The Yankees and Orioles kept rolling tonight, maintaining one game of separation in the AL East.
The Yankees beat the A’s 2-1 in 10 innings on a Russell Martin home run. Rafael Soriano blew a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth by serving up a home run on a slider to Brandon Moss, but the Yankees were able to come right back on Martin’s 18th homer of the year.
Soriano’s fourth blown save cost CC Sabathia a win after his best outing in months. The left-hander showed increased velocity while limiting the A’s to three hits and striking out 11 in eight innings tonight. Perhaps he’s truly put his elbow problems in the past now.
Also unlucky was Jarrod Parker, who pitched eight innings of one-run ball in a sterling effort. He struck out seven and walked none in his first start at Yankee Stadium. He’d have a great Rookie of the Year case in pretty much any season except the Year of Trout. Parker is 11-8 with a 3.40 ERA and just nine homers allowed through 27 starts.
The Orioles topped the Red Sox 4-2, with Matt Wieters driving in three runs against Jon Lester. Miguel Gonzalez, a former Rule 5 pick by Boston who never pitched for the team, beat the Red Sox for the second time this season.
There was a scary moment in the ninth, as Mark Melancon drilled Robert Andino in the helmet with a mid-90s fastball. Fortunately, Andino appeared more angry than hurt, yet he did come out of the game. Both teams were warned afterwards, though it was the first HBP of the game. As you may remember, Andino had the hit that ended Boston’s season in 2012. It’s hard to imagine Melancon was looking for revenge, though; he was still an Astro when that happened.
The Orioles, with way too much on the line in a close game, didn’t respond in the bottom half of the ninth.
The wins put the Yankees at 87-63 and the Orioles at 86-64. The A’s are 85-65 and still in very good position to claim a wild card spot barring a meltdown. At worst, they’ll end the night 3 1/2 games ahead of the Angels.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.