|Credit: John Munson/NJ Advance Media|
It was a majestic day as the Yankees honored Derek Jeter and officially hung No. 2 among the Legends in Monument Park. Sadly, the Yankees were unable “Turn 2” as they lost the second game of the doubleheader following the Jeter ceremony.
In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the pink Yankees rallied, after falling behind, to win the game. The Yankees opened the scoring in the first inning on a run-scoring groundout by Matt Holliday. Sadly, Luis Severino did not have it for Mother’s Day and he fell apart in the third inning. He opened the inning by hitting George Springer with a pitch, and then gave up a single to Josh Reddick. After Jose Altuve hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Reddick out at second, the Astros put together a string of four singles to score three runs, ending Severino’s day. Chad Green, called up earlier in the day from AAA, got Alex Bregman to hit into an inning-ending double play.
As bad as Severino was, Green was terrific. He went 3 2/3 innings, holding the Astros to only one hit and no runs. He walked one and struck out three. In the 4th inning, the Yankee tied the game with a two-run homer by Starlin Castro and then took a 4-3 lead in the next at-bat when Aaron Judge finally went deep again with his 14th home run of the season.
|Credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press|
The game stayed 4-3 until the top of the 7th inning with Adam Warren pitching. A couple of singles, a walk, a fielding error by Starlin Castro and a sac fly allowed the Astros to re-take the lead, 6-4. Heading into the bottom of the 7th after Austin Romine grounded out, Brett Gardner singled and Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, moving Gardner to third. Matt Holliday, in a gutsy at-bat after falling behind 0-2, fought off a few pitches and singled in a failed diving attempt by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa which scored Gardner. At that point, the Astros brought in Chris Devenski who has been virtually unhittable this year. Apparently, Starlin Castro hasn’t been listening to how dominant Devenski is and he doubled to score Ellsbury. After an intentional walk to Aaron Judge and a strikeout of Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley came to bat with the bases loaded. On the TV telecast, Michael Kay was making comments about how Headley is due. Then, as if Headley heard Kay, he laced a triple to right to clear the bases, putting the Yankees up 9-6. Chris Carter doubled to score Headley, and the Yankees held a 10-6 lead after pushing six runs across the plate in the inning.
Brett Gardner added an insurance run in the 8th with a solo shot to center. In probably his worst outing of the season, Adam Warren (1-0) picked up the victory. Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless 9th inning to close out the game in a non-save situation. Yankees win, 11-6.
The second game started very badly for starter Masahiro Tanaka. From the beginning, Tanaka was struggling with each batter, and by the time Alex Bregman hit a grand slam, the Astros were up 6-0 before the Yankees had even taken an at-bat. When Tanaka was pulled after 1 2/3 innings, he had given up two home runs to George Springer and was trailing 8-0. Tanaka has given up 16 runs in his last 15 innings. Still, this was Derek Jeter’s day so I felt no lead was too much. The Yankees almost proved me right. In the 5th, trailing 9-0, the Yanks scored four runs on an RBI single by Brett Gardner and a three-run homer by Matt Holliday.
In the 9th inning, after a passed ball had allowed Marwin Gonzalez to score to put the Astros up 10-4, the Yankees tried valiantly to erase the deficit. A two-run single by Starlin Castro and a run-scoring single by Aaron Judge brought the Yankees within three runs at 10-7. With two outs and runners at the corners, the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate with Aaron Hicks. It could have been a signature moment for Hicksey but unfortunately he grounded out to end the game.
It was a good job by the bullpen to limit the damage after the Tanaka disaster. The two runs charged to the bullpen were both unearned. They gave the team a chance to win despite the overwhelming early Astros lead.
The doubleheader split left the Yankees with a 22-13 record (losing three of four to Houston). However, thanks to Tuesday’s opponent (the Kansas City Royals), the Baltimore Orioles lost their fourth in a row in a 9-8 loss. The loss allowed the Yankees to re-take sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game. The Boston Red Sox also lost, 11-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The hottest team in the division at the moment is the cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays, winners of their fifth consecutive game.
The Yankees were competitive with the Astros but unfortunately Houston proved the age-old adage, “good pitching beats good hitting”. Things do not get any easier as the Yankees hit the road to Kansas City. The Royals swept the O’s over the weekend with three one-run victories. The Yankees will need better starting pitching than they received in the Astros series if they are to have any hope.
Sunday morning started with disturbing news. The Yankees announced they had placed closer Aroldis Chapman on the 10-Day Disabled List. Clearly, something was not right with Chapman who failed to get out of the inning in his last two appearances. A MRI showed no structural damage (whew!) so Chapman only needs rest. He’ll avoid any baseball-related activities for two weeks and then he’ll resume throwing. He’ll most likely need a rehab stint before he is activated so the current projection is that he’ll be out for a month. In the interim, Dellin Betances will slide into the closer’s role with Warren, Holder and Tyler Clippard providing set-up. There’s no doubt that Holder has been a Godsend this year and his presence helps ease the sting of losing Chapman. Hopefully, the Betances that struggled last September was simply one that was tired after a long season. Now, Betances has a chance for redemption. If he proves successful, the Yankees need to take care of Betances financially this coming off-season and avoid penny-pinching him like they did during last year’s arbitration hearing.
Recently, when top closers Zach Britton and Mark Melancon had been placed on the DL, I had expressed hope that the DL-epidemic would not impact the remaining elite closers, Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Now, Jansen is the last man standing. It definitely shows the value of having an elite set-up artist capable of filling in for a closing role.
Chad Green was called up to replace Chapman. Green is getting used to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx commute. If he keeps pitching like he did in yesterday’s first game, he’s making an argument for why he shouldn’t go back to Pennsylvania.
Here’s hoping that Chapman is able to fully recover with rest and is able to return on schedule next month.
Despite the mixed results from the doubleheader and the loss of our closer, it was a special day. The Jeter ceremony was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen and it will be a long-time before we see such a memorable event again. Congratulations to Derek as he awaits the arrival of his first child, a child who almost certainly felt the magic of the day in his mother’s womb. It was a good day, a very good day…
|Credit: Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News|
Have a great Monday! Yesterday was Jeter’s Day, today is your day.