end today.

• Dustin Ackley and Didi Gregorius each had triples today. It’s the second time this season the Yankees had two triples in a game. On April 22, Beltran and Headley — of all people — did it against Detroit.

• Final word goes to Girardi: “Everything is erased. It doesn’t matter what you did the day before, two days before; it doesn’t matter if you win 20-1. It doesn’t matter. The bottom line is I thought we swung the bats better today. We had a shot. We have to come out and swing good and pitch well.”

Associated Press photos



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at 10:15 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Reports: Angels to name Billy Eppler general manager


It seemed every winter, Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler was declared a finalist for a GM opening. This year, he’s landed one of those jobs.

First reported by Bill Shaikin and then confirmed by basically every national baseball writer in the country, the Angels will announce on Monday that they’ve hired Eppler as their new general manager. In recent weeks, Eppler was seen as the favorite for the job.

A former scout and scouting director, Eppler is from Southern California and seems like a natural fit for the Angels job. He joined the Yankees in 2004 after first working with the Rockies, and fairly quickly Eppler became a key piece of the Yankees’ front office underneath Brian Cashman, who has long praised Eppler as a future GM.

“He checks all the boxes,” Cashman told the Daily News last year when Eppler missed out on the Padres’ GM job. “He’s got the analytics side checked off, he’s got the administrative side checked off and he’s got the scouting side checked off. He’s got the leadership side checked off because he’s a great communicator.

“They’re all equal. Very few people possess all those strengths and all those qualities. He does, in my opinion. He’s built a great reputation that he’s earned and we’re lucky to have him. He’s an important piece of my pyramid.”

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at 8:41 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Swept in Baltimore, Yankees back into home field advantage

Jacoby Ellsbury, Tony Pena

On the final day of the regular season, the Yankees’ biggest hit came more than 2,000 miles away off the bat of a National League first baseman who presumably could not have cared less which team got home field advantage in the American League wild card game.

While the Yankees were being swept in Baltimore, finishing their down-the-stretch free fall with a 9-4 loss to the Orioles, it was the Diamondbacks’ superstar Paul Goldschmidt who finally did what the Yankees themselves could not. Goldschmidt’s game-winning home run in the seventh inning beat the Astros and guaranteed home field advantage for the Yankees in Tuesday’s must-win wild card game.

The Astros will come to Yankee Stadium for a winner-take-all showdown to decide which team advances to face Kansas City in the division series. It will be the Yankees’ first playoff game since 2012, but they’re not exactly charging into the postseason. After clinching a wild card berth on Thursday, the Yankees finished their season with three straight losses at Camden Yards against a team that finished with a .500 record. The Yankees lost six of their last seven games to finish with 87 wins, which is three more than last season and two more than 2013.

With a losing record since the end of July, the Yankees have been underwhelming on offense, injured in their rotation, and thin in their bullpen. It was the bullpen that especially cost them on Sunday.

With expanded rosters, the Yankees are carrying 20 pitchers. Of the ones who had thrown more than eight big league innings this season, none had a higher ERA than Chris Capuano and Bryan Mitchell. Yet those were the first two relievers Girardi used in a game the Yankees badly wanted to win.

Starter Michael Pineda lasted just 3.2 innings because Girardi lost faith in him after three runs, six hits and 83 pitches. Capuano was brought in to face the lefty Ryan Flaherty with two outs, a runner at first and the Orioles leading 3-1. Capuano had been designated for assignment four times this season, but he’d struck out back-to-back lefties in his most recent relief appearance, and so Girardi used him once again as a lefty specialist. Capuano allowed a strange single to Flaherty – the ball hit off Capuano’s leg and spun just out of the reach of second baseman Dustin Ackley – then he allowed a two-run single to another lefty, Gerardo Parra. With that, the Orioles were up 5-1.

The fifth inning started with Mitchell, who had been a solid long reliever before he was hit in the face by a line drive on August 17. Since then, he’d allowed 10 runs in 8.1 innings. He opened the fifth with a walk and a two-run home run by Chris Davis to make it 7-1. Two months ago, those innings might have belonged to Chasen Shreve, but Shreve’s breakout season crumbled in recent weeks and the Yankees have searched in vain for a reliable middle-innings alternative.

The Yankees’ offense managed a mild rally with a late RBI triple from Didi Gregorius and an RBI single by Greg Bird, but the bullpen cough up two more runs and the Yankees finished the season having scored more than four runs in only two of its final 12 games.

Associated Press photo


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at 6:45 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Game 162: Yankees at Orioles

Michael PinedaYANKEES (87-74)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Greg Bird 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

RHP Michael Pineda (12-9, 4.24)
Pineda vs. Orioles

ORIOLES (80-81)
Nolan Reimold CF
Gerardo Parra RF
Manny Machado 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Matt Wieters C
Steve Pearce LF
Steve Clevenger DH
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Flaherty 2B

RHP Chris Tillman (10-11, 5.05)
Tillman vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 3:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Feels warmer than the past two nights. Or maybe I’m just used to it at his point.

UMPIRES: HP Mark Wegner, 1B Sam Holbrook, 2B Marty Foster, 3B Mike Muchlinski

MIGHT HAVE BEEN HELPFUL: You know who has really good career numbers against Chris Tillman? Stephen Drew. In 18 career against, Drew is a .353/.450/.765 against the Orioles starter. Dustin Ackley? He has 13 career at-bats against Tillman with a .077/.077/.077 slash line.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: With Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine making their season debuts on Saturday, the Yankees have used 56 players this season, two shy of their 2014 club record of 58. Sanchez is one of a Major League-high 18 Yankees players to make their Major League debuts this season. That’s the most players to debut in one season in franchise history since 21 players debuted for the 1912 New York Highlanders.

ON THIS DATE: It was on October 4, 2009 that Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam and a three-run home run in the top of the sixth inning at Tampa Bay. His seven-RBI inning was an American League record and he became only the second player since 1900 to drive in at least seven runs in an inning (also Fernando Tatis, who hit two grand slams in an inning on April 23, 1999).

UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.: Rodriguez has pretty incredible numbers against Tillman, who clearly wants absolutely nothing to do with him in this at-bat.

UPDATE, 3:14 p.m.: Two base runners. No runs. I’ve seen this game before.

UPDATE, 3:29 p.m.: Two-out, two-run single by Wieters. Down 2-0 in the first. Pineda has let three of the first five batters reach base.

UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: Leadoff double by Bird, and the Yankees actually turned it into a run with a couple of productive ground balls to the right side. It’s now 2-1 in the second, Didi at the plate.

UPDATE, 4:05 p.m.: Pineda leaves a leadoff single stranded in the third. Still 2-1.

UPDATE, 4:18 p.m.: Ellsbury leaves runners at the corners with a ground ball to first. His second half has been a problem for this team. If Ellsbury stinks, the Yankees lineup is going to be in trouble.

UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.: Single up the middle gets under Ackley’s glove, and with that Pineda is finished. It’s a 3-1 game in the fourth. Chris Capuano — who’s a real candidate to be the team’s lefty specialist in the playoffs — is coming in to face Flaherty.

UPDATE, 4:38 p.m.: It took Pineda 83 pitches to get 11 outs.

UPDATE, 4:39 p.m.: Sharply hit up the middle, off Capuano’s leg with so much spin that it bounce past Ackley for a double. Weird play. Intentional walk loads the bases for another left-on-left opportunity.

UPDATE, 4:45 p.m.: Two-run single up the middle. Runner thrown out going for second — review doesn’t overturn the call, even though it looked awfully close to being safe — and it’s now 5-1 Orioles heading into the fifth.

UPDATE, 4:49 p.m.: The second-half bullpen problems are a major issue for this team. Can’t get through the season with only three relief pitchers.

UPDATE, 5:33 p.m.: Well, the Yankees scratched across a run in the sixth and now it’s 7-2. Pazos on the mound. Just threw his final warmup pitch to the screen.

UPDATE, 6:05 p.m.: The Yankees have scored two more runs in the seventh to make it somewhat respectable at 7-4. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are leading by 2 over the Astros. The Yankees could very well back into home field advantage.

UPDATE, 6:32 p.m.: The Astros just lost. The Yankees have backed into home field advantage on Tuesday.



Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Pregame notes: “We just haven’t been hitting a whole lot lately”

Brett Gardner

Despite the way it feels, this is not actually a must-win game for the Yankees. They can get home field advantage without winning this game, and they can win the wild card game even if they don’t play at home. This is not an all-hands-on-deck, win-at-all-costs situation.

But, man, it would sure be nice to play a good game and stop bungling this thing at the end.

“We’re going to do everything we can to win,” Joe Girardi said. “Saying that, I have to be smart about it too. I can’t burn things out in the bullpen. I can’t let it get to where if I need two innings out of (key relievers) on Tuesday, I can’t use them. So it’s tricky. But we’re going to do everything we can to win. It’s not like we haven’t been doing that the whole season, so I can’t see any reason to stop today.”

The Yankees won’t use Dellin Betances tonight (he’s thrown three out of four days), but Girardi wants to give Justin Wilson and Andrew Miller at least a few batters just so they don’t go five days without pitching in a game. Today’s lineup includes all of the regulars against a right-handed pitcher.

“I think this group understands what they need to do and is resilient, is prepared every day, plays hard and never gives away outs,” Girardi said. “We just haven’t been hitting a whole lot lately.”

That’s definitely true. The only Yankees with an OPS better than .714 in the month of September were Alex Rodriguez and a bunch of young guys (Greg Bird, John Ryan Murphy and some September call-ups including Dustin Ackley). Even Rodriguez’s .837 OPS came with only a .230 batting average and was built largely on his seven home runs in the month.

The rest of the regulars — the guys who pushed the Yankees into first place in the first half — slumped considerably late in the season.

Chris Young hit for average and got on base a lot, but his power disappeared. Carlos Beltran continued to hit for power, but his on-base percentage dipped below .300. Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius failed to continue their strong August production, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner did manage to continue their second-half declines.

It’s like Headley said last night: more than anything, the Yankees just need to play better.

“Would we rather have (the wild card game) at home? Absolutely,” Girardi said. “But you still have to go out and get hits, you still have to go out and make pitches. The best team’s going to win on Tuesday, that’s the bottom line.”

Masahiro Tanaka• Not that anyone should be surprised, but Girardi officially named Masahiro Tanaka as the Yankees’ wild card game starter. “He came out (of Wednesday’s game) healthy and he’s on a normal schedule,” Girardi said. “He did his bullpen yesterday. He’s ready to go.”

• Regardless of what happens, the Yankees will travel back to New York after today’s game. At that point, what happens on Monday depends on whether they know who they’re playing. There’s a chance they won’t know until Monday evening whether they’re flying to Dallas or Houston.

• The Yankees won’t make wild card roster decisions until they have to. “We’ll sit down and meet tomorrow,” Girardi said. “The tricky part becomes, if you don’t know who you’re playing.” Right now it could be the Rangers, Astros or Angels.

• Baltimore is sticking with its lineup regulars for today’s game. They’re starting Chris Tillman. They’d obviously like to play spoiler and reach a .500 record. “I’m sure they don’t want us to have the home field advantage, and that’s OK,” Girardi said. “The thing that matters the most is if you win Tuesday whether you’re at home or on the road.”

• Could look at this as Michael Pineda’s greatest test since he joined the Yankees. “That’s an interesting way to look at it,” Girardi said. “It’s a good test, it really is, because of what it does mean today. Some people might have considered it a bigger test pitching against Toronto down the stretch, but it’s somewhat of a test, yeah.”

Associated Press photos


Posted by:Chad Jenningson Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at 1:49 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

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