Results tagged ‘ Dallas Keuchel ’
Calm down, Yankees fans, Monday’s trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three prospects is not the start of a fire sale.
No pun intended.
The debate about whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers come the non-waiver trade deadline Aug. 1 can continue to rage while the club keeps trying to prove it will be a contender for post-season play.
Chapman won over Yankees fans with his triple-digit fastball readings, zooming as high as 105 miles per hour last week, but this was a deal general manager Brian Cashman had to make. He had a player who cost him relatively nothing (four lower-level prospects) and was highly sought after by contenders in need of a quality closer. The Yankees had an able successor to Chapman in Andrew Miller, who of course was also his predecessor and won the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League’s best reliever in 2015.
So Cashman had a huge chip in Chapman, who was 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 29 saves. The lefthander made it clear to the front office that he intended to enter free agency at the end of the 2016 season, so the Yankees had good reason to shop him. They had made incorrect calculations about second baseman Robinson Cano and reliever David Robertson in recent years and watched them bolt New York without getting anything in return.
No one can be sure how good a trade is until all the players involved make it to the majors, but Cashman appears to have acquired plenty of talent in the swap. Warren, of course, is known to Yankees fans as an able swing man who was a vital cog on the 2015 staff. I frankly admit that I did not like his being traded to the Cubs, although any deal that brings an everyday position player such as a Starlin Castro for a pitcher is a plus.
Warren did not pitch especially well for the Cubs and had been optioned to Triple A, but I believe his reunion with Yanks pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be beneficial.
The key ingredient in the deal from the Yankees’ standpoint is shortstop Gleyber Torres, the consensus top prospect in the Cubs organization. The Yankees currently have a solid shortstop in Didi Gregorius with Jorge Mateo highly touted in the organization, but players often shift off shortstop in the minors. By the time Torres is ready for the big time, a position will be found for him. The Yanks already have the example of Rob Refsnyder.
The Yankees had keen interest in the native Venezuelan three years ago but were outbid by the Cubs. Torres will remain on the Class A level for now as he was assigned to Tampa as was Rashad Crawford, one of two outfielders in the deal, along with Billy McKinney.
Crawford is similar to Gregorius in that as a left-handed batter he did better this year at Class A Myrtle Beach against left-handed pitching (.321 in 81 at-bats) than against right-handed pitching (.234 in 248 at-bats).
McKinney, who was assigned to Double A Trenton, is a former first-round draft pick of the Athletics who went to the Cubs two years ago in the multi-player trade for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Dan Straily. Also going from Oakland to Chicago in that deal was Addison Russell, now the Cubs’ regular shortstop who was voted on to the National League All-Star team this year by fans. Such progress is what the Yankees are hoping will come out of this trade, but there are no guarantees.
Remember something else. Chapman, who said he loved playing in New York, could always come back to the Yankees as a free agent. So in many ways this is a win-win deal for the Yanks.
They have done fine without Chapman the first two nights of a three-game series at Houston with Miller closing out both victories, 6-3 Tuesday night and 2-1 Monday night.
Dellin Betances had to do a dance act in the eighth when he came in and walked two batters to load the bases but ended the threat with a strikeout. Miller surrendered a one-out double but followed that up with two strikeouts to put the Astros away.
CC Sabathia pitched into the seventh and had a strong outing in ending a personal four-game losing streak with his first victory in seven starts since June 16. Sabathia was touched for solo home runs by Marwin Gonzalez in the first and Evan Gattis in the seventh but allowed only two other hits over 6 2/3 innings. All three Houston runs in this series have come on homers.
Yankees hitters have been kept in the yard both nights, but they banged out 13 hits Tuesday night, including three by slumping Jacoby Ellsbury and two apiece by Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Castro.
Monday night, the Yanks overcame tormentor Dallas Keuchel. There were some tense moments in the bottom of the ninth when Houston had runners on first and second with one out before Miller got Carlos Gomez on a game-ending double play.
Michael Pineda gave up a leadoff home run to George Springer on the righthander’s first pitch of the game but limited the Stros to four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts through the seventh.
Keuchel, who is not having the AL Cy Young Award season he had a year ago, had a one-hit shutout working with two out in the fifth when Gregorius doubled and Chase Headley tied the score with a flare single to center field, which made the Yankees’ third baseman the all-time hits leader among players from Colorado.
Headley singled to right leading off the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on a booming double to center by Austin Romine. Betances pitched a perfect, three-strikeout eighth before Miller earned his eighth save.
The victories pushed the Yankees’ record four games over .500 for the first time this year. They have won eight of their past 10 games and 10 of their past 14. Their record has improved every calendar month (8-14 in April, 16-15 in May, 15-12 in June, 13-9 in July). If this keeps up, the Yankees may seek help in trades rather than trying to help others.
The bullpen is supposed to be a major strength for the Yankees this year. The trade for Aroldis Chapman from the Reds added the game’s fiercest flame thrower to a back end of the pen that already featured last year’s 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Chapman is serving a suspension until May, but the Yankees feel protected in the interim because of the presence of Betances and Miller.
So it was a decided downer that a shaky inning by Betances in the eighth Tuesday sent the Yankees to their fifth straight Opening Day defeat. The Astros came back from a 2-0 deficit against Masahito Tanaka for a 5-3 victory. Betances was tagged with the loss, but this one probably should have an asterisk. The three runs he allowed that inning were all not earned, although that was because of an error that Betances himself committed. But that errant throw occurred on a disputed play yet one that is not reviewable by observing video replays.
You have seen this play plenty of times. A runner heading from the plate to first base runs on the grass, which forces the pitcher to elevate his throw to first base. In this case, Betances’ high toss sailed past first baseman Mark Teixeira, which allowed Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a single and stole second base, to score the tie breaking run. Betances walked a batter and struck out another subsequently but gave up a single to Luis Valbuena that sent home two more runs.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi got into a heated argument with plate umpire Dana DeMuth, who at least agreed to confer with his fellow umps,but the safe call on Carlos Correa’s dash to first on the squibling grounder fielded by Betances stood.
As I watched the play unfold, I though that the best thing Betances could have done was just throw the ball at Correa. Had the ball hit him while he was clearly on the grass, Correa almost certainly would have been called out. I have advocated this for years and even suggested it should be practiced in spring training (with runners wearing protective gear naturally).
Girard even acknowledged that had Betances done that Correa would have been called out, “but is that what we want?” the manager wondered.
Well, you want an out in that situation, and spearing the runner apparently is the only way to get it if a video replay is not available for a second look. Girardi said DeMuth told him he did not think Correa’s path impeded the first baseman’s ability to make a play. Really? With the height of Betances’ throw over Correa, the only chance for the Yankees to get an out there would have been if Wilt Chamberlain was playing first base.
Correa, the American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, was all over this game. He mishandled a grounder that had the potential for an inning-ending double play that opened the door to the Yankees’ first two runs on Starlin Castro’s two-out double in the second. Correa’s home run off Tanaka in the sixth, the righthander’s last inning, tied the score at 2. And there was Correa in the middle of all the commotion in the eighth.
The winning decision went to 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who had a 23-inning scoreless streak against the Yankees stopped but got 12 consecutive outs from the fourth through the seventh to keep Houston in the game. Didi Gregorius made it 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff home run, but the Yankees did not get a base runner after that.
Johnny Barbato, the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp, made his major league debut in the eighth. He hit Astros designated hitter Preston Tucker on the right wrist with his first pitch, then settled down and retired the next four hitters, three on strikeouts.
The Yankees’ offense had a subdued game. The first three hitters were a combined 0-for-10, although Alex Rodriguez managed to steal a base on those 40-year-old legs.
The Yankees did not have to contend with all the rain that washed out Monday’s scheduled season opener, but the weather Tuesday was not conductive to baseball. Such is baseball in April.
The sun shone bright across Yankee Stadium, but the game time temperature of 38 degrees was the coldest for a Yanks’ opener since April 8, 2003 against the Twins when the thermostat at game time read 36 degrees.
Things heated up for the Yankees in the second inning as they finally broke their scoreless streak against the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner. The lefthander pitched 22 shutout innings against the Yanks last year, including in Houston’s 3-0 victory in the AL wild card game.
Keuchel blanked the Yankees in the first inning, but a bobbled double-play ball by shortstop Carlos Correa, last year’s AL winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, opened the door for the Yankees to get on the board as Starlin Castro made a positive first impression with a two-run double.
Following a one-out single to center by Carlos Beltran and a walk to Brian McCann, Shane Headley hit a grounder near the bag at second base. Correa may have taken his eye off the ball for a moment in planning to tag the bag and throw to first base to complete what would have been an inning-ending DP. Instead, he lost the out at second and nearly the one at first base as well, but Marwin Gonzalez saved the wild throw to get an out there.
Castro, obtained in the off-season from the Cubs in a trade for pitcher Adam Warren, introduced himself to the Stadium crowd with a line drive that raised chalk on the left field line. The double was good for two runs, which seemed awfully comfortable with the way Masahiro Tanaka was throwing early in the game.
The Japanese righthander retired the side in order the first time through the lineup as his elbow showed no ill effects from the chilly weather. The Astros touched him for a tainted run in the fourth inning. Another newcomer, Aaron Hicks, found out what left field at the Stadium is like on sunny days as he misplayed a line drive by Jose Altuve into a leadoff double. He scored on an infield out two batters later, but Tanaka avoided further damage by stranding a runner at third base when he caught Carlos Gomez looking at a third strike.
Alex Rodrigues pleased the crowd with a stolen base in the third, pretty nifty stuff for a 40-year-old.
Enough with spring training already. Leave us get to the games that count, which starts Monday at Yankee Stadium with a rematch of last year’s American League wild card game opponents. The Yankees only hope the outcome will be different from the 3-0 setback they suffered last October against the Astros and modern-day Yankees killer Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner.
For the 114th home opener in franchise history, the Yankees will open all gates and security check points at 11 a.m. Monday and strongly encourage ticketed fans to arrive early to avoid long lines and to enjoy the pre-game programming.
With crowds and security lines expected to increase closer to the 1:05 p.m. game time with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, the Yankees recommend that ticketed fans arrive early and pre-register online to be eligible for expedited security checks that are available at Gate 2 and the Suite Entrance.
In accordance with a Major League Baseball mandate, additional enhanced security measures will be in place at all gates at the Stadium, and for the second year, the Yankees will offer expedited-access entry points through a partnership with CLEAR. Those registered in advance will be able to utilize Fast Access entryways for the quickest available entry into the building. In order to participate, fans must pre-register at https://sports.clearme.com/yankees. The Yankee Stadium CLEAR service is free.
Fans are invited to visit Monument Park, located in center field, and tour the New York Yankees Museum, presented by Bank of America. Each experience will open at 11 a.m. Monument Park remains accessible until 45 minutes prior to the scheduled game start time subject to capacity limitations. Please note the line to Monument Park may close earlier than the Park itself.
The Museum is located adjacent to Section 210 on the Main Level and tells baseball’s and the Yankees’ storied history through exhibits of historic artifacts. Admission is free for all ticketed guests. Current exhibits include: Five Great Teams: The 1927, 1939, 1961, 1977, and 1998 New York Yankees; Pinstripes in Bronze: Celebrating Monument Park’s Newest Honorees; The Skipper: Celebrating Joe Torre, Hall of Fame manager; and New Era Exhibit.
Fans may also watch the scheduled batting practice, which is scheduled to be ongoing throughout the early afternoon and ends at approximately 12:20 p.m.
The official pre-game ceremony will begin at approximately12:30 p.m. with the introduction of both teams on the baselines. As part of the Opening Day festivities, former Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He will also be honored with the Pride of the Yankees Award at the 37th annual Homecoming Dinner following the game.
Matsui played seven seasons with the Yankees (2003-2009) and batted .292 with 140 home runs, 597 RBI and a .370 on-base percentage in 916 games and 3,348 at-bats. He played in two World Series (2003 and ’09) with the club, winning a championship in 2009 and was named MVP for hitting .615 with one double, three homers and eight RBI in 13 at-bats. Matsui also played three additional major league seasons with the Angels (2010), Athletics (2011) and Rays (2012).
Carmen Cusack, who is starring in the Broadway musical Bright Star, will perform the Star Spangled Banner as a giant American flag will be unfurled by 75 cadets from the United States Military Academy. The West Point Color Guard will present the colors. During the seventh-inning stretch, Michael Minarik, from Broadway’s Matilda The Musical, will perform “God Bless America.”
All those in attendance will also receive a Yankees magnetic schedule courtesy of AT&T.
Following Opening Day, the Yankees will play two additional games against Houston at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday and 4:05 p.m. Thursday. Ticket specials will run Wednesday (MasterCard $5/Military Personnel/Student Game) and Thursday (Military Personnel/Senior Citizen/Youth Game).
For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.
Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all ticket offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email email@example.com.
For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.
The Yankees recently announced the availability of mobile ticketing for the 2016 season. In addition to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the Yanks will offer fans the opportunity to receive mobile tickets on a fan’s Smartphone. Print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs) have been discontinued to further combat fraud and counterfeiting of tickets associated with print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs). For more information on mobile ticketing, visit http://www.yankees.com/mobile.
As part of MLB’s initiative to standardize security procedures at all 30 parks, ticket holders are required to be screened via metal detectors before entering Yankee Stadium. This procedure is a result of MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security and is in addition to the bag-check policy in place throughout the league.
Metal detectors are located at all Stadium gates. Once ticket holders have been screened and have had their MLB-compliant bag and small personal handbag checked, they will have their tickets scanned. All Stadium gates are fully staffed and available for entry two hours prior to the game’s scheduled start time.
For security reasons, each ticket holders is permitted to bring into the Stadium only one MLB-compliant bag — presently defined by MLB as soft-sided and no larger than 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches — and only one smaller-sized soft-sided personal item (e.g., a handbag, clutch, tote or plastic grocery bag). All hard-sided bags and containers are strictly prohibited. All bags, personal items and their contents will be visually inspected before they are permitted into the Stadium. Bag-size bins will be used at entry inspection points to confirm the size of all bags and personal items, which must fit without assistance, modification or adjustment. There is no storage area for any items. To enable ticket holders to enter the Stadium in a more timely manner, the Yankees encourage them to remain aware of and comply with the bag policy, as well as consider carrying as little as possible. Please note security regulations may be amended at any time.
Pursuant to MLB requirements, all ticket holders, including children, must be screened. Infants and toddlers may be carried through the metal detectors; those children who are able to walk may be asked to walk through on their own. Those Guests who choose not to or who are unable to go through a walk-through metal detector have the option of being manually checked with a hand-held metal detector or a physical pat-down.
If a walk-through metal detector alerts a security officer to the presence of items that require further inspection, ticket holders will be directed to the side, where they will be screened via a hand-held metal detector or physical pat-down. When the items in question are discovered, fans will be asked to display them and/or allow a security officer to examine them. At this time, a security officer will determine whether or not these items will be permitted in Yankee Stadium.
Please note that the list of prohibited items at the Stadium includes (but is not limited to) laptops, firearms, knives or weapons of any kind, laser pens, glass, cans or aluminum bottles or thermoses, selfie-sticks, video cameras or other equipment designed for the sole purpose of video and/or audio recording, and hard-sided bags, such as briefcases. Please also note that there is no storage area for prohibited items. Ticket holders arriving by public transportation should take particular care not to bring any prohibited items, as no exceptions will be made. For a full list of prohibited items, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.
It has been quite a while — perhaps all year — since Yankee Stadium had the buzz it did in the first inning of the American League Wild Card Game Tuesday night. Such is the sound of postseason baseball in New York, which had been missing from the Bronx the previous two seasons.
Unfortunately for Yankees fans, the postseason would last for only one game. AL Cy Young Award favorite Dallas Keuchel proved too much for the Yankees and pitched the Astros to a 3-0 victory. Keuchel allowed three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings to extend his scoreless innings streak against the Yankees this season to 22. Three Houston relievers held the Yankees hitless over the final three innings.
Fans in the sellout crowd of 50,113 were loud and demonstrative throughout the top of the first inning as Masahiro Tanaka set down the side in order with two strikeouts. As forceful as Tanaka appeared, many of his pitches were up, which he would need to avoid to remain in command.
The crowd kept up the decibel level in the bottom of the inning as Keuchel fell to 3-ball counts on both Brett Gardner and Chris Young. Gardner went down on a called third strike, but Young walked.
Carlos Beltran, possessor of one of the greatest postseason careers in major league history, grounded out to third base as Young moved into scoring position at second, but Keuchel got Alex Rodriguez looking at a well-placed cutter on the outside corner.
The high fastball hurt Tanaka in the second inning as Colby Rasmus turned on the first pitch for a home run into the right field bleachers. Gardner came to Tanaka’s rescue by hauling in Evan Gattis’ drive at the wall in right-center.
One out later, Tanaka flirted with danger. Luis Valbuena singled to center, and Tanaka then walked the 8- and 9-hole hitters, strikeout machine Chris Carter and .211-hitting Jason Castro. That prompted a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Tanaka used his splitter to get ahead in the count on Jose Altuve, who ended the threat by grounding into a fielder’s choice.
Danger lurked in the third after George Springer led off with a double to center field. Tanaka got National League Rookie of the Year candidate Carlos Correa on a grounder to third and Rasmus, first-pitch swinging again, on a fly to left. Third baseman Chase Headley made a dazzling, one-handed pickoff of a slow grounder by Gaddis and threw out the designated hitter to squelch the rally.
Tanaka was victimized by another high fastball in the fourth that Carlos Gomez parked off the wall behind the visitors bullpen in left field. He made one of his typical show-boating trots around the bases. Yankees catcher Brian McCann had the good sense not to make an issue of it as he did years ago when he was with the Braves and Gomez with the Brewers. The last thing the Yankees needed was for McCann to get tossed.
Yanks manager Joe Girardi felt five innings was enough for Tanaka and brought in lefthander Justin Wilson, who walked Rasmus to start the sixth but then got Gaddis on a double-play grounder and Gomez on another ground ball.
Keuchel, meanwhile, was mowing down the Yankees with regularity. He retired 10 batters in a row before Didi Gregorius opened the home sixth with a single to right, only the Yankees’ second hit.
Gardner became a strikeout victim for the third time, which called to question Girardi choosing him over Jacoby Ellsbury to play center field in this game. Keuchel got another big out when Young grounded into a forceout.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch came to the mound after a sharply-hit single to center by Beltran. After a brief huddle, Hinch stayed with Keuchel to face Rodriguez, who swung at the first pitch and flied out to center.
That turned out to be the Yankees’ only threat against Houston, which was in the postseason for the first time in 10 years since losing Game 4 of the 2005 World Series to the White Sox. The Astros got a tack-on run in the seventh off Dellin Betances. Pinch runner Jonathan Villar got a key stolen base and scored on a two-out single by Altuve.
It was a rough final stretch for the Yankees, who lost six of the last seven games of the regular season and did not even score in the Wild Card Game. Dreams of a 28th World Series championship will have to wait until 2016.
All year Yankees manager Joe Girardi has given one of his two left-handed hitting outfielders a night off against a left-handed starting pitcher. For Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, Jacoby Ellsbury was the one who had to grab the pine.
Girardi wanted to make sure Chris Young, who had a strong year against lefthanders, was in the lineup and chose to sit Ellsbury and have Gardner move from left field to center against AL Cy Young Award candidate Dallas Keuchel, who pitched 16 shutout innings against the Yankees this year.
Young batted .327 with 15 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 24 RBI in 153 at-bats against lefties this year. Neither Gardner nor Ellsbury finished the season on a high note. Girardi decided the statistics favored Gardner, who hit .276 with 12 doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in 170 at-bats against lefties, over Ellsbury, a .253 hitter with five doubles, three homers and eight RBI in 154 at-bats against southpaws.
Tuesday night marked the first time the Yankees played in the AL Wild Card Game in the four-year history of the event and was their fifth Wild Card berth overall. They reached the postseason through the wild card in 1995, 1997, 2007 and 2010. The Yankees clinched the 52nd playoff appearance in franchise history, most for any major league club. They have appeared in the postseason in 18 of the past 21 seasons. The Yankees are 12-11 all-time in winner-take-all postseason games, most recently winning 2012 ALDS Game 5 against the Orioles, 3-1. The Yanks have won the opening game of four consecutive postseasons (2009-12) and are 6-1 in postseason openers since 2005.
Of the 25 players on their AL Wild Card Game roster, 10 have prior postseason experience: Alex Rodriguez (75 games), Carlos Beltran (51), Ellsbury (38), Gardner (33), Brian McCann (12), Young (12), Andrew Miller (5), Brendan Ryan (3), Justin Wilson (3) and Ivan Nova (2). Of those 10, only Rodriguez, Gardner and Nova have appeared for the Yankees in the postseason. The roster includes eight rookies — Greg Bird, Slade Heathcott, Bryan Mitchell, Rico Noel, John Pazos, Rob Refsnyder, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino. Bird and Refsnyder were in Tuesday night’s starting lineup.
Three Yankees players previously appeared in Wild Card Games — Beltran was 1-for-4 in the 2012 NL Wild Card Game with the Cardinals in a 6-3 victory over the Braves; McCann drew a walk in one plate appearance with Atlanta in that same game; Wilson pitched for the Pirates in their 8-0 loss to the Giants in the 2014 NL Wild Card Game and allowed one hit and one walk with one strikeout in one-third of an inning.
Yankees batters hit a club-record 47 home runs of at least three runs in 2015 (40 three-run homers, seven grand slams), 18 more than the next-highest team (Blue Jays with 29). It was the third-highest total in major-league history history, behind the 53 by the Mariners in 1996 and the 48 by the Cardinals in 2000.
Yankees relief pitchers set a single-season record with 596 combined strikeouts, breaking the previous mark of 589 by the Rockies in 2012.
Yankees catchers combined for 28 home runs and 106 runs batted in, the highest HR and RBI totals among any team’s catchers. The Yanks used just two catchers this season, fewest in the majors, the first major-league team to use only two catchers for an entire season since the Pirates in 2012 with Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry). It was the third time in team history that the Yankees used only two catchers in a full season. The other years were 1972 (Thurman Munson and John Ellis) and 1940 (Bill Dickey and Buddy Rosar). Sanchez and Austin Romine were on the roster in September but neither went behind the plate.
Ironically, the Yankees had three catchers on the Wild Card Game roster: McCann, Murphy and Sanchez.
The Yankees have the Diamondbacks to thank for Yankee Stadium being the site of the American League Wild Card Game Tuesday night. It was a lost weekend for the Yankees in Baltimore as the Orioles completed a three-game sweep Sunday with a 9-4 victory that put the Yanks’ season record at 87-75.
They would have had to make a plane ride to Houston for the Wild Card Game if the Astros had won their season finale at Phoenix. A two-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the seventh inning unlocked a 3-3 score and sent the D-backs on the way to a 5-3 victory. So the Astros, who ended the regular season with an 86-76 record, will be the visiting team in Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game.
Houston was guaranteed the wild card berth when the Angels lost to the Rangers, who clinched the AL West title with an 88-74 mark.
The Yankees have designated Masahiro Tanaka to start Tuesday night against the Astros’ dangerous Dallas Keuchel, who led the league in victories (20), innings (232) and WHIP (1.017) and is among the favorites for the AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel faced the Yankees twice this year, won both games and did not allow a run in 16 innings. This will be the first time in his career that Keuchel will start on only three days’ rest.
While much has been made of the fact that Keuchel is far better at Minute Maid Park (15-0, 1.46 ERA) than on the road (5-8, 3.77 ERA), it must be noted that in his only start at Yankee Stadium the bearded lefthander pitched seven shutout innings with three hits, no walks and nine strikeouts in a 15-1 Houston blowout.
In his only start against the Astros this season June 27 at Houston, Tanaka blew a 6-0 lead and was stung for six runs and seven hits, including three home runs, in five innings (10.80 ERA) in a game the Yankees came back to win, 9-6.
What a weird night. While doing a little scoreboard watching in the first inning of the Yankees-Astros game Tuesday night, I noticed that eight teams around the major leagues had scored in the first inning of games.
I had plenty of time to see this because the top of the first inning at Yankee Stadium took 20 minutes to complete as Houston sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs against Ivan Nova, who threw 40 pitches. So that made it nine teams scoring in the first inning on the same night.
And the Astros did not stop there. They batted around again in the fifth and seventh innings. One night after being shut out with five singles, Houston burst through for a 15-1 drubbing featuring eight extra-base hits, including three home runs.
Nova got off to a nice start. Jose Altuve hit the first pitch to right field for a quick out and Jed Lowrie was called out on strikes. Then everything fell apart for Nova, who had struggled to make it through five innings in his previous start.
As what often happens in a rally, it started with a walk, to Carlos Correa. Colby Rasmus hit a liner to center field that froze Jacoby Ellsbury momentarily. He tried to recover and make a shoestring catch, but the ball got past him for a run-scoring triple. Just the night before, a bobblehead promotion depicted Ellsbury making a lunging catch. I do not remember if a ball was in that glove, either.
Nova walked Evan Gattis and gave up a booming double to left-center by Carlos Gomez for another run. Luis Valbuena followed with an opposite-field double off the left field wall to drive in two runs. He scored on a single past first base by Marwin Gonzalez that made it 5-0 Astros.
The third walk of the inning, of catcher Jason Castro, got things stirring in the Yankees’ bullpen as Branden Pinder began warming up. The relievers got caught a big break Monday night because Nathan Eovaldi pitched eight quality innings. Pinder sat down as Altuve, who had begun the inning, ended it as well with a forceout at third base.
This was not the night to fall behind by five runs early because Houston’s starting pitcher was All-Star Dallas Keuchel, who had shut out the Yankees June 25 with a six-hit, 12-strikeout effort at Minute Maid Park. In fact, Keuchel had complete games in both his career starts against the Yanks. He went eight innings Aug. 21 last year in a loss at the Stadium.
Minute Maid Park has been a palace for Keuchel this year. He has an 11-0 record with a 1.35 ERA in 15 99 2/3 innings at home. The road has been bumpier for the lefthander, who entered play Tuesday night with a 3-6 mark and 3.65 ERA in 79 innings away from home.
The Stadium played very much like Minute Maid Park Tuesday night for Keuchel, who did not have to go the distance with so cushy a lead. He allowed merely three hits and no walks with nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings to improve his career record against the Yankees to 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 24 innings.
The Yankees’ only run came in the ninth inning against reliever Vincent Velasquez on a single, a hit batter and two groundouts. Mark Teixeira returned to the Yankees’ lineup after missing seven games because of a bruised right shin. He was hitless in two at-bats and had trouble running out a ground ball and came out of the game after the sixth inning.
Nova settled down a bit until the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double to Rasmus and a two-run home run to Gattis. The Astros added two more runs that inning against Nick Rumbelow, one of which was unearned due to an error by second baseman Brendan Ryan, who shaved off his W.B. Mason mustache. The other run was very earned on a home run by Gonzalez.
Chris Capuano walked three batters in a six-run seventh and all scored on a two-run single by Gattis and a three-run home run by Gomez. The dinger was quite satisfying to Gomez, who an inning earlier got into a shouting match with manager Joe Girardi and some players in the Yanks’ dugout over his tossing his bat in anger with his team up by nine runs. Gomez has a history of disturbing opponents for his showboating demeanor.
Not wanting to waste any more pitchers, Girardi gave the ball to Ryan, who had never pitched in the majors before, for the last two innings in which he held the Astros scoreless. It is never a good sign when a team’s most effective pitcher is a utility infielder.
CINCINNATI — While officials were hopeful that a series of severe thunderstorms that hit this area Monday would not interfere with the Home Run Derby at night on the eve of the All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark, Major League Baseball in conjunction with the Major League Players Association announced plans to allocate $30 million towards a youth baseball and softball initiative throughout North America entitled “Play Ball.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement at Monday’s press conference at which American League manager Ned Yost of the Royals and National League manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants announced their starting lineups, including pitchers Dallas Keuchel of the Astros and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
“Accessibility is an essential step toward not only strengthening the connection with fan, but also developing talent at the amateur level,” Manfred said. “Through initiatives like Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, the MLB Urban Youth Academies and the Breakthrough Series, Major League Baseball has provided opportunities for thousands of young people to play the game and showcase their skills. This joint commitment with the MLBPA and its current and former members is a significant step toward expanding our focus on ensuring the future growth and prosperity of our sport.”
The commissioner also singled out Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Harlem RBI youth program in New York. Teixeira, a member of the AL All-Star team along with teammates Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances, attended the new conference with fellow All-Stars Chris Archer of the Rays, David Price of the Tigers, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.
MLB and the PA will also create a 501(c)(3) organization to accept donations from players, clubs, corporations and other interested parties to help fund programs. One of the first major programs under the initiative will be the first Elite Development Invitational, operated by USA Baseball, July 18-30 at the old Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach, Fla. Approximately 150 players, ages 13-16, will participate in the two-week program that will provide player development opportunities to top prospects from minority or underserved backgrounds.
“For as long as the game has been played, generations of major leaguers have been passionate about sharing the game they love with others, especially youth,” PA executive director Tony Clark said. “Many current and former players are already actively involved with programs designed to not only teach the game at the youth level and develop future ballplayers but also help excite the next generation of fans. This initiative will help advance and enhance those efforts. Despite their never-ending determination to preserve and grow interest in baseball, players have long known that reseeding the game at the grassroots level requires the cooperation and support of the entire baseball community. Today’s announcement is great news to all players, and we look forward to working with Major League Baseball to make serious strides to ensure that every kid in the United States and Canada who wants to play baseball has an equal opportunity to do so.”
Two Yankees farmhands made contributions in Sunday’s Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game. Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Aaron Judge, the designated hitter for the U.S. Team, had 1-for-4 and scored a run in its 10-1 victory over the World Team. Double A Trenton catcher Gary Sanchez started behind the plate for the World Team and had a double in two at-bats.
For all you young people out there, what occurred at Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon is called a complete game shutout. You do not see many of those anymore, particularly when the opposing pitcher goes the distance as well.
The double route-going performance by the Yankees’ Brandon McCarthy and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel was finished in two hours and seven minutes. Most games these days are still in the fifth inning at that point in time. I mean, this was something right out of Warren Spahn vs. Robin Roberts, circa 1956.
It shows how quickly a game can be played when pitchers throw strikes repeatedly. There were no walks in this game, no hit batters and not very many base runners, either. McCarthy got to do what is seldom scene in the modern game, the guy who throws the first pitch also shakes the catcher’s hand after the 27th out.
McCarthy supplied the Yankees precisely what they needed, a dominant start that spared the bullpen and got the team back on a winning track after two dismal losses to the also-ran Astros that made the Yanks look perilously close to also-rans themselves.
“It’s a good thing,” McCarthy said matter-of-factly afterwards. “I mean, of all the things you can do on a mound, that’s pretty high up there.”
It was the first nine-inning complete game for a Yankees pitcher this year not named Masahiro Tanaka, who is currently on the disabled list. Tanaka has three complete games, including one shutout May 14 against the Mets at Citi Field.
McCarthy said he began feeling fatigued in the middle innings and was berated by his catcher, Francisco Cervelli, to kick himself back into gear. “He was yelling at me,” McCarthy said, “saying things like, ‘You’re stuff is too good. Make sure you execute.’ It sustained me until that second rush of adrenalin kicked in.”
“He wasn’t in trouble much today,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He has been really, really good since his first start with us. We knew he was a better pitcher than the numbers indicated.”
The numbers to which Girardi referred were the righthander’s statistics in the first half of this season with the Diamondbacks, a 3-10 record with a 5.10 ERA. In eight starts with the Yankees, McCarthy is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA. The Yanks were shut out in both his losses. In 10 starts dating to June 27, McCarthy is 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA.
“My pitch mix is better,” McCarthy said. “By returning the cutter and four-seam fastball, they seem to be working and that helps you build confidence.”
It also helped that McCarthy didn’t have to pitch as if he were going uphill because the Yankees gave him a 3-0 lead in the second, the only inning when any runs were scored, on a two-run double by Chase Headley and a sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki.
The Astros’ only real threats were in the fourth and seventh innings. In the fourth, Houston had runners on second and third with two out and McCarthy retired Marc Krauss on a tapper to the mound. The Astros had runners on second and third again in the seventh, this time with one out, and McCarthy responded by striking out Jon Singleton and getting Carlos Corporan on a fly to left.
It was quick work by McCarthy on a day devoted to quick work.