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All things considered, I’d rather talk about wins than losses…
After reeling off two wins against the Baltimore Orioles, it felt like the chances were good for a sweep when the Yankees rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie Sunday’s game 4-4. But unfortunately, luck ran out and the Yankees lost 7-4 as they now await the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays later today.
The loss dropped the Yankees to 15-8 and back into a tie for first place with the Orioles.
Although the Yankees had their chances late in the game, I thought the inability to push more runs across early in the game was key. Had they broken open the game early, there would have been no need for late game heroics. Through the first three innings, the Yankees left seven men on base. The Yankees had runners on second and third with no outs in the second inning, but failed to score when O’s starter Wade Miley struck out Kyle Higashioka, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks in succession.
For the game, the Yankees left sixteen runners on base. Still, they had a chance, thanks to a single by Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the ninth that scored Aaron Judge and Chase Headley to tie the game. After Gregorius took second due to defensive indifference, the Yankees had runners at second and third. Unfortunately, Chris Carter struck out to end the threat with a weak at-bat.
From there, things got interesting. Manager Joe Girardi moved reliever Bryan Mitchell, who had pitched the top of the ninth, to first base, and brought in Aroldis Chapman. By keeping Mitchell in the game, the Yankees lost the DH spot in the lineup as it was taken by the new pitcher. Had the Yankees won the game in the bottom of the tenth, it would have been a brilliant move. Mitchell did commit one error (dropped foul pop) but Chapman prevented any other damage. Sadly, with no DH, Matt Holliday was out of the game, and the Yankees had to pinch hit Greg Bird with the winning run at third base and only one out. Bird was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and the next batter, Starlin Castro, hit into a force out that got Austin Romine out at the plate. With the bases still loaded and two outs, Aaron Judge had a chance to send his team to victory, but it was not meant to be as he struck out.
The lost chances eliminated the Yankees’ hopes for a win as the Orioles scored three runs in the top of the eleventh against Bryan Mitchell, who had moved back to pitching from first base to replace Chapman at the start of the inning.
It was a frustrating set of circumstances that led to the lost DH but I do not fault Girardi for trying to get creative. With a depleted bullpen, the Yankees did not have the men for an extended extra inning affair. I would have preferred to have seen Holliday batting in the tenth with the winning run 90 feet away but you cannot fault Girardi’s logic. He was trying to win a game and it could have (coulda, woulda, shoulda) worked out.
I am not going to worry about a loss on April 30th. The Yankees are still playing very well, and there’s nothing about yesterday’s loss that can detract from the excitement about the team. If the Yankee took two games out of three for every series, they’d be in excellent shape.
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Tonight, the Yankees begin a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. After a horrific start to the season, the Blue Jays are starting to win. They took two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. This will be a big test for the young Yankees.
The scheduled pitching match-ups are:
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.70 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (2-1, 3.00 ERA)
Blue Jays: Mat Latos (0.00, 3.27 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 4.20 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (2-2, 2.97 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (2-1, 4.34 ERA)
The former Yankees in this series are Blue Jays starting catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Steve Pearce.
Speaking of ex-Yankees, infielder Pete Kozma, who had been designated for assignment when Didi Gregorius returned, has been claimed by the Texas Rangers. To make room for Kozma, the Rangers demoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar to Triple-A. Best of luck to Kozma and thanks to him for his brief efforts in the Bronx.
As for current Yankees, catcher Gary Sanchez begins a rehab assignment with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow with eyes on returning this weekend at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Have a great Monday! Let’s get this machine back in the win column!