By my count, the Yankees added 10 brand new players to the big league roster — players who had not been in the organization when the season started — between the July 15 All-Star Game and the end of the regular season.
Second-half moves like that happen every year as teams try to plug holes here and there, but the Yankees’ second-half additions stand out because of just how many have either re-signed, stayed on the roster, or otherwise impacted the organization going forward. This list isn’t made entirely of lingering players, but there are lot of them.
LHP Rich Hill – Signed to a minor league deal immediately after the all-star break, Hill was allowed to leave via free agency this offseason. Perhaps his lasting impact is the fact he was the guy called up when the Yankees let go of Matt Thornton on waivers. That was a money saving move, and having Hill in Triple-A presumably made it a little easier (there really wasn’t another lefty to bring up before Hill was added to the mix).
3B Chase Headley – Seems safe to assume Headley would have been on the Yankees radar this offseason regardless of his second-half stint in pinstripes, but the Yankees clearly liked what they saw, and Headley has acknowledged that he enjoyed the New York experience more than he expected. Would these two have found common ground without that late-season audition? Maybe not.
LHP Chris Capuano – The Yankees were desperate for a starting pitcher, and Capuano was available. He had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees acquired him, and he pitched like a good No. 5 during his 12-start stint as a rotation replacement. As other rotation options came off the table earlier this month, the Yankees eventually found their way back to the guy who pitched better than expected late in the season.
2B Martin Prado – Of all the names on the list, this is the only one clearly intended to be a long-term fix. The Yankees planned to use Prado in the outfield last season, but he wound up playing all over the field, and it was that versatility that made him a strong fit going forward. His ability to play second base has freed the Yankees to re-sign Headley, and Prado’s ability to play the outfield might eventually free them to add Rob Refsnyder.
SS Stephen Drew – Perhaps this was the audition that had the opposite impact of Headley. Finishing off a strange year in which he signed late and missed spring training, Drew came to the Yankees at the trade deadline with the expectation that he could learn and new position and improve his offensive numbers. The first part was no problem — Drew looked good at second — but the offense never got better. It seems telling that Drew’s still on the free agent market.
RHP Esmil Rogers – A waiver claim at the trade deadline, Rogers showed moments of promise mixed with moments that explained why he was so readily available in the first place. As the season was winding down, Rogers didn’t have a defined role and he entered this offseason as a prime non-tender candidate. The Yankees, though, got him to take a pay cut as they prepare to give him one more look as either a long man, a one-inning reliever, or possibly a starter.
OF Chris Young — This move was easy to mock at the time. Young, after all, had been released by the Mets earlier in the season and there seemed little chance that such a castaway would play any sort of role with the Yankees. But he signed a minor league deal, got a September call-up, hit a few home runs, and wound up with a new one-year deal as the team’s fourth outfielder. That late signing might have made all the difference.
LHP Josh Outman – Basically added to the mix because he seemed like a better left-on-left option than Hill, but late in the year it was Hill getting more of the prime matchup situations, and Outman wound up dumped back into free agency. Hard to remember Outman was ever on the roster in the first place.
RHP Chaz Roe – A late acquisition turned September call-up, Roe is a former first-round pick who pitched two innings for the Yankees, walked three guys, allowed three hits, gave up two earned runs and was never heard from again.
OF Eury Perez – End-of-the-season waiver claim who got 10 at-bats before the end of the season. He might have been let go this winter, but Perez was given an extra option and now seems likely to open the season in Triple-A as a bit of right-handed outfield depth. He has some speed to go with a .360 on-base percentage in the minors. Probably not a guy who’s going to play a significant role going forward, but he’s still in the mix at this point.
Associated Press photos
The good news is, the Yankees added some rotation depth yesterday. The bad news is, it wasn’t by acquiring a front-end starter to make everyone feel better about the health concerns at the top of the rotation.
By re-signing Chris Capuano, the Yankees brought in an experienced lefty who pitched well in a fifth starter role last year. The good news is that he’s probably a little better than you’re thinking (his career numbers are nearly identical to the rock-solid results he put up with the Yankees last season), but the bad news is that the Yankees rotation still has an opening and is still crowded with uncertainty heading into next season.
Here’s a look at the Yankees starters in place — and the ones set to compete for a spot — as we move ever closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. As you might expect, with each one there’s some good news and some bad news.
Good news: Cy Young and Rookie of the Year candidate through his first three months in the big leagues.
Bad news: Slightly torn elbow ligament suggests Tommy John surgery is a real threat as early as spring training.
Good news: Finally joined the Yankees staff with a 1.89 ERA last season.
Bad news: That stellar ERA came in just 13 starts because of another shoulder issue.
Good news: Says he feels strong this winter; more than 200 innings in 2013 and a 3.38 ERA as recently as 2012.
Bad news: Coming back from knee surgery with a not-so-encouraging 4.87 ERA the past two seasons.
Good news: Farm system success story had a 3.10 ERA (and an especially good second half) in his last healthy season.
Bad news: Had Tommy John surgery after just four starts last season; not expected to be ready for Opening Day.
Good news: Solid No. 5 starter with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the Yankees last season.
Bad news: Had been released and was pitching in Triple-A when the Yankees got him in July.
Good news: Was on a roll before a upper elbow injury (believed to be minor) pushed him to the DL last season.
Bad news: In three seasons has never quite established himself as a go-to member of the rotation.
Good news: Coming off a terrific, breakout season with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
Bad news: Truly emerged as a one-inning setup man; has just three major-league starts on his resume.
Good news: Showed flashes of promise late last year including a five-inning, one-run spot start in August.
Bad news: That promise has not consistently translated, leaving Rogers a 5.54 career ERA with four different teams before the age of 30.
Good news: Long-time minor league reliever emerged with a 2.56 ERA through his first seven major league starts last season.
Bad news: Had a 9.00 ERA through his next five starts, falling out of the rotation and back into the bullpen.
Good news: Long touted for talent that exceeded his stats, Mitchell’s results were actually pretty impressive in his brief big league cameo.
Bad news: He’s still a 24 year old with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP through five minor league seasons; never with as many as 150 innings.
Good news: One of the top pitching prospects in the system and one of the best in baseball before Tommy John surgery.
Bad news: Inconsistent with a 4.11 ERA and just 76.2 innings in his return from surgery last season.
JOSE DE PAULA
Good news: Hard-throwing lefty impressed the Yankees enough to land a major-league contract this winter.
Bad news: Has never actually pitched in the major leagues and has just 51.1 innings of so-so Triple-A experience.
Associated Press photos
Cashman: Capuano has a spot in the rotation • 12.16.14
The Yankees have officially announced the Chris Capuano signing, and general manager Brian Cashman has made it clear that Capuano is meant to fill a rotation spot, not simply add a rotation possibility.
“He’s coming in as one of our starters,” Cashman said.
So that’s four spots essentially filled right now: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Capuano. The Yankees expect Ivan Nova back from Tommy John by June at the latest, and for now, they’re looking at a list of predictable candidate to fill the fifth spot.
Cashman specifically named David Phelps, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Jose De Paula as rotation possibilities. Esmil Rogers, Cashman said, could also emerge as a rotation candidate. There’s a chance Manny Banuelos could pitch his way into that mix in spring training, but the Yankees aren’t counting on it.
“He could become an option probably sometime more in season than to start the season,” Cashman said, “because he didn’t have a very good coming out party after the Tommy John. … But I still have high hopes for him.”
Unless Japanese starter Kenta Maeda is posted — and there’s little guarantee the Yankees would bid on him — the free agent market seems to have lost most of its mid-rotation possibilities. With Brandon McCarthy getting a four-year deal and Brett Anderson getting $10 million guaranteed, a few potential bargain candidates wound up signing significant contracts, and the Yankees are still saying they have no plans to enter the bidding for Max Scherzer because of the money and years attached (I’ve heard recently that the Yankees also didn’t enter the bidding for some guys like Anderson because they were told early on how much it would cost).
Hiroki Kuroda remains a possibility, but Cashman said he still hasn’t heard whether Kuroda wants to come back next season.
“I think it’s safe to assume we are open to any legitimate possibilities to improve our club,” Cashman said. “Obviously making sense in the current circumstances that we have. … The preference would be to never have to go to the free agent market to get what you need, but that’s just not realistic.”
Associated Press photo
Yankees bring back Chris Capuano • 12.16.14
Capuano pitched well for the Yankees last season, providing solid rotation depth late in the season. He made 12 starts with a 4.25 ERA, and it seems Capuano will come into spring training to provide a little rotation depth (maybe a place holder until Ivan Nova comes off the disabled list).
Another source has confirmed Capuano will show up in spring training to work as a starting pitcher.
Major League Baseball and the Players Association today announced the full roster that will travel for next week’s Japan All-Star Series against Japan’s national team. There are no current Yankees on the squad — the one listed as a Yankees player is Chris Capuano, who’s currently a free agent — but the team is filled with former Yankees including Robinson Cano, Mark Melancon, Eduardo Nunez, Randy Choate and Jose Veras.
Here’s the roster that’s going to Japan:
Jeff Beliveau (TB)
Jerry Blevins (WSH)
Chris Capuano (NYY)
Randy Choate (STL)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC)
Tommy Hunter (BAL)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
Mark Melancon (PIT)
Franklin Morales (COL)
Hector Santiago (LAA)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
Jose Veras (HOU)
Tsuyoshi Wada (CHI)
Rob Wooten (MIL)
Drew Butera (LAD)
Erik Kratz (KC)
Salvador Perez (KC)
Jose Altuve (HOU)
Robinson Cano (SEA)
Alcides Escobar (KC)
Evan Longoria (TB)
Justin Morneau (COL)
Eduardo Nunez (MIN)
Carlos Santana (CLE)
Chris Carter (HOU)
Lucas Duda (NYM)
Dexter Fowler (HOU)
Yasiel Puig (LAD)
Ben Zobrist (TB)
Here’s the schedule
MLB NETWORK BROADCAST TIME
Tue., November 11th
4 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Exhibition vs. Hanshin Tigers / Yomiuri Giants at Koshien
Wed., November 12th
4 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka
Fri., November 14th
4 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Sat., November 15th
4 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Sun., November 16th
4 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Tue., November 18th
5 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Thu., November 20th
4 a.m. / 9 p.m.
Exhibition Game vs. Team Japan, Okinawa
Associated Press photo
In trying to break down the state of the Yankees organization, it’s hard to look at pitchers the same way we look at position players. The development is different. The roles are different. The number of jobs available is different. It’s just … different. In trying to look at the state of the Yankees rotation, it seems best to start by looking directly at the current 40-man roster (before free agency) where no less than 12 rotation possibilities are already in place. Given the Yankees injury concerns, they’re going to need some rotation depth heading into next season. They just might be able to find that depth while staying in house.
THE OBVIOUS INJURY CONCERNS
Masahiro Tanaka – His elbow might be a ticking time bomb, but he’s also an ace-caliber pitcher. The Yankees know Tanaka might need Tommy John surgery at any moment, but they’ve done what they can to postpone that procedure, and a couple of healthy starts at the end of the year were enough to build some cautious optimism. Tanaka should be the Yankees No. 1 starter. But that depends largely on a tiny ligament in his elbow.
Michael Pineda – The Yankees finally got to see the guy they acquired years ago, and they liked what they saw. Sure, the pine tar situation was embarrassing, and there was yet another shoulder setback, but when Pineda was on the mound, he was terrific. He’s far removed from surgery, but that doesn’t mean health concerns don’t linger. Would be a strong No. 2, but again, that’s only if he stays healthy.
CC Sabathia – This could be the year his run of Opening Day starts come to an end. That said, if he gets to spring training healthy and reasonably effective, he might still get the nod in the opener if only because he’s still very clearly the leader of the staff (and this is a clubhouse that could be searching to leadership next season). Whether Sabathia will be anything more than a symbolic choice, though, remains to be seen. If he can at least be a reliable back-of-the-rotation arm, that would be helpful. There’s clearly a new ace in town.
Ivan Nova – Almost certainly will not be ready to break camp with the Yankees, but initial word about Nova’s recovery from Tommy John surgery has been nothing but positive. Still a long way to go, but Nova made it through the initial rehab steps with no problem. Tommy John has become a relatively routine procedure these days, but some pitchers say it takes close to two years to truly feel 100 percent. Timing suggests Nova could be back in the New York around early May. But how effective will he be?
THE REPLACEMENT STARTERS
David Phelps – When the Yankees rotation went through a series of injuries last season, Vidal Nuno was technically the first replacement starter, but Phelps wasn’t far behind. He was solid, then he got knocked around one game, then he looked really good for about a month and a half before his upper elbow became a problem. Phelps should be arbitration eligible this season, and he might once again come to camp as a rotation candidate who could easily slip into a bullpen role.
Shane Greene – Phelps’ chances of winning a spot in the rotation surely took a hit when Greene showed up. Having made a strong impression in spring training, and having struggled in his brief big league debut, Greene wound up pitching like a rotation mainstay through the second half of the season. He had a 3.24 ERA before a six-run mess in his final start. Given the Nova injury, Greene could legitimately come to camp as a rotation favorite.
Chase Whitley – A career minor league reliever until the very end of 2013, Whitley moved to the Triple-A rotation, improved his breaking ball and got his first big league call-up as a replacement starter. He was a bit streaky — very good at first, pretty good at the end, plenty of rough outings in the middle — but Whitley joins the mix as a swing man who could start or work in long relief. Could also go to Triple-A as rotation insurance.
THE MINOR LEAGUERS
Manny Banuelos – Once considered to be among the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, Banuelos needed Tommy John surgery, which slowed his ascent considerably. He missed all of 2013 and put up inconsistent results this year in Double-A and Triple-A. Banuelos has an awfully good arm, though, and being further removed from surgery surely helps his cause heading into his age-24 season.
Bryan Mitchell – For the longest time, Mitchell’s reputation was far better than his results. The Yankees regularly touted his potential, and that was enough to put him on the 40-man roster last winter despite a 5.12 ERA in High-A the year before. More so-so results followed in Double-A this season, but the Yankees challenged Mitchell with a Triple-A promotion and things seemed to take off. He got 11 innings in the big leagues and looked solid. Probably no more than rotation depth to open the season, but he’s among the most advanced young starters in the system.
Matt Tracy/Nik Turley – These guys aren’t on the current 40-man roster, but they stand out as Rule 5 eligible lefties had at least 60 Triple-A innings with mid-4.00 ERAs this season. Neither one was great next season, and there’s a chance both will be left exposed to the Rule 5 this winter — guys like Zach Nuding, Jairo Heredia and Caleb Cotham are in vaguely similar situations — but they’re potential rotation depth options who could be on the 40-man eventually (or could be added next year if necessary). Turley’s been on the 40-man before, and he in particular was putting up better numbers at the end of the year.
THE SOON-TO-BE FREE AGENTS
Hiroki Kuroda – Of all the Yankees soon-to-be free agents, none has a future quite as uncertain as Kuroda. He turns 40 in February, and despite yet again providing some much-needed stability for the Yankees rotation, there seems to be a solid chance Kuroda will retire this winter. He could also come back, pitch elsewhere, or decide to pitch one last season in Japan. Kuroda left all options open at the end of the year.
Brandon McCarthy — Aside from Dave Robertson, there might not be an outgoing free agent who’s more interesting for the Yankees. McCarthy throws strikes and gets ground balls, he thrived during his three-month stint with the Yankees, and he seems like a strong fit in this unusual market. At the right price, McCarthy could be a strong choice for additional rotation depth (though he comes with injury concerns of his own).
Chris Capuano – Would be easy to dismiss Capuano as a non-factor going forward, and maybe that’s exactly what he’ll be. Two things to consider, though: 1. Capuano really was a pretty good No. 5 starter during his time with the Yankees, and he has experience as a bullpen lefty, which the Yankees don’t really have at the moment. Probably least like to return of anyone on this list, but he did his job during his time with the team.
Associated Press photos
Kind of weird to watch a game that was most notable for the guy who wasn’t playing.
Derek Jeter had warned Joe Girardi even before last night’s game that he probably wouldn’t want to play tonight. In some ways, the overwhelming circumstances of Thursday night surely caught Jeter off guard, but in other ways, his entire season was building to that moment. He knew it was going to be draining, but perhaps didn’t realize it was going to be so overwhelming. Even when it was over, Jeter said he slept only a couple of hours last night.
Had he ever before asked to sit out? Jeter acted as if he couldn’t believe the question was being asked.
“Me?” he said. “Never. Yeah, today, I couldn’t play today. First time.”
Jeter’s desire to be in the lineup is notorious. Two years ago, he kept playing through an ankle injury until his ankle finally snapped. This year, even at 40, he’s been mildly frustrated by the occasional days off that he’s received through the course of the year. Jeter likes to play, and he said he still wants to DH on Saturday and Sunday. He just didn’t want to play tonight.
“I can’t tell you (what it will be like) on Sunday,” Jeter said. “But I can’t imagine it (will be as emotional as Thursday), because that’s pretty much as good as it gets, I think, for me. Like I said, I’m playing here because I have respect for this rivalry, for Boston, and the fans. If it was anywhere else, I don’t know if I’d play.”
Jeter said he literally doesn’t remember taking his uniform off last night. It was the last time he ever took off a white pinstriped uniform, and you’d think that would be a memorable experience, but Jeter said he didn’t think about it.
“I was just happy, you know what I mean?” Jeter said. “Everything happened so quickly in terms of the swing of the emotions. Taking off the uniform, I don’t even remember it.”
If his desire to play is notorious, so is the fact the pays little attention to baseball beyond those games he is playing. But Jeter said he’d actually like to host a private screening to re-watch Thursday’s game with friends and family. Why that game?
“Because a lot of it I don’t even remember,” Jeter said. “I mean, I was doing things last night, like I told you, I almost told Joe, ‘Get me out of here.’ I was giving signs to (second baseman Stephen) Drew on who to cover second base on a steal, and there’s no runner on first, you know what I’m saying? There were a lot of things going on. I’d like to see how it went because I think I missed a lot of it.”
Ultimately, there’s still a chance Jeter will back out of playing this weekend. After all, when the Yankees left for Houston at the end of last season, everyone seemed certain Mariano Rivera was going to want to play at least one inning in center field. Rivera changed his mind, and there’s still a chance Jeter will as well. It just doesn’t seem very likely.
“I really think Jeet will go back out there,” Girardi said. “If he didn’t, I don’t have a problem with that, and I completely understand it. I’m not so sure what I would do if I was him in that situation. But he loves to compete, and I just have a feeling he’ll go back out.”
Jeter seems pretty sure about that as well. But this one night, for the first time in his career, he preferred to sit and watch.
“I don’t know if I could play tonight if I wanted to play tonight,” Jeter said.
• Small bit of news coming out of the clubhouse: Girardi said Jacoby Ellsbury won’t play this series. “He’s done,” Girardi said. “He’s done. I am not going to use him. I would think it would be silly for him to re-injure himself at this point in the season and have to deal with it in the offseason. So, let’s send him home a healthy player, and we don’t have to worry about it over the offseason.”
• Dave Robertson was smiling tonight. Even though last night ended on a high note, he was obviously frustrated by last night’s blown save. He joked that he considered blowing tonight’s save just so the Yankees could let Jeter be the hero again. “I definitely thought they should have pinch-hit him after I gave up the run,” Robertson said.
• In all seriousness, Robertson now has 39 saves with two days to reach 40. That’s pretty good for a guy who came into this season answering big questions about whether he’d be able to handle the role in the wake of Mariano Rivera’s retirement. “Forty is just a number to me,” Robertson said. “The biggest thing for me personally, if I was 35-for-35, that’s what I would want to be. I don’t want to be the guy who lets people down. I know I’ve got five blown saves. It happens. Those are the games I want back. I don’t really care about the number that I get to. It’s just more the games that I help our team win.”
• If Robertson had given the Yankees an opportunity to use Jeter again, this crowd wouldn’t have had a problem with that. There were Derek Jeter chants often tonight. :There’s a substantial number of Yankees fans here,” Girardi said. “There always is, but also, I’ve got to believe there’s some Boston people chanting that too. … And I understand people want to see him, but he’s been through a lot. He’s been through a lot this year. It’s extremely emotional. He’s given everything he’s had inside of him for 20 years, and I respect whatever he does.”
• In the later innings, the crowd was booing the other Yankees hitters, always wanting Jeter to pinch hit. “I kind of felt bad for Austin (Romine) going up to the plate,” Chris Capuano said. “He was getting booed just because the fans wanted Jeter in that spot. He had such a special night last night. I think everyone can understand him wanting to take a day.”
• Speaking of Capuano, another strong start from him. This was the third time since joining the Yankees that Capuano made a start without allowing an earned run. It was his fourth start without a walk. He matched a season-high with 6.2 innings. “I feel like I learned a lot,” Capuano said. “I just got to soak in Derek’s last couple of months, and last night was amazing. It was among the best two months I’ve had in the big leagues, that much fun.”
• When he was pulled from the game, Capuano shook Girardi’s hand. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be here,” Capuano said. “I just wanted to thank Joe for that. Just a great opportunity to pitch.”
• Girardi on Capuano: “I think every player wants to finish strong. I think that’s a feeling that you want to have going home. … I thought he did a really good job for us. And I thought tonight he was excellent again.”
• Did Girardi consider pinch hitting Jeter at any point? “As I’ve said, I’m going to leave it up to him,” Girardi said. “He felt that he just needed a day today. He didn’t sleep much last night. We got in late. He was up early today. That’s what happens when you get older, you kind of get set on the time you wake up in the morning and it’s hard to change.”
• Still plan to have him DH the next two games? “Whatever he tells me. I’m sticking to that,” Girardi said. “Whatever he tells me he wants to do, that’s what we’re going to do.”
• Francisco Cervelli went 2-for-3. Since being recalled from the 60-day disabled list on August 25, he’s hit .306 with 10 doubles and two homers.
• New outfielder Eury Perez singled in his first at-bat of the season for his third career hit. He also stole a base, his fifth career steal.
• Final word to Robertson: “There’s a lot of Yankees fans in the seats tonight, and I know that the Red Sox fans respect (Jeter). They’ve enjoyed seeing the rivalry. It’ll be fun to watch him tomorrow when he plays.”
Associated Press photos
Game 160: Yankees at Red Sox • 09.26.14
LHP Chris Capuano (2-4, 4.67)
Capuano vs. Red Sox
RED SOX (70-89)
Mookie Betts 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Yoenis Cespedes DH
Allen Craig RF
Garin Cecchini 3B
Rusney Castillo CF
Bryce Brentz LF
Ryan Lavarnway 1B
Dan Butler C
RHP Steven Wright (0-0, 3.38)
Wright vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:10, MY9
WEATHER: Little bit cool, but ultimately a nice night for our final night game of the year.
UMPIRES: HP Paul Nauert, 1B Vic Carapazza, 2B Larry Vanover, 3B Angel Hernandez
ALL HE DOES IS WIN, WIN, WIN: The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Derek Jeter’s 20 seasons is the longest career for any Major Leaguer who played exclusively for winning teams, surpassing the mark set last season by Mariano Rivera, whose Yankees teams finished with a winning record in all 19of his MLB seasons.
THE LAST STAND: Over his final Yankee Stadium homestand, Jeter batted .353 (12-for-34) with five runs, four doubles, one homer and nine RBI in eight games.
THE LAST AT-BAT: After last night, the Yankees have nine walk-off wins in 2014, surpassing their 2013 total (7) and marking their most since 2009 (15). Eight of this year’s walk-offs came after the All-Star break.?Elias notes it’s most post-All-Star walk-offs by the Yankees since 1988.
UPDATE, 7:54 p.m.: Two-out single int he bottom of the second has the Red Sox in front 1-0. Unearned run, by the way. Perez made a nice diving catch earlier, but ultimately it’s hard to make too much of what’s happening in this game.
UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: Ugly game so far. Yankees take the lead in the top of the third — and Capuano’s able to hold it in the bottom of the third — by taking advantage of a dropped third strike. They got two runs, neither earned, and they’re up 2-1 heading into the fourth. Perez, Cerelli and Young each have hits.
UPDATE, 9:32 p.m.: I’ve honestly spent most of this game writing about the guy who’s not playing in it. Weird game. Feels like a spring training game, except somehow less interesting. Tomorrow will at least have Tanaka, and Sunday will be Jeter’s final game. But this one is just kind of a thing that’s happening. Hard to make much of it. But Capuano pitched pretty well again and it’s a 3-1 Yankees lead as Kelley comes in with two outs in the seventh.
As he sat in front of his locker postgame, I really doubt Brett Gardner expected to stand up and give essentially an end-of-the-season address, but that’s exactly what happened. A crowd of reporters gathered around, asked just a handful of questions, and Gardner put words to all that’s left the Yankees six games out of the second wild card with 13 to play.
“I feel like things have been slipping away for a few weeks,” Gardner said. “To be honest, I haven’t looked at the standings the last couple of days because at this point they don’t really matter. We’ve got to win every day. Until we’re five, six, seven games out with five, six, seven games to go and eliminated, I’m still going to hold out hope, and I still believe in the group of guys we have here. I still come to work every day and play hard, but like I said, we’re not in a good spot right now, and it’s a shame because our pitchers have really stepped up the last couple of months and done a good job. As an offense, we haven’t.”
It’s true. Even speaking to Shawn Kelley, who had a rough ninth inning and allowed the walk-off single, it was basically impossible to hang this loss on his shoulders. The bullpen’s had a bit of a rough time lately, but who could blame them? They’ve been trying to preserve tiny leads for nearly six months now.
“As well as we’ve pitched, we didn’t need to be great (offensively),” Gardner said. “We just needed to be good. And we haven’t been.”
The Yankees were shutout for the 10th time this season. But it’s more telling that they were shutout for the fourth time in the past 11 games and for the fifth time in the past 16 games.
“You feel like you’re due at some point,” Gardner said. “I don’t feel like it’s been a couple of games. I feel like it’s been pretty much all season. We’ve had flashes of being pretty good, but for the most part, we’ve just struggled to get guys across the plate. It’s frustrating because, with all the injuries we had to our rotation, the guys that have come up and come in from other places have really stepped up and done a great job, pitched really well and kept us in the ballgame. Just like tonight, all we needed to get was just one or two runs and we couldn’t even get that. It’s just really frustrating. Guys are working really hard. Guys are trying. Guys are putting in the effort. For one reason or another, we’re just not getting it done.”
Last year, the team’s offensive problems were easy to dismiss as a product of overwhelming injury problems. Not this year. There have been injuries, sure, but the truly devastating blows haven’t hurt the lineup.
“The bulk of our injuries have been to our rotation,” Gardner said. “And down the stretch here, our pitching and our rotation has been our strength. As a position player, as a hitter, it makes it a lot tougher to feel like you … you feel like you’re not picking them up. You’re not getting the job done.”
• Most explosive thing any Yankees hitter did today was Chase Headley getting ejected one pitch into his seventh-inning at-bat. Headley had a problem with a low strike called by home-place umpire Marty Foster, and his disagreement turned into a rather lengthy back-and-forth between player and umpire. At one point Foster took off his mask to snap back at Headley, and as Headley was getting back in the box to continue his at-bat, Foster threw him out of the game. “There was a conversation before it happened which I thought was fairly mild tempered,” Headley said. “I thought that he was an aggressor towards me. I told him to calm down and he kept yelling at me. I said I didn’t appreciate that.”
• More Headley: “I didn’t think what I said to him warranted the response that I got, and it just kept going. I think more than the balls and strikes was just the reaction that I got from him was not in any way comparable to how I was speaking to him. So that’s basically what happened. I’m not going to get into too much more specific about that. Yeah there was disagreements about the pitches but that’s not where it ended up.”
• It seems Headley’s problems with Foster started from his very first at-bat. “The borderline ones you can live with,” Headley said. “But the first pitch of the game, I come in, got hit with 97 in the mouth (last week), and the first pitch I see is 95 at my ribs. Then he calls a changeup a foot off the plate and it’s like, c’mon. It kind of started me off on the wrong foot. The borderline ones you live with but when there’s a pitch that should not be missed, ever, I think that’s when as a player you get a little bit more upset.”
• Girardi on the Headley ejection: “It’s one thing if you’re arguing, you’re going back and forth and showing him up, but these games mean something. It’s a shame. He questioned some strikes. Hitters should be allowed to do that. We should be allowed to do that. At some point, it would be nice if umpires said, ‘If you say another thing, you’re gone.’ You can do that. If he barks and you bark back; it wasn’t like a whole lot of people knew what was going on. It’s frustrating to me.”
• The Yankees have lost four of their past five games. Of those four losses, one was credited to Dave Robertson, one to Adam Warren, and tonight’s to Shawn Kelley. That’s a rough stretch for a bullpen that’s been terrific nearly all year. “Every time we pitch the game’s on the line,” Kelley said. “But I’ve got to go out there and put up a zero whether it’s nothing-nothing or it’s 10-nothing. … You pitch a lot of games out of the bullpen, and that’s just part of the game. We’re all in great shape, we’ve all prepared for this, and I don’t think it’s fatigue. ”
• Girardi is usually pretty strict with his rules about managing reliever workload, but playing so many low-scoring games this season has essentially forced him to use his go-to guys a lot. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room,” Girardi said. “You look at the games we’ve lost 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 or whatever, there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room. They’re not going to be perfect. They’ve been really, really good, but they’re not going to be perfect.”
• I honestly felt bad, but not a single reporter interviewed Chris Capuano postgame. He just wasn’t the story. Really nice bounce-back start for him — coming off that one-out performance last week, he went six scoreless tonight — but a strong pitching performance just isn’t anything new and doesn’t carry much weight at this point. The Yankees are all about their failing offense. Great start for Capuano, just didn’t feel the need to hear what he had to say about it.
• Last Yankees starter to throw at least six scoreless innings on two hits or less and not earn a win was Freddy Garcia back in 2011. Capuano has only five decisions in his past 18 career starts dating back to last season.
• Didn’t mean much in the end, but Gardner said he and Jacoby Ellsbury called for that dropped fly ball at the exact same time. “We just kind of ran into one another a little bit, and I wasn’t able to hold onto it,” Gardner said. “But Cap made a couple of good pitches after that and was able to pick me up. Didn’t end up hurting us today, we just, same story. Been pitching really well, but it’s just been hard for us to score runs.”
• This was the fifth time a Yankees player was ejected this season. Gardner, Kelley, Michael Pineda and Cesar Cabral were previously thrown out of games.
• Final word to Girardi: “We’re just not hitting. For whatever reason, we’re not hitting. I think we’ve scored six runs on this road trip, lost three games in the last inning, in the bottom of the inning. It’s frustrating. Eventually I think it’s got to turn, but it better turn pretty quickly here.”
Associated Press photos
Game 149: Yankees at Rays • 09.15.14
LHP Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.90)
Capuano vs. Rays
Ben Zobrist CF
Brandon Guyer LF
Evan Longoria DH
Wil Myers RF
Yunel Escobar SS
Logan Forsythe 2B
James Loney 1B
Sean Rodriguez 3B
Curt Casali C
RHP Alex Colome (1-0, 2.79)
Colome vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:10 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network
WEATHER: It’s nice outside. The game is inside, though.
UMPIRES: HP Marty Foster, 1B Rob Drake, 2B Joe West, 3B Alan Porter
QUAL SANDMAN: With two strikeouts Sunday, Dellin Betances has 130 Ks this season (in 86.2 innings), tying Mariano Rivera (130 K in 107.2 innings in 1996) for the most single-season strikeouts by a Yankees reliever. Betances is also tied for the eighth-highest single-season total in relief in American League history and 16th-highest such total in MLB history.
MORE DELLIN: Betances has allowed just 42 hits in 86.2 innings for an average of 4.36 hits per nine innings. That is the best such ratio among pitchers with at least 75 single-season innings in the history of the American League and the third-best such single-season ratio in Major League history behind Eric Gagne’s 82.1IP with 37H in 2003 (4.04 ratio) and Carlos Marmol’s 87.1IP and 40H in 2008 (4.12 ratio).
CEREMONY TOMORROW: The Rays are planning to honor Derek Jeter with a pregame ceremony tomorrow.
UPDATE, 7:57 p.m.: Scoreless after two innings. The game is certainly dragging, but Capuano’s already having a much better start than last time out.
UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: This has certainly not been the most exciting game of the year! All quiet until two outs here in the bottom of the forth when Gardner and Ellsbury ran into one another for dropped fly ball that has a runner in scoring position for Sean Rodriguez. Scoreless game so far.
UPDATE, 9:16 p.m.: Capuano is through five scoreless in this sleepy game at the Trop. Fans are kinda into it, but there just hasn’t been much action so far.
UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: Six scoreless for Capuano. Of course, six scoreless for the Yankees lineup, too.
UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: Well now it’s getting interesting. Headley was just ejected one pitch into an at-bat, and the crowd booed when Stephen Drew — and not Derek Jeter — came in to pinch hit.