Game 33: Yankees at Rays • 05.11.15
LHP CC Sabathia (0-5, 5.45)
Sabathia vs. Rays
Brandon Guyer CF
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Evan Longoria 3B
Logan Forsythe DH
Joey Butler LF
James Loney 1B
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Tim Beckham 2B
Rene Rivera C
RHP Alex Colome (2-0, 1.80)
Colome vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:10 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Starting to get pretty hot down here. Nice and cool in the dome.
UMPIRES: HP Eric Cooper, 1B Adam Hamari, 2B Dan Iassogna, 3B Lance Barksdale
ROUGH MATCHUP: Evan Longoria has positively owned CC Sabathia. In 58 career at-bats against Sabathia, Longoria has hit .414/.528/.862 with six home runs, eight doubles, 13 walks and only five strikeouts.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Michael Pineda was named American League Player of the Week after going 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays and Orioles. His 16 strikeouts last night were the highest single-game total in the Majors since Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez had 17 on April 26, 2013 against Atlanta.
ON THIS DATE: It was on May 11, 2006 that Hideki Matsui broke his left wrist against the Red Sox. His consecutive games played streak came to an end at 1,768 games (1,250 in Japan, 518 with the Yankees). his streak as a Yankee is the longest since Lou Gehrig.
UPDATE, 7:35 p.m.: Alex Rodriguez crushed a homer in the top of the first, then CC Sabathia looked awful in the bottom of the inning and was lucky to get away with just one run scored. Tied at 1 heading into the second.
UPDATE, 7:45 p.m.: Strong bounce-back inning for Sabathia who goes 1-2-3 in the second inning.
UPDATE, 8:13 p.m.: Three-run homer for Headley and the Yankees are up 4-1 in the middle of the fourth. Inning started with another Beltran hit. He’s been a lot better lately. Need CC to keep it here.
UPDATE, 8:34 p.m.: Second home run in as many days for Beltran. His solo shot has pushed the lead to 5-1 in the fifth.
UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Chase Headley was just caught stealing. By a lot.
UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: Three-run homer by Gardner pushes the Yankees’ lead to 8-1 in the sixth. If the Yankees had scored this many runs in each of Sabathia’s starts, they would not have lost a single one of those games (one would have been a tie).
The Yankees are home again. They won’t be for long long — just four games before they’re right back on the road for another long trip — but they’re home with a record good enough for first place in the American League East. For the most part, the Yankees are playing well. Just last weekend they won a series at Fenway, but they’re also coming off a series loss in Toronto where there were plenty of reminders that this is a team with flaws and concerns. Here are five of them:
The problem: He was a staff ace for many years, but Sabathia’s now 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA. The Yankees haven’t given him much run support, and some outings have been perfectly solid and winable, but six starts means he’s roughly a fifth of the way into his season and the numbers aren’t pretty. Is he going to get much better than this?
The circumstances: With one more year plus a vesting option left on his contract, Sabathia isn’t a player easily dismissed. He’s also an unquestioned leader in the clubhouse, where players and coaches alike seem to believe him and support him even through his struggles.
The alternative: After another strong start yesterday, Bryan Mitchell now has a 2.59 ERA through six starts in Triple-A. He’s the most immediate rotation alternative should the Yankees decide to insert someone else, but Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova are progressing from their injuries and Masahiro Tanaka could be back around the end of this month.
The problem: Although he’s fourth on the team in home runs, Drew still has just 13 hits and a batting average far closer to .150 than .200. And those numbers aren’t simply a one-month problem. Drew basically hit like this — but with less power — through almost all of last season.
The circumstances: Signed to a buy-low, one-year contract, Drew seems to be the Yankees best defensive second base option, and until Brendan Ryan is healthy, he’s their only proven backup shortstop. For the time being, the question with Drew isn’t so much whether he should stay on the roster, it’s whether he should stay in the starting lineup.
The alternative: Yesterday the Yankees activated Jose Pirela, and Pirela immediately delivered two hits including a hustle double. While scouts don’t exactly love his glove — and he’s never been a huge prospect — Pirela does seem to have some offensive potential and could hit his way into regular at-bats.
The problem: Maybe it’s because he’s hardly played, but the bottom line is that Jones has hit just .152/.176/.242 which is good for the lowest OPS on the roster by a large margin. His expected backup role has been hardly necessary with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez playing well.
The circumstances: Even if the Yankees found someone to put up better numbers, would that player get more at-bats than Jones is getting right now? He’s in the final year of his contract and the power potential exists. Is it worth putting a young player into such a limited role?
The alternative: Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores are playing well and hit from the left side, but Kyle Roller (.278/.414/.481 in Triple-A) stands out as a Jones-type who could occasionally DH and maybe play some limited first base when either Rodriguez or Teixiera needs a day off. At this point, adding a player who can handle the outfield seems unnecessary with both Pirela and Chris Young on the roster.
The problem: Even with a couple of two-hit games in Boston, Beltran is still hitting just .195/.237/.310 with 22 strikeouts. It feels like a continuation of last year’s brutal second half and a spring training that wasn’t exactly encouraging.
The circumstances: As recently as 2013, Beltran was still a very good hitter. Even in April of 2014 he hit for power before the elbow issue that eventually required surgery. He has this year and one more on his contract, so moving on isn’t as easy as it was with Alfonso Soriano last season.
The alternatives: In the short term, the Yankees have Young putting up good numbers, especially against lefties. The Yankees could basically push Beltran into a platoon with all right field starts against lefties going to Young. They could also consider either Heathcott or Flores as young options from the left side.
The problem: In a bullpen full of guys with terrific numbers, Carpenter a 5.23 ERA that’s the second-worst on the team behind Sabathia. Carpenter’s pitched 11 times this season, rarely in high-leverage situations, and he’s twice allowed three earned runs.
The circumstances: Really, Carpenter hasn’t been all that bad, and I’m including him here only because he’s the guy with numbers that don’t look great in the pen. Other than those two rough outings, he’s been good. The Yankees, though, have a lot of good young relievers in Triple-A, and they have three starting pitchers looking to come off the disabled list. Something’s going to have to give eventually.
The alternatives: Despite the high ERA, right now it’s pretty hard to imagine Carpenter’s job is remotely on the line at the moment. Girardi hasn’t trusted him in big spots, though, and last year’s top draft pick Jacob Lindgren just made back-to-back appearances the past two days (so did Nick Rumbelow), and Jose Ramirez went back-to-back a week ago. Could be that the Yankees are preparing those young guys for a big league role in the not-so-distant future.
Associated Press photo
Game 28: Yankees at Blue Jays • 05.06.15
LHP CC Sabathia (0-4, 5.40)
Sabathia vs. Blue Jays
BLUE JAYS (13-15)
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Jose Bautista DH
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Russell Martin C
Kevin Pillar CF
Chris Colabello LF
Ryan Goins SS
Ezequiel Carrera RF
LHP Mark Buehrle (3-2, 6.75)
Buehrle vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:07 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Such a nice day that the dome is open.
UMPIRES: HP Toby Basner, 1B Dana DeMuth, 2B Mike Estabrook, 3B Ed Hickox
TEX MESSAGES: With last night’s home run, Mark Teixeira reached 10 homers for the season in the team’s 27th game, becoming the second-fastest Yankee to hit 10 home runs since 1975 (Alex Rodriguez had 10 in the Yankees’ first 14 games back in 2007). Teixeira reached 10 in his 25th game of the season, his fewest games into a season needed to reach the plateau, surpassing his previous best from 2009 which was 35 games.
STILL HOT AS ELL: Jacoby Ellsbury has an eight-game hitting streak during which he’s 18-for-35 with seven runs and seven stolen bases. He has raised his season batting average from .282 to .358 over the stretch. He has 12 multi-hit games this season, and the Yankees at 10-2 in those games.
ON THIS DATE: On May 6, 1930 the Yankees acquired RHP Red Ruffing from Boston for OF Cedric Durst and $50,000. Ruffing was 39-96 with Boston but went 231-124 with the Yankees posting seasons of 20, 20, 21 and 21 wins on World Championship clubs from 1936-39.
UPDATE, 7:18 p.m.: Another hit for Young, another double for Rodriguez and another RBI for Teixeira. It’s a 1-0 lead in the first for the Yankees.
UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: Bunt single set the stage, double put the runners in scoring position, and a two-run single by the No. 9 hitter has pushed the Blue Jays into the lead, 2-1, in the second.
UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Pirela with a hustle double in his first at-bat of the day.
UPDATE, 7:55 p.m.: Sabathia with a 1-2-3 third to keep the Yankees within a run.
UPDATE, 8:08 p.m.: Costly balk for Sabathia in the fourth inning. Moved the runner into scoring position, and the next pitch was an RBI single. It’s 3-1 Toronto.
UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: Yankees loaded the bases in the fifth, but Teixeira grounded to short to let Buehrle off the hook.
UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: Wow, Blue Jays pull Buehrle after five innings. He’s in line for his first win against the Yankees in more than a decade.
UPDATE, 8:39 p.m.: Russell Martin now has a home run in the past four games he’s started. Solo shot off Sabathia makes it 4-1 in the sixth.
UPDATE, 8:58 p.m.: Here’s Esmil Rogers with one out in the seventh. Sabathia lasted 6.1 innings, but he allowed four runs on nine hits and leaves in line for his fifth loss. His ERA is up slightly to 5.45.
Pitching matchups in Toronto • 05.04.15
RHP Chase Whitley (1-0, 1.80)
RHP R.A. Dickey (0-3, 5.23)
7:07 p.m., YES Network
RHP Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.73)
RHP Marco Estrada (1-0, 0.84)
7:07 p.m., YES Network
LHP CC Sabathia (0-4, 5.40)
LHP Mark Buehrle (3-2, 6.75)
7:07 p.m., YES Network
Associated Press photo
Mid-summer 1994, Alex Rodriguez was right here at Fenway Park for his Major League debut. He was an 18-year-old kid, barely a year removed from being the top overall draft pick out of high school. He’d played a half season of minor league ball. He remembers his mother, brother and sister being in the crowd. He also remembers this:
“How nervous I was,” he said. “I was a month (removed) from my high school prom.”
Now Rodriguez is back. It would be absurd to try to capture in a few sentences all that’s happened between then and now, but Rodriguez’s go-to quote about his early season at-bats seems appropriate: “Some good. Some bad.”
Unlike 21 years ago, Rodriguez isn’t in the lineup tonight. Joe Girardi has loaded the Yankees lineup with left-handed hitters to take advantage of Red Sox starter Justin Masterson’s weakness against lefties, and so it seems Rodriguez’s hunt for milestone home run No. 660 will have to wait for either another day or a late-inning pinch hit opportunity.
“I wanted to do it Wednesday at home,” Rodriguez said. “It would have been nice to do it at home in front of our home fans. But now I’m on the road and the goal doesn’t change. It’s still to win games and to win series.”
Out of spring training, Rodriguez homered four times in his first 31 at-bats. That outburst put him two away from tying Willie Mays for fourth on baseball’s all-time list. Since he got that close, he’s hit one homer in his past 37 at-bats. Since he pulled within one of the milestone on Sunday, he’s gone 1-for-12, including that brutal four-strikeout game on Wednesday.
Rodriguez didn’t specifically say he was pressing on Wednesday, but he acknowledges a past difficulty with approaching milestones. It took him 28 at-bats to finally hit home run No. 500, and 46 at-bats to finally reach 600.
“Some of the pitches that he’s swung at and the ones that he’s missed a little bit, maybe (he’s been) trying to get it out of the way,” Girardi said. “As much as I want to tell him to relax, it’s something he’s going to have to do to get it out of the way. … I think it’s probably part of most players when they get to the level of accomplishments these guys have reached. We saw it weigh really hard on Derek (Jeter trying to reach 3,000 hits). That was one that I didn’t think that would be. I just think it’s difficult.”
Seems safe to assume Rodriguez will be back in the lineup tomorrow afternoon for his next shot at tying Mays, who Rodriguez has called a hero; his father’s favorite player. Does it bother him that many will see his 660th home run as something far less impressive than Mays’ 660th?
“The only thing I can control is what I do from here on out and how I conduct myself both on and off the field,” he said. “I can’t really decide for other people what to think. … You know I have regrets, and I’m trying to do the best to finish my career on a high note.”
• Chris Capuano will start a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa tomorrow. He’s scheduled for four innings or 60 pitches. Sounds like he could need as little as three minor league starts before becoming a big league option. “Everything that he’s doing is going in the right direction,” Girardi said. “You think about 60, 75, 90 and then you go from there.”
• Ivan Nova will pitch one inning in an intrasquad game tomorrow. Jared Burton will pitch in the same game.
• Now that Jose Pirela’s rehab has been moved up to Triple-A, he’s clearly getting much closer to being a big league option — and the Yankees were ready to call him up on Wednesday before Tanaka got hurt — but Girardi said, at this point, the team still hasn’t decided whether Pirela will come to the big leagues or stay in Triple-A after his rehab is finished. “It’s something that we have discussed about what we might possibly do with him or not do with him,” Girardi said. “But obviously I think at-bats are important. He was out a month, maybe? Almost a month? You’ve got to get him some at-bats and some real game situations playing different positions.”
• Brendan Ryan got some DH at-bats today in extended spring training. He’s obviously inching closer to a rehab assignment of his own.
• Stacking the lineup with lefties means a rare start for Garrett Jones, who’s played in fewer games than Gregorio Petit at this point. “When we envisioned him, we envisioned him DHing some and maybe playing a little first and a little outfield,” Girardi said. “With Alex swinging the bat so well in April, Chris Young swinging the bat so well in April, it’s just been tough for Garrett.”
• Speaking of that lineup of all left-handed hitters (counting the switch hitters), Girardi said that was a decision 100-percent connected to Red Sox starter Justin Masterson. In his career, Masterson has held right-handed hitters to a .220 average and .606 OPS. Lefties have hit .287 with a .794 OPS.
• CC Sabathia is going for his first win of the year. He’s taken the loss in all four of his starts. “I think there’s frustration there because I think he’s pitched well enough three of the four games to win,” Girardi said. “He loses an extremely tough on in Detroit. We haven’t scored a lot of runs in his games. Hopefully we can do that tonight and give him some run support and get him a win.”
• By the way, the Yankees mustache thing is still going strong. John Ryan Murphy and Gregorio Petit are among the more impressive stache-growers of the bunch. Poor Dellin Betances and Adam Warren, not so much.
Associated Press photos
For two years, CC Sabathia knew disappointment and became familiar with limitations. He struggled, and he got hurt, and Sabathia did little to hide his frustration. He was capable of pitching better, and he knew it.
This year, Sabathia is pitching better, and he knows that, too. But still, there’s frustration.
“I’ve been getting better every time out,” Sabathia said after tonight’s letdown. “Obviously that’s not equating to wins or helping us.”
Three starts into the season, Sabathia’s allowed just two extra-base hits and four walks, but he’s 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA. Tonight he faced the minimum through six innings, finished off a complete game by pitching through the eighth, but took the loss because of back-to-back two-out singles in the seventh. The first hit off Didi Gregorius’s glove at shortstop. The second fell into center field, where Jacoby Ellsbury decided he didn’t have a shot at throwing Victor Martinez out at the plate.
“I think (Sabathia) knows he’s throwing the ball well,” Joe Girardi said. “And I think he’s pleased with the way he’s throwing the ball. But there’s frustration there, I’m sure. … I thought the first two starts were good too. He didn’t give up as few runs as he did tonight, but I thought he threw the ball really well. Those first two starts he was not hit hard. He wasn’t. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing, and the results will come.”
That’s the idea, but as Girardi said after Masahiro Tanaka finally pitched a gem on Saturday: everyone wants to have success, and right now, Sabathia’s not having success. He’s experiencing little victories along the way — better arm strength, fewer home runs, good control, lots of ground balls — but Sabathia’s a bottom-line kind of guy. Getting Miguel Cabrera to hit into two double plays and nearly into a third one? That’s great, but it didn’t matter in the end.
“Any time you can get him out, it’s a bonus,” Sabathia said. “But it didn’t equate to a win, so it is what it is.”
Ultimately, the Yankees had a late lead against the team with the best record in baseball, and Sabathia was on the mound when it slipped away. Sabathia knows frustration, and he was feeling it again tonight, even if his manager and his teammates were seeing signs of encouragement.
“He’s right where he needs to be,” catcher Brian McCann said. “Third start in, he looks great. Very encouraged. … Arm strength. It’s there. He’s getting in on the righties. He’s sinking it. Everything comes out of the same slot, and his arm speed is the same on all his pitches. It’s good to see.”
The Yankees played pretty incredible defense through much of the game — more on that in a bit — but there were two plays in the seventh worth questioning. I’m not sure mistakes were made on either one, but they were pivotal moments in the game.
The game-tying single was a sharp ball that hit off Gregorius’s glove. He tried to make a diving catch to his right but just missed it. Really tough play, but Gregorius almost made it, which makes you wonder if he should have made it.
“I made a diving play and tried to stop it,” Gregorius said. “Get at least one out. But it hit my glove, went into the outfield, and they got a chance to tie the game right there. … As a player you want to make every play. For me, I want to make every play when I go out there. That’s how I look at it.”
The go-ahead single dropped into center field where Ellsbury decided to throw to third for the final out rather than throwing home to try to keep the run from scoring. Victor Martinez was running, and he’s not a good runner even when he’s not slightly hobbled.
“I didn’t think we had a shot,” Ellsbury said. “With two outs, you have a huge secondary (lead). By the time I’m touching the ball, I don’t know exactly where he’s at. If there’s one out, definitely, we’ve got a play. But with two outs, getting a big secondary, going on contact, that’s the reason he was able to score is because we had two outs.”
For whatever it’s worth, Girardi said he also thought Ellsbury had no shot at the out at home.
• Of course it’s easy to look back at those two hits in the seventh as making all the difference, but the Yankees scored just one run tonight, and it’s tough to win when that happens. “I thought (Alfredo Simon’s) split was exceptional,” Girardi said. “I thought his sinker was good, and I thought his split was exceptional tonight, and he used it really effectively. He threw some for strikes, expanded when he was ahead, and did a good job.”
• The big at-bat for the Yankees was Ellsbury hitting into a double play with runners at the corners in the eighth. Adds a little insult to injury that Joba Chamberlain was on the mound. “I think that’s about the only way you can double me up right there,” Ellsbury said. “With the play drawing him to second like that, flip to Iglesias — that’s about the only way you can double me up. If it’s hit to his left a little bit, they don’t double me up. Even if I don’t quite hit it as hard, they don’t double me up. That’s about the only way they could have. … I think I’ll take 600 more of those swings the rest of the season, but just unfortunately hit it at the wrong person.”
• Ellsbury did have the play of the game with his diving catch to start the bottom of the fifth. “I didn’t (think I’d get there),” Ellsbury said. “But, you know, I always go for everything like I can catch it. I was pleased to cover some ground and make a play on it.”
• Very next batter after the Ellsbury catch, Brett Gardner made a nice sliding catch in left field. That was his second-best catch of the night. Gardner also made a great running catch at the wall to start the second inning. The first Gardner catch and the Ellsbury catch were each against Victor Martinez.
• Speaking of Victor Martinez, Girardi chose to intentionally walk him in the seventh, even though it put the go-ahead run on base. “Looking at the at-bats, and the at-bats he’s had off him for a number of years,” Girardi said. “He’s hit the ball hard. We made two great plays, and I just went with what I thought was a better matchup. … Usually you don’t (put the go-ahead run on, but with two outs it’s kind of a different story there.”
• As it turned out, the Yankees had a prime opportunity to tie the game on the Gregorius single in the eighth. The ball was hit to center and Chase Headley was held up at third base, but Rajai Davis wound up bobbling the ball, which probably would have allowed enough time to score. “He had the ball in plenty of time and then he dropped it,” Girardi said. “And that’s not something you can predict.”
• The Yankees turned three double plays tonight, and Stephen Drew looked pretty good at second making those turns. “I think he’s getting more comfortable there, obviously, the more he has played,” Girardi said. “He makes a really good one, picks it, and then gets the double play, so yeah, I think he’s really kinda settling in there.”
• Sabathia’s changeup was really good tonight. He’s been talking about that pitch since spring training, and he basically had it all night tonight. That’s the pitch he used on both Cabrera double plays. “Arm speed is a big deal,” McCann said. “When your arm speed’s there and it looks exactly like your fastball and it’s a six, seven mile-per-hour difference, you’re going to get a lot of ground balls and you’re going to keep it off the barrel.”
• Mark Teixeira’s solo homer was the 367th of his career, moving him ahead of Lance Berkman for fifth place on baseball’s all-time home runs list for switch hitters.
• Chase Headley had two singles. It was his third multi-hit game of the year and gave him a three-game hitting streak.
• No real final word here, just a link to make sure you don’t miss the epic postgame meltdown by Reds manager Bryan Price tonight. For some reason, Price believes beat writers have to think about the good of the team before they report. I’ll say this for Girardi and Brian Cashman: I’ve never felt that they were mad or felt like punishing a reporter for writing something negative that’s perfectly fair and accurate. If the Yankees tried to hide the fact a player wasn’t at a game, and that fact got out, there’s no chance the Yankees would blame the reporter.
Associated Press photos
Game 13: Yankees at Tigers • 04.20.15
LHP CC Sabathia (0-2, 5.68)
Sabathia vs. Tigers
Rajai Davis CF
Ian Kinsler 2B
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
J.D. Martinez RF
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Nick Castellanos 3B
James McCann C
Jose Iglesias SS
RHP Alfredo Simon (2-0, 2.03)
Simon vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:08 p.m., YES Network and ESPN
WEATHER: Rainy all day, but the forecast suggests it might stay dry enough to actually play tonight. A few days ago, the forecast suggested there was not much chance of playing today.
UMPIRES: HP Tony Randazzo, 1B Will Little, 2B Gerry Davis, 3B Phil Cuzzi
ONE THEY’LL MISS: The Yankees won’t face Shane Greene this week. Traded away in the Didi Gregorius deal, Greene last pitched on Sunday and has so far gone 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA through his first three starts this season.
SAVINGS PLAN: Andrew Miller has four saves through the Yankees’ first 12 games this season, marking the most saves through this point of a season by a Yankees pitcher other than Mariano Rivera since John Wetteland tallied five saves in the Yankees’ first 12 games of 1995. Miller is the first pitcher in Yankees history to record a save and at least three strikeouts in three consecutive relief outings.
GOOD MATCHUP: No Yankees hitter has more at-bats against Alfredo Simon than Mark Teixeira, and Teixeira is 6-for-14 with a home run against the Tigers’ starter. The current Yankees have collectively hit .297/.373/.453 against Simon. Yankees starter CC Sabathia’s had success against this current group of Tigers — they’ve hit .226/.286/.377 against him — but he’s had real trouble (no surprise) against Miguel Cabrera. In 29 at-bats, Cabrera’s hit .345/.417/.621 against Sabathia.
UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: Teixeira continues his potent numbers against Simon with his fourth home run of the season. Now the Yankees also had a one-out double by McCann. They’re up 1-0 with Headley getting a chance to expand the lead here in the second.
UPDATE, 8:03 p.m.: Sabathia is through three scoreless. He’s allowed a couple of singles but has ultimately faced the minimum.
UPDATE, 8:14 p.m.: Another single for the Tigers, but another 1-2-3 inning for Sabathia who just got Miguel Cabrera to hit into another double play.
UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: Impressive catch by Ellsbury in center followed by a nice catch by Gardner in left. Sabathia is through another scoreless inning having still faced the minimum through five.
UPDATE, 8:46 p.m.: Another double play, and Sabathia has faced the minimum through six.
UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: With two outs in the seventh, the Tigers are on the board after a sharp single got past Gregorius. Would have been a really impressive play, but the ball got under the glove for a single to tie the game at 1.
UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.: And now another single for a 2-1 Tigers lead. Nothing but singles off Sabathia today (plus two really good catches on deep fly balls).
Four runs on seven hits, but after tonight’s disappointment, CC Sabathia kept coming back to one particular pitch. It was the four-seam fastball he threw to Caleb Joseph in the seventh inning. It was a 3-1 game at the time, and Sabathia wanted the ball down and away. The pitch was middle, and it was hit to center for a triple.
Never mind that Jacoby Ellsbury very nearly caught it, Sabathia knew he made a mistake with that pitch and it was hit hard. He might have run into some rough luck in other moments, but in that situation, the blame fell on his shoulders. That triple led to a late insurance run, and that run made all the difference.
The other Baltimore runs came on a home run (first extra-base hit Sabathia allowed this season), after a leadoff walk (Sabathia’s only walk of the season), and after an infield single (one of many soft hits Sabathia has allowed). Aside from the home run and the triple, this was another case of relatively soft contact leading to a bunch of runs. They didn’t all come in one inning like last time out, but Sabathia still wound up with a lot of runs on his pitching line.
“I think his luck’s going to change,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I’m going to take my chances if he’s throwing the ball the way he’s throwing that the results are going to be better.”
Of course Girardi has a reputation of backing his players no matter what, but it’s also pretty easy to see what the Yankees and Sabathia are talking about. He really is throwing a lot of strikes and getting quite a few swings and misses. He’s walked one guy, pitched more innings than either Michael Pineda or Masahiro Tanaka, and allowed one home run.
Through two starts in 2013, Sabathia had already walked seven guys. Through two starts last year, he’d already allowed three homers and three doubles.
“I’m just seeing better movement on his fastball,” Girardi said. “I’m seeing consistency in his changeup; it’s not cutting. His slider is better. I just think he’s locating a lot better. I think it’s because he’s healthy. It’s hard when you’re dealing with nagging injuries to go out there and perform at a high level.”
• Didn’t help the Yankees that tonight they went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, continuing that early trend of not taking advantage of opportunities on offense. Some of that was clearly because Miguel Gonzalez was awfully sharp, but still, it’s hard to place all the blame on Sabathia when the offense didn’t do much of anything until the eighth inning. “(Gonzalez) deserves a lot of credit,” Mark Teixeira said. “He pitched really well. When he needed to make big pitches, he did. It’s not like he needed to get out of too many jams, but he did when he needed to.”
• This was the first time in his career that Gonzalez struck out 10 batters in a game. He retired 10 in a row from the second inning through the fifth.
• Sabathia not covering first base on a potential double play and failing to get an out on a slow roller up the first-base side didn’t ultimately cost him any runs, but his ability to move around defensively is clearly an issue. It’s just an issue the Yankees are willing to accept. Sabathia said the knee feels fine, but… “It’s the product of a big man, too,” Girardi said. “It’s not Gonzalez trying to get over there. He’s falling the opposite way. He’s falling toward third base. It’s just, it’s a big man.”
• Sabathia on trying to make a play on the slow roller, when he was ultimately charged with an error for flipping the ball into the runner: “It’s wet out there. I made the best play I could. I didn’t want to go down and slide, and I just threw it into the runner. … I mean, it’s just being 34 years old. Four years ago, I probably could have made that play.”
• Sabathia completely dismissed questions about whether his knee is bothering him either pitching or fielding. “I’m fine,” he said.
• Adam Jones is 11-for-17 with four home runs and nine RBI in his past five games. He homered in his first at-bat tonight, then had a sacrifice fly. “He’s one of the best hitters in the game,” Sabathia said. “He got a two-seamer and put a good swing on it (in the first inning). I felt like we pitched him a little better after that. But he’s hot, and there’s nothing you can really do.”
• Plan was for Brett Gardner to pinch run for Alex Rodriguez if Rodriguez got on base in the ninth inning. Gardner would have stayed in to play defense, but it’s still doubtful he’ll start tomorrow. Said he did only ice treatment today. “Maybe a little bit (better),” he said. “Pretty similar. Just pretty sore. Inflammation is limited. I haven’t tried to swing a bat. All I did today was ice. I didn’t try and heat it up or anything. Maybe I’ll be able to do that tomorrow.”
• Girardi chose to pinch hit Gregorio Petit to lead off the ninth because he wanted to save Rodriguez for the at-bat when Stephen Drew’s turn came up (there was a lefty on the mound). If Garrett Jones’ turn in the lineup had come up with runners on base in the eighth, Rodriguez would have pinch hit then. Basically, Girardi was trying to maximize the impact of the Rodriguez at-bat whenever it came. If there had been two on with no outs for the Drew at-bat, Drew might have stayed in to bunt them over, letting Rodriguez come up with the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with one out. “If the first two guys get on, or the first guy gets on, I want a guy with power behind him,” Girardi said. “The first two guys get on, you can think about doing something else.”
• Ellsbury on running after the triple in the seventh inning, when he made a diving attempt but couldn’t make the catch: “I knew it would be close,” Ellsbury said. “You always hope to catch the ball. It couldn’t have been much. I haven’t seen the replay, but within inches, I would imagine.”
• Another good outing by Chris Martin who struck out two — including Jones — during a 1-2-3 eighth.
• Final word goes to Girardi on Sabathia: “I thought he was good again. It’s unfortunate. He gave up a few hard-hit balls and you look at some of the hits he gave up, you know, I know that’s part of it but I like the way he’s throwing. … I thought he pitched well. It’s unfortunate that he gave up four runs. I thought he pitched better than that.”
Associated Press photos
Game 8: Yankees at Orioles • 04.14.15
LHP CC Sabathia (0-1, 6.35)
Sabathia vs. Orioles
Everth Cabrera SS
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Steve Pearce 1B
Delmon Young RF
Chris Davis DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Caleb Joseph C
Alejandro De Aza LF
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 1.59)
Gonzalez vs Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Been rainy all day, but looks like there’s a solid chance they’ll get this game in.
UMPIRES: HP Cary Cederstrom, 1B Sean Barber, 2B Eric Cooper, 3B Lance Barksdale
TOUGH MATCHUP: Orioles shortstop Everth Cabrera has just four career at-bats against CC Sabathia, but he’s had success with those opportunities. He’s 4-for-4 with a triple.
GRAND TIME: Last night, Stephen Drew hit a pinch-hit go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning. It was the first pinch-hit grand slam by a Yankee since Jorge Posada on June 6, 2001, which was also against Baltimore (off Mike Trombley). According to Elias, since 1980, the only Yankees other than Drew to hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead grand slam are Glenallen Hill (2000) and Jorge Posada (2001).
ON THIS DATE: Sixty years ago today, Elston Howard became the first black player in Yankees history when he made his MLB debut on April 14, 1955. The two-time Gold Glove Award-winning catcher contributed to nine pennants in his first 10 seasons with the club. He was the winner of the 1963 American League MVP and was elected to the All-Star Game in nine different seasons (1957-65).
UPDATE, 7:20 p.m.: Two quick outs for Sabathia, then a solo homer by Adam Jones.
UPDATE, 7:36 p.m.: Couple of two-out base runners for the Yankees in the second inning, but Gregorius went down swinging. If there’s an upside, it might be that Gonzalez has already thrown 38 pitches.
UPDATE, 7:40 p.m.: The Yankees know CC can’t move very well and might not be able to cover first base very often. Might have cost them a double play opportunity here in the second inning.
UPDATE, 7:43 p.m.: Slow roller that Sabathia couldn’t get to very quickly, and now it’s two on with two outs for De Aza.
UPDATE, 7:44 p.m.: Sabathia’s through the inning without any damage done. This is why the Yankees say they’re OK with him not moving very well. It’s obviously not ideal — costs him pitches and creates some risk — but the Yankees feel he can ultimately pitch his way out of being hurt by that shortcoming.
UPDATE, 8:07 p.m.: Sabathia’s first walk of the year comes back to hurt him. A soft single moved the runner to third and a sac fly brought him in to score. It’s now 2-0 in the fourth.
UPDATE, 8:16 p.m.: Infield single. Wild pitch. Two strikeouts. Two-out, RBI single to right. This is looking more and more like Sabathia’s first start of the year. Other than the home run, he really hasn’t been hit hard, but he’s allowed three runs on five hits.
UPDATE, 8:39 p.m.: Two-out RBI double for Teixeira puts the Yankees on the board and cuts the lead to 3-1 in the sixth.
UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: Second extra-base hit Sabathia has allowed this season was a leadoff triple in the seventh inning. Ellsbury nearly made a diving catch, but he couldn’t get there and a sacrifice fly brought in the fourth Orioles run of the night. This start feels a lot like Sabathia’s first start of the year.
UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: Couple of hits and an RBI ground out have cut the lead to 4-2 in the eighth. Didi Gregorius actually got a hit, if you can believe it.
Pitching matchups at Baltimore • 04.13.15
RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00)
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 6.23)
7:05 p.m., PIX 11
LHP CC Sabathia (0-1, 6.35)
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 1.59)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 5.06)
RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 24.00)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
Associated Press photo