Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Game 45 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 CHC 2

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

Interesting day for the Yankee rotation to say the least in the afternoon finale of this quick 2-gamer.  They had latest Triple-A replacement Band-Aid Chase Whitley on the mound and were facing potential trade target to upgrade from said Triple-A replacements Jeff Samardzija, the guy who Matt Garza advised to "pitch your way out of there" before he left via free agency this past offseason.  Nobody knows if Samardzija was pitching as an audition today, but if he was I think he nailed it.  Too bad he plays for the Cubs and they gagged it away for him again.

Game Notes:

- Wasn't much going for the offense through 4.  They went down in order in the 1st and the 3rd and left 2 stranded in the 2nd and 4th.  Brian McCann was one of the stranded both times.

- Whitley was up to the task of matching Samardzija for 0's, albeit in his tightrope-walking way.  He worked around 2 on/1 out in the 1st and a 2-out double in the 2nd, and retired the side 1-2-3 in the 3rd.

- The Cubs got to him in the 4th, and once again the infield defense was a factor.  GB single through the hole at short, infield single off a Teix deflection, sac fly, 1-0 Chicago.

- As he did in Whitley's first start, Joe went quick hook with him and went to his 'pen early.  With 1 out in the 5th and a runner on third, Dellin Betance got the call and neutralized the threat with 1.2 perfect innings and 3 strikeouts.

- Adam Warren took over in the 7th and gave up another big run on a 1-out triple and a squeeze play, and all hope looked lost until the top of the 9th, when a bases loaded throwing error by Darwin Barney turned 1 run into 2 and sent the game into extra innings.

- Both teams slogged through 12 before former Yankee Jose Veras became the first reliever to blink, giving up 2 runs in the top of the 13th.  Joe finally felt safe to bring in D-Rob in a save situation and D-Rob nailed it down to salvage the split.

Kelley Suffers Setback With His Back, Return Schedule On Hold

Shawn Kelley started his week-long rehab schedule on Monday by playing the catch.  If everything went according to plan, there was a chance he would be activated on Sunday.  Things did not go according to plan.  Not even close.

Via Dan Barbarisi, Kelley's rehab work has been shut down after he woke up with stiffness in his back yesterday.  Joe confirmed this to the beat guys before the game and said there is no timetable for when Kelley will try to throw again.  All we know right now is that everything is on hold and he's going to stay on the DL.

Jacoby's Rotten Month Of May

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

It's been the best of times and the worst of times for Jacoby Ellsbury in his first 2 months as a New York Yankee.  In April, he hit .312/.369/.452 in 103 plate appearances divided between the leadoff and #3 lineup spots, played a solid center field, and made a very good first impression on Yankee fans.  He was among the team and American League leaders in hits (29), runs scored (14), and stolen bases (8).

May has been far less kind to Ellsbury.  His production has dropped off dramatically, he's been a negative fWAR player, and the whispers about the Yankees overpaying have started popping up as they usually do when a player signs the kind of contract Jacoby did to come to new York.  After last night's 0-fer, Ellsbury's May slash line is down to .206/.315/.302.  He's scored 1 run in his last 5 games, has 1 hit in his last 7, 1 stolen base in his last 14, and 1 RBI in his last 15.  His season tripleslash is down to .269/.347/.391, good for a .325 wOBA and 102 wRC+.  What the hell happened to cause him to fall off this badly?

What Was Tanaka's Problem Last Night?

(Courtesy of Texas Leaguers)

In a nutshell, that's it right there.  Bad sinker command.  Tanaka couldn't get his sinker down in the zone last night, he gave up 3 leadoff hits on the pitch, and all 3 of those hits came around to score.  It wasn't like the Cubs knocked him all over the park.  The 4 runs they scored against Tanaka came on 2 GB singles and 2 sac flies.  But they did hit him fairly hard and it was what they did against his off sinker that set them up.  That and the flat slider that Tanaka couldn't get down when he needed to either.

The strategy was exactly what I expected it to be.  Tanaka threw more 4-seamers and more sliders than he did the first time he faced the Cubs.  He just didn't execute his pitches as well this time.  It happens.

Game 44 Wrap-Up: CHC 6 NYY 1

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

The Yankees swept the first half of their 4-game "home and home" series against the Cubs last month and they did it all in 1 day without allowing the Cubs to score 1 run.  The second half of the series kicked off last night in Chi-town with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound again for the Yanks.  He's now fully taken over the role of staff ace in title and in production.  If the Yankees are going to stay afloat while Pineda and Sabathia recover, they're going to do it on the back of Tanaka.  He wasn't able to carry them last night, breaking his 42-game regular season streak without a loss.

Game Notes:

- The Yanks put 2 runners on in the top of the 1st and almost knocked Jason Hammel out of the game with Brett Gardner's comebacker.  They didn't score though, and that was the toughest time Hammel would have all day.

- Tanaka, for whatever reason, just wasn't as sharp as he was against the Mets.  His slider command wasn't all that great, he missed with a few splitters, and his sinker didn't have its usual bite on it.  The Cubs turned that into a run apiece in the 3rd on 4th on a pair of RBI singles.

- The Yanks finally got on the board in the 6th when Mark Teixeira singled in Gardner.  He had led off the inning with a double and almost got stranded.  That kind of day from the offense.

- A pair of Chicago singles to start the bottom of the 6th turned into 2 more runs thanks to sac flies by Mike Olt and John Baker and a Teix throwing error.  More missed spots by Tanaka.

- He was out after 6 and Joe went to his second tier of relievers.  That put 2 more runs on the board for the Cubs and the game out of reach for the Yanks.

- Just to hammer the point home of how bad they were, New York left the bases loaded in the top of the 9th.