Game 51: North of the Border

The Yankees head in to Toronto with a sour taste in their mouth to face the red-hot Blue Jays tonight at 7:07 p.m. EDT.

Their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, got badly knocked around to the tune of seven earned runs, while the offense stranded 10 runners on base. The Yankees hope to counter those issues with a radically different lineup than the one posted 24 hours ago. The obvious place to start, of course, is the starting pitcher.

CC Sabathia continues to impress with his reinvented work ethic. The big lefty is 3-0 in his last three outings, never allowing more than two runs in each. He pitched into the seventh inning in two of those starts, while consistently throwing at least 85 pitches. Part of that efficiency comes in the form of a 47.1% ground ball rate. The highest he’s ever had in a season was 50.7% in 2010. The Yankees are looking for him to be a stopper just like he was in his prime tonight.

Tonight’s Yankee lineup also looks more conventional because Gary Sánchez and Didi Gregorius are back. Sánchez played backup in deference to Austin Romine as Joe Girardi experimented with the theory that Sánchez was to blame for Tanaka’s struggles. Gary is back in the lineup with his .400 clip (and two home runs) against tonight’s starter Marco Estrada. Didi was given the night off after taking a fastball to the hand from former teammate Richard Bleier. X-rays were negative, but the Yankees still treated it urgently.

“His hand was swollen last night; it’s a little bit better today,” Girardi said in an article written yesterday by Bryan Hoch. “We figured a day off would probably help. Your concern is, it’s not at full strength and then all of a sudden your swing changes a little bit. It can mess you up.”

Gregorius has a career .250 average against Estrada in 24 at-bats. He has three home runs and three runs-batted-in, too. Curiously enough, two hits against the Orioles was not enough to keep Rob Refsnyder‘s bat in the lineup against the Blue Jays. Chris Carter has been slotted back in at first base for the series opener. Carter has no hits in just two at bats against Estrada.


Hoch’s article also made note of three Yankees rehabbing injuries, and their current progress. Greg Bird (right ankle bruise) played in three innings of a simulated game in Tampa yesterday, and will play six innings for the Class-A Advanced Tampa Yankees tonight. Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) took batting practice yesterday, and traveled to Toronto with the team. He was eligible to be activated today, but was not. Aroldis Chapman (left rotator cuff inflammation) played catch on Wednesday, and the latest estimate has him coming back in mid-June.


Starting Lineups

New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Gary Sánchez – C
  3. Aaron Judge – RF
  4. Matt Holliday – DH
  5. Starlin Castro – 2B
  6. Didi Gregorius – SS
  7. Aaron Hicks – CF
  8. Chase Headley – 3B
  9. Chris Carter – 1B
Toronto Blue Jays
  1. Kevin Pillar – CF
  2. Josh Donaldson – 3B
  3. José Bautista – RF
  4. Kendrys Morales – DH
  5. Justin Smoak – 1B
  6. Troy Tulowitzki – SS
  7. Darwin Barney – 2B
  8. Ezequiel Carrera – LF
  9. Luke Maile – C

Pitching Matchup

CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42) vs. Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15)

Tanaka Falters, Yankees Leave 10 On Base in Loss

The Yankees couldn’t pull out a victory in their series finale in Baltimore, falling 10-4 to the Orioles.

Another seven run outing from Masahiro Tanaka proved too much for the Yankees offense to top. The Yankees got multi-hit games out of Aaron Judge, Starlin Castro and Rob Refsnyder, but ultimately left 10 men on base. The Yankees got one RBI apiece from Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday and Brett Gardner.

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Adam Jones clearly wasn’t rusty after sitting out the first two games of the series with ankle and hip injuries. The O’s veteran center fielder went 3-for-5 with a double, home run and five RBIs. The Orioles got all of their other production from their reliable big bats: Mark Trumbo (3 RBI) and Chris Davis (2 RBI).

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The theory that Austin Romine is a better catcher than Gary Sánchez for Tanaka now doesn’t seem to make sense. Simply put, the catcher does not affect how much a pitcher’s slider spins, and a catcher cannot make sure fastballs always hit their spot. It has become clear that Tanaka’s struggles are mechanical. After a flash of brilliance in his last start, the Yankees are left scratching their heads once again. The man thought to be the one sure thing in the starting rotation is now the biggest question mark.

Game 50: Tonight, It’s Rob’s Job

The Yankees hope to put last night’s disappointing loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the rearview mirror. The team hopes that Luis Severino picks up exactly where he left off in his last start. The young righty scattered four hits over eight stellar innings in which he only walked one batter and struck out seven. He reduced his ERA from 3.64 to 3.11 in that start against the Kansas City Royals

Countering for the Orioles will be fellow right-hander Chris Tillman. He has made just four starts this season after a Spring Training full of right shoulder discomfort. He has pitched into the sixth inning just once so far this season, and carries an even 1-1 record. He allowed four runs on nine hits through five innings last week against the Minnesota Twins.

Chris Carter will not play tonight after failing to break out of his two for 27 slump against Dylan Bundy. In his place, recent call-up Rob Refsnyder will get the start at first base. Refsnyder essentially learned the position on the job when he started 21 games at first base after the Yankees suffered a multitude of injuries to players like Mark Teixeira, Dustin Ackley and Chris Parmelee. Refsnyder was chosen over both Tyler Austin and Nick Swisher; and was certainly preferred over a return to the Alex Rodriguez experiment. He made just three errors in 175 innings at first at the Major League level, and none so far in 59 Triple-A innings this season. The Yankees hope his .301 batting average at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will translate to the big leagues as they look for an offensive spark.

The Orioles are hoping the return of Adam Jones will help them out at the plate. He is one of many Orioles currently underperforming, and they hope Jones’ presence in the lineup can help kickstart the offense. Manny Machado and Chris Davis are both mired in slumps, though Machado is a career .364 hitter against Severino in 11 at-bats.

Starting Lineups

New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Gary Sánchez – C
  3. Matt Holliday – DH
  4. Starlin Castro – 2B
  5. Aaron Judge – RF
  6. Didi Gregorius – SS
  7. Aaron Hicks – CF
  8. Chase Headley – 3B
  9. Rob Refsnyder – 1B
Baltimore Orioles
  1. Seth Smith – RF
  2. Adam Jones – CF
  3. Manny Machado – 3B
  4. Mark Trumbo – DH
  5. Chris Davis – 1B
  6. Welington Castillo – C
  7. Jonathan Schoop – 2B
  8. Trey Mancini – LF
  9. J.J. Hardy – SS

Pitching Matchup

Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11) vs. Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.43)

Sloppy Baseball Sinks Yankees in Baltimore

The Baltimore Orioles snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Yankees today.

Jordan Montgomery simply did not have his best stuff, and some poor execution by the Yankees ultimately proved too much to counter. Montgomery got into too many 3-ball counts, yet only walked one batter. Trouble began immediately as Mark Trumbo rapped an RBI single into left field to give the O’s an immediate 1-0 lead.

That lead did not last very long, as the Yankees struck back in the following frame. Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch leading off, then alertly moved to second on a deep fly out from Aaron Judge. He moved to third on an infield single by Didi Gregorius, though he missed third base coach Joe Espada‘s violently windmilling arm telling him to score. That mistake was absolved three pitches later when Aaron Hicks drove him in on a sacrifice fly.

Starlin Castro was again involved in the action when he misplayed a Mark Trumbo ground ball in the bottom of the third. Trey Mancini singled two batters later, then Jonathan Schoop knocked them both in with a line drive into the right field corner to make the score 3-1. Both of those runs were charged to Montgomery as unearned runs.

The Yankees pulled closer in the seventh inning when Aaron Judge homered for the second straight day. Today, it was a laser beam to center field that traveled 431 feet, per Statcast.

All of the scoring came against the starting pitchers. Both bullpens locked the game down, and the Yankees’ Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve performed extremely well in extended outings. Each struck out three batters, and only allowed one baserunner (Shreve walked Trumbo in the 7th).

Chase Headley recorded a hit in his first game back in the lineup after being given the weekend off to clear his head. Another Yankee remains mired in a terrible slump in the form of Chris Carter. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts today, and drops to two for his last 27. It’s unclear whether or not the Yankees will bench Carter like they did Headley. Other first base options for the Yankees are Chase Headley sliding across the diamond, Matt Holliday or Rob Refsnyder.

Girardi told reporters that he hoped the rehabing Tyler Austin would get at least 50 minor league at-bats because he missed all of Spring Training with his foot fracture. Austin is slashing .400/.500/.650 in five games at AA Trenton and two games at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Opening Day first baseman, Greg Bird, is expected to start his rehab games with the Class-A Advanced Tampa Yankees at some point this week.

Game 49: Bombers Hit The Beltway

After winning yesterday’s series finale against the Oakland Athletics, the New York Yankees take their show on the road to face the Baltimore Orioles. It is still early in the season, but the series has extra importance for both teams. Baltimore has slid into third place behind the Boston Red Sox by 1½ games, while the Yankees maintain a 3-game lead over their rivals. Baltimore is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, and the team has only won two of their last 10 games. Tasked with being the stopper is right-hander Dylan Bundy. The fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bundy has pitched well this season to the tune of a 2.92 ERA.

The Yankees counter with lefty Jordan Montgomery, who is fresh off of the best start of his young career. The 24-year-old held the Kansas City Royals to just one run over 6⅔ innings, ultimately resulting in a no-decision after the bullpen blew the lead. In that start, Montgomery walked none and struck out six, and looks to build off of that progress.

After sitting both weekend games against the Athletics, Chase Headley returns to the Yankee lineup hoping to bust out of his slump. He is 1-for-3 in his career against Dylan Bundy. It’s worth noting that outfielder Aaron Judge is currently tied with the Angels’ Mike Trout for the major league lead in home runs with 16.

The Orioles originally had regular center fielder Adam Jones batting second, but he was scratched with hip and ankle injuries.

Starting Lineups

New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Gary Sánchez – C
  3. Matt Holliday – DH
  4. Starlin Castro – 2B
  5. Aaron Judge – RF
  6. Didi Gregorius – SS
  7. Aaron Hicks – CF
  8. Chase Headley – 3B
  9. Chris Carter – 1B
Baltimore Orioles
  1. Joey Rickard – CF
  2. Chris Davis – 1B
  3. Manny Machado – 3B
  4. Mark Trumbo – RF
  5. Welington Castillo – DH
  6. Trey Mancini – LF
  7. Jonathan Schoop – 2B
  8. J.J. Hardy – SS
  9. Caleb Joseph – C

Pitching Matchup

Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30) vs. Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92)

Judge’s Grand Day Powers Yankees

Aaron Judge powered the Yankees to a 9-5 victory yesterday with his first career grand slam.

The towering right fielder continues to impress this season, as he collected two hits to carry his .321 average so far this season. Michael Pineda held up his end of the bargain by allowing just three runs through six effective innings of work. The Yankees bullpen certainly made it interesting, but eventually locked it down with a four out save from Adam Warren.

Andrew Triggs was a victim of shoddy defense. Of the six runs he gave up, only one was earned. That run scored on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Hicks in the bottom of the second to pull the Yankees to within a 2-1 deficit. Everything changed in the third inning. Singles for Ronald Torreyes and Gary Sánchez set the table, then Matt Holliday reached on a fielding error by Matt Joyce in right field. Aaron Judge worked himself into a hitter’s count before belting an opposite field grand slam.

A Chris Carter sacrifice fly then expanded the lead to 6-2. Later in the game, Khris Davis of the A’s proved dangerous as he reached on an error to score a run and hit a two-run home run. But, the Yankees kept hitting. Gary Sánchez doubled into the left field corner to score a run, and Brett Gardner iced the game with a two-run double off John Axford to make it 9-5.

Joe Girardi was able to rest both Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances ahead of today’s series opener with division rival Baltimore Orioles. That opportunity came on the backs of Chad Green and Tommy Layne, who soaked up 1⅔ innings before handing the ball over to Adam Warren.

Game 48: Pineda Looks to Maintain Momentum

If you told a Yankee fan who only watched Michael Pineda pitch last year that he would have the second best ERA on the starting rotation, they probably would not believe you. The new year has brought new effectiveness to the tall right-hander. Batters hit .337 against his fastball last year, but they now just hit .266 against it. Pineda also has thrown only 50 more fastballs than sliders, which allows him to keep hitters guessing. His biggest challenge today will be to keep the ball down and induce ground outs from an A’s lineup that loves to hit home runs.

As a team, the Yankees look to be more effective with the bat today against Andrew Triggs. The A’s right-hander has not faced the Yankees much, but Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks and Ronald Torreyes each have recorded hits against him. Triggs started the season going 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA, but has regressed to a 3.97 ERA so far in the month of May. He has only walked 15 batters all year, so the Yankees need to jump on his mistakes in order to put runs on the board.

Chase Headley remains out of the lineup today as his nightmare slump continues. Headley told reporters he was disappointed in his own production on the field, but respected the manager’s decision to pinch hit for him in a high-leverage situation Friday night. Torreyes, who went 0-for-3 yesterday but put the ball in play in each at-bat, once again will start at the hot corner.

The A’s get a little extra offense into their lineup with the return of Yonder Alonso. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reported that the lefty swinging Alonso had been taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium yesterday in hopes to be available off the bench. Alonso reportedly had been cleared to return to the lineup, was listed as out of the lineup, but now is back in. He had been dealing with a sore wrist after getting drilled by Miami Marlins’ Jarlin GarcíaBob Melvin adds an extra left-handed bat to his order today by giving regular catcher Stephen Vogt a half-day-off as the designated hitter.

Starting Lineups

Oakland Athletics
  1. Mark Canha – CF
  2. Stephen Vogt – DH
  3. Jed Lowrie – 2B
  4. Khris Davis – LF
  5. Yonder Alonso – 1B
  6. Ryon Healy – 3B
  7. Josh Phegley – C
  8. Matt Joyce – RF
  9. Adam Rosales – SS
New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Gary Sánchez – C
  3. Matt Holliday – DH
  4. Starlin Castro – 2B
  5. Aaron Judge – RF
  6. Didi Gregorius – SS
  7. Aaron Hicks – CF
  8. Chris Carter – 1B
  9. Ronald Torreyes – 3B

Pitching Matchup

Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77) vs. Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35)

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