Pitching matchups in Kansas City • 05.15.15
The Yankees could adjust their rotation to use Chris Capuano on Sunday, but as of now, it’s still listed as everyone staying on turn through the weekend. Joe Girardi said the team hasn’t decided whether to activate Capuano right away, but he last pitched a rehab game on Tuesday.
RHP Michael Pineda (5-0, 2.72)
RHP Chris Young (2-0, 0.78)
8:10 p.m., WPIX
LHP CC Sabathia (1-5, 5.20)
LHP Danny Duffy (2-2, 5.67)
7:10 p.m., WPIX
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-1, 4.14)
RHP Edinson Volquez (2-3, 3.19)
2:10 p.m. YES Network and MLB Network
Associated Press photo
I remember a few things about the Yankees’ trade for Michael Pineda.
I remember I’d just walked into a restaurant, sat at a table and ordered drinks when the whole thing went down. I remember one talent evaluator telling me the least risky part of the entire deal was Jesus Montero’s bat, which was close to a sure thing. And I remember every Yankees person I talked to stressing that it would be several years before anyone knew whether they’d “won” the trade.
Well, it’s been several years now, and would anyone prefer to be on the Mariners’ side?
There’s still plenty of injury risk in Pineda’s right shoulder, and I’m not sure Montero — at 25 years old — will never have any sort of big league impact, but Pineda has been one of the best pitchers in the big leagues while Montero is still hitting home runs in Triple-A.
“I’m a happy guy, I’m always smiling,” Pineda said. “Especially when you have a game like (last night), your heart is happy. Your family sees you. Everything is happy. I’m happy.”
Easy to see why, because Pineda’s seen the bad, and now he’s living the good.
Take the Montero cost out of the equation, and the Yankees still had plenty of reasons to be worried about Pineda during his early years in the organization. His shoulder was hurt, then it was hurt again. He had a drunk driving arrest. He had two years in the organization before he’d seen a big league game.
But now that he’s arrived, Pineda has been even better than the guy acquired in that blockbuster deal of 2012. His changeup — which scouts universally questioned back then — has become a legitimate weapon. His arm strength and accuracy have returned. He’s more comfortable in the spotlight and more confident, it seems, with himself.
“I think you have a time to reflect about what you’re doing and who you are when you’re not in the midst of a season, and you’re in the midst of fighting to keep your career going because of an injury,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think you have time to reflect. And he was young. A lot of those guys (should be) maybe just a year out of college when we got them, or still in college, and I know I wasn’t the wisest person at that age either. Not that I am now either, but I had some growing up to do, and I think that’s what you’ve seen. You’ve seen him mature.”
Because Pineda already had a year in the big leagues when the Yankees traded for him, the trade seemed to be framed as if it were a prospect-for-veteran swap, but it wasn’t. Pineda was still a work in progress on the mound and off the field.
He was a kid, too.
Pineda’s had to clear hurdles of health, performance and maturity. He’s still having to clear those hurdles, but with every one he passes — especially when he clears it with room to spare like last night — Pineda further distances himself. Right now, he’s a standout. Maybe not a perfectly finished product, but better than he was three and a half years ago when the Yankees gave up their biggest trade chip to take a chance on a big kid with a huge right arm.
“I’m really grown up in the last couple years,” Pineda said. “A little thing happened with me. I love playing baseball, and I love baseball, so I want to continue to play my career. Everything that happened with me, is in the past. I’m getting older too, I’m a better person and a better man.”
And the Yankees are better for it.
Associated Press photo
There are plenty of statistical and historical ways to explain how dominant Michael Pineda was this afternoon.
With 16 strikeouts, he tied David Wells and David Cone for the second-most strikeouts by a Yankees pitcher in a single game. It’s been more than two years since any Major League pitcher had as many. It was only the seventh time since 1900 that a pitcher had at least 16 strikeouts in seven innings or less. No one in franchise history had ever recorded this many strikeouts without issuing a walk, and no one in the big leagues had done it since Johan Santana back in 2007.
“I think it has to be location,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it has to be outstanding mix of your pitches. Your breaking ball has to be sharp. I thought he used his slider and changeup extremely well today. And he has deception. There’s a lot of things that have to go right to get 16 strikeouts in 21 outs, and he did it today.”
Those were the nuts and bolts of it, but anecdotally, this was the emotion of it. When Manny Machado went down looking at a slider in the fifth inning, the ball broke at the knees, swept across the bottom of the zone, and Machado smashed his bat onto plate. When the bat didn’t snap in half, Machado turned toward the dugout and flung the useless piece of wood to the dirt.
“A couple of (pitches), they were great pitches, right on the corner, right at the knees,” Brian McCann said. “They were perfect pitches. It’s not fun facing him. … He’s a dominant pitcher. He really is. He’s a guy that not many people want to face.”
This was, more or less, Pineda at his very best. He was able to work with his fastball, changeup and slider. He pounded the zone for yet another no-walk game (he’s had no walks in four of his seven starts this season; and never more that one walk all year). He reached a career-high 11 pitches, which was perhaps the only downside. But if that’s the downside — that Pineda lasted only through the seventh inning — the Yankees will gladly take it every time.
“In the first inning, I threw the first slider, I said oh, everything is working good today,” Pineda said. “… I don’t know how to explain to you how happy I am right now. But I’m very happy now.”
Pineda was animated postgame. He’s had a very happy, energetic personality for a couple of years now, but this was over the top. He was shaking his fist at one point, talking about how much he enjoyed going after all of those strikeouts. He recalled his final minor league start in 2008 when he went nine innings with one hit, no walks and 14 strikeouts.
“A really good game in the minor leagues and I’m happy with that,” he said. “But today is the best game. I had more strike ‘em outs than any game I’m pitching. I say thank you God, thank you to the team for giving me this opportunity, and I’m very happy.”
Strike ‘em outs. That’s what Pineda kept calling them, and who are we to argue?
“That’s as good as we’ve seen him,” Girardi said. “He recorded 21 outs and 16 of them were strikeouts. He was able to give most of the bullpen a day off today, and we needed that. But, God, he was really good.”
• Carlos Beltran hit his first home run since August 23. He missed a second-inning home run by about two feet, then got one out in the fifth. Through 32 at-bats this month, Beltran has hit .313 with six RBI in nine games. He’s struck out only twice, and already has nearly as many doubles this month (four) as he had all of last month (five). “Just being able to be consistent and have consistent at-bats, that’s the most important thing,” Beltran said. “I know that if I do that, (good results) will happen. It’s hard to think about the opposite without feeling good at the plate.”
• Although Chris Young has taken some a lot of starts against lefties, Beltran more or less stayed in the regular lineup even through last month’s struggles. These past 10 days seem to be an indication that he’s turning things around. “I think that he’s swung a lot better in the last 10 days since we had that off day before Boston,” Girardi said. “I think he’s swung the bat a lot better, and we’ve seen it. You just running him out there because you know it’s going to change. It’s not fun when you’re going through it, but he’s too good of a hitter for it to last.”
• After Pineda was finished, Dellin Betances added two strikeouts of his own to give the Yankees 18 total tonight. That ties a franchise record for the most team strikeouts in a nine-inning game (they’ve now done it three times, once when Ron Guidry did it all by himself).
• Didi Gregorius went 2-for-3 with two RBI, matching his season highs for hits and RBI in a game.
• Great bit of base running by Chase Headley to score the go-ahead run in the fourth inning. When Delmon Young threw behind Headley to third base, Headley broke for home and scored easily. At the time, it felt key. The Yankees wouldn’t really take control until a batter later when Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in two runs. “Really a smart play,” Girardi said. “You want your base runners to be heads up. A coach can’t always do everything for you, and you’ve got to make some decisions on yourself. He made a very wise decision.”
• Back to Pineda: He threw 111 pitches, which was a career high. Girardi said he didn’t know Pineda was two strikeouts away from a franchise record, and frankly, he didn’t care. “You have to remember Michael’s coming off a pretty serious injury,” Girardi said. “What he had is not something is not in the back of my mind in managing him through the course of a season. He doesn’t have that injury, maybe it’s a different story.”
• Pineda has three starts with at least seven strikeouts and no walks this season, most in baseball. It’s the first time since at least 1914 a Yankees pitcher has ever had three such starts within his team’s first 32 games. In that time, only 11 pitchers have pulled it off with any team. “All pitchers want to throw strikes,” Pineda said. “For me, it’s the best thing, to throw strikes to hitters, and that’s what I’m doing, so I’m happy with that. I’m really happy because this is a really good game and I’m very happy.”
• J.J. Hardy’s home run in the second inning gave Hardy three home runs in nine career at-bats against Pineda. It was the first homer Pineda had allowed since April 19. Pineda had faced 11 consecutive batters at home without allowing a home run.
• The Yankees are now 6-0 in games following a loss since they last lost consecutive games on April 14-15 in Baltimore. According to Elias, every other Major League team has had back-to-back losses in that span.
• Final word goes to Girardi talking about the pink gear used for today’s game: “I don’t think it’s a hard thing for athletes to do because I think you reflect how important your mothers were to you and women who go through breast cancer. I think all of us probably know someone who went through it. For me, I watched my sister go through it, and it’s difficult. Whatever we can do to bring awareness to it, support it, get rid of this disease, hey, we’re all in.”
Associated Press photos
When Michael Pineda rung up his final batter — one last strikeout on one last slider — he pounded his chest and pointed to the sky. If there were any question who the Yankees ace might be, Pineda seemed to have answered it definitively this afternoon. Pineda struck out a career-high 16 batters in a 6-2 win against the Orioles. It secured another series win for the Yankees, and left Pineda just two strikeouts shy of the single-game franchise record held by Ron Guidry. He settled for a tie with David Wells and David Cone for second-most. He also cut his ERA to 2.72, got his league-leading fifth win of the year, and moved into the American League lead with 54 strikeouts. He’s still walked only three, none of which happened today.
From the last out of the third inning through the middle of the sixth, Pineda struck out eight of the nine batters he faced, including six in a row. The only damage he allowed was a J.J. Hardy home run in the second inning (Hardy’s third home run in nine career at-bats against Pineda). Hardy was the only Orioles starter without a strikeout, and the bottom third of the Baltimore lineup went 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts.
Four runs in the fourth inning gave Pineda all the support he needed. Carlos Beltran’s first home run of the year tied the game at 1, then the next four Yankees reached base, capped by a two-run double by Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees tacked on runs in the fifth and seventh innings, and Esmil Rogers allowed a run in the eighth.
Associated Press photo
Game 32: Yankees vs. Orioles • 05.10.15
RHP Michael Pineda (4-0, 2.97)
Pineda vs. Orioles
Manny Machado 3B
Jimmy Paredes DH
Adam Jones CF
Delmon Young RF
Chris Davis 1B
JJ Hardy SS
Alejandro De Aza LF
Caleb Joseph C
Ryan Flaherty 2B
RHP Bud Norris (1-3, 9.75)
Norris vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network
WEATHER: Cloudy but nice out. Looks like a solid way to wrap up a short home stand.
UMPIRES: HP Mark Carlson, 1B Mike DiMuro, 2B Tripp Gibson, 3B Brian Gorman
ONE-TWO PUNCH: According to Elias, since the inception of earned runs (1912 in the NL, 1913 in the AL), Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are the only pair of teammates to each throw 15-or-more innings through their team’s first 30 games of a season without being charged with an earned run. Ellias also notes that the only other Yankees pitcher to have ever started a season with 15 consecutive appearances without an earned run was Lee Guetterman who went 19 straight in 1989.
BAT ON THE BENCH: Jose Pirela has five multi-hit games through his first 10 Major League games (two in 2015 and had three as a September call-up in 2014). He is just the eighth player in Yankees history with at least five multi-hit games through his first 10 career games joining Norm McMillan (six) and Jerry Coleman, Joe DiMaggio, Leo Durocher, Ed Hahn, Phil Rizzuto and Snuffy Stirnweiss (five each). Six of the eight were middle infielders.
ON THIS DATE: It was on May 10, 1936 that Joe DiMaggio went 1-for-4 with his first Major League home run. It came off Philadelphia’s George Turbeville in a 7-2 Yankees win.
UPDATE, 1:28 p.m.: Few base stealers are harder on themselves when they’re thrown out than Brett Gardner. He’s been that way ever since I’ve known him, even in Triple-A. Brutal caught stealing here in the first inning, making the last out of the inning at third base. There’s some benefit to getting into third base in that situation, but not enough to make it worth the risk. Had to be certain he’d make it before he took off, and he was wrong. Bad blunder.
UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: JJ Hardy’s first home run of the years makes it a 1-0 Orioles lead in the second.
UPDATE, 1:46 p.m.: Second straight Yankees inning with two runners on base. Second straight inning without a run.
UPDATE, 2:20 p.m.: Carlos Beltran’s first home run of the season has tied the game at 1. He missed a home run by a couple of feet his first at-bat. Got it out this time.
UPDATE, 2:26 p.m.: Young makes the wrong decision on a throw to third, and Headley makes an alert break for home to put the Yankees in front 2-1.
UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: Two-run double for Ellsbury and the Yankees are up 4-1. Orioles going to their bullpen. Three run lead for Pineda after four innings? Would be a letdown to lose this one.
UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: Pineda with 12 strikeouts through five innings. First time in his career he’s struck out more than 10 in a game.
UPDATE, 2:50 p.m.: McCann keeps a home run just inside the foul pole to push the lead to 5-1. A four-run lead feels like 14 runs with the way Pineda’s pitching.
UPDATE, 3:32 p.m.: No major league pitcher had more than 12 strikeouts in a game until today. Pineda finishes off the seventh inning with two more strikeouts and has a career-high 16 Ks. He’s well over 100 pitches, so I have to think his day is done. Dominant performance. Yankees still up 5-1.
UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.: Pineda finished after seven innings. Ties Cone and Wells for the second-most strikeouts in a game by a Yankees starter. Guidry still has the record at 18.
The Yankees’ ace takes his turn this afternoon, and everyone knows it except — perhaps — the man himself.
With Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list and CC Sabathia still looking for his first win, the Yankees No. 1 starter is clearly Michael Pineda. Joe Girardi talks ofter about a team’s ace being whoever is starting on any given day, and that’s a nice idea, but there’s something to be said for a true powerhouse at the top of the rotation.
And after years of waiting for him to get healthy, the Yankees seem to have that in Pineda.
“I think when you look at your starters, you think about how it relates to the bullpen in a sense and how deep they’re going to go into games,” Girardi said. “And he’s one of those guys, who, because he throws so many strikes, and gets ahead in the count, he can go deep into games and you don’t use your bullpen as much. I think people always put those things together as, that’s an ace of the staff, too. Do I think different (on days Pineda pitches)? Yeah, I think sometimes you’re going to get a little more length, but you’re still going to need your bullpen.”
Sabathia has always talked about his responsibility as a veteran rotation leader, and surely Tanaka can’t help but notice the attention and expectation that he carries each time he’s on the mound, but Pineda takes a different attitude. He comes across as a carefree guy, basically the same attitude this year that he had last season when he opened as the No. 5.
“My guess is he doesn’t really think much about it,” Girardi said. “My guess is he just goes out there every fifth day, does his job, loves to compete, has fun, entertains us with some of the things he does out there. My guess, and I have not heard him talk about it – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t – is that he doesn’t think about it.”
• Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup after sitting out yesterday with some leg tightness. Would Girardi prefer his 39-year-old just stop at second next time he has a chance to stretch for a triple? “If you can get there, you want a guy to get there, since there are so many other ways to score from third base,” Girardi said. “But I would tell him just to hit the ball over the fence.”
• Tanaka played long toss again today. Seemed to have no issues.
• One day after both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were unavailable because of workload, the Yankees would like another game when they don’t need to use their bullpen too much. Only Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter had to pitch out of the pen yesterday. “We were able to get some of the guys a day off yesterday,” Girardi said. “But it’d be nice to get them another day off today.”
• There have been some positive signs with Pineda’s velocity lately. He’s been average up around 93 mph the past two times out — close to 94 mph last time — after sitting closer to 90-91 his first few starts. “I think some of that has to do with weather,” Girardi said. “Some of the days he’s pitched, have not been ideal conditions, and I think as you see the weather warm up — he pitched in a dome the last time – you’ll see the velocity come with it.”
• I was off the first two home Sundays this season. I’d kind of forgotten how quiet these days are pregame. Very few players in the clubhouse before batting practice. Nothing unusual going on during BP. Today there are a lot of pink shirts being worn, but otherwise, it’s just another slow Sunday morning at the stadium.
Associated Press photos
On the day Masahiro Tanaka went on the disabled list, Joe Girardi said he didn’t want any of his starting pitchers to try to fill those shoes. Girardi simply wanted his pitchers to be the best versions of themselves.
Fact is, on any given night, the best version of Pineda just might be the best Yankees starting pitcher even when Tanaka’s healthy. If the title of ace is up for grabs, Pineda made a strong case with tonight’s performance.
“He’s doing the job, and that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “It’s what we saw last year from him. He’s been as good as anyone we’ve got.”
Honestly, Pineda could have been better. Not because he didn’t pitch a complete game, but because he didn’t have his complete arsenal in the early innings. It took Pineda a while to find his slider, which accounts for some of those early base runners and hard-hit balls out of the gate. It was only after he found the slider and finished off his three-pitch mix that Pineda was truly dominant in the later innings.
“He’s a big-time pitcher,” Jacoby Ellsbury said. “If you don’t have one of your pitches, it’s a game of adjustments, not only from the offense’s side, but from a pitcher’s side. If you can go in there knowing one pitch isn’t working for you and find a way to get outs, that’s very impressive.”
With the slider, Pineda breezed through his final 10 batters. He didn’t seem to be slowing down. Instead, he seemed to be finding his stride. Girardi said he didn’t want to push Pineda past 101 pitches — he still remembers those shoulder problems of the past three seasons — but Girardi recalled the old saying that hitters have to get to a starting pitcher early or they won’t get to him at all. Once Pineda had his slider working, the Blue Jays had no chance.
“He pounds the zone with three pitches, and he knows exactly where they’re going,” Brian McCann said. “So you can throw the 3-1 slider. You can do a lot more to pound the zone. It’s impressive to have the command he has, with the stuff he has. … You can go wherever you want. You can attack hitters’ weaknesses. It’s not, because he can’t find the zone you have to call a fastball. You don’t have to. You see how the game goes, but it’s a lot easier to call a game when a guy knows where it’s going.”
Pineda said he’s not worried about the label of staff ace, but his ERA is down to 2.97 and he’s been the winning pitcher in four of his six starts. He’s pitched into the eighth inning twice and through the eighth inning once. Tonight he shutdown the highest-scoring offense in baseball.
“He’s a top of the rotation starter,” McCann said. “We’re not big on saying this guy’s an ace, that guy’s an ace. We’ve got five guys who compete every single night, and we’re glad he’s at the top of our rotation.”
• Chase Headley didn’t come in for ninth-inning defense because his back was bothering him after last night’s diving play at third base. Headley said it’s no big deal and isn’t the same as the back issue that lingered with him in San Diego. Girardi said he expects Headley to play tomorrow. “Just sore,” Headley said.
• Gregorio Petit had a fluoroscope done on his hand after tonight’s game. That early test came back negative — it’s sort of like an X-ray — and Girardi said the team might do more tests tomorrow. Petit was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning and had to leave the game. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Girardi said. “If we have to X-ray it, we’ll X-ray it.”
• Worth noting that Petit’s injury could make the move simple for activating Jose Pirela tomorrow. “We’ll wait and see what we’ve got tomorrow (before announcing a move),” Girardi said.
• Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits tonight and now has 18 hits in his past 35 at-bats. “It’s hard to imagine you could be hotter than he is,” Girardi said. “He’s been unbelievable at the top of the order.”
• Ellsbury on his absurd hot streak: “You just go out there each and every day, try to put quality at-bats together and get on base for guys to drive me in. It obviously gives you a lot of confidence going each at-bat, each game. Just trying to keep it going as long as possible.”
• After missing yesterday with a sore lat, Mark Teixeira returned tonight to make some nice plays in the field and hit his team-leading 10th home run of the season. “You deal with bumps and bruises all year,” Teixeira said. “Yesterday, Joe thought it was a good day for me to take off and let it rest. It feels a little better today.”
• Tonight’s home run moved Teixeira into a tie with Carlos Beltran for the fourth-most home runs by a switch hitter. Both have 373. “It’s great to be able to play with a guy like Carlos,” Teixeira said. “I’ve played with Carlos, Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman, three of the best switch-hitters of our generation. It’s been a lot of fun playing with those guys. Hopefully we’ll be battling on that list for the next couple years.”
• This game seemed well in hand with a 6-0 lead in the ninth, but David Carpenter’s brutal night forced the Yankees to bring Andrew Miller in for a one-out save. Miller needed just nine pitches for his 11th save of the season. “It’s not what you want to do, but we had to,” Girardi said. “And we won the game, and that’s the most important thing.”
• Carpenter hasn’t been used very much this season, and he certainly hasn’t been used in many high-leverage situations. Tonight he was hit hard and hit often allowing three runs while getting just two outs. He gave up one home run and just missed two others. “Just missed location,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. He’s a guy that relies on location even though he throws hard. You still have to locate, and he missed location.”
• Girardi had the bullpen up at the end of the seventh, but he said that was precautionary. “Just in case (Pineda) got into a long inning and some long at-bats,” Girardi said. “You don’t want to put him out there too long. We’ve talked about Michael, you know. Michael came off a serious shoulder injury and has not thrown 200 innings, so we’re going to watch him a little bit.”
• We’ll give the final word to McCann about Pineda: “I felt like he was tough from the first pitch. He creates such tough angles for hitters, that it’s hard to square him up. And it’s hard to do it consecutive at-bats. That’s why he doesn’t give up big innings. That’s why he pitches deep into ballgames. He’s just got really good stuff and knows what he’s doing.”
Associated Press photos
Game 27: Yankees at Blue Jays • 05.05.15
RHP Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.73)
Pineda vs. Blue Jays
BLUE JAYS (13-14)
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Russell Martin C
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Kevin Pillar CF
Chris Colabello LF
Ryan Goins SS
Ezequiel Carrera RF
RHP Marco Estrada (1-0, 0.84)
Estrada vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:07 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Pretty nice day out, but they’re going to be playing under a dome.
UMPIRES: HP Ed Hickox, 1B Toby Basner, 2B Dana DeMuth, 3B Mike Estabrook
GOING DEEP: The Yankees have hit 33 home runs, third-most in the American League and fifth in the Majors (the Astros, Dodgers, Reds and Mariners have more). Mark Teixeira (9), Alex Rodriguez (6) and Chris Young (6) are the only set of three teammates with six or more home runs.
STILL HOT AS ELL: Jacoby Ellsbury has a seven-game hitting streak during which he’s 5-for-30 with five stolen bases and a 1.092 OPS. He has raised his season batting average from .282 to .347 over the stretch.
ON THIS DATE: It was on May 5, 1922 that the construction contract for Yankee Stadium was awarded to New York’s White Construction Company with the edict that the job be completed “at a definite price” of $2.5 million by Opening Day 1923. Just 284 working days later, the stadium hosted its inaugural game on April 18, 1923 when the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 4-1 in front of an estimated crowd of 74,200.
UPDATE, 7:26 p.m.: I was watching on the press dining room TV when Gardner doubled in the first inning, but I was pretty stunned to see he got to second on that ball. Maybe it looked different in person, but on TV I thought it was nothing more than a single. Anyway, Gardner’s double and a two-run double by A-Rod have the Yankees in front 2-0 after a half inning.
UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Throwing error, then a botched attempt to catch a shallow fly ball. Couple of Blue Jays mistakes kept the inning going and set the stage for a two-out RBI single by Ellsbury. It’s now 3-0 heading into the bottom of the second.
UPDATE, 7:46 p.m.: Really nice play by Didi.
UPDATE, 8:13 p.m.: Gardner’s range really saved the Yankees in the third. He got to a double in the corner quickly enough to keep a run from scoring, then he tracked down a fly ball in the corner to end the inning (barely keeping the ball in his glove in the process). Pineda is through three scoreless.
UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.: Long three-run home run by Teixeira for a 5-0 Yankees lead in the fifth.
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
This might not have been the worst game of Alex Rodriguez’s career, but it had to be close. He came to the plate in the 13th inning with a chance to change that completely and instead hit into a game-ending double play, meaning he accounted for seven outs in six at-bats today.
“You just have to press delete,” Rodriguez said. “Today was definitely a tough day for our offense and specifically for me, but just (have a) short memory. Another game on Friday.”
It was the fifth four-strikeout game of Rodriguez’s 21-year career, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time he’d ever had six at-bats without a hit. After a blistering start to the season — hitting .344 with four home runs in his first 10 games — Rodriguez has hit .135 with one home run in his past 10 games.
“If I had to answer every time a guy had a bad day at the plate, we’d be here a long time,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’d be talking about every hitter that we had. A lot of times it’s just pitch selection.”
Pitch selection had been a strength for Rodriguez throughout spring training and through those productive early games this season, but he acknowledged chasing some pitches lately. He’s still drawn plenty of walks — 10 in the past 10 games — but he hasn’t made the same contact lately. He admitted that he didn’t pick up the ball out of Rays’ starter Drew Smyly’s hand very well today.
“I definitely chased today,” Rodriguez said. “And I will often talk about, going back to spring training, one of the keys for our offense — and me specifically — is swing at strikes and take your A swing. And today I didn’t do that.”
Of course, Rodriguez wasn’t alone. Hard to pin an entire loss on him, especially when the Yankees had just seven hits in 13 innings, three of them from Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees botched walk-off opportunities in each of the game’s extra innings, and not all of those wasted opportunities hinged on Rodriguez ground balls.
That last at-bat, though, wasn’t a one-of-a-kind moment. Rodriguez just hasn’t been as good lately. His batting average is down to .232, and while his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are still good, any extended slump for a player like this leads to natural questions about whether the first 10 games or the last 10 games is a more accurate picture of who he’ll be going forward.
“It’s just kind of what you go through as a hitter,” Girardi said. “There’s going to be times where you’re extremely hot, and there’s going to be times where you’re not swinging it as well, and you hope when you’re not swinging it as well the other guys can pick you up.”
The other guys couldn’t pick him up this afternoon, and Rodriguez couldn’t turn his afternoon around in that final at-bat.
• Sure, Chasen Shreve lost it in the 13th inning, but this was another really, really good game for the Yankees’ bullpen. Until that two-out, go-ahead single, the bullpen had delivered seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Since April 22, the bullpen has a 0.88 ERA. “The amount of innings they’ve had to pitch is incredible,” Girardi said. “You give up the one run today and it beats you. It’s unfortunate. We got a lot of innings out of them today, and they did a great job.”
• The Yankees bullpen retired the first 14 batters it faced with five different relievers contributing to that stretch.
• According to Elias, that run Shreve allowed in the 13th was the first earned run allowed by a Yankees reliever in 17.2 innings in Michael Pineda’s starts this season.
• Of course, it might not have come to that if the Yankees hadn’t blown scoring opportunities in every extra inning today. They had runners on base in the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th and had nothing to show for it. “As an offense, you want to be able to come through in those situations and show the bullpen some love,” Chris Young said.
• Dellin Betances has struck out at least two batters without allowing a hit in each of his past six appearances. It’s the longest such streak by any Yankees reliever since at least 1914. That’s according to Elias.
• Andrew Miller pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts. He has multiple strikeouts in six of his 10 outings and has 20 strikeouts in 11.1 innings today. He’s allowed just three hits.
• Pretty good start for Michael Pineda. The Rays worked some long at-bats against him, and Kevin Kiermaier got the big two-run triple, but otherwise Pineda was pretty good through 5.2 innings. He said he was dropping his hand a little bit in his delivery which led to his occasional struggles. He still didn’t walk anyone.
• Pineda was just about to throw a bullpen yesterday when he found out he was making today’s start. Did that affect him at all? “No. Today is my first day (fully rested) for pitching, you know?,” Pineda said. “Joe tell me that, and I say okay, because today is my first day for pitching.”
• Girardi said he felt OK about going into his bullpen in the sixth inning because he knew there was an off day tomorrow. He felt he had enough innings available to get through the game.
• That game-winning single was actually stopped by Stephen Drew in shallow right field. He made a sliding stop but decided he had no chance to get an out at first base (Mark Teixeira had to rush over to cover the bag, but Drew said there wouldn’t have been time anyway). “I didn’t think I really had a shot, to be honest, to even get to the ball,” Drew said. “When I got up to go throw, there was no shot to get him, and really no momentum, especially when you’re going to your left there.”
• The Yankees struck out 16 times today. That’s their highest total since they also struck out 16 times in a 14-inning game on September 29, 2013.
• Chase Headley hit his first home run since April 12, and the Yankees have now homered in 17 of 22 games this season. Headley has hit nine home runs since coming to the Yankees, and eight of them have come at Yankee Stadium.
• Jacoby Ellsbury had three singles — the rest of the Yankees had just four hits — and he now has nine multi-hit games this season. He’s hitting .444 with five stolen bases in his past seven games.
• Final word goes to Rodriguez: “Our goal is to win games. We won another series here against Tampa. The team is playing very well. It would have been nice to get today, for sure, for the sweep. But our goal continues to be the same: Go to Boston; win a series.”
Associated Press photos