2015 New York Yankees
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2015 New York Yankees / Franchise: New York Yankees / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: October 1, 2015, vs. Boston Red Sox
Managed by Joe Girardi
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2015 New York Yankees were without perennial All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter for the first time since he had made his debut in 1996, following his retirement at the end of the 2014 season. They also payed tribute to their past by retiring three more uniform numbers that year: 51, worn by OF Bernie Williams; 46, worn by P Andy Pettitte; and 20, worn by C Jorge Posada. They also unveiled plaques to all three in Monument Park. The biggest story in spring training, however, was the return from a one-year suspension of fallen superstar Alex Rodriguez. Because he had been bothered by hip problems even before the suspension and was no longer able to play the field regularly, no one knew what to expect from A-Rod, who was to turn 40 on July 27th. He began the season modestly but soon began to hit with great power, to the point where he was in serious consideration to make the All-Star team. He reached the 3000 hit mark on June 19th, after passing Willie Mays' 660 home runs to take fourth place on the all-time list, behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. There was fear early on that his presence on the team would prove a distraction, but it was not the case, as his steady production and efforts to keep a relatively low profile were positive factors in the team's play. Another player making a comeback was 1B Mark Teixeira, coming off two sub-par and injury filled seasons, but he also played exceptionally well during the first half and was named to play in the Midsummer Classic.
After starting the season on a very strong note, the Yankees lost 10 of 11 games from May 12-24, their first such losing streak since 1995. They were in first place in the AL East with a record of 21-12 and a four-game lead on their closest pursuers when the losing streak began, but had fallen to .500 and were trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by a game and a half on May 24th.
After hanging on with bunched pack of teams near the top of the AL East for the first three months of the season, the Yankees began to build a lead in July, when they had the best winning percentage in the major leagues with a 17-7 record. Their lead reached a full seven game with a 21-5 beatdown of the Texas Rangers on July 28th. They continued to do alright for a few more days, three times racking up 12 or more runs in a span of four games from July 31-August 4, but by then the Toronto Blue Jays had emerged as their main rivals and had begun a torrid streak following a buying spree at the trading deadline. In contrast. the Yankees failed to make a move, even though the team had a few shaky areas in spite of its good record. The one move was to bring up top prospect Luis Severino, who made his major league debut on August 5th and was being counted on to take a regular turn in the starting rotation from then on. Severino lost his debut against the Boston Red Sox, not because he did not pitch well, but because the offence went into a slump. A slump which became a lasting concern as the team scored two runs or less in 5 of 7 games starting that day. It was in this context that the Blue Jays came to New Yankee Stadium for a three-game week-end series on August 7-9; the Jays won all three games, with the Yankees scoring all of one run all week-end, on a solo homer by Teixeira, while being shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since May of 1999, a record streak of 2,665 games. When the Yankees lost their next two games against the Cleveland Indians, the Jays moved into first place by half a game on August 12th, having closed a six-game deficit in only 10 days.
On August 14th, the Yankees crossed the border to start a key three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Carlos Beltran was the hero in the first game, with a three-run pinch homer off Aaron Sanchez in the 8th that nullified a great start by David Price and ushered in a 4-3 win. That victory put the Yankees back in first place by a half-game. They also won the next day, 4-1, behind Masahiro Tanaka's first complete game in over a year, but lost the final game, 3-1, on August 16th, to leave Toronto with a lead of half a game. However, they only managed to keep the lead for a week, as Toronto took first place again on August 23rd after the Yankees had dropped two of three games at home to the Cleveland Indians. In the last of these game, CC Sabathia had to leave early because of pain in his knee and was placed on the disabled list the next day with little hope of coming back this season. This could have been devastating news, but Sabathia had been struggling all year because of the knee, and Michael Pineda and rookie Bryan Mitchell, who had suffered a scary injury a week earlier when hit in the face by a line drive, were ready to return to action. Mitchell's presence on the roster was evidence of another Yankee tactic that year, which was to continually shuttle the bottom three members of its bullpen between the Bronx and the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Among relievers making the almost weekly shuttle were Mitchell, Danny Burawa, Caleb Cotham, Chris Martin, Diego Moreno, Jacob Lindgren, Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow and veteran Chris Capuano.
October 1st was a date to remember for the Yankees for three reasons: by beating the Red Sox on a rain-drenched evening at home, they recorded the 10,000th win in franchise history and also clinched a place in the playoffs as a wild card team (the Blue jays had clinched their first division title in 22 years a day earlier). Also, when Betances ended the game by striking out Josh Rutledge, it was the bullpen's 589th strikeout of the year, matching the major league record set by the 2012 Colorado Rockies. However, the Rockies had set the record in the year when they were experimenting with giving their starters much shorter outings, meaning they had had 131 more innings to accomplish the feat.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira
- Mariano Rivera Award: Andrew Miller
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Brian McCann (C)
- Anthony Castrovince: "5 keys for Yankees to hold on in AL East", mlb.com, August 12, 2015. 
- Joe Lemire: "For many Yankee pitchers, it's going, going gone - but not for long", USA Today Sports, August 25, 2015. 
- Jake Lourim: "Mason Williams, young Yankees earning their pinstripes", USA Today Sports, June 14, 2015. 
- Post Editorial Board: "Yankees’ history-making 10,000th win", New York Post, October 2, 2015
- Vincent Z. Mercogliano: "Yankees moving further from glory years", USA Today, May 24, 2015.