For the Yankees to have much of a chance this year, they’re going to have to rack up their runs without hitting a bunch of homers.
Their biggest rivals are showing them how its done.
On a bitterly cold Wednesday night in the Bronx, the Red Sox amassed 11 singles and two doubles to beat the Yankees 7-4. In two games, they’ve scored 15 runs without the benefit of a home run, and they’re now 2-0 for the first time since 1999.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda already seemed to be in the midst of an off night when he had the top of his fingers grazed by Shane Victorino’s liner through the middle in the top of the second. He remained in, but faced just four more batters, hitting two of them and walking another. He was then removed with an injury with the Yankees down 2-0.
The Red Sox added on from there, scoring four times off Cody Eppley in the third. The Yankees, meanwhile, totaled just one run in seven innings off Clay Buchholz. It was quite a change from the last time they saw him; last October 2, the Yankees torched Buchholz for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings, taking his season ERA from 4.22 to 4.56.
The Yankees did come back with three runs in the eighth on a line-drive homer from Vernon Wells off Alfredo Aceves. Still, it was too little, too late.
The Red Sox went out of their way to improve the clubhouse atmosphere over the winter, and while it’d be rather ridiculous to say that it’s paid off after two games, they have put together a couple of really impressive team efforts. Every Red Sox starter except Will Middlebrooks collected a hit tonight. The seven runs were driven in by six different players and scored by six different players. The one guy to score twice was Jackie Bradley Jr., who picked up his first major league hit when he singled in the sixth.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.