Michael, a Few Home Runs and Instant Replay…

Credit:  Bill Kostroun

Yankees 4, Royals 2…

In a season when Masahiro Tanaka has forgotten how to throw his splitter and slider, only to see his fastball regularly deposited into outfield bleachers, Michael Pineda has stepped up to be “the man”.  Down early 2-0 to the Kansas City Royals, it would have been the point where Pineda collapsed like a cheap suit in years past.  But these are not years past and Michael Pineda no longer contributes to an avalanche parade.  

When Brett Gardner homered in the bottom of the third, it felt like everything was under control even though the Yanks still trailed by one.  With one on in the fourth, Didi Gregorius decided it was much better to lead than follow, launching a homer to right center to put the Yanks in front.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Pineda made it into the seventh inning.  After striking out Jorge Bonifacio, who had homered for the Royals earlier in the game, Pineda gave up a single to former Cub Jorge Soler.  It was the end of Pineda’s night.  

With Adam Warren on the mound, Soler took second on a wild pitch.  Following a flyout by Whit Merrifield, the Royals appeared to tie the game at 3 when Alcides Escobar hit a grounder to Starlin Castro.  Escobar was ruled safe at first, beating an off-balance throw from Castro.  Soler scored on the play.  The Yankees challenged the call and the Baseball Gods were smiling favorably on the Pinstripes.  The decision at first was overturned, the inning was over, and the run scored by Soler was erased.  All I can say it was incredibly close.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Chris Carter boldly let his bat say, “This is why you hired me” with a blast to left-center.  So, instead of a 3-3 game just minutes earlier, the score was suddenly 4-2.  A nice reversal of fortune.  

From there, the Yankees bullpen shut the Royals down.  Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances each delivered a scoreless inning of relief, and Betances struck out Jorge Soler to end the game, picking up his third save.

For the game, Pineda (5-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and two runs, while walking one and striking out six.  It wasn’t a clean start but it was the continuation of the strong, consistent version of the Michael Pineda that we’ve literally been waiting years to see.  

The win allowed the Yankees (26-16) to move a game and a half in front of the Baltimore Orioles who were throttled 14-7 at Camden Yards by the Minnesota Twins in a 21-hit attack.  The Boston Red Sox had the night off so they slipped four and half games back.  

Bronx Fury, South Beach Version…

A pair of ex-Yankees squared off on Friday night in Miami.  Marlins manager Don Mattingly took offense to something Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren yelled to Marlins closer A.J. Ramos.  “If he is going to yell and scream at our guys, the he is going to have to go through me”, said Mattingly, who was ejected in the bench-clearing stand-off.  

Credit:  Los Angeles Times

Mattingly and Geren were Yankees teammates from 1988 to 1991.  

Credit:  Getty Images

I feel badly for Mattingly.  He is in the midst of a very poor season in Miami and he was facing the team that he once managed.  I am not sure that Mattingly will survive the season and he is probably gone if the sale of the Marlins goes through (even if one of the potential new owners is Derek Jeter) unless he can turn things around very quickly.  Mattingly remains my favorite manager but these are not the best of times.

Umm, no, thank you…

Yesterday, Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media, quoting an article that appeared on SportsNet.ca, floated the possibility of the Yankees as suitors for third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays.  I do not dispute that Donaldson is a great player but it doesn’t make sense to me.  Donaldson is 31 and the Yankees, regardless of the great start this year, are still one to two years away from true World Series contention.  Sure, crazier things have happened, but it doesn’t make sense to me to part with talented young prospects for a guy that is on the wrong side of 30.  

Manny Machado should remain the target.  I am not enamored with Chase Headley covering third until if/when we can get Machado but I don’t think the Yankees are either.  With the call-up of infielder Gleyber Torres to AAA, he is positioning himself for an appearance in the Bronx later this year or at the latest, next spring.  I’d gladly take Starlin Castro at third (over Headley) to make room for Torres at second.  The path to Machado will be costly in terms of dollars but it retains the wealth of prospects within the organization.  If the Yankees lose out on Machado, then they’ll need to look at Plan B.  I am still optimistic that Miguel Andujar can be a solution within the next couple of years.  Let the Boston Red Sox further deplete their farm system for Donaldson and add another player that will be ready for social security in a couple of years.

So, count me out if trying to decide whether or not to bring Donaldson to the Yankees.

All Rise, now entering Right Field, the Honorable Judge, Aaron…

The Yankees have climbed aboard the Judge Train with the rest of us.  They’ve unveiled a new area wrapped around the three rows in the back of Section 104 in right field aptly named “The Judge’s Chambers”.  Selected fans, with preference to those wearing Aaron Judge jerseys, will temporarily be given black robes adorned by #99 on the back while sitting the special area during games.  I guess it beats having a bad tasting candy bar named after you…

Credit:  Ben Walker/AP

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s keep this winning feeling going!

Flying to New York on a Positive Note…

All is right in the world again…  

Yankees win and the Orioles do not.  Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst.  Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees.  He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.  

The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base.  If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch!  He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win.  In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.  He had six strikeouts.  The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.

Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits.  Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.  

The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.  

The Tyler Austin Watch…  

In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats.  The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder.  He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO). 

In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa.  If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end.  Or how it should end.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…  

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…

The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders.  In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs.  He batted .273 and stole 5 bags.    The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx.  Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third. 

Credit:  Matt Rourke/AP

I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams.  Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.  He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs.  He has walked three batters while striking out eleven.  Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.

Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…  

The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series.  The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.  

TODAY:

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

TUESDAY:

Royals:  Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)

WEDNESDAY:

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)

THURSDAY:

Royals:  Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)

Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation.  He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider.  Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game.  The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness.  If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in.  I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…

 

Have a great Monday!  Let’s make it two in a row!   

Tanaka and His Extended BP for Rays Hitters…

Credit:  Brian Blanco/Getty Images

No hole is too deep to climb out of…except when Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound.  I am seriously concerned about Tanaka after his latest disaster.  In Fantasy Baseball, I’ve seen many owners dumping Tanaka from their rosters for no return.  I am not suggesting that the Yankees cut him and I am hopeful that he rediscovers his touch. But as the New York papers are screaming, Tanaka is in full-blown crisis mode.  You have to admit that this is very disconcerting.  For a rotation that had many questions coming into the season, none of the questions were directed at the team’s ace who is, right now, the rotation’s weakest link.

I am not sure what has to be done.  They’ve tried different arm angles and placement on the the pitching rubber, but Tanaka’s pitches are still getting hammered.  Kevin Kernan of The New York Post had the best line, “that just meant he had a different view of baseballs zooming out of the ballpark”.  

 

In Saturday’s 9-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Tanaka lasted only three innings.  Rays hitters got nine hits and six runs off Tanaka, including three home runs.  Tanaka (5-3) also walked three batters in the loss, which elevated his season ERA to 6.56.  In his last two games combined, Tanaka has given up seven home runs in 4 2/3 innings…and fourteen friggin’ runs.

At the beginning of the year, the fear was that Tanaka would opt out of his contract at the end of year.  Now, the fear is that he won’t.  My first thought at the latest stinker was the partially torn UCL in his elbow, but the Yankees insist he is healthy. Of course, their recent “surprise” about Aroldis Chapman either tells you that the players are not always being honest with the team or the team is withholding information.  If Tanaka is healthy, then this scares the h**l out of me.

At this point, I am probably in favor of skipping Tanaka in the next run through the rotation to give him extra time to right the ship.  There’s no doubt he lost his splitter and slider on one of these  recent road trips and can’t remember where he left them.   

As for the game, the Yankees did get home runs from Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  Nevertheless, this was a game we’d just as soon forget.  Both pitching coach Larry Rothschild and manager Joe Girardi were tossed in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.  Girardi even covered home plate with sand and the ump (Scott Barry) refused to clean it.  Gary Sanchez  finally took it upon himself to wipe home plate.  Speaking of Sanchez, he didn’t play on Friday night due to a stiff neck so I’ll take Rob Thomson off the hook for not using Sanchez as a pinch hitter in the loss.  I just hope the foul tip Sanchez took off the mask yesterday doesn’t worsen his health concerns. 

Credit:  Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times

Rays starter Matt Andriese was tossed in the sixth inning for plunking Aaron Judge with a pitch.  Tommy Layne had hit the Rays’ Corey Dickerson in the back with a pitch the prior inning.  Dickerson had hit two home runs in the game.  The tired lines of ‘the ball got away’ were used but I still don’t appreciate the potential harm to our young slugger.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (24-16) fell a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East standings with the loss.  The Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-5.  As losers of three in a row and seven of their last ten, the Yankees are on a faster track to be the 80-win team they were forecasted to be at the start of the season rather than a division contender.  Good hitting beats poor pitching every time.  Hopefully, the Yankees re-discover the Cinderella slipper sooner rather than later.

Tyler Austin made his 2017 debut with the AA-Trenton Thunder (rather than High-A Tampa) on Saturday.  He went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored.  He was also hit by pitch in the Thunder’s 5-2 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  

The Yankees conclude their three-game set in Florida with the Rays today.  CC Sabathia will be on the mound versus the Rays’ Chris Archer.  I am really hopeful that we get the most recent version of Sabathia (6 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching) and not the Masahiro Tanaka-version that we saw in the preceding weeks.

Have a wonderful Sunday!  Let’s have some fun today…finally!

Bryce Harper’s a great player BUT…

How much are these stats worth?

13 Home Runs

36 RBI’s

.355 Batting Average

.468 OBP

.702 SLG

1.170 OPS

New speculation is placing the value of Bryce Harper’s next contract closer to $500 million than the previously thought $400 million.  With an argument that Harper is twice the player Giancarlo Stanton is, is he worth twice the contract (or $650 million)?  Harper is going to bring new meaning the term “franchise player”.  How much did George Steinbrenner pay for the Yankees back in 1973?  It’s a rhetorical question but the answer is $10 million (with 60% in borrowed funds).  Granted, the Yankees are now worth more than $3.7 billion but it’s still phenomenal to think how much money Harper is going to get.  

At face value and with a strong right-fielder already in place, I have to say that despite Harper’s greatness, Manny Machado is looking better and better every day.  As luck would have it, we happen to need a third baseman.  I am just not so sure about the one more year of Chase Headley part…

Credit:  Patrick Smith/Getty Images

As a Yankees fan, I am not a supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays but their players continue to provide more reasons to dislike them.  The bat flip by Joey Bats after a home run against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday was ridiculous.  I had no problem with Braves catcher Tyler Flowers pointing at Bautista with an inside-fastball sign on a pitch selection the next night.  Braves pitcher Julio Teheran promptly drilled one into Bautista’s thigh.  But the homophobic comments that Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar directed at Braves reliever Jason Motte were totally unacceptable.  The anti-gay slur resulted in a two-game suspension for Pillar.  I hope the Atlanta Braves fans realize that the Blue Jays are not representative of all AL East teams.  

Tyler Austin has joined High-A Tampa to begin his rehab assignment.  The Yankees will have some decisions to make when he finishes the rehab assignment.  With Greg Bird ready to begin his rehab assignment next week, it increases the likelihood that Austin heads to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  But the RailRiders have a good recent addition at first already.  Mike Ford, called up last week from AA-Trenton, has three homers in six games and eight RBI’s.  He is 8-for-26 (.308).  The RailRiders are also loaded in the outfield with Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Mason Williams, and Mark Payton.  If it were up to me, I’d think hard about moving/cutting Chris Carter and slotting Austin in as backup first baseman/outfielder. 


Roy White Day.  


Alright, I’ll join the bandwagon.  My awareness of White was more acute during his age 30+ seasons, but he was a trusted, reliable and a bit under-appreciated member of the Yankees and those back-to-back World Championships in the late 70’s.  For a team that was overflowing with superstars, White simply did his job when called on.  With no disrespect to Joe Torre who retired #6, I still think of White when I see the number.  Not many players stay with one team their entire career, but White was one of them with fifteen years in Pinstripes.  The other outfielders, Reggie Jackson and Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, were more flamboyant but White always seemed to come up big whenever you needed him.  I agree, he gave his baseball life to the Yankees and it is only right that they give Roy his day at Yankee Stadium.



The Yankees have a new manager!  

Credit:  Brendan Kuty/NJ Advance Media

Okay, it was just one game.  Bench coach Rob Thomson was manager of the New York Yankees on Friday night so that Joe Girardi, could attend his daughter’s high school graduation.  Congrats to Joe Girardi for showing (and the Steinbrenner Family for allowing) that family does truly matter.

Credit:  YES Network

A lost night in St. Petersburg…

Rob Thomson, you’re fired (just kidding…well, maybe a little serious).  One-game manager Rob Thomson, filling in for Joe Girardi, failed in his one attempt to steer the ship.  Back to the bench for you, Rob.  The Yankees were undone by a pitcher who couldn’t make it more than five innings, thereby placing a heavier burden on the bullpen, a bad defensive play at third, and Thomson’s decision to leave his best hitters on the bench in a three-up, three-down ninth inning that led to the 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. 

Luis Severino only gave up one run, a first inning double by Logan Morrison that scored Evan Longoria, and struck out seven Rays.  But he gave up five hits and three walks with 89 pitches (only 59 for strikes) and was gone by the sixth inning.  

After the Rays had tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning at 2-2 with runners at second and third and two outs, the Yankees could have avoided further damage.  With third baseman Ronald Torreyes thinking about the runner advancing to home plate, a hopper by Rickie Weeks Jr went under his glove into left field, scoring the two runners on base.  Weeks Jr was credited with a double in a very liberal decision as it probably should have been an error by Toe.

Matt Holliday did his part in trying to bring the Yankees back.  After a walk to Brett Gardner and a pop-out by Jacoby Ellsbury to open the eighth, Holliday homered to right to tie the game at 4.  The Rays came right back in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Clippard (0-2) gave up a run-scoring single by Evan Longoria after putting two men on base through walks.  Longoria has gotten off to a slow start this season but against the Yankees, he always looks All-World.  A 4-for-5 night, with two runs scored and the RBI, ensured the Yankees were playing from behind.  

Credit:  Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Still, the Yankees could have rallied again in the ninth inning, but Thomson kept both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks on the bench so we’ll never know.  Sanchez and Hicks, both of whom had the night off, could only watch as Chris Carter struck out (surprise, surprise) and Austin Romine grounded out to end the game. 

The loss dropped the Yankees to 24-15.  With Baltimore’s 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in extra innings, the O’s closed the gap in the AL East to just a half-game again.  The Boston Red Sox lost so I guess the evening wasn’t a complete disappointment.

Welcome back, Joe Girardi.  I will be glad to have you back in the saddle for today’s game.  I hope the graduation ceremony was a tremendous success for Serena and the family, but it will be great to have you making the lineup decisions today.  

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s win the games we should win and not give them away.

High and Inside…or maybe a little Outside…

Here is a random wish list for pitching targets leading up to the trading deadline.  I know that a couple of the names are untouchable.  I guess if I am going without restriction, I should place Clayton Kershaw at the top of the list.  Nevertheless, this is fantasyland so here’s my list.  All of these pitchers are right-handers which really wasn’t by design.  I wouldn’t even say that these are my top five choices.  They are, however, five pitchers that I feel could provide an upgrade.

YU DARVISH – Texas Rangers

Darvish is 30 and will be an unrestricted free agent this fall.  He is 4-2 with 2.76 ERA and 1.091 WHIP.  With Tommy John surgery in his recent past, he’ll carry the injury risk tag for the res t7 of his career.  Darvish is still one of the best pitchers in the AL.  I loved the guy when he came over from Japan and wished at the time the Yankees had been more aggressive in pursuit of him.  

It’s been said that Darvish could be the key to the team eventually signing Japanese superstar  and two-way ace Shohei Otani, referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth.  

The downside to Darvish is his age (at this point of the Yankees rebuild and potential off-season cost to re-sign.  You’ll obviously have to pay quality prospects for the potential short-term rental assuming the Texas Rangers are even motivated to trade him at the deadline.

CARLOS CARRASCO – Cleveland Indians

Carrasco is also 30.  This is total fantasy as the Indians, a World Series caliber contender, are not going to part with a critical rotation piece.  There’s no doubt the Yankees have long held interest in Carrasco.  The right-hander is 4-2 this season with 2.60 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

CHRIS ARCHER – Tampa Bay Rays

Archer is 28 and is a better fit age-wise.  But I think he’s untouchable for any AL team due to the heavy premium the Rays would attach to him to trade him inside the division.  But if the Yankees could get him, I would be ecstatic.  Archer is 3-2 this season with 3.70 ERA and 1.217 WHIP.  He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.  

JON GRAY – Colorado Rockies

If I could have my pick of any pitcher, it might be Gray.  I am convinced the 25-year-old Gray is an ace-in-the-making.  He’ll be held back from ever reaching his full potential as long as he calls the Mile High City his home.  In a very small body of work this season, Gray is 0-0 with 4.38 ERA and 1.459 WHIP.  He only pitched 12 1/3 innings before going on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his left foot.  Gray has begun his bullpen sessions and will soon be back on the active roster for Colorado.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Interestingly enough, Gray, like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, is a former Yankees draft pick.  The Yankees picked him in the 10th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.  He didn’t sign and was subsequently a number one pick for the Rockies the next year.  

VINCE VELASQUEZ – Philadelphia Phillies

The youngest pitcher on my list (24), Velasquez is 2-3 this year with 5.63 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.  Forget the stats, the guy has the potential to be a long term fixture in any team’s rotation.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.  

This isn’t meant to be a ranking of desired pitchers.  I am just randomly throwing out some names.  Granted, if any team’s first request is Gleyber Torres and is unwilling to budge, it’s discussion over.  But Clint Frazier I am not as attached to.  With Aaron Judge in the Majors with an assist by Aaron Hicks, and the promise of outfielder Dustin Fowler, I think the Yankees have the necessary ingredients for a good outfield now and for the next few years particularly considering a potential costly run at Bryce Harper in a couple of years when he hits the free agent market.  My favorite outfield prospect, Blake Rutherford, is further away but he’ll be a ready replacement when the time comes.  So, if I could package Frazier in a deal to bring a quality starting pitcher and maybe a dependable bullpen arm, I’d do it.  Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole and Tony Watson represent a combo that would be worth the inclusion of a top prospect.  And, no, Gerrit Cole is not Ivan Nova.

I am sure that we’ll be hearing many names ad nauseam over the next two months.  But regardless of what happens, it will be much better to be a buyer at the trading deadline than a seller if the team keeps playing well.  Exciting times in the Bronx.

The Yankees are hopeful that first baseman Greg Bird will be able to begin baseball activities next week.  That’s good news to hear.  Hopefully Bird has fully recovered and is ready to recapture the form he showed during Spring Training when he led the Grapefruit League in home runs.  Bird has already started light running so it should be a sign that the ankle bone bruise has healed.  I am looking forward to seeing what a healthy Bird can do.

The Yankees concluded their three-game stay in Kansas City with a loss, falling to the Royals 5-1.  I knew they were in trouble when Danny Duffy struck out the first three batters of the game.  Duffy threw a scoreless three-hitter over seven innings and recorded his first career double-digit strikeout total with ten.  The Yankees scored their only run against KC closer Kelvin Herrera in the ninth inning on a Didi Gregorius single.  

Jordan Montgomery (2-3) lasted five innings in taking the loss.  He allowed four hits, five runs and three walks (with 4 K’s). The killer was a three-run homer by Mike Moustakis in the fifth inning.  His replacement, Chad Green, was stellar in pitching the final three innings.  He only gave up a meaningless single in the sixth, a runner subsequently erased by double play.  He struck out six.  It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Green could replace Montgomery in the rotation.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees (24-14) maintained their lead in the AL East over the Baltimore Orioles (1 1/2 games) and Boston Red Sox (4 games) as all three teams lost on Thursday.  The Yankees did win the series, taking two of three, however, I always hate to see a loss on “Getaway Day” as that’s the game fresh on everyone’ mind for the flight to the next city.  

The Yankees begin a three-game series in St Petersburg, Florida tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays (21-22).  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA)

Rays:  Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.92 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-2, 5.80 ERA)

Rays:  Matt Andriese (3-1, 3.18 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.93 ERA)

Rays:  Chris Archer (3-2, 3.70 ERA)

Have a great Friday!  Hopefully Sevy finds a way to slay the Rays!

Looking Ahead to 14 Days in July…

Credit:  Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Team Prospect-Hugger could get a new look the last two weeks of July.  In an interview, Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner indicated that he’ll look at any deal that crosses his desk during the final two weeks of July.  He’ll read the scouting reports, talk to GM Brian Cashman and the Scouting Department and tap into other resources to determine the best moves for the Yankees organization moving forward.  He said that he’ll divert all of his attention to any one deal that comes across his desk as he has always done in the couple of weeks leading up to the trading deadline.  It doesn’t mean that he’ll approve a deal but he’ll certainly give more than a passing thought to any deal that makes sense.

Steinbrenner sees the value in holding onto the team’s prospects as they have done for the last three or four years.

With significant dollars coming off the payroll at the end of the year ($59 million alone with the expiring contracts of CC Sabathia, Matt Holliday, and Alex Rodriguez), Steinbrenner feels the Yankees will be active in the free agent market.  “To what degree, and in what areas remains to be seen”, said Steinbrenner, in talking with reporters.

I am probably somewhere in between Hal and his father, George.  I’d be more inclined to make moves to strengthen weaker areas.  But I’d also be trying to find ways to unload dead weight off the roster.  Spending $46 million for CC Sabathia’s unreliable performances and Alex Rodriguez’s “consulting services” is a bad return on investment in a statement of the obvious.  Why don’t they just increase it to $47 million and toss me the difference? I would certainly have a more company-aligned outlook and they would be no worse for the wear.  I am looking forward to next year when a greater percentage of the payroll goes to active, contributing members of the team’s 25-man roster.  

Even though Steinbrenner may not be open to considering any deals until mid-July, there’s no doubt that Cashman and Company have already begin dialing other teams to open dialogue for potential trades involving targeted players.  If the Yankees do prove that they are for real this year, it should be a very fun and active July.  I am certainly not expecting a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado type trade, but reinforcements to stay the upward course would be very much appreciated.  

I am glad to hear that one of my favorite prospects, pitcher Albert Abreu, will be coming off the DL for High-A Tampa on Friday.  Abreu has been on the DL since May 2nd with elbow inflammation.  Abreu will start in Friday’s game against the Dayton Tortugas in place of Domingo Acevedo, who was promoted to AA-Trenton.  

Last summer, the two best outfield prospects in the Cleveland Indians organization were Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer.  Zimmer received his call to join the Show this week, and looks to be a long-term fixture in Cleveland as an Andrew Miller teammate.  On Wednesday, with his parents in attendance, Zimmer had a run-scoring double and a home run.  Zimmer, two years older than Frazier, looks to be one of the game’s superior talents for years to come.  I know it’s not Yankees-related but it is great to see good young players flourish in the Major Leagues.  There’s no doubt he received a congratulatory text from Frazier.

The Yankees were victorious in baseball action last night with an 11-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals.  With the final game of the series to be played today, the Yankees have already taken the series by winning the first two games of the three-game set.  

Of the three Royals pitchers that we would be facing, I was most concerned about Jason Vargas.  The veteran pitcher had gotten off to a great start at 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA.  But four innings and six runs later, the ERA had more than doubled to 2.03.  Michael Pineda (4-2) was the winner, but he did give up two home runs.  For six innings of work, he gave up six hits, four runs (three earned), and two walks.  He also registered 5 K’s.  I would have liked to have seen better work but with the Yankees racing out to a 10-2 lead by the fifth inning, Pineda was guilty somewhat of letting up on the gas.  

Every Yankee in the starting lineup got a hit in the 16-hit attack.  Aaron Hicks, filling in for Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a three run homer in the fourth inning on a 2-for-4 night.

Credit:  John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

The Royals scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning against Yankees reliever Giovanny Gallegos.  With two runners on base and the potential tying run on deck, Dellin Betances came in for one out, a soft grounder back to the pitcher, to end the game, recording his first save of the season with just four pitches. 

The Yankees (24-13) took advantage of a loss by the Baltimore Orioles to move 1 1/2 games up in the AL East.  The O’s lost to the Detroit Tigers in a close game, 5-4.  Former Yankee Justin Wilson, recently named closer for the Tigers, picked up his third save.  It could have been a great night but the Boston Red Sox pulled out a 5-4 win in 13 innings against the St Louis Cardinals.  

Have a great Thursday!  Hopefully the Yankees grab another “W” before racing to Kansas City International Airport for the flight to Tampa later this evening.

Sabathia and his 20th Career Victory against the Royals…

Credit:  Brian Davidson/Getty Images

After giving up 22 runs in his previous four starts, CC Sabathia had his best game since his season opening start.  He pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to help the Yankees defeat the Kansas City Royals, 7-1.  He only gave up five hits and two walks while striking out four.  The effort dropped his season ERA from 5.77 to 4.93.  He did get into a little trouble in the seventh inning when the Royals loaded the bases with two outs.  Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia, and Tyler Clippard was able to get the last out by swinging strikeout to preserve the scoreless outing for Sabathia.  

This is one of those games where everyone who played contributed in some way with a run, hit, or RBI.  The biggest hit was clearly the three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the third inning.  It set the tone early and the Yankees were in control throughout.  Chris Carter finally did the one thing he is paid to do with a two-run dinger in the fourth, his second of the year.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, making it easily his best game as a Yankee.  Chase Headley deserves kudos for his amazing catch of the first pitch hit to start the game.  

Credit:  John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

The Royals scored their only run in the ninth inning against Jonathan Holder on a fielder’s choice force-out with the bases loaded.  Things could have gotten hairy from there, but Holder got Alcides Escobar to pop up to Didi Gregorius to end the threat and the game.  

I have to say that the outing by Sabathia was bittersweet.  It buys the left-hander more time in the rotation, potentially setting us up for disappointment when we need him the most.  It’s one of those things that I hope I am wrong and CC shows he is capable of putting up more quality starts than not.  But one must recognize this wasn’t the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles or Boston Red Sox facing Sabathia.  The Royals are the worst hitting team in the American League at .226/.289/.355.  

For his career, Sabathia is 20-11 against the Royals in 38 starts, with a 3.11 ERA.  I am glad that he likes to pitch in Kansas City, where he is 13-5.  Now, I am hoping that Michael Pineda and Jordan Montgomery enjoy Kauffman Stadium as much as Sabathia has.  

The Yankees (23-13) remain a half-game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night in slugfest, 13-11.  It took two homers by Chris Davis in extra innings for the O’s to win.  Former Yankee Justin Wilson blew a save opportunity for the Tigers in the ninth, while former Yankee Richard Bleier took the win for the O’s.  Sadly, the Boston Red Sox also won, defeating the St Louis Cardinals, 6-3.  The Sox are four games back.

I was surprised to see the Arizona Diamondbacks have released former Orioles lefty Brian Matusz.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago he was a highly touted pitcher for the O’s but struggled as a starter.  He eventually found some success in the pen.  I always liked him and wanted to see him fulfill his promise (albeit not against the Yankees) but it was not meant to be.  Matusz is only 30 but I don’t see anything in his numbers to warrant consideration as a reclamation project.  It’s sad to see.  I am sure that someone will take a flyer but I don’t think the Yankees should.

Speaking of former Yankees, Robinson Cano has been placed on the disabled list for the first time since 2006 when he was still with the Yankees.  He injured his right quadriceps last week and had been expected to return yesterday.  The Seattle Mariners opted to place Cano on the 10-Day DL retroactive to May 13th.  While Cano had a great season in 2016 and was off to a good start in 2017, he is 34 and the risk of injury continues to increase.  Proof the Yankees were smart not to pay Cano $240 million for ten years (as much as I would have liked to have seen the player wear pinstripes throughout his career with an eventual Robinson Cano Day that he’ll never see at Yankee Stadium).  I do wish Cano a quick return to good health and that he is able to return to the Mariners lineup on May 23rd.

Credit:  MLB.com

Congratulations to Mike Ford.  The first base prospect was recently promoted from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and he had a big game yesterday to help defeat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 7-2.  Ford was 2-for-3 with a two run shot off Henry Owens, a pitcher the Yankees are familiar with at the big league level.  Tyler Webb took the win in relief of Bryan Mitchell with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless work and six K’s.  Webb, returned to the Yankees this spring after being taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft, should get a shot in the Yankees bullpen sometime this year if a spot on the 40-man roster opens up.  

Meanwhile in AA, Gleyber Torres hit a tie-breaking game-winning two run homer in the eighth inning yesterday as the Thunder beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 4-2.  Just another day at the office for the supremely talented infielder.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s another royally wonderful day for Yankees fans!