Category: MLB

Splitter showed up but Clippard did not…

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg

Friday night was very disappointing…  

The disappointment certainly did not reside with Masahiro Tanaka who was able to put the horrific past couple of weeks in his rearview mirror, but it was the implosion of the bullpen.  Tyler Clippard picked a very bad night to have a bad night and Jonathan Holder didn’t do anything to help.  

Tanaka started the game with three strikeouts although he did give up a double to Oakland’s Jed Lowrie.  It went a long way for me to show that Tanaka was not going to be a punching bag on this evening.  Tanaka pitched into the eighth without allowing any runs, while striking out a season-high 13 batters.  The only problem was that Sean Manaea, moved up a day in the rotation after Kendall Graveman was scratched, was just as good. The Yankees could not muster any offense against Manaea, who only permitted one extra base-hit, a double by Austin Romine in the third inning.

Credit:  Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the game still deadlocked at 0-0 in eighth inning, Tanaka struck out Mark Canha and was then pulled by manager Joe Girardi after giving up a single to Adam Rosales.  Using ‘ifs and buts’, if Aroldis Chapman had been healthy, the Yankees could have gone to Dellin Betances in that situation but Girardi had no choice but to go to interim setup reliever Tyler Clippard.  

From there, the game fell apart.  Rosales was safe at third following a throwing error by Clippard.  The next batter, Rajai Davis, hit into a fielder’s choice, and Rosales was erased at home.  Davis then stole second, but it didn’t matter because Clippard walked the next batter, Matt Joyce, a .194 hitter.  Jed Lowrie, 3-for-4 on the night, promptly singled to score Davis.  While I understand the rules for why the run was charged to Tanaka, this one was clearly on Clippard.  The next batter, Khris Davis, reached first on an infield single to Gregorius, scoring Joyce.  The Yankees challenged the call at first but lost.  Things could have gotten worse from there as Clippard threw a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third but Ryan Healy flied out to left to end the inning.

Jonathan Holder replaced Clippard in the top of the ninth inning and was greeted by a single (Trevor Plouffe) and a home run (Stephen Vogt) which put the A’s up 4-0.  He stayed and got the next three outs, but by then the damage had been done.

The Yankees tried to muster a rally in the bottom of the ninth.  They had the bases loaded with just one out for Didi Gregorius.  Didi was unable to get the ball out of the park and the Yankees had to settle for a sac fly to put their first run on the board.  With two outs and the game-tying run still at the plate, Girardi pinch-hit Gary Sanchez for Chase Headley.  Unfortunately, Sanchez delivered the same result that Headley would have, a pop up in the infield to end the game.  

Numerous disappointments with this night.  Obviously, the bullpen.  The Yankees need Aroldis Chapman back.  Since he went on the DL, Betances is the only reliever to step up his game.  The others have regressed from the added work.  Chapman is scheduled to throw catch today if a visit to the doctor goes well so hopefully this is the start of his return.  Matt Holliday was a no-show.  He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, leaving three runners on base.  Chase Headley is bringing nothing to the table.  He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, and hasn’t been able to hit for a month as his batting average has fallen to .228.  

I know the calls for Gleyber Torres will soon begin but I think it’s more likely the Yankees would swing a minor trade for a Major League third base replacement at this point.  This is a direct reflection of how poorly the Yankees have drafted for third base.  Miguel Andujar is the organization’s best third baseman and he’s further away than Torres who most likely will be the eventual starter for the Yankees.  In 2011, the year they drafted Greg Bird, the Yankees first pick (51st selection) was Dante Bichette, Jr.  Had Bichette been able to develop, he would have been ready for a job in the Bronx.  As it is, the 24-year-old Bichette is batting .147/.213/.265 for AA-Trenton and is closer to a job outside of Baseball.  I recognize that 2011 was not a strong year for third basemen in general, but with the 292nd pick, the Boston Red Sox chose Travis Shaw who is currently the starting third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers (9 HR, 34 RBI, .286 BA) .  The Yankees chose a few more third basemen in the 2011 Draft.  Matthew Duran was chosen with the 149th pick (Greg Bird wasn’t chosen until 30 picks later), Zach Wilson was picked 659th, and Connor Mach was the 1409th selection.  All three players are out of baseball.

I think the Yankees are stuck with Headley for the duration of the year.

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees (27-18) maintained their 2 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles, but lost ground with the AL East lead to two games as the hard-charging Boston Red Sox have moved up to second.  Baltimore lost to the very strong Houston Astros, 2-0, while the Red Sox were beating the punchless Seattle Mariners, 3-0.  

Here are the revised pitching match-ups for the remainder of the Oakland series with the scratch of Kendall Graveman yesterday:

TODAY

Athletics:  Jharel Cotton (3-4, 5.68 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62 ERA)

TOMORROW

Athletics:  Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35 ERA)

I would have liked to have seen Sonny Gray this series given the trade rumors but Gray’s turn in the rotation doesn’t come up again until Tuesday in Cleveland.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees need to provide some offense today for Sabathia who, hopefully, continues his recent string of quality starts.  This is a series that the Yankees should be winning so if they lose two of three or worse yet, get swept, this will be looked upon as a missed opportunity.  Win the games you are supposed to win.  Apparently, the Red Sox got the memo but the Yankees didn’t.  Turn it around…today. 

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s find ways to beat the A’s!

Mr Splitter, you are cordially invited to Yankee Stadium tonight…

Credit:  Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The big question today on everyone’s mind is Masahiro Tanaka.  After two consecutive disastrous starts, where are we?  With an extra day of rest due to yesterday’s rainout, we’ll soon find out.  

Since Tanaka’s gem against the Boston Red Sox on April 27th when he threw a complete game three-hit shutout, the results have not been pretty.  In his subsequent four starts, he has given up 21 earned runs (22 overall).   By definition, the only quality start since that time was his May 8th win over the Cincinnati Reds when he went seven innings, allowing only three earned runs.  But the Reds were able to get their hits against Tanaka as they racked up a total of 10 including a home run by Joey Votto.  In his last two games, Tanaka has lasted a combined total of only 4 2/3 innings and has been hammered for 14 runs and 7 home runs.  

The Yankees have confidence in Tanaka.  During a HOPE Week charity event yesterday, GM Brian offered the following comments:

“We’ve done the ‘CSI: The Bronx’ on him a number of different times.  We’ve gone through the analytics comparison from when he’s flying high to the current low.  There are no indicators other than the splitter’s not splitting like it usually does, and the command of the fastball is off.”

“But in terms of velocity — even swings and misses in the the zone, a lot of background statistics that you try to study to try to measure certain things that are alarming in nature that are off.  So we can’t point to anything other than the fact that I don’t think his splitter is as good as it’s been.  I know that for a fact.  His splitter’s not performing up to what his past standard has been.”

“Other teams are doing damage against him, but there’s no indicator of an injury.  I know the player doesn’t feel that he’s hurt, and I know the pitching coach doesn’t feel there’s an injury relation, either.”

“From an analytics standpoint and front-office perspective, we can’t seem to come up with some reason that would lead us to take that step.  We’re not afraid to do it if we felt that was necessary, but we’re not going to do something that appears to be unnecessary.” (spoken regarding whether the Yankees should have Tanaka undergo a MRI).  

“All indications are no (regarding an MRI exam).  We have all departments on call, whether guys are flying on high and doing well, as well as when guys are struggling.  Whether it’s mechanical, whether it’s something from the analytical side that shows a drop in performance that could lead to why, all those things aren’t indicating there’s an area to pursue on the medical side.”

“Obviously we want everybody playing to their capabilities at all times, but that’s just not how the game works.  It’s just about managing through the down times, and that’s what we’re all here for.”

“Right now he’s in a down stretch and so we’re looking forward to getting him up and running to what we’re used to seeing.”

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

If Tanaka goes out and pitches at least six innings and gives up no more than 2 or 3 runs, will we feel that this was just a blip on the radar and that all is good?  Or if he strains his neck watching balls fly out of Yankee Stadium, are we going to be fearing the end of the world?  I honestly do not know what to expect with Tanaka’s performance tonight.  We’ll get early indications when we see his first few splitters and how he performs in the all-important first inning tonight against the Oakland A’s.  I am hopeful that these are just mechanical flaws and the typical slump that everyone encounters from time to time.  But if not, I am concerned.  We need the Tanaka that we’ve grown accustomed to and cannot afford a ‘Daisuke Matsuzaka’-type downward spiral.  

The Yankees enter an important three-game set tonight against the Oakland A’s.  While the A’s are only 21-25 this season, the Yankees need to take care of business with a road trip to Baltimore looming on the immediate horizon.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Athletics:  Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.83 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56 ERA)

SATURDAY

Athletics:  Sean Manaea (2-3, 5.24 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62 ERA)

SUNDAY

Athletics:  Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35 ERA)

Have a great Friday!  I hope an early ‘splitter’ (from work) is effective for everyone today!

Sevy and the Blazing Fast Goose Eggs…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Yankees 3, Royals 0…

Luis Severino continued the recent albeit short trend of stellar pitching performances by Yankee starters.  Masahiro Tanaka excluded, the rotation has pitched to win the last four games.  Severino was tremendous, pitching eight innings.  He was still clicking the radar gun at 99 mph in the 8th.  By completing eight, Severino was able to pass the baton to Dellin Betances for the one inning save without relying on any of the tired arms in the pen. 

Severino (3-2) was incredible in the scoreless outing with a season high 114 pitches.  He allowed only one extra base hit (a double by Brandon Moss in the 5th inning) and did not allow any runners past second base.  Sevy only allowed four hits and walked one while striking out seven.  He lowered his season ERA to 3.11.

Jason Hammel kept the Yankees in check most of the night but the Pinstripers didn’t need much.  Didi Gregorius hit a solo homer in the third inning to give the Yanks an early 1-0 lead.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

In the 6th inning, the Yankees picked up another run through great-base running effort by Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez singled to open the inning and then stole second.  Thanks to a throwing error by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Sanchez alertly raced on to third.  Matt Holliday brought him home with a sac fly.

The Yankees picked up their final run when Gregorius led off the 7th inning with a double.  A ground out by Chris Carter moved Gregorius to third, which brought Brett Gardner to the plate.  With two strikes, Gardner was the beneficiary of a called ball on a pitch by Royals reliever Matt Strahm that seemingly landed well within the strike zone.  It should have been the third strike for the second out of the inning but with the next pitch, Gardner singled to center to drive in the run.

Betances struck out the side in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the season, lowering his season ERA to 0.57.

The Yankees (27-17) moved 2 1/2 games up on the Baltimore Orioles.  Baltimore lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins and their fine rookie pitcher Jose Berrios.  The Boston Red Sox remained 3 1/2 games back with their 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

I want one of those guys…

Last night, Chris Sale of the Red Sox attempted to become the MLB pitcher in the Modern Era to record at least 10 strikeouts in nine straight games.  He failed but he is still the fifth pitcher since 1900 to reach 100 strikeouts in his first 10 starts.  It probably wasn’t one of his better games, but Sale still kept the game within reach for the Red Sox until their offense exploded for 7 runs in the 7th inning of their game against the Texas Rangers.  Sale finished the night with 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Christopher Evans

Sale has such a presence when he is on the mound.  I can’t think of any potential trade targets that can match Sale as a frontline ace.  I remain hopeful that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me, but I think most of us know who the available trade suspects are.  

Gleyber Torres Watch (with a little Tyler Austin thrown in)…

It was another night at third base yesterday for Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Columbus Clippers, 5-0. 

Watching the RailRiders this closely shows me one thing.  Clint Frazier is on fire.  He hit his eighth home run (and 28th RBI) in the first inning of the RailRiders’ game against the Columbus Clippers on Wednesday.  He also had a two-run shot on Tuesday during Gleyber’s first game at the AAA Level.  But enough about ridiculously hot outfielders and how the Yankees like to keep them down while parading the $153 Million Man in center field at Yankee Stadium on a nightly basis.  Note:  To Jacoby Ellsbury’s defense, he was injured during last night’s game against the Royals when he collided into the outfield wall after making a catch.  He suffered a neck sprain and a concussion, and has been placed on the 7-Day DL.  I wish him no ill will and hope that he returns to the health sooner than later.  It does kind of make me wish that the padding on the outfield walls was a little more player-friendly.  Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to the Bronx to replace Ellsbury.  On performance alone, Frazier would have been the best option, but Refsnyder is already on the 40-Man Roster which was the difference-maker.  

Credit:  Andy Grosh/MiLB.com

Torres was a wee bit cooler than Frazier.  With an ‘O-fer’ night (0-for-3), he wasn’t really doing much with the bat but he did walk twice, stole a base, and avoided striking out.  All things considered, it was another game in the education and development of the Yankees premier prospect as he climbs the ladder for the eventual call to the Bronx.  

I thought Mike Ford did a good job for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the short time since his call-up.  In nine games, he hit 4 homers and 10 RBI’s, batting .306/.432/.750.  But he was returned to AA-Trenton yesterday when Ji-Man Choi was activated from the 7-Day DL for the RailRiders.  

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell

Maybe I should have re-named this section the Minor League Report.

As promised, here’s a little Tyler Austin…


Finally…

The Yankees conclude their four-game set against the Kansas City Royals this afternoon at 1:05 pm Eastern.  The Royals have announced a change in starters for the game as Miguel Almonte, called up on Tuesday from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A), will replace Nathan Karns who was placed on the DL with forearm stiffness. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 6 starts for the Naturals. For Almonte, the start at Yankee Stadium will be a treat.  “That was my favorite team growing up”, Almonte said yesterday through an interpreter.  No worries, Miguel, they are our favorite team too.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill for the Yankees in an outing that will probably have me watching the game between my fingers.  I really hope that he has rediscovered the touch and can continue the streak of solid pitching performances.  Otherwise, the fans in the outfield bleachers should receive hazard duty pay.
Have a great Thursday!  Why settle for two when you can take three??!!…

 

Win as a Team, Lose as a Team…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Royals 6, Yankees 2…

Jordan Montgomery showed why he is a Major League pitcher.  After a few outings that had led to speculation he could potentially be replaced in the rotation, Monty delivered his finest outing yet.  The bullpen couldn’t hold it but you’ll never find a complainer with Montgomery.  “I trust those guys coming out of the bullpen.  I trust them all.  They’re doing the best to execute pitches.  They’ve been so great throughout the year already.  Nobody is perfect.  Win as a team, lose as a team.”, Montgomery said in his post-game comments.  

Credit:  Robert Sabo

Monty took a one-hitter into the seventh inning but gave up a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain.  After getting the second out of the inning, Montgomery was pulled for Adam Warren with the Yankees leading 2-1 and no one on, finishing with a two-hit effort.  At that point, the bullpen imploded to the tune of four hits and five runs, which allowed the Royals to walk away with the 6-2 victory.  After watching Montgomery’s brilliant two-hitter, Warren (1-1) allowed two hits to the first two batters he faced, the second a homer by Jorge Bonifacio, while both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve were greeted with solo shots from the first batters they faced in the eighth.  Bryan Mitchell pitched a three-up, three down ninth inning but by then, it was too little, too late as the Yankees were unable to rally.

It’s disappointing to see such a great performance by Montgomery wasted but the overworked bullpen is a byproduct of the overall recent poor performances by the starting rotation.  It’s hard to fault Warren and Company as it was inevitable they’d crack from overuse and it was really good to see the maturity of Montgomery as he refused to place any blame on his teammates.  You could say that manager Joe Girardi should have left Montgomery in the game, but he was at 98 pitches.  It was time for his tip of the cap as he walked off the mound.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Danny Duffy, the winning pitcher for the Royals, took notice.  After the game, Duffy said “He’s out there, and he’s beyond his years and it’s fun to watch him compete.”

The Yankees scored their only runs in the fourth and fifth innings with solo home runs from Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter, respectively.  The Yankees had a chance to close the gap in the eighth when Chase Headley came to bat with two outs and runners at the corners, but his liner to Eric Hosmer, who made a great play, thwarted the attempt.  

Prior to the game, the Yankees took a moment of silence for the victims of the horrific and senseless terror attack in Manchester, England, playing “God Save The Queen”.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees (26-17) maintained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East despite the loss.  The Orioles fell 2-0 to Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins.  Santana pitched a complete game two-hitter.  The Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 to close to within 3 1/2 games.

Bird Update…

Greg Bird has resumed hitting off a tee as he begins his journey back from the bruised ankle injury.

I know, that pic couldn’t possibly be Greg Bird.  He’d never wear his jeans that high up!

The current plan is for Bird to hit in an indoor cage today, rest tomorrow, and take outdoor batting practice on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday, he’d travel down to Florida to begin either extended spring training on Monday or start a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa.

It’s possible that we could see Bird back with the Yankees late next week or weekend depending upon how things go.  Hopefully, there will be no setbacks and he’ll be much stronger and healthier than we last saw him.

Gerrit Cole Update…

Yeah, that’s probably true.

For the record, Cole did kind of stink it up in Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.  He was almost Masahiro Tanaka-like in lasting only 4 2/3 innings.  The Braves teed off him, maybe using Bird’s tee, for 10 hits and 5 runs.  I guess we can get that production from our own staff without giving up prospects off the MLB Top 100 list.  

But all things considered, and throwing in the AL East surcharge on ERA, I’d still take Cole.  I know that he spurned the Yankees when drafted a few years ago, but I have to say that for a chance to go to UCLA, I probably would have too.  

Gleyber Torres Update…

Tuesday night saw Gleyber Torres in the lineup for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at third base.  Rob Refsnyder was at second, and Tyler Wade at short.  Physically, Torres really isn’t that much smaller than Headley.  He is an inch shorter at 6’1″ and about 40 pounds lighter at 175 lbs.  I guess when I think of third basemen, I think of guys like Kris Bryant (6’5″, 230 lbs) but Torres is taller than others such as Justin Turner or Pablo Sandoval.  Nolan Arenado sets the bar for third base from a performance standpoint and he’s only 6’2″, 215 lbs.  Torres will continue to pack muscle on his frame so he certainly has the physical attributes to excel at the position.  I guess selfishly I wanted to keep third base relatively open or flexible for the possible addition of Manny Machado but I am not going to complain if Torres grabs third for years of All-Star games and World Series Championship rings.  

Torres was 1-for-3 with a single in the RailRiders’ 3-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to get a new winning streak started!  It’s a new day!

Michael, a Few Home Runs and Instant Replay…

Credit:  Bill Kostroun

Yankees 4, Royals 2…

In a season when Masahiro Tanaka has forgotten how to throw his splitter and slider, only to see his fastball regularly deposited into outfield bleachers, Michael Pineda has stepped up to be “the man”.  Down early 2-0 to the Kansas City Royals, it would have been the point where Pineda collapsed like a cheap suit in years past.  But these are not years past and Michael Pineda no longer contributes to an avalanche parade.  

When Brett Gardner homered in the bottom of the third, it felt like everything was under control even though the Yanks still trailed by one.  With one on in the fourth, Didi Gregorius decided it was much better to lead than follow, launching a homer to right center to put the Yanks in front.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Pineda made it into the seventh inning.  After striking out Jorge Bonifacio, who had homered for the Royals earlier in the game, Pineda gave up a single to former Cub Jorge Soler.  It was the end of Pineda’s night.  

With Adam Warren on the mound, Soler took second on a wild pitch.  Following a flyout by Whit Merrifield, the Royals appeared to tie the game at 3 when Alcides Escobar hit a grounder to Starlin Castro.  Escobar was ruled safe at first, beating an off-balance throw from Castro.  Soler scored on the play.  The Yankees challenged the call and the Baseball Gods were smiling favorably on the Pinstripes.  The decision at first was overturned, the inning was over, and the run scored by Soler was erased.  All I can say it was incredibly close.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Chris Carter boldly let his bat say, “This is why you hired me” with a blast to left-center.  So, instead of a 3-3 game just minutes earlier, the score was suddenly 4-2.  A nice reversal of fortune.  

From there, the Yankees bullpen shut the Royals down.  Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances each delivered a scoreless inning of relief, and Betances struck out Jorge Soler to end the game, picking up his third save.

For the game, Pineda (5-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and two runs, while walking one and striking out six.  It wasn’t a clean start but it was the continuation of the strong, consistent version of the Michael Pineda that we’ve literally been waiting years to see.  

The win allowed the Yankees (26-16) to move a game and a half in front of the Baltimore Orioles who were throttled 14-7 at Camden Yards by the Minnesota Twins in a 21-hit attack.  The Boston Red Sox had the night off so they slipped four and half games back.  

Bronx Fury, South Beach Version…

A pair of ex-Yankees squared off on Friday night in Miami.  Marlins manager Don Mattingly took offense to something Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren yelled to Marlins closer A.J. Ramos.  “If he is going to yell and scream at our guys, the he is going to have to go through me”, said Mattingly, who was ejected in the bench-clearing stand-off.  

Credit:  Los Angeles Times

Mattingly and Geren were Yankees teammates from 1988 to 1991.  

Credit:  Getty Images

I feel badly for Mattingly.  He is in the midst of a very poor season in Miami and he was facing the team that he once managed.  I am not sure that Mattingly will survive the season and he is probably gone if the sale of the Marlins goes through (even if one of the potential new owners is Derek Jeter) unless he can turn things around very quickly.  Mattingly remains my favorite manager but these are not the best of times.

Umm, no, thank you…

Yesterday, Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media, quoting an article that appeared on SportsNet.ca, floated the possibility of the Yankees as suitors for third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays.  I do not dispute that Donaldson is a great player but it doesn’t make sense to me.  Donaldson is 31 and the Yankees, regardless of the great start this year, are still one to two years away from true World Series contention.  Sure, crazier things have happened, but it doesn’t make sense to me to part with talented young prospects for a guy that is on the wrong side of 30.  

Manny Machado should remain the target.  I am not enamored with Chase Headley covering third until if/when we can get Machado but I don’t think the Yankees are either.  With the call-up of infielder Gleyber Torres to AAA, he is positioning himself for an appearance in the Bronx later this year or at the latest, next spring.  I’d gladly take Starlin Castro at third (over Headley) to make room for Torres at second.  The path to Machado will be costly in terms of dollars but it retains the wealth of prospects within the organization.  If the Yankees lose out on Machado, then they’ll need to look at Plan B.  I am still optimistic that Miguel Andujar can be a solution within the next couple of years.  Let the Boston Red Sox further deplete their farm system for Donaldson and add another player that will be ready for social security in a couple of years.

So, count me out if trying to decide whether or not to bring Donaldson to the Yankees.

All Rise, now entering Right Field, the Honorable Judge, Aaron…

The Yankees have climbed aboard the Judge Train with the rest of us.  They’ve unveiled a new area wrapped around the three rows in the back of Section 104 in right field aptly named “The Judge’s Chambers”.  Selected fans, with preference to those wearing Aaron Judge jerseys, will temporarily be given black robes adorned by #99 on the back while sitting the special area during games.  I guess it beats having a bad tasting candy bar named after you…

Credit:  Ben Walker/AP

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s keep this winning feeling going!

Flying to New York on a Positive Note…

All is right in the world again…  

Yankees win and the Orioles do not.  Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst.  Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees.  He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.  

The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base.  If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch!  He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win.  In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.  He had six strikeouts.  The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.

Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits.  Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.  

The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.  

The Tyler Austin Watch…  

In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats.  The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder.  He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO). 

In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa.  If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end.  Or how it should end.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…  

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…

The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders.  In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs.  He batted .273 and stole 5 bags.    The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx.  Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third. 

Credit:  Matt Rourke/AP

I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams.  Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.  He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs.  He has walked three batters while striking out eleven.  Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.

Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…  

The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series.  The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.  

TODAY:

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

TUESDAY:

Royals:  Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)

WEDNESDAY:

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)

THURSDAY:

Royals:  Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)

Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation.  He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider.  Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game.  The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness.  If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in.  I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…

 

Have a great Monday!  Let’s make it two in a row!   

Tanaka and His Extended BP for Rays Hitters…

Credit:  Brian Blanco/Getty Images

No hole is too deep to climb out of…except when Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound.  I am seriously concerned about Tanaka after his latest disaster.  In Fantasy Baseball, I’ve seen many owners dumping Tanaka from their rosters for no return.  I am not suggesting that the Yankees cut him and I am hopeful that he rediscovers his touch. But as the New York papers are screaming, Tanaka is in full-blown crisis mode.  You have to admit that this is very disconcerting.  For a rotation that had many questions coming into the season, none of the questions were directed at the team’s ace who is, right now, the rotation’s weakest link.

I am not sure what has to be done.  They’ve tried different arm angles and placement on the the pitching rubber, but Tanaka’s pitches are still getting hammered.  Kevin Kernan of The New York Post had the best line, “that just meant he had a different view of baseballs zooming out of the ballpark”.  

 

In Saturday’s 9-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Tanaka lasted only three innings.  Rays hitters got nine hits and six runs off Tanaka, including three home runs.  Tanaka (5-3) also walked three batters in the loss, which elevated his season ERA to 6.56.  In his last two games combined, Tanaka has given up seven home runs in 4 2/3 innings…and fourteen friggin’ runs.

At the beginning of the year, the fear was that Tanaka would opt out of his contract at the end of year.  Now, the fear is that he won’t.  My first thought at the latest stinker was the partially torn UCL in his elbow, but the Yankees insist he is healthy. Of course, their recent “surprise” about Aroldis Chapman either tells you that the players are not always being honest with the team or the team is withholding information.  If Tanaka is healthy, then this scares the h**l out of me.

At this point, I am probably in favor of skipping Tanaka in the next run through the rotation to give him extra time to right the ship.  There’s no doubt he lost his splitter and slider on one of these  recent road trips and can’t remember where he left them.   

As for the game, the Yankees did get home runs from Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  Nevertheless, this was a game we’d just as soon forget.  Both pitching coach Larry Rothschild and manager Joe Girardi were tossed in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.  Girardi even covered home plate with sand and the ump (Scott Barry) refused to clean it.  Gary Sanchez  finally took it upon himself to wipe home plate.  Speaking of Sanchez, he didn’t play on Friday night due to a stiff neck so I’ll take Rob Thomson off the hook for not using Sanchez as a pinch hitter in the loss.  I just hope the foul tip Sanchez took off the mask yesterday doesn’t worsen his health concerns. 

Credit:  Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times

Rays starter Matt Andriese was tossed in the sixth inning for plunking Aaron Judge with a pitch.  Tommy Layne had hit the Rays’ Corey Dickerson in the back with a pitch the prior inning.  Dickerson had hit two home runs in the game.  The tired lines of ‘the ball got away’ were used but I still don’t appreciate the potential harm to our young slugger.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (24-16) fell a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East standings with the loss.  The Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-5.  As losers of three in a row and seven of their last ten, the Yankees are on a faster track to be the 80-win team they were forecasted to be at the start of the season rather than a division contender.  Good hitting beats poor pitching every time.  Hopefully, the Yankees re-discover the Cinderella slipper sooner rather than later.

Tyler Austin made his 2017 debut with the AA-Trenton Thunder (rather than High-A Tampa) on Saturday.  He went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored.  He was also hit by pitch in the Thunder’s 5-2 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  

The Yankees conclude their three-game set in Florida with the Rays today.  CC Sabathia will be on the mound versus the Rays’ Chris Archer.  I am really hopeful that we get the most recent version of Sabathia (6 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching) and not the Masahiro Tanaka-version that we saw in the preceding weeks.

Have a wonderful Sunday!  Let’s have some fun today…finally!