New York Yankees: Jacoby Ellsbury

Burning Questions: O, what happened?

October, 1, 2014
10/01/14
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This is the second in a series of 10 Burning Questions the Yankees face this offseason.

You know what the Yankees' offense really could've used this year? A second baseman with a .314 average, 14 homers and 82 RBIs. Maybe mix in an .836 OPS and wins above replacement (WAR) of 6.4, according to Baseball Reference, plus an everyday player.

[+] EnlargeRobinson Cano
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesThe Yankees sorely could've used Robinson Cano's bat to add some pop to the weak offense in 2014.
If the Yankees had won six more games, they would have hosted an AL wild-card game on Tuesday. When the Yankees didn't sign Robinson Cano for 10 years, it made sense for the long haul, but it did hurt them in 2014. He might have been the difference between having an offense that was good enough to make the playoffs, instead of the anemic one they displayed in 2014.

Brian Cashman admitted he had to play wait-and-see on the second and third base market last winter, as Cano's free agency and Alex Rodriguez's suspension played itself out. The Yankees ended up with the likes of Brian Roberts (1.0 WAR), Kelly Johnson (0.3 WAR) and Yangervis Solarte (1.0 WAR) at second and third. Eventually, Chase Headley (2.1), Stephen Drew (-0.7 WAR) and Martin Prado (1.4 WAR) showed up. But it was too late and not enough.

So Cano's absence wasn't made up by his actual replacements. Nor was his offense really found from the guys who were supposed to help fill the void.

The idea was the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran would offset Cano's departure.

Ellsbury, in the first season of a seven-year, $153 million deal, had an OPS of .747 for the Yankees. Do you know what Drew's OPS for his career is? .747.

In the second half of the year, Ellsbury had an on-base percentage of .298. This is scary stuff.

From the get go, Ellsbury's contract looked like one you might like at the beginning but not the end. Ellsbury is just 31 years old, but there was not enough bang for Yankees' bucks in his first year.

McCann started off very slow and seemed impacted by the more shift-happy AL East compared to the NL East. The thing about McCann is his numbers were worse (but not that much different) than his last three years with the Braves.

2014: 140 games, .232, 23 HRs, 75 RBIs, .692 OPS
2011-13: 117 games, 21 HRs, 64 RBIs, .770 OPS

So McCann might have room to improve but probably not that much. Plus, he will turn 31 years old -- which is more significant for a catcher -- when spring training begins.

Beltran had better than a 1.000 OPS in his first 15 games as a Yankee. Then he tumbled over a wall in Tampa and never was the same. Beltran also had the bone spur in his elbow for most of the season.

But his missing bat was the difference-maker -- in a negative way -- for this Yankees team. Without a strong Beltran in the middle of the order, the Yankees ended up being too reliant on Mark Teixeira.

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Will the Yankees' offense improve next season?

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Discuss (Total votes: 4,129)

Beltran, 37, seemed like he could have been in better shape, but he denied that was a problem.

Beltran -- with the bone spur cleaned up -- could be a source of major improvement for the Yankees in 2015. While he wasn't the great player he has been in 2014, he ended up with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 109 games. Again, not great in the least, but not awful when you consider he was playing hurt.

That leads us to Teixeira, whose season just collapsed in the second half. Teixeira's OPS in the first half was a very respectable .805. In the second half, it was .573. That is not good.

Now, Teixeira and the Yankees think that another season removed from wrist surgery should do him a lot of good. That makes some sense. Think about having a bad wrist and swinging violently day after day. That can't help. Plus, Teixeira said he will have more of a normal winter of training and will be stronger entering the spring.

Still, Teixeira is a $22 million player who needs to be hitting sixth. The 2014 Yankees needed more from him, which is why I thought he was the most important player on the team entering the season.

If he had kept up his first-half pace, maybe the Yankees would have scored more than 633 runs, the third fewest in all of the American League.

All and all, the Yankees need more from Ellsbury, Beltran, Teixeira and McCann if the offense is going to be any better than middling next season.

Question: Will the Yankees' offense be better next season?

Money in the bank or down the drain?

September, 30, 2014
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The New York Yankees have always spent big. But it’s starting to cost them.

The Yankees have now missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Why? The team's player investments haven’t produced.

And, due to a combination of increasing age and injury history, it doesn't seem likely those investments will be paying any future dividends.

Earlier this season, we examined how the team’s highest-paid players were performing relative to their contracts using Fangraphs WAR and True Value to measure just how much bang the Yankees were getting for their buck.

Now that it’s over, let’s take a look. The results will have fans shaking their heads.

It’s probably not the best time to point out that baseball-reference’s Pythagorean win-loss had the Yankees at 77-85. The team had a run differential of minus-31 -- 633 runs for, 664 runs against -- which is why manager Joe Girardi gets a lot of credit. The Yankees went 84-78 in 2014.

Teixeira
Teixeira
1B Mark Teixeira, age 34
2014 salary: $23.1 million/WAR: 0.7/True Value: $3.9 million
(2015 salary: $23.1 million)

We find this interesting: Teixeira played 123 games in 2012 and hit .251/.332/.475 in 524 at-bats. This season, he also played 123 games and hit .216/.313/.398 in 508 at-bats. Injuries have obviously played a factor. At this point, the Yankees would gladly take the 2012 version of Teixeira in 2015. But will they get it? He’s signed through 2016.

Sabathia
Sabathia
SP CC Sabathia, age 34
2014 salary: $23 million/WAR: 0.1/True Value: $0.8 million
(2015 salary: $23 million)

In his last 40 starts, Sabathia has posted a 4.87 ERA while giving up 282 hits and 38 home runs in 257 innings. If he regains his health, perhaps he can be an innings-eater at the back-end of the rotation. Can he be anything more? He has a vesting option of $25 million ($5 million buyout) in 2017 that kicks in if his left shoulder doesn’t let him down.

Cano
Tanaka
SP Masahiro Tanaka, age 25
2014 salary: $22 million/WAR: 3.2/True Value: $17.5 million
(2015 salary: $22 million)

If Tanaka (13-5, 2.77 ERA) gives the Yankees 30 or so starts, he easily would’ve exceeded his contract in his rookie season. But ... injuries. And who knows how he’s going to hold up going forward. Will he eventually need Tommy John surgery? He’s signed through 2023, but can opt out after the 2017 season.

Ellsbury
Ellsbury
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, age 31
2014 salary: $21.1 million/WAR: 3.6/True Value: $20 million
(2015 salary: $21.1 million)

Ellsbury’s first season in pinstripes was mostly a success. He hit .271/.328/.419 while also stealing 39 bases. For much of the season, he had to hit third. Ellsbury held up physically, which was a plus. He just has to keep it up. He’s signed through 2020 and has a 2021 club option worth $21 million ($5 million buyout).

McCann
C Brian McCann, age 30
2014 salary: $17 million/WAR: 2.3/True Value: $12.8 million
(2015 salary: $17 million)

McCann is a hitter fans can be optimistic about because of his power and affinity for the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. McCann hit 23 homers, but batted just .232/.286/.406. The hope is he’ll be more comfortable and have a bounce back year in 2015. McCann has a $15 million club option for 2019 ($5 million buyout).

Kuroda
Kuroda
SP Hiroki Kuroda, age 39
2014 salary: $16 million/WAR: 3.5/True Value $19.2 million
(free agent)

Kuroda (11-9, 3.71 ERA) is the only Yankee on this list who outperformed his salary. He stayed healthy, making 32 starts, and was pretty consistent. Is he finished playing baseball?

Beltran
Beltran
RF Carlos Beltran, age 37
2014 salary: $15 million/WAR: minus-0.5/True Value: minus-$2.7 million
(2015 salary: $15 million)

Beltran had a disastrous season, struggling with injuries and hitting just .233/.301/.402. Can he come back healthy and be as productive as he was in his two previous seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals? He’s signed through 2016.

Jeter
SS Derek Jeter, age 40
2014 salary: $12 million/WAR: minus-0.1/True Value: minus-0.3 million
(retired)

Yes, it was a storybook sendoff. But overall, Jeter’s 2014 season was a forgettable one from a performance perspective. He hit just .256/.304/.313.

TOTALS
2014 salary: $148.2 million/WAR: 12.8/True Value: $71.2 million

Simple math shows that the Yankees overpaid for this group of players by a total of $77 million. It is all the more incredible that they somehow finished with a winning record despite the injuries to their starting rotation (made only 77 starts combined) and the lack of production from their batting order (seven of their nine spots in the order finished with an OPS below .700).

Going into next season, the Yankees owe Teixeira, Sabathia, Tanaka, Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran and Alex Rodriguez ($22 million) a combined $143.2 million. And GM Brian Cashman, assuming he’s brought back, as expected, hasn’t even addressed replacing Jeter or re-signing David Robertson, Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, among a bevy of things on his to-do list (revamping farm system, perhaps finding another power bat/proven starter, etc.).

Question: How many of those players do you feel good about going forward?
NEW YORK -- There is a young outfielder in the New York Yankees clubhouse these days, a September call-up named Jose Pirela, and when -- or if -- he finally gets into a game, he will be the 57th player to have appeared in a Yankees uniform this season, eclipsing by one last year's franchise record for players used in a single season.

That tells you all you need to know about how much of a role injuries played in the imminent collapse of the Yankees' 2014 season. If you thought their 2013 clubhouse was a baseball MASH unit, well, this one was every bit as bad, and might still turn out to be worse.

Still, until the fourth inning of Friday night's 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, when Jacoby Ellsbury felt something grab in his right hamstring, there was still a chance, however slim, that the Yankees might yet overcome the injury bug and survive to play at least one playoff game this October.

[+] EnlargeJacoby Ellsbury
AP Photo/Kathy KmonicekJacoby Ellsbury is just the latest Yankee to get injured.
Well, those chances are now slim and none, and like my old pal Don King used so say, slim's out of town.

The Yankees survived the loss of four of their five starting pitchers, including their erstwhile ace, CC Sabathia, and the sensational Masahiro Tanaka. They weathered the continual lineup absences of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. They shrugged off the loss, last week, of Martin Prado, a replacement for a replacement, who had played well until falling victim to a season-ending appendectomy.

Despite all that, they have remained alive, albeit barely, in the hunt for the second AL wild card, and with their third straight win Friday night, their E# -- that is, elimination number -- is holding steady at six, with nine games to play.

It is not a great chance, but it is still a chance.

But not without Ellsbury. The $153 million center fielder may not have had an MVP-caliber season relative to the rest of baseball. He batted .271 with 16 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .747 OPS -- but relative to the rest of the Yankees' lineup, he was Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He was the team leader in RBIs, had the highest batting average in their everyday lineup, and, with 39 stolen bases, was the Yankees' leading base stealer by nearly double over his closest rival (Brett Gardner, 20).

And he was having a hell of a night Friday before he pushed it a little too hard trying to beat out a double-play ball in the fourth.

He had homered -- a two-run shot deep into the right-field seats -- in the third to wipe out a 2-1 Jays lead, and the grounder that ended his night, and probably his season, scored two more runs to provide the rest of the scoring in a 5-3 win.

But what does it matter to a team to gain a victory but lose an offensive spark plug?

To this team, it means pretty much everything, since aside from Ellsbury, Gardner and newcomer Chris Young, the rest of the offense has misfired all season.

That is why there was little joy on manager Joe Girardi's face or mirth in his voice when he met the media after the game, because he knew better than anyone that on this night, the Yankees had lost much more than they had gained.

He didn't quite have all the bad news -- Ellsbury had been taken for an MRI and there was neither a diagnosis of the severity of his injury nor a prognosis for his return -- but when asked if he was concerned that he might have lost Ellsbury for the remainder of the season, Girardi said, "Well, I think that’s a distinct possibility. Any time a guy comes out and grabs his hamstring, you’re always concerned. It's not what you want. We just lost Prado, and Jake had swung the bat extremely well tonight. He’s a huge part of our offense. It's not what you want, but we have to deal with it. That’s all we can do."

The problem is, the Yankees are running as short of bodies as they are of games.

Presuming Ellsbury is gone -- and that is a safe presumption -- it means more playing time for Young in left, with Gardner in center and Ichiro Suzuki, whose 40-year-old body does not allow him to play effectively every day anymore, in right. Beltran, both slumping and in pain from a bone chip in his elbow, is the backup outfielder. Anything else gets cobbled out of Zelous Wheeler and Chase Headley, both infielders by trade, and of course, Pirela, who was issued No. 67 but really should have been given 57. (That one currently belongs to Rich Hill, a rarely used lefty reliever who became a necessity when the Yankees decided to cut bait on Matt Thornton).

It has been scotch tape and mirrors all season for this club, and somehow those makeshift remedies were holding it all together, but now it looks like it will finally come apart, for the last time.

That is why Girardi could not really revel in the pitching of Hiroki Kuroda, who gave the Yankees his usual 6⅔ steady if unspectacular innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, or his bullpen, which -- Shawn Kelley's Thursday night flameout nothwithstanding -- seems to be getting healthy again, with Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren combing for 2⅓ innings of scoreless, one-hit ball.

Nor could he really celebrate the play of Derek Jeter, who in the first two games of his final homestand is 4-for-8 with a home run, plus a terrific heads-up play to trap Jose Reyes off second base in the first inning.

Lots of good things happened for the Yankees on this night, but the manager couldn't seem to set aside the one bad thing that happened to them, because he knew that is the one that is likely to finally derail what is left of his season.

"You could hit Ells anywhere and he’s going to be productive," Girardi said. "That’s the type of player he is. He’s got great speed. He’s really a smart baserunner. He knows how to steal bases, knows how to get himself into scoring position. He’s a great player. Offensively, defensively, there’s nothing this kid can’t do and he’s meant a whole lot to our club.”

Despite his history of injuries, Ellsbury played 149 games this season, and any Yankee fan would have signed on for that when the season began, especially after he missed 10 days of spring training with a calf injury. But now, 149 games will not turn out to have been enough, and the Yankees can only hope he will be all the things he was for them this year, next year.

Right now, he's just one more entry on a long list of players who broke down before his team reached the finish line.

Which probably means that a young man named Jose Pirela, who has never set foot on a big-league ball field, may be about to. And when he does, he will make Yankee history.

But, as Girardi has had to say way too many times this season, not the kind that you want.
TORONTO -- Jacoby Ellsbury got into Sunday's game in the top of the ninth inning and almost made something happen for the Yankees by dropping a bloop into short right field and legging it to second before he was removed for pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki to protect his sprained left ankle.

But while he seemed to come out of it OK, Ellsbury's next move will be to an MRI tube. The Yankees' center fielder somewhat inadvertently revealed after the game that he would undergo the test Sunday night after the team's flight arrives from Toronto.

“It’s still sore, but over the last couple days, they’re real happy with the progress that I’ve made," Ellsbury said. "We’ve got the off-day, but I’ll get the MRI tonight [and] have our doctors look at it. Hopefully it’s a good MRI."

That raised some eyebrows in the clubhouse, since manager Joe Girardi never mentioned anything about an MRI either before or after the game, though it was understood Ellsbury would be examined by Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad sometime between now and Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox.

"Did I say something wrong?" a somewhat sheepish Ellsbury asked.

It's up to the Yankees to determine whether Ellsbury is in violation of team protocol -- remember GM Brian Cashman's violent reaction when Alex Rodriguez claimed he had been "cleared to play" -- but the reality is, he looked much better this morning than he had Saturday night, he swung well during batting practice, and he seemed to be running full-speed in the ninth inning.

"My adrenaline was pumping," Ellsbury admitted. "I typically don’t pinch hit. I stepped out of the box a few times [and] took a couple deep breaths to get my heart rate down. Once I saw that ball go in the air, I knew it was going to take a high hop. There was only one thing I could do. I was going as hard as I could run."

"We’re still concerned about some things -- the starting, the stopping, maybe sliding and jamming it again," Girardi said. "We’ll see how he is on Tuesday."

After the, um, MRI.

Rogers, over and out: Sunday's loss made it five straight series the Yankees have lost here at the Rogers Centre, including all three this season. They still lead the season series against the Blue Jays 8-7, with three games left to play at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 18, 19 and 20.

Coming back to earth: Brandon McCarthy, who took the loss Sunday, has now lost four of his past five decisions after starting 4-0 as a Yankee. More disturbing are the three home runs he allowed, a number he had not allowed since April 5 in his second start of the season for the Diamondbacks. In fact, the long ball had been McCarthy's undoing in Arizona -- he had allowed 15 homers in 18 starts -- but he seemed to have kicked the habit as a Yankee with a more effective cutter, a pitch the Diamondbacks had discouraged him from throwing. Edwin Encarnacion's game-tying home run in the seventh came on a cutter McCarthy called "a terrible pitch." The two others he allowed, to Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista, came on sixth-inning fastballs, the second a sinker that strayed up in the strike zone. In his past six starts, McCarthy's Yankees ERA has risen from 1.45 to 2.80.

Yankees' offense simply not enough

August, 10, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Wait long enough, and they score a run.

One run. Not enough.

And unless things change, that could well be the story of this New York Yankees season. For all the money they spent last winter trying to fix an offense gone bad, the Yankees still don't score enough runs.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsJacoby Ellsbury's two-out homer in the ninth accounted for the Yankees' only run this weekend.
After a shutout loss Saturday and an almost-shutout Sunday, the Yankees are averaging exactly four runs a game. You know how many runs that fatally flawed Yankees team averaged last season? Four runs a game.

Not enough.

Jacoby Ellsbury's two-out home run in the ninth inning Sunday kept alive one Yankee streak, as they've now gone 2,512 games since the last time they were blanked in back-to-back games (in May 1999 by the Angels). They're the only team in the majors that hasn't suffered back-to-back shutouts even once this century.

And a lot of good that will do them if they're shut out of the playoffs for a second straight October.

The danger is all the more real after a 4-3 homestand that began with three impressive wins over the Detroit Tigers but ended with two lifeless losses against the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees could spend all the time they wanted crediting Indians starters Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, but the fact is that this team's offensive troubles have been too long-lasting to simply write them off as the effect of seeing good pitching.

"We haven't been great all year," said Mark Teixeira, who returned to the lineup for Sunday's 4-1 loss to Carrasco. "We need to pick it up a little bit."

The Yankees would like to see this week's series in Baltimore as their chance to make up ground on the first-place Orioles -- and make an impact on the American League East race. They play 10 of their remaining 45 games against Baltimore, which is a good thing if they can beat them and get back in the race -- but not so good if they can't find a way to start scoring runs.

They did have a 10-run game on Friday night, one they hoped might be the start of something big. Instead, the Yankees followed it up with a pair of games in which they had 10 total hits and never even advanced a runner as far as third base until Ellsbury's consolation homer off Indians closer Cody Allen.

They allowed Carrasco to break a string of 17 consecutive winless starts, and yet they wanted us to believe that maybe we shouldn't have expected more out of them.

"He was 96, 97 [mph] with a lot of movement, and he threw strikes," Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said. "He was good. He was really good."

Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda wasn't. Kuroda had little command and was actually fortunate to make it through 4 2/3 innings and to allow just three runs. But as Yankee manager Joe Girardi said, it hardly mattered what Kuroda did, with what little his hitters were doing.

Eventually, the Yankees did score a run. One run.

Not enough.

Yankees explore deals, keep eye on Cuba

July, 30, 2014
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Cole Hamels, Jon Lester & David PriceGetty ImagesDon't hold your breath on the Yanks getting Cole Hamels, Jon Lester or David Price. So who do they have their eye on? And who do you want?
The Yankees want to upgrade their talent, but they would prefer a rental compared to taking on money into next year and beyond, a baseball official with knowledge of their thinking told ESPN New York.

The Yankees are always big-game hunters, so they are in on all talks, but they know the Red Sox wouldn't consider them for a Jon Lester deal, and they don't feel compelled to be the team to "overwhelm" the Phillies into trading Cole Hamels. David Price, if he is traded anywhere, is not headed to the Bronx.

As far as Cliff Lee, the Yankees are acting like everyone else -- scared off by his large contract and his lack of health. They also know Lee would make it through waivers in August, so if he were to pitch better and they were to feel they were one starter away, he would likely still be out there. They would have to change their minds on Lee, though, for that to happen.

White Sox lefty John Danks also falls into the too-much-money-for-too-little-production category at the moment. Plus, the Yankees could add Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka next month, which would be serious upgrades.

On the outfield market, a source said Marlon Byrd was more likely than Alex Rios, but didn't sound terribly optimistic either would end up in the Bronx. Byrd is owed $8 million for next season and, with 600 at-bats in 2015, can vest a 2016 option for another $8 million.

Rios has a team option for $12 million for 2015, although if he were traded to the Bronx, the Yankees could buy him out of that season for $2 million. Still, they aren't going to give up upper-echelon prospects for 14 months of Rios, let alone two months.

That said, both would be substantial upgrades over Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro's OPS is .636, while Byrd's is .803 and Rios' is .766.


A guy like the struggling Josh Willingham might make some sense, as CBS' Jon Heyman suggested.

The Yankees do have some interest in 27-year-old Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, but New York should not be considered the favorite. When asked to grade Castillo on a Yasiel Puig-to-Andy Morales scale, one international scout said simply, "[Castillo] is not Puig. He's 27 and 5-foot-10, at best. He's got impressive tools. Puig has insane tools."

The Yankees just spent a total of $250 million on outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran, so one source said they will not "go crazy" over Castillo. Castillo is said to profile like Ellsbury and Gardner as a player. Since some have questioned having two of that type of outfielder, it is hard to see the Yankees going for the hat trick.

There has been some speculation that Castillo could play second base, which is a need position for the Yankees going forward.

They have top prospect Rob Refsnyder at Triple-A, but he is trying to transition from the outfield to second. The Yankees have at least thought about the idea that Castillo could be a second baseman. However, the international scout said he didn't think Castillo could play the position in the majors.

All in all, Brian Cashman has already made what appear to be two good deals, acquiring Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley for little. He may try to go for another of those under-the-radar moves.

Question: What would you like to see the Yankees do before the deadline?

Ellsbury, McCann beat Chapman's heat

July, 20, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Aroldis Chapman is baseball’s premiere flamethrower, with a fastball that averages more than 100 miles per hour.

On Sunday, he threw nine pitches to Jacoby Ellsbury, which registered 100, 100, 100, 102, 102, 101, 100, 101 and 101 on the radar gun.

But the $153 million man wasn’t intimidated by Chapman’s heat.

Leading off the ninth inning of a tie game, Ellsbury stroked an opposite-field single off Chapman and set the stage for the New York Yankees to complete a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium.

“You don’t have much time to think,” Ellsbury said. “You just gotta go up there and trust your hands. It’s fun.”

[+] EnlargeEllsbury
Al Bello/Getty ImagesJacoby Ellsbury, who scored the game-winner, went 4-for-4 with an RBI and two stolen bases.
Ellsbury proceeded to steal second and advance to third on a wild pitch. Mark Teixeira struck out, but Brian McCann gave the Yankees a 3-2 win with a walk-off single.

McCann’s pop fly, which barely reached the outfield grass, should have been caught. Three Reds converged on the ball. But there appeared to be some miscommunication, and a routine out turned into the game-winning hit. Ellsbury scored, and McCann raised his hands while sporting a sheepish grin.

“Nah, but I’ll take it for sure,” McCann replied when asked if he thought he was going to be the hero when he saw the ball in the air. “I just saw everybody looking at each other, so I knew there was a chance, and luckily for us, it fell.”

McCann leads the Yankees with 10 hits against pitches of 95 mph or faster this season. He entered Sunday night as one of five players in the majors with multiple hits against pitches of 99 mph or faster in 2014. His other was a single against a 99 mph fastball from Jake McGee of the Rays on June 30.

Ellsbury finished with a career-high-tying four hits to go along with a walk, a double and an RBI. He also swiped his 26th and 27th bases of the season and added a sliding catch in the third that probably saved at least a run -- if not two -- for good measure.

“He can do anything on a baseball field that you ever want to do, and all his tools were on display today,” McCann said. “He does this on a nightly basis, and it’s a pleasure to watch.”

The “rejuvenated” Yankees (50-47), in the words of David Robertson, have opened the second half by winning three in a row and find themselves just three and a half games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles (53-43) in the AL East. They’ve gotten timely hitting and surprising length out of their patchwork starting rotation.

Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova might be out with injuries, but the Yankees aren’t about to feel sorry for themselves. After all, no one else is.

Hiroki Kuroda, the team’s de facto ace, threw 6 2/3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball, while Derek Jeter and Ellsbury gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead with back-to-back RBI singles in the fifth. Dellin Betances surrendered just his second home run of the season to Jersey’s own Todd Frazier in the eighth, but the Yankees were still able to prevail.

Now they just have to keep it going. Ten of their next 13 games are against last-place teams -- including seven with the lowly Texas Rangers.

If the Yankees are going to make their move, this is the time to do it.

“It’s nice to get that sweep, and hopefully we can continue that momentum in our next series,” McCann said.

Big 3 deliver in Cano's place for a night

July, 18, 2014
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NEW YORK -- The Yankees guaranteed nearly $300 million to three players to essentially replace Robinson Cano's offense.

In the first half, $153 million man Jacoby Ellsbury lived up to his billing -- at least in the eyes of his manager, Joe Girardi.

The $45 million man, Carlos Beltran, has shuttled between the DL and the lineup and is still banged up enough that he can only DH.

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Can Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran spur the Yankee offense in the second half?

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Discuss (Total votes: 896)

The $85 million catcher, Brian McCann, was the biggest disappointment of the first half. He had no injuries or real excuses to lean on, so he took a sledgehammer to his stance ahead of the All-Star break. Now, he has appeared to be a better hitter for more than a week.

On the first day of the second half, the three were responsible for all of the Yankees' four runs, each one a go-ahead hit.

McCann nailed a two-out RBI double in the first. Beltran singled for a 2-1 lead in the third. In the fifth, Ellsbury nailed a two-run shot to complete the four runs the Yankees would need to hold off the Reds, thanks largely to strong outings from three homegrown pitchers: David Phelps, Dellin Betances and David Robertson.

But this was about the imports and the importance for a successful Yankee second half. If the Yankees are going to do anything in these final 10 weeks and change, they are going need McCann and Beltran to join Ellsbury as consistent, productive hitters.

It is as obvious as it is true.

Even with Ellsbury delivering the game's biggest hit, McCann right now is the guy to watch. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .356 (16-for-45) and has raised his average from .220 to .239.

Just prior to the All-Star Break a frustrated McCann, along with hitting coach Kevin Long, decided to reconstruct everything. For his whole life, he had hit with a toe tap. Now it's gone.

McCann had been late on a lot of pitches. So they moved his hands into a more steady, hitting position. Basically, the two cut the fat from his approach so he was ready to get where he needed to be sooner. It is a drastic change that is not yet natural, but it is getting there.

"It feels better every day," McCann said.

McCann had his RBI single in the first, but his at-bat in the third may be more instructive of the direction he is heading. With two men on and one out, he just missed going the other way for a three-run shot off Mike Leake.

It was a hard hit ball that demonstrated McCann may be putting things together. This could be Curtis Granderson in 2010 all over again, when Long reinvented another formerly successful hitter.

Beltran, however, is hard to judge from the first half between his elbow, his knee and a concussion he has said never happened. Beltran stepped off the 7-day concussion list by saying he never thought he had one in the first place.

Whatever the case, he has missed nearly a third of the Yankees' games. But a 2-for-4 night like Friday was a good way to return.

Meanwhile, Ellsbury is hitting .284 with seven homers, 44 RBIs and 25 steals. He may be refreshed after feeling "beat up," in the words of Girardi, before the break.

"It was frustrating watching him play when he was on the other side of the ball," Phelps said of Ellsbury. "It has been nothing but a pleasure to have him on the team. He is another bat who can carry a lineup."

Phelps had already said the same about Beltran and McCann. Those three players don't necessarily have to carry the team or even be Cano, but they have to help make four runs or more a habit for the Yankees going forward.

"Those guys are going to get hot," Derek Jeter said.

If they do, the Yankees may have a chance.

Notes: Jeter started at short for 2,610th time, passing Omar Vizquel for the most on the all-time list. ... The Yankees snapped a five-game home losing streak. ... Phelps has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven starts.

Notes: Ellsbury is 'beat up'

July, 13, 2014
7/13/14
7:03
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BALTIMORE -- Jacoby Ellsbury is DHing in the first-half finale, because, in the words of Joe Girardi, he is "beat up."

“Physically he needed it," Girardi said. "He probably could have used it yesterday, but we decided to do it today instead. Those speed guys get beat up.”

Ellsbury hasn't been much of a speed guy in recent days because he has not been running. This month, he has only attempted four steals and converted just two of them during a game against the Indians. Despite being on base eight times in the last four games, he has not gone even once.

“You play every day and you’re running around, you’re going to get hurt," said Girardi when asked if there is anything specifically wrong with Ellsbury. "It’s probably a different spot every day. Is it anything serious? No."

Notes: To start the second half against the Cincinnati Reds in the Bronx, the Yankees will start David Phelps, Brandon McCarthy and Hiroki Kuroda. Girardi said he designed the rotation so he could give the starters the maximum amount of rest. In other words, he wanted to give Kuroda a little extra time to prevent another collapse, like in 2013. Shane Greene figures to start against the Texas Rangers in the fourth game of the second half. ... Girardi thought Carlos Beltran should be ready to come off the DL after the All-Star break. Beltran is on the seven-day DL with a concussion. ... Girardi predicted Michael Pineda will return this month. If he does, it will most likely not be until near the end of August.

Your daily Yankee transaction: Bryan Mitchell was called up in case the Yankees need a long reliever tonight. Zoilo Almonte was sent down to Triple-A. He will be joined there by Matt Daley and Jim Miller.

Yanks' blueprint coming together in Bronx

June, 20, 2014
6/20/14
12:35
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NEW YORK -- When the Yankees dreamed up their half-billion-dollar free-agent plan this winter, they envisioned it all coming together in three-game sweeps, like the one they just completed over the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.

In the first game, Masahiro Tanaka pitched six strong in a 3-1 win. In the second, Brian McCann nailed a two-run homer and drove in five in the 7-3 victory. In the third, Jacoby Ellsbury continued to be unstoppable on the basepaths, swiping two more to go along with two hits, while Carlos Beltran showed signs he might be on the verge of heating up, recording an RBI double and a sac fly.

You add it all up and here come the Yankees. They are now tied in the loss column with the first-place Blue Jays. They are 1½ games back because the Blue Jays have three more wins.

This is clearly not a vintage edition of the recent AL East. Mirroring much of baseball, it is filled with teams that have flaws. The Yankees, though, might be the strongest of the weak.

[+] EnlargeDavid Phelps
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDavid Phelps allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings to help the Yanks secure a three-game sweep.
Their pitching continues to shine. David Phelps limited the Jays to just two runs in seven innings. Both he and manager Joe Girardi felt his pickoff of Melky Cabrera from second base in the first inning with Edwin Encarnacion at the plate was the biggest play of the game.

The Yankees own the Blue Jays in the Bronx, having beaten them an astounding 16 straight times here, which has to leave some doubt in the inexperienced Jays' minds. Besides Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, Toronto doesn't have many guys who have played games for a division-leader team.

Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran all did so before they became Yankees. Ellsbury is a streaky player. He can mess up a defense -- which he did in Thursday's win -- using his speed to scoot around the bases and score on a short sac fly off Beltran's bat. Ellsbury made it so catcher Erik Kratz had to rush a tag on Cabrera's throw. Kratz couldn't hang on to the ball, and the Yankees had the lead for good. Ellsbury swiped two bags Thursday and hasn't been nabbed in his past 12 attempts.

While McCann had the big game Wednesday, Beltran is the guy who might be heating up. Girardi noted that Beltran is squaring more balls. Beltran, who missed three weeks with a bone spur in his right elbow, agreed he is feeling sharper at the plate. More results could come soon for the .221-hitting Beltran.

The Yankees' bullpen is deep in the post-Mariano Rivera era. On Thursday -- with David Robertson and Dellin Betances unavailable -- it was Adam Warren who closed out the game for his second save.

The Yankees have won seven of their past nine and nine of their past 13. They are closing in on first place.

Next up in this string of 15 straight games against the AL East are the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles (37-34) are just one length behind the Yankees as the games start to feel a little bigger.

"Of course they do, because we are all kind of bunched together," Girardi said. "There is a lot of meaning to these games. We all understand that, and we know they understand that. When you face each other 19 times, you look to try to catch people, put some distance between some people and win series."

Umps view: On the interference call in the fourth inning, the umpires clarified why they awarded Dioner Navarro first base on a ball that Mark Teixeira caught on the fly. Just prior to the catch, Encarnacion bumped into Teixeira.

First-base ump Chris Conroy said the contact was "unintentional but interference nevertheless, therefore [Encarnacion is] the one declared out."

Crew chief Jerry Meals added that Navarro got the base, because on a "fair batted ball, he goes to first base. The ball is dead."

If the umpires had ruled that Encarnacion had intentionally interfered then, they could have upheld their initial double-play ruling.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 6, Mariners 3

June, 13, 2014
6/13/14
1:20
AM ET


SEATTLE -- The last time the Yankees pulled off a sweep in Seattle, the manager's name was Torre, the catcher's name was Girardi and the shortstop's name was -- well, you already know.

That was 15 years ago, a long time between sweeps and, in the eyes of the Yankees, something that was long overdue.

Well, the wait is over. Thursday's 6-2 win over the Mariners completed the Yankees' first sweep here since August 1999, and they did it with a rookie pitcher who wasn't even a starter until a month ago and an offense that has been missing in action. Now, on to Oakland!

Who are these people?: The Yankees had not scored more than four runs in a game all June. In fact, the last time they did was May 28, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 in St. Louis, but facing a pitcher (Roenis Elias) who had stifled them at Yankee Stadium six weeks ago, the bats came to life early, scoring two runs each in three of the first four innings.

High-speed Chase: In his best big league performance to date, Chase Whitley worked quickly and efficiently, needing just 82 pitches to get 23 outs. Manager Joe Girardi inexplicably pulled him with two outs and no one on in the eighth. Whitley allowed two runs on five hits, one a solo homer by Logan Morrison in the second -- the first home run Whitley had allowed all season in the majors or minors -- walked none, struck out six and retired the last nine hitters he faced. Whitley has not walked a batter in his past four starts, a stretch of 114 batters.

Jeter en fuego: Suddenly, Derek Jeter is red-hot at the plate, singling in each of his first three at-bats Thursday, the last a two-run single in the fourth that gave the Yankees a 6-1 lead. Jeter is 8-for-20 on the road trip (.400) and has 10 hits in his past 28 at-bats (.357). Jeter was also 7-for-12 (.583) with four runs in this road series, his last trip to Seattle -- where his big league career started in 1995. Maybe it's the coffee; he's a big Starbucks guy.

Jacoby Jack: The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0, first-inning lead when Jacoby Ellsbury drove an Elias fastball into the right-field seats with Jeter aboard. It was Ellsbury's fourth home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Larceny: Ellsbury leaped high to take an extra-base hit away from Robinson Cano -- and a run away from the Mariners -- in the fifth inning, snagging Cano's long drive that was hit almost to the identical area of the park as his home run off Masahiro Tanaka Wednesday night a step or two in front of the fence with a runner on first to end the inning.

Hip check: Ellsbury -- who was spied with a large ice pack on his left knee after Wednesday night's game -- was removed in the seventh inning and replaced in center by Brett Gardner, who moved over from left. It was announced that Ellsbury left the game with right hip tightness, an injury he first suffered last weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.

Faked you out!: Just moments after entering the game, Gardner deked everyone in the park -- especially the Mariners' Mike Zunino -- by leaping up against the center-field wall but not immediately acting as if he had made the catch. Zunino went into his home run trot but had to turn back to the dugout when Gardner suddenly produced the ball as the crowd groaned.

Welcome back, Sori: The slumping Alfonso Soriano, who had not played since Saturday against the Royals, celebrated his return to the lineup with a double that was absolutely scorched into the left-field gap, scoring Jeter (single) and Ellsbury (walk) to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead in the third.

Fond farewell?: If it's true, as Girardi hinted, that John Ryan Murphy might soon be headed back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so that Francisco Cervelli can be reinstated, Murphy made the most of what might have been his last Yankees start for awhile. The catcher formerly known as "JR" had two hits -- a single and a double -- and scored a run. Overall, he is hitting .310 with one home run and eight RBIs.

Kelley's back: … but is his back OK? In his first outing since going on the DL with a lumbar spine strain on May 7, Shawn Kelley faced three hitters in the ninth, and all three hit the ball hard. Stefen Romero sent Ichiro Suzuki to the wall for a leaping catch to start the inning, and, after Dustin Ackley and Morrison smacked back-to-back doubles -- accounting for Seattle's third run -- Girardi pulled Kelley and had to go to David Robertson, who struck out the last two batters he faced to earn his 16th save.

Tomorrow: Game 1 of a three-game series against the Athletics in Oakland, California.

Pitching matchups for the weekend series: David Phelps (1-4, 4.88 ERA) versus RHP Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83) on Friday, Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12) versus LHP Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20) on Saturday and Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97) versus RHP Jesse Chavez (5-4, 3.04) on Sunday. The first two games are at 10:05 p.m., and the finale is at 4:05 p.m.

Where are the stars?

June, 9, 2014
6/09/14
1:49
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The Yankees guaranteed nearly $300 million to three free agents this offseason in hopes the trio could replace Robinson Cano's offense. Brian McCann ($85M), Jacoby Ellsbury ($153M) and Carlos Beltran ($45M) have failed so far.

The Yankees have scored just 245 runs in their first 62 games. Through 62 games in 2013 -- with a Game 62 lineup that featured Vernon Wells in left, Kevin Youkilis at first, Chris Stewart catching, Reid Brignac at short and David Adams at third -- the Yankees had tallied 252 runs. But they were 10 games over then. Now, they are just a .500 team.

[+] EnlargeRobinson Cano
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesThe Yankees spent big coin trying to match the production they lost in Robinson Cano's departure.
With 100 games to go, the question that seems to fair ask in their first seasons is this: Are these free agents stars?

What I mean is: Are these players who can carry the Yankees' load offensively?

They haven't been that so far -- although Ellsbury has been OK. There is plenty of time to change the narrative. But if it continues the trio will be a more than quarter-billion dollar disappointment. Brian Cashman didn't immediately return a phone call seeking his opinions on the subject.

Let's take a look at some of the evidence.

Trending: McCann is a seven-time All-Star, but he has had bad seasons as well -- at least one very bad one. While his career average is .274 and his career OPS is .815, he batted .230 with a .699 OPS in 2012.

McCann's higher average and OPS seasons came in the first half of his career. In his initial five seasons (2005-2009), his batting average was .293 with an .853 OPS. Over the past four full seasons (2010-2013) with the Braves, his average was .257 with a .786 OPS.

He will start Monday night's game batting .225 with a .647 OPS. The catching position is not much of an offensive spot these days. McCann's .647 OPS is 11th among all catchers in baseball.

Still, the Yankees' design in giving the 30-year-old McCann a contract for five years and $85 million (with a $15 million option) was to have a serious advantage in a weak hitting position.

McCann is renowned for handling a pitching staff, but he throws runners out at around an average rate -- and you could keep Stewart to do that.

It is too early to say McCann was a bad signing. He is adjusting to a number of things: from moving away from his hometown of Atlanta to the American League, to trying to live up to a huge, new deal.

It is also a little unfair to totally question the move yet, because there weren't many, including me, who didn't think that McCann was a good sign. However, it is fair to wonder if the Yankees would have been far better to have signed Russell Martin for two years and $17 million before the 2013 season.

At that point, however, Hal Steinbrenner had his $189M goal and the front office was not allowed to strike such a deal. In hindsight, the Martin move would have given the Yankees much more flexibility going forward.

Alomar Syndrome: When the New York Mets traded for Roberto Alomar in December 2001, Mets manager Bobby Valentine basically asked: If Alomar is still so great, why did the Cleveland Indians trade him?

"Why do we have him?" Valentine said. "I've been asked that by so many people."

That brings us to Ellsbury. Ellsbury's contract is for seven years and $153 million. That is star money. There are things he does that win games that don't shine as brightly when you look at his baseball reference page. He is so proficient at stealing bases that late in games he can move around the diamond just with his legs.

But right now, Ellsbury is in the midst of a 13-game hitting streak. He is hitting .287 with a .761 OPS. He has stolen 18 bags, which projects to nearly the 52 he swiped in 2013. He has scored 30 runs, which, if continues that pace, would give him 78 on the season. In years he has not been hurt, Ellsbury scores around 100 runs or more.

So where are we going with this? The Red Sox barely had interest in Ellsbury in the neighborhood he was shopping. What did they know?

The one thing everyone agreed upon is that Ellsbury's contract is one that probably only has diminishing returns. With his injury history and his reliance on his legs, what type of player will he be when he reaches his mid-30s. He turns 31 in September.

Ellsbury is a fine player. He has done OK, but hasn't been anything that special. Why did the Red Sox let him leave without a fight?

Beltran can't be judged, yet he can be: When the Yankees didn't try to maneuver before 2012 to add Carlos Beltran, it was in part because they were worried about his injury history. After two healthy seasons in St. Louis, they convinced themselves to take the chance on him. They have signed him for three years.

Beltran has only played in 37 games, so it is a bit early to judge his .218 average and .672 OPS. However, he is on a three-year, $45 million contract. What can the Yankees' reasonably expect from him when he is already 37? Will they be paying a player big dollars as he breaks down toward the end of his career?

There are a lot of stories still to be written about the trio of free agents the Yankees signed to improve their offense, but it hasn't started well. It makes you wonder how much it will improve.

QUESTION: Do you think there are better days for McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran?

Ellsbury, Jeter, McCann are failing Yankees

June, 8, 2014
6/08/14
8:58
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Both run-scoring base hits by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday came on balls New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury came close to catching, but couldn’t quite come up with.

On the list of problems the Yankees currently have, Ellsbury’s defense may not rank high. But when the team put up $153 million to get Ellsbury, the Yankees didn’t expect his defensive numbers to be what they are.

Ellsbury ranks 30th in defensive runs saved among the 35 center fielders with the most innings played this season. He’s not catching the balls similar to the one hit by Lorenzo Cain as often as he has in any prior season in his career. He has rated above average on the “deep ball” component of the defensive runs saved stat in every year since 2008. In 2014, he’s well below average.

Now, you’ll probably point out that Ellsbury has made his share of very good catches this season, and that is true. He has 16 “good fielding plays” (think Web Gem nominees) based on defensive evaluations by Baseball Info Solutions (a video scouting service used by teams and media), and should easily surpass the 27 he had last season.

But he has 10 defensive misplays & errors, only three fewer than he had in all of 2013.

Those misplays and just-misses add up over the long run. On Sunday, they contributed to another Yankees defeat.

That’s one of the more fixable problems the Yankees are currently dealing with. (The sample size is small enough to think it could be just a temporary funk, or that adjustments to Ellsbury's positioning could fix things.)

What else is of immediate concern at the moment?

Time to move Jeter down?
Derek Jeter is now 4-for-30 this month, and it has become talk-show fodder that the time has arrived to move Jeter down in the lineup.

That may be warranted. Jeter currently ranks last in the majors in isolated power, a stat that measures a hitter's ability to garner extra bases on his hits (in other words, hit doubles, triples and home runs).

Since getting four hits against the Chicago White Sox on May 25, Jeter has 46 at-bats and only one extra-base hit. His slash line is .174/.191/.196 in that span.

We know that Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long likes to chart a “well-hit average” stat. Our version of that stat (tracked by a company that provides data to teams, including the Yankees) has Jeter with only two balls that registered as hard-hit in his past 11 games.

What’s up with McCann?
Brian McCann is hitting .234 with a .319 slugging percentage and no home runs in his past 15 games.

McCann’s 2014 numbers resemble those from his 2012 season, when he hit .230, with 20 home runs and only 14 doubles, and slugged .399.

The cause of the low batting average is partly McCann’s stubbornness in pulling ground ball after ground ball. He’s 8-for-58 when hitting a ground ball this season, and 2-for-31 when pulling one.

The minimal power is an issue, particularly away from Yankee Stadium, where he has only two home runs in 106 at-bats.

Long may want to take a Curtis Granderson-type approach in dealing with McCann, to help get him back to hooking pitches over the fence (a specialty for the Yankees' previous center fielder).

In the previous four seasons, McCann averaged 10 home runs per season against pitches that were in the lower half of the strike zone and on the outer half of the plate (or off the outside corner). He has only two in 2014.

Rapid Reaction: Royals 8, Yankees 4

June, 7, 2014
6/07/14
10:43
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On one encouraging note for David Phelps, the Yankees did finally score a few runs behind him. They hadn't been doing much of that in his three previous starts, all losses. In half of his previous six starts altogether, the offense had not scored at all while Phelps was in the game.

Just about everything else on this pleasant Midwestern evening was discouraging for the Yanks and their struggling right-hander. After Carlos Beltran's first post-DL hit helped knot the game at three with a three-run outburst in the sixth, Phelps immediately gave back those three and tossed in one more, and the Royals rang up an 8-4 triumph to square their four-game set at one win apiece.

Phelps launched his defense of the 3-3 deadlock his teammates had just worked so hard to hand him by walking the first two batters he saw.

Not good.


Then, manager Joe Girardi decided to let him face Salvador Perez in a matchup of right-handed hitter against right-handed pitcher.

Much worse.

The beefy catcher slammed an 0-1 delivery 397 feet over the fence in left, and two pitches later, Lorenzo Cain punished a Phelps fastball and legged out a triple. Phelps got the next two batters out before Norichika Aoki's opposite-field single plated Cain for a 7-3 lead that must have looked Mount Everest-massive to a Yankees attack that hasn't scored more than seven runs since May 7.

Carlos comes through: Beltran, 0-for-9 since coming off the DL, hooked the first pitch Danny Duffy threw him in the sixth into the left-field corner for an RBI double. Mark Teixeira, who had walked, wound up on third, and both scored to knot it three-all when Yangervis Solarte hit a sinking liner that skipped over the glove of a diving Cain in center.

Until Derek Jeter singled with one out in the sixth and trotted to second on Teixeira's walk, the Yankees had advanced only one man as far as second, and he got there via a walk and a wild pitch.

Streaking: Jacoby Ellsbury's first-inning single stretched his hitting streak to 12 straight games, a team high this year. It's the 13th time in his career the outfielder has had a hitting streak of 10 games or more.

Yankee nemesis: The Yanks wouldn't mind if KC left fielder Alex Gordon caught cold and missed the next two games. Gordon had a double and a single and scored both KC runs on Friday night and ignited Saturday's three-run second inning with an RBI double. He then scored on a single by Cain. After walking, he scored again on Perez's homer in the sixth. In the seventh, Matt Daley plunked him on the leg.

Catch of the day: The Royals had runners at the corners with one out in the fourth when Alcides Escobar slammed a rocket line drive that somehow embedded itself in the glove of a startled Phelps. Mike Moustakas had broken for second and was easily thrown out for a 1-3 double play.

Challenging Sal: Somebody should tell the Yankees that Perez led AL catchers last year with 23 runners thrown out. They've tried him twice in these two games and stand 0-for-2, with Brian Roberts getting gunned down at second in the fourth inning Saturday.

Up next: The Yankees send right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (4-3, 4.27 ERA) to the mound against right-hander James Shields (6-3. 3.68 ERA) in the only afternoon affair of the four-game series.
ST. LOUIS -- Derek Jeter is leading American League shortstops in the All-Star voting, and his 602,505 overall votes are third-most in the AL behind Mike Trout and Jose Bautista.

"I've always told you guys, the All-Star Games have been great," Jeter said. "It is a fun experience. You never know when you are going to get a chance to go."

Jeter, a 13-time All-Star, leads the White Sox's Alexei Raamirez, who has 472,537 votes.

"I would love to see it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I would. I think he has played extremely well. I know the young man Ramirez has played extremely well. I understand [Jeter] is third overall in votes and that is a great thing. He has meant a ton to this game."

Jeter, who is retiring at the end of the season, entered Tuesday hitting .273 with a homer and 10 RBIs; Ramirez is hitting .320 with seven homers and 36 RBIs.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran are third and fourth in the outfield voting, respectively, while Brian McCann is second at catcher.

Trout has 764,007 votes, while Bautista has 675,290. Ellsbury has 417,452 votes; the injured Beltran has 401,101. McCann (373,169) trails Matt Wieters (540,248) of the Orioles.

There is no voting for pitchers, but Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances and David Robertson figure to have a chance to make the team.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146