Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

SimSeason: The 2015 Yankees, conclusion

Out of the Park BaseballThis is it, the conclusion of our just-for-fun projection of the 2015 season, as run through the newest edition of Out of the Park Baseball, licensed by MLB.com. If you missed the first posts, here’s our ground rules and what happened in April, and here’s how May and June wentJuly and August followed, as did September and now the first two rounds of the postseason.

Welcome to the big dance, the final countdown — New York vs. Washington in the World Series. I’d say they had an unlikely road to get here, winning 88 games to take the AL East before beating the Athletics and Tigers for the pennant. Your mileage may vary. If you want to get in the driver’s seat for your own GM/managing experience, OOTP 16 is available now for PC and Mac.

Just like in the 2004 postseason, Carlos Beltran has been at his best when the games have meant the most.

Just like in the 2004 postseason, Carlos Beltran has been at his best when the games have meant the most.

World Series Game 1: Yankees 8, Nationals 2

Carlos Beltran continued his ridiculous postseason, homering and driving in two runs as part of a three-hit performance, and John Ryan Murphy (filling in for the injured Brian McCann) collected four RBIs late to lead the Yanks to an 8-2 victory in Game 1 at Nationals Park. Masahiro Tanaka struck out eight over 6 1/3 innings, holding the Nats to two runs and nine hits to improve to 4-0 in the postseason. Stephen Strasburg allowed five runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

World Series Game 2: Nationals 1, Yankees 0

Ivan Nova made just one mistake, but Bryce Harper knew what to do with it. Harper’s seventh-inning homer was the difference in Game 2, lifting the Nationals to a 1-0 victory. Max Scherzer started for Washington but left after four innings with an ankle sprain; five Nationals relievers held the fort, with Craig Stammen pitching a scoreless seventh for the win and former Yankee Matt Thornton closing it out in the ninth for his first save.

Michael Pineda was dominant over eight innings in the first World Series start of his career.

Michael Pineda was dominant over eight innings in the first World Series start of his career.

World Series Game 3: Yankees 2, Nationals 1

Mark Teixeira drove in both New York runs and Michael Pineda out-dueled Jordan Zimmerman as the Yankees took a 2-1 series lead in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. Pineda held the Nats to a run on four hits over eight innings, striking out nine while walking two, and Dellin Betances pitched the ninth for his sixth save. Teixeira homered in the fourth and doubled home Jacoby Ellsbury in the sixth.

World Series Game 4: Nationals 6, Yankees 5

Doug Fister bested CC Sabathia as the Fall Classic moved back to even in the Bronx. Sabathia was handed a three-run lead early, thanks to a Mark Teixeira two-run homer and a Didi Gregorius RBI single, but gave it back as the Nats scored four times in the fourth. Ian Desmond’s three-run homer was the big blow against Sabathia, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings. Fister scattered seven hits over seven frames for his second win of the postseason.

Jacoby Ellsbury homered, but the Yanks were otherwise held silent in Game 5 of the World Series.

Jacoby Ellsbury homered, but the Yanks were otherwise held silent in Game 5 of the World Series.

World Series Game 5: Nationals 9, Yankees 1

Masahiro Tanaka invited the Yankees to strap themselves to his back, but he was due for a clunker. This one came in the form of a six-run pounding at Yankee Stadium, with Tanaka lasting just 2 2/3 innings. Washington scored three in the first, highlighted by Ryan Zimmerman’s two-run homer, and three more in the third. Stephen Strasburg accepted the support, permitting only Jacoby Ellsbury’s sixth-inning homer in 8 2/3 innings of five-hit ball, striking out seven. 

World Series Game 6: Nationals 8, Yankees 7

Elation in D.C., and heartbreak in the Yankees’ clubhouse.

Touch 'em all, Ryan, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life. The Nationals are the 2015 World Series champions.

Touch ’em all, Ryan, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life. The Nationals are the 2015 World Series champions.

Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run, walk-off home run off Dellin Betances sent the crowd into ecstasy as the Nationals secured their first World Series championship. Betances was protecting a two-run lead beginning the ninth, but Stephen Drew booted a Bryce Harper grounder and Anthony Rendon followed with a double. Zimmerman then launched Betances’ second pitch into the left-field seats, a season-ending 353-foot shot.

The Yankees seemed to have the game in hand early. New York scored six times in the first off Max Scherzer, with Carlos Beltran slugging a two-run homer, Drew doubling home a run and Didi Gregorius belting a two-run double. Even Michael Pineda, pitching in short rest, got in on the fun with a line drive single to left that brought home the sixth run.

Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer in the third off Pineda, who threw 89 pitches over 3 2/3 innings. A double play grounder in the seventh brought in Washington’s fourth run and Danny Espinosa homered in the eighth off Andrew Miller, trimming the deficit before Betances coughed it up in the ninth. “Ballgame over, World Series over, Nationals win,” Sterling sadly intones.

In our projection, as in real life, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are still seeking championship No. 28.

At the close of our simulation, as in real life, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman are still seeking championship No. 28. But our computer squad got a lot closer than you might have expected. 

On the morning of Nov. 5, I receive my final e-mail from ‘Hal Steinbrenner.’ He’s very happy about the nearly winning it all and wants to talk about long-term goals. He’s demanding upgrades in right field, improving the team on-base percentage, increasing attendance from 42,765 to 48,000 per game, and … yeah, he wants to win the World Series.

“The next step is obviously to figure out how you can win that last series and what we can do to help bring glory back to New York,” he writes.

Thanks, but no thanks, Hal. I’ll keep my day job.

What did we learn from this exercise? I’m not going to pretend that these results were scientific, but it was a fun window into what could happen in some alternate universe. It helps confirm a few suspicions on my part, in that the Yankees need their starting pitching to stay healthy, their bullpen should be a force and that there is talent in the farm system that could help soon — if not this year, then next. Enough computer baseball… let’s get into some games that really count!

SimSeason: The 2015 Yankees, October

Out of the Park BaseballHere we go with the sixth installment of our just-for-fun projection of the 2015 season, as run through the newest edition of Out of the Park Baseball, licensed by MLB.com. If you missed the first posts, here’s our ground rules and what happened in April, and here’s how May and June wentJuly and August followed, as did September.

Yesterday, we learned that the Yankees were heading to the American League Division Series after winning the AL East with an 88-74 record. It was a rough ride at times, and since we disabled trades for our simulation, they had to lean heavily on the farm system to get through injuries. The kids helped out and Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia stayed healthy all year, while the bullpen was a strength as expected. If you want to get in the driver’s seat for your own GM/managing experience, OOTP 16 is available now for PC and Mac.

As the Yankees venture into October, Carlos Beltran seems to be heating up at just the right time.

As the Yankees venture into October, Carlos Beltran seems to be heating up at just the right time.

ALDS Game 1: Yankees 3, Athletics 1

Carlos Beltran homered as part of a three-hit performance, supporting Masahiro Tanaka’s seven innings of one-run, six-hit ball as the Yankees defeated the A’s at o.Co Coliseum. Beltran gave the Yanks a quick lead in their first playoff game since 2012, homering in the first off Sonny Gray. New York reclaimed the advantage in the sixth on doubles by Beltran and Brian McCann, and Beltran added a run-scoring single in the seventh. Craig Gentry tripled and scored on a first-inning groundout to account for Oakland’s only run off Tanaka, who walked two and struck out six in his postseason debut.

ALDS Game 2: Yankees 5, Athletics 1

Brian McCann hit a three-run homer and Michael Pineda pitched seven commanding innings as the Yankees defeated the A’s, 5-1, in Game 2 of the AL Division Series. McCann’s sixth-inning shot off Jesse Hahn clanged against the right-field foul pole, while Mark Teixeira drove in New York’s other two runs. Marcus Semien’s solo homer in the seventh was the only dent against Pineda, who permitted four hits over seven innings.

ALDS Game 3: Athletics 4, Yankees 3

CC Sabathia permitted four runs and eight hits over 7 1/3 innings, accepting the loss as the Yankees dropped Game 3 of the AL Division Series, 4-3, at Yankee Stadium. Scott Kazmir limited New York to a Mark Teixeira homer and three hits over six innings, picking up the win, and Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. Josh Phegley drove in two runs and Billy Butler had three hits for Oakland, while Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer in the eighth to trim the deficit.

Masahiro Tanaka stepped up with a big performance in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Athletics.

Masahiro Tanaka stepped up with a big performance in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Athletics.

ALDS Game 4: Yankees 4, Athletics 3

Masahiro Tanaka held the A’s to two runs and seven hits over six innings, backed by Jacoby Ellsbury’s three-hit performance as the Yankees advanced to the AL Championship Series with a 4-3 win at Yankee Stadium. Ellsbury had a two-run single and Didi Gregorius knocked a run-scoring hit in the second inning, and Carlos Beltran added a RBI single in the fifth off losing pitcher Sonny Gray.

The Yankees will face the Detroit Tigers in a rematch of the 2012 ALCS. Detroit defeated the White Sox, three games to one. In the NL, the Dodgers defeated the Padres in four games to face the Nationals, who went five games against the Cardinals.

ALCS Game 1: Tigers 6, Yankees 4

J.D. Martinez’s seventh-inning double off David Carpenter drove home the tying run and Andrew Miller balked home the go-ahead run in the eighth as the Tigers rallied late for a 6-4 victory at Comerica Park. Nick Castellanos punched a RBI single in the eighth as Detroit overcame a strong start by Michael Pineda, who allowed three runs in six innings, including a Steven Moya homer. Didi Gregorius homered for New York off David Price, who pitched 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision. Joakim Soria picked up the win and Al Alburquerque got the save.

Bumped to the bullpen after a disappointing debut season, Nathan Eovaldi provided three scoreless innings of relief in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

Bumped to the bullpen after a disappointing debut season, Nathan Eovaldi provided three scoreless innings of relief in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.

ALCS Game 2: Yankees 6, Tigers 4

Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning off Al Albuquerque, lifting the Yankees to a 6-4 victory at Comerica Park. The Yanks held on after Masahiro Tanaka was knocked out after just 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits, but Nathan Eovaldi provided three scoreless innings of relief. Justin Wilson and winning pitcher Andrew Miller each recorded two outs before Dellin Betances worked around three walks in the ninth for the save. Brett Gardner drove in two runs for the Yanks.

ALCS Game 3: Tigers 4, Yankees 1

Justin Verlander held the Yankees to just Carlos Beltran’s fourth-inning solo homer among four hits over eight innings, pitching the Tigers to a 4-1 win at Yankee Stadium. CC Sabathia served up three solo homers in the loss, charged with four runs and seven hits over seven innings.

ALCS Game 4: Tigers 9, Yankees 1

Ian Kinsler homered twice and J.D. Martinez also went deep as the Tigers thumped Ivan Nova and the Yankees, 9-1, taking a commanding lead in the ALCS. David Price cruised to the victory, allowing an unearned run and two hits over six innings. Each Tigers starter had at least one hit as Kinsler slugged a three-run homer and Martinez belted a two-run shot off Nova, who lasted just three frames. Kinsler’s second homer came in the fifth off Nathan Eovaldi.

ALCS Game 5: Yankees 3, Tigers 1
Masahiro Tanaka allowed a run and five hits over six innings as the Yankees forced the ALCS back to Detroit with a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium. Brian McCann slugged a two-run double in the third inning off Buck Farmer, who pitched a complete game in the loss. David Carpenter pitched two scoreless innings and Dellin Betances worked a clean ninth for the save.

ALCS Game 6: Yankees 1, Tigers 0
Michael Pineda pitched 7 2/3 dominant innings and Carlos Beltran produced the game’s only run with an eighth-inning RBI double off Anibal Sanchez as the Yankees pushed the ALCS to the limit with a 1-0 win at Comerica Park. Andrew Miller recorded an out and Dellin Betances worked the ninth for the save. Sanchez scattered six hits over eight innings. Yankees catcher Brian McCann exited the game after one at-bat with back spasms and is done for the postseason.

Mark Teixeira had three RBIs as the Yankees defeated the Tigers in Game 7 of the ALCS at Comerica Park, advancing to the World Series.

Mark Teixeira had three RBIs as the Yankees defeated the Tigers in Game 7 of the ALCS at Comerica Park, advancing to the World Series.

ALCS Game 7: Yankees 8, Tigers 1

Mark Teixeira drove in three runs and Brett Gardner banged out three hits as the Yankees punched their ticket to the World Series with an 8-1 victory at Comerica Park. David Price was hammered for seven runs (six earned) and five hits, knocked out without recording an out in the Yanks’ five-run fifth inning. CC Sabathia worked 5 2/3 breezy innings, allowing a run on four hits, and Nathan Eovaldi fired the final 3 1/3 innings for a save as the Yankees secured entry to their first World Series since 2009.

Tomorrow… the quest for 28 continues into the World Series, as the Yankees and Nationals prepare for an epic showdown. See you there!

SimSeason: The 2015 Yankees, 162 games in the books

It’s episode five of our just-for-fun projection of the 2015 season, as run through the newest edition of Out of the Park Baseball, licensed by MLB.com. If you missed the first two posts, here’s our ground rules and what happened in April, and here’s how May and June wentJuly and August followed, and yesterday we covered September. If you want to get in the driver’s seat for your own GM/managing experience, OOTP 16 is available now for PC and Mac.

As I said in the previous entry, this is a good time to promise to everyone reading that, yes, I stuck to the ground rules of the simulation and did not alter the settings to help the Yankees. This is just what happened. “You can’t predict baseball,” as John Sterling might say.

Checking In… Oct. 1, 2015

Greetings from New York CityHello from Yankee Stadium, where we have seen some incredible baseball in front of packed houses over the last few days. While it seems pretty assured that the Yankees will be playing in the postseason, ending their two-year drought, the division is still very much up for grabs. Joe Girardi keeps talking about how it is hugely important to win the division and not put yourself in a situation where you’re the second Wild Card, guaranteed only to extend your season for nine innings. We’ll know if they can hold off Tampa Bay and accomplish that goal soon. 

Let’s wrap the regular season…

In our 2015 season sim, Ivan Nova's solid Oct. 4 effort helped the Yankees lock up the American League East title.

In our 2015 season sim, Ivan Nova’s solid Oct. 4 effort helped the Yankees lock up the American League East title.

Michael Pineda came up huge on Oct. 1, holding the Red Sox to a run and five hits over seven innings as the Yankees clinched a playoff spot. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits as the Yanks improved to 86-73, one game up on the Rays. “The hard work doesn’t stop now, it’s only just beginning,” Ellsbury said. … Chase Headley and Stephen Drew homered Oct. 2 as the Yankees rolled to a 9-1 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards. Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of one-run ball, improving to 17-6 with a 3.17 ERA. …

CC Sabathia tossed a five-run clunker on Oct. 3 in Baltimore, chased in the third inning of the Yanks’ 6-2 loss as he fell to 9-16. New York and Tampa Bay were tied, 87-74, going into the season’s final day. …

Joe Girardi bypasses Nathan Eovaldi and pitches Ivan Nova on short rest on Oct. 4. The gamble pays off, as Nova hurls five solid innings and the Yanks beat the Orioles, 7-4, to clinch the American League East. Brett Gardner’s RBI single in the ninth inning off Brian Matusz provided the margin of victory, and Carlos Beltran added a two-run single.

With the Rays’ 2-1 loss to Toronto, here’s how the American League East finished:

x- NEW YORK  88-74 .543 --
z- Tampa Bay 87-75 .537 1
Toronto      77-85 .475 11
Boston       75-87 .463 13
Baltimore    65-97 .401 23

Let’s check back in on that Opening Day lineup:

Didi Gregorius enjoyed a solid debut campaign in pinstripes.

Didi Gregorius enjoyed a solid debut campaign in pinstripes.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF – 80 games, .261, 5 HR, 31 RBIs, 14 SB
Brett Gardner LF – 141 games, .249, 7 HR, 63 RBIs, 15 SB
Carlos Beltran RF – 91 games, .261, 9 HR, 37 RBIs,
Mark Teixeira 1B – 95 games, .206, 12 HR, 40 RBI
Brian McCann C – 138 games, .224, 22 HR, 76 RBI
Chase Headley 3B – 154 games, .232, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 12 SB
Alex Rodriguez DH – 108 games, .229, 12 HR, 36 RBI
Stephen Drew 2B – 116 games, .220, 6 HR, 29 RBI
Didi Gregorius SS – 134 games, .279, 7 HR, 62 RBI, 9 SB

Other contributors as the guys in the room start thinking about how to split up the playoff shares:

Garrett Jones (.232, 14 HR, 43 RBI in 410 at-bats), Slade Heathcott (.276, 3 HR, 24 RBI in 210 at-bats), Rob Refsnyder (.372, 1 HR, 15 RBI in 129 at-bats), Greg Bird (.246, 6 HR, 19 RBI in 134 at-bats), Chris Young (.193, 7 HR, 33 RBIs in 378 at-bats), John Ryan Murphy (.212, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 80 at-bats), Ramon Flores (.161, 2 HR, 4 RBI in 31 at-bats), Brendan Ryan (.168, 0 HR, 9 RBI in 131 at-bats).

So, yeah, if our ‘Brian Cashman’ could have made some moves at the Trade Deadline, he would have. 378 at-bats for Chris Young, and he didn’t even crack the Mendoza line? But, hey, they made it, thanks to the pitching and a 49-32 home record. They only scored 666 runs, 12th in the AL, and actually allowed 686 runs. Differentials be damned, I guess. Here’s a look at the biggest contributors on the pitching side:

Masahiro Tanaka — 34 starts, 17-6, 212.2 IP, 3.17 ERA
Michael Pineda — 33 starts, 14-10, 203.2 IP, 3.58 ERA
CC Sabathia — 33 starts, 9-16, 192.1 IP, 4.40 ERA
Nathan Eovaldi — 32 starts, 8-19, 174.2 IP, 5.62 ERA
Ivan Nova — 21 starts, 7-9, 122.1 IP, 4.27 ERA

Dellin Betances posted

Dellin Betances posted 35 saves and a 1.69 ERA in his first full season as the Yankees’ closer.

Dellin Betances — 64 IP, 10.0 K/9, 1.69 ERA, 35 SV
Andrew Miller — 62.1 IP, 10.4 K/9, 3.32 ERA, 2 SV
David Carpenter — 61 IP, 10.5 K/9, 2.95 ERA, 2 SV
Adam Warren — 76.2 IP, 6.6 K/9, 6.69 ERA, 4 SV
Justin Wilson — 67.1 IP, 8.8 K/9, 2.54 ERA, 3 SV
Esmil Rogers — 81.1 IP, 7.1 K/9, 4.54 ERA, 2 SV
Chase Whitley — 31.2 IP, 5.1 K/9, 2.27 ERA
Chris Capuano — 60.1 IP, 6.6 K/9, 4.48 ERA
Chasen Shreve — 22.2 IP, 11.1 K/9, 5.96 ERA

On to the postseason. Here’s how the Yankees set their roster…

PITCHERS (11): Betances, Carpenter, Eovaldi, Miller, Nova, Pineda, Rogers, Sabathia, Tanaka, Warren, Wilson.
CATCHERS (2): McCann, Murphy.
INFIELDERS (7): Drew, Gregorius, Headley, Jones, Refsnyder, Rodriguez, Teixeira.
OUTFIELDERS (5): Beltran, Ellsbury, Gardner, Heathcott, Young.

Joe Girardi brought the Yankees back to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

In our simulation, Joe Girardi handled injury problems and incorporated youth to steer the Yankees back to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Remember back in the preseason, when I said ‘Joe Girardi’ must stick with the Opening Day lineup whenever possible? He’s got it, healthy and ready to go in October, so the vets will get the starting nods in the playoffs.

While we assume the Yanks were having workouts at the Stadium, the White Sox (87-75) beat the Rays (87-75) in the AL Wild Card playoff game and the Padres (90-72) beat the Reds (89-73) in the NL Wild Card playoff game.

The ALDS is thus set: the Yankees (88-74) will play the A’s (91-71) while the White Sox play the Tigers (101-61). In the NLDS, the Padres get the Dodgers (99-63) and the Nationals (95-67) face the Cardinals (97-65). See you in Oakland tomorrow.

Spring Game 33: Yankees vs. Nationals

The bags are packed, the cars have been sent north and the plane is waiting on the runway at Tampa International Airport. This is the end of the Grapefruit League portion of the spring, as CC Sabathia makes his final start. The Nationals are here and anxiously will be looking forward to getting to D.C., where the Yanks will tag along for an exhibition game Saturday before making it to The Bronx.

“I’m pleased with the way [Spring Training] went,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We had a couple of injuries that we have to deal with. We’ll try to get through these next two days without anything happening, but pretty good.”

Girardi said that the backup catcher decision won’t be made until tomorrow. He also said that the Yankees may go into the season with no set closer, as Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller could share the duties. Here are the lineups as we say goodbye to George M. Steinbrenner Field until 2016 in a game that will be televised on YES:

NATIONALS (10-15-4)
Michael Taylor cf
Yunel Escobar 3b
Bryce Harper rf
Ryan Zimmerman 1b
Wilson Ramos c
Ian Desmond ss
Tyler Moore lf
Danny Espinosa 2b
Stephen Strasburg p

YANKEES (16-15-1)
Brett Gardner lf
Didi Gregorius ss
Brian McCann dh
Mark Teixeira 1b
Garrett Jones rf
Chase Headley 3b
Chris Young cf
Gregorio Petit 2b
John Ryan Murphy c

CC Sabathia lhp

SimSeason: The 2015 Yankees, September

Out of the Park BaseballIt’s time for our fourth installment of our just-for-fun projection of the 2015 season, as run through the newest edition of Out of the Park Baseball, licensed by MLB.com. If you missed the first two posts, here’s our ground rules and what happened in April, and here’s how May and June went. Yesterday was July and August. If you want to get in the driver’s seat for your own GM/managing experience, OOTP 16 is available now for PC and Mac.

Checking In… Sept. 1, 2015

Boston

There’s a crisp in the air here at Fenway Park as the visiting clubhouse is becoming even more tough to navigate. Rosters expanded this morning and the Yankees have summoned several reinforcements from the Minors. Andrew Bailey, Chase Whitley, Jose Ramirez and Bryan Mitchell are up to supplement the pitching staff, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Slade Heathcott have been activated from the DL. Greg Bird was recalled, and the Yanks purchased the contract of Nick Noonan, who had a good year down at Triple-A. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are also here.

You probably wouldn’t have thought it this summer, but the Yanks have fought into playoff position at 70-60 (.538). They’re 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay (75-56), but well ahead of the third-place Red Sox (63-68), who started the season well but have had a rash of pitching problems. New York leads the Wild Card chase by a game over the White Sox (69-61), with the Mariners (67-65) three games off the pace.

How’d they do it? Great pitching all year, especially from Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.38) and Michael Pineda (12-8, 3.41). CC Sabathia has been healthy (7-12, 4.24) and I really feel like Nathan Eovaldi (8-15, 4.93) has pitched better than his record. The bullpen has been a force, paced by Dellin Betances (31 saves, 1.49). Like Kansas City last year, if the Yanks get a lead to the sixth inning, they’re shaking hands more often than not after nine.

It’s getting those leads that has been the issue. They’re 13th in the AL with 518 runs scored and dead last with a .232 batting average. Their .310 on-base percentage ranks 14th, but the call-ups have added a spark. Brett Gardner leads the team with a .252 average, while Brian McCann paces the way with 20 homers and 62 RBIs. The Yanks should get Andrew Miller back in four days and, if Carlos Beltran returns in two weeks, they might actually have their Opening Day lineup back on the field.


In our sim of the 2015 season, CC Sabathia has taken the ball every fifth day without any health issues, which is exactly what the Yankees needed from him.

In our sim of the 2015 season, CC Sabathia has taken the ball every fifth day without any health issues, which is exactly what the Yankees needed from him.

Well, I spoke too soon. A-Rod sprained his ankle running the bases in a 9-3 win on Sept. 1. He’ll avoid the DL since rosters are expanded, but it looks like he’ll miss three weeks. … Masahiro Tanaka improved to 13-6 with 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over the Rays Sept. 4. … Michael Pineda bumped his record to 13-8 with seven strong innings to beat the Rays, 8-1, on Sept. 5, and CC Sabathia threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Sept. 6 as the Yanks celebrate a sweep of Tampa Bay. Austin Romine homered and they’re just a half game off the AL East lead. …

New York (75-61) takes over first place with a 4-3 win over the Orioles on Sept. 7. Greg Bird’s two-run single in the ninth decides it. … The Yanks make it a 1-1/2 game lead with a 7-0 win over Baltimore on Sept. 8. Gary Sanchez hits his first MLB homer, off T.J. McFarland. … It’s a 2-1/2 game lead on Sept. 9 as the Yanks finish off the sweep of the O’s, posting a 6-2 decision for their sixth straight win. Bird and Jones homer off Ubaldo Jimenez to back Tanaka’s 14th win. …  A five-run eighth lifts the Yanks to a 10-5 win on Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, as Evan Reed issues two bases-loaded walks, then throws a wild pitch.

The Yanks (79-63) split the four-game set with Toronto while the fading Rays (75-67) lose their 11th straight, falling four games back in the East. Yanks’ magic number is 17. … Tanaka dominates in a 6-0 win at The Trop on Sept. 14, hurling 8 2/3 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball with 10 strikeouts. The Yanks improve to 80-63. … Tampa Bay snaps its 12-game losing streak on Sept. 15 as Alex Cobb out-pitches Michael Pineda, 6-0, then get to Dellin Betances in the ninth on Sept. 16 as Evan Longoria singles home the game-winner. It’s Betances’ third blown save. … At Citi Field on Sept. 18, Nathan Eovaldi throws another clunker as the Yanks lose, 5-2. They remain 2-1/2 up in the East. …

Chris Young started our 2015 season sim as a fourth outfielder, but injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran have forced him into a more prominent role.

Chris Young started our 2015 season sim as a fourth outfielder, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s lingering injury issues have forced him into a more prominent role. He has provided some big hits despite a low batting average.

Chris Young’s RBI double lifts the Yanks to a 3-2 victory over the Mets on Sept. 19. Tanaka improves to 16-6 and Dellin Betances logs save No. 33 as the Yanks stay 2-1/2 up on Tampa Bay, with a magic number of 13. … Matt Harvey out-pitches Ivan Nova on Sept. 20 as the Mets take two of three in this leg of the Subway Series. The Rays also lose, so the lead remains 2 1/2 … Brian McCann’s 13th-inning RBI single off Matt West lifts the Yanks to a wild 7-6 win on Sept. 21 at Rogers Centre. Esmil Rogers picks up his second win with two innings of scoreless relief.

The Yanks (82-67) remain 2 1/2 up on Tampa Bay (80-70). … New York loses the last two games to Toronto by scores of 6-2 and 6-3, trimming the lead to 1 1/2 games. Poor Nathan Eovaldi falls to 8-19. … A five-run ninth inning lifts the Yankees to a 7-6 win over the White Sox on Sept. 25. Garrett Jones walks it off with a three-run homer. Jose Ramirez gets the win as the Yanks’ lead is back to 2 1/2, magic number of eight. … Nova takes the loss in a 6-1 decision to Chicago on Sept. 25 as the Rays close within 1 1/2 … Pineda is spanked for 12 hits by the White Sox in a 4-2 loss on Sept. 26. The lead is now just a half-game as the Yanks (83-71) are 3-7 in their last 10 games. …

Carlos Beltran's two-run, game-tying double off Alexi Ogando on Sept. 29  was one of the the Yanks' biggest hits of the year.

Carlos Beltran’s two-run, game-tying double off Alexi Ogando on Sept. 29 was one of the the Yanks’ biggest hits of the year.

Chicago’s Jordan Danks holds the Yanks to a run over seven innings in a 6-1 loss on Sept. 27. Sabathia gets thumped. Tampa Bay also loses, reducing the Yanks’ magic number to seven. … It’s all tied in the East as the Yanks lose to the Red Sox, 10-3, on Sept. 28. New York and Tampa Bay hold identical 83-73 records. … Carlos Beltran’s two-run double off Alexi Ogando in the eighth inning Sept. 29 is arguably the Yanks’ biggest hit of the year. Mark Teixeira follows with an RBI single off Junichi Tazawa and Dellin Betances slams the door in the ninth as the Yanks beat Boston, 9-6. They remain even with the Rays at 84-73. …

Brett Gardner’s 11th inning double off Koji Uehara sets off a wild celebration in the Bronx on Sept. 30, scoring Stephen Drew to lift the Yankees to a 3-2 win over Boston. The Yanks and Rays remain tied for the AL East lead, at 85-73.

Checking In… Oct. 1, 2015

Greetings from New York CityHello from Yankee Stadium, where we have seen some incredible baseball in front of packed houses over the last few days. While it seems pretty assured that the Yankees will be playing in the postseason, ending their two-year drought, the division is still very much up for grabs. Joe Girardi keeps talking about how it is hugely important to win the division and not put yourself in a situation where you’re the second Wild Card, guaranteed only to extend your season for nine innings. We’ll know if they can hold off Tampa Bay and accomplish that goal soon. 

This is a good time to promise to everyone still reading that, yes, I stuck to the ground rules of the simulation and did not alter the settings to help the Yankees. This is just what happened. “You can’t predict baseball,” as John Sterling would say.

Tomorrow … the playoff tickets have been printed and sold. What happens next?

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