Category: Dailies

A Hole Too Deep…

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Rangers 7, Yankees 6…

Bad Mike seems to be making more frequent appearances these days.  Unfortunately, Michael Pineda chose the day of the 71st Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium to throw up another stink ball.  

The Yankees were immediately in the hole when the Texas Rangers opened with three runs in the top of the first.  Delino DeShields, Jr. led off with a double and scored on a single by Elvis Andrus.  Old-Timer Adrian Beltre, showing that he still has it, followed with a homer to left.

In the Rangers’ second, after Jonathan Lucroy opened with a single, Pineda came within a strike of getting out of the inning when he walked DeShields.  Shin-Soo Choo made Pineda pay for it with a three-run blast to the second deck in right.  It was 6-0 Rangers before most people had time to settle in to watch the game.  

Pineda gave us a little view of his dominant side in the third when he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout.  It was a facade. In the 4th, with two outs, the Rangers added what would prove to be the game-winning insurance run when rookie second baseman Drew Robinson grabbed his first major league hit with a solo home run to center.  The Rangers held a commanding 7-0 lead.

Pineda (7-4) didn’t come back for the fifth so his final line was ugly.  4 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, 3 home runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts.  The outing pushed his ERA back over 4 to 4.12.  

Tyler Webb, making his second major league appearance, pitched the fifth.  It didn’t start well for Webb when he walked the first two batters on 3-2 counts.  But he rebounded to get Beltre to hit into a double play and struck out Rougned Odor.  

In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees made it a game again.  Mason Williams led off with a single.  Following outs by Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner, Austin Romine struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch by Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez.  Aaron Judge followed with a run-scoring single to push the first Yankee run across the plate.  Gary Sanchez made it 7-4 with a three-run shot to center.  

The Yankees continued to chip away when Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with his second home run of the season, a shot to left.  Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez walked with two outs. Didi Gregorius singled to right to score Judge, but Sanchez was tagged out at third to end the inning.  The Yankees had closed to within one run, 7-6.  “That’s a mistake on my part.  I should never be the last out at third base.” — said Sanchez through an interpreter after the game.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

A scoring opportunity was wasted in the eighth inning when Chase Headley opened with a double, but he was left stranded at second, thanks to a ground out and two strikeouts.  The Yankees had one more shot in the 9th when Aaron Judge hit a two-out single but Gary Sanchez went down swinging against Rangers closer Matt Bush to end the game.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect top of the 9th, striking out the side in the losing effort.  Despite the loss, it was good to see a solid effort by the Yankees bullpen.  Webb, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Chapman pitched five scoreless innings after the Pineda debacle.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Aaron Hicks left the game with right oblique tightness.  He was scheduled to have a MRI last evening and the immediate word is that he could miss up to 3-4 weeks.  Jacoby Ellsbury is the most likely choice for activation after a weekend of rehab starts.  He was 2-for-5 on Sunday, with 2 RBI’s, for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  This would be a great time to promote Dustin Fowler, but then again, there is the small issue of room on the 40-man roster.  No word yet on the Yankees plans when Hicks is placed on the DL.

Both Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro missed the game.  Holliday is still dealing with the allergic reaction that arose in Oakland while Castro had a cortisone shot for a sore wrist.

The Yankees (40-33) remained tied for first place in the AL East as the Los Angeles Angeles defeated the Boston Red Sox again, 4-2.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 8-5, so they are still 2 1/2 games behind.  The bottom two teams in the AL East were the only ones to gain ground.  The Orioles are 4 games back, while the Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2, are 5 games.  

Hopefully, the Yankees can rediscover the magic that has alluded them since the West Coast road trip.  They’ll be in Chicago tonight to start a four-game series against the White Sox.  If they can’t start winning with consistency, next weekend in Houston is not going to be pretty.

2017 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium

The weather cooperated for the 71st Old Timer’s Day.  It was a beautiful setting for the pre-game announcements and it was spectacular to see so many Yankee greats and their families.  

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Following a recorded intro by the late Bob Sheppard, Michael Kay and John Sterling had the honors of the pre-game introductions.

Widows of Yankee Greats

Helen Hunter, wife of Jim “Catfish” Hunter

Jill Martin, wife of Billy Martin

Diana Munson, wife of Thurman Munson

Kay Murcer, wife of Bobby Murcer

Former Players and Managers, and a Long-Time Trainer

Scott Bradley

Pat Kelly

Jesse Barfield

Scott Kamienicki

Tanyon Sturtze

Homer Bush

Marcus Thames

John Flaherty

Kevin Maas

Rick Cerone

Stump Merrill

Lee Mazzilli

Gene Michael

Gene Monahan

Mariano Duncan

Charlie Hayes

Graeme Lloyd

Jeff Nelson

Ramiro Mendoza

David Cone

Brian Doyle

Mike Torrez

Mickey Rivers

Roy White

Bucky Dent

Sparky Lyle

Al Downing

Ralph Terry

Hector Lopez

Don Larsen

Bobby Brown

Tino Martinez

Paul O’Neill

Willie Randolph

Ron Guidry

Bernie Williams

Jorge Posada

Rickey Henderson

Rich Gossage

Reggie Jackson

Joe Torre

Whitey Ford

Tim Raines

The Chairman of the Board
Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees presented two chairs from the old Yankee Stadium to Raines in recognition of his entry into the Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

They also gave tribute to the many members of the Yankees family that have departed in the past year.

The Old Timer’s Game saw the Clippers defeat the Bombers, 2-1.  

Next Up:  The Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, IL

Here are the pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (5-4, 3.74 ERA)

White Sox:  David Holmberg (1-1, 2.84 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.30 ERA)

White Sox:  Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.69 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)

White Sox:  Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 3.73 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

White Sox:  James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA)

Have a great Monday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Tyler Clippard, Yankee Killer…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Rangers 8, Yankees 1…

You have to score runs to win so starter Luis Cessa should not be faulted for this one.  Aaron Judge tried too.  He hit his league-leading 26th home run to extend his current hitting streak to 26 games.  For as disappointing as the offense was from everybody else, the Yankees entered the 9th inning just a three-run jack away from tying the game.  

However, Manager Joe Girardi chose to bring in game-killer Tyler Clippard.  Perhaps we should just call him Relyt Drappilc because he is pitching so damn back-ass-wards right now.  If you are feeling generous and want to give the other team the opportunity to score lots of runs, just bring Clippard into a game.   But more rips on Clippard later.

Who is Austin Bibens-Dirkx?  The Yankees never seem to do well against unknown rookies but this dude is a 32-year-old in his sixth major league organization.  He spent 12 years in the minor leagues and was in the independent leagues last year.  When the Rangers pitching staff gets healthy, we’ll probably never hear his name again.  But on Saturday, he owned the Yankees.  Aside from Judge’s solo home run in the sixth, Bibens-Dirkx only allowed four other meaningless hits in seven innings of work.  He’ll be telling his grandkids one day about the time he shut down the high and mighty Yankees on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Cessa (0-2) was not awful but he did depart the game after five innings (having thrown 86 pitches).  He allowed three runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out eight.  His mistake pitch was a slider thrown to Carlos Gomez in the fourth inning that ended up in the left field stands for two runs, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead.  As YES Network announcer David Cone put it, it was a slider that stopped sliding or a slider that takes a seat (pulled up a chair).  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

After Judge had brought the Yankees to within two runs with his homer, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos answered with a solo shot of his own in the seventh off Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder.  It was the tenth home run of the season for Chirinos in only 95 at-bats. 

With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Webb entered the game in relief of Holder.  It was Tyler’s Major League debut and he got his first batter (Shin-Soo Choo) to line out to end the inning.  Webb pitched the eighth, retiring the three batters he faced, including one by strikeout, to complete a perfect debut.

Credit:  Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, Girardi opted to turn to Clippard for the ninth and he snuffed any chance for a comeback.  Before he had recorded the third out, Clippard had allowed four more runs on a wild pitch and two doubles.  He allowed a total of four hits in the inning and gave up two walks.  The once-reliable set up artist is now a huge albatross. I am not sure how you can turn him around in games without costly implications.  This is one of the worst stretches that I’ve ever seen.  While he pitched well for the Yankees last year after his acquisition from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trading deadline, his numbers in the Sonoran Desert weren’t that great.  For the 2016 D-Backs, he was 2-3 with 4.30 ERA.  That’s closer to the pitcher that we are seeing today.  I hope Clippard can turn this thing around but at the moment, I am not optimistic.  Clippard’s too valuable (I think?) to cut so hopefully he does work through this funk.  I apologize for being so harsh but the last few weeks with Clippard have not been enjoyable.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Facing the huge deficit, the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, with two strikeouts, and the Rangers walked away with the victory.

Fortunately for the Yankees (40-32), the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 6-3, so the teams remain tied atop the AL East Standings.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (8-3 to the Baltimore Orioles) so they stayed 2.5 games back.  

Tyler Austin, making his season debut, finished hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts and a grounder into a double play. There was concern in the fifth inning when Pete Kozma, standing off first base, jarred Austin’s left wrist while racing back to first standing up after a line out by Choo.  Austin shook it off and continued the game.  It does raise the question of who is the safety net for Austin should he get hurt.  Chase Headley is currently unable to play due to back spasms and it is best to not over-expose Matt Holliday at the position. 

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have signed their top pick, RHP Clarke Schmidt, to an ‘as-expected’ below-allocation contract.  By signing for $2,184,300 (or $1,274,300 below the allocated value of the 16th overall pick), the Yankees had the money to “overpay” RHP Matt Sauer, RHP Trevor Stephan, OF Canaan Smith, and RHP Dalton Higgins.  With a signing bonus of $2.5 million, second round pick Sauer ended up as the most costly of the signed draft choices.  The Yankees have only one player in the top 20 that remains unsigned…18th pick RHP Garrett Whitlock. 

Credit:  Allen Sharp-Spurs & Feathers

Jacoby Ellsbury made a rehab start yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  He broke up a no-hitter with a double in the fifth inning of SWB’s 8-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox.  He finished 1-for-3.   He’ll start at DH today for SWB before moving over to AA-Trenton when the RailRiders hit the road.  

Today is one of the best days of the year for the Yankees.  It’s Old Timer’s Day.  Pre-Game introductions begin at 11:30 am Eastern.  It is always so fun to hear the name announcements for the Yankees legends as they run (or walk) out onto the field.  Jorge Posada will be making his first Old Timer’s appearance at Yankee Stadium.  Hip, hip, Jorge!  This year’s participants will include Jesse Barfield (no offense, we should have kept Al Leiter), Scott Bradley, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey “Chairman of the Board” Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reginald Martinez “Mr October” Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don “Gooney Bird” Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparky Lyle, Kevin Maas, Constantino “Tino” Martinez, Lee “Maz” Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Jeff Nelson, Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill,  Tim “Rock” Raines, Willie Randolph, Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez (sorry, but I still think of him as a Red Sock), Roy White and Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Have a great Sunday!  It will be a fun day!  Go Yankees!

Step Aside Boys, Toe’s Got This…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Yankees 2, Rangers 1…

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Ronald Torreyes!  The unlikely hero delivered in the 10th inning with a walk-off run-scoring single as the Yankees took the first game of a three game set from the Texas Rangers.  

The game, delayed for an hour and forty minutes by rain, was a classic pitcher’s duel between Japanese greats Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka.  The duel may have ended with goose eggs and no decisions for both pitchers, but they were incredible as the game did not see its first runs until the 9th inning.  Worried about Tanaka prior to the game, he showed that he was anything but a concern as he pitched 8 innings of three-hit scoreless ball,  Walking just two, he fanned nine.  Darvish went 7 innings with no runs and two hits, and did one better than Tanaka with strikeouts (10).  I am not sure what we’ll see the next time Tanaka takes the mound but with Darvish as his motivation on Friday night, he was magnificent.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

I was worried that Rangers slugger Joey Gallo would torch Tanaka pitches but he struck out with two runners on in the third inning, and grounded out in a similar situation in the eighth as the last batter Tanaka faced.  Gallo finished 0-for-4 and 3 strikeouts.  

The Yankees brought Aroldis Chapman in for the 9th inning of the scoreless game.  He struck out the first batter, Shin-Soo Choo, but Elvis Andrus followed with a single.  Struggling with his command, Chapman, who was sweating profusely, hit Nomar Mazara with a pitch in the shoulder.  With Adrian Beltre at the plate, Andrus stole third.  A great defensive play by third baseman Torreyes in stopping a wide throw from Gary Sanchez prevented more damage at that point.  But when Beltre struck out, the ball got away from Sanchez and Andrus ran home for the game’s first run.  

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Torreyes went down on a groundout for the first out.  But no worries, Brett Gardner came up and delivered with a game-tying home run to right.  Aaron Hicks grounded out for the second out.  Aaron Judge singled to put the potential winning run at first.  Unfortunately, Matt Holliday struck out to send the game into extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, the Rangers loaded the bases against Chad Green and Chasen Shreve with two outs but Shreve got Andrus to pop out to end the threat.  This set the stage for the home half of the 10th.  With one out, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius singled, with Sanchez taking third.  Chris Carter struck out on four pitches (surprise, surprise).  But no fear, Ronald Torreyes stepped up to the plate.  The little man with the big stick.  A line drive single to center scored Sanchez with the winning run.  The Yankees win.

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The victory allowed the Yankees (40-31) to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East Standings.  The Red Sox had defeated the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 earlier in the evening.  The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 15-5, to remain 2 1/2 games back.  

After the game, the Yankees mercifully ended the Chris Carter experiment.  He seemed lost at the plate, with another 0-for-4 performance and three strikeouts.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Carter had a chance to be a hero in the bottom of the 8th with Gary Sanchez on first and two outs.  But he feebly struck out swinging.  There was something about that weak final swing that gave me an “I’m done” feeling. It was reinforced in the 10th when Carter struck out with a huge opportunity to be the game’s hero.  Apparently, GM Brian Cashman felt the same way as Carter was designated for assignment immediately after the game.  Tyler Austin, who has homered in his last three of his last four games, was recalled to take Carter’s place.  In the 27 games at Triple A after his reactivation from the DL in late May, Austin has hit .300/.366/.500 with 4 HR’s and 21 RBI’s for the RailRiders. Of his 30 hits in 100 at-bats, 17 have gone for extra-bases.  The alarming statistic is 32 strikeouts but Austin has really been heating up with the bat over the past week.  He has played error-free baseball at first.  Welcome back, Tyler!  Trust us, we are very glad to see you.

Big Papi, The Man Among Boys…

The Boston Red Sox retired the number of David “Big Papi” Ortiz last night in their game against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park.  Big Papi was a thorn in the Yankees’ side for many years.  Time and again, a game was ended with a Big Papi blast.  I am very glad that #34 will no longer be an active number worn when the Red Sox come to town.  My biggest fear was that he would “un-retire”. 

Credit:  Stuart Cahill

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr expressed it well when he said, “That just lets you know what a special impact he’s made in the community and the organization and all of baseball.  What he’s done for the city, the team, people around him, it’s well deserved.  I know we couldn’t be any happier for him.”  I agree.  As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t wait for the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton (may he rest in peace) to retire, and I felt the same about Papi.  More than anything, it is a sign of how much respect I held for those men.  


A close friend of mine who is a lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fan, and Boston-area resident, did post this comment on Social Media:  “This is just my humble opinion, but I think it is much too early for the Red Sox to be retiring Ortiz’s number.  With the exception of Johnny Pesky, the honor of having a number retired by the Red Sox was reserved for those players who entered the Baseball HOF.”  My response…whatever it takes to keep him from coming out of retirement.

Odds & Ends…

Chance Adams is a friggin’ rock star.  In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 11-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday, the RailRiders’ ace was magnificent.  Pawtucket didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning.  Adams (5-2) finished six innings strong, allowing just the one hit and no runs.  He issued two walks, while fanning eight.  The outstanding performance lowered Adams’ season ERA to 2.12.  At some point in the not-so-distant future, it will be determined that Adams has nothing left to prove at the Triple A level.  In my mind, he’s just a couple of Luis Cessa bumps and bruises away from stepping on the main stage (or the potential first call if another starter…I hope not…is injured).  Why not take a Chance?…

The Boston Red Sox are going hog wild in an attempt to find help.  Yesterday, they signed pitcher Doug Fister, released by the Los Angeles Angels, and shortstop/third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who was cut by the St Louis Cardinals.  Injuries to their pitching staff forced the Fister move.  The disaster known as Pablo Sandoval brought in Peralta.  I still think the Red Sox will be heavy players for Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas at the trading deadline. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Sox should have about $9 million to play with before they risk crossing the luxury tax threshold.   


Happy Saturday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Can We Just Take A Mulligan?…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Angels 10, Yankees 5…


The win on Wednesday was just a tease.  Losing teams find ways to lose and unfortunately the Yankees gave another game away last night.  Unless they can turn this around, the Yankees are showing that the early season was just a mirage. You can’t blame Aaron Judge.  He’s trying.  He hit his 25th home run of the season and has hit safely in 24 consecutive games (the longest Yankee streak of the year).  But pitching, which has alternated between very good and very bad, is sitting in the latter category at the moment albeit with an occasional solid performance like Jordan Montgomery the other night.


Bronx Pinstripes had a great tweet last night.  “What a disaster.  At least we have Tanaka tomorrow.  …Oh wait.”  My line of thinking exactly…


The game started well enough.  Despite Cameron Maybin’s lead-off home run to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead, the Yankees quickly answered in the bottom of the first when Angels starter Jesse Chavez walked Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday with two outs.  Starlin Castro followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game.


In the bottom of the 2nd inning, it looked like this was going to be our night.  Chris Carter doubled and Ronald Torreyes reached base on an infield hit, pushing Carter to third.  Brett Gardner grounded into a force-out at second but Carter scored on the play.  Aaron Hicks singled, putting runners at the corner, bringing up Aaron Judge.  With a three-run shot to center, the Yankees were up, 5-1.  I didn’t really expect those to be the final runs scored by the Yankees.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Angels started chipping away in the third when both Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar had run-scoring singles with two outs.  5-3, Yankees.  Luis Severino settled down after that for a few innings of solid work, but gave up another run in the 6th when Escobar opened the inning with a double and scored on a single by Luis Valbuena.  Valbuena, a third baseman, is a guy I thought the Yankees should have pursued in the off-season when he was a free agent.


Still, I had hope that the Yankees could lock down the Angels, score a couple of insurance runs and win the game.  Then, the 7th inning happened.  Cliff Pennington opened the inning with a single.  From there, the game unraveled.  Cameron Maybin hit a ground ball to Starlin Castro that should have been turned for a double play but Castro’s fielding error allowed Maybin to reach base, with Pennington moving to third.  So, instead of two outs and no one on, the Angels had runners at the corners with no outs.  End of game for Luis Severino.  Chasen Shreve entered the game and was greeted by a sac fly from Kole Calhoun which tied the score at 5.  Exit Shreve, enter Dellin Betances.  Maybin stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gary Sanchez.  Albert Pujols said ‘I’ll take your gifts…thank you very much’ and lined a single to right, scoring Maybin for the lead.  Betances walked Escobar, followed by a wild pitch moving the runners to second and third.  With two outs, Andrelton Simmons doubled to give the Angels two more runs, 8-5.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

I was not ready to admit defeat and was pulling for an amazing comeback like the Yankees did earlier in the season against the Baltimore Orioles.  Yeah, right.  The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 7th and the Angels were ready for more in the 8th.  Domingo German took the mound, replacing Betances, and retired the first batter on a strikeout.  Unfortunately, this was followed by Cliff Pennington’s double and a wild pitch that moved him to third.  Cameron Maybin walked.  A failed pick-off attempt at first by German, the third Yankees error of the game, allowed Pennington to score with Maybin moving to third.  Kole Calhoun graciously accepted the latest gift, and hit a sac fly to push the score to 10-5.  


The Yankees could only muster a single from Chris Carter in the 9th, and he was left stranded at second when Ronald Torreyes grounded out.


This was a very disappointing loss.  I am not sure how you can lose two of three in your home park against the Mike Trout-less Angels.  Giving away free runs on multiple errors and wild pitches are not the signs of a successful team.  With the loss, the Yankees (39-31) fell back into a first-place tie with the idle Boston Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays, who also had the night off, moved to within 2 1/2 games of the leaders.  


Yes, I am mad about this loss.  And it scares the hell out of me that we’ll be throwing Tanaka out tonight against Yu Darvish.  It doesn’t get any easier…

Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium…

The Texas Rangers make their first trip to NYC for a three-game series starting tonight.  Pete Kozma, who started the year with the Yankees when Didi Gregorius was on the DL, is currently a back-up infielder for the Rangers.  Ernesto Frieri, who previously opted out of his Yankees minor league contract, is in the Texas bullpen.

FRIDAY

Rangers:  Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.35 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA)

SATURDAY

Rangers:  Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-0, 4.25 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-1, 7.36 ERA)

SUNDAY

Rangers:  Nick Martinez (2-3, 4.33 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.56 ERA)

Y’all enjoy the games now, y’hear!

Hopefully, we’ll see the team that throttled the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles a couple of weeks ago.  I miss that team…

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Tyler Webb from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I am very excited to see Tyler finally make it to the Show.  I’ve been following his career for a few years and I’ve liked the pitcher.  I was worried in the off-season when he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  As a mature lefty reliever (he’ll turn 27 in less than a month), I thought he had the potential to stick with the Pirates.  Despite a solid Spring performance, he was returned to the Yankees in a numbers game (fortunately for us).  In 21 games for SWB, Webb is 3-1 with 3.24 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  He has struck out 47 batters in 33 1/3 innings while allowing 33 hits and 12 runs.  He has only given up 3 walks and home runs.  They may not be elite numbers but I feel Webb has earned his shot. I am glad that he is here even if it’s only temporary.  Rob Refsnyder was sent to SWB to make room for Webb.  

Credit:  Chris O’Meara-AP

Greg Bird has been given a cortisone shot in his ankle and the hope is that he’ll soon be able to resume his rehab.  I find it highly unlikely that this will be the solution that gets Bird back on the field.  It seems to me that the problem with the ankle is more serious than we’ve been led to believe.  The cortisone shot just masks the pain, it doesn’t fix the problem.   There is daily speculation who the Yankees should look at on the trade market.  Lately, Yonder Alonso has been receiving the most attention.  I like Alonso and do feel that he’d be an upgrade over Chris Carter or Tyler Austin.  I have no problems with Matt Holliday at first other than I want to keep the guy healthy.  DH is the better avenue to accomplish that goal.  The Atlanta Braves did a wonderful job in trading for the under-utilized Matt Adams, previously of the St Louis Cardinals.  Adams has done nothing but hit since he became a Brave and has sparked speculation that injured first baseman Freddie Freeman may be moved to third when he returns.  I want GM Brian Cashman to make one of those under-the-radar but highly productive moves.  I know, easier said than done.

I think Aaron Judge should accept the invitation to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby.  I know that some players mess up their swings but like Manager Joe Girardi, I don’t think it would adversely impact Judge’s swing.  I like the idea of his exposure to the other great sluggers of the game.  It’s all part of his maturation as a Major League superstar.  The Yankees have renewed popularity this year because of guys like Judge and Gary Sanchez.  The All-Star Game is a great format to represent the pride and tradition of the Yankees.  

This is not baseball related but as an owner of a black cat, I found this one quite humorous…and true!

Have a great Friday!  Let’s not start a new losing streak today, please.

Hello Win Column, I’ve Missed You!…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Angels 4…

OMG, we scored more runs than the other team!  What do we do now????  

Seriously, it’s so good to experience the winning feeling again.  Whew!  It has been far too long. Congratulations to us! High fives all around. The game had its moments but in the end, it was a 103 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman blazing into Austin Romine’s mitt for a swinging third strike that brought joy back to the Bronx.  

The Yankees jumped out to the early lead when Didi Gregorius homered following a single by Gary Sanchez in the second inning.  The Angels tied the score in the fourth.  Didi’s buddy from Curacao, Andrelton Simmons, singled and advanced to second on a balk.  Angels catcher Martin Maldonado then hit a ball over the left field wall.  Game tied at 2.  With someone like Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, you’d feel the floodgates were about to open for the opponent.  But on this night, Jordan Montgomery was on the mound and he continues to instill confidence with each outing.  For whatever reason, that dude looked slimmer on the mound than usual.  I guess Pinstripes are thinning but I digress.

Matt Holliday’s solo shot in the fifth gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead which the Yankees took into the sixth.  Montgomery (5-4) retired the first two batters he faced but then Simmons singled again.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Montgomery and inserted Chad Green who promptly struck out Maldonado to end the inning.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees picked up 3 more runs on a two-run double by Austin Romine and a run-scoring single by Aaron Hicks.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

In the seventh, I had an uneasy feeling when Green walked C.J. Cron on four straight pitches.  A ball to the next batter, Danny Espinosa, brought pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the dugout steps but Green found his groove and registered a strikeout.  He retired the next two batters on groundouts and really emerged as one of the stars of this game.  The Yankees picked up a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning when Matt Holliday doubled and scored on Starlin Castro’s single.  Chase Headley singled to score Castro, pushing the score to 8-2.

Dellin Betances pitched a clean eighth inning, punching out the first two batters he faced and getting the third on a groundout to short.

All was going great…until Tyler Clippard got up in the bullpen.  I get the logic of trying to give Clippard a clean inning to work with and much better do it with a 6 run lead but, right now, if there is a pitcher that could butcher a large lead, it’s Clippard.  Sure enough, Girardi brought him in to start the 9th.  Simmons doubled and there was a strong sense of ‘here we go again’.  Maldonado stepped up and hit his second home run of the night which Aarons Judge and Hicks could only watch sail over the right field wall to bring the Angels within four runs.  Mercifully, Girardi pulled Clippard and signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  The walkup music for Chapman drowned the boos for Clippard as he sadly walked off the field.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

Admittedly, I was still a bit concerned with Chapman.  This was only his second appearance since returning from the DL and he had not pitched since Sunday.  I had visions of his control problems from his last minor league rehab stint, but my concerns were unfounded.  He was the Chapman of old and he came out throwing extreme heat.  By the time he was facing his third and final batter, Eric Young Jr, he was throwing pitches that registered on the Statcast leaderboard. His final pitch, at 102.9 mph, was the fastest in the Majors this year.

Credit:  MLB.com

Yankees win.  The Yankees win!  All is right in the world again.

The Yankees (39-30) recaptured first place in the AL East, by 1/2 game, with the victory as the Boston Red Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals, 6-4.  Thank you to Salvador Perez for his 8th inning grand slam.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cincinnati Reds, 8-3.  They are 3 games back.  The Toronto Blue Jays also won so they, along with the Baltimore Orioles, are 5 games behind.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees will either be tied or a full game up upon conclusion of tonight’s series finale with the Angels.  

 

The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth…

I realize that this blog is not for movie news, but hey, they don’t pay me so I’ll take the liberty of the departure.  Director Jay Russell, best known for 2004’s Ladder 49 starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta, has been tabbed to direct a planned feature film called The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.  The movie will be based on Jonathan Eig’s biography Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig.  



For those of you who have not read the book, here is the description per the book’s publisher:

“The definitive account of the life and tragic death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend–the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name.  But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig’s life was more complicated–and, perhaps, even more heroic–than anyone really knew.

Drawing on new interviews and more than two hundred pages of previously unpublished letters to and from Gehrig, Luckiest Man gives us an intimate portrait of a man who became an American hero: his life as a shy and awkward youth growing up in New York City, his unlikely friendship with Babe Ruth (a friendship that allegedly ended over rumors that Ruth had an affair with Gehrig’s wife), and his stellar career with the Yankees, where his consecutive-games streak stood for more than half a century.  What was not previously known, however, is that symptoms of Gehrig’s affliction began appearing in 1938, earlier than is commonly acknowledged.  Later, aware that he was dying, Gehrig exhibited a perseverance that was truly inspiring; he lived the last two years of his short life with the same grace and dignity with which he gave his now-famous “luckiest man” speech.

Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man shows us one of the greatest baseball players of all time as we’ve never seen him before.”

The planned movie already has a script written by Dan Kay.  Branded Entertainment’s Michael Uslan and David Uslan head a producing team that includes Kingsway Productions’ Robert Molloy and Conglomerate Media’s Armando Gutierrez.  

Molloy is the grandson of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  “As my late grandfather always believed, Lou Gehrig was a great role model for the world.  There is triumph even in tragedy and it’s only in the face of great odds that true human heroes are born and inspire us all.”

Barrie Osborne, an executive producer for the film, said, “What I love most about the project is the fact that audiences need to know nothing about sports, baseball, the Yankees, or even the legend of Lou Gehrig in order to be moved by this emotionally uplifting story.”

“Lou Gehrig is an iconic character, not just in baseball, but as a true American hero, a man who faced his intense, personal battles with quiet bravery,” said Russell.  “While Gehrig’s story has previously been told in the beloved Pride of the Yankees (1942), this will be a new depiction with a more contemporary style and approach.”

As a lifelong Lou Gehrig fan, I am very excited to hear this news.  I have always considered Gehrig to be the greatest Yankee and it’s wonderful that they are bringing his story to the big screen.  We know Gehrig’s accomplishments on the baseball field.  This is an opportunity to know and understand the depth of the man behind the legend.  I can’t wait…


Odds & Ends…


A Jacoby Ellsbury sighting has been reported. Ellsbury took batting practice and ran the bases on Wednesday.  GM Brian Cashman said before yesterday’s game that the most important thing is to see how Ellsbury responds to the next three to six days.  As long as Aaron Hicks is healthy, I am completely fine with Ellsbury taking all the time he needs.  But realistically, the Yankees are probably stronger with Hicks rotating through the outfield to provide relief for all of the outfielders and not just center.  But if the Yankees could find a way to trade Ellsbury for a bucket of bolts, I’m all in.  Just be sure that he takes Chris Carter and Tyler Clippard with him.

Congrats to Gleyber Torres for his successful Tommy John surgery yesterday.  Gleyber posted “Surgery went as planned now time to recover and get back on the field.  I can’t wait for next season thank you all for support” on Twitter last evening.  Gleyber, we can’t wait for you to get back on the field either.  Happy Recovery!

Credit:  Gleyber Torres-Twitter

Have a great Thursday!  I like this new thing called winning.  Can we do it again today?…

The Land of the Lost…

Angels 8, Yankees 3…

It is difficult to remember when the Yankees last walked off a field with a victory.  It seems so very long ago.  The losing streak continues as the Yankees dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

A little more than a week ago, we were very excited about the team and its surprising performance so far this season.  But over the last week, the wheels have come off and the team is looking more and more like the .500 team it was projected to be at the beginning of the year.  They’ll turn this around and start playing better but it doesn’t make the current losing funk feel any better.  

I thought the return of Aroldis Chapman to push Tyler Clippard back to the 7th inning would help the latter to restore some of his effectiveness.  I was wrong.  After the Yankees had clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie, Clippard came into the game in the 7th and proceeded to hand the Angels the win.  Retiring only one batter, he allowed a solo home run by Cameron Maybin (who is not exactly known for his ability to hit balls out of the park), a double and a run-scoring triple.  He was just a single shy of a cycle, but Manager Joe Girardi ended the agony by pulling Clippard and replacing him with Jonathan Holder.  Holder gave up the missing single to score the runner on third, charging a total of 3 runs to Clippard (1-4) for one out of work.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Michael Pineda, who had normally pitched much better at home than on the road, was missing his primary pitch.  The Angels grabbed the early lead with a run-scoring single by Albert Pujols in the first inning and they scored two runs in the second when Danny Espinosa drove in a run with a double and Kole Calhoun singled to score Espinosa.

Angels pitcher Parker Bridwell (who?) and their bullpen kept the Yankee bats silent for the most part.  The Yankees were finally able to push across their first run in the fourth when Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to score Starlin Castro.  

The Yankees then used solo home runs to tie the game.  Aaron Judge blasted his 24th home run of the year in the fifth and Gary Sanchez went yard in the sixth with his 12th.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

There was excitement in the Bronx once again.  Enter Tyler Clippard.  The optimistic feelings were quickly extinguished as the Angels had taken the 6-3 lead by the time the seventh inning was over.  The Angels tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Yankees just couldn’t get untracked offensively despite the earlier homers by Judge and Sanchez.  

I knew we were in trouble when first baseman Chris Carter blew a routine fielding play that allowed Eric Young Jr to reach second base at the top of the second inning.  It felt like it was going to be one of those games.  It also reinforced that we are stuck with Carter for better or worse (my money is on the latter).  Carter finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout.  Just a typical day at the office for him.

Credit:  Getty Images

It’s tough to win when you can only scratch out four hits against hittable pitchers.  

The Yankees (38-30) were overtaken by the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings.  The Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 and now lead the division by a half game.  I guess this was inevitable. It’s kind of hard to maintain a lead when you can’t put W’s on the board.

Odds & Ends…

The Tommy John surgery for Gleyber Torres is scheduled for today.  Dr David W Altchek will be performing the procedure.  Dr Altchek is an Attending Orthopedic Surgeon and Co-Chief Emeritus in the Sports Medicine & Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.  He is also medical director for the New York Mets and a medical consultant for the NBA.  All the best to Gleyber for his surgery and post-op recovery.
The Sauer Project has begun.  The Yankees have signed second round draft pick RHP Matt Sauer, pending a physical, to an undisclosed deal.  The allocation for the 54th pick is $1,236,000 but it’s speculated the Yankees went over allocation to convince Sauer to forego  his commitment to the University of Arizona.  The 18-year-old has signs of significant upside for his fastball and slider.  The Yankees’ minor league pitching instructors will be tasked with helping Sauer develop a third pitch to help his eventual ascension to the top of a Major League rotation.  Welcome to the Yankees, Matt!  Here’s wishing you much better health and success than current top pitching prospect James Kaprielian!
Credit:  Santa Maria Times
With the July 7th signing deadline for MLB draft picks just a couple of weeks away, the Yankees are making progress with their signings.  Of the players chosen through the 22nd round, only RHP Clarke Schmidt (1st) and RHP Garrett Whitlock (18th) are unsigned.  But with the deal in place for Sauer (and potentially for double the allocation), you have to believe the framework of a deal is in place for Schmidt which will free the dollars needed for Sauer.  I was the happiest when I saw that 22nd pick RHP Janson Junk had signed.  Damn, I love that name.  The Yankees have also signed their 27th pick, RHP Alex Mauricio and they inked undrafted free agent 2B Cody Brown.  I keep hoping the Yankees find a way to sign 29th pick Tristan Beck but I knew going in that was an incredible longshot.  Beck won’t sign for allocation and the other signings diminish the available dollars so it’s a virtual certainty that Beck goes back to Stanford.  Bummer…
Have a great Wednesday!  Yankees, feel free to mix in a win!  Go Yankees!

Wanted: Good News For A Change…

Credit:  MLB.com

A Collective Groan in the Yankees Universe…

On the tail of a six-game losing streak, how can things go from bad to worse?  Losing top prospect Gleyber Torres to Tommy John surgery certainly qualifies.  Thought to have only a hyperextended elbow, consultation with Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad revealed that Torres has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.  Many were expecting the July call-up of Torres to the Major Leagues as a potential replacement for third baseman Chase Headley.  Now, Torres will undergo surgery, with eyes for Spring Training 2018.  Ouch, this one hurts. Well, him more than me but still, losing both the top pitching and the top hitting prospects to Tommy John surgery in the same year is difficult.  I suppose the news would have been much worse if Torres had injured his throwing arm (longer recuperation and rehabilitation period).  So, we should be grateful that this was not worse than it was.  Good things never happen with headfirst slides.

Like the ascension of Chance Adams to top pitching prospect status, Clint Frazier becomes the de facto top prospect in the organization pending Gleyber’s successful return to good health.  As I try to comprehend this depressing news, I didn’t really think that Torres was ready for the Big Leagues yet.  I had already viewed his timetable as next Spring.  With immediate projections that he’ll be ready for Spring Training, nothing really changes except he’ll lose valuable time learning the nuances of third base over the course of the next few months.  Manager Joe Girardi is already on record saying that if there is an infield need at second/short on the MLB roster, Tyler Wade would be the guy.  

Where do we go from here?  With first base surfacing as the greatest need, this probably enhances the chances for Chase Headley to remain as the third base starter (regardless of the consequences) unless the Yankees swing a less expensive deal for a guy like Howie Kendrick of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Without Major League ready third basemen in the Minor Leagues and greater needs at first base and left-handed relief in the bullpen, there’s probably not much that can be done to upgrade third base at this point without costing an arm and leg (a few arms and legs, in fact).  Even the guy the Yankees traded to the San Diego Padres for Headley (Yangervis Solarte) would be a better option today in a side-by-side comparison. 

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees are competing against the Houston Astros in the pitching market and for third base, they face stiff competition from the Boston Red Sox who appear ready to flush the Pablo Sandoval disaster.  I believe this makes the possibility of Mike Moustakas calling Fenway Park “home” the more likely outcome.  This year’s July Trading Deadline figures to be a very expensive one for the many teams looking to upgrade. 

The Yankees elevated 3B Miguel Andujar to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Torres.  He was 1-for-4 last night in the RailRiders’ 6-1 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs.  He also scored two runs.  The heroes of the game were Dustin Fowler, who had a two-run home run, and Brady Lail, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only the one run and four hits, for the win.  Andujar is probably the best true third baseman right now but he’s not close to taking his game to the next level yet.

In case you were sleeping last night…

Despite the day off, the Yankees are back in sole possession of first place in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, to fall a 1/2 game off the pace.  Having played three more games than the Yankees, the Red Sox are two games behind in the loss column.  The third place Tampa Bay Rays slid to 4 games back, thanks to their loss to the Cincinnati Reds, 7-3.   The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles sit 5 games back entering play today.  The Jays beat the Texas Rangers, 7-6, while the Orioles were de-feathered by the Cleveland Indians, 12-0.  

Preview of Upcoming Angels-Yankees Series:

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the series with the Los Angeles Angels which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium:

Tuesday, June 20th

Angels:  Parker Bridwell (1-0, 2.79 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.71 ERA)

Wednesday, June 21st

Angels:  Ricky Nolasco (2-8, 5.01 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.78 ERA)

Thursday, June 22nd

Angels:  Jesse Chavez (5-7, 4.85 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-2, 2.99 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Yankees RHP Matt Marsh, 25, has been suspended for 50 games for a second violation of Baseball’s Minor League Drug Policy.  Marsh, a relief pitcher, has appeared in 15 games for High-A Tampa and AA-Trenton.  He is 3-2 with 2.49 ERA, and has held batters to .190 batting average while striking out 28 in 21 2/3 innings.  He did not allow a run in 7 innings pitched for Tampa.  Marsh was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2014.

Credit:  Josh Lefkowitz-Getty Images

Move over, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is now the hottest young home run hitter in baseball.  Bellinger hit two more homers last night against Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets and now has 21 in 51 games.  It is the fifth multi-homer game for Bellinger.  He is just the fourth player 21 years or younger with 20 homers by the All-Star Break (joining Eddie Matthews, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera).  Do the Dodgers miss injured first baseman Adrian Gonzalez?  I think not…

Credit:  Harry How-Getty Images

Have a great Tuesday!  It’s time to put the losing streak in the rearview mirror!