Results tagged ‘ Triple A ’
The Yankees escaped disaster over the weekend at San Diego, thanks to a spot starter and an on-the-spot finisher Sunday. A 6-3 victory over the Padres Sunday was achieved primarily due to the effective pitching of rookie Chad Green and two crucial home runs by Mark Teixeira, who avoided wearing the golden sombrero and in the process cleared the 400-home run plateau.
The Yankees remain the team with the best record in inter-league play since the format began in 1997 (although the Red Sox are right on their heels) but have struggled against National League competition this year. Sunday’s victory improved their mark in inter-league play this year to 3-7. What has hurt the Yankees this season especially in NL parks is a sparse bench. With a 12-man pitching staff and with aging veterans Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran hampered by leg issues, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been limited in options.
Despite the final score, Sunday’s game was a nail biter until the ninth. Green held the Padres to one run and three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings but departed the game with merely a one-run lead. Normally, that has been gold with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman in play, but the No Runs DMC combination had its perceived invincibility shaken Saturday night. Betances allowed an inherited runner to score on a double by Matt Kemp in the sixth inning that tied the score. San Diego almost took the lead that inning as well on a single by Melvin Upton, but left fielder Brett Gardner threw Kemp out at the pomerhlate.
Upton did more damage three innings later when he led off the ninth by driving the first pitch from Miller a long way into the left field stands for a walk-off home run. It marked the first loss in six decisions for Miller this season.
Although Betances allowed two hits in the seventh inning Sunday, he protected the one-run advantage with key strikeouts of Derek Norris and Ryan Schrimpf. Miller also put two runners on in the eighth with a single and a walk but retired the dangerous Kemp on a ground ball to work out of it.
Teixeira had given Miller an extra run to work with when he led off the top of that inning with his 400th career home run. Tex, who had struck out in his previous three at-bats, became the fifth switch-hitter to reach the milestone. The others are Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and his teammate, Beltran. Texeira connected again in the ninth following an RBI single by Gardner as the Yankees pulled away at 6-1.
That took Chapman out of the equation but only momentarily. Anthony Swarzak could not close it out as Yangervis Solarte singled for his fourth hit of the game and scored on a home run by Alex Dickerson. Chapman then was summoned to notch his 16th save, which he did by retiring the three batters he faced.
Green had been called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start in place of CC Sabathia because the Yankees did not want the lefthander to have to bat or run the bases at Petco Park. It could not have worked out better for the Yankees, who now must decide whether to fit Green, a righthander, into the rotation somehow. Green was named to the International League All-Star squad on the strength of his league-leading 1.54 ERA.
The victory was a face saver for the Yankees, who were defeated the previous two nights by the NL West cellar dwellers. They will return to American League play Monday afternoon at Chicago with a July 4th date against the White Sox on the birthday of the late Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner and radio voice John Sterling.
There is some good news for several Yankees minor leaguers.
Four members of the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders were elected to the 29th annual Sonic Automotive Triple A All-Star Game July 13 at Charlotte, N.C. Pitcher Chad Green, catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielders Ben Gamel and Aaron Judge are the SWB All-Stars, the most of any International League team in balloting by managers, general managers, media and fans online.
Judge, who was named the IL Batter of the Week for June 20-26, leads the league in home runs with 16, including four in his past sis games. He ranks second in the IL in runs (49) and total bases (140), third in extra-base hits (31) and tied for fourth in runs batted in (46). This month, Judge has hit .337 with nine home runs and 21 RBI in 26 games. His on-base plus slugging percentage is 1.156.
Sanchez is tied with Judge for fourth in the IL in slugging with a .490 percentage and is second on the team in homers (8) and RBI (32). Green leads the league with a 1.54 ERA in 14 starts and 81 2/3 innings and has a 17-inning shutout string going. Gamel, the IL Rookie of the Year in 2015, is batting .293 with a team-leading 12 stolen bases.
Double A Trenton catcher Kyle Higashioka was chosen the Eastern League Player of the Week for June 20-26 for batting .467 with a double, four home runs, 12 RBI and a 1.333 slugging percentage in four games and 15 at-bats. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native is batting .301 with 11 doubles, six homers and 33 RBI in 38 games and 133 at-bats this season.
Sanchez and infielder Jorge Mateo were selected to play for the World Team in the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played at 7 p.m., Eastern Times, Sunday, July 10, at Petco Park in San Diego as part of the Major League All-Star Game festivities.
In 48 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Sanchez is hitting .277 with 25 runs, 16 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 31RBI in 195 at-bats. He has also appeared in one game with the Yanks this season and was 0-for-4.
Mateo is batting .270 with 45 runs, eight doubles, eight triples, five homers, 33 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 69 games and 281 at-bats for Class A Tampa. He leads the Florida State League in steals and is tied for the league lead in runs and triples.
The national television audience watching Fox’s coverage of Saturday night’s Yankees-Orioles game had to be wondering about all the reports they read or heard about the Bombers’ slumbering offense.
There were the Yankees on national TV lashing out 16 hits and scoring runs in bunches. It was a throwback to the days when the Yankees loved coming to hitter-friendly Camden Yards against some weak Baltimore clubs to improve their batting averages and slugging percentages. The Orioles have had the upper hand in recent years, but the Yankees looked like the Bronx Bombers of old in building a 7-0 lead through six innings.
Ivan Nova was cruising along on a three-hit shutout until Mark Trumbo led off the seventh with his 18th home run, most in the majors. That was just the beginning of the wheels falling off for Nova, who gave up an infield hit to Matt Wieters and a two-run, opposite-field homer to Pedro Alvarez. The onslaught did not give Yankees manager Joe Girardi must time to get a reliever warm up in the bullpen and stayed with Nova, who gave up a bloop single to Jonathan Schoop and walked Ryan Flaherty on a full count.
Nova was on fumes at this point, so Girardi brought in Nick Goody, who proceeded to yield a three-run home run to Adam Jones. Suddenly, 7-0 was 7-6, and the Yankees had nine more outs to get. What for a time was a laugher became a sweat box.
With Dellin Betances, who had pitched the previous two night, unavailable, Girardi relied on Andrew Miller, who did a yeoman’s job in retiring the six batters he faced over the seventh and eighth innings. The Yankees came up with a huge insurance run in the ninth off reliever Vance Worley with one out on a double by Aaron Hicks, who entered the game in right field as a defensive replacement in the seventh, and a single by Alex Rodriguez, his third hit of the game.
Aroldis Chapman took it from there, although the ninth inning began with catcher Austin Romine having to leave the game after being cut on the left hand trying to catch a warmup pitch in the dirt. Brian McCann, who was on the bench nursing a hyperextended left elbow, took over behind the plate.
Chapman walked Jones with two out before striking out pinch hitter Nolan Reimold looking for his ninth save and put to rest any chance of an Orioles comeback. The bullpen has been leaky of late. Kirby Yates and Betances contributed to the Yankees’ blowing a 5-2 lead Friday night. Thursday night in Detroit, the Yankees were up 5-1 and held on for a 5-4 victory despite Betances, Miller and Chapman all being scored upon over the final three innings.
A serious injury to Romine would be critical. The Yankees are running out of catchers. McCann is still not 100 percent, and Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre’s Gary Sanchez is on the disabled list. The Yankees purchased the contract of first baseman Chris Parmelee from SWB to help fill the void of Mark Teixeira, who was placed on the 15-day DL because of torn cartilage in his right knee. Dustin Ackley, who had been Tex’s back-up at first base, had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder and was transferred to the 60-day DL. That opened a spot on the 40-man roster for Parmelee.
Girardi spoke before the game of a possible platoon at first base with Parmelee and Rob Refsnyder, yet with righthander Tyler Wilson starting for the Orioles the manager started Refsnyder, who had an RBI double in four at-bats. Parmelee took over in the field in the eighth.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly by Romine, the Yankees attacked Wilson for four runs and five hits in the fourth. Carlos Beltran and Rodriguez started the rally with singles. Starlin Castro, who had three hits, doubled home Beltran. A-Rod scored on an infield out. Refsnyder restarted the rally with his double that scored Castro and came home on a single by Romine.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, who were a combined 4-for-10 at the top of the order, teamed on a double steal with two out in the sixth that resulted in Ellsbury’s second swipe of home this season and the third time in his career.
Everyone in the Yankees’ starting lineup plus Hicks had at least one hit. It would have been an absolute crime if the pitchers could not make all that offense hold up.
Well, at least somebody on the Yankees broke out of a slump Monday night. Brian McCann had been hitless in his previous 21 at-bats before he crushed a two-run home run off the second-deck facade in center field at Rogers Centre in the ninth inning, but that was pretty much for the Yanks offensively in a 4-2 loss.
And if not for the every-night reliance on the bullpen these days maybe McCann would still be in an 0-for. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not give Marco Estrada a chance to pitch a complete game. Yes, Estrada threw 108 pitches, past the ridiculous magic number of 100, so naturally he had to come out of the game. Never mind that he was almost never in trouble and rarely had to throw a stressful pitch, but convention today says you must go to the bullpen. Well, that is what Gibby gets for turning the game over to Aaron Loup, who hit Carlos Beltran with a pitch with one out and gave up the humongous bomb to McCann.
Gibbons was forced to dip into his bullpen some more and brought in Drew Storen, who did not help matters right away by giving up a double off the right field wall to Mark Teixeira, who narrowly missed his first home run in 129 at-bats since April 113. Estrada’s second victory over the Yankees in a week’s time was clearly in jeopardy at that point, but they went quietly after that on a fly to right by Starlin Castro and a strikeout of Chase Headley.
If it seems as though I am spending too much time in the ninth inning, well, there was not much else going on for the Yankee offensively over the first eight. Estrada (3-2) scattered four hits and three walks with six strikeouts and faced only two at-bats with runners in scoring position, both futile. And this followed a game at St. Petersburg the day before where the Yankees had only one hit in nine innings yet somehow came away with a victory.
Sunday’s 2-1 comeback over the Rays on Castro’s two-run homer in the seventh marked the second time in Yankees history that they won a game with only one hit, and the first time in a game of at least nine innings. They also won a 1-0, six-inning game July 10, 1914 in the second game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds.
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Yankees have been held to one-or-zero hits in a game of at least nine innings 58 times. They had lost the first 57 games before Sunday. And yet, this has happened three times this year in the majors. The other two games involved the Mariners at Safeco Field. Seattle won, 1-0, April 29 against the Royals and lost, 3-2, April 4 to the Rangers.
The Yankees were going to need more than one hit Monday night in they were going to win because Toronto had four runs, the equivalent of a grand slam, by the fifth inning against Ivan Nova (3-3), who again lost to Estrada. Nova did not have his best sinker and paid for it as five of the Blue Jays’ eight hits off him went for extra bases.
Ryan Goins, the Jays’ 9-hole hitter, touched up Nova for a double and a home run. This is saying something. Goins had entered the game with a .244 slugging percentage. Not batting average, slugging percentage. He was in a 9-for-91 stretch, which works out to a .099 batting average.
More conventionally for Toronto, at the top of the order Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson each scored a run with Edwin Encarnacion driving both of them in.
Nova did pitch into the seventh inning, which is a plus. Yankees starters have completed at least six innings in 11 of their past 12 starts and are 8-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. Richard Bleier, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre last week, made his major league debut and retired both batters he faced in the eighth inning on ground balls.
Meanwhile, the Yankees kept running to first base and turning right when they were not striking out. The numbers are pretty ugly. Brett Gardner is hitless in his past 20 at-bats and was pinch-hit for by rookie Rob Refsnyder in the ninth inning. Alex Rodriguez, who was on the bench but likely will start Tuesday night against lefthander J.A. Happ, has one hit, a home run, in 16 at-bats (.063) with nine strikeouts since he was activated from the 15-day disabled list five days ago.
Dustin Ackley found himself on the DL because of a jammed right shoulder, which is why Refsnyder was recalled from SWB. The Triple A affiliate was the landing spot for struggling pitcher Luis Severino, who came off the DL Monday. Manager Joe Girardi made it clear that the righthander will have to work out his problems in the minor leagues.
The Yankees are 24-20 on Memorial Day since 1971 (when the holiday was first celebrated on the last Monday in May following the National Holiday Act of 1971). They did not play on Memorial Day in 1973, 2004 or 2005 and are 9-6 on Memorial Day since 2000. The Yanks played on the road on Memorial Day for the ninth time in the past 11 seasons.
While Alex Rodriguez is on the road back to good health and expected to rejoin the Yankees for Thursday’s late-afternoon series finale against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, there are other physical concerns disrupting the club.
Rodriguez homered in two at-bats for Double A Trenton Wednesday night after going 2-for-4 with a run batted in Tuesday night on an injury-rehabilitation assignment. It is too bad A-Rod did not take to playing first base a couple of years ago because the Yankees may have a real need there.
Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup Wednesday night because of neck stiffness, the same ailment that forced him to miss two home games earlier this month against the Royals. It has been a rough month for Teixeira, who is batting .164 with three doubles and two RBI in May that has driven his season batting average down to .195. Tex was 4-for-25 (.160) on the recent trip to Phoenix and Oakland. He went 16 games without an RBI from May 3-21, the longest stretch of his career. He was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in Tuesday night’s 6-0 victory over the Blue Jays. Teixeira has not homered since April 13, another career-worst stretch of 124 at-bats.
Dustin Ackley was at first base batting sixth in the order Wednesday night. Manager Joe Girardi conceded he does not have that many options at that position. He said he could use backup catcher Austin Romine at first base or use Romine behind the plate and have regular catcher Brian McCann at first. Romine was taking grounders at first base during batting practice.
Gary Sanchez, the catcher Romine beat out in spring training for the role of McCann’s caddy, is also hurt. Playing at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Sanchez took a foul ball off his right hand Tuesday night and sustained a bone fracture in this thumb that placed him on the disabled list.
A former Yankees catcher was a primary reason the Yankees’ six-game winning streak came to an end. Russell Martin, who entered the game without a home run and only one extra-base hit in 122 at bats, cranked two home runs to drive in three runs for Toronto in its 8-4 victory that dropped the Yankees back below .500(22-23).
The Yanks got a pair of home runs on back-to-back solos by Chase Headley (No. 3) and Didi Gregorius (No. 4) in the seventh but it was too little too late. For the seventh straight game, the Yankees’ starter pitched six innings or more. Ivan Nova (2-2) lasted two outs in the seventh before he hit Edwin Encarnacion with a pitch and was replaced by Chase Shreve, who gave up a two-run homer to Patrick Saunders.
The Blue Jays were not finished with Shreve. Justin Smoak doubled and Martin followed with his second homer of the game. His first came leading off the sixth against Nova, who was charged with four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. A couple of two-out infield singles in the fourth hurt Nova, who then yielded a bases-clearing double by Ryan Goins.
Martin’s sixth-inning homer came in his 125th at-bat, the second longest drought at the start of a season in his career. Martin did not hit a home run in 2009 until his 218th at-bat for the Dodgers. Martin’s bid for a three-homer game came in the ninth but center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught his drive on the warning track.
Toronto starter Marco Estrada earned his first victory in eight starts since April 10. The righthander, who had received scant run support prior to Wednesday night, loaded the bases with none out in the second on singles by Headley and Gregorius and a four-pitch walk to Aaron Hicks but gave up only one run on an infield out. Gregorius had three hits, including a singe off lefthander Chad Girodo, which raised his team-leading batting average against southpaws to .368 in 38 at-bats.
Rodriguez has played only two games at first base, both in 2015, in his career and was not a bit comfortable on that side of the infield as he has been over the years as a shortstop turned third baseman. A-Rod made one error in his 9 2/3 innings as a first baseman.
The Yankees are hopeful Teixeira’s health issues are short-term. If the problem should linger, they would have to weigh all options. After a hot start at SWB, Nick Swisher has cooled off to a .260 batting average with four home runs and 13 RBI. He has been platooned there with Chris Parmelee, who is batting .244 with six homers and 18 RBI.
Alex Rodriguez’s return from the 15-day disabled list will be delayed for at least another day or two. Rodriguez, who was placed on the DL May 4 due to a strained right hamstring, went on an injury-rehabilitation assignment to Double A Trenton Tuesday night. The Thunder has night games Tuesday and Wednesday.
Rodriguez has been eligible to come off the DL since May 19, but he was not activated during the Yankees’ recently completed four-game sweep at Oakland. Carlos Beltran was the DH in all four games and was 9-for-18 (.500) with three runs, five doubles, one home run and eight RBI.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi explained before Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium that the decision on Rodriguez was reached Monday during a conference call with club officials. Girardi said the thinking was that A-Rod has been idle for three weeks and needs at-bats. With three righthanders starting for Toronto in this series there is less of a need to hurry Rodriguez back.
And although it is purely coincidental, the Yankees have gotten hot during A-Rod’s absence. They are 12-6 since he went on the DL. DHs have hit a combined .323 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 19 RBI in 62 at-bats. Almost all of the damage has been by Beltran, who started 12 of 15 games as the DH (there was no DH in a three-game series in the National League city of Phoenix) and batted .367 with 11 runs, nine doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 49 at-bats. The Yanks were 10-2 in those games.
Using Beltran as the DH spares his aging legs, improves the outfield defense with Aaron Hicks in right field and offers some playing time for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Rob Refsnyder. Girardi did say that once Rodriguez returns he would again be the full-time DH, but for the time being there is no emergency.
The Yankees made a player move Tuesday in claiming pitcher Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds and optioning him to SWB. The righthander, 26, made his major league debut with Cincinnati this season and appeared in two games. Somsen pitched a scoreless inning May 14 at Philadelphia and allowed five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings May 16 at Cleveland.
The South Dakota native also made 10 appearances with Triple-A Louisville This year and posted a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings without any decisions. In 86 games, including seven starts, over parts of four minor league seasons, Somsen has a 9-5 career record with a 2.50 ERA.
The Yankees’ 40-man roster now stands at 40.
The momentum the Yankees derived from the recent 7-3 homestand against the Red Sox, Royals and White Sox has wilted in the Phoenix heat. The Diamondbacks, floundering in the National League West, have gotten first-rate starts from Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke to keep the Yankees in last place in the American League East.
Greinke, who left the Dodgers as a free agent for the Arizona desert, has rebounded from a shaky start to improve his record to 4-3 despite a 5.08 ERA. A solo home run by Starlin Castro in the second inning was all the offense the Yanks mustered against Greinke until the seventh when the former Cy Young Award winner gave up singles to Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks to start the inning. Both eventually scored on an infield out and an RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury that got the Yankees to 5-3 before Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira struck out to defuse the rally.
Michael Pineda had another head-scratching outing. He struck out nine batters in five innings but gave up five earned runs and nine hits as his ERA soared to 6.60. He gave up the 1-0 lead Castro’s homer gave him in the bottom of the second with two outs on a triple by Chris Owings and a single off a wayward slider by Nick Ahmed.
The D-backs stung him for two runs and four hits in the third inning. Two innings later, Jake Lamb crushed a two-run homer that seemingly put the game out of reach considering the work of Greinke, who retired 12 batters in a row after the Castro homer on four strikeouts and eight infield outs.
It was also a sloppy game defensively for the Yankees, who committed two errors and a passed ball. They at least posed a threat in Tuesday night’s game as opposed to Monday night when Arizona pounded them into submission, 12-2. Chad Green, a Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up, was pounded for six runs (four earned) and eight hits, including homers by Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt.
Among the added benefits of having Aroldis Chapman as the closer out of the bullpen is that it allows Yankees manager Joe Girardi to use Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller earlier in the game when the situation calls for a key pitching change.
Take Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the White Sox, for example, the first game in which all three power relievers appeared in the same game. Girardi had Betances warming up in the bullpen in the sixth inning in case starter Ivan Nova ran into trouble.
Nova, who made his second start since joining the rotation following CC Sabathia’s assignment to the 15-day disabled list, was not in any real trouble most of his outing. His sinker produced 13 ground ball outs, including the first two outs of the sixth. But when he walked Todd Frazier, out of the dugout came Girardi, who signaled for Betances.
Frazier had accounted for Chicago’s run in the fourth inning with his 12th home run, so Nova needed to be careful. Betances finished the inning with a strikeout of Melky Cabrera and struck out the side in the seventh as well.
That set up the Yankees’ new bullpen formula, which went into effect for the first time. Miller pitched the eighth and allowed one hit with two strikeouts. Chapman brought his trademark heat in the ninth with two more strikeouts for his second save. This was right out of the blueprint.
The 10-out performance by this powerful trio extended the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 15 2/3 innings. In 12 games since May 3, Yankees relievers have combined for a 1.54 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 35 innings.
Nova is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings in five games (two starts) at the Stadium this season. He has allowed one run in each of his past two starts (1.74 ERA) covering 10 1/3 innings. The quality start from Nova was very welcomed coming on the heels of a rocky start Friday night by Luis Severino, who was placed on the DL due to a strained right triceps.
The Yankees made several other moves Saturday. They signed righthanders Chad Green and Conor Mullee to major league contracts and called them up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, optioned catcher Gary Sanchez to SWB and transferred pitcher Bryan Mitchell, first baseman Greg Bird and outfielder Mason Williams to the 60-day DL. Those moves created space on the 40-man roster for Green, Mullee and J.R. Graham, a right-handed pitcher obtained from the Twins for a player to be named and cash considerations. Graham was optioned to Double A Trenton.
The Yankees guaranteed a winning homestand with Saturday’s victory that made them 6-3 with one game remaining. They are 13-2 against the White Sox at the Stadium dating to June 30, 2012. It was the Yankees’ first victory when scoring two or fewer runs since Sept. 26 last year, also by 2-1 and also against the White Sox. The Yanks had lost 18 consecutive games when scored two or fewer runs.
Both Yankees runs came in the second inning after two were out off Jose Quintana, the lefthander who originally signed with the Yankees and went to the White Sox as a six-year, minor-league free agent. Chase Headley walked and scored on a double to center by Aaron Hicks. A single to right by Didi Gregorius scored Hicks. Austin Romine followed with a double, but the automatic kind that bounced over the fence in right-center, which hurt the Yanks because Gregorius had to go back to third base. Brett Gardner grounded out to end the added threat.
Another positive sign was center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the field for the first time in eight games since injuring his right hip as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning. At two hours, 24 minutes, the game was the shortest nine-inning game at the Stadium since a 2:20 game June 6 last year against the Angels
The Yankees could use all the right-handed help they can find against White Sox lefthander Chris Sale (7-0, 1.79 ERA), who was paired against Yankees righthander Luis Severino (0-5, 6.12 ERA) in Friday night’s opener of a three-game series. The Yankees hoped that the weather forecast was accurate that the rain that struck the area late in the afternoon would stop by the scheduled game time of 7:05 p.m.
Toward that end, the Yankees recalled catcher Gary Sanchez from Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and planned to start him as the designated hitter in a different looking lineup put together by manager Joe Girardi.
Brett Gardner, who has been batting leadoff while Jacoby Ellsbury has been out with a hip ailment, was the only left-handed hitter in the batting order and was dropped to seventh. At the top of the order was Aaron Hicks, followed by Starlin Castro and three switch hitters batting righty — Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley. Sanchez was in the 6-hole in front of Gardner with Austin Romine behind the plate batting eighth and Ronald Torreyes at shortstop in the 9-hole.
Sanchez got off to a rough start at SWB but has heated up recently and had a slash line of .288/.336/.541 with 13 runs, 11 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI in 27 games and 111 at-bats. Sanchez was in line to be the backup to regular Yankees catcher Brian McCann but was beaten out for the job in spring training by Romine.
Sale entered the game working on an eight-game winning streak (in eight consecutive starts) dating back to Oct. 2 last year. The Yankees were the last team to beat Sale with a 3-2 victory last Sept. 24 at Yankee Stadium on the strength of a three-run home run by Beltran in the third inning.
The Yankees are the only team this season to end a pitcher’s winning streak of at least eight games. They handed Red Sox lefthander David Price a loss May 7 at the Stadium that stopped his nine-game winning streak (over 11 starts from Sept. 5 last year to May 1 this year). Sale will be the seventh pitcher in the majors this season to take the mound with a winning streak of eight games or longer (of the first six, only Price has had his streak ended).
This marks the only Friday the 13th game on the Yankees’ 2016 schedule, their first Friday the 13th game since a 7-0 victory June 13, 2014 at Oakland. Since 2012, the Yankees are 3-1 on Friday the 13th, with two of their three victories shutouts. The other was a 5-0 victory April 13, 2012 over the Angels at Yankee Stadium.
Michael Pineda endured a nightmare of a first inning Sunday that put a damper on a bright, sunshine day in which the Yankees were shooting for their first series sweep since Aug. 28-30 last year at Atlanta. Instead, they fell back into the cellar of the American League East and hobbled their way to Arlington, Texas, to begin an 11-day, nine-game trip that starts Monday night against a Rangers team that is tied for first place in the AL West.
Five pitches into Sunday’s game before a crowd of 40,931 at Yankee Stadium, Pineda had two outs and nobody on base. He then gave up hits to the next six batters, including two doubles and two home runs, as the aggressive Rays attacked him early in the count to put up a five-spot against which the Yankees brought little resistance in falling, 8-1.
The only positive for Pineda Sunday was that he managed to pitch through the fifth inning, which spared manager Joe Girardi of digging too deep into his already overworked bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-inning start Saturday helped, but Girardi knew from the outset Sunday that he did not have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller available. This game turned out not to be the type in which either of the late-inning shutdown guys works.
Birthday boy Steven Souza celebrated turning 27 with two home runs, a two-run shot in the first and a solo blast in the fifth. Pineda also gave up dingers to Corey Dickerson following a two-out double off the top of the center field wall by Evan Longoria in the first inning and to Steve Pearce leading off the third. Logan Forsythe, who had three hits, joined the home run derby with Tampa Bay’s fifth of the game, a solo shot in the eighth off Nick Goody.
It was also Carlos Beltran’s birthday. The Yankees right fielder turned 39 but did not have as explosive a game as Souza. Beltran was 1-for-4. His first-inning single off eventual winning pitcher Drew Smyly was career hit No. 2,472 for Beltran, who tied Ted Simmons for 10th place among switch hitters. In ninth place at 2,605 is Tim Raines.
The day turned grimmer for the Yankees when Alex Rodriguez, who has driven in their only run with a two-out double in the fourth inning, could not bat when his turn came up again in the sixth. Girardi had to use the left-handed hitting Dustin Ackley as a pinch hitter against the lefty-throwing Smyly (although Ackley singled for his first hit of the season, in his eighth at-bat).
An MRI exam on Rodriguez’s sore left oblique was negative, but the situation shows the dilemma the Yankees are in with Aaron Hicks already out several days because of traumatic bursitis in his left shoulder. The Yanks have proved vulnerable to left-handed pitching. They are 2-5 against left-handed starters and are batting .225 with two home runs overall in 213 at-bats off lefties. Against right-handed pitching, the Yankees are batting .246 with 16 home runs in 358 at-bats.
The Yankees said that A-Rod will make the trip to Texas. But if he cannot play right away, and that is very likely considering how lingering oblique injuries tend to be, and with Hicks out as well, the Yankees lose two right-handed bats. Switch-hitter Nick Swisher, who was released by Atlanta and signed a Triple A contract with the Yankees, is playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but is not on the 40-man roster. The Yankees are not believed interested in dropping anyone off the 40-man roster at this time, which limits their options if they make an internal move for outfield and DH help. The best bet for a call-up would be outfielder Ben Gamel, who is hitting .300 with a .368 on-base percentage at SWB but alas bats left-handed.
The Yanks have known along that staying healthy is a challenge to a team with aging players. The upcoming trip that continues to AL East rival stops in Boston and Baltimore could be a major test for them.