Welcome to the Winter Meetings • 12.08.14
Several weeks ago, my parents were choosing the best time for a quick trip to New York. There were two choices, either the weekend before Thanksgiving or the weekend after. They chose after, and I told my boss that I needed a few days off while they were in town. Friday was my first vacation day in quite a while, and of course that’s when the Yankees offseason got rolling.
1. A replacement for Derek Jeter.
2. A fresh hole in the rotation.
3. A new arm in the bullpen.
It was either the best day for a vacation or the worst day, depending on your point of view.
Bottom line is this: In the past 72 hours, the Yankees roster has undergone a significant makeover, and these next 72 hours just might be the busiest of the offseason. It’s Day 1 of the Winter Meetings here in San Diego, Brian Cashman is flying in this morning, and the Yankees are still open for business even after Friday’s flurry of activities.
Here are a few random thoughts as the Winter Meetings get started:
• Got a few questions on Twitter and through email asking, essentially, why trade for a defensive shortstop like Didi Gregorius when the Yankees already have a defensive shortstop in Brendan Ryan? To me, the answer is all about upside and longevity. The Yankees could have gone with a stopgap solution like Ryan and/or Stephen Drew, but Gregorius gives them a legitimate long-term possibility, one far better than any shortstop the Yankees have who’s remotely close to the big leagues. He’s both an immediate solution and a future investment. The kid’s still just 24 years old, only a year older than John Ryan Murphy, but with nearly 200 games in the big leagues.
• Was Shane Greene too much to give for Gregorius? It actually seems about right to me. At no point before this year would Greene alone have been nearly enough to get a guy like Gregorius, but the Yankees sold high on Greene and bought (fairly) low on Gregorius. For the past two months or so, there’s been a lot of talk about just how thin the shortstop position has become throughout baseball. That makes even a limited young shortstop like Gregorius pretty valuable. Greene looked great last year, but this still seems like a worthwhile swap for the Yankees. Had to give up something to get something, and they badly needed the something they got.
• Four years for a reliever is awfully risky, but I’m not sure it’s any more risky than going six years for a starting pitcher or seven years for an outfielder. Money isn’t the big concern for the Yankees, years are the big concern, and Miller is signed through his 33rd birthday. Is he worth $9 million a year? Maybe not, but how many free agents are really “worth” their yearly salary? There’s a solid chance Miller will still be a good pitcher in four years, and that’s important.
• Stating the obvious here, but it’s going to be fascinating to see how the Yankees proceed with the rest of their bullpen. Brian Cashman hasn’t ruled out re-signing Dave Robertson, but I assume his demands are going to have to dip much closer to Miller’s contract for that to happen. A trio of Robertson, Miller and Dellin Betances would give the Yankees the best bullpen in the big leagues. Even if they don’t re-sign Robertson, I don’t think it’s out of the question that they might sign some other veteran to handle the ninth inning. Just seems like a nice way to divide the work. There’s a starter and a closer, with Miller and Betances to handle everything in between.
• The Yankees needed to sign a starting pitcher even before Friday’s trade. Now they absolutely have to sign a starting pitcher, probably two of them. The good news is, there are still a lot of starting pitchers out there. Cashman left open the possibility of moving Adam Warren back into the rotation. That could be interesting. Is he capable of being basically what Greene was capable of being?
• When the season ended, there was no doubt Chase Headley liked being with the Yankees and the Yankees liked having Chase Headley. Now it’s a matter of figuring out whether the two sides like one another enough to bridge the gap and get a deal done. Headley has become the top infielder on the market, but while the Yankees badly want another infielder, I’m not sure they’re willing to completely overpay for a player like Headley. He’s a nice fit, but he doesn’t hit for much power and he has a history of back problems, and that’s not a great combination for a long-term deal. How much difference is there between Headley, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera? If Headley’s market is soaring, why pay the premium when there are alternatives who might be just as productive?
• Good to see Marcus Thames is reportedly in line to be an assistant hitting coach for the Yankees next season. The organization likes him, and he was a good guy in the clubhouse back in 2010. Seems like a smart addition to the coaching staff. A lot of changes on the player development side this offseason, but the Yankees have some young coaches and instructors who they really like. Wonder if we’ll see more of them moved up into more prominent roles.
Associated Press photos
The Yankees 2014 rookie class • 11.10.14
Tonight the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce its choices for Rookie of the Year. We already know one Yankees player is going to finish in the top three — Dellin Betances was announced as a finalist — but this really was a pretty solid year for rookies in pinstripes. Here’s look back at a five-man ballot for an all-Yankees Rookie of the Year.
1. Dellin Betances
By the numbers: 90 IP, 0.78 WHIP, 1.40 ERA, 135 K, 24 BB
What he meant: So good he earned Mariano Rivera comparisons
Coming into spring training, Betances didn’t have a big league job, and he had an extra option that meant the Yankees didn’t have to keep him on the roster. But he pitched well in big league camp, made the most of some early season opportunities, and emerged as one of the very best relief pitchers in baseball. The Yankees waited through a lot of minor league ups and downs, and the patience paid off. Betances looks like a bullpen mainstay, and quite possibly a near-future closer.
2. Masahiro Tanaka
By the numbers: 136.1 IP, 1.06 WHIP, 2.77 ERA, 141 K, 21 BB
What he meant: Huge investment paid off in a big way before elbow injury
Angels rookie Matt Shoemaker was announced as a ROY finalists, but compare his numbers to Tanaka’s: Shoemaker had a 1.07 WHIP and 3.04 ERA through 136 innings. He had fewer strikeouts and more walks than Tanaka, but he was healthy in the second half and helped push the Angels to the top of the American League West. Shoemaker won seven of his last eight starts, which might have helped him finish higher in the ROY voting, but in the big picture, Tanaka was just as good if not better.
3. Shane Greene
By the numbers: 78.2 IP, 1.40 WHIP, 3.78 ERA, 81 K, 29 BB
What he meant: Mid-season call-up helped solidify the short-handed rotation
Always kind of an on-the-verge prospect — one who got some attention, but never really emerged as a standout — Greene took a giant step forward last season, and he made he good impression this spring. By the time the Yankees desperately needed rotation help in early July, Greene was the top candidate. And he was terrific. Numbers would have been even better if not for two rough starts in September. In 14 starts, only twice allowed more than four earned runs (allowed three or fewer 11 times).
4. John Ryan Murphy
By the numbers: 81 AB, .284/.318/.370
What he meant: Productive backup catcher while Francisco Cervelli was hurt
Fewer at-bats, but Murphy finished with a slash line pretty similar to that of Yangervis Solarte, who was one of the biggest surprises of the year before his mid-season trade. Murphy’s production was a bit inconsistent, but that might be a product of inconsistent playing time. For the most part, he looked like a productive young catcher who could fully replace Cervelli next season. Still determining whether Murphy is a long-term backup or a future starter. He was good in a limited role.
5. Chase Whitley
By the numbers: 75.2 IP, 1.48 WHIP, 5.23 ERA, 60 K, 18 BB
What he meant: Provided a temporary and unexpected boost for the rotation
After years of productive but not-quite-overwhelming relief work in Triple-A, Whitley went unselected in the Rule 5 draft. Then he broke camp as a full-time starter and saw his stock rise in a big way. Called up for a spot start in mid-May, Whitley’s first seven starts were terrific, then he stumbled, made one more really good start and moved into the bullpen where he was pretty good again late in the year. A year ago he was passed over in the Rule 5. Now he looks like a pretty good long-man, spot-start candidate.
Honorable mention: Yangervis Solarte
By the numbers: 252 AB, .254/.337/.381
What he meant: Surprise regular third baseman became key trade chip
The real point of looking back at the Yankees top rookies is to think about what these guys might do in the future. In that way, Solarte doesn’t exactly fit because he’s now in San Diego. But his rookie year was a pretty good one, and if this were a normal ROY ballot, he’d probably rank fourth ahead of Murphy and behind Greene (maybe even third ahead of Greene). His first two months were incredible. From June 10 through the trade, though, he hit just .078 without an extra-base hit.
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
Game 158: Yankees vs. Orioles • 09.24.14
RHP Shane Greene (5-3, 3.24)
Greene vs. Orioles
Nick Markakis RF
David Lough LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Steve Clevenger 1B
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Kelly Johnson 2B
Ryan Flaherty SS
Caleb Joseph C
RHP Bud Norris (14-8, 3.62)
Norris vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: A few clouds in the sky. Just chilly enough to feel really nice. A good day for one more afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
UMPIRES: HP Jeff Kellogg, 1B Adam Hamari, 2B Brian O’Nora, 3B D.J. Reyburn
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Today is the Yankees’ 60th game started by a rookie pitcher this year. No team in the Majors has started a rookie pitcher in more games than the Yankees this season. The Yankees are 37-22 in games started by rookies.
MOVING ON UP: Ichiro Suzuki has 2,841 hits in Major League Baseball, in addition to 1,278 hits in Japan. Last night he surpassed Charlie Gehringer (2,840) for sole possession of 47th place on MLB’s all-time list. He needs three hits to tie Ivan Rodriguez for 46th place.
ON THIS DATE: On September 24, 1929, Yankees pitcher Tom Zachary improved to 12-0 with a 5-3 win against Boston. It remains a Major League record for the most wins without a loss in a single season.
UPDATE, 1:29 p.m.: Greene looking good through two hitless innings. And the Yankees have an early lead on Mark Teixeira’s two-out RBI double.
UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: Whoa, Stephen Drew with some actual offense. Leadoff homer to right-center and it’s a 2-0 Yankees lead.
UPDATE, 1:53 p.m.: A single and a couple of walks here in the third have Greene in trouble. Two outs, but Adam Jones at the plate.
UPDATE, 1:55 p.m.: Ground ball to third gets Greene out of the inning. Keeping the ball on the ground is awfully helpful.
UPDATE, 2:08 p.m.: Headley with a home run to push the lead to 3-0. A game like this would have been nice in late August.
UPDATE, 2:23 p.m.: Shane Greene getting booed here in his final start of the year. He’s been excellent this season, but this fourth inning has been a bad one. A costly walk. Plenty of hard-hit balls. The Orioles have batted aroudn and scored five times to take a 5-3 lead.
UPDATE, 2:24 p.m.: Wow. Jones goes with a bunt single to push the lead to 6-3 and chase Greene from the game. Greene’s getting rocked and the No. 3 hitter bunts? Hard to see that coming, but good work by Jones to notice the opportunity and take advantage of it. Here’s David Huff.
UPDATE, 3:43 p.m.: Well, with elimination possibly six outs away, Eury Perez is making his long awaited Yankees debut. Gets to be in a box score with Derek Jeter.
UPDATE, 4:10: In likely his final at-bat of the day, Jeter hit into a ground out. Chase Headley took a ton of time getting into the box, given fans every opportunity to cheer their way to a curtain call, but the cheering never really took off. When Headley did bat, the singled in front of a two-run Mark Teixeira homer. It’s now 9-5 in the eighth.
The final regular-season homestand of Derek Jeter’s career began well for the Yankees thanks in part to The Captain, in part to Shane Greene and in part to Adam Lind doing his Bill Buckner impression at first.
Jeter went 2 for 4 in the 3-2 win over the Blue Jays after arriving at 1 for 30. He hit a solo homer to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the sixth, his first home homer since July of last year, snapping a 298 at-bat streak without one here and a 158 at-bat streak without one overall this season, dating to Aug. 1. So he’s up to .250 with four homers and 41 RBI.
“Obviously this year, up until this point, hasn’t turned out how I would like it to,” Jeter said. “But you’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep battling.”
The Yankees are five games back of Oakland for the second wild card with 10 to play. A rather longshot at this point. So Jeter keeps getting reminded that it’s his last homestand everywhere he turns.
“I’m trying not to think about it being the last homestand,” Jeter said. “We still have a week left. We’re trying to win games. I’m going to go out there and play hard like I’ve always done my entire career until we’re out of games.”
Greene should be back to pitch more games next season. The 25-year-old rookie has allowed three runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts, including no runs and three hits in 6 2/3 in this latest outing. Greene has a 1.06 ERA to show for his last three starts.
“This young man has four pitches he can go to and he has confidence in them, and he has the ability to throw strikes,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s been impressive to me.”
The Yankees won when Chase Headley’s grounder got by Lind for a walk-off error.
“It was a tough play for Adam,” Jeter said, playing defense for him.
Stephen Drew had an RBI double, snapping a career-worst-tying 16 straight games without driving in a run. He went 2 for 3 to lift his average to .163. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be the heir to Jeter’s throne.
Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story on Jeter and this first game of the homestand. And here’s my feature story on Headley after speaking to him before the game about possibly returning and about the aftermath of getting hit in the chin last week.
The photo of Jeter’s home-run swing is from The Associated Press.
When that final groundball rolled through the infield, settled into Martin Prado’s glove and was tossed to first base, Dave Robertson turned back toward the plate and pumped his fist. At least in the mind of the Yankees’ closer, this win mattered.
“Every win’s big for us now,” Robertson said. “We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but this is September baseball, and I’ve seen amazing things happen. I’ve seen Tampa get in on the last day, and Boston fall out of the playoffs. You can’t give up hope, and you’ve got to try to grind out every single game. One win today. Wish we could have taken one yesterday, but one win’s big. Have to continue.”
We’ll find out later tonight whether this win actually made any sort of difference in the standings, but the key for the Yankees is that they keep this from being an isolated incident. They needed to bounce back from yesterday’s disappointment, and a three-run second inning did that. Now the only thing to do is try to win again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day.
“I told you, we’re going to have to win a lot of games,” Joe Girardi said. “Win one tomorrow. That’s all we can do. We have to go out and win tomorrow.”
It was another game when the offense didn’t do a ton, and it was another win that rested largely on the pitching staff, but a win is a win. For one day, all the Yankees could do was win one, and I guess that’s big enough for the time being.
“Three runs by no means is a lot, especially when we got them all early,” Chris Young said. “But for our guys to lock that lineup down like they did, it was huge for us today. It was a really big win today.”
• Bit of a grind for Shane Greene today, but even with an elevated pitch count he got the Yankees into the sixth inning with just two runs. “He did a really good job,” Girardi said. “He was getting outs when he had to, that’s the bottom line. He was making pitches when he had to. They fouled a lot of pitches off on him today, but he made some big pitches.”
• Here’s Greene: “I felt like early my slider was good, but I couldn’t throw it for a strike. As the game went on, I started throwing it for a strike a little bit more and it helped a lot. … I trust it. I just have to keep going to it until I find it.”
• Greene is 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA in six road starts this season. The Yankees have not lost a game that he started on the road. Overall, the Yankees have won six of Greene’s past eight starts and Greene has left the game with the Yankees leading in nine of his 12 starts.
• Camden Yards might be an early favorite for Greene. He’s struck out nine or more batters three times this season, and two of those have come here in Baltimore.
• Robertson threw 35 pitches yesterday, and he could feel it today. “A little sore warming up,” he said. “Once I got going, I felt a lot better. I didn’t have the greatest command coming into the game, but I knew that I was going to be able to find the zone. Obviously I wasn’t going to allow any walks. Kind of hung a curveball. I was throwing it for strikes, but it kind of hung up a little higher than I would have liked. Started out with a runner on first because of that single.”
• Before the game, Robertson assured Girardi and Larry Rothschild that he’d be able to lock down one inning. Given the current situation, how sore would he have been to tell the coaching staff he couldn’t pitch? “Unable to get the ball to the catcher to not come in there today,” he said.
• Another hit for Chris Young who’s hitting .417/417/.958 since stepping into the Yankees lineup. “He’s been really, really good,” Girardi said. “You look at his last at-bat, he just missed hitting a homer. A couple today. He’s swinging the bat well; that’s why he’s in there.”
• Young technically stole home today. It was on the back end of a double steal. He was basically able to walk home after Antoan Richardson stole second with two outs in the second. “We talk about it at third base before it even happens,” Young said. “You know if he gets a good jump, most likely he’s going to be safe. The situation being that they still may gamble and taking a chance on getting him, you just go for it and say if you see the catcher look like he’s going to throw it, you just take a gamble, take a chance and try to steal a run. It was pretty easy for me just to walk in. The credit really goes to Twon just to get the bag in that situation.”
• Speaking of Richardson, he got his first career RBI today. He’s played alright these past two days in his first career starts.
• Brian McCann hit his 19th home run of the season, and his third home run on the road. All eight of his previous hits against the Orioles this season were singles.
• Robertson has 36 saves this season and 44 saves in his career. That puts him in a tie with Rafael Soriano for the eight-most saves in Yankees history.
• Final word to Girardi: “We’ve been in a lot of these games, yeah. We’ve been in a ton of these games and I’ve said going back to May or June that we were going to have to win these type of games. These are the type of games we need to win.”
Associated Press photos
Game 147: Yankees at Orioles • 09.13.14
RHP Shane Greene (4-3, 3.57)
Greene vs. Orioles
Nick Markakis RF
Alejandro De Aza LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz RF
Steve Pearce 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Ryan Flaherty 2B
Caleb Joseph C
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (9-7, 3.22)
Gonzalez vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., FOX (pushed to around 1:40)
WEATHER: Rainy. Indications are that they’ll play, but there might be some delays along the way.
UMPIRES: HP Tim Welke, 1B Ed Hickox, 2B Todd Tichenor, 3B Clint Fagan
FAST TRACK: Brett Gardner stole his 20th base of the season last night making this his fifth season of at least 20 stolen bases. He is tied with Rickey Henderson for the fourth-most 20-steal seasons in franchise history, trailing Derek Jeter (8), Hal Chase (8) and Wid Conroy (6).
YOUNGSTOWN, OH-MY-OH: Whoever on the Yankees media relations staff came up with Youngstown, Oh-My-Oh as the title of this note deserves at least a high five. Chris Young has hit safely in each of his last five games batting .450 (9-for-20) with five runs, three doubles, three homers and eight RBI.
ON THIS DATE: On September 13, 1927 the Yankees swept a doubleheader against Cleveland to clinch the American League pennant for the fifth time in club history. The did not do the same thing yesterday.
UPDATE, 2:03 p.m.: Brian McCann just hit a home run on the road. The world’s gone nutty.
UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.: Another double by Young. Another base hit by Richardson. The new corner outfielders are getting the job done and the lead is up to 2-0.
UPDATE, 2:15 p.m.: Richardson steals second and Young’s able to score on the throw down. It’s 3-0 Yankees. Richardson making some things happen in his second big league start.
UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: Little bit of two-out trouble for Greene in the second, but he’s out of it with the 3-0 lead intact.
UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: Line drive up the middle for Jeter, but it’s snagged by the pitcher for yet another out. Batting average down to .252.
UPDATE, 3:00 p.m.: Just one run across for Baltimore, but Greene’s already at 71 pitches through three innings.
UPDATE, 3:36 p.m.: Shane Greene is through five innings with just one run, but he’s also at 102 pitches.
UPDATE, 3:56 p.m.: Greene had retired eight in a row and struck out five of the past six batters before allowing a one-out solo home run to Steve Pearce here in the sixth inning. Here’s Esmil Rogers.
Pitching matchups vs. Royals • 09.05.14
RHP Michael Pineda (3-3, 2.09)
RHP James Shields (12-7, 3.38)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-4, 2.80)
LHP Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42)
4:05 p.m., FOX Sports 1
RHP Shane Greene (4-2, 3.88)
RHP Yordano Ventura (11-9, 3.38)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and TBS
Associated Press photo
One pitch off the plate. Was that the difference in this game? It was a big situation, bases loaded in the fifth inning, and Brett Gardner’s been good enough this season that the Yankees had him hitting third. Gardner took the pitch, Tim Timmons called it strike three, and Gardner immediately flung his bat and slammed his helmet.
“I saw the replay of it,” Gardner said. “Obviously it was outside, right where I thought it was. Obviously I got frustrated after my first two at-bats, and then I felt like I got the bat taken out of my hands in a big situation. Pitcher’s on the ropes, and I just let my emotions get the best of me.”
Gardner said his outburst and inevitable ejection had nothing to do with the bigger picture. He said this wasn’t about a team that’s lost five of seven, and it wasn’t about an offense that now ranks 13th out of 15 American League teams in runs scored. But at this point, how can some of that frustration not come boiling over from time to time?
“Did I think at this point in the season we would have score more runs? Absolutely,” Joe Girardi said. “In this ballpark? Absolutely. But it hasn’t happened for various reasons. We need that to change.”
Thing is, the Yankees have been talking about needing that to change for months now. Rather than changing, it seems that they’re sticking with the same script. Tonight, they were beaten at home by a pretty bad team. A team that’s played poorly, anyway. This was an opportunity, and the most explosive thing the Yankees did was slam a helmet to the ground.
“It’s not like you can just say, ‘We’re going to win tonight,’” Mark Teixeira said. “The effort level is there. That’s one thing. We’ve been battling all year. We’ve been fighting all year. The effort level is there. That’s not going to change no matter what the standings are. Some nights, it doesn’t matter how much effort you give, it’s not enough.”
Coming out for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning wasn’t simply an opportunity to give Chris Young an at-bat in a game that was already pretty far out of hand. Turns out Prado felt something in his left hamstring. Dr. Chris Ahmad was at the stadium and gave a very preliminary diagnosis of a “tight hamstring,” but there are obviously tests scheduled for tomorrow.
“That’s not someone that we want to lose,” Girardi said.
Before he got hurt, Prado was 2-for-3 with a home run in this game. He is hitting .429 with four doubles and two home runs in his past seven games at Yankee Stadium. In his past 16 games overall, he’s hitting .381 with six doubles, four homers and 11 RBI.
• Shane Greene’s 10th big league start was definitely his worst. This was his first loss since July 21, snapping a six-start undefeated streak. Although Greene said his location was clearly the problem, he wasn’t sure what caused the control issues. “I’m not real sure,” he said. “I felt really good in the bullpen, and then even when I was out there, so I’ve just got to keep working at it.”
• The Yankees had won each of Greene’s past five starts.
• Six runs were a career-high, and 2.2 innings were career low. “It’s my first one (like this), and it probably won’t be my last one like this,” Greene said. “Just got to keep grinding.”
• Girardi on Greene: “He had (his slider) for strikes at times and he could expand, but he never got the counts really in his favor to expand with it. He just had a tough start tonight. … It’s going to happen. They’re not going to be perfect, we know that. Greenie’s thrown the ball extremely well for us all year long. He just had a tough start tonight. It’s going to happen. You don’t want it to happen now, but they’re not going to be perfect.”
• Although Larry Rothschild went to the mound once during the two-run first inning, he never went out during the four-run third inning. “I leave that to Larry,” Girardi said. “He knows his pitchers and he knows what they need. Every once in a while I’ll send him out if I want to stall, but I leave that to Larry.”
• When Prado singled in the fifth, the runners ahead of him had to hold up because it seemed the ball might be caught in left field. Prado didn’t realize they weren’t running and was caught between first and second base when he finally realized Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran had stopped. “Prado was looking at the ball, and that’s going to happen,” Girardi said. “That’s normal, but you also have to look at the people in front of you.”
• Did Girardi have a problem with his No. 3 hitter getting ejected from the game at the end of that inning? “It’s human nature,” Girardi said. “That’s the fight in him. That’s what we love about Gardner. That’s the fight in him and it’s frustration and it’s a lot different when it’s 3-2 in that situation with the bases loaded, (down) 7-3. He has to throw a strike, and we all know Gardy has a very, very good eye. He knows strikes and balls, Gardy, so he got frustrated with him and I think most people would have.”
• Was the pitch a ball? “(David) Ross did a heck of a job,” Girardi said. That’s a yes.
• Prado has now hit five home runs in 29 games with the Yankees. He hit five home runs in 106 games with Arizona earlier this season.
• Stephen Drew appeared in his 1,000th career game when he entered in place of Gardner in the top of the sixth (Drew went to second, Prado moved from second to left).
• Chris Young and Chaz Roe each made their Yankees debuts tonight. Young struck out in his only at-bat and Roe allowed four base runners in his only inning. Another September call-up, Rich Hill, also got in the game. Hill was up last month and re-added when rosters expanded.
• Final word to Girardi: “I think I’ve made it known, the importance of these games. If you could go win 26 in a row, you’d probably be in pretty good shape. Saying that, that’s not easy to do. These series are extremely important and it’s not how you want to start off a home stand.”
Associated Press photos
Game 136: Yankees vs. Red Sox • 09.02.14
RHP Shane Greene (4-1, 3.09)
Greene vs. Red Sox
RED SOX (60-77)
Brock Holt 2B
Mookie Betts CF
David Ortiz DH
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Mike Napoli 1B
Daniel Nava RF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ross C
RHP Joe Kelly (0-1, 3.86 with Boston)
Kelly vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network
WEATHER: Surprisingly hot. Not that I’m complaining. Winter is coming.
UMPIRES: HP Tim Timmons, 1B Tim Welke, 2B Todd Tichenor, 3B Clint Fagan
SAVE THE DAY: Dave Robertson has 43 career saves, putting him one away from tying Rafael Soriano for eighth on the Yankees all-time saves list. Amazing that basically one season as closer can put a guy that high on the list. Guess that’s what happens when all of the saves keep going to one particular guy year after year.
PRADO OF THE YANKEES: In his past 15 games, Martin Prado is hitting .367 with 11 runs, three homers and 10 RBI. He had one walk-off hit in that span.
ON THIS DATE: It was on September 2, 2001 that Mike Mussina carried a perfect game into the ninth inning only to have Carl Everett deliver a pinch-hit, two-out single that broke up the milestone. Mussina got a 1-0 win with 13 strikeouts and no walks in the complete game.
UPDATE, 7:16 p.m.: RBI double for Cespedes. It’s met with a lot of indifference from the crowd.
UPDATE, 7:25 p.m.: Two runs and 31 pitches in the top of the first. At least there are five extra relievers.
UPDATE, 7:57 p.m.: Shane Greene is just all over the place. And the Red Sox are hitting him hard. That’s a bad combination. Three-run homer by Nava makes it 5-0 in the third inning. Has to be the worst we’ve seen Greene, right?
UPDATE, 8:01 p.m.: Greene has been one of the real bright spots of this season. Tonight he’s been awful. Bogaerts homers on a first-pitch fastball and it’s 6-0 Red Sox.
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Esmil Rogers gets the Yankees out of the third inning. Here’s Greene’s line: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP
UPDATE, 8:11 p.m.: Well, Prado’s still hot. He just homered to left field to cut the lead to 6-1. That’s his fifth homer as a Yankee.
UPDATE, 8:51 p.m.: Rich Hill gets in the game. Chaz Roe is warming up. It’s September call-ups day here at Yankee Stadium! To Hill’s credit, he just struck out David Ortiz.
UPDATE, 9:01 p.m.: Man, even when this lineup gets it right, it gets it wrong. Prado with a hard-hit ball, but he didn’t realize the other runners had to hold up, and so he’s caught in no-man’s land between first and second. Not great.
UPDATE, 9:07 p.m.: The Yankees have scored a run and loaded the bases here in the fifth, yet their two hardest-hit balls were the Prado fly ball (the first out) and the Ellsbury line drive (the second out).
UPDATE, 9:19 p.m.: Replay gives Jeter an RBI infield single, but there’s nothing replay can do to help Gardner with the strike three call. He’s furious. He’s ejected. It’s a 7-3 game.
UPDATE, 9:53 p.m.: The Yankees still have just five hits. They’re being easily out-hit by the lowest-scoring team in the American League.