May 2016

Yanks’ bats remain cold in Toronto

It was another night of offensive futility Tuesday night at Toronto for the Yankees. They managed to score only one run — and that was on an out — as support for CC Sabathia, who was tagged with an underserved losing decision.

The combination of a punchless offense and uncharacteristic relief work by Dellin Betances sent Sabathia to his second straight loss despite six-plus innings of solid pitching (two runs, five hits, one walk, four strikeouts). A home run with two outs in the fourth inning by Justin Smoak that tied the score at 1 was one of the few mistakes made by Sabathia, who gave up a double to Edwin Encarnacion to start the seventh that hastened the call to Betances.

Manager Joe Girardi’s hook despite the fact that Sabathia had thrown just 80 pitches looked like the move to make when Betances struck out Smoak and retired Russell Martin on a fly ball to left field. That drive reached the warning track, which might have been an omen. So, too, was a four-pitch walk to Devon Travis.

There were more blunders to come. Betances got too much of the plate with a fastball to free-swinging Kevin Pillar, who punched a single to right field where Rob Refsnyder made a multi-bounce, offline throw home that failed to prevent Encarnacion from crossing the plate with the go-ahead run. Pillar, who made two sensational fielding plays in center field, made another heads-up play by stealing second base, so when Darwin Barney also singled to right two more runs, not just one, scored.

A three-run deficit in the ninth seemed insurmountable to a Yankees lineup that has gone to sleep lately, and there would be no Brian McCann pinch-hit home run to make things closer than the 4-1 final score.

This marked the 22nd time this season that the Yankees have scored two runs or fewer in a game. They have lost 20 of them, and in one of the two victories (Saturday at St. Pete) they got only one hit. Their only hit in eight at-bats Tuesday night with a runner in scoring position did not drive in a run. A single by Austin Romine only served to move Chase Headley, who had two hits, from second base to third. If Aaron Hicks had not beaten out a potential double play with a spring to first base, the Yankees might have been shut out.

Girardi is running out of rabbits to pull out of his hat to turn things around. Tuesday night, Alex Rodriguez (1-for-16 with nine strikeouts since coming off the disabled list last week) was on the bench for the second consecutive night. A-Rod’s career 0-for-14 record against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ was all Girardi needed to see to use Carlos Beltran instead as designated hitter.

The manager was not singling out Rodriguez, who these days has looked every bit the 40-year-old not named David Ortiz. McCann (1-for-22) and Brett Gardner (0-for-20) were also on the pine. Refsnyder got a start over Gardner and had a first-inning double but was left stranded. With right-handed Jesse Chavez on base by the eighth, Gardner batted for Refsnyder and was called out on strikes. Girardi might have used A-Rod as a pinch hitter if more than one runner had gotten on base, but that situation did not present itself after the second inning.

The six-game winning streak that brought the Yankees to a .500 record seems like ancient history now that they have lost five of their past seven games to fall three games below par at 24-27.

Memorial Day weekend a draw for Yankees

The Memorial Day weekend was a push for the Yankees as they went 2-2. They took two of three games from the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and dropped the opener of a three-game set at Rogers Centre in Toronto Monday night. The road has been kinder recently to the Yankees, who have won seven of their past nine games away from home after having lost 12 of their first 16 road games.

The Blue Jays series continues tonight on the last day of May with one of the month’s hottest pitchers starting for the Yanks.

CC Sabathia gets the call opposite fellow lefthander J.A. Happ, who beat the Yankees last Thursday at Yankee Stadium despite Sabathia having allowed two unearned runs, two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Happ was equally tough with seven innings of one-run, three-hit, three-walk, five-strikeout pitching.

Sabathia leads the major leagues in earned run average this month with 0.45 for pitchers with a minimum of 20 innings pitched and has the lowest WHIP (0.75) in the American League in May. Sabathia’s season ERA of 2.83 is the latest in a season he has held an ERA that low since Aug. 6, 2011 when it was 2.81 ERA after 25 starts. In last Thursday’s start, CC was the first Yankees starter to take a loss without allowing an earned run since Shane Greene Sept. 9, 2014 against the Royals.

The lefthander has pitched six or more innings and allowed three or fewer hits in each of his last two starts. With 2,610 career strikeouts, Sabathia is tied with Chuck Finley for 23rd place on the all-time list. In 22nd place is former Yankees pitcher David Cone at 2,668.

Yankees pitchers have held both right fielder Jose Bautista and designated hitter-first baseman Edwin Encarnacion homerless through a combined 58 plate appearances this year after the pair banged 21 home runs (in 284 plate appearances) off them over the previous two seasons. Bautista (13) and Encarnacion (8) ranked first and tied for third, respectively, in homers against the Yankees over the 2014 and ’15 seasons (2014-15).

The Yankees will stop in Detroit Thursday for a 7:40 p.m. game to make up a game that was postponed April 10 because of the geniuses at ESPN who thought scheduling a Sunday Night Baseball game in Detroit in early April was a smart idea. This will be the Yankees’ first one-game series since Aug. 25, 2014 at Kansas City, when they made up a June 9, 2014 rainout at Kauffman Stadium. That make-up game preceded a scheduled six-game road trip, which coincidentally included three-game series at Detroit and Toronto. In that makeup game, RHP Michael Pineda – who will also start Thursday night at Comerica Park – allowed one run over six innings in the Yankees’ 8-1 victory over the Royals

Yankees needed more than 1 hit to avoid this loss

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.

Castro has perfect timing in ruining no-hit bid

Starlin Castro picked an ideal time to break up a no-hitter with a two-run home run Sunday that gave the Yankees a one-run lead. After all, it came in the top of the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. Yankees fans know what that means this season — here come Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to do their 7-8-9 magic in the late innings.

It was a startling turnaround for the Yankees, who were facing losing the series against Tampa Bay and falling back into last place in the American League East. On top of that, after being smashed, 9-5, Saturday, the Yanks were on the verge of being no-hit Sunday for the first time in 13 years.

Jake Odorizzi was that good.

If not for a change in an umpire’s decision that allowed Dustin Ackley to reach first base on an error by Rays shortstop Brad Miller, Odorizzi still would have had a perfect game going one out into the seventh. As it was, a no-hitter was in place even after he walked Brett Gardner. Then Castro came through with perfect timing. His home run to left-center was the first — and last — Yankees hit of the game, but it gave them a 2-1 lead in the very capable hands of Betances, Miller and Chapman, who teamed up for nine consecutive outs, seven on strikeouts.

Betances retired the side with two strikeouts in the seventh. Miller struck out the side in the eighth. Chapman duplicated Betances’ feat in the ninth for his seventh save. The 2016 back end of the bullpen formula was perfect again and gave the Yankees a lift leaving Florida for Canada and a three-game date in Toronto with the Blue Jays, who took two of three last week at Yankee Stadium.

As seems to be the custom these days, the Yankees were hit with another injury, a jammed right shoulder to Ackley diving back into first base. Ackley had been playing first base in place of regular Mark Teixeira, who has been out with neck stiffness that required a cortisone injection last week.

After Michael Pineda’s disappointing start Saturday that ended a stretch of nine straight six-plus-inning outings by Yankees starters, Nathan Eovaldi got the rotation on another hopeful roll. The righthander allowed one run, six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings and extended his personal winning streak to six games. Over his past seven starts, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 35 hits allowed, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Masahiro Tanaka got the weekend off to strong start with seven innings of no-run, two-hit pitching Friday night in a 4-1 victory that featured home runs by Alex Rodriguez (No. 6 and career No. 693) and Carlos Beltran (No. 11 and career No. 403). Beltran raised those numbers to 12 and 404 with his 2,500th career hit Saturday off Matt Moore, the lone highlight in a loss that continued the slide of Pineda, who was battered for six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings as his record fell to 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA.

Eovaldi did a terrific job keeping the Yankees close in a game in which they struggled to get a hit and settled for merely one. But it was good enough for an important ‘W.’

Yankees waste solid effort from Sabathia

It is tough to lose a two-hitter, but that is what happened to CC Sabathia Thursday. The lefthander gave up only two singles through seven innings, which marked the eighth consecutive game in which the Yankees’ starting pitcher lasted six or more innings.

That was the good part. The bad part is that Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ was just as stingy in limiting the Yankees to one run in seven innings. A home run with two out in the first inning by Starlin Castro accounted for the Yankees’ scoring in a 3-1 loss that allowed Toronto to jump ahead of them in the American League East standings.

The Yankees stayed out of last place in the division but fell two games under .500 in dropping two of the three games in the abbreviated home stand against a club that has had more than it share of turmoil lately. Losing the series stunted much of the momentum derived from a 5-2 trip to Phoenix and Oakland. The Yankees will spend the next 10 days on the road again with stops in St. Petersburg, Fla. (three games), Toronto (three), Detroit (one), and Baltimore (three). Only the rainout makeup game against the Tigers will be outside the AL East, so there will be plenty of chances for the Yanks to gain ground in the standings.

It hurt to waste so strong an effort by Sabathia, whose record fell to 3-3 butt whose ERA shrunk to 2.83. Neither of the two runs off Sabathia, who struck out seven batters, walked one and hit one, was earned because of an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius, whose defense has been inconsistent (eight errors in 42 games).

Gregorius booted a hard grounder by Devon Travis with one out. Sabathia retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center but loaded the bases by yielding a single to Jose Bautista and walking Josh Donaldson. Edwin Encarnacion lashed a single to left to score the two runs that gave the Jays the lead for what turned out to be for good.

Sabathia kept the Yankees in the game after that with four hitless innings, but the Yankees could not muster much of an offense against Happ and two relievers. Chase Headley and Gregorius singled with one out in the fifth before Austin Romine grounded into a double play. In the eighth against righthander Gavin Floyd, Jacoby Ellsbury batted for Romine and led off with a single. He reached second on an infield out but was stranded as Aaron Hicks flied out and Alex Rodriguez struck out.

Rodriguez was back from his two-game, injury-rehabilitation assignment at Double A Trenton and in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time since he went on the 15-day disabled list May 4. A-Rod was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Carlos Beltran, who had been the Yankees’ hottest hitter as a frequent DH in Rodriguez’s absence, was back in right field and had a brutal day at the plate (0-for-4, all strikeouts). He is now hitless in his past nine at-bats. Romine played first base in place of Mark Teixeira, who had an injection in his ailing neck and will be out of the lineup for several days. Relief pitcher Chasen Shreve was placed on the DL because of a sprained left shoulder.

The Blue Jays scored an insurance run in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman, who was not in a save situation and gave up three singles.

Thursday marked Sabathia’s 10th career start of seven or more innings pitched and two hits or fewer without allowing an earned run and his first since April 5, 2011 against the Twins (seven innings, two hits). With his seven strikeouts, Sabathia raised his career total to 2,610, surpassing Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (2,607) and tying Chuck Finley (2,610) for 23rd place on the all-time list.

Neck stiffness resurfaces for slumping Teixeira

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.

Yanks, Jays going in opposite directions

The team that zoomed past the Yankees last year to the American League East title is moving past them in a different direction this year. The Blue Jays have replaced the Yankees in last place in the division. The Yanks climbed out of the cellar over the weekend in Oakland and have fought back to the .500 mark (22-22) with the 6-0 victory Tuesday night over a Jays team that is not scoring in bunches as it did a year ago.

The Yankees’ stretch of first-rate starting pitching during the six-game winning streak that has pushed them into third place in the AL East continued with Nathan Eovaldi (5-2) shutting out the Blue Jays on two hits in six-plus innings with three walks and five strikeouts in winning his fourth consecutive start and extending his streak of winning decisions to five.

Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.16 ERA over his past four starts and a 2.92 ERA over his past six starts as his season ERA has dropped from 6.11 to 3.95. Relievers Dellin Betances, Kirby Yates and Luis Cessa held Toronto hitless over the final three innings. During the winning streak, Yankees pitchers have a 1.67 ERA in 54 innings. Opponents are batting only .148 in 189 at-bats off Yankees pitching in the past six games.

Eovaldi ran his streak of consecutive batters retired to 22 before Troy Tulowitzki’s one-out single in the second inning. The righthander also retired 12 batters in a row from the first out in the third through the final out of the sixth. Since allowing a leadoff double in the first inning May 18 at Phoenix, Eovaldi has set down 36 of 41 batters faced.

The Yankees’ offense could not be slowed down even in the throes of having to face a knuckleballer. They jumped on R.A. Dickey (2-6) early with a run in the first inning. As it turned out, that was all the scoring they needed.

Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista, the most powerful leadoff hitter in the major leagues, helped the Yankees to that run in the first with a poor decision to dive for a Jacoby Ellsbury line drive that ended up rolling to the wall for a leadoff triple. A walk and a strikeout later, Carlos Beltran beat out a play at first to avoid being doubled up as Ellsbury scored.

Beltran, the Yankees’ hottest hitter of late, got a more legitimate RBI in the fourth with his 10th home run. He also walked and scored in the Yankees’ two-run eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley. Didi Gregorius singled in the second run.

Dickey was gone by then. He was chased in the seventh after giving up an RBI double to Austin Romine. Ellsbury greeted reliever Joe Biagini with a run-scoring single.

Beltran started off the brief homestand as well as he finished off the two-city trip in which he batted .407 with three runs, five doubles, one homer and nine RBI in seven games and 27 at-bats. In nine games since May 15, Beltran has hit .394 with seven runs, five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 33 at-bats.

Injury rehab stint at Trenton for A-Rod

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.

70th Yankees Old-Timers’ Day coming June 12

Five Hall of Famers will be among more than 40 former Yankees scheduled to attend the 70th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, June 12, at Yankee Stadium. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. for the festivities with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow. All pregame celebrations will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Tigers at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 10 a.m.

The Old-Timers are headlined by Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also be part of the pregame with program.

Three-time All-Star closer John Wetteland, who won the 1996 World Series Most Valuable Player Award with saves in all four of their victories toward their 23rd World Series title, will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut, alongside 1996 teammate Mariano Duncan, as well as Bubba Crosby and the oldest living former Yankees player, Eddie Robinson, 95.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the field will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

A complete list of Old Timers’ Day attendees:

Jesse Barfield, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, David Cone, Bubba Crosby, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Arlene Howard (widow), Helen Hunter (widow), Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin (widow), Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Gene Monahan (Trainer), Diana Munson (widow), Kay Murcer (widow), Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Eddie Robinson, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, John Wetteland, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Pineda brings some ‘quality’ to his start

The quality start is somewhat of a bogus statistic. It is rewarded to a starting pitcher who allows three or fewer runs in six innings. Since three runs allowed in six innings converts to an earned run average of 4.50, the quality start can be a pretty hollow stat.

However, a 4.50 ERA looks pretty good these days to Michael Pineda, whose ERA stands at 6.34 after what qualified Sunday as a quality start for him as the Yankees won their fifth straight game and completed their first four-game sweep at Oakland since 1979.

That Pineda had one of those six innings-three runs quality starts was just fine with the Yankees, who have been waiting for him to come close to one and falling in line with the rest of the rotation in creating this winning streak. The more important stat for Pineda was the “W,” a winning decision that ended a winless stretch of eight starts since his only other victory April 6. On that day, the righthander allowed six earned runs in five innings (10.80 ERA) and benefit from his teammates scoring a season-high 16 runs.

Pineda showed progress to some degree in pitching from the stretch and displayed improved control of his slider, which has been wayward to say the least. The most quality of his innings was the sixth because in retiring the side in order Pineda held onto a 4-3 lead and set up the rest of the game for Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Athletics.

Carlos Beltran helped the situation further with a two-out, RBI double in the seventh for a 5-3 Yankees advantage. Betances had two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 seventh, but Miller had to work to avoid having the A’s tie the score in the eighth after consecutive errors by shortstop Didi Gregorius and second baseman Starlin Castro gave Oakland runners on the corner with none out. Miller got a huge strikeout of Danny Valencia before pinch hitter Billy Butler drove in a run with a groundout to third. Another grounder to third by pinch hitter Khris Davis ended the threat before Chapman worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

This was the fifth time all three power relievers appeared in the same game. They have combined for a 1-0 record with five saves, a 1.17 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings in those games. Overall, the Yankees’ bullpen over the past 20 games is 4-1 with seven saves and a 2.10 ERA in 60 innings.

Yet it has been starting pitching that has done the most to shape the winning streak. Starters were 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA this turn through the rotation and allowed 19 hits and four walks with 26 strikeouts in 31 innings.

After winning the first three games of the Oakland series with only one home run (by Beltran), the Yankees got solo shots from Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury off A’s starter Jesse Hahn. After the A’s regained the lead in the fifth on a two-out, RBI double by Stephen Vogt, the Yankees got a pair of two-out hits of their own to move ahead for good.

Mark Teixeira greeted reliever John Axford with an infield single to end a 0-for-19 stretch and get his first run batted in since May 1 covering 71 plate appearances. The legs of Brett Gardner got that RBI for Tex by scampering home from second base on the grounder that was knocked down by A’s second baseman Chris Coghlan in shallow center field. Castro got the Yankees back in front with a single to left-center.

Beltran finished off an incredible series that brought the Yankees’ season record within one game of .500 (21-22) in which he had nine hits in 17 at-bats (.529) with eight RBI. His fifth double of the set was career No. 515, which tied Hall of Famer Joe Cronin for 50th place on the all-time list. With Alex Rodriguez due to come off the 15-day disabled list when the Yankees open a brief homestand Tuesday night, Beltran will have to surrender his designated hitter duties.

The Yankees are 13-6 since A-Rod went on the DL. Beltran’s productivity has been a major factor in that record. In 12 games as the DH, Beltran hit .367 with nine runs, nine doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI in 49 at-bats. The Yankees were 10-2 in those games. Rodriguez has big shoes to fill.