On Saturday, the Yankees were led by slugging outfielder Brett Gardner and the Hit Machine, Austin “So Fine” Romine. Wait a minute! Say what? You’re friggin’ kidding me, right? Gardner entered the game hitting .188 with no home runs or RBI’s. Romine, a seemingly career minor leaguer until he finally became a Major League back up last year at age 27, came into the game with a more respectable .277, but only a single homer and five RBI’s. On Saturday, the two went off for combined nine RBI’s as the Yankees throttled the Baltimore Orioles, 12-4. The Yankees, in scoring 26 runs in two victories, have ensured that they’ll leave April, pending the outcome of today’s game, no worse than tied for the American League East lead.
Gardner hit not one but two home runs in doing his best impersonation of Aaron Judge, albeit a short one, and drove in four Yankees runs. His 2-for-4 performance raised his batting average above .200 (to .206). With a 2-for-3 day (which also included a home run), Romine boosted his average to .300 and bested Gardner’s RBI total by one. I really didn’t expect Romine to start on Saturday after catching Friday night’s game, but I am glad Manager Joe Girardi penciled his name in. By the way, Aaron Judge sent one out but that’s getting to be old news. The big news anymore is the days he doesn’t send a ball screaming out of Yankee Stadium at record speed. Seriously, Judge is locked in right now and is tied with Khris Davis of the Oakland A’s for the most home runs in the American League with ten. Things are going so well for Judge, he even stole a base against the O’s, with footsteps that must have reverberated throughout the Stadium as the big man ran toward third.
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Michael Pineda was the winning pitcher with 5 1/3 innings of work. He got into some trouble in the sixth inning when Manny Machado doubled and subsequently scored on a Chase Headley throwing error. Girardi had a quick hook and pulled Pineda despite the 7-1 lead to avoid a potential return to “Bad Mike”. Big Mike’s day finished with five hits, two runs (although none earned), one walk, and eight strikeouts. He picked up his third win (3-1) of the year.
The Yankees are 15-7, and a game up on the Orioles for the AL East lead. Aaron Judge is on pace for 74 home runs (I know, it’s not sustainable) and this is an absolutely fun team to watch. What a difference a year makes! Last year on April 29th, the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox 4-2 to drop their season record to 8-13. Last April, the 2016 club felt lethargic and old. This year’s team is enthusiastic, supportive and energetic. I am not saying this is the 1998 Yankees but this is the best team chemistry I have seen since the golden years of the late 90’s.
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Today, the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face the O’s Wade Miley in the finale of the three game series. The Yankees stay at home to begin a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday.
Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams is soon going to be making noise for Big League consideration. So far this season, he is dominating Double-A for the Trenton Thunder. Through four starts, the 22-year-old is 3-0 with 0.82 ERA (13 hits and 2 earned runs in 22 innings). Although he has walked 10 batters, he was struck out 22. He’ll no doubt get the call to make the trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre soon and is positioning himself for a possible late-season call-up to the Bronx. If the Yankees need an emergency starter, I am sure that it would be Chad Green or Luis Cessa. But Adams is ensuring that his name will soon be in the conversation. Good problems to have.
News around Baseball the last few days has shown the risk of making big trades. On December 9, 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks packaged promising young shortstop Dansby Swanson, pesky outfielder Ender Inciarte, and pitcher Aaron Blair in a deal to acquire starting pitcher Shelby Miller and a minor leaguer. Miller has struggled in Arizona and this week it was announced that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery. Like James Kaprielian, he won’t be back until late 2018 at the earliest. Last year on December 7th, the Washington Nationals traded top young pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White for outfielder Adam Eaton after their failed attempt to acquire Andrew McCutheon from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yesterday it was announced that Eaton will miss the remainder of the 2017 season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Ouch! These were very high prices to pay for nothing. I hope that both Miller and Eaton are successful in their respective recoveries and return one day stronger than ever, but it doesn’t help either the D-Backs or the Nationals today. The Nationals have a World Series contending club and now they need outfield help in addition to the desperate need for a proven closer.
Have a great Sunday! I have no desire to see former Yankees manager Buck Showalter gain a victory today…let’s sweep this series!