The final series of the 2016 regular season is upon us. Unfortunately, for this one, the Yankees are only playing the role of spoiler as they have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Orioles began the day tied with the Blue Jays for the wild card spot with the Tigers lurking just 1.5 games behind. The weekend will also mark the end of Mark Teixeira‘s career and it will be interesting if he can top his heroics against the Red Sox on Wednesday night.
A wet start
My first thoughts were just to recap this one with only a few words:
It rained. Pineda teased, then sucked. Orioles hit a bunch of dingers. Game over.
But, I will offer up slightly more than that. Michael Pineda. So many have written, myself included, about his bizarre numbers. His high strikeout rate and his high ERA. Something like the sixth pitcher in history to put up over 200 strikeouts and have an ERA over 4.80. I also get it that he made 32 starts, but he barely averaged over 5.0 innings per start. The biggest thing is that no matter how he is pitching, you know the bottom will soon fall out. For my money next season, I would rather see Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green take those starts. If the Yankees are truly gearing toward another run, Pineda is not part of that. I also have a suspicion that an offseason trade for a mid-level starter is probably upcoming. But, that is a story for a different day.
The offense had next to nothing to offer, so that is how many words I will put down about that. Brian McCann had two hits and Aaron Hicks the only other hit for the team, with Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly producing the only run.
The Orioles 8-1 win allowed them to take over the top wild card spot. Toronto lost to Boston and they are now only a half game ahead of Detroit for the second wild card. I certainly have to be a Tigers and Red Sox fan this weekend, because I would love to see the Blue Jays put out of the postseason.
The Yankees would send Luis Severino to the mound in place of Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday and the day didn’t go much better than any of his other 11 starts in 2016. Working on a pitch count, Severino would allow 3 runs on 5 hits in 3.2 innings. His season ERA of 8.50 in the rotation is beyond miserable and certainly not what the preseason expectations were. He was great out of the bullpen, although his ERA of 0.39 is certainly not sustainable as his FIP of 2.29 would suggest. If he is not going to trust his changeup and offspeed pitches, it is uncertain about his future in the rotation. The Yankees have a decision to make and it is one that should be made sooner than later about whether he will start or pitch out of the bullpen. Whatever they do, they need to stick with it and try everything to make it work. In my opinion, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green have shown they have the ability to work through jams in the middle of games whereby Severino has not. Severino did manage to throw 151.1 innings combined between the majors and minors this year, so he did get plenty of work going forward if he stays a starter.
The Yankees would find themselves in a 3-0 hole and to their credit, they did not roll over and play dead. They slowly pecked away at the deficit with single runs in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Tyler Austin would collect the first RBI with a single and then he would tie things with yet another opposite field home run. The Yankees would then put up a 4-spot in the eighth on a two-run single from Austin Romine and a two-run double from Brett Gardner. It will be interesting to see how the roster shakes out in the offseason and whether or not Romine is back next season. Regardless, he will make someone a fine catcher wherever he ends up.
The bullpen would show up strong on Saturday and pitch 5.1 innings of shutout baseball. The bottom of the order did the majority of the damage as they scored 5 runs and collected 5 RBIs as well. Kudos for playing hard to the end. Sunday will bring the close to the season and brings the first step toward a long winter. Cessa will get the nod as the Yankees try to rain on the Orioles postseason plans.
Stymied by Gausman
Kevin Gausman would dominate the storyline of the final day of the regular season. And it came at a time when the Orioles desperately needed it. Gausman had all the answers versus the Yankees in 2016 as he put up a tidy 1.09 ERA in five starts. Unfortunately, we will probably be seeing plenty of him in years to come.
Matt Wieters did most of the damage for Baltimore with a pair of solo home runs. His four RBIs would be enough for Gausman to push the Orioles into the playoffs with a wild card spot. Luis Cessa would give up 5 hits and 4 runs in 5.2 innings of work.
Brian McCann’s solo home run in the fourth would give him 20 on the season. He and Gary Sanchez would become only the third catcher combination in history to accomplish the feat. It would also be McCann’s ninth straight season with at least 20 home runs, a streak that only trails Mike Piazza and Yogi Berra.
The game also marked Mark Teixeira’s final game as a big leaguer. Although his bat has not been the same the last couple of years, there will many occasions in the next few years where a play or catch will be missed at first base and the remark of “Tex would have had that” will be made. His glove will be seriously missed.