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Well, I should qualify that by saying I hope it is for the Bird (as in Greg)…just not for the Birds of Baltimore.
The Yankees head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the AL East front-running Orioles. The series begins tonight at 7:05 pm ET with CC Sabathia (2-1, 2.70 ERA) scheduled to take the mound versus the O’s Kevin Gausman (1-2, 7.50 ERA). In Gausman’s last start on Sunday against the Red Sox, he gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning to Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez as the O’s fell to Boston 6-2.
The Yankees are playing much better than they did when the O’s took 2 of 3 earlier this month. When the Yankees salvaged the final game of the series with a 7-3 victory on April 9th, it was the start of an eight-game winning streak. They left Baltimore with a 2-4 record, and now stand at 13-7 as they prepare for the rematch. The Yankees currently trail the Orioles by just one game.
The X Factor is the return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who returns tonight after missing the first 20 games of the season. Didi performed his rehab assignment at High A Tampa, where he hit .290 with a homer and 13 ribbies. Credit is owed to interim starting shortstop Ronald Torreyes. My preference had been to promote prospect Tyler Wade as I didn’t feel Torreyes (or “Toe”) was up to the task. He proved me wrr, wrrr…not exactly right. The little guy came up big in clutch situations, and played admirably in the field. Toe now moves to the critical super-sub role with the ability to cover for Gregorius, Starlin Castro or Chase Headley. At this point, if you told me that he could play catcher too, I wouldn’t argue. There’s a reason that Brian Cashman is paid to the general manager and Joe Girardi is paid to be the manager, while I write for free on this blog site.
Now the question is what becomes of backup shortstop Pete Kozma. Is he simply optioned to AAA (retaining his spot on the 40-man roster) or designated for assignment? Personally, for me, the emergency backup shortstop is Wade so I’d shake Kozma’s hand for helping out and then hand him his walking papers.
Catcher Gary Sanchez is also very close to returning. He’ll begin his rehab assignment next Tuesday for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Like Torreyes, catcher Austin Romine has done a terrific job filling in for Sanchez. Obviously, he’ll never be the bat nor the arm of Sanchez, but he held his own at the position.
This has been a crazy year for guys going on the disabled list. The San Francisco Giants losing ace Madison Bumgarner for two months due to a dirt bike accident is probably the craziest. But it seems like no team has been immune from the DL plague. Soon, the Yankees will be back at full strength for a team that is already playing better than expected. There is reason for great optimism at 161st and River.
The pitching match-ups for the rest of the weekend are:
Balt: Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 5.95 ERA)
NYY: Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.86 ERA)
Balt: Wade Miley (1-1, 2.08 ERA)
NYY: Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 3.78 ERA)
I am very glad that we won’t be facing a Chris Sale-like pitcher in this series. So far this season, the best pitcher for the Orioles has been Dylan Bundy. The Yankees will miss Bundy (3-1, 1.65 ERA) this go-around. You have to like the Yankees’ chances in this series, particularly considering they are at home. Welcome back, Didi! It will be great to see #18 on the field again.
Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred disputed the reports that the group led by Yankees Legend Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had won the exclusive rights to purchase the Miami Marlins. Per Manfred, there are still two groups involved in the running but that resolution should be reached within a matter of days. So, hold your horses, Jeter may not be trading in his pinstripes just yet. It would be cool if the Steinbrenner Family would sell Jeter part of the Yankees, but that’s not going to happen. For Jeter’s sake, I hope his group’s bid is successful. Ownership is his dream and the best case scenario without the Yankees in play is a National League club to avoid frequent competition.
What did last night’s game against the Boston Red Sox look like?…
What can you say about Masahiro Tanaka’s masterful performance against the Red Sox? It was an absolute masterpiece as Tanaka out-pitched Boston ace Chris Sale for the the 3-0 victory. Tanaka went the distance, allowing only three hits and no walks, while striking out three. It was Tanaka’s best start of the year and one of his greatest in pinstripes. Sale, who came into the game with a career 1.17 ERA against the Yankees, allowed three runs (two earned) in the loss for the Red Sox.
For the majority of the game, the Yankees held a slim 1-0 lead, thanks to a sac fly by Matt Holliday in the fourth inning. Finally, they knocked Sale out of the game in the ninth inning after he allowed singles to the first three batters, including a run-scoring hit by Holliday to pick up his second RBI of the game. Reliever Heath Embree gave up a hit to the first batter he faced (Starlin Castro), scoring Chase Headley, with the run charged to Sale.
Chris Carter, carrying the rep of a one-dimensional home run hitter, played very solid defense at first base even if he couldn’t get his bat going against Sale.
This was one of the more enjoyable victories over the Red Sox in recent memory. Hats off to Tanaka, and congratulations to the team for the two-game sweep.
Have a wonderful Friday! It’s time to cook some Birds!