Yankees: Can You Hear Me Now?…

Credit:  Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 14, Orioles 3…

Wow…the Yankees figured out the best way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is to just blast them in the bottom of the first inning.  A day after they crushed the O’s 16-3, the Yankee bats were in high gear once again.  I carried a fear that they’d struggle a day after the blow-out but these Yankees do not play to anyone’s predictions.  The forecasted 82-win team keeps rolling along as they pummeled the O’s 14-3 on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep.

This was a tough 13-game stretch against AL East opponents.  When the Yankees returned home to face the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, they were 3-4 in road games against the O’s and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Boston had a chance to overtake the Yankees in the AL East standings with a sweep, but instead the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Sox.  Then, they absolutely crushed the Orioles by a cumulative score of 38-8 in sweeping the three-game series.  So, the Yankees finish 8-5 for the 13 AL East games and are beginning to make believers that this team may be for real.  

After losing the opening game of the Red Sox series, the Baby Bombers won the next five games against the Red Sox and the O’s by a combined score of 55-9.  It was the first five game stretch of at least 8 runs or more for the Yankees since July 1956. 

Replicating Saturday’s fast start, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning.  Two of the first three batters (Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge) singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge moved to second on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter as Matt Holliday walked to load the bases.  Starlin Castro hit the second pitch of the at-bat up the middle off O’s starter Kevin Gausman, scoring Gardner and Judge.  Holliday moved to second.  That brought up Gary Sanchez who parked one in left center to score three more runs.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

The Yankees could have blown the game open in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but Starlin Castro hit into a double-play to strand the runners.   

Staked to the big lead, Chad Green, making his first Major League start of the season, couldn’t survive the third inning.  The only blemish of the first two innings was a walk of Trey Mancini in the second inning, but JJ Hardy opened the third with a double off Green.  The next hitter, former Yankee (or should I say RailRider) Ruben Tejada doubled off his former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammate to score Hardy.  Green’s day was ended after 52 pitches.  But the “doubles parade” continued against Chasen Shreve.  Seth Smith lined a double to score Tejada, followed by Jonathan Schoop’s double to score Smith.  Suddenly, the game was much tighter at 5-3.  Or as Michael Kay put it, “a laugher has become a nail-biter”.  Fortunately, Shreve rebounded to get Adam Jones on a ground-out, holding the runner at second.  This was followed by swinging strikeouts of O’s sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, after Jonathan Holder held the O’s scoreless in the top of the frame, the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs when Aaron Hicks walked and moved to third on a double by Aaron Judge.  Matt Holliday rapped a single to center to score both of the Aarons, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 7-3.

Moving to the sixth, Aaron Judge smashed another monster home run.  They should probably re-name Statcast as “Judge-cast” because he owns the leaderboards.  A day after the hardest hit ball this year, Judge captured the lead for home run distance with 495 feet.  Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks had held the previous longest homer (481 feet) since April 29th.  I’ve been convinced that we’ll see a 500 ft home run from Judge this season and he came within 5 feet of making my dream a reality.  8-3, Yankees.

Credit:  MLB.com

Not finished in the sixth, Matt Holliday reached first base on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Scoop.  Starlin Castro followed with a homer to left-center, making up for his second inning-ending double play.  The once close score was now 10-3 Yankees.  

You’d think that the Yankees bats were done for the day but not the Aarons.  In the 7th, both Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner walked with one out.  Aaron Hicks subsequently lined a double to center, scoring both runners.  12-3, Yankees.  That set the stage for the man of the hour, Aaron Judge.  In the daily game of who is going to hit two home runs next, Judge answered the call with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to cap the Yankees scoring for the day and give the Yankees a 14-3 lead.

It’s nice to have games where it is difficult to pick the player of the game.  Certainly, two home runs (including one that traveled nearly 500 ft) and a 4-for-4 day with 3 RBI’s gives Judge the leg up, but Starlin Castro’s 4 RBI’s warrant consideration.  Gary Sanchez and his three-run homer.  Or Matt Holliday, who has a knack for always being in the thick of the action.  1-for-3, Holliday walked twice, scored two runs, and had 2 RBI’s.  I am not ready to say that this is a World Series contender quite yet, but this is the most exciting Yankees team that I’ve seen since the late 90’s.  Please do not let the bubble burst.

In a game of relievers, the Yankees used 5 members of the bullpen to complete the game.  The longest stint was provided by Domingo German who was making his Major League debut.  German finished the final 2 2/3 innings of the game.  Although he did allow two hits and a walk, he held the O’s scoreless and struck out a batter (Jonathan Schoop, to end the top of the 7th inning).  Adam Warren (2-1), who preceded German, picked up the win.

The Yankees (37-23) moved up 3 1/2 games in the AL East, pending the outcome of Boston’s game on Sunday night.  The Tampa Bay Rays won (5-4 over the Oakland A’s) to move into third place, 6 games behind the Yankees.  The Orioles slipped to fourth with the loss, 6 1/2 games back.

This was an impressive home stand by the Yankees.  But all good things must end.  The Yankees take the show on the road for seven games in Southern and Northern California before returning to Yankee Stadium on June 20th to face the Los Angeles Angels.  With the West Coast games, I guess there are going to be a few bleary-eyed fans this week suffering from lack of sleep.

Odds & Ends…

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, 6-4.  The RailRiders led the majority of the game, but the IronPigs scored 5 runs late to capture the win.  Chance Adams was the starter, and pitched very well until the fateful 7th inning (when the IronPigs pushed 4 runs across the plate).  He finished with a pitching line of 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, while increasing his season ERA to 2.52.  He didn’t figure in the decision.  Tyler Webb, who I had hoped would eventually find his way to the Bronx, was an absolute train wreck.  He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (plus a run charged to Adams) before recording the final out of the 7th inning.  Adams deserved better but this was a learning experience.

Greg Bird had a quiet day at the plate.  He was 0-for-2, with 2 walks and a run scored.  

Domingo German’s stay in the Major Leagues was short-lived.  Following yesterday’s game, he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Right-handed reliever Ben Heller was recalled to take his place.  Either Heller or Gallegos will be heading back to SWB when Aroldis Chapman is activated (hopefully this weekend in Oakland).  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups in Anaheim for the series with the Los Angeles Angels:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Angels:  Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA)

Angels:  JC Ramirez ( 6-4, 4.33 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.39 ERA)

Angels:  Matt Shoemaker (6-3, 4.22 ERA)

Have a great Monday!  Let’s keep this winning streak alive!  Go Yankees!

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