Game 31 Recap: Yankees 10 Royals 7

Last night I posed the question on the IIATMS email chain about how good Masahiro Tanaka would have to be for the Yankees to win last night.  They were without yet another key bat in the middle of the order in Mark Teixeira, they had Dustin Ackley hitting in the 5-spot, and they still have Chase Headley toiling around in the bottom third of the order.  Well as the old saying goes, you just can't predict baseball, Suzyn.  The Yankee bats made up for an off night from Tanak and the usually reliable Andrew Miller, slugging their way to a 10-7 victory. Tanaka has done a great job keeping the ball in the yard so far this season, but he got bit hard by the long ball last night.  His slider command wasn't up to par and the Royals teed off on it twice for multi-run home runs.  Chester Cuthbert hit a 2-run home run off it in the 2nd and Lorenzo Cain smashed one for a deflating 3-run shot in the 5th.  Cain also hit a YS3 cheapie in the 3rd, totaling up the 3 homers and 6 earned runs Tanaka served up.  He did complete 7 innings and he didn't walk a batter, so it wasn't a total garbage start.  Just a night where Tanaka wasn't as sharp as we've seen him in previous starts and got hit by the defending World Series champions.

And he picked a good night to have an off-night because the Yankee B-squad lineup was feeling it last night.  They battered KC starter Kris Medlen for 4 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 2+ innings and made sure this was going to be a long night for the Royal 'pen.  Didi Gregorius was in on a lot of the early action, hitting a leadoff double and coming around to score in the bottom of the 2nd and clearing the bases with another double to put the Yankees ahead 5-3 in the 3rd.

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Game 30 Quick Recap: NYY 6 KC 3

Too many damn home runs.  That's what the Yankees hit last night on their way to a series-opening victory over the defending champs, and I was tickled pink to see it.  This team could use a few more dingers with A-Rod on the mend.  Hell, it could use more runs however it can get them. The homer parade started early when Brian McCann cracked a solo shot to right-center off Kansas City starter Chris Young in the 1st to put the Yanks up 1-0.  After Alex Gordon tied the game in the the 2nd with a solo shot, the Bombers came right back with one of their own in the bottom half off the bat of Carlos Beltran.

Things really got nuts in the bottom of the 3rd.  Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks went back yard job to start off the inning to make it 4-1 Yanks, and Beltran came through with his second shot of the night with 2 outs to make it 5-1.  5 runs on 6 hits, 5 of them homers, in 2.2 innings against Young.  The last one put the pin in his night and gave the pitching staff plenty of lead to work with.

I say "pitching staff" because it was a lot of hands on deck last night in Ivan Nova's first start in place of CC.  He was scheduled for about 75 pitches and he needed 81 to record 14 outs.  The Royals put plenty of men on base against Nova but could never come up with the big one to plate anybody.  He left with only the Gordon home run against him, and the tandem of Phil Coke and Kirby Yates did a very nice job of getting the game through 7 without letting any more across.

That was the job of Chasen Shreve, who gave up another home run in the 8th, and Aroldis Chapman, who gave up a double and got burned by some shaky infield defense to get charged with a run in the 9th.  He also flashed the stuff that's made him the best reliever in baseball over the past few years, striking out the first 2 batters he faced in pinstripes on 97 and 101 MPH fastballs.  That'll work.

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Game 29 Quick Recap: BOS 5 NYY 1

(Editor's Note- I'm sure everybody has noticed the lack of game threads and comment access over the last few days.  We've deactivated the comment section plugin on the blog because we believed it to be the source of some of the recent spam/site access problems that we've had lately.  We're working on making the fixes to eliminate that problem, but for now we're going to keep everything off until we can be sure that the bugs have been fixed.  The site is still active and there will still be new posts.  Just stick with us while we figure out the tech stuff.  Thanks.) Just when you think the Yankees are maybe getting over these early-season blues, they drop a game like last night's in your face.  This game was everything that's wrong with the Yankees on display: inconsistent starting pitching, complete lack of offense, depth issues, and a shaky front end of the bullpen.  Oh well, still a series victory.

Luis Severino really wasn't bad last night.  His outing really did come down to 3 or 4 bad pitches.  Eliminate those pitches and he threw almost 7 innings of 1-hit ball.  His fastball location was much better than it has been both down in the strike zone and on the corners.  His slider continues to make its way down and out of the strike zone where it can be more often swung and missed at.  Severino retired 10 straight from the 1st to the 4th innings and struck out 4 in a row during the run.  In that sample, he was brilliant.

But those 3-4 bad pitches led to the 4 Boston runs that would make the difference in the game.  One was a Yankee Stadium Special home run off the bat of Dustin Pedroia in the top of the 1st.  The luck on the home run location was bad, but Severino gave Pedroia that chance by throwing a fastball up and down the middle with 2 strikes.  He did the same thing to David Ortiz in the 3rd and Ortiz hit it into the right field bleachers.  And just for good measure, Severino grooved another heater for Ortiz to lead off the 7th and watched that one go sailing over the bullpen too.

Any combination of those home runs was enough to best the weak Yankee lineup.  They can never hit knuckleballers and Steven Wright had his working last night.  He threw a complete game on 101 pitches, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 7.  Brett Gardner got him for a meaningless solo home run in the 9th.  Other than that, Wright put the Yankee hitters in a diaper and left them there all night.  Now we get to hear about how much facing this guy threw them off their game when they score 6 runs combined in the next 4 games.

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Game 25 Recap: Yankees 7 Orioles 0

Hey, a win!  How about that?  In a stunning turn of events, the Yankees managed to score more runs than their opponent for the first time in 7 games last night.  They scored a lot more runs than their opponent in fact, turning the tables and shutting out the Orioles thanks to a stellar performance by CC Sabathia and big offensive contributions from Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann. Sabathia didn't turn back to the clock to his prime and fire a bunch of heaters past the Baltimore hitters.  He actually walked the figurative tightrope for most of the evening.  Baltimore put at least one runner on base in each of the first 5 innings, including 2 in the 3rd and 4th.  Sabathia avoided trouble by inducing inning-ending double plays in both innings and also worked around runners on the corners with 1 out in the 5th by striking out Joey Rickard and getting Manny Machado to line out to center field.  This wasn't vintage CC so much as it was the type of evolved, lower velocity CC we've been waiting for years to see.  He located his fastball well, he used his changeup marvelously, and he kept the Baltimore lineup off balance all night.  He even through in another inning-ending double play in the 6th for good measure.

For a while it looked like it was going to be a wasted outing for CC.  The lineup stumbled out of the gate when Ellsbury led off the game with a double, moved to third base, and then got thrown out at home trying to score on a ground ball to first base.  They were swinging early against starter Tyler Wilson and beating a lot of balls into the ground.  But they finally struck gold in the top of the 6th when Ellsbury singled and stole second with 1 out then moved to third on Brett Gardner's single.  Carlos Beltran brought home the first run with a sac fly, and after a Mark Teixeira walk the Yanks tacked on 2 more on a Brian McCann base hit and a throwing error by Wilson.  It took a while, but the cushion was established.

Once it was, the Bombers didn't take long to build on it.  They put up 4 more runs in the top of the 8th on pairs of singles, doubles, walks, and a hit by pitch.  McCann's 2-run double was the biggest blow and the 7-run lead was more than enough to preserve CC's win.

Not that there wasn't a tiny bit of drama in that preservation.  Joe went with Kirby Yates in the bottom of the 8th in an attempt to rest his bullpen aces.  Yates responded by loading the bases on 2 walks and a double after striking out the first batter of the inning, and in a semi-panic move Joe went to Dellin Betances to put out the fire.  Betances did just that by freezing Chris Davis with 3 straight curveballs and inducing a harmless pop out to end the inning.  Was he needed there?  Probably not.  Do I blame Joe for going to him given the 6-game losing streak and the way his club had been playing coming into last night?  Absolutely not.

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Game 24 Recap: Orioles 4 Yankees 1

[caption id="attachment_81188" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Severino HS vs BAL Too high. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] It's official.  This team has completely come off the rails.  I made a point to stay awake long enough to watch the entire game last night, which was a stupid move on my part.  Everything I saw was indicative of a baseball team that's not just slumping, but isn't actually a good baseball team.  Bad takes, bad swings, missed pitch locations, dropped throws, failure to tag up on the basepaths, getting doubled off for ranging too far of a base.  Tons of little mistakes that bad teams make.  There clearly isn't a shakeup to be made with this bunch, not unless somebody or somebodies get hurt and hit the DL.  But damn, they sure could use it because they are plain awful.

Luis Severino was back on the hill after his 3-inning disaster start in Texas, and while this one wasn't quite that bad it wasn't good by any means.  Severino battled his fastball command all night, missing by over a foot at times, and his worst misses got crushed.  He left a 2-strike fastball up to Mark Trumbo in the bottom of the 2nd and watched it get crushed to left field for a game-tying home run.  He did the same thing with a changeup in the 5th and Trumbo hit that one over the left field wall too for a 2-run home run.  Inability to hit spots with his fastball and absolutely zero respect for his offspeed pitches from opposing hitters.  That's a tough combo to work through as a young big league pitcher.

When he wasn't serving up gopher balls, Severino was putting on a clinic in how to not field your position.  With 2 on and 2 out in the 3rd, he wasn't quick enough getting to first base to cover on a ground ball hit to Mark Teixeira and he dropped the toss as he tried to find the base with his foot.  Severino did manage to get Manny Machado to pop out and end the threat, but he wasn't so lucky in the 4th when he did it again on a Ryan Flaherty grounder and Jonathan Schoop came around to score on the error.

Those 4 runs, earned or not, were all on Severino and they provided plenty of cushion for Baltimore starter Chris Tillman.  The Yankees got to him for a token run in the top of the 2nd on a Brian McCann walk and 2 singles by Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius and then basically withered up and died.  They put a runner on base in every inning except the 7th, including leadoff walks in the 4th and 6th, but never got any big hits to capitalize on the opportunities.  The biggest blow was in the 6th, when Mark Teixeira drew the leadoff walk and Brian McCann singled to left to put 2 on with nobody out.  Betran lined out for the first out and McCann got nabbed off first when Starlin Castro hit a soft liner to second base.  Not sure where McCann was going on that one, but it was a pretty brutal baserunning misread considering the situation.

Tillman racked up 9 strikeouts in 7 strong innings and the Baltimore bullpen made sure there would be no comeback.  The losing streak has reached 6.  The Yankees have scored 13 total runs in those 6 games.  7 of them came on Sunday night.

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Game 19 Recap: Rangers 10 Yankees 1

[caption id="attachment_81129" align="aligncenter" width="388"]Teix K vs TEX Mark Teixeira sings his at-bat music during last night's game. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] This one wasn't good for the old run differential.  Facing possible thunderstorms and tornado delays in the forecast, the Yankee instead fell victim to the Ranger bats.  They beat up a scuffling Luis Severino pretty bad early and cruised out to a big lead that the Yankee offense was incapable of even denting.

So yeah, Severino.  He looked pretty good through the first 2 innings.  I thought he was settling in after a quick 2nd.  But it unraveled for him pretty quickly with 2 outs in the bottom of the 3rd.  The key play might have actually been a non-play.  After Nomar Mazara singled and Adrian Beltre doubled to put runners on second and third, Joe Girardi called for an intentional walk of Prince Fielder to load the bases and face Ian Desmond.  Severino did that and then unintentionally walked Desmond to force in a run.  From there he proceeded to allow 4 more runs on 3 singles and a wild pitch in what ended up being a 43-pitch inning.  Severino did not come out for the 4th.

That job went to Ivan Nova, and he proceeded to seal the win for the Rangers with 4 innings of 3-run ball.  He didn't walk anybody, but he suffered from the same lack of command inside the strike zone that has hampered Severino and Michael Pineda in this first month of the season.  Nova did allow Joe to save most of the rest of the 'pen from having to work in this one, but by the time he was out of the game it was 9-1 Rangers.

That 1 run came in the top of the 7th when the Yankees were able to string a walk and 2 singles together off of a tiring A.J. Griffin.  That left them with 2 on and nobody out and they did not score another run in the inning, so at least the anomaly of the Yankees being an even remotely competent offensive baseball team didn't last long.  They made Griffin look real good over the first 6 innings, hitting a lot of lazy fly balls and infield pop ups for easy outs.  The one positive contributor was Ronald Torreyes, who had exactly 100% of the team's hits through 6 innings.  The rest of the lineup hardly did anything.

This one was a stinker for sure, but the Yankees can still take the series with a win tonight.  CC Sabathia will get the start against Martin Perez and Joe will have his bullpen horses ready at the end if CC can do enough to bridge them a lead.

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Game 18 Recap: Yankees 3 Rangers 1

[caption id="attachment_81113" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Eovaldi vs TEX 16 The nastiest of Nates. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] It's always nice to win a low-scoring game for a change.  The short-handed offense wasn't clicking on all cylinders as usual, but it didn't matter because the pitching was fantastic last night.  Nathan Eovaldi tossed 7 scoreless innings to hold the Rangers at bay and handed a lead over to the Yankees' dominant late-inning pair.  That's always a recipe for success and the it was again last night as the Yankees picked up a much needed win to open the 3-gamer in Texas.

Eovaldi came out of the gate hot last night, facing the minimum number of batters through 3 innings.  A runner did reach on an error to lead off the bottom of the 2nd, but error culprit Didi Gregorius made up for it by starting a 6-4-3 double play to erase the baserunner on the very next pitch.  Eovaldi actually didn't allow a hit until the 7th inning, mixing pitches well, moving his fastball around, and throwing a ton of offspeed pitches for strikes.  This was arguably the best Eovaldi has looked as an all-around pitcher in his career.

The lineup sans A-Rod and Big Mac didn't give Eovaldi a lot of support but even a couple runs were plenty with the way he was pitching.  Those couple of runs came in the top of the 3rd on a Jacoby Ellsbury solo home run and a Mark Teixeira RBI double, and they were critical at the time because the Yanks had just gone scoreless in a bases loaded, 1 out situation in the 2nd inning.  They didn't generate much in the way of meaningful opportunities after those 2 innings, but a Starlin Castro solo shot to lead off the 6th provided an important insurance run.

Joe let Eovaldi come out to start the 8th inning, which I believe gave him the new deepest start of the year for the Yankee rotation.  He walked the leadoff batter and that was all for him.  Dellin Betances came on and got another double play grounder to erase the walk, but then hung a curveball to somebody named Brett Nicholas and watched it go for Nicholas' first career MLB home run.  That ruined Dellin's hope for a scoreless season, but he didn't allow any further damage and Andrew Miller made quick work of the heart of the Ranger order in the 9th.  Ballgame over, Yankees win.

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Game 17 Recap: Rays 8 Yankees 1

[caption id="attachment_81106" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Pineda vs TB 16 Whomp, whomp. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] Things were looking a little brighter in Yankeeland heading into yeterday's series finale against the Rays.  They had taken the first 2 games of the series, the second in dramatic walk-off fashion on Saturday, and were in a position to complete the sweep before heading back out on the road.  That brightness lasted all of 5 pitches, as Michael Pineda imploded in the top of the 1st inning and put the no-show offense in a hole way too big to climb out of.

But boy, those first 5 pitches were something.  Pineda struck out leadoff hitter Logan Forsythe on 3 pitches and induced a quick ground ball out from Logan Morrison.  He had an 0-2 count on Evan Longoria to get out of the inning quickly, but Longoria fought back to even the count and then doubled to deep center on a 2-2 meatball fastball.  From there it unraveled quickly.  Corey Dickerson hit a 2-run homer on the next pitch to get Tampa on the board, then Steve Pearce singled, Brad Miller doubled, and Steven Souza hit another 2-run dinger to make it 5-0.  It took only 9 pitches for all that damage to be done and the boo birds were justifiably out at the Stadium.

The offense didn't muster up much of a fight against Drew Smyly.  The only run they scored came in the bottom of the 4th after Brett Gardner took a pitch off the batting helmet to get on base and came around to score on Alex Rodriguez's 2-out double into the left field corner.  He missed hitting a home run by about half a foot.  The Yanks had 2 on and no outs in the 5th and didn't plate a run, and they wasted 2 on and 1 out in the 6th.  That was all she wrote for the offense.

The Rays kept playing long ball to make sure there wouldn't be even a hint of a threat of a comeback.  Pearce went solo in the 3rd to make it 6-0, Souza went deep again in the 5th to make it 7-1 and give Pineda 4 HR allowed for the day.  And just for good measure, Forsythe hit one off Nick Goody in the 8th.

You want to keep looking at the positives and point to the series victory, but yesterday was a disappointing way to end that series and a bad note on which to hit the road.  Bats need to wake up in Texas.

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Game 12 Quick Recap: OAK 3 NYY 2 (11 Innings)

[caption id="attachment_81059" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Gardner vs OAK 16 Brett Gardner notices a black widow spider near home plate and removes his batting helmet to crush it. Courtesy of the AP[/caption] I'm giving this game the quick treatment because it doesn't really need or deserve any in-depth commentary.  We've seen this game time and time again over the last few years.  Blown leads, blown chances, and an offense that completely disappears from the face of the earth and leaves the bullpen hanging in the late innings.  The Yankees stink right now.  That is a fact.

They jumped out to an early lead in the 1st on a 2-out rally started by a Carlos Beltran double and completed by an Alex Rodriguez RBI base hit.  Of course Michael Pineda gave that right back in the top of the 2nd on a trio of singles.  Two of them were ground balls against the shift, which is not Big Mike's fault, but you can't be getting behind 3-0 to a guy and forced to throw a meatball strike in that situation.

The Yanks regained the lead in the 5th when Brett Gardner walked, moved to third base on Starlin Castro's double, and scored on a Beltran sac fly. Aaaaand then Pineda gave that lead right back by giving up a leadoff triple to Danny Valencia in the 6th and watching him score on a GB single.  Gardner gave a heck of an effort but that ball was falling in for a triple regardless.  That's on Mike.

After that the offense went in the toilet.  They wasted 2 baserunners in the bottom of the 6th and went down in order in the 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th.  Chase Headley singled to start a rally in the bottom of the 9th, but pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal to snuff it out.  The bullpen hosses did all they could to extend the game, but Johnny Barbato got touched up for a couple hits in his second inning of work in the top of the 11th and the deal was sealed.

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Game 8 Quick Recap: TOR 4 NYY 2

[caption id="attachment_80982" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Eovaldi HR vs TOR Courtesy of the AP[/caption] Well that got crappy in a hurry.  The Yankees looked like they were on their way to another series victory last night with a couple early runs and a downright dominant Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.  But a few bad pitches in the middle innings and an offensive disappearance flipped the script and the Yankees head back home with a disappointing loss in their pocket.

Eovaldi was a beast in the early going.  His splitter had great late movement, he was snapping curveballs in for called strikes, lighting up the radar gun with his fastball.  He struck out 5 in the first 4 innings, all scoreless, and worked out of a 2 on/2 out jam in the 5th by getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop up on the first pitch and striking out Michael Saunders.

The lineup wasn't giving him much support against Marcus Stroman, but they did manage to scratch 2 runs across in the top of the 4th.  Stroman hit A-Rod with a pitch with 1 out, Mark Teixeira singled to right, and Brian McCann was credited with an infield single to load the bases.  Carlos Beltran drove in a run on a groundout to the right side of the infield, and after Chase Headley walked to reload the bases, Teix scampered home on a wild pitch.  Take 'em however you can get 'em.

Eovaldi handled the shutdown inning in the bottom half, but got into trouble with a walk to Russell Martin and a 2-out double by Kevin Pillar to give Josh Donaldson an at-bat with runners in scoring position.  Eovaldi hung a 1-0 splitter and Donaldson annihilated it to center field for a go-ahead 3-run home run.  It was brutal.  Eovaldi backed that up by hanging a slider to Tulo in the 6th that he hit for an insurance solo job.  Always nice to help break legit MVP-caliber players out of slumps.

The offense dried up for good after the 4th.  Stroman got through 8 innings with hardly another threat.  Jacoby Ellsbury walked and stole second in the 5th inning and the Yankees never put another man on base after that.  12 up, 12 down over the final 4 frames.  Donaldson homer took the wind out of their sails, tore the sails to shreds, lit those shreds on fire, and sank the boat with a laser-guided missile.

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