Two Hits Enough to Beat Oakland

In just about any Major League Baseball game, two hits will get you just about nowhere. That is, unless you’re the 2017 New York Yankees. After being blanked by call-up Jharel Cotton through 5⅔ innings, Matt Holliday hit a hanging slider into the visiting bullpen to put the Yankees up for good against the Oakland Athletics. A very well-rested Dellin Betances used 24 pitches to record a five out save. Betances saved his fifth game of the year in place of the injured Aroldis Chapman.

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The Yankee offense was limited to one run in the first inning on a Starlin Castro sacrifice fly. Jharel Cotton then held the Yankees hitless until the sixth inning, when Gary Sánchez walked before Holliday’s towering home run.

It became interesting after that when Sabathia served up a solo home run to Josh Phegley to pull the Athletics within one. But, a bullpen combination of Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances teamed up to only allow one hit and one walk to close out a well-deserved win.

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It’s not often that two hits result in a win, but you know the Yankees will take it. Betances’ five out save allows the Yankees to maintain a two game lead over the Baltimore Orioles as we head into the rubber game of this series tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.

Game 47: Yankees Need a Spark

Masahiro Tanaka did just about everything in his power last night the Yankees to victory. But, of course, that was not enough as the Yankees anemic offense only pushed across one run. It proved to be a game of missed opportunities as the Yankees left six men on base, and were an ineffective 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees look to pounce on Jharel Cotton, a right-handed pitcher who had been optioned to AAA on May 11 as a result of poor pitching. The A’s injury situation necessitated his call-up, though the seven shutout innings in his last start for AAA Nashville show his talent. The Yankees send Bay Area-native CC Sabathia to the hill to counter Cotton. Sabathia has pitched very well of late, winning his last two starts. The big lefty held the Tampa Bay Rays to just two runs (one earned) on four hits over five innings. He struck out six batters, and walked only one. He seems to have figured out how to pitch as a finesse pitcher in the powerful American League. Today, he goes for his first personal three game winning streak since 2013.

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The Yankees get an infusion of extra offense into their lineup today after Girardi opted to have Austin Romine catch Tanaka last night. Romine did collect the double to right field, but is nowhere near the offensive threat that Gary Sanchez is. So far this season, it appears that Tanaka is much more comfortable pitching to Romine, and it would not be surprising to see that battery become a permanent fixture for the Yankees.

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It’s worth noting that Joe Girardi decided to give Chase Headley a day off after going 0-for-3 last night with two strikeouts and a rally-killing double play ground ball. Headley was then lifted for a pinch-hitter, Gary Sánchez, in a high leverage at-bat in the ninth inning last night. Ronald Torreyes, who filled in so admirably at shortstop during Gregorius’s absence, gets the call at the hot corner today.

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Starting Lineups:

Oakland Athletics
  1. Rajai Davis – CF
  2. Mark Canha – RF
  3. Jed Lowrie – 2B
  4. Khris Davis – LF
  5. Ryon Healy – 1B
  6. Trevor Plouffe – 3B
  7. Chad Pinder – DH
  8. Josh Phegley – C
  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:

Jharel Cotton (3-4, 5.68) vs. CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62)

Greg Bird Takes His Rehab to Tampa; Austin Rakes for Trenton

As the Yankees are currently stuck with Chris Carter getting the bulk of playing time at first base, good news appears to be on the horizon. MLB.com’s Matthew Martell reported yesterday that Greg Bird would be taking off for Tampa on Sunday to prepare for rehab games.

Bird was placed on the 10-day disabled list back on May 2 with a bruised right ankle. That injury originally occurred at the end of Bird’s red-hot Spring Training, but continued to plague him into the regular season. The young first baseman was just 6-for-60 to start the year; a far cry from his torrid .451 in the Grapefruit League.

Bird had added running to his rehab regiment in New York, after starting with simple tee and soft-toss work. He eventually started to take ground balls as well.


Another Yankee working his way back from a foot injury is fellow first baseman, Tyler Austin. The Georgia-native suffered a fracture of the navicular area of his left foot back in February, and started the season on the 60-day disabled list. His rehab is in a much more advanced stage than Bird’s. Austin is currently slashing a gaudy .429/.529/.786 for the AA Trenton Thunder, and recently was promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue his return. Austin is eligible to be activated from the disabled list in early June.

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Tanaka Steps Up, Offense Disappears in 4-1 Loss

Yankees’ ace Masahiro Tanaka was up the challenge, but was ultimately handed a loss after poor defense and a quirky official scoring rule squandered his impressive performance.

Tanaka set a career high by striking out 13 batters over 7.1 innings, but left after allowing a single in the eighth inning. Tyler Clippard then allowed that runner to get to third after an errant pickoff throw. He then induced Rajai Davis to ground into a fielders choice to Chase Headley, who threw Adam Rosales out at the plate on a throw to Austin Romine. A strange quirk in official scoring rules then made Davis Tanaka’s responsibility, and he came around to score on a Jed Lowrie. Khris Davis then reached on an infield single after Clippard’s wild pitch moved runners to second and third.

That 2-0 score held until Jonathan Holder took over to pitch the top of the ninth. A leadoff single by Trevor Plouffe was followed up by a long home run by Stephen Vogt. The Yankees were able to get the bases loaded against A’s closer Santiago Casilla in the bottom of the ninth, but only managed to push across one run on a Didi Gregorius sacrifice fly.

The Yankees get their first shot at revenge tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. CC Sabathia starts tomorrow against A’s righty Jharel Cotton.

Game 46: Tanaka Time

The Yankees welcome a West Coast opponent into Yankee Stadium this weekend in the form of the Oakland Athletics. The A’s decided to skip right-hander Kendall Graveman in the rotation, and lefty Sean Manaea will move up one day to take his spot. Per The Mercury News, righty Jharel Cotton will reportedly be recalled to start Saturday. The club has not confirmed. John Hickey, an A’s beat writer at Bay Area News Group, tweeted that Graveman did not make the trip to the Bronx with the team, and is likely to head to the 10-day disabled list.

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The Yankees look to expand their 2.5 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles against a pitcher that they do not have much experience facing. Manaea pitched well in his last start against the division rival Red Sox, pitching five innings and only allowing three runs (two earned). But, his splits are working against him as he has yet to record a win on the road and sports an inflated 8.76 ERA.

On the flip-side, the Yankees hope that Masahiro Tanaka can get back on track. His last two starts have been disastrous, giving up 14 runs in his last 4⅔ innings. In those last two starts, the Yankees’ ace has been touched up for seven home runs. He faces an A’s lineup tonight boasting decent power, with the biggest threat being left fielder Khris Davis. Davis is 0-for-6 in his career against Tanaka, but has managed to swat 14 home runs already this year.

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It’s worth noting that the A’s have kept first baseman Yonder Alonso out of the lineup tonight. He has missed multiple games recently with right hand and wrist contusions after being hit by pitches. Ryon Healy will start in his place.

Starting Lineups

Oakland Athletics
  1. Rajai Davis – CF (.219/.268/.336)
  2. Matt Joyce – RF (.198/.290/.365)
  3. Jed Lowrie – 2B (.300/.368/.488)
  4. Khris Davis – LF (.220/.305/.506)
  5. Ryon Healy – 1B (.260/.293/.451)
  6. Trevor Plouffe – 3B (.243/.308/.403)
  7. Stephen Vogt – C (.219/.278/.352)
  8. Mark Canha – DH (.250/.316/.538)
  9. Adam Rosales – SS (.228/.271/.341)
New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF (.280/.370/.520)
  2. Aaron Hicks – CF (.291/.426/.573)
  3. Matt Holliday – DH (.275/.370/.500)
  4. Starlin Castro – 2B  (.328/.366/.500)
  5. Aaron Judge – RF (.315/.420/.678)
  6. Didi Gregorius – SS (.330/.359/.474)
  7. Chase Headley – 3B (.232/.304/.374)
  8. Chris Carter – 1B (.209/.305/.385)
  9. Austin Romine – C (.237/.268/.342)

Pitching Matchup:

Sean Manaea (2-3, 5.24) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56)

Oakland Comes to the Bronx (May 26-28)

The series finale against the Kansas City Royals was washed out, turning what would’ve been the final off day of the regular season, September 25, into a makeup game.

The Yankees get their first taste of an American League West team not named the Houston Astros in the form of the Oakland Athletics. Their 21-25 record is good enough for fourth place in a division where the second place team is already seven games out. That puts the Oakland Athletics 9½ out, one game ahead of the last place Seattle Mariners. The A’s come in off of a scheduled day off, but look to put an end to a three-game losing streak.

The Yankees look to build off of a win punctuated by timely hitting and strong pitching. But, they must do so without the presence of veteran outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The 33-year-old was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list on the off day After slamming into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium chasing down a line drive hit by Alcides Escobar on the very first pitch of the game. Ellsbury was able to complete the ending in the field, but went straight to the locker room after coming off of the field. That was as far as he made it, as he was replaced in centerfield by Aaron Hicks. Later, it was announced that Ellsbury suffered a concussion and a sprained neck. His roster spot was filled by 1B/OF Rob Refsnyder.

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Common sense dictates that Aaron Hicks will start in center field in Ellsbury’s absence.

Three Things To Watch For:

Getting A-Headley

It’s no secret that some of the Yankees who got off to the hottest starts are starting to come back to earth. No one feels that more than Chase Headley. The third baseman is just two for his last 22, good for a .091 average. His fast start in April (.301/.402/.494) made fans forget about his horrible start last year, but quickly crashed to a .153/.176/.236 with six games left before the calendar flips. Headley has half as many hits as the previous month in just 11 fewer at-bats. He clearly is pressing, having only walked once compared to 14 times last month. From April to May, his strikeouts have gone up 31% from 19 in April to 25 already in May. But, he has had success in a small sample against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman: 3-for-8 with a double, a walk and three strikeouts. Headley appears to be on notice after the Yankees promoted No. 1 prospect Gleyber Torres to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and then started him for two consecutive games at the hot corner.

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Tanaka On Track

Plain and simple: Masahiro Tanaka has to be better. At this point in the season, there are more questions than answers about the Yankee right-hander. But, Brian Cashman does not see injury as an issue. In his nine starts, Tanaka is 5-3, but he is being victimized by the long ball. He has already given up 13 this season, and batters are hitting an overwhelming .310 against him. His sinker has not been as effective as in years past, as batters are hitting that to a .345 clip. He is on pace to have career worsts in home runs allowed and walks allowed, per Steamer projections. Tanaka could not even record an out in the fourth inning during his May 20 start in Tampa Bay, giving up six earned runs (five of them scoring via the home run). Tanaka must focus on keeping the ball down, and keeping it in the yard.

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A Different Look

The Yankees will don a different look on Saturday as MLB introduced special uniforms for Memorial Day. Just like with the Mother’s Day pink uniforms, each team will wear the special uniforms throughout the weekend. Caps will be an olive green color, and the logo on the chest and numbers will be filled in with a similar color. The uniform will also be worn on their May 29 game in Baltimore, necessitating the creation of a separate road jersey.

Click here to check it out.

Probable Pitchers:

  • Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.83) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56)
  • Sean Manaea (2-3, 5.24) vs. CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62)
  • Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77) vs. Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35)

Disclaimer: the Yankees’ website lists the game two and three starts as “to be announced,” but I followed the regular rotation to fill in the blanks.

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