Yanks fall to Mets, lose ground to Blue Jays

Tanaka holds Mets to two runsAmidst regular-season Subway Series stakes that have never been higher, the Mets quelled worries about a September slide by blasting three homers Friday in a 5-1 win over the Yankees, who lost more ground to the Blue Jays in the American League East.

Lucas Duda hit a game-tying homer in the second inning, Daniel Murphy crushed a go-ahead shot in the sixth and Juan Uribe provided some breathing room with a two-run homer in the seventh. It was enough for the Mets — who lowered their magic number to 8 — to retain an eight-game National League East lead over the Nationals with 15 to play, while the Yankees fell 4 1/2 games back of the Blue Jays.

The winner was rookie Steven Matz, who held the Yankees scoreless after a Chris Young sacrifice fly in the first. Matz outdueled Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed the first two of New York’s three homers in front of 43,602, the second-largest regular-season crowd in Citi Field history. MORE

Clubhouse report

— Tanaka’s evening was complete after 82 pitches, and while no decision has been made about bringing him back on Wednesday to face Toronto, Tanaka said he would be game for that assignment. This was Tanaka’s second time back-to-back on four days’ rest, and just the fourth time he has done it all season as the Yankees try to care for his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

“I understand that they had to pull me out a little bit earlier today,” Tanaka said. “But, yeah, obviously if they wanted me to go in five days, the fifth day from now, I’ll be ready to go.”

— National League rules took away the designated hitter, but gave the Yankees a couple of late-inning bats to plug in. Jacoby Ellsbury hit for Tanaka in the seventh inning and Girardi saved Alex Rodriguez until the ninth, when he pinch-hit for Brendan Ryan and walked. Girardi said that he toyed with using A-Rod to hit for Ryan in the sixth inning, but did not because Greg Bird was at second base with first base open.

“Even though it’s second base, there is an open base and you could pitch around him,” Girardi said. “And then you’ve got to take Tanaka out and he’s throwing the ball extremely well, so we decided not to.”

— Chasen Shreve was a key contributor to the Yanks’ brilliant bullpen in the first half, but the left-hander has run into a September swoon. Serving up Juan Uribe’s two-run homer in the seventh, Shreve has surrendered six runs over his last five appearances, including three homers. Shreve has made 55 appearances but said he feels fine physically, and that fatigue is not a factor.

“It’s frustrating, because I feel like I had a good year thus far, and there’s no time to make it up now,” Shreve said. “I’ve just got to do damage control and try to finish strong.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees fell 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race, as Toronto defeated the Red Sox, 6-1. The Yankees lead the Astros by four for the first Wild Card spot.

Stat so?

The Yankees did not homer on Friday, ending a streak of 11 consecutive games with a homer dating to Sept. 6. That was their second-longest streak of the season (13 games from July 25-Aug. 7).

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Parting words

“To be honest, I didn’t look at the scoreboard one time all night. I could care less what they do. If we want to try to catch them and win the division, we’ve got to play really, really well. Tonight we didn’t play good. I’m not worried about where they’re at. I’m just worried about us. We’ve got to try to even the series up tomorrow. There’s really not enough time left to lose series and win one out of every three or four games. We’ve got to go on a roll and pick things up and start playing better tomorrow.” – Brett Gardner

Yankees at Mets: Bragging rights and more on the line

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, far left, reacts after recording the third out on a sixth inning ground out by New York Mets Daniel Murphy' (28) in a baseball game in New York, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (AP Photo)

The first-ever September Subway Series is underway here at Citi Field, where Masahiro Tanaka and Steven Matz comprise the first pitching matchup for what will be a meaningful weekend series, featuring more than just bragging rights on the line.

Playoff picture: The Yankees (80-65) trail the Blue Jays (84-62) by 3 1/2 games in the American League East. Toronto is hosting the Red Sox tonight. The Yankees lead the Astros (77-70) by four games for the first Wild Card spot. Houston is hosting the Athletics.

Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 99 percent chance of making the postseason and a 9.8 percent chance of winning the division.


Clubhouse report

New York Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury bats against Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The Yankees’ lineup is more ideally constructed for American League play, especially since Alex Rodriguez accepted the idea of serving as a full-time designated hitter, presenting manager Joe Girardi with some late-inning threats off the bench for this Subway Series at Citi Field.

In addition to Rodriguez, who is expected to serve as a pinch-hitter while receiving some unwanted rest during these Interleague contests, the Yankees fielded a lineup on Friday without Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann against left-hander Steven Matz.

“It’s difficult, but we know that we also have a 17-game stretch here too that we have to worry about,” Girardi said.

Girardi said that the Yankees wanted to find a way to get lefty-crushing outfielder Chris Young in the lineup, offering Ellsbury two consecutive days off with Thursday’s dark day on the schedule. McCann is set to catch Saturday’s day game and again on Sunday.

Ellsbury said that Girardi sent him a text message early on Friday, letting him know about the decision.

“I mean, my whole career I’ve hit lefties well,” Ellsbury said, “but C.Y.’s swinging the bat well against lefties. I’m sure I’ll find my way at some point in this game. I’ve just got to help the team in any way possible, possibly later in the game.”

MLB Network’s three to watch

Tanaka is starting on four days’ rest for the second outing in a row and just the fourth time this year. Tanaka, however, has pitched well on regular rest, with a 2.45 ERA in those four starts — better than his 3.61 ERA in 18 starts on five-or-more days rest.

Matz throws his fastball at an average of 94.4 MPH, matching Chris Sale for the highest average fastball velocity in the Majors among left-handed starters.

Mark Teixeira’s fill-in, Greg Bird, has homered in back-to-back games, giving him five homers in 13 games this month (.644 SLG in September).

Stat so?

The Yankees lead the all-time regular season Subway Series 58-43, and of course, defeated the Mets in five games in the 2000 World Series.

On this date

1956: Mickey Mantle hits his 50th home run of the season in the 11th inning at Comiskey Park, helping to lift the Yankees a 3-2 win over the White Sox.

Quote to note

“All these games are big. The game tomorrow just as big as the game today, and then we’ve got Toronto after this. Those games are just as big. All these games are important. It’s all about winning, helping the team. I’m sure I’ll find my way in there at some point today.” – Ellsbury

Luis Severino, Greg Bird help Yankees keep pace in AL East

091615_severino_swings_med_resLuis Severino bounced back from the roughest outing of his brief Major League career, Greg Bird homered and drove in two runs and the Yankees defeated the Rays, 3-1, on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees took two of three games from the Rays in the series, remaining three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East chase. The 21-year-old Severino limited Tampa Bay to a run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven.

“It’s been great. We want to win,” said Severino, who had allowed a career-high six runs to the Blue Jays in his last start. “We want to help the team win every time we go out there and have a good outing for the team.” MORE

Clubhouse report

— The Yankees planned on having Greg Bird appear in some September games, but they never imagined he would be playing a role of this magnitude. Mark Teixeira’s season-ending injury has created an opportunity for the 22-year-old Bird, who hit a tape-measure ninth-inning homer off Andrew Bellati that struck the ‘D’ ring at the Trop — the first ball to do so this season.

“He’s done a really nice job in Mark’s absence,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. 

— The bullpen worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings behind Severino, but Dellin Betances did his best to make it interesting. With two outs and no one on in the seventh inning, the All-Star loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. That brought up James Loney, who had hits in each of his first three at-bats, but Betances recovered to strike out the first baseman and end the inning. 

“I felt like I was rushing, so my breaking ball was breaking too much and not over the plate,” Betances said. “It was more side to side. The fastball as well; just one of those things. I’ve got to slow myself down, try to stay back. The good thing is that we won.”

— Jacoby Ellsbury still wasn’t sure exactly what happened on that sixth-inning Steven Souza Jr. drive that fooled him in center field. He guessed that it might have clipped a catwalk, but a crew chief review ruled the call on the field – RBI double – to stand because the video was inconclusive. If it had been shown to clip a catwalk, it would’ve been a two-run homer for Souza Jr.

“I was hoping I was going to be able to pick it up at the last second and be able to catch the ball,” Ellsbury said. “I guess I was just glad it wasn’t a home run.”

— Ivan Nova (6-8, 5.11) said that he was disappointed by the Yankees’ decision to place him in the bullpen, but he understood the reasoning.

“It’s not what I want, I don’t want to be in the bullpen, but you’ve got to be honest with yourself,” Nova said. “I’m not pitching the way I’m supposed to be pitching. We’re in a tight race. We want to win the division. If that’s the best choice, then I’m going to go to the bullpen.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees remained three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race. Toronto defeated the Braves, 9-1, at Turner Field. The Yankees now lead the Astros by 3 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.

Stat so?

Severino has made five starts of five-plus innings and one run or fewer, joining Tiny Bonham (1940) as the only Yankees to have five such starts within their first eight career games, according to available data.

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Parting words

“It’s been a lot of fun to watch. Severino was electric tonight. His stuff, his breaking balls, he just keeps hitters off balance. 98 on the radar gun, Can’t say enough about him, his poise. And Bird, the same way. Big at-bats each and every time. Big home runs the last two nights, playing a very good first base, he’s really been impressive.” — Ellsbury

Yankees “curious” to see how Luis Severino answers challenge

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino winds up in a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in New York, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hello from Tropicana Field, where the Yankees will wrap up their three-game series with the Rays tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Luis Severino tries to bounce back from the first rough outing of his big league career, drawing the start against Chris Archer. The Yankees are 2-6 in their last eight games, and Girardi wants to see how Severino responds to the challenge.

“I’m a little curious,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “The other thing he’s going through is, he’s seeing teams pretty quickly back to back. Teams can make some slight adjustments and pitchers have to as well.”

Playoff picture: The Yankees (79-65) trail the Blue Jays (82-62) by three games in the American League East. Toronto has David Price on the mound tonight at Turner Field.

The Yankees lead the Astros (77-68) by 2 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot. Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 96.7 percent chance of making the postseason and a 13.4 percent chance of winning the division.


Clubhouse report

The Yankees have set their rotation for the upcoming Subway Series against the Mets, and it will not include struggling right-hander Ivan Nova, who has been told to pitch out of the bullpen until further notice.

Girardi said that he would not rule out having Nova start again this year, but he confirmed that the decision was performance-based. Nova has gone 6-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 14 starts after returning from Tommy John surgery.

“We’re trying to get the guys that are throwing the best right now,” Girardi said. “Part of it could be what he’s coming off of. Sometimes you don’t have the command. They say that’s the last thing that comes, is the command. His curveball at times has not been as sharp as we’ve seen in the past.”

The Yankees have aligned Masahiro Tanaka to pitch on Friday, Michael Pineda for Saturday and CC Sabathia on Sunday. Adam Warren is also expected to make another start.

Girardi said that the team has not set its rotation past that point, but the decision could allow Tanaka to pitch next Wednesday against the division-leading Blue Jays in Toronto. Tanaka is 12-6 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 starts.

MLB Network’s three to watch

Yankees Rays BaseballJacoby Ellsbury is 14-21 AB (.667) with two extra-base hits (1 HR) in his career against Archer, but Ellsbury has gone hitless in his last 25 at-bats, spanning six games. Since returning from the DL (right knee sprain) on July 8th, Ellsbury is slashing .207/.247/.322 with a .569 OPS over 58 games.

Alex Rodriguez is batting .295 AVG (18-61 AB) with eight HR, and 13 RBI in 17 games against the Rays this year.

In his last start against the Yankees, Archer allowed five runs (four earned) over 6 1/3 innings, taking the loss in the 6-4 defeat at Yankee Stadium. The loss was the first of Archer’s career against the Yankees, after going 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his first eight starts against the Bombers.

Stat so?

For the season, the Yankees’ bullpen has thrown the second most innings in the American League (473.2), trailing only the Rays (484.1).

On this date

1979: The Yankees held “Catfish” Hunter Day for the future Hall of Famer, who had announced that he planned to retire after the following season.

1998: Derek Jeter singled off Chicago’s Gavin Floyd in the first inning for his 1,270th career hit at the original Yankee Stadium, surpassing Lou Gehrig for the most all-time hits at the ballpark.

Quote to note

“I was part of the Wild Card when I was in St. Louis. It’s a tough situation, honestly. You’re playing one game; anything can happen. Anything can go right and anything can go wrong. When we played in Atlanta, there was a call made on an infield fly; people started throwing bottles in the game and went crazy. It worked for our benefit and we were able to move up to the next series, but it’s tough. At the same time, it’s also a chance.” — Carlos Beltran

Yanks miss chance to gain in East

Nick RumbelowNick Franklin hit a two-run homer and Jake Odorizzi worked six solid innings, helping to lead the Rays to a 6-3 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

Franklin’s go-ahead blast came in the sixth inning off rookie right-hander Nick Rumbelow, the second reliever to follow Adam Warren, who completed four innings in his first start since June. J.P. Arencibia drove home two insurance runs in the eighth with a flare single to right field off Bryan Mitchell.

The defeat, coupled with the Blue Jays’ 3-2 loss to the Braves at Turner Field, kept the Yankees three games behind Toronto in the American League East race. MORE

Clubhouse report

Adam Warren made his first start since June and held Tampa Bay to two runs and six hits over four innings, walking none and striking out four. Warren threw 42 of 66 pitches for strikes and said that he should be in the neighborhood of 80 to 85 pitches in his next outing, which will feel a lot more like a regular start.

There’s always a transition phase, but I’ve done both roles this year, so I know what I need to do, the routines to get prepared, and I think that helps out,” Warren said. “Once I got into the third inning, got on a roll a little bit, it all started to come back. I got stronger as it went on, which is a good sign for me stamina-wise.”

Jacoby Ellsbury went hitless in four at-bats, extending his slump to 0-for-29, but Girardi said he still wants Ellsbury to fight out of it. They need him to, and as such, Girardi said that he has no plans to dislodge Ellsbury from the leadoff spot.

“I feel I’m an everyday player. You just find a way to have success,” Ellsbury said. “That’s what I’ve been throughout my career. You go through spells but you continue to work hard and put the time in. The guys that do that typically have results.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees remained three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race. Toronto lost, 3-2, to the Braves at Turner Field, on Andrelton Simmons’ walk-off single.

In Arlington, the Rangers defeated the Astros, 6-5, to take over the American League West lead. The Astros now trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.

Stat so?

Greg Bird homered on the 10th pitch of his fourth inning at-bat. All 10 pitches were fastballs, according to PITCHf/x. Only once since the start of the 2013 season had a Yankee homered to end an at-bat of 10 pitches or more: Brian McCann, on June 18, 2014 vs. Toronto.

“It’s a really good at-bat,” Girardi said. “He fouled off a number of pitches, got a fastball down and worked the count, hit it out to center field. We were hoping that would stick, but we weren’t able to hold them down.”

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Parting words

“It’s tough. It’s tough that we’re not able to hold them down. I thought Adam did a pretty good job, especially after those first couple innings. He started to mix all his pitches in and he pitched pretty well. You kind of wish he was built up more and he could have went deeper, but it is what it is.” — Girardi.


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