Category: Dailies

50 Ways To Lose A Game…

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

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6…

I am not sure who to blame this one on.  Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end.  In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error.  Jose Bautista led off the game with a single.  After Russell Martin flied out to center,  Justin Smoak singled.  An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.  


The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner.  Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning.  Jose Bautista walked to open the inning.  After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right.  3-0, Blue Jays.  Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.  


Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0.  The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day.  3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s.  If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.  

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

The Yankees valiantly fought back.  Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning.  The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio.  In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate.  Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man!  Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.  

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

Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.  


The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning.  With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center.  Game tied.  Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.  


On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…



Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs.  Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that.  No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time.  He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases.  He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run.  Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.  

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

The Yankees did not have another rally in them.  The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs.  A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day.  Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss.  Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1.  The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007.  Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year.  Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work.  I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Some losses just make me mad.  This was one of them.  It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton.  It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.


The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral.  Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2.  The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.  

Next Up:  Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Brewers:  Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)

SATURDAY

Brewers:  Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)

SUNDAY

Brewers:  Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)

Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby.  With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic:  Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B.  Venezuela:  Engelbert Ascanio, C.  Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.  There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher.  The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd.  Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.  

Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball.  Nice job, Baby Bombers!

AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):

Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO


AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)

Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO


High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)

Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO


The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season.  I am okay with this move.  Make way for younger, talented arms.


Have a great Thursday!  I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Yankee Doodle Bland-y…

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1…

The 4th of July is a great time for America as it celebrates the birth of our country.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable to provide any fireworks as they fell quietly to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.  

The game marked the return of CC Sabathia. Before the game, Manager Joe Girardi was hoping for 5 or 6 innings from Sabathia.  Unfortunately, it would prove to be something comparable to me hoping for winning PowerBall numbers. In retrospect, maybe CC should have taken a rehab assignment.  

The first inning went well enough as Sabathia retired the first three batters on fly outs to center, although he had Jacoby Ellsbury running hard for several of them.  The 2nd inning saw another three up, three down pass through the Jays lineup.  So far, so good.

Then, the 3rd inning happened.  The first two batters…no problem.  Steve Pearce flied out to left and Kevin Pillar struck out swinging.  Then, with two outs, Darwin Barney walked.  A wild pitch by Sabathia moved Barney to second.  Joey Bats followed with a single to right, scoring Barney.  Russell Martin singled and Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases.  Adam Warren got up in the bullpen to begin warming up.  On a 3-2 count, Sabathia threw Ball 4, high and outside, to Justin Smoak, which scored Bautista.  Kendrys Morales stepped up and lined a single to left through the hole, which scored Martin and Donaldson.  4-0 Blue Jays and it was shower time for Sabathia.  Warren came in to record the final out but the damage was done.  63 pitches by Sabathia (39 in the 3rd inning alone) and he was clearly laboring at the end.  He finished with 3 hits and 4 runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking 3 and striking out just 1.  Sabathia (7-3) saw his season ERA inflate to 3.81.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Yankees’ lone highlight came in the bottom of the 4th when All-Star Aaron Judge crushed a J.A. Happ pitch 456 feet to center, a line drive, for his 28th home run of the year.  The Statcast exit velocity of the ball was measured at 118.4 mph.  One more home run and Judge will match the Yankees rookie season HR record held by Joe DiMaggio. 

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

From there, the Yankees could not muster any further offense against Happ or the Jays bullpen.  Happ, a 20-game winner in 2016, picked up only his 3rd win of the year with six strong innings, holding the Yankees to four hits and the lone run.  The Jays pen held the Yankees hitless for the duration of the game.  It was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen too, most notably the 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief provided by Luis Cessa.  

The Yankees will attempt to take the series today with a win before the Jays leave town.  Tomorrow represents an off day (finally).  In their final series before the All-Star Break, the Yankees will host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games beginning Friday.  

The Yankees (44-38) slid four games behind Boston as the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 11-4.  Boston’s on a roll now with their sixth consecutive victory.   The Tampa Bay Rays are quietly sneaking up on the Yankees for second place as they are now just 1 1/2 games in back of the Pinstripers.  The Rays beat their former manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs yesterday, 6-5.  

It would have been great if the Yankees could have won on the birthdays of the United States and late owner George Steinbrenner but it was not meant to be.  We can only hope that the winning magic will return today.  Michael Pineda can make it happen.  

Odds & Ends…

After yesterday’s game, the Yankees dumped Chris Carter again.  It’s time for Carter to seek employment elsewhere.  In his final game for the Yankees, Carter was 0-for-2 and dropped a ball from Didi Gregorius in the 7th that was scored a hit for Joey Bats.  Fortunately for us, the Yankees decided it was time to pull the plug on Chris Carter Experiment II and have promoted first baseman Ji-Man Choi from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his place.  In 55 games for the RailRiders, Choi, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, hit 8 HR’s and 41 RBI’s while batting .286.  Choi is not the answer but at this point, he’s better than the man he replaced.  Choi will be available for today’s game.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

The Yankees’ decision to send Bryan Mitchell to Triple A on Tuesday rather than Luis Cessa was based on the desire for Mitchell to continue working as a starter for potential help in the rotation later in the season if necessary.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

Logan Morrison, shut up.  The Rays first baseman called out Gary Sanchez on Tuesday when he said the Yankees catcher did not deserve to participate in next week’s Home Run Derby.  In the midst of a career season, Morrison said “I remember when I had 14 home runs (Sanchez currently has 13).  That was a month and a half ago.”  Morrison was not selected for the All-Star Game and is currently one of five listed on the AL Final Vote ballot, along with Didi Gregorius and Mike Moustakas.  Even if Morrison somehow won the Final Vote, I seriously doubt that baseball fans would want to see him over Sanchez in the Home Run Derby.  Morrison can go spend next week in Tampa or Kansas City or wherever he’s from while Sanchez heads for Miami.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I prefer to see this as Winnin’ Wednesday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Chasing the Victory…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

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

The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

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

After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

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

The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough…somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today’s game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!

A Forgettable Day in Hot, Humid H-Town…

Astros 8, Yankees 1…

It was nothing more than a good ol’ fashioned butt kickin’.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were on the receiving end as they lost the game and the series to the Houston Astros.

It was a dismal performance by starter Luis Severino (5-4).  He was tagged for 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven.  The outing inflated his season ERA to 3.52.  He left trailing 5-0 in the sixth, with one out, after George Springer laced a double to center.  He was charged for the run when Springer scored on Carlos Correa’s single against Yankees reliever Tyler Webb.

Credit:  Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

If Friday’s win was a complete team victory, this would have to be classified as a complete team loss.  You know things are bad when the only RBI producer is first baseman Chris Carter.  He had a run-scoring single in the 9th to prevent the shutout.  Aaron Judge continues to hit (2-for-4) but he also had two strikeouts.  Gary Sanchez, following Judge in the batting order, was 2-for-3.  Unfortunately, those guys had no help and the result was an easy win for the Astros.

The Astros got home runs from Marwin Gonzalez (2nd inning, off Severino) and Yuli Gurriel (7th inning, off Domingo German).  Carlos Correa was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s.  He doubled twice and all of his RBI’s came with two outs.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

The Yankees (43-37) fell further behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings with the loss.  They are now 3 games behind the Red Sox, who annihilated the Toronto Blue Jays, 15-1, powered by 8 RBI’s from Mookie Betts.  The Tampa Bay Rays finally lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 7-1, so they remain two games away from the Yankees.  

This was not a fun game and not one that I really care to revisit so let’s move on.  Today is a new day…

2017 All-Star Game Selections…

Aaron Judge was the highest vote getter for the American League All-Star Team with 4,488,702 votes.  He’ll start in the outfield.  He’ll be joined by Starlin Castro and Gary Sanchez, both of whom were selected as reserves.  Luis Severino, freshly off Sunday’s beating, was added to the pitching staff, along with Dellin Betances.  Betances will be making his fourth straight ASG appearance.  Congrats to Aaron, Starlin, Gary, Luis and Dellin!

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Didi Gregorius is on the final fan vote ballot so he has a chance although the time lost on the disabled list will probably work against him.  Nonetheless, he got my vote.  The AL Final Vote ballot is open until Thursday at 4 pm ET.  

The ASG will be played next Tuesday, July 11th, in Miami, FL.  

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Continuing the 4th of July Weekend, the Yankees are home to face the AL East cellar dwellers.  Although the Blue Jays are better than their 37-44 record, they were swept in Boston over the weekend.  They’ll come to the Bronx looking for blood…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (8-4, 3.41 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (6-7, 5.56 ERA)

TUESDAY, 4TH OF JULY

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (2-5, 3.71 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.46 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.05 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees seem to be on a mission to rebuild the Baltimore Orioles bullpen.  After trading Richard Bleier to the O’s in Spring Training, they’ve shipped 25-year-old RHP Matt Wotherspoon to Baltimore for undisclosed international signing bonus pool money.  In 21 games with Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton, Wotherspoon was 3-1 with 1.85 ERA.  He has struck out 45 batters in 39 innings.  After the trade, the Mountain Top, PA native was assigned to the Triple A Norfolk Tides.

The Yankees have reached agreements with the following international prospects.  The number indicates their ranking on Baseball America’s Top 50 international prospects:

04.  Everson Pereira, OF, Venezuela

11.  Ronny Rojas, SS, Dominican Republic (expected to sign in August when he turns 16)

20.  Roberto Chirinos, SS, Venezuela

28.  Anthony Garcia, OF, Dominican Republic

Anthony Garcia / Credit:  Pinstriped Prospects

Jorge Mateo is tearing up Double A.  In 6 games since his promotion from Class A, Mateo is batting .522/.621/.913 (12-for-23) with 3 triples, a homer, and 10 RBI’s for the Trenton Thunder.  He’s stolen two bags although he has been caught three times.  Sounds like the Yanks former top prospect wants to join the MLB Debut Party in the Bronx.  

The Yankees expect to activate both Adam Warren and CC Sabathia prior to Tuesday’s game.  In all likelihood, Starlin Castro will be activated before the All-Star break.  It will be good to get these guys back in action.  

Happy Monday!  Now that the Bombers are back in the Bronx, let’s get back to winning!  Go Yankees!

The Bullpen Implosion…

Credit:  Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 7, Yankees 6…

It was very disappointing to lose a game because of Dellin Betances, who looked like the new Tyler Clippard, and Aroldis Chapman.  I defended Betances during his arbitration loss last off-season but he pretty much looked like a $3 million (if that) pitcher on Saturday.  Of course, the Yankees didn’t exactly intend to pay $86 million for their ace closer to give up the game-winning hit either.  The two combined to allow four runs in the eighth as the Astros erased a 6-3 deficit.  It was the 15th blown save by the bullpen in 79 games.

After the game, Betances said “The reason we lost is because I had bad command.  I walked three guys.  That’s not going to help.  I have to be able to challenge guys.  For whatever reason, my stuff just hasn’t been as sharp.  I just have to continue to work and I know I’ll find it.”  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It’s been tough this season when one pitcher followed by another continues to go through periods of complete and total ineffectiveness.  

This game should have been about the positive debut of Clint Frazier.  Frazier became the first Yankee in 100 years to debut with a double and a home run.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Jordan Montgomery started the game, pitching very strongly.  He got into trouble in the fifth when Marwin Gonzalez opened with a walk and Yuli Gurriel homered to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.  

The Yankees came right back in the top of the sixth (reminiscent of the day before).  Clint Frazier opened the inning with his first Major League hit, a double to left.  It was touching to watch his mom, Kim, wiping her eyes.  Brett Gardner singled to move Frazier to third.  It ended the day for Astros starter Francis Marte who had really held the Yankees in check to that point.  Facing reliever Will Harris, Jacoby Ellsbury walked and the bases were loaded.  Gary Sanchez singled to right, scoring Frazier (his first run scored…blah, blah, blah).  While Sanchez missed the opportunity for a grand slam, Didi Gregorius did not.  On an 0-1 count, he lifted the Harris pitch just over the right center field wall.  Very rapidly, the 0-2 deficit had turned into a 5-2 lead.  The Yankees subsequently had Ronald Torreyes at third following a single, steal and ground out that advanced him to just 90 feet away.  But in one of the great surprises of the game (not really), Chris Carter struck out to end the inning.  Carter was 0-for-3, with the one strikeout.  

The Astros scored another run in the bottom of the 6th when Carlos Correa homered off Montgomery with one out.  Evan Gattis followed with a double, and Montgomery headed for the showers.  Chad Green, the lone bullpen star, retired the next two batters by strikeout.  I have to compliment Green.  He was done a very fine job in his current role as he has transitioned from being a starter to a long reliever.  

Clint Frazier led off the top of the 7th with his home run, off reliever Tony Sipp, to increase the Yankees’ lead to 6-3.  It was funny how he was met with silence in the Yankees dugout before they erupted with the congratulatory high five’s.  From there, it was up to the Yankees bullpen to finish the job.  Green effectively finished the bottom of the 7th with a double play grounder and strikeout, but then we moved to the forgettable 8th inning.  Dellin Betances, channeling the bad versions of Masahiro Tanaka and Tyler Clippard, entered the game in relief of Green.  It started well enough with a strike out of the talented George Springer, but then Betances walked All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve. With Carlos Correa at bat, Altuve stole second, then third, and scored when Correa ground out to second.   Okay, the Yankees still had a 6-4 lead so there was still hope.  Evan Gattis stepped up and made it 6-5 with a shot to left.  By this point, I was screaming for Manager Joe Girardi to pull Betances but he wasn’t listening.  Betances walked Carlos Beltran on four pitches (Aargh!).  Josh Reddick entered the game as a pinch runner for Beltran and advanced to second when first baseman Chris Carter failed to handle a pick-off attempt.  Reddick stole third.  After walking Marwin Gonzalez, Girardi finally signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  Yuli Gurriel came to the plate for a showdown between Cuban countrymen.  Despite throwing 100 mph pitches, Gurriel won the battle when he doubled on a 3-2 count, scoring Reddick and Gonzalez with the go-ahead runs.  

The Yankees went down weakly in the 9th against Ken Giles when pinch-hitter Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier both pooped…err, popped…out.  Brett Gardner hit a single but rounded for second before changing his mind and was erased as the game’s final out when he tried to get back to first.  The Yankees lose another one-run game, 7-6.  

Credit:  David J Phillip-AP

The Yankees (43-36) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox easily defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-1.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-3, so they are just two games behind the Yanks.  

If the Yankees can’t fix Betances, this free-fall is going to continue.  He is perhaps the most vital man in the pen.  The Blue Jays, getting their asses handed to them in Boston, will be playing like a wounded dog when they come to the Bronx tomorrow.  

Odds & Ends…

With the July 2nd international signing period now open, the Yankees can be players on the international market once again.  Limited for two years following their huge splash from the 2014 -15 signing period spending spree, the Yankees can now spend up to the hard cap of $4.75 for the current signing period.  As expected, the Yankees signed notable international prospects OF Everson Pereira (the fourth ranked prospect on MLB’s list of Top International Prospects), SS Ronny Rojas, and SS Roberto Chirinos. Rojas and Chirinos are ranked 11th and 16th, respectively, by MLB. River Ave Blues reported these anticipated signings in early May.  It’s weird to see players born in this century joining the Yankees.  Welcome to Pinstripes, Everson, Ronny and Roberto! Note:  Rojas technically cannot sign until August 23rd when he turns 16.

To make room on the MLB roster for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar was sent to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He didn’t make any appearances during this short call-up, but it was simply a procedural move as Andujar was still with the team in Chicago before it departed for Houston.  He was activated for a game until the Yankees could make the move to call up Frazier.  Andujar will now return to Scranton to play third every day.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, he’ll be back.

Happy Sunday!  Flush the Saturday debacle and let’s take the series with a win today before the flight to NYC!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Feliz Navidad, in June, for the Yankees…

Credit:  Associated Press

Yankees 13, Astros 4…

I have to admit that I thought Friday night’s game against the Astros was going to be a struggle.  The Yankees did not arrive in Houston until 6 am after playing and the losing the rain-delayed game in Chicago the night before.  They arrived deep in the heart of Texas to play MLB’s best team and were scheduled to face the very tough Lance McCullers, Jr, the son of a former Yankee.  It was noted before the game that McCullers had not given up more than three runs in any of his home starts this year.  Against the Yankees, he was 2-0 with 0.75 ERA since 2016.  Fortunately, the Yankees came together as a team…as they’ve frequently done this year…and came away with the decisive victory.

Early on, it looked like it was going to be another struggle for runs that would potentially come up short.  The Astros scored their first run in the bottom of the inning when George Springer led off with a double against Yankees starter Michael Pineda.  He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sac fly by All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.

The Yankees picked up a run to tie the game in the third.  Brett Gardner led off with a double when the ball dropped in despite a running dive by Astros right fielder Josh Reddick.  It looked like McCullers might escape when he struck out the next two batters, but Didi Gregorius doubled  down the first base line to score Gardy.

The Yankees had two runners in scoring position in the top of the 4th with no outs.  Unfortunately, both Tyler Wade and Chris Carter struck out.  The inning was over when the runner on third, Austin Romine, attempted to score on a wild pitch.  Nice trick slide though as Romine tried unsuccessfully to evade the tag.

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros led off with two singles.  A throwing error by right fielder Tyler Wade put runners at second and third.  After former Yankee Brian McCann struck out, another former Yankee, Carlos Beltran, hit into a ground out which scored the lead runner.  Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to score a run and the Astros led, 3-1.  With McCullers Jr pitching well, it looked like it would be difficult to make a comeback.  

But the light at the end of tunnel occurred in the sixth inning.  Didi Gregorius opened with a single.  After Chase Headley struck out, Austin Romine walked and the Astros made a pitching change.  They brought in Michael Feliz to replace McCullers Jr.  Ronald Torreyes greeted Feliz with a single to left, scoring Gregorius.  Tyler Wade struck out for the second out, but Chris Carter, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with run-scoring singles to put the Yankees up, 5-3.  A fielding error allowed Gardy to advance to 3rd.  He scored the fifth and final run of the inning when Feliz threw a wild pitch.  6-3, Yankees.  I really hated to see Feliz go but the Astros brought in Reymin Guduan and he secured the final out.  

Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Nevertheless, the 7th brought more Yankee offense.  Chase Headley and Austin Romine opened with singles, and Ronald Torreyes walked to load the bases.  Tyler Wade hit a grounder that erased Headley at home and Chris Carter (wait for it) struck out.  So, with two outs and the bases loaded, Brett Gardner, who largely struggled during the month of June, came to the plate.  On a 3-2 count, Gardy put one over the right center field wall for the grand slam (his 15th homer of the year, and just two away from his career high).  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

With the seven run lead, Michael Pineda’s night was finished.  Much better results than the last time Pineda faced a Texas team.  Pineda (8-4) went 6 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3.  He didn’t walk anybody and more importantly, he didn’t give up any home runs.  It wasn’t a perfect outing but he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…a fighting chance until the offense got untracked.  

The Astros picked up a meaningless run in the 8th when Josh Reddick opened with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error by Jacoby Ellsbury.  He scored when Jose Altuve grounded out.  Despite a subsequent single allowed, Bryan Mitchell, who had relieved Pineda in the 7th, was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the 9th.  Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade both walked.  Chris Carter struc…I mean…doubled to score Torreyes.  Brett Gardner lofted a sac fly to right to score Wade, his 6th RBI of the game.  Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a groundout, scoring Carter.  The runs gave the Yankees the final margin of victory, 13-4.  Bryan Mitchell set down the Astros in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the season.  Great job by Mitchell to protect the bullpen and to keep the Astros down.  

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, in 11 innings, so the Yankees (43-35) remain one game behind in the AL East Standings.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won in extra innings (6-4 over the Baltimore Orioles) so they are still 3 games behind the Yankees.

This was a great team victory.

Ronald Torreyes, the “Tall” One…
Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Odds & Ends…

All of our hearts are with Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler as he begins his recovery from knee surgery on Thursday night.  It will be a long, hard road of recovery and rehabilitation.  It’s been reported that he’ll be on crutches for three months before he begins physical therapy.  Everyone is hopeful that he’ll be ready by the time training camp in Tampa opens next February.  I thought it was cool the team had a face-time call with Fowler in Joe Girardi’s office before yesterday’s game.  

In the aftermath of Fowler’s devastating injury, the Yankees made a few expected moves on Friday.  With the placement of Fowler on the 10-Day DL and the demotion of Ronald Herrera to Triple A, the Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell and 3B Miguel Andujar.  For Andujar, he returns as a Major League Vet albeit with just one game under his belt.  But it will be hard for him to match that terrific first impression (3 hits, 4 ribbies).  I hope his defense is ready to play at the MLB level.  I’d like to see him get a few turns at third as an alternative to Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes.  I am glad to see that Mitchell is back.  He is a Major League pitcher that just gets caught in the numbers game.  But he’s always been one of my favorites.  Best of luck…and health…to both men.

Clint Frazier, according to multiple reports, will be called up today for his first trip to the big leagues.  I was surprised when the Yankees recalled Miguel Andujar after previously saying they wanted him to get more reps at third.  Nothing against Andujar and of course he had the greatest possible MLB debt performance, but the Yankees have a greater need in the outfield.  Rob Refsnyder is not the right answer to rotate with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge (keeping those guys fresh).  I’ve heard the most likely candidate to be sent down will be reliever Bryan Mitchell who made an extended appearance in last night’s game in relief of Michael Pineda.  I assume that Andujar is another potential candidate for the trip to Scranton, PA.  He was a convenient call-up for the Yankees following Fowler’s injury because he was still in Chicago.  Frazier will be the 10th Yankee to make his MLB debut this year (counting Fowler’s very brief appearance).  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams, Jr

CC Sabathia pitched a simulated game on Thursday and is expecting to make his next start.  I assume that Luis Cessa will be return to Scranton when Sabathia is activated off the DL.  Still no word about Matt Holliday as tests continue.  This is a bit frightening, to say the least.  I really hope this is not something more serious than we’ve been led to believe.  Tyler Clippard was away from the team on Friday to attend his grandmother’s funeral.  He is expected back today.

Have a great Saturday!  Even better if the Yankees can pull out a second victory against a very tough Astros squad.  Let’s Go Yankees!

A Long, Hard Day Falls Short…

Credit:  USATSI

Brian Cashman on Line 3…

The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time.  Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.

On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history.  For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home.  He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base.  Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.  

I get the logic.  The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time.  There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.  

Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter.  I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’.  Sad but true.  With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman.  Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.  

To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.  

The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar.  I wondered what was up with Fowler.  Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header.  No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday.  Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees.  Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games.  It must be tough to be a Triple A manager.  Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A.  I don’t dispute calling up Fowler.  There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury.  It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler.  More on Fowler later.

Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island.  Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams.  As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects.  I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing.  I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong.  If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders.  Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk?  Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year.  Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…

Busy, busy day.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3…

The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine.  On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall.  I had been worried about Fowler going into this game.  Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York).  The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut.  I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central.  It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.

Credit:  Patrick Gorski-AP

The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move.  Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.  

The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half.  Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field.  Gardner scored on the play.  

In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead.  The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error.  Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.  

The Yankees tied the game in the fourth.  Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury).  But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.  Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox.  Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second.  Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base.  Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2. 

The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple.  He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally.  They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.  

I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.

This was a sickening loss.  The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern.  But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played.  The cost was far too great.  If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them.  With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.

Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1.  If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard.  The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.  

I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today.  He has much work to do.

Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros.  It doesn’t get any easier.

Next Up:  Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)

Astros:  Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)

Astros:  Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)

Astros:  Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line.  The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment.  I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer.  Let him go back to the Mets.

Have a great Friday!  Today has to be better than yesterday.  Let’s Go Yankees!