Results tagged ‘ Luis Severino ’
For an organization that relies so much these days on analytical statistics, the Yankees seem to be stubborn in the belief that Luis Severino is better suited as a starting pitcher than a reliever when the numbers at this point clearly suggest otherwise.
Severino got another start Saturday as the Yankees chose to shut down Mashiro Tanaka the day before the end of their season. In his prior start last Monday night at Toronto, Severino in my view got into a foolish exchange of purpose pitches with the Blue Jays and was ejected from the game in the second inning.
None of that nonsense occurred this time, but once again in a starting appearance Severino failed to fulfill the promise he displayed a year ago when he was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts.
Saturday was Severino’s 11th start this season and the sixth time he did not pitch the minimum five innings to qualify for a winning decision, of which this year he has none. The righthander was gone two outs into the fourth after giving up three earned runs, five hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
The stats tell the story on Severtino. In 11 starts this year, he was 0-8 with an 8.49 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. In 11 appearances in relief, he was 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA and 25 K’s in 23 1/3 innings. The Yankees continue to have faith that Severino will emerge as an important figure in the rotation someday, but the numbers lend evidence to the possibility that late-inning work may be a better fit for him.
His teammates got Severino off the hook by coming back from the 3-0 deficit to stall at least momentarily the Orioles’ path to the playoffs with a 7-3 victory. Baltimore’s loss opened the gates somewhat for the Blue Jays, Tigers and Mariners, all of whom were playing later in the evening. The sound man at Seattle’s Safeco Field was so happy he played the Frank Sinatra hit, “New York, New York,” before the Mariners’ game against the Athletics.
The Yankees fought back in small chunks the way teams that fall behind early are supposed to. Tyler Austin singled in the Yanks’ first run, in the fifth, and Chase Headley made it a one-run game with a two-out, RBI double in the sixth. Austin tied the score and chased Orioles starter Wade Miley with another opposite field home run, to right-center, in the seventh. All five of Austin’s home runs have been to the opposite field at Yankee Stadium and have either tied the score or put the Yankees ahead.
Baltimore’s bullpen came apart in the eighth and surrendered four runs. The normally reliable Brad Brach imploded starting with a walk to pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury with one out and giving up Headley’s second double on a ground ball over the first base bag and down the right field line.
Austin Romine thrust the Yankees ahead with a two-run single. After a two-out walk to Ronald Torreyes, who was on base three times, Brett Gardner greeted reliever Oliver Drake with a double to left field for two more runs.
Headley showed some heads-up base running on Gardy’s hit. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy bumped into Headley between second and third. Headley ignored the stop sign put up by third base coach Joe Espada and continued to the plate. Third base umpire Jim Reynolds took note of Hardy’s interference, so there was a good chance he would have called obstruction on the shortstop but Headley made it home safely anyway.
Dellin Betances bounced back from some disappointing outings recently to withstand a leadoff single in the ninth by Michael Bourn to wrap things up by striking out the next three batters. It was a stirring October victory for the Yankees, albeit in a spoiler role.
Mark Teixeira, who will call it a career at the end of the regular season and will be honored by the Yankees on the final homestand, had a retirement gift for the club before it showers him with presents. It came with a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning Monday night, and did the Yankees ever need it.
Tex’s 14th homer of the season and career No. 408 passing Duke Snider on the all-time list tied the score and gave the Yankees a chance to salvage something from a disastrous trip. His grateful teammates responded with a rally that produced four more runs, nearly all of which proved necessary when Dellin Betances had another meltdown in the bottom of the inning. Tommy Layne, who has done a solid job as a situational left-handed reliever, was magnificent in bailing out Betances and nailing down a 7-5 victory.
It was an incredible finish to a trip in which the Yankees lost eight of 11 games and have come painfully close to falling out of contention for a playoff berth. The Yankees are on life support as far as postseason play is concerned. But they sure showed a lot of fight.
With Luis Severino letting himself get baited into a retaliation battle with Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, the Yankees ended up having to use seven other pitchers to get through the last game of a very bumpy trip. Happ took two pitches to hit Chase Headley in the second, the inning after Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson had been struck by a pitch from Severino. Plate umpire Todd Tichenor issued a warning after benches had emptied with a lot of shoving but not much else.
Severino was tossed after he hit Justin Smoak to start the Toronto second. That cost the Yankees their starter, who was ejected. Once again, benches emptied into the usual scrum. When the smoke cleared, not only was Severino tossed but also manager Joe Girardi, bench coach Rob Thompson and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The Yankees were furious that Happ should have been warned after the first close pitch to Headley and thrown out after he hit him. Maybe so, but that does not excuse Severino, who did not do a smart thing by getting ejected from a must-win game for the Yankees in the second inning.
The Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead into the eighth, and thinks looked bleak for the Yankees. Brett Gardner doubled with one out in the eighth and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury to make it a one-run game. With overworked Jose Osuna unavailable, Jays manager John Gibbons gave the save situation to Jason Grilli, who got a quick out but was victimized by Teixeira. Didi Gregorius kept the inning going with a single, and Aaron Hicks thrust the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. They added two insurance runs that proved needed on a double by Donovan Solano, a walk to Gardner, a single by Ellsbury and a sacrifice fly by Gary Sanchez.
Betances, who had a miserable trip, walked the leadoff batter for his third straight inning and made an error on a bunt, then walked another batter to load the bases with none out. Layne was called on to face Toronto’s dangerous right-handed hitters. He walked in one run and gave up another on a single but made a sensational fielding play to get a key out at the plate and ended the game by getting Troy Tulowitzki on a fly ball.
The victory kept the Yanks’ frail playoff hopes alive. They are still five games out of the second wild card slot with six games remaining, but the last three are against the Orioles, who were not scheduled Monday.
For the first time in nearly a week, the Yankees gained ground in the American League Wild Card race. After spending four games in Boston giving up leads in getting swept by the Red Sox, the Yankees did the opposite Tuesday night by overcoming a 2-0 deficit and beat the Rays, 5-3, to end a five-game losing streak.
It would have been a tough no-decision if that Tampa Bay lead held up for Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who struck out 11 batters and walked only one in 5 1/3 innings. But the two-out jinx struck him again when he gave up a two-rub triple to Brad Miller in the third. Pineda now has 195 strikeouts, the most for a Yanks righthander since A.J. Burnett had the same total in 2009.
Mark Teixeira got a run back the next inning with his 13th home run, off Rays starter Drew Smyly, the only run the lefthander gave up in six innings. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Rays are like every team in the major leagues these days who cannot wait to take out a starting pitcher in the middle innings. Tampa Bay went with Brad Boxberger in the seventh, and the Yanks clocked him for four runs and four hits.
The big blow came from — who else? — Gary Sanchez. One out after Brett Gardner singled to tie the score, Sanchez crushed a first-pitch changeup for a three-run home run. It came right after Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey came to the mound to discuss the situation with Boxberger. First base was open so surely the message was not to give Sanchez anything near the plate, a message that obviously went unheeded.
It was the 17th home run of the season for the Yankees’ rookie catcher and came in his 44th game. The only other rookie in big-league history to do that was Wally Berger of the Boston Braves in 1930. Sanchez has six home runs in his past 11 games after a 10-game homerless drought. Of his 53 career hits, 28 have been for extra bases (11 doubles, 17 homers), including eight of his past 13 hits (two doubles, six homers).
The winning decision went to Luis Severino (3-8), who kept up his quality pitching in relief with 1 1/3 hitless innings. Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the eighth on a triple by Logan Forsythe and a wild pitch.
Dellin Betances, who had not pitched since Thursday night after sustaining two straight losses, hopped back on the bicycle and fashioned a clean ninth inning for his 12th save.
With the victory, the Yankees picked up a game on the Orioles, who lost at home to the Red Sox, and trail Baltimore by 3 1/2 games for the second Wild Card berth. The Yanks also still trail the Tigers, Astros and Mariners, however.
There was good news for another Yankees rookie. Through fan voting, Rob Refsnyder was selected as the AL East winner for the 2016 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award presented annually by the Major League Players Association for community involvement.
Refsnyder partnered with Athletes Brand to design a T-shirt that benefits A Kid’s Place, a Tampa-based organization that works to provide stability and care for children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. His name will appear on the 2016 Players Choice Award ballots for league-wide voting to determine this season’s award winner.
Two former Yankees players were among the other division winners, relief pitcher David Robertson of the White Sox (AL Central) and Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson (National League East). Also voted onto the final ballot were Astros pitcher Lance McCullers (AL West), Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (NL Central) and Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (NL West).
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had something of a makeshift lineup for Sunday night’s finale of the four-game series at Fenway Park where they hoped to avoid a sweep. Three of the players in the Yankees’ batting order were not even on the club a week ago.
Injuries to second baseman Starlin Castro and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury sustained in Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Red Sox forced Girardi to improvise. Mason Williams, who was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last week, started in center field. At second base was Donovan Solano, who was called up Sunday morning. At first base was Billy Butler, who was released by the Athletics two weeks and signed by the Yankees last week.
Also out of the lineup was third baseman Chase Headley, who has a stiff lower back. Ronald Torreyes started in his place.
Castro’s injury is the most serious, a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring. He pulled up lame while running out a double in the fifth inning. Such ailment often takes two weeks to recover from, and that is all that is left of the Yankees’ season. His loss comes at a time when he has been hot with 12 hits, including a home run and three doubles, in his past 24 at-bats.
Ellsbury bruised his right knee sliding into the fence in right-center field while tracking a double by Xander Bogaerts that started the two-run rally in which the Red Sox overtook the Yankees and knocked them behind four clubs in pursuit of the second American League Wild Card slot in the playoffs. Luis Severino was charged with his first earned run in 20 innings as a reliever as the Red Sox tied the score. They got the winning run on a wild pitch by Adam Warren.
Castro and Ellsbury underwent MRI exams Sunday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and were treated by Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the team physician. Both players are expected to rejoin the club in St. Petersburg, Fla., by Tuesday night when the Yanks open a three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Sloppy play, which has not been a characteristic of the Yankees this year, cost them a chance to finish off a triumphant homestand Wednesday. They were guilty of three errors, two of which came in the ninth inning that made both runs of the Dodgers’ 2-0 victory unearned.
So the Yankees finished up the homestand with a 7-3 record, but they squandered an opportunity to gain ground in the Wild Card chase on a day when Toronto lost, so they remained two games behind for the second Wild Card slot on the eve of what could be a season-shaping trip.
The Yankees take to the road for 11 games over the next 12 days — four in Boston Thursday night through Sunday, three in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tuesday through next Thursday and four in Toronto next Friday night through Monday, Sept. 26. That will leave only six games remaining in the regular season, which the Yankees will close out at home with three-game sets against the Red Sox and the Orioles.
All of which means the Yankees will have an abundance of opportunities to make up ground in the postseason hunt, but they will need to have fewer innings than Wednesday’s ninth. Two of Dellin Betances weaknesses came into play that inning and stuck him with the loss.
After reaching base on Starlin Castro’s misplay of a soft, back-spinning liner, Corey Seager took advantage of Betances’ long stride to the plate in his delivery and stole second base. Justin Turner broke up the scoreless game with a double over third base that scored Seager.
Turner alertly tagged up and crossed over to third base on Adrian Gonzalez’s flyout to deep left-center. Yasmani Grandal next hit a one-hopper right back to Betances, but the 6-foot-8 reliever made an awkward throw home that sailed over catcher Gary Sanchez’s high-stretched mitt for another damaging error.
After having shut out the Dodgers the night before on solo home runs by Jacoby Ellsbury, Didi Gregorius and Sanchez, the Yanks managed only three hits, all singles, off five L.A. pitchers in sustaining their 10th shutout loss of the season.
Clayton Kershaw, the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL Most Valuable Player, made only his second start since coming off the disabled list due to herniated disks in his back, and was masterful for five innings. He allowed only one hit with no walks and five strikeouts.
The first of two rain delays shorted Michael Pineda’s outing after four innings in which he gave up two hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Tommy Layne, Luis Severino and Tyler Clippard held the Dodgers scoreless as well until Betances’ hiccup. Severino has not allowed an earned run in eight relief outing covering 18 2/3 innings. Clippard has given up one earned run over 19 innings (0.47 ERA) in his 21 appearances since joining the Yankees from the Diamondbacks.
The Yankees also lost rookie outfielder Aaron Judge likely for the remainder of the regular season. Judge has a strained right oblique, a condition that is slow to heal. The Yankees called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Mason Williams, who played right field in the last two innings after Rob Refsnyder was lifted in the seventh for pinch hitter Brian McCann.
The Yankees finished the season 8-12 in inter-league play. It was just their fourth non-winning record against NL clubs in 20 seasons of inter-league play. The Yanks were also 9-11 in 2013, 9-9 in 1999 and 5-10 in 1997, the first year of inter-league play.
They have a 16-3-1 inter-league series mark and are 45-31 (.592) in inter-league match-ups at the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. They are 6-7 in inter-league competition against the Dodgers, one of only two clubs against which the Yankees have losing records. They are also 13-14 against the Phillies.
The Yankees have worked hard to get back into the American League East and Wild Card races. The seven-game winning streak that ended Sunday with a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay has the Yanks right on the tails of the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles. And at the crucial moment in the schedule they will have an interruption.
That is one way to look at their upcoming series against the Dodgers starting Monday night at Yankee Stadium. When the leagues were divided into 15 clubs apiece three years ago, it necessitated inter-league play on a daily basis. The Yankees’ turn in the inter-league barrel has one last go-round this year, and that will be the next three days against the National League West first-place club. Surely, the Yankees would prefer to play the Dodgers in the World Series and not before.
I remember how Joe Torre once characterized inter-league play as if the games were akin to exhibitions because “the teams are not playing for the same prize,” which is position in their separate league standings.
At this point the Yankees sort of drift out of the way while the Rays go from here to Toronto and the Orioles and Red Sox pair up at Boston. Perhaps that will be beneficial to the Yanks with their AL East competitors beating each other up but only if they can handle the Dodgers.
Sunday’s loss dropped the Yankees four games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and two games back of Toronto and Baltimore for the second Wild Card berth in a tie with Detroit.
Considering that the Rays hit 10 home runs in the series they were bound to win at least one of the four games, which they finally did Sunday behind three home runs off Luis Cessa, who sustained his first major-league loss in five decisions. Of the 25 runs Cessa has allowed, 20 have come on the 13 home runs he has yielded.
The Yankees got a home run as well — Chase Headley’s 14th — but that was all against Tampa Bay starter Matt Andriese. The Yankees’ other run was unearned due to an error by Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in the seventh inning.
It was scored on a single by Brett Gardner, who had a terrific series (7-for-12, three runs, one double, one RBI, one stolen base). Gardner has multiple hits in each of his past four games with a plate appearance and is batting .563 in 16 at-bats over the stretch.
The Yankees got another impressive relief outing from Luis Severino, who pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. The righthander has not given up an earned run in seven relief appearances totaling 16 2/3 innings.
The Yankees found a way to sweep a three-game series — just make sure the other team does not score. Wednesday night marked the eighth time this season that the Yankees went into the finale of a three-game series after having won the first two games and the first time they completed a sweep.
They have had two sweeps of four games and one of two games this season, but it took me them until their 34th three-game series of the season to sweep an opponent, and not just any opponent but the team that came to town Monday night in first place in the American League East.
The Yankees cost the Blue Jays sole possession of the top spot earlier in the series as the Red Sox moved into a first-place tie. A possible Boston victory later Wednesday night at San Diego could have shoved Toronto into second place.
Meanwhile, up, up, up go the Yankees in the AL East standings and the wild card race. Should the Red Sox have also lost, the Yanks would have been only 3 1/2 games out of first place. As for the wild card scenario, the Orioles, Tigers and Astros all lost, so the Yankees trail Baltimore by 2 1/2 games, Detroit by 1 1/2 and Houston by 1/2. Tight, tight, tight.
The Yankees have won 10 of their past 14 games, 17 of their past 26 and are 29-21 since the All-Star break. Not bad for a club that dealt its three best players before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trading deadline and bid three-time AL MVP Alex Rodriguez farewell Aug. 12. The Yankees are 14-9 in the post-A-Rod era.
The vacancies have been filled by energetic pitchers and hitters up from the organization-wide success in the minor leagues. Two of the youth corps, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino, combined for eight scoreless innings in Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory.
The Yankees got both runs after two were out in the third off Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman. Starlin Castro slammed his 20th home run of the season. Didi Gregorius doubled into the left field corner and scored following a walk to Mark Teixeira on a single by Brian McCann. Castro’s homer was hits 20th, a career high. He is the fourth Yankees second baseman with a 20-homer season. Robinson Cano did it five times, Hall of Famer Joe Gordon four and Alfonso Soriano two.
Mitchell probably would have broken camp with the Yankees in April, but a left toe tear kept him on the disabled list until last month when he worked his way back with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The righthander pitched one batter into the sixth and allowed four hits and two walks with two strikeouts before turning matters over to Severino.
Yankees officials still consider Severino a starter, but he has been far more effective as a reliever this year. The numbers do not lie. With three more scoreless, one-hit, one-walk, three-strikeout innings, Severino is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 14 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. As a starter, Severino was 0-8 with an 8.58 ERA in 43 innings.
Manager Joe Girardi’s plan was to have Severino available to support Mitchell (1-0), and it worked perfectly. Tyler Clippard worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his second save.
More AL East competition is coming up with the last-place Rays coming to Yankee Stadium for a four-game set starting Thursday night. And just when the Yanks were getting a hand of this three-game series stuff.
It would have been an ideal situation if Dellin Betances came to the mound in the ninth inning Sunday to nail down a save on the same day Major League Baseball’s career saves leader, Mariano Rivera, was honored by the Yankees with a plaque in Monument Park.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, there was nowhere near a save situation for Betances as they lost a chance to pay the Rays back for that sweep in St. Petersburg, Fla., two weekend ago with a 12-3 loss that fell under the category of growing pains.
It certainly was a painful start for Luis Severino, whose record fell to 1-7 with a 7.19 ERA, in an erratic outing. He struck out seven batters in 3 2/3 innings but also allowed eight hits, including two home runs, and seven earned runs. Minutes after the game’s end, the Yankees optioned the righthander to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue to sort out his problems.
In watching Severino struggle, I could not help but see a possible connection to Rivera, who also had trying moments as a starter for the Yankees early in his career before finding a home in the back end of the bullpen. In three relief outings over 8 1/3 innings, Severino has allowed one run, and it was not earned. His ERA as a starter is 8.58. Could his future be in the pen?
“We are still looking at him as a starter,” manager Joe Girardi said, “but time will tell.”
It was not a good time for anyone named Luis Sunday. Luis Cessa was rocked for five earned runs and five hits in three innings. It was a much different picture for the youth corps from Saturday’s uplifting victory. Aaron Judge hit another home run, and Gary Sanchez also went deep, but it was a subdued day for the Yanks overall.
The positive aspect for the crowd of 41,473 at Yankee Stadium was the ceremony for Rivera, who joined other team immortals in Monument Park. Former teammates David Cone, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Paul O’Neill and Jorge Posada; former manager Joe Torre; former pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre; former trainer Gene Monahan and current trainer Steve Donohue took part in the ceremony along with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, his wife Cristina and sister Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.
“Some closers are great, but nobody was like that,” Steinbrenner said in the hallway outside the clubhouse. “So to have kind of a sure thing was something that we never took for granted, but we certainly became comfortable with it, then all of the sudden he retires, and it’s a whole different world.”
Among accomplishments listed on Mo’s plaque was his records for saves (652) and games finished (952) and a remarkable postseason earned run average of 0.70 in 141 innings and an appropriate total of saves, 42, matching his uniform number that was retired last year.
“It’s amazing, thinking about all of the people out there in Monument Park, starting with Babe Ruth,” Rivera said after the ceremony. “You have Mickey [Mantle], you have Mr. Joe DiMaggio and my favorite Yogi Berra, and the list is going on and on. And then me, a humble guy from Puerto Caimito, Panama, being in that group of men means a lot.”
Rivera is the ninth pitcher to have a plaque in Monument Park. He joined Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Red Ruffing and Goose Gossage, along with Stottlemyre, Pettitte, Ron Guidry and Allie Reynolds.
As he was leaving the clubhouse area to rejoin his family, Mo told me a story I had never heard before. It seems that about a month after the Yankees won the 1998 World Series to complete that dominant 125-50 season (counting their 11-2 postseason mark), Rivera went to the Instructional League in Tampa to work with Stottlemyre.
“Mel wanted to help me work on using fewer pitches to get through innings,” Rivera said. “He emphasized me not trying to strike everybody out but to move the ball around the strike zone to get ahead in the count and make the hitters take more defensive swings. Mel was a great influence on my career.”
That episode in Rivera’s career says all there needs to be said about his devotion to his craft. The Yankees had just completed one of the most incredible seasons any team put together, and there was one of the club’s most important figures going back to the drawing board to make himself even better. That is why Mo earned that plaque.
Did anyone really expect Alex Rodriguez to be in the starting lineup Tuesday night at Fenway Park? Sure, manager Joe Girardi said Sunday after A-Rod’s announcement that Friday night would be his last game with the Yankees that he would talk to him and “play him as often as he wants,” but he had to back off that for the overall good of the team.
As it is, promising Rodriguez at least one start in the three-game series, Thursday night against knuckleballer Steven Wright, is more than A-Rod could have expected. If the Yankees want to make a serious run at the second wild card berth, they will have to hop over several clubs, and one of them is Boston. A player is supposed to earn his way into a lineup, and Rodriguez’s 3-for-30 showing in the second half is all the evidence anyone needs as to why he played himself onto the bench.
The computer got Rodriguez Tuesday night. He is 3-for-20 (.150) in his career against Boston starter Rick Porcello. The righthander had pitched complete games in each of his previous two starts, a rarity these days. Red Sox manager John Farrell might have been wise to let Porcello go for another compete game rather than turn to Craig Kimbrel, who was so wild that he nearly blew the game.
Kimbrel walked four batters in the inning that led to a run and kept the bases loaded with two out. Matt Barnes had to be summoned to face Mark Teixeira, who ended the rally when he looked at a third strike.
In A-Rod’s former designated hitter role was Brian McCann as the Yankees got another look at Gary Sanchez behind the plate. He had a rough night at the plate (0-for-4) but was nimble behind it and threw out another base runner.
McCann got a key, two-out single in the third inning that scored Brett Gardner, who reached base four times (double, two singles, walk) as the Yanks built a 2-0 lead against Porcello (15-3). They had scored in the second inning as well on doubles by Starlin Castro and Chase Headley.
Making his first major league start since May 13 following three impressive relief outings in which he allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings (1.08 ERA), Luis Severino gave up the lead in losing a nine-pitch at-bat to Dustin Pedroia. After fouling off five straight pitches, Pedroia lined a double down the right field line to knock in the trying runs.
More extra-base hits were to come in the fifth as the Red Sox scored three runs in a triple by catcher Sandy Leon, a double by rookie Andrew Benintendi and another double by Pedroia. Newly signed lefthander Tommy Layne relieved Severino and allowed an RBI single to David Ortiz.
Until the meltdown by Kimbrel, there were no openings to use Rodriguez perhaps as a pinch hitter. Reports questioned why Girardi did not have A-Rod bat form Aaron Hicks, who was 0-for-3 when he batted in the ninth and drew the second walk off Kimbrel.
Will this ever end? Yes. Finally, Friday.
Alex Rodriguez has had a hard time getting in the Yankees’ starting lineup the past two weeks. Thursday night in Game 4 of the Subway Series seemed to be his best chance of cracking into the lineup because Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher for the Mets.
To say A-Rod has owned “Big Sexy” in his career is a huge understatement. In 52 career at-bats against Colon, Rodriguez has batted .442 with seven doubles, one triple and eight home runs.
Yet when manager Joe Girardi posted his lineup, there was no Rodriguez in it. For the second straight night, the designated hitter role was filled by Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ prized catching prospect who was recently recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez got his first major-league hit, a single to center field in the seventh inning, as part of a 1-for-4 game Wednesday night in the Yankees’ 9-5 victory.
Sanchez had two more hits Thursday night in the 4-1 loss to the Mets that turned this year’s Subway Series into a push as each club won two games. Sanchez scored the Yankees’ run in the seventh. He doubled with one out off Colon and scored on a two-out single by Aaron Hicks off reliever Jerry Blevins. Sanchez beat out an infield single in the ninth off Mets closer Jeurys Familia (38th save) to bring the potential tying run to the plate before Rob Refsnyder grounded into a game-ending double play.
Otherwise, it was all Mets, due largely to Colon (10-6), the 43-year-old marvel who gave up one run, six hits and no walks with one strikeout in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (9-8) had one bad inning in seven — the fifth — but it was a brutal one.
Kelly Johnson led off with a Yankee Stadium right field porch home run. One out later, Curtis Granderson doubled to left-center. Eovaldi then made a pivotal mistake on a check-swing grounder to the mound by Alejandro De Aza by throwing to second base in an attempt to cut down Granderson, but he slid back into the bag safely, costing the Yanks a possible sure out at first base.
After Neil Walker lined out, Jay Bruce, obtained earlier this week in a trade from the Reds, made his first contribution to the Mets with a three-run home run to right-center. Bruce had been 0-for-10 with four strikeouts since joining the Mets before that homer, his 26th, that raised his National League leading RBI total to 83.
Girardi acknowledged that Rodriguez’s statistics against Colon were “tremendous,” but also pointed out “most of those numbers came many, many years ago.”
Indeed, A-Rod ran up those stats against Colon in the previous decade while he was winning three American League Most Valuable Player Awards against a pitcher who copped an AL Cy Young Award, in 2005 with the Angels. Girardi added that when Rodriguez last faced Colon, in 2012, he was 1-for-6.
As frustrated as Rodriguez may be, at 41 he has not shown much at the plate to warrant his playing regularly. A-Rod started the first five games after the All-Star break and batted .188 with one home run and one RBI in 16 at-bats. He has started once in the past 12 games and struck out four times in that game. Rodriguez has one hit, a single, in his past 19 at-bats as his season batting average has shrunk to .204 with nine homers and 29 RBI in 216 at-bats. He has been stuck at 696 career home runs since July 18.
In defending his decision not to start Rodriguez against Colon, Girardi said most of his problems have come against right-handed pitching. True enough, A-Rod is hitting .196 against righties this year. Wednesday night, he also sat against a left-handed starter, Steven Matz, but Rodriguez has not exactly lit it up against lefties, either (.219).
Girardi denied that he was being told by the front office not to play Rodriguez, who is under contract through the 2017 season. And despite reports suggesting that the Yankees have discussed releasing Rodriguez and eating the $27 million due him over the remainder of his contract, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio there have been no such talks.
“First and foremost, you just have to flat-out admit, it is not easy to eat — meaning release — that kind of money,” Cashman said. “It’s not something you come to a quick decision on. You see players — and I don’t want to name them because they are still playing — but there are players around the game who are on big contracts that have been well-below-average players now for many years, not just a year. Alex hit 33 home runs last year. This is a bigger media market and more attention, and there is certainly a tempest about what should be done. All I can tell you is, slow down a little bit and here is the counterarguments: There is a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as early as last year.”
The financial considerations are for the front office to worry about. That is not the manager’s concern. He has to put the players in the lineup that give his team the best chance to win. It has been some time since Rodriguez fit into that equation.
I remember years ago talking to a manager who had an aging superstar on his team. The manager said, “The best piece of advice I got from a managing mentor of mine was not to argue with your general manager over the 25th player on the roster and try not to let a star fall on you.”
It is one of the most difficult assignments for any manager, to find a way for a player well past his prime to maintain his dignity while dealing with severely diminished skills.
Also missing from the lineup was Mark Teixeira, who had a big game Wednesday night (three-run home run, two walks, hit by a pitch). The HBP by Matz left Tex with a bruised left shin.
Earning a return to the rotation was Luis Severino, who got his first victory of the season for not allowing an earned run in 4 1/3 innings in relief of Chad Green, who was optioned to SWB. Severino will start next Tuesday night at Boston.