High-Flying Yankees Invade Florida…

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Another Series Win, check…

What a week! After splitting Monday’s quasi-double-header with the Nationals in Washington, D.C., the Yankees swept the resurgent Seattle Mariners in the Bronx.

The games against the Mariners couldn’t have been more exciting. After a fairly easy win on Tuesday night, Wednesday featured the Yankees’ rally from a 0-5 deficit with a game tying two-run homer in the 8th inning by Gary Sanchez followed by Giancarlo Stanton’s dramatic two-out, two-strike walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th. Yesterday, the Yankees used two first inning two-run dingers by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar to hold off the M’s for the series sweep.  

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Honestly, I did not expect the Yankees to sweep the Seattle series. The Mariners entered the game 20 games above .500, and were hanging with the Houston Astros atop the AL  West. The M’s left NYC yesterday with a four-game losing streak and 3 1/2 games behind the Astros.  Not a fun week for them. Still, the Mariners are playing much better than people expected when their star player, former Yankee Robinson Cano, was injured and then subsequently suspended for 80 games due to suspected PED use. There’s no doubt with a play or two here and there, the M’s could have easily taken two of the three games.  

I didn’t really get Aaron Boone’s decision to bring in Chasen Shreve to relieve Jonathan Loaisiga during Wednesday’s game. Sure, Loaisiga created the fourth inning mess that had given the Mariners an early 1-0 lead and he departed the game with two outs and runners at first and second, but Shreve did him no favors by allowing a two-run single to Dee Gordon, with both runs charged to Loaisiga. When Shreve entered the game, it felt like it was a great opportunity for the M’s, not the Yankees, and it was. I do not trust the lefty and if there’s a spot in the bullpen that desperately needs an upgrade, it is Shreve. In a bullpen of stars, he is the weakest link.    

Fortunately, after Shreve allowed a couple more runs, Boone made the decision to bring in Jonathan Holder who has been the best reliever not named Dellin Betances in recent weeks. Holder held the M’s scoreless over 2 1/3 innings to set the stage for the late inning heroics by Sanchez and Stanton. For me, Holder’s performance was the key to winning the game. 

I don’t know if it (the dramatic 9th inning game-winning home run) was Giancarlo Stanton’s “signature moment” but it was certainly a huge one for the Yankees and their fans. Stanton benefited from a misplaced pitch but to his credit, he didn’t miss it. Seattle reliever Ryan Cook knew he had made a mistake almost as quickly as the ball had left his hand. Hopefully, for Stanton’s sake, it is a sign of great things to come at Yankee Stadium for the slugger who has been much better on the road than at home ala Sonny Gray.  

On a day when the Yankees used a walk-off home run by #27 to win a game, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders did the same when Zack Zehner, wearing #27, hit a 9th-inning two-run homer to beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, 5-3. Very ironic and coincidental.

Yesterday, the Yankees scored four runs on two homers in the first inning against Seattle’s James Paxton, and then had to hold on when Luis Severino did not have his best stuff. Sevy allowed a two-run homer in the second to Kyle Seager and was touched again for a run-scoring single in the sixth inning by former Yankee Ben Gamel to make it a one-run game. The bullpen trio of David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman kept Seattle off the board from there to deliver Sevy his 11th victory of the season and it almost certainly ensures the young right-hander will be part of the AL All-Star team next month.  

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Thursday’s game also featured the first time that both Seattle’s Andrew Romine and his brother, Austin, started the same game.  It seems like that would have happened while Andrew was playing for the Detroit Tigers but it never did. Andrew started at shortstop for the Mariners and was 1-for-4 (seventh inning single; stranded at second) while Austin was 0-for-4, starting at catcher in place of Gary Sanchez. I loved the punch that Andrew threw at Austin while at the plate.  

Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With the Yankees  (50-22) in St Petersburg, Florida to face the Tampa Bay Rays for a weekend series, they enter play today with a two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (50-26) in the AL East. The Red Sox averted a series sweep by the home team at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN yesterday when they beat the Twins, 9-2, but the two-game lead for the Yankees is the largest they’ve held this month. It’s incredible that both the Yankees and Red Sox are on a path for more than 100 wins and the Yankees have yet to play their best baseball. Yesterday was the first day of summer but it should be a very fun summer for the Yankees and their fans. Somewhere in other Major League cities, there are several talented players and/or pitchers that will soon find themselves on the roster of the greatest team in baseball. No offense to the All-Star Game, but the MLB trading deadline is THE event of July. We’re buyers this year, boys…

The Brandon Drury Watch continues to yield fruit. On Thursday, Drury’s two-run single keyed a series win by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Drury played first base (second time this season) in the 3-1 win and made some good defensive plays.

A.J. Cole finally got to pitch Tuesday after 22 days as a spectator with a good seat for Yankees games, holding Seattle scoreless over the final two innings in the Yankees’ 7-2 win and now he’s on the 10-day DL. Bummer. Cole apparently suffered a neck strain prior to Wednesday’s game while playing catch. I guess that’s better than landing on the DL after injuring yourself while pulling on your pants like Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. Luis Cessa, on a rehab assignment with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, was recalled to take Cole’s place. Pardon me if I am feeling a little underwhelmed.

Given the Yankees are back in Florida to play the Rays, it means more starts against “openers”. Ryne Stanek opens tonight. He opened for the Rays last Saturday in New York when the Rays lost to the Yankees, 4-1. Stanek pitched an inning and a third before making way for a more extended stint by Ryan Yarbrough. I expect the same 1-2 formula tonight. Yarbrough hasn’t pitched since Saturday’s game, while Stanek pitched an inning of relief for Blake Snell on Tuesday night when the Rays snapped Houston’s 12-game consecutive win streak. CC Sabathia will open, okay start, for the Yankees. The Rays (34-40) are currently tied for third place in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays, 17 games behind your favorite Pinstripers.

The Rays go with another opener on Saturday (Wilmer Font) against Sonny Gray. As a road game, I am looking for much better things from Gray. Sunday will feature the first legitimate starter for Tampa when the talented Blake Snell takes the hill. He’ll face the ever-improving Domingo German in what should be a great pitcher’s duel.  

A great time to be a Yankees fan. A great day for a Yankees win.

Go Yankees!

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Good Hitting or Good Pitching? I’ll Take Both, Please…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)

Yankees win again behind German…

The Yankees got off to a good start with their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners last night with a 7-2 win at Yankee Stadium.

Very nice pitching performance by young Domingo German. I wish Sonny Gray could take notes on how to pitch in the Bronx. The veteran could learn a thing or two from the rookie. German could have broken in the first inning when the Mariners had runners at the corners and no outs following a double and an error by Didi Gregorius. Sure, the M’s picked up a run on Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice to short but German shook it off and struck out Corey Seager’s brother Kyle to end the threat. From there, German shut down the Mariners, retiring 18 in a row, until Nelson Cruz did what he does best in the seventh inning, a dinger to left. You can’t really blame German for that one. Cruz does it to the best of ’em.

German’s final pitching line was something Sonny Gray can only dream about at Yankee Stadium. Seven very strong innings, two hits, two runs but only one earned, zero walks, and nine strikeouts.  German is pitching like he doesn’t want GM Brian Cashman to make any pitching acquisitions at the trading deadline. While I’d leave German in the rotation, I would still make a trade for a proven veteran starter. Nothing against Jonathan Loaisiga but I’d rather limit the rookies in the rotation for the stretch run to only one (German).

I liked the tag line used by Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues:  Dominant Domingo and the Dingers. It was a very good description of the game. I can’t wait for the movie.

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Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With German easing the Yankees’ desperation for starting pitching help, I hope it opens the possibility for a trade to acquire a shutdown arm for the bullpen. None better than San Diego’s LHP Brad Hand which would allow the Yankees to dump Chasen Shreve. I think it was Sweeny Murti who said the other day that he’d like for the Yankees to acquire the Padres closer for no other reason than to be able to say “Aloha, Mr Hand!”. Yes, that’s true. Good point. But Hand is also the most highly sought-after reliever now that former Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera resides in Washington, D.C. and he has drawn attention from many teams including the Boston Red Sox. I really would not want to see Hand go to Boston to help shore up their bullpen deficiencies. The move to acquire him by the Yankees would not be all about keeping him out Boston but rather give us a deadly bullpen that can shut down anyone, anytime, anywhere.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Denis Poroy)

If the Yankees make no moves for starting pitching, they should most certainly look to add additional bullpen pieces. I really don’t want to see Shreve as the top lefty come October. He’s too inconsistent for me and a few others on this site.

It was good to see the Yankees offense come to life last night. Marco Gonzales has pitched very well for the Mariners this year and he entered the game with a 7-3 record. I thought well enough of him to add him to my fantasy baseball team a few weeks ago. He killed my team last night with six runs allowed, including three home runs. But hey, it was worth it. I cut him after the game but there’s no way I can be disappointed with his dismal performance.

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Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)

The homers were really fun to watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s shot to center in the first inning to tie the game, Miguel Andujar’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth to give the Yankees their first lead, Aaron Hicks’ two-run blast to left in the fifth after Clint Frazier had singled to increase the Yankees’ lead to 5-1, and the eighth inning ‘tack-on’ homer to left by Gleyber Torres off former Yankees reliever Nick Rumbelow. If you saw only the homer and not the batter, you would have sworn that Gleyber’s shot was courtesy of Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. It was certainly worthy of the words “All Rise” or “a Stantonian blast” if it had been hit by #99 or #27 rather than #25. The ball traveled 446 feet, easily the longest hit of the night. After Torres hit his homer, I saw one Yankees tweet say only 38 more to go to the rookie record. Very funny even if impossible.  Still, I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams could have forecasted 14 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and a slash line of .291/.346/.566 for Gleyber Torres on June 19th. The guy is such a joy to watch game after game. Sure, he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as pitchers adjust but he’s shown us enough to be confident he will.

Oh yeah, Aaron Judge had an RBI on single to left in the bottom of the seventh off Rumbelow with the run charged to Gonzales. A single. How pedestrian! Seriously, I love what Aaron Judge means to this team and how he is continually a difference-maker with both bat and glove.

I was hopeful that Gary Sanchez was breaking out of his slump but he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average back down to .191.

It was a fun game. The Mariners are a very good club and this series could easily be a preview of October if the M’s continue to play well. They are currently 46-27 and sit just two games behind the World Champions in the AL West. I don’t expect the Yankees to sweep the series but I am hopeful they capture at least one of the next two games before hopping on a plane bound for Tampa, Florida.

The Boston Red Sox, despite having their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound, lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN so the Yankees (48-22) increased their AL East lead to one game. Credit to the third-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ next opponent. They used Blake Snell (a pitcher that I’d love to see Brian Cashman acquire) to beat the Astros and Justin Verlander, snapping Houston’s 12-game winning streak.

Congratulations to Brandon Drury for winning International League Player of the Week honors. The Major League player, who deserves better than Triple A, hit .471 with one home run and 11 RBI’s during the week of June 11th through 17th. He had 16 hits, 25 total bases, and 11 runs scored. In last night’s 7-5 loss by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (love that name!), Drury was 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts. It doesn’t deter me. I still want Drury back in Pinstripes where he belongs. With Ryan McBroom’s demotion to Double-A, I saw a quote by RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell that the plan is to play Drury at first periodically. Operation Dump Neil Walker; Promote Brandon Drury is well underway. I liked Mitchell’s quote about Drury earlier this week: “He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us. He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.”

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Photo Credit: Todd Hiller

As for Chance Adams (the loser in the game), he is stepping dangerously into “Chance Adams Sucks!” Territory. Once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, Adams gave up six runs in four innings (four earned) yesterday.  He walked four batters while striking out only one. Control continues to be his Achilles Heel. Suffice it to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr Adams (2-3, 5.21 ERA) in the Bronx anytime soon.

It’s Wednesday and an awesome day for Lasagna! It will be Old versus Young today as 32-year-old “King” Felix Hernandez takes on rookie 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga who was phenomenal in his debut appearance. When I looked up Hernandez, I was thinking he was older than he really is.  He seems to have aged prematurely and is certainly not the ace he once was. This season, he is 6-6 with 5.44 ERA and an unsightly 1.38 WHIP. For all the years the Yankees were linked to him in trade rumors, I am glad it was a trade never consummated.  Let’s get a win and take this series.

Go Yankees!

Old Timer’s Show More Offense Than The Kids…

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

Yankees Drop Series Finale to the Rays…

I hate it when the Yankees lose. I know, it’s inevitable. Even a team as great as the Yankees has to lose every now and then. But it stinks when the Yankees clearly had a chance to sweep the four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. If they could have mixed in a little offense, they win the game. Instead, they fell 3-1 to the AL East’s third-place team

CC Sabathia, aside from a not-so-good second inning, pitched very well despite giving up ten hits. He held the Rays to those three second inning runs and got his team into the eighth inning before turning over the keys to Adam Warren to finish the game.

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Aaron Hicks tried. His eighth inning home run gave the Yankees their only run for the day. He was 2-for-5 on the day but his pop out to third, with Neil Walker on second base, in the bottom of the ninth sent the Yankees home with the loss.

The game featured the use of an “opener” for the second game in a row for the Rays. Wilmer Font couldn’t hold jobs with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Seattle Mariners earlier this year, but he was able to hold the vaunted Yankees offense to one run through 4 2/3 innings. Chaz Roe, who pitched two innings in three appearances for the Yankees in September 2014, was the winner. Sergio Romo, another failed Dodger, picked up the save. The Yankees offense should have crushed this Rays pitching staff…but didn’t.

According to Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News, Giancarlo Stanton is 13-for-64 with runners in scoring position. Ouch!

Photo Credit:  AP (Bill Kostroun)

The loss allowed the Boston Red Sox (49-24) to creep back into a first place tie with the Yankees although the Yanks (46-21) still lead by percentage points, .687 to .671. The Rays sit 15 games behind the leaders.

The highlight of the day yesterday was Nick Swisher’s home run for the Old Timer’s Day game. Honestly, I wish that I could go through life with the same passion as energy as Nick Swisher. His love for life and the Yankees is so strong.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

This was certainly a beautiful sight to see yesterday. Hard to believe that Andy Pettitte not only wears 46 but is 46 and is now a grandfather.  He still graces the Yankee Stadium mound with his presence like he always did.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

Today is an odd day. The Yankees make up the suspended game from May 15th (tied 3-3, top of the sixth inning) and the rain-out from May 16th at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Red Sox are off today so if the Yankees lose both games today, they’ll fall behind the Sox. Technically, they can split and maintain the first place tie. Thanks to the weather, the Sox have played six more games than the Yankees so it will be shortened to four games after today.

After the game, the Yankees return home to Yankee Stadium to face the Seattle Mariners. The M’s, coming off a weekend split with the Red Sox, are the Kings of One-Run Games. They’ve won 23 one-run games this year and have won as many games as the Yankees entering play today. The Mariners, minus the suspended Robinson Cano, are currently 46-26. They’re off today so the Seattle players get the run of New York City while the Yankees play in the Nation’s Capitol.

My Brandon Drury watch shows that the Yankees third baseman is continuing to tear up the International League. He was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored in yesterday’s 4-2 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs. The dude has been an on-base machine and would pair very well right now with Miguel Andujar at third in the Bronx. Drury’s current slash line with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is .360/.470/.529 with a .999 OPS.  #FreeDrury

Photo Credit: Times Leader

As excited as I am about the impending return of Drury, the news that Jacoby Ellsbury will soon resume baseball activities was somewhat of a gut punch. I know, the guy has some baseball talent but is it wrong that I don’t want him on my team? For a team that finds it so difficult to squeeze all their talented Major League-ready players onto a 25-man roster, Ellsbury would take a spot away from a more deserving player. Maybe the guy returns like it is 2011 or maybe he comes back for a temporary stay until his next trip to the disabled list. My money is on the latter. But even if he can still give something, let him do it for someone else. Go back to Boston (even if we pay the freight), I don’t really care. I think the funniest line on Twitter yesterday was that Nick Swisher has done more at Yankee Stadium this year than Jacoby Ellsbury has.

Today is a new day. One win would be great, two wins even better. Let’s Go Yankees!

Sevy & The Era of Dominance…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)

Yanks win again behind their Ace…

I remember in 2016 when Luis Severino was struggling as a starter and couldn’t buy a win. He was 0-8 as a starter and ended up in the pen. Many of us (well, namely me) wondered if he was better suited for a role in relief rather than the rotation. Fast-forward to June 2018 and Sevy is 10-2 with his name easily insertable among the league’s best. I can never say that I missed my calling as a Major League scout as I never saw Severino as the ace he has become. I’ll just chalk this up to one of those grand moments when I love it when I am wrong.

I love the confidence you have with games featuring Severino. Sure, he may lose like he did against the recent game against the New York Mets, but he’ll have his team in the game win or lose. On Saturday, he mowed down the Tampa Bay Rays on the way to a 4-1 victory for his 10th win of the season. He is tied with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber  and Washington’s Max Scherzer for most wins in the Major League Baseball. His 2.09 ERA is second only to Justin Verlander’s 1.61 in the AL, and third behind Verlander and Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets (1.55) overall.  On the mound or on the field, Sevy can do it all.

Photo Credit: Newsday (Joseph D Sullivan)

Against the Rays, Severino was very stingy with hits, giving up only three over eight innings. He walked two and struck out nine, handing over a scoreless game to the bullpen. Sadly, Chasen Shreve blew it when he allowed a home run to Matt Duffy to open the top of the ninth. Shreve gave up a triple to the next batter, which forced the Yankees to bring in Aroldis Chapman to close out the gem for Severino. It took all of ten pitches for Chapman to record his 20th save but Shreve clearly left a bad taste on an otherwise beautiful afternoon.

It was probably one of those games where the Yankees should have scored many more runs than they did. They certainly had their chances. With runners at first and second and two outs in the bottom of the second, the Yankees scored a run when Gleyber Torres hit a shot bounced up and off the glove of Rays third baseman Matt Duffy into left field for a double.

In the bottom of the third, the Yankees picked up another run when Aaron Judge opened the inning with a double to deep center and was brought home on a single to left by Didi Gregorius. Gregorius advanced to second on the throw, but like the second inning, the Yankees were not able to capitalize on more runs against the Rays rotation by committee.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The fifth inning brought previews of coming attractions when Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez opened the bottom of the inning with back-to-back home runs.

Photo Credit: AP (Adam Hunger)

This is an example of what can easily happen with these two guys get on a roll. It’s scary to think the team is 46-20 and there are still guys on the team with subpar numbers. That would be it for Yankees scoring but with Luis Severino on the mound, all was good. Well, at least until the momentary scare by Chasen Shreve in the ninth inning.

The Yankees picked up ground in the AL East with the win, thanks to a Red Sox loss in Seattle.  The Mariners got a career game out of 33-year-old Wade LeBlanc, who spent spring training with the Yankees. LeBlanc and the M’s bullpen held the Sox (48-24) to two hits in the 1-0 victory. The Yankees now lead Boston by a game and they extended baseball’s best home record to 26-10. It is an odd stat that the Yankees have the best overall winning percentage in the MLB, yet three teams have at least 46 wins like the Yankees (Mariners) or more (Red Sox and Astros).

In the ‘what more does he have to do?’ category, Brandon Drury continues to rake for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He was 3-for-5 in yesterday’s 9-7 win over the Syracuse Chiefs, driving in three runs. In 38 games for the RailRiders, Drury is batting .353/.463/.511 with .974 OPS.  There’s no doubt Drury will soon find himself back in the Bronx where he belongs.

The Yankees have made a few minor moves the last couple of days. On Friday, they traded RHP Chad Whitmer, 23, to the Milwaukee Brewers for undisclosed international bonus pool money. Whitmer was drafted in the tenth round of last year’s MLB Draft. Yesterday, the Yankees acquired minor league infielder Wendell Rijo as the player to be named later in the earlier deal that sent catcher Erik Kratz to the Brewers. Rijo, 22, was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox (2013) but has never been able to capitalize on his talent with consistent production. In Double A this year, Rijo’s slash line is .200/.304/.375.  He has 4 homers and 14 RBI’s in 32 games. Oh well, he has a chance for a ‘do-over’ in the farm system of America’s favorite team.

Today is always one of the most exciting days annually at Yankee Stadium. Old Timer’s Day.  We are privileged for every year that allows an appearance by the great and legendary Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, 89.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

It is the first of hopefully many for the other greatest left-hander in Yankees history, Andy Pettitte. Jason Giambi will be there, sporting a Gleyber Torres jersey, as will the always-bubbly Nick Swisher. So many wonderful former Yankees (forty in total), five widows, and the team’s long-time former trainer will be present for roll call at the 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium. Lovin’ the Pinstripes is a daily occurrence but today reigns supreme as a day of Yankees Pride and Passion.

Go Yankees!

The Yankees Celebrate Pasta Night in the Bronx…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)

Johnny Lasagna captures first MLB win in debut…

The much-anticipated Major League debut of Jonathan Loaisiga, a/k/a Johnny Lasagna, was a great success. Domingo German didn’t win his first game until Thursday, his seventh start of the season and his 12th appearance overall. Loaisiga, who was in Double A earlier this week, delivered five solid innings, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to three hits and no runs, en route to the Yankees’ 5-0 win. He threw 91 pitches, while walking an uncharacteristic four walks for the strike-thrower and sending six to the bench by strikeout.

I’d blame the walks on jitters for pitching at Yankee Stadium for the first time but Loaisiga had the calmness of a savvy veteran on the mound. A very good impression left by the young right-hander who picked up first first Major League win. During the game, someone tweeted that Domingo German and Loaisiga are better than last year’s duo of Luis Cessa and Caleb Smith. That’s an understatement. When Cessa pitches, I always feel it’s inevitable he’ll give up 3 to 4 early runs and the team will need to rely upon its offense for any hope. To Smith’s defense, he has pitched much better for the Miami Marlins this year (5-6, 3.75 ERA, 83 strikeouts in 72 innings) but he certainly didn’t “wow” anyone last year like German and Loaisiga have done. His Yankees career stands at 0-1, 7.71 ERA in nine games (two starts).

The nice thing about the respective jobs this year’s rookie pitchers have provided is the elimination of the immediate desperation for the Yankees to acquire proven Major League pitching talent for the stretch run. Sure, the Yankees will no doubt acquire another proven starter by the July trading deadline but the performance of the young guys will help GM Brian Cashman to acquire pitching on his terms as opposed to other team smelling blood in the water and circling the Yankees with demands of over-payment.

I thought the fourth inning was a terrific moment for Loaisiga. With one out, Wilson Ramos recorded the first hit off Loaisiga with a single to right. A ground out by Joey Wendle moved Ramos to second for the second out of the inning, but the Rays loaded the bases on another single and a walk. Yankee Stadium and the pressure of the situation could have been overwhelming for Loaisiga but after several mound visits, Loaisiga was able to settle down and ended the threat with a strikeout of Christian Arroyo (the return for when the Rays traded Yankee killer Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants). It was a huge moment for the youngster, especially with the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead at that point.

Let’s talk about that 1-0 advantage. Didi Gregorius, who disappeared during the month of May (bat, not defense) has returned with a vengeance. His homer to right in the third inning gave the Yankees their first run of the game. He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored and the RBI on the homer. No strikeouts for Sir Didi despite the presence of the hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. It’s great to see Gregorius back in form.  I had to go back and watch the video replay of Didi’s first Major League home run at Yankee Stadium while he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks to re-live the excitement on his face and holding the knowledge that he’d one day be a star at the Stadium.

I felt bad for Eovaldi. Well, not bad enough that I wanted to see him emerge with a victory over his former teammates. Nevertheless, it has been a long, hard road for Nasty Nate with his Tommy John surgery, the second of his career, and subsequent injuries since his release by the Yankees. He pitched into the eighth inning and had held the Yankees to two runs until the Yankees loaded the bases on two hits and an intentional walk. Exit Eovaldi and enter fellow multiple Tommy John recipient Jonny Venters, the former Atlanta Braves reliever, who, after striking out Greg Bird, served up a bases clearing double to Gary Sanchez with all the runs charged to Eovaldi. So, the final pitching line does not show how well Eovaldi pitched on this night. I wish him success as he moves forward with his Rays career, but if he pitches too well, he’ll find himself on another team next month.

Hopefully the double is a positive sign for El Gary. The hit helped him evade an ‘0-fer’ night and left him with a season batting average of .189. I’d love to see him follow up with a couple of hits today to get his bat going and return him to his status as one of the key bats in the Yankees lineup. The Yankees need Sanchez playing like we know he can for the long summer ahead.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun

Another stellar job by the Yankees bullpen. Jonathan Holder, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren, in that order, held Tampa to one hit, no runs, a walk and four strikeouts. I wouldn’t want to say anything to Betances right now. He’s like a guy throwing a no-hitter in the late innings.  We would not want to jinx that bad boy.

I thought the Yankees would remain in second place in the AL East last night when I went to bed. The Boston Red Sox had jumped all over Seattle Mariners starter James Paxton with six runs (five earned). Paxton couldn’t make it out of the third inning. The Sox had a 6-3 lead when I shut the TV off. It was nice to wake up to news that the Mariners had rallied against Sox starter Rick Porcello and the Boston bullpen for a 7-6 win. The loss dropped Boston (48-23) into a first place tie with the Yankees (45-20) although the better team (Yankees of course) lead by sixteen percentage points (.692 to .676).

To make room for Jonathan Loaisiga, the Yankees optioned Tyler Austin to Triple A. While I wish Austin could have hit well enough to stay, I really hope this eventually leads Brandon Drury back to the Major Leagues where he belongs. I have been intrigued to see what the Yankees have with pitcher A.J. Cole but at this point, he is offering nothing and does not seem to be an option for any meaningful role. Therefore, when the Yankees complete this current stretch of consecutive games, I’d like to see them DFA Cole to open a spot for Drury. I am appreciative of the job Neil Walker has done but I’d trade Walker if necessary to get Drury back to the Bronx. It seems like almost every trade suggestion by Yankees Twitter now includes Drury but I’d love to find a way to keep him and have him provide infield support for Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Greg Bird. I’d trade Andujar for the right pitcher to open third base for Drury but of course I’ve been a fan of Drury all along despite the “headaches” he caused the Yankees and their fans.

How great was it to see Andy Pettitte pitching batting practice before yesterday’s game? I love that guy. Friday was Andy’s 46th birthday which made it very appropriate for him to be at Yankee Stadium. He’s in town, along with a number of other former Yankees greats, for Sunday’s Old Timer’s Day. Pettitte has always been one of my favorite Yankees. With no disrespect to Larry Rothschild, I am hopeful that Pettitte will one day return to the Yankees as the team’s pitching coach. There was talk Pettitte might have joined Lance Berkman as his pitching coach if Berkman had gotten the Rice University coaching gig, but that job went to Matt Bragga on Friday. Congratulations to Andy for the recent birth of his first grandchild.  Hard to believe that #46 is now a grandfather. Andy looks like he could still suit up for the Yankees and deliver a win.

Photo Credit:  Mike Mazzeo/@MazzNYDN (Twitter)

It’s Luis Severino day. The Yankees ace (9-2, 2.27 ERA) will be opposed by Tampa’s Ryne Stanek (1-1, 2.76 ERA). Let keep this two-game winning streak going and take the series against the Rays today. It is a good day and a great day for a Yankees victory.

Go Yankees!

Oh, I See Ya, Jonathan Loaisiga…

Photo Credit: La Prensa/Oscar Navarrete/Archivo

Rookie to Make MLB Debut on Friday…

As expected by many, Jonathan Loaisiga (Loh-AYE-see-gah) will make his Major League debut against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays on Friday at Yankee Stadium. No pressure. He’ll be pitching for baseball’s best team in America’s greatest ballpark in front of thousands and thousands of rabid Yankees fans.  

I do not doubt the potential of Loaisiga’s arm but the concern is that he’s never pitched higher than Double A. In essence, he leap-frogged over higher rated pitching talents like Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams, but the 23-year-old is viewed as having a Major League-ready arm and has the notable advantage of holding a 40-man roster spot which means the Yankees do not have to remove someone from their seat at the table like they would if they called up Sheffield or Adams, or Josh Rogers.  

I suppose it’s better to give the young right-hander a shot over an underwhelming name like David Hale or the rehabbing Luis Cessa but I probably would have gone with Sheffield. The Yankees need to place Sheffield on the 40-man roster before December’s Rule 5 Draft so it’s inevitable they’ll soon need to make room. I am not sure why A.J. Cole is still on the Yankees roster. He was routinely in the mix for the back-end of the Washington Nationals rotation the last few years but has never gotten the opportunity to start for the Yankees since his acquisition on April 24th. For basically a month and a half, Cole has primarily been paid to watch the Yankees play, only with a better seat than you or I. Manager Aaron Boone has called upon Cole for a grand total of eleven innings. It’s not his fault that his first name is not Gerrit. Cole (1-0) has been effective in his limited volume of work. In six games, he has only given up one run on six hits for 0.82 ERA. He has walked six batters but has struck out twelve. He started two games for the Nationals to begin the season, and opened with one of the worst pitching lines you’ll ever see (3 2/3 innings, 10 hits, 10 runs) in a 13-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves on April 3rd. In fact, he gave up runs in all four appearances he made for the Nats in April before he was sold to New York for cash. Still, I would give Cole an opportunity based on his MLB experience. There is talent in his arm even if the results have been fleeting. The Yankees either need to use him or lose him to open a 40-man roster spot for a guy like Sheffield. Keeping him around for late inning blowouts seems like a waste of resources.  

Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Loaisiga was born in Managua, Nicarauga in November 1994.  He originally signed with the San Francisco Giants, but missed the 2014 and 2015 seasons due to injury and had Tommy John surgery in 2016.  He is only 5’11” and 165 pounds but according to MLB.com, “While Loaisiga is small and skinny, he has surprising power to this three-pitch repertoire. His quick arm repeatedly generates 93-96 mph fastballs that top out at 98 with life down the strike zone. His low-80s curveball features a high spin rate and his upper-80s changeup has a nice fade, albeit with a bit too much velocity.”

Personally, I would have preferred to have seen Loaisiga, nicknamed Johnny Lasagna, pitch a few games at Triple A. I didn’t really like the Yankees decision to re-sign David Hale who doesn’t have much upside (in my opinion) other than being a below-average, replacement level starter. Loaisiga should have been the starter at Triple A over Hale.  

Yesterday’s 3-0 win over the Washington Nationals marked the start of a 16-day, 16 1/2 game schedule before the next day off so the Yankees need to get results from Loaisiga plus continued improvement from Domingo German to hold up the rotation until the Yankees can make trades for more experienced help next month and Masahiro Tanaka returns from the disabled list.   

As for the win, it was great to see the return of Sir Didi’s bat. After dominating MLB in April, Gregorius spent May as an imitation of Brendan Ryan. Okay, that’s not fair. The slick-fielding, no-hit Ryan had a mustache. Didi’s two home runs last night helped power the offense, but enough cannot be said about the great job Austin Romine has done as backup catcher this year. Romine was 1-for-2 and his sac fly accounted for a run. During the off-season, it seemed like most people (yeah, me too) wanted the Yankees to sign someone like Alex Avila to backup Gary Sanchez but Romine answered the bell and has been one of the game’s best backup backstops.  

The game featured a good performance from the elderly CC Sabathia (4-1). The soon-to-be 38 year old held the Nationals to 4 hits and no runs over 5 2/3 innings. He both walked and struck out three batters on 101 pitches. The bullpen chipped in 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, holding the Nats to only one hit while striking out six batters. Another fine performance by the reinvigorated Dellin Betances and another save for the Cuban Missile (his 18th).  

The game was probably one that Bryce Harper would like to forget. I am sure that he’s still getting over the loss by his beloved Las Vegas Golden Knights to his baseball hometown’s Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals but two unintentional plunking’s by Yankees pitchers last night before he pulled himself from the game did not help.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

If Yankees fans, well, some of us, get their way in the off-season, Bryce will have the potential for much better days at Yankee Stadium minus the road grays he wore last night. Realistically, do I think the Yankees will sign Harper?  No.  Honestly, would I prefer Harper over Giancarlo Stanton?  As much as it pains me, yes.

X-rays were negative and Bryce is expected back today for the series finale but let’s hope that memorable days in the Bronx are delayed by at least one game.

The Yankees (43-19) could not gain any ground on the Boston Red Sox (46-22). The Yankees and the Sox are tied atop the AL East although the Yanks lead by 0.018 percentage points. Boston beat the Baltimore Orioles, a team that seems permanently stuck on 19 wins, 6-4. The O’s had their chances and did score two runs in the bottom of the 9th against Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, but Pedro Alvarez, representing the tying run, struck out to end the game. Seriously, I do not see how Buck Showalter can survive this season. It is a sad ending for the former Yankee.

In the category of ‘I don’t know why it took so long’, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders started Brandon Drury at first base in the second game of a double-header against the Rochester Red Wings yesterday. The first game saw Drury’s 32 game on-base streak end. He was 0-for-3 with a run scored (reached base on a fielding error by former Seattle Mariners infielder Taylor Motter, the Ben Gamel look-alike). Drury was 1-for-3 with a triple and 2 RBI’s in the second game to start a new streak. The RailRiders won both games.

The way Drury has played, he deserves a promotion back to the big league club. In 34 games and 112 at-bats for the RailRiders, Drury is hitting .313/.442/.455 with .897 OPS. He has 2 homers and 14 RBI’s. As dismal as Greg Bird has looked at the plate since his return, I’d pull a ‘Torreyes’ on him (unexpected demotion to Triple A) in order to call up Drury. I’d take Drury over either Bird or Tyler Austin right now. We already know that Neil Walker can play decently at first and Drury is capable of learning the nuances of the position. I think it is more important for the Yankees to get Greg Bird going so that’s why he would be my choice for the temporary sabbatical in Pennsylvania over Tyler Austin. For now, Austin and Walker can man first base effectively.

Over the weekend, there was a story about how Drury was unhappy in the Minor Leagues. What is he supposed to say? ‘Ya know, I really like it here in Scranton. The people are nice, the food is good, I don’t have 50,000 fans screaming in my ear’. I want Drury to be unhappy where he is. He has earned the right to be a Major League player and he is one. I have been a fan of the player and I will continue to be regardless of the accomplishments garnered by Miguel Andujar. There’s room for both Andujar and Drury on the Yankees roster.

Photo Credit: The Scranton Times-Tribune (Butch Comegys)

It’s a home game today for Sonny Gray so I am a bit concerned. Too bad he can’t wear the road uniform on the mound. Anyway, I hope Gray’s recent resurgence continues and he finally shows that he can be dominant at Yankee Stadium. Let’s sweep the Nats.

Go Yankees!

Over 26 Need Not Apply…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rich Schultz)

Baby Bombers Power Yanks to Victory…

OK, the winning pitcher and the reliever who picked up the save have celebrated the Big 3-0, but the young bats of Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and 26-year-old Aaron Judge homered to propel the Yankees to a one-run win over the New York Mets, 4-3, on Saturday.

The game had a bizarre beginning when Aaron Hicks led off with a shot to right that went into the Yankees bullpen through an open door. The potential triple wound up as a ground-rule double thanks to the inattentive unknown individual who left the door open. The Mets got out of the inning when Mets pitcher Steven Matz caught Hicks straying too far from second with two outs and nailed him with a tag out at second to end the inning. Perhaps if he had been on third, the results for the inning (goose egg) would have been different. Fortunately, the Mets would leave the door open for the Yankees to win the game after they scored three runs in the bottom of the first on homers by Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera’s hit was a two-run shot after a triple by Brandon Nimmo.

It looked like it was going to be a short outing for Domingo German but he settled down after the rough first inning. He ended up going five more strong innings without allowing anymore runs after the Mets’ uprising in the first. On 96 pitches, he struck out nine batters. He didn’t figure into the decision since he left with the game tied after completing the sixth inning but clearly the Yankees would not have won the game if the 25-year-old German did not shut down the Mets after those early home runs. With the announcement prior to the game that Masahiro Tanaka had been placed on the 10-day DL with the hamstring tightness in both legs, the Yankees need German now more than ever. The way he shook off the early problems showed veteran prowess despite his youth.

Photo Credit: New York Post (Corey Sipkin)

Like Jacob deGrom had done the day before, Steven Matz held the Yanks in check early. Gleyber Torres finally got the Yankees on the board with a solo shot in the top of the third inning to make it a 3-1 game.  In the top of the sixth, after Gary Sanchez had walked with one out, Miguel Andujar, displaying why he, and not the Toddfather nor Brandon Drury for that matter, is the Yankees third baseman, blasted a Matz pitch into the left field stands. The Yankees had knotted the game at three.

Photo Credit: Newsday (Joseph D Sullivan)

David Robertson took over for German in the bottom of the seventh and immediately gave up a lead-off double to Adrian Gonzalez on the first pitch. Fortunately, he retired the next three batters, which included a great defensive play by Didi Gregorius to end the inning, stranding A-Gon at second and leaving the game deadlocked.

The Mets inserted former Yankees reliever Anthony Swarzak to start the top of the eighth inning and he was greeted with a Judgian blast on the first pitch, a shot to left by Aaron Judge to give the Yankees a one-run lead. The Yankees proceeded to get runners at the corners with two outs, but failed to score any further runs when Greg Bird, pinch-hitting for Tyler Austin, grounded out to second.

Bottom of the eighth it was three up and three down by strikeout for Dellin Betances.  Man, oh man, he looks good lately. Earlier this season, I didn’t want Dellin anywhere near the ninth inning but he has restored my confidence in him. A day after Aroldis Chapman had a mound visit by Trainer Steve Donahue for ongoing tendonitis in his knee, I probably would have left Chappy on the bench for this game. I would have held Betances for the ninth after burning D-Rob earlier in the game. Of course, it’s easy to say in hindsight but suffice it say that I am very happy that Betances is becoming a trusted resource once again.

As for Chapman, it was a shaky performance. He walked Jay Bruce to start the ninth, a batter who cannot seem to hit the broad side of a barn this season. He struck out the next two batters including former Toronto villain Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista but a walk of Kevin Plawecki put Bruce in scoring position. Fortunately, the next batter was Jose Reyes, who is struggling to hold his roster spot with the Mets. A liner to right into the waiting glove of Aaron Judge ended the game and handed Chapman his 17th save of the season.

Prior to the season, I didn’t want rookies at second AND third but here we are. Andujar and Torres have clearly proved me wrong.  I still feel bad for Brandon Drury, a player I like, but I am thrilled with the performances of the rookies.  I never expected this kind of power from the very talented Torres who now has 11 homers for the year. The only time he had double-digit homers in the minors was 2016 between two Class A clubs. He certainly never displayed this type of power while he was in the Chicago Cubs organization. I remember being saddened when the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. I guess I’ve recovered…and then some. I love this Yankees team and the rookies are at the forefront of the team’s success.

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Bill Kostroun)

The Yankees (42-18) maintained their half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (44-21) in the AL East with the win. The Sox beat the other Sox, 4-2, to keep pace. Hopefully the White Sox can take today’s game.

With the placement of Tanaka on the disabled list, the Yankees recalled utility-man Ronald Torreyes prior to the game. It brought multiple comments of “The cameraman is back!” on Twitter but Toe’s value to the chemistry of the 2018 Yankees cannot be understated. The clubhouse was very happy to see him and it reinforces how this team supports one another.  Toe made it into yesterday’s game as a pinch-hitter for Dellin Betances in the ninth. He grounded out to short, but when his name is called upon the next time, his bat or glove, as always, will be ready. Welcome back, Toe!

Just when I thought Josh Rogers is putting his name into the conversation for spot starter, he threw his second consecutive stinker yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. After giving up six runs in 1 1/3 innings on June 3rd, Rogers allowed 13 hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings yesterday as the Louisville Bats coasted past the RailRiders, 9-4, with a 20-hit attack. Many are saying that Jonathan Loaisiga will get the call to make the spot start on Friday but I also think A.J. Cole, the forgotten man on the bench, should get consideration. The Yankees really need to see what they have with Cole. Either they need to give him an opportunity or they need to move on and open his spot for one of the talented young arms in the system ready to take the next step.

The Yankees can sweep the Mets today with our best pitcher (Luis Severino, like I needed to mention his name) on the mound. A good day for baseball and a great day for a victory.

Go Yankees!