Thursday, July 23, 2015

Recap: Yankees 9, Orioles 3

Ubaldo Jimenez had a thoroughly terrible start, surrendering seven earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings as the Yankees blew out the Orioles, 9-3, to complete the sweep Thursday at Yankee Stadium. 

Early Offense: The Yankees tallied Jimenez for four runs in the bottom of the first, a bases-loaded double from Chase Headley plating all but one of them. After watching Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran fail to produce before him, Headley drilled a first-pitch fastball high off the center-field wall -- giving the Yankees an early cushion and setting up Didi Gregorius for a subsequent RBI single.

Like an Ace: For the third outing in a row, Masahiro Tanaka looked great on the mound -- yielding just three earned runs over 7 2/3 innings while walking none and striking out seven. Tanaka held the Orioles to just five hits on the afternoon, but once again had trouble with the long ball as three O's -- Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado -- took him deep. 

Productivity at its Best: Jacoby Ellsbury homered, drove in four and scored twice in Thursday's contest -- finishing a triple shy of the cycle following a groundout in his last at-bat. Ellsbury's second-inning solo shot landed all the way in the right-field bleachers, good for the outfielder's third home run of the year and second in eight games. 

Help from an Unlikely Source: Not known for his offensive capabilities, Stephen Drew laced an RBI double to right in the third -- easily scoring Gregorius from second and extending New York's advantage to 6-1. The knock was part of a 7-for-12 day for the Yankees' lower third, which along with a 3-for-4 performance from John Ryan Murphy, contributed to each of the team's major rallies. 

Who's Chris Capuano?: The lefty appeared for the first time since July 5 in the eighth, tossing a scoreless frame in relief of Tanaka. He fanned Davis for the second out in the ninth, and was removed moments later for youngster Branden Pinder.

Next Up: The Yankees will try to make it five straight wins on Friday when they visit the Twins at Target Field -- beginning at 8:10 p.m. ET and airing live on the YES Network. Michael Pineda (9-6, 3.77 ERA) will start for the Yanks hoping to rebound from a rough loss on Saturday, facing former Pinstripes phenom Phil Hughes (8-6, 4.15 ERA).

The Mega-Deal That Will Never Happen

One of my personal favorite times of the year and one of my most hated times of the year comes in the final week in July. Major League Baseball’s hot stove is turned on full blast and so are the trade rumors, speculations and high hopes for the fans of the contenders. Unfortunately with those same trade rumors and speculations comes the false rumors, the click-baiting articles and the banter on social media but you take the good with the bad I guess. I have seen almost every notable trade target linked to the New York Yankees already this season including Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and Mike Leake but a pair of interesting names have come up recently in the Detroit Tigers ace David Price and power hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The Yankees have the pieces to make a trade for these two, and when it all comes down to it I feel like they ultimately won’t, but could you imagine?

Adding Price to a starting rotation that already sports Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda at the top and some combination of Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia that’s not only a rotation that can go deep into the playoffs and win the whole thing but that is a starting rotation that should be feared by every team in Major League Baseball. An acquisition of Price, who is a free agent at the end of this season, would finally and presumably push Sabathia to the bullpen and Chris Capuano off the team for good making both pitching departments supremely better. The Yankees would have a true ace and an ace without innings or health question marks that would love to take the ball in Game One, Game Four and Game Seven of every playoff series the team would let him.

I’m not going to go over the multitude of ways the Yankees could make room for Cespedes in right field while eating, moving or delegating Carlos Beltran’s contract to a bench role because, again, I can’t see this happening but could you imagine? A starting lineup that goes something along the lines of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Yoenis Cespedes, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius and Robert Refsnyder (I’m still bitter dammit let me be) is not only the best offense in the American League that is as close to a murderer’s row as you’re going to get in this day and age. There is no breaks through the middle of that lineup and while McCann and Headley are far from in their primes they easily become arguably the best #6 and #7 hitters in the game right now.

So imagine this: a pitching rotation that can shut you out four times in a seven game series, a bullpen that can throw up four or five innings of shutout relief every single night and an offense that can score 10 runs a game. That’s 1998 Yankees right there. It won’t happen, but imagine if it did?

AL East-leading Yankees Emerging as Betting Favorites at Online Sportsbooks

The New York Yankees opened the 2015 MLB season amid low expectations. The offseason departures of living legend Derek Jeter and hurler Hiroki Kuroda appeared to leave the Yankees with major roster holes to fill in, and a long way from claiming their an AL East pennant.

But with the emergence of young players like Didi Gregorious, the Bronx Bombers have proven to be one of the surprise stories of the season. Since kicking off the current campaign with distant +400 odds to win the division, ahead of only the longshot Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees reached the All-Star Break atop the division standings, a solid 3.5 games ahead of the equally surprising Rays.

The Yankees come out of the break with six home dates on the schedule, including a crucial three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, who sit just four games back in the division.

A brief losing streak could easily drop the Yankees out of the AL East's top spot, which no team has been able to hang on to so far this season. However, they appear to have made believers out of oddsmakers at the online sportsbooks, who now peg the Pinstripes as solid +140 favorites to take this year's division crown.

Perhaps the true measure of New York's contender status will come following their upcoming three game set against the O's, when they hit the road for a 10-game journey which includes matchups against the Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers.

That road trip marks the start of a 22-game stretch during which they will play 16 times away from the Bronx. The Yankees hit the All-Star Break following a 24-game stretch in which they played 14 at home, going 9-5, but are a middling 23-24 on the road at the break, including a 6-9 record in their last 15 away contests.

Both the Blue Jays and Orioles also face lengthy road trips following the MLB All-Star Game.

Baltimore will be starved of home cooking when they hit the road for nine games against Detroit Tigers, Yankees and Rays before returning home for seven games to wrap up the month of July.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, continue an odyssey that has already seen them play their last 10 games on the road while their home at Rogers Centre has been the stage for the 2015 Pan-American Games.

Toronto, which is currently pegged as a +400 bet to win the AL East, returns to the Dome for three games against Tampa Bay before heading west for series against the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's.

While a mediocre 3-7 record to kick off their road trip has Jays fans fearing yet another midsummer swoon, the Jays follow up their journey with 16 of their following 19 games at home, including six contests against the Yankees.

The Boston Red Sox cannot be forgotten in the second half. Listed as +200 favorites to win the AL East betting prior to the start of their current campaign, according to reports from the Red Sox lost early and often in the first two months of the season, falling as far as 9.5 games back of the division leaders.

But with just 6.5 games now separating first-place New York and the last-place Sox, who are 14-8 in 22 games prior to the All-Star Break, Boston very much remains in the hunt, with +500 betting odds to stage an improbable comeback and claim their second AL East crown in three years.

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 7/23

Get ready to say goodbye to the Bronx and the friendly confides of Yankee Stadium as the New York Yankees finish their quick six game home stand this afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles. These two teams have played an entertaining pair of games this week with the Yankees looking to start spreading some more news this afternoon for the home crowd. The Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound who has been great in afternoon games in the Bronx to face off against Ubaldo Jimenez. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV.

The Yankees are heading west for games with the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers so you have time to click the Yankees Tickets link at the top of the blog and get your tickets in hand for when the team returns home to Yankee Stadium. In the meantime you can root for the home team while they are on the road by heading over to Twitter and giving @GreedyStripes a follow. We’re around for every game home or away and we’d love to interact with you.

Happy Tanaka Day ladies and gentleman, let’s get out of here with a victory. Go Yankees!

Yankees Reunion w/ Jose Quintana On Deck?

Once upon a time the New York Yankees had a left-handed starting pitcher in their farm system by the name of Jose Quintana. Quintana was allowed to hit free agency after the 2011 season and was quickly snatched up by the Chicago White Sox where he has spent his career to date. Quintana never made it past Class-A with the Tampa Yankees in New York but made it all the way to the Major Leagues as a member of the White Sox, could that wrong be righted at this year's July 31st trading deadline?

Before you simply look at the stat line of 4-9 and discredit the idea of acquiring him please just give me a chance and hear me out. Sure Quintana is pushing double digit losses this season but he boasts an above average 3.83 ERA in his first 120 innings this season. Quintana is also pitching for a struggling White Sox offense that is giving him just 2.63 runs per game of run support, the lowest total in the American League. 

Quintana gives the Yankees what the team had hoped CC Sabathia would give them going forward, 200-plus innings every single season and a respectable ERA almost every single game. Quintana also gives the Yankees another starting pitcher going forward and a bit of an insurance policy if Masahiro Tanaka decides to opt-out of his current deal. Quintana is in the middle of a five-year deal worth $21 million that runs through the 2018 season. 

Going forward New York would have a rotation of Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Jose Quintana, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi and CC in some capacity one way or another. That kind of rotation wins a World Series, especially with the bullpen the Yankees have. The cost would be minimal and the impact, despite the minimal need, would be substantial.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles 7/23

For the final time this week the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles will face off head-to-head inside Yankee Stadium. This series has been exciting for both clubs and has been a great series for the Yankees as they continue to put space between them and the rest of the pack in the American League East Divisional race. New York will look to gain another game on the competition this afternoon by sending Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to face off with the Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and the getaway game can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV.

  • Tanaka is coming into this start fresh off a victory over the Seattle Mariners where he allowed just three runs in seven innings of work. Tanaka struck out seven as he continues to improve with every start after a blip on the radar in his last couple of starts before the All-Star break. Tanaka has never beaten the Baltimore Orioles in his short MLB career.

  • Jimenez heads into this start in the Bronx fresh off easily his worst start of the season. Jimenez allowed seven earned runs, including three monster home runs, to the Detroit Tigers in just 4.2 innings resulting in a loss for Baltimore. Rinse, repeat, and recycle? Emphasis on the repeat, please.

Every game head-to-head inside the division, whether it’s July or September, is important and the Yankees have been making the most of these opportunities. As each day passes and with every series victory for New York things get a little easier. The more the Yankees win the more the rest of the division has to win until it gets to the point where New York has to win every series while the opposition has to sweep every series. Let’s get another game for good measure this afternoon, go Yankees!

TGP Daily Poll: Robert Refsnyder Back August 1st

The New York Yankees sent down Robert Refsnyder to Triple-A in an unpopular move but after the July 31st trading deadline comes and passes I think Refsnyder will be back with the big league club. Refsnyder returns August 1st or before.

Vote in our prediction poll on

Weekly Check In: Jose Pirela

The weekly check in revolving door moves on to a familiar face this week, a face that has seen some time with the Major League club in 2015 in Jose Pirela. Let’s not equivocate here, Pirela wasn’t the greatest while with the big club and didn’t make the most of his cup of coffee in the majors but he was still better than Stephen Drew. Pirela’s biggest downfall was his defense which was overall solid in the minor leagues but became borderline atrocious in the major leagues. Bright lights? Nerves? Who knows!

Truth be told, not every player is made out to be a bench player. Bench players come in and play once or twice a week or come in late into games and are expected to be machines. This works better for veteran players who could fall out of bed and stroke a double into the gap or turn a 6-4-3 double play and not so well sometimes in rookie’s cases, especially Pirela. Pirela can hit, you can look below and see his minor league numbers which have drastically improved since his demotion, and Pirela can field, he can field anywhere to be honest, but he just wasn’t able to put it all together in the Bronx.

The good news for Pirela is this though, if he continues to put up numbers like he has in the past two or three weeks and calms down enough in the field to do what anyone who has watched him knows he can do then he will be back on the active roster in no time. This Yankees team is far from a finished product and as we inch closer to the July 31st trading deadline the only constant will be change, and that change may bring Pirela back up for the August and September run. 

2015 AAA,AA,A+ 27 120 23 33 10 2 11 3 9 15 .300 .358 .445 .804

Brett Gardner Wins Heart & Hustle Award

For the fourth time in the last six seasons a member of the New York Yankees has won the Heart & Hustle Award and that man is Brett Gardner. Just 48 hours after getting a slap on the wrist from Major League Baseball and Yankees GM Brian Cashman for wearing white cleats while the rest of his teammates wore black cleats, a big no-no according to the league, he received the award from MLB.

Every MLB team names one winner from their respected clubs and then the pool of 30 goes to a league-wide vote of sorts. Gardner’s hustle and heart must show on the field to not just the Yankees fans because Gardner was picked by his peers for the fourth time to win the award.

Imagine how much hustle he would show if he was allowed to wear those white cleats though, think about it Commissioner Manfred. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 7/23: Gehrig’s Grand Slams

During the 2013 season Alex Rodriguez became the all-time leader in career grand slams in Major League Baseball history when he hit his 24th grand slam of his career. Rodriguez tied fellow Yankee Lou Gehrig with his 23rd grand slam of his career in June of the 2012 season against the Atlanta Braves. Gehrig had been the all-time grand slam leader for over 60 seasons before Alex tied and passed him. It all started way back on this day in 1925 when Gehrig hit his first grand slam of his career.

The Yankees would beat the Washington Senators 11-7 on this day with Gehrig's grand slam as the difference. Gehrig would hit 22 more grand slams during his 17 year tenure as the Yankees Captain and Iron Horse.