We have our first triple play of the season in MLB.
In the bottom of the second evening this evening at Tropicana Field, the Yankees turned a 5-4-3 triple play against the Rays. With runners on first and second and nobody out against CC Sabathia, Sean Rodriguez hit a ground ball to Yangervis Solarte at the hot corner. He stepped on the third base bag for the first out and then threw to Brian Roberts for the second out. Roberts then threw to Scott Sizemore, who made the scoop to complete the triple play at first base. Pretty impressive for Sizemore, who is making his first major league start at first base this evening.
Just watch it:
The Yankees actually had the last triple play in MLB, as they pulled one off last April 12 against the Orioles. Tonight’s wasn’t nearly as complicated as that one. WFAN’s Sweeny Murti notes that Sabathia has been on the mound for each of the team’s last three triple plays (2010, 2013 and now 2014). Pretty lucky guy.
Quote of the day territory here. Last night, Francisco Cervelli was covering first base for the Yankees because of injuries to Mark Teixeira’s, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts, giving Joe Girardi no other options. Then Cervelli — who himself only had two games experience at first base in his entire professional career — went down with a hamstring injury.
Left with the choice of putting either Ichiro or Carlos Beltran at first base, Girardi chose Beltran. Who did OK, actually. He didn’t have to field any balls hit his way and handled the handful of infield putout throw to first base without incident. But he was nervous about it. Here’s what he had to say after the game:
“In the outfield, I want them to hit it to me. But, today, I was like, please, God, hit it somewhere else.”
But, like I said, he did fine. And he took the position without complaint or hesitation.
Remember back when Beltran played for the Mets and anonymous Mets sources and their buddies in the Mets press corps liked to paint him as selfish? Yeah, that was pretty dumb.
Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli left Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox with a leg injury, reports Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York. Cervelli had been attempting to beat out a ground ball double play in the fourth inning and was ruled out on a controversial call that went to instant replay. The call was overturned and manager John Farrell was ejected.
With Mark Teixeira out, the Yankees had Cervelli start tonight at first base. Brian McCann was the only non-emergency catcher available for Sunday night. When Cervelli exited, Carlos Beltran moved from right field to first base — playing first base for the first time in his professional career — and Ichiro Suzuki entered the game in right field.
The Yankees are having problems with injuries at the moment. Aside from Teixeira, second baseman Brian Roberts is dealing with back problems and Derek Jeter has been held out with a sore quadriceps.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera strained his right hamstring chasing after a foul ball in the second inning, ESPN’s Wallace Matthews reports. Teixeira knocked in a run with a single in his only at-bat before exiting. Kelly Johnson moved from third base to first base, Yangervis Solarte moved from second base to third base, and Brian Roberts entered the game to play second.
Teixeira, soon to be 34 years old, missed a majority of the 2013 season with an injury to the tendon sheath in his right wrist and underwent surgery in July. That was the big concern coming into the 2014 season, so an unrelated injury is only more concerning for the Yankees. As their infield realignment Friday night showed, the Yankees aren’t very well prepared to deal with another absent infielder — they will be without Alex Rodriguez for the duration of the season as well.
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. Next up: The Baltimore Orioles.
The Big Question: Is there enough pitching here to get the O’s back to the playoffs?
The Orioles make their bones with the bat. They ranked fourth in the AL in runs last season, and they did it with power. Lots of homers — first in the league — lots of doubles and the AL’s third highest slugging percentage. Adding Nelson Cruz to that lineup well only help things. While we’re many years removed from people making Chuck Norris jokes about Matt Weiters, there is still the potential there for him to have a breakout offensive season that turns him into an MVP candidate. Chris Davis is unlikely to match his otherworldly 2013, but he is still a force in the middle.
So, as almost always seems to be the case, Orioles fans are asking if there is enough pitching here. My gut feeling: it’s better, but it’s not quite enough.
Adding Ubaldo Jimenez is a gamble, but not a dumb one. He has been decent at limiting homers and that’s key in the AL East. Chris Tillman is solid. Bud Norris doesn’t knock anyone’s socks off, but Kevin Gausman and/or Dylan Bundy could contribute in Baltimore this year if the back end of the rotation falters. It’s not the best rotation in the AL East — it’s in a dogfight to even make it to third best in the division — but there are enough moving parts here where things could turn out better than expected.
But when you are in the toughest division in baseball, moving parts with upside aren’t all that comforting. if the O’s make the playoffs this year it will be because multiple guys in the rotation exceed expectations. That could easily happen. I just don’t think people get rich betting on things like that, and I won’t bet on it here.
What else is going on?
- The bullpen is worth watching too, of course. A huge strength for the team’s 2012 playoff run, it took a step back last year and this year is in real flux. The departure of Jim Johnson and the aborted signing of Grant Balfour means that Tommy Hunter is likely to get most closing opportunities. That could work — I fail to believe that closing is some genetically-determined ability possessed by True Closers only — but it’s possible we see a lot of guys getting save chances this year.
- Outfield defense might be interesting. Delmon Young made this team and Buck Showalter has made it clear that he and Nelson Cruz will play outfield, not just DH. Indeed, the presence of both pretty much means one will have to a lot of the time if they don’t wish to waste a roster slot. Balls to the gap should be fun. Hope Adam Jones has put in his time on the treadmill this spring.
- With Brian Roberts gone, second base is going to be a fun position to watch in Baltimore. Last week’s trade to obtain Steve Lombardozzi could mean that he gets a lot of time there. The Nats learned last year that making Lombardozzi an everyday player is not the key to happiness, however. Ryan Flaherty will probably cover third base until Manny Machado comes back from injury, but once he does, he could see a lot of time there which, yuck. I’d love to see Showalter hand the job over to prospect Jonathan Schoop. The club will likely say he needs more seasoning in the minors, however. Which you should read as “needs less service time in the majors.”
- This is, overall, a young team. Cruz may be an old man, but many key players on which the Orioles rely are on the rise, not the decline. Machado is 21, Schoop is 22, Kevin Gausman is 23, Chris Tillman will turn 26 next month, Dylan Bundy in April), Britton (26), Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Matt Weiters are still only 28. Upside is there for many, and it makes 2014 just one of many chances to break through.
Prediction: I like what the Orioles have going here. And I think that they could surprise and challenge for the wild card. I just think that their pitching is too uncertain and their division too tough to predict that with confidence. They may make me look like a fool — and I know other HBT writers think they’ll be way better than I have them — but I have them neck-and-neck with the Yankees for third place, and quite possibly Fourth Place, AL East.