|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
Yankees 5, Mariners 1…
Powered by a monster blast from Aaron Judge that nearly reached the back wall of the upper left stands (if not for a fan in the next to the last row), the Yankees won for the second night in a row in Seattle. Statcast was unable to capture the length of the homer and it was estimated at 440 feet although it seemed longer to most people watching. It probably wasn’t the game highlight that Mariners starter Andrew Moore wanted to see after the game but he’s not the first nor the last pitcher that will have to wait a very long time to watch a home run ball drop with Judge at the plate.
The game should have been about veteran lefty starter CC Sabathia (9-3). Celebrating his 37th birthday, CC had previously never won a birthday start in his career. Friday night was a different story. The game didn’t start like it was going to be a good evening for the road gray. After Moore breezed through the first three of the Yankees order in the top of the first inning, CC ran into trouble after easily retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the inning. He lost Robinson Cano, walking him on a full count. Nelson Cruz hit a “loud” single to the left field wall, with Cano racing around to third. Chase Headley’s inexperience as a first baseman showed with the next batter, Kyle Seager. Seager hit a grounder that deflected off Headley’s glove and was retrieved by Starlin Castro in shallow right. Headley went back to first but his foot placement was inch or two off the base. So, although Castro’s throw to first was in time, Headley’s recovery to move his foot to the base was too late to get Seager. Cano scored on the play. Mitch Haniger laced a line drive down the first base line, past a diving Headley, to load the bases. Fortunately, CC induced Guillermo Heredia to hit an infield grounder, Todd Frazier to Starlin Castro, to force Haniger out at second for the final out. Whew!
|Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images|
After the Yankees failed to score in the of the 2nd despite a couple of hits, Ben Gamel opened the bottom of the inning for the M’s with a double to center past a running Brett Gardner. Mike Zunino followed with a hard hit liner to left but Clint Frazier made a terrific diving catch for the out and held Gamel at second. As YES Network Analyst David Cone said, “Young athleticism on display”. Gamel was subsequently erased at third on a fielder’s choice by Didi Gregorius with a snap throw to Todd Frazier. CC was able to retire Danny Valencia on a weak grounder back to the pitcher to emerge from the inning unscathed.
The Yankees were finally able to get to M’s starter Andrew Moore in the 3rd inning. Chase Headley opened the inning with a double to left center, just beyond the glove of diving center fielder Guillermo Heredia. Red Thunder blasted a double off the right center wall as Headley circled around to score just ahead of the throw which got away from catcher Mike Zunino. Clint Frazier tagged on the next play, a fly ball by Brett Gardner to center, and made it to third just ahead of a tremendous throw by Heredia. A sacrifice fly to warning track in center by Aaron Judge scored Frazier and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.
With CC Sabathia seemingly gaining steam as he progressed through the innings, the Yankees scored again in the 5th. Brett Gardner singled on a line drive to right. Gary Sanchez singled to left, with Gardner moving to third. Aaron Judge came up and smashed the Andrew Moore offering to left as the ball nearly left the stadium. 5-1, Yankees. 4 RBI’s on the night for Judge.
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
CC opened the sixth but he walked the leadoff batter, Kyle Seager, and his night was done. I know that CC could have continued to be effective, but the high pitch count in the early innings had Sabathia at 98 pitches following the walk to Seager. Nevertheless, this is no longer the Tyler Clippard era of the bullpen. Tommy Kahnle, who might be my new favorite Yankee, came in to strike out Mitch Haniger. He easily retired pinch-hitter Jarrod Dyson and Ben Gamel for another highly effective inning of work.
The bottom of the 7th saw the 2017 Yankees debut for former Yankees and White Sox closer David Robertson. D-Rob was the magnificent reliever of old as he retired the side by strikeout. Welcome back, D-Rob! We have certainly missed you and your leg kick. My only concern about D-Rob pitching the 7th was that he would not be there as a safety net in later innings. Fortunately, the Yankees bullpen was as good as advertised. Dellin Betances got into a little trouble with a double by Robinson Cano and a single by Mitch Haniger, sandwiched between two strikeouts, had runners at the corners. But he was able to get Jarrod Dyson to pop up to third to leave the runners stranded.
With Aroldis Chapman taking the night off due to a non-save situation, Adam Warren came on in the 9th. The pesky Ben Gamel opened with a single to left, but was eliminated when Mike Zunino grounded into a double play, Gregorius to Castro to Headley. Jean Segura hit a hard grounder to Didi Gregorius and he threw to Chase Headley for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images|
The Yankees (50-45) were unable to gain ground on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, however, they did move into a tie for second place. The Red Sox scored five runs in the first inning to back Chris Sale as they beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2. The Tampa Bay Rays fell 4-3 to the Texas Rangers. The Yankees and the Rays are both 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.
The Toddfather was the only Yankee without a hit other than the bench players who didn’t get into the game. So, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the first T-Frazier blast.
Odds & Ends…
It’s tough watching Ben Gamel have such success in Seattle. I understand the reasons for the trade but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch him thrive at the MLB level for another team. I don’t know if he’ll have a Jay Buhner type career but it was comparable circumstances. Enjoyed watching the tremendous Minor League exploits of the player, only to watch him traded to Seattle for a long and prosperous career. The two players the Yankees received for Gamel are Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula. Orozco, 19, a right-handed pitcher, is 2-0 with 2.36 ERA in five games (four starts) for the Advanced Rookie League Pulaski Yankees while De Paula, also a 19-year-old righty, is 2-3 with 5.25 ERA in five games (all starts) for the Short-Season A Staten Island Yankees. In other words, it is going to be a very long time before we see any payoff for Gamel.
I liked David Cone’s comments about the Yankees new and improved combination of power arms in the bullpen. He said that it has reduced the need for starting pitchers to a “soft-tossing lefty to give you three or four (innings)”. I know that I am loving the bullpen parade of the current crew. I do not miss the cringing feeling that came with the entry of Tyler Clippard into the game. But despite the strong pen, the Yankees do need to do something about the starting rotation. We’ll probably have to live with a few more starts by Luis Cessa (I’d prefer to see Caleb Smith) as I doubt any of the available starters are moved until the last minute before the trading deadline as their current teams seek maximum return. I have no speculation who the Yankees should acquire other than I don’t want to lose top and highly regarding prospects which probably means the team will have to stand pat or take chances for catching lightning in a bottle with bottom feeders. I am hopefully optimistic that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me.
Brian Cashman is on record saying that Red Thunder will be returned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks comes off the DL but with each passing game, it is so hard to think that the Yankees most exciting outfielder, behind Aaron Judge, will have to go down. He has shown he is ready the big time and he has nothing left to prove for the RailRiders. He is better player, right now, than Jacoby Ellsbury despite the $20 million plus difference being paid to the latter player this year. Money for nothin’ and the chicks for free. I hope Clint Frazier stays.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|