Category: New York Yankees

Game One Hundred: The Gardy Party…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Rays 5…

For the games that the Yankees have lost which they should have won, it’s nice when they win a few that they probably should have lost.  It took extra innings but Brett Gardner ended the long night with a game-winning walk-off home run as the Yankees overcame the Tampa Bay Rays.

Early, it looked like it was going to be the Yankees way.  CC Sabathia was backed by a few runs while the Yankees took the early lead.  They scored first in the second inning.  With one out, Chase Headley singled to right and scored when Jacoby Ellsbury, the $153 million man making his second consecutive start, doubled to left.  Todd Frazier singled to right to score Ellsbury with the second run of the inning.  The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 3rd when Gary Sanchez blasted his 15th homer of the season to left.  It was 3-0 Yankees.

But it started to unravel for CC Sabathia in the top of the 4th inning.  Evan Longoria led off and his numbers against Sabathia were ridiculous.  Prior to the game, Longoria had hit .405 with 7 home runs and 16 RBI’s in 74 at-bats against CC and held a career .355 batting average against the Yankees.  While I was thinking it was probably best not to give Longoria anything to hit, he promptly parked in right center to draw the Rays within two runs, 3-1.  It was Longoria’s 35th career home run against the Yankees. After striking out Tim Beckham in the top of the 5th (Sabathia’s 2,800th career strikeout), Adeiny Hecchavaria and Peter Bourjos hit back-to-back doubles (down the third base and first base lines, respectively) to score another run.  After walking Stephen Souza, Jr, Manager Joe Girardi pulled a visibly disappointed Sabathia (“C’mon, man!”)  and replaced him with Chad Green.  The move backfired as Brad Miller doubled to the right field wall, scoring Bourjos and Souza, Jr.  The Rays were up, 4-3.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

With Green still on the mound in the top of the 6th, Corey Dickerson homered with a high fly ball to right center to increase the Rays’ lead to 5-3.  The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with only one out.  But both Todd Frazier and Tyler Wade struck out against Rays starter Chris Archer to end the inning.  Maybe it was just me, but Tyler Wade looked very over-matched in this game.  

After Tommy Kahnle pitched a clean 7th inning, Dellin Betances came on in the 8th.  He struck out the first two batters but then allowed back-to-back singles.  Fortunately, he was able to retire Adeiny Hecchavarria to get out of the jam.  In the bottom of the 8th, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley both singled off Rays reliever Dan Jennings (who was acquired earlier in the day from the Chicago White Sox).  The Rays replaced Jennings with Brad Boxberger with the runners at the corners.  Matt Holliday, pinch-hitting for Jacoby Ellsbury, hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Headley at second.  Meanwhile, Gregorius scored to make it a one-run game, 5-4.  Ronald Torreyes was inserted as a pinch-runner for Holliday at first.  Todd Frazier followed with a single, but the Yankees were unable to add any runs when Tyler Wade hit into an inning-ending double play.  I didn’t really understand the decision to pinch-hit for Ellsbury.  I would have pinch-hit for Wade and then used Torreyes to replace him at second.  It’s easy to second guess but Wade seemed like such a little boy among men in the game.

Adam Warren kept the Rays off the board in the top of the 9th and then the Yankees were given a gift in the bottom of the inning.  With Rays closer Alex Colome taking over for Brad Boxberger, Brett Gardner led off with a triple to the left field wall, splitting the outfielders.  After both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge failed to advance Gardy, Gary Sanchez hit a playable ball between shortstop Adeiny Hecchavarria and second Tim Beckham (“You take it”…”no, no, you take it”) for the game-tying run.  Didi Gregorius grounded out and it was off to extra innings.

Aroldis Chapman took over for Adam Warren in the 10th and easily set down the Rays.  Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge replaced Alex Colome and walked Chase Headley to start the bottom of the 10th.  Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to scoring position at second, but Clint Frazier failed to advance the runner with a fly out.  Tyler Wade came up and it seemed like it would be an unsuccessful at-bat before it even got started.  He was swinging at balls outside of the strike zone and clearly had a death grip on his bat as he struck out to end the inning.

The 11th inning was the perfect scenario for Yankee fans.  Aroldis Chapman came out for his second consecutive inning and struck out the side.  Brett Gardner, the first batter up in the bottom of the 11th, sent the Andrew Kittredge pitch to the right field stands for the game-winner.  Yankees win!

Manager Joe Girardi was ejected from the game in the bottom of the 7th for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Stu Sheurwater.  Girardi was right.  Sheurwater did a horrible job behind the plate and could have potentially altered this game away from the Yankees with his inconsistent calls.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

Tyler Wade was 0-for-5, with three strikeouts.  He also left a game high 7 runners on base.

After the game, Aaron Judge suffered a broken tooth during the on-field celebration for the victory.  It is not believed that the injury will cause any lost playing time for Judge but it was not the way you want to end such a dramatic win.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

The Yankees (54-46) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings so they only trail by a half game entering play today.  Boston begins a three-game set against the suddenly hot Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park tonight.  The Rays fell 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

Odds & Ends…
This seems to be the trading season for ex-Yankees.  We know that the Chicago White Sox traded former Yankee pitchers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle this month, but this week has seen Anthony Swarzak move from the White Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers; Eduardo Nunez go from the San Francisco Giants to the Boston Red Sox; and John Ryan Murphy traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Last week saw David Phelps travel from the Miami Marlins to the Seattle Mariners.  Justin Wilson is on the trading block, with the Yankees as a possible suitor, so he’ll probably be the next one to move.  Get me an ex-Yankee, dammit!
Speaking of John Ryan Murphy, Twitter blew up today with Yankee fans celebrating the success of the trade that brought Aaron Hicks to New York.  While I appreciate the job Hicks did earlier this year, the fact remains that he was a disappointment in 2016 and his “success” lasted less than half a season before he went for an extended trip on the DL.  I know that Murphy didn’t hit for the Twins or primarily their Triple A team this year, but I still like the player and I am hopeful that he can carve out a nice career in the Sonoran Desert.  I am hopeful that Hicks hits the ground running when he is able to return and if Murphy continues to struggle, then you call the trade a Yankees win.  But for me, it’s still too early to call.
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired one of the Yankees’ potential targets yesterday when they acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the New York Mets.  This probably puts more pressure on the Yankees to swing a deal with Oakland for Yonder Alonzo if they want to upgrade first base and move Chase Headley to corner support.  The Rays have a solid first baseman in Logan Morrison so Duda probably slots in at DH with Corey Dickerson moving to the outfield.  It clearly strengthens their team offense and keeps Duda away from the Yankees who were the only other aggressive suitor for his services.  It was a busy day for the Rays as they also picked up reliever Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox.
Have a great Friday!  I hope this day goes my way!  Let’s Go Yankees!

You Can Call Him MISTER Severino…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 9, Reds 5…

All seems to be right in the Yankees Universe once again.  After Manager Joe Girardi voiced that “he’s thrown the best all year for us…call him what you want”, Luis Severino went out and threw another ace-style performance at the Cincinnati Reds as the Yankees swept the two-game series.  

Jordan Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Tuesday and settled for a two-hit, one-run performance over 6 2/3 innings.  It was as if Severino said, “that’s great, but I can do better”.  Sevy (7-4) pitched 7 innings for the win, allowing only 3 hits and 2 runs (none earned).  He walked a couple of batters and struck out 9.  For the man who couldn’t win a start in 2016, he is this year’s MVP in the starting rotation.  


Then there’s Didi Gregorius who is hitting everything thrown within 50 miles of him.  Derek Jeter who?  Okay, I jest on that part so as to not offend the DJ fans and his legacy but Didi is simply playing in a higher league right now.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post

The game started out to be a pitching duel between Severino and Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey.  They traded 0’s for a couple of innings until the Yankees broke through with a run in the bottom of the 3rd.  The Toddfather (Todd Frazier, as if it needs an explanation) got the inning started with a single.  But he was quickly erased when the $153 million pinch-runner, starting in center due to a day off for Aaron Judge in right, hit into a double play.  Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner took matters into their own bats and both singled to put runners at first and second.  The other Frazier (Red Thunder) singled to right to score Torreyes.  The Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.  


In the 5th inning, after the $153 million man flied out for the second out of the inning, Ronald Torreyes, Brett Gardner, and Clint Frazier repeated the third inning formula.  Single, single, single with run scored.  Like the 3rd inning, Gary Sanchez got the final out leaving Gardner stranded.  It was 2-0 Yankees.


Finally in the 6th inning, the Yankees looked elsewhere than Torreyes, Gardy and Red Thunder for runs as Didi Gregorius reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Peraza, subbing for the injured Zack Cozart, and advanced to second.  Chase Headley singed to center to bring home Didi.  3-0, Yankees.  After Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a force attempt throwing error to second base by first baseman Joey Votto to load the bases.  Frazier was originally called out at second, but the Yankees rightfully challenged the play and it was overturned when it clearly showed that Jose Peraza’s foot was off base when he took the throw from Votto.  Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to short and was thrown out at first but Headley scored on the play as the Yankees increased their lead to 4-0.


The Reds picked up a couple of runs against Severino in the top of the 7th.  Scott Schebler reached base on a fielding error by Didi Gregorius.  Eugenio Suarez made the Yankees pay for it with a double to left, scoring Schebler.  A wild pitch by Sevy advanced Suarez to third.  Tucker Barnhart grounded out to first, but Suarez scored.  4-2, Yankees.


The Yankees broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th.  Clint Frazier walked and scored when Gary Sanchez doubled to left.  Sanchez advanced to third on the throw.  Matt Holliday singled to left to score Sanchez.  It was 6-2 Yankees and the end of the line for Homer Bailey.  Reliever Tony Cingrani entered the game and was met with a Didi Gregorius home run to right (that’s been happening to quite a few pitchers lately).  Two more runs and it was 8-2.  After Chase Headley lined out, the Toddfather finally crashed the party with his first Yankee home run, a solo shot to left.  It was 9-2 Yankees and it seemed like it would be a coast to victory.

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Enter Luis Cessa.  The first out was easy…a ground out by Billy Hamilton.  The second batter, Scooter Gennett, should have been an out but Gennett reached first after swinging at the third strike, a ball that got past Gary Sanchez due to a wild pitch on Cessa.  Cessa then proceeded to walk Joey Votto which brought up Adam Duvall.  During the at-bat, I was thinking that Cessa had better be careful with the dangerous Duvall at the plate.  Boom, a three-run shot to right and the Reds had closed the gap to 9-5.  Fortunately, after a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Cessa retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.  I am not sure that I could have been that patient with Cessa.  If I was manager, he probably would have been grabbing his bus seat for the trip to Scranton, PA by the end of the game.  


Girardi made the wise choice to go with David Robertson in the 9th.  1-2-3, game over.  Man, I love having D-Rob back in the fold.  The Yankees win!


The Yankees (53-46) did not make up any ground in the AL East despite the win.  The Boston Red Sox, behind Chris Sale and rookie third baseman Rafael Devers who homered in his first MLB at-bat, beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-0.  The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1.  So, the Yankees remain one game behind the Red Sox and a game and a half ahead of the Rays who departed for the Bronx following their game in Baltimore.


The $153 Million Man was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and was the only starting position player without a hit.  What was it that Joe Girardi said?  He was to take advantage of his opportunities?  Ouch…

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

The Yankees get back into AL East play this evening at Yankee Stadium.  The third-place Tampa Bays come to town ready to make some noise.  It is the Yankees’ mission to ensure that they leave disappointed.

Credit:  Will Vragovic-Tampa Bay Times

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

THURSDAY

Rays:  Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA)

FRIDAY

Rays:  Undecided

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA)

SATURDAY

Rays:  Blake Snell (0-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Caleb Smith (0-1, 8.10 ERA)

SUNDAY

Rays:  Jacob Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Chance Adams pitched yesterday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 5-4 win over the Norfolk Tides.  He did not get the decision but went 7 innings, giving up only three hits and two runs.  He had two walks to go with seven strikeouts.  His season ERA stands at 2.39.  The RailRiders won the game, thanks to a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning by Mike Ford off former Yankees pitcher Matt Wotherspoon.  The Tides got a run off winner Ben Heller in the bottom of the 10th.  

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

The Toddfather and the Triple Play…

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

Yankees 4, Reds 2…

Todd Frazier’s Yankee Stadium debut will be hard to forget.  I am not talking about the 500 or 600 people that traveled up to the game from Tom’s River, New Jersey.  With the bases loaded and no outs in the second inning, Frazier came to bat and promptly hit into an inning-ending triple play.  Fortunately, the Yankees squeezed one run out of it but not exactly a stellar debut.  Nevertheless, thanks to a magnificent Jordan Montgomery and 2 later RBI’s from  the third out of the triple play (Didi Gregorius), the Yankees prevailed over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

The second inning started so nicely for the Yankees.  Matt Holliday, Didi Gregorius, and Chase Headley all singled to load the bases with no outs against Reds starter Luis Castillo.  It set the stage for Todd Frazier’s Yankee Stadium debut.  I was thinking Grand Slam.  How beautiful that would have been.  But it was not meant to be as Frazier hit a grounder to shortstop Jose Peraza on a 3-1 hitter’s count.  After erasing Headley and Frazier, the Reds had Didi hung up between second and third.  He had broken for third base and then had second thoughts and ended up running out of the base path for the third and final out but not before Holliday had crossed the plate with the game’s first run.

The Yankees picked up another run in the 4th inning.  Aaron Judge singled to right off Castillo and worked his way to third base courtesy of a Matt Holliday broken bat groundout and then balk by the pitcher.  Didi Gregorius scored Judge with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Another run came the next inning when Todd Frazier, shaking off the triple play, led off with a single to left.  Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice which eliminated Frazier at second.  Austin Romine, a high school teammate of Colorado’s great third baseman Nolan Arenado, doubled to the right field corner with Wade motoring around to score the Yankees’ third run. The Yankees loaded the bases after Romine’s double but were unable to cash in when Matt Holliday grounded out to end the inning.

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

Jordan Montgomery was amazing.  He had a no-hitter going until the top of the 6th inning when Scott Schebler led off with a double to the wall in right center.  Schebler ended up scoring when he moved to third on a fly out and came home on a ground out.  Monty pitched into the 7th inning and had two outs before he was pulled after giving up a single to Adam Duvall.  Tommy Kahnle came on to secure the final out.  Montgomery settled for a two-hitter over 6 2/3 innings, allowing the single run and walking a batter, while striking out 6.  We’ve been watching Monty “grow up” this season before our very eyes and it has been fun.  He does not pitch like a rookie and is showing that he can be an arm to rely upon down the stretch.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

With the Yankees holding the slim 3-1 lead, things got a little too interesting in the 8th.  Dellin Betances, showing that his struggles are not behind him, got into trouble.  He walked the first batter, Devin Mesoraco, to immediately start in the hole.  After striking out Scott Schebler, he walked Jose Peraza.  Zack Cozart pinch-hit for Arismendy Alcantara and hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice, forcing Peraza out at second.  Mesoraco moved to third, with Cozart at first.  Billy Hamilton doubled to right, scoring Mesoraco and moving Cozart to third.  Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough and pulled Betances in favor of Adam Warren.  Meanwhile, the Reds replaced Cozart after he aggravated a quad injury running to third base with pinch-runner Robert Stephenson, a starting pitcher (the Reds were down to catchers on their bench).  Fortunately, Stephenson, representing the tying run, was left stranded at third when Warren struck out Eugenio Suarez.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees added a much-needed insurance run when Didi Gregorius homered to right center, a solo shot.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-The New York Post

The Yankees took a 4-2 lead into the 9th inning for closer Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman, unlike Betances, had no command issues as he easily dispatched the three Reds he faced for his 12th save of the season.  Yankees win!

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

The Yankees (52-46) moved to within a game of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings with the victory.  The Red Sox lost another game in Seattle, this time a 6-5 loss in 13 innings (after the Mariners rallied in the bottom of the 13th trailing the Red Sox, 5-4).  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-4, to remain 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

Ironically, although he has no official RBI as a Yankee, Todd Frazier has driven in two runs with a double play and now a triple play during his brief Yankees career.  Hopefully, he’ll start mixing in a few official ribbies.

Credit:  Anthony J Causi-The New York Post

After the game, Joe Girardi said that it was his intent to avoid using David Robertson in the game.  He continues to have confidence in Dellin Betances, as do we, but there’s no question that he needs to work his way out of this funk sooner rather than later.

Sonny Gray Watch…

Okay, I admit it.  I am ‘all in’ on the Sonny Gray rumors.  He was probably the most scouted major league player during last night’s match-up between Gray’s current (soon to be former) team, the Oakland A’s and the AL East’s very own Toronto Blue Jays.  I have to admit that I was channel flipping between games.  It was actually a ‘two-fer’ watch with Yonder Alonzo starting at first base.  

Credit:  Mark Blinch-AP

I am still expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to pull a desperation move but hopefully they are more focused on Yu Darvish assuming the Texas Rangers can be persuaded to sell.

Gray’s outing against the Blue Jays didn’t go so well.  Although he didn’t allow any earned runs, the Jays scored four runs against him courtesy of his own throwing error which extended the second inning in the A’s 4-1 loss.  His final line:  6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO.  He took the loss, dropping to 6-5 while his ERA was lowered to 3.43.  

A number of teams were present to scout Gray at Rogers Centre in addition to the Yankees.  They included the Cubs, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates, Indians, and Royals.  Although they were not present, the Houston Astros remain a frontrunner to acquire Gray according to A’s beat writer Susan Slusser.  

Here’s hoping that GM Brian Cashman is able to ensure that Gray’s next start will be in pinstripes.

Odds & Ends…

Ex-Yankee relievers seem to be in high demand.  Last week, we saw David Phelps traded from the Miami Marlins to the Seattle Mariners and saw him over the weekend.  Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox, having already divested themselves of former (and now current) Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, shipped ex-Yankee reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Swarzak had just picked up his first save on Monday after Tyler Clippard failed to close the previous game.  I guess it is a curse to effectively close a game for the White Sox this year but I am not complaining.  Justin Wilson is probably the next former Yankee reliever on the auction block.  

Speaking of ex-Yankees, the Boston Red Sox felt they needed one.  They acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez overnight from the San Francisco Giants for a couple of minor league pitchers.  Thwarted in their attempt to acquire Todd Frazier from the Chicago White Sox, they had recently called up top prospect Rafael Devers to man third base.  The Red Sox press release referred to Nunez as a utility player so he’ll presumably provide insurance for the 20-year-old Devers if the Red Sox opt to continue with plans with the youngster at the hot corner or possibly platoon with him.

Triple A outfielder Jake Cave has been named the International League’s Player of the Week for the week ending July 23rd.  Cave was 15-for-26 (.577) with 2 homers and 8 RBI’s. His on-base percentage was .607 and his slugging percentage was .885.  He hit safely in all seven games played, with multiple hits in all but two of the games.  Since his promotion from Double A, Cave has the most hits (47) of any player in the International League over that period of time.  I know that the 24-year-old Cave is desperately seeking a MLB opportunity.  If he can’t get it with the Yankees, I hope that he is included in a deadline deal that will allow him to make his MLB debt.  He’s earned it.

Have a great Wednesday!  One more with the Reds and then bring us the Rays!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Back to Baseball in the Bronx…

Serious Competition for the Arms Race…

The sprint to the trading deadline begins in earnest this week as teams jockey for position over the next couple of months.  The trading deadline is Monday, July 31st at 4:00 pm Eastern.

I fully expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be major players.  Losing their ace and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball hurts.  It does not appear that the back injury that kept Clayton Kershaw out of action for two months last year is as bad this year, but he will miss time.  Current speculation is that he’ll be out 4-6 weeks. The Los Angeles Times was already calling for Yu Darvish by Monday morning (or someone of similar ability…Sonny Gray?).  The Times used the analogy that the Chicago Cubs had to trade elite prospect Gleyber Torres last season to bring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago.  They go on to say that the Cubs would not have won the World Series if not for the trade, adding “it was a reminder that victory goes to the bold”.  I think Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and the Dodgers will be very bold in their attempt to bolster starting pitching, particularly considering that Brandon McCarthy has gone back on the DL too.

Credit:  Jon SooHoo

I do not want to give up any top prospects beyond the recent loss of outfielder Blake Rutherford.  This is tough because I would love to see Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray run out onto the field at Yankee Stadium wearing pinstripes.  But you can’t make a deal like that without parting with top pitching talent, such as Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield.  It would make more sense to trade for a lower profile pitcher and make room on the 40-man roster soon for Adams to make his MLB debut.  But even that move comes with cost.  Adams has another year before he’ll be Rule 5 eligible so creating room on the 40-man roster for Adams costs a potential spot for a quality prospect that must be protected this year.  It doesn’t really matter if Adams is Major League-ready but that’s something only time will tell. Given the Yankees have shown they do not believe Adams is ready, it seems more likely we’ll see more roll-outs of Caleb Smith (or Luis Cessa) or eventually another one of the current 40-man roster arms like Dietrich Enns (below) or Ronald Herrera before we ever get a sniff of Adams at the MLB level.

Credit:  Sean McKeag-Times Leader  

By most accounts, the desire of the Houston Astros to acquire another starter has lessened with the activation off the DL of Collin McHugh and soon, Dallas Keuchel.  The Milwaukee Brewers remain hot for a starting pitcher as do a few other teams.  The Minnesota Twins finally completed their delayed acquisition of Atlanta starter (and former Cardinal) Jaime Garcia, while the Kansas City Royals grabbed Trevor Cahill from the San Diego Padres.  There are arms to be had and based on the prices paid by the Twins and the Royals, it is possible to get help without sacrificing the farm.  

GM Brian Cashman and crew have a very tough week ahead of them.  They have hard decisions to make and they’ll have to stand before Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner with their recommendations.  The AL East can be won, despite the presence of Chris Sale in Boston, so the decisions over the next week will go a long way toward deciding who is playing October baseball.  

Glad D-Rob’s back home…

It has been a few years since David Robertson performed in a set-up role for the Yankees, but I had forgotten how he likes to run off the field at the conclusion of an inning.  It is so great to see that again.  He is one of a kind and a direct link to the great Mariano Rivera.  I’ve been excited to have Tommy Kahnle back in the organization after being such a great admirer of his when he was a Yankees prospect, but there is something special about D-Rob and I am glad that he is back in pinstripes.  It would have been very difficult to watch him pitch for a team like the Boston Red Sox.  So, even if I haven’t said it too much on this blog site, I am very happy that D-Rob is a Yankee once again.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Next Up:  Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The Yankees face the Reds for their second and final series this season.  The teams split a two-game series in Cincinnati back in early May.  The Reds represent a reunion for a few Yankees.  Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were once prominent Reds, and Didi Gregorius was a prospect in the organization (originally signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 2007).

Credit:  Al Behrman-AP

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the two-game series:

TUESDAY

Reds:  Luis Castillo (1-3, 3.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-5, 4.09 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Reds:  Homer Bailey (2-4, 8.56 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (6-4, 3.21 ERA)

Even without playing, the Yankees were able to gain a half game on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox replaced the Yankees at Safeco Field in Seattle and were shutout by James Paxton and the Mariners, 4-0.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles) so it was a great day off.  The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by 2 games and increased their lead over the Rays by 1 1/2 games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s show Todd Frazier how to rock Yankees Stadium.  Go Yankees!

Credit:  Daniel Popper-NY Daily News

Thunder & Lightning Capture Series Win…

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Yankees 6, Mariners 4…

I hate solo home runs.  I should qualify it by saying I do not dislike home runs…I just prefer to see men on base when it happens.  After the Yankees clubbed three home runs (of the solo variety), the Mariners were able to rally past the Yanks against starter Caleb Smith before the Yankees rebounded to take the win, courtesy of Red Thunder (Clint Frazier) and the blazing heat of the bullpen. 

Caleb Smith was solid…for three innings.  Early, he was backed by homers.  Brett Gardner led off the game with his 17th homer of the season off Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (breaking his tie with Matt Holliday to take sole possession of second place for team homers behind Aaron Judge).  The hit was #1,040 of Gardner’s career, breaking a tie for 39th place on the all-time franchise list with Tino Martinez.  Next within Gardner’s sights is #38 Yanks hit leader, Charlie Keller, with 1,053 hits.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

In the second inning, Didi Gregorius launched a line drive homer to right center as the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0.   Gregorius led off the 4th inning with another shot to the right field stands for his second home run of the game.  It was Didi’s first multi-homer game in his young career.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Staked to a 3-0 lead, Smith couldn’t hold it in the 4th inning.  After breezing through the first three innings allowing only a meaningless second inning double, the Baseball Gods turned against Smith.  Danny Valencia got the party started with a single to right.  Robinson Cano followed with a liner to right, moving Valencia to second.  Smith had Nelson Cruz in a 3-2 count but lost him with Ball 4 to load the bases.  For a moment, it looked like Smith might escape the 4th inning unscathed.  He struck out Kyle Seager and got Mitch Haniger to fly out in right field foul territory.  But Ben Gamel, thoroughly enjoying this series against his former team, singled to score Valencia and Cano.  The Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead.  Guillermo Heredia followed with a double to left which scored Cruz and Gamel as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead.  End of game for Caleb Smith.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

A round of ovation for Chad Green.  While the entire bullpen was magnificent, Green was outstanding.  He struck out Carlos Ruiz to end the 4th, and pitched two more innings without allowing a hit and struck out 3.  He has thrived in his current role and this performance was critical as it set the stage for the Yankees’ comeback in the top of the 6th inning.  With one out in the top of the 6th, both Chase Headley and Todd Frazier walked against reliever and former Yankee James Pazos.  Ronald Torreyes, pinch-hitting for second baseman Tyler Wade, singled to right  to load the bases.  Brett Gardner followed with a single to left, scoring Headley with the tying run.  The Mariners pulled Pazos and replaced him with Tony Zych.  Clint Frazier greeted Zych with a double to left, scoring both Frazier and Torreyes as the Yanks moved ahead, 6-4.  Zych intentionally walked Aaron Judge, much to the dismay of the Yankee fans in attendance at Safeco Field, but it proved the right decision for the M’s since Gary Sanchez popped out and Matt Holliday grounded into the final out.

From there, it was up to the rest of the bullpen.  Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched clean 7th and 8th innings, respectively, pushing the game to the final inning and last licks for the Mariners.

The Yankees had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the 9th.  Matt Holliday walked with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.  After Didi Gregorius flied out the second out, Chase Headley hit a liner into the right field corner.  Ellsbury came flying around the bases but the relay from right fielder Mitch Haniger to second baseman Robinson Cano to catcher Carlos Ruiz was on target and just ahead of the sliding Ellsbury for the final out.

The bottom of the 9th brought Aroldis Chapman and a little holding of the breath to see what type of command he would have.  Nelson Cruz, the first batter, reached with a hit that ricocheted off Chapman and retrieved too late by Didi Gregorius to get Cruz at first.  The M’s replaced Cruz with pinch-runner Taylor Motter, who sports a similar “Johnny Damon Caveman“ look like Ben Gamel, to get some speed on the base paths.  Fortunately, Chapman caught him off first and it was an easy rundown by Chase Headley for the first out.  It proved to be invaluable as the next hitter, Kyle Seager, doubled to center.  A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Seager to move to third.  The game would have looked much different had the Yankees not gotten Motter out.  He most likely would have scored with Seager representing the tying run just 90 feet away.  As it was, the tying run was still at the plate.  Mitch Haniger had first crack but he popped out to Ronald Torreyes.  Last chance came up in the form of new Yankee-killer Ben Gamel.  But with Chapman’s blazing heat inching up the velocity chart, Gamel went down swinging.  Game over.  Yankees win.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Stephen Brashear-Getty Images

Unlike Saturday when the Yankees failed to gain any ground following losses by the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday was the opposite.  With the win, the Yankees (51-46) took sole possession of second place in the AL East and moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Rays slipped a full game behind the Yankees (two games in the loss column).  Both the Red Sox and Rays lost one-run games on Sunday.  The Red Sox were defeated by the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, while the Rays lost a tough 6-5 game to the Texas Rangers.

Todd Frazier finally got a hit and scored a run so hopefully he’s starting to come around.  His Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday will feature a game against his original team, the Cincinnati Reds.  So it should give Frazier added incentive when he makes his first home appearance in front of family, friends, and newfound Frazier fans in the Yankees Universe.

Hopefully Gary Sanchez’s bat is waiting for him too.

Headed Home to NYC…

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees made a rare intra-division trade on Sunday to send infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The return is an underwhelming 25-year-old first base prospect who has failed to advance past Double A, Ryan McBroom.  Here’s hoping to much better success in the Yankees organization.  Welcome, Ryan!

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And so, the Yankees story for Refsnyder ends with no fanfare.  It is rather sad as most of us at one time wanted Ref to succeed as the second baseman for the Yankees.  He never succeeded with his limited opportunities…either due to his own inability or the lack of chances or a combination of both.  So long, Ref and best of luck as you continue your (hopeful) MLB career in Toronto.

Also, in other transaction news, the Yankees announced they have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The competition for quality starters figures to be very intense as we enter the final week before the trading deadline.  With news that Clayton Kershaw was pulled early from a start on Sunday due to lower back tightness (and a possible trip to the DL), the Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be very aggressive in their pursuit of another top starter.  The Texas Rangers figure to capture a King’s Ransom for two months of service from impending free agent Yu Darvish.  The Yankees starting rotation looks very vulnerable right now with Caleb Smith’s inability to get out of the fourth inning on Sunday and Masahiro Tanaka’s disappointing showing on Saturday.  This week should be very interesting but probably a bit disappointing for Yankees fans if the team desires to retain its top prospects (which they should).  

The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday with a walk-off run-scoring double by Brandon Moss.  The pitcher?  Tyler Clippard, facing his first batter wearing a White Sox uniform, with runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the 9th.  Man, I sure do not miss Clippard…

Credit:  Getty Images

Have a great Monday!  The Yankees get to sleep in while the rest of us trudge off to work.  Oh well, make it a wonderful day!  Go Yankees!

Sweepless in Seattle…

Credit:  Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

Mariners 6, Yankees 5…

So much for a potential sweep in Seattle as the Mariners prevailed over the Yankees in extra innings on Saturday night.  Ex-Yankees Ben Gamel and Robinson Cano made themselves heard in this game.  The Yankees can still take three of four with a victory today so they can still end this road trip on a high note.

Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff (in a statement that we have made far too often this season).  The Yankees scored first in the second inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to right, a one-hopper off the wall. After Sanchez was nearly picked off at second, Didi Gregorius hit a single to right which moved Sanchez to third.  Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Sanchez scored on the play.  After allowing a meaningless single in each of the two first innings, Tanaka lost the lead in the third.  Mike Zunino opened with a blast to left center and the game was tied.  Following a strikeout of Jean Segura, former Yankee Ben Gamel homered on the first pitch to right center.  It was the 26th home run allowed by Tanaka this season, tying him for the  dubious AL lead with Ricky Nolasco. Robinson Cano went down swinging for the second out.  Nelson Cruz singled on an infield grounder to third (Tood Frazier’s long throw was up the line which took Garrett Cooper off first) and Kyle Seager was hit by a pitch on the back toe to put runners at first and second.  Following a coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Danny Valencia ripped a single to left to score Cruz and Mitch Haniger singled through the hole to left to score Seager.  It was 4-1 Mariners.  Jarrod Dyson grounded out to end the inning.

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP

Garrett Cooper tripled to center in the fifth with a near home run which sent center fielder Jarrod Dyson into the wall.  Dyson stayed but you could tell that he was still affected by the collision.  He would depart the game after the inning was over.  Ronald Torreyes lofted a fly ball to Dyson in center as Cooper tagged and scored.  In the sixth, Clint Frazier started the inning with a 10-pitch at-bat against M’s starter Ariel Miranda but chased an upstairs fastball to strike out. The Mariners pulled Miranda and replaced him with Steve Cishek.  Aaron Judge greeted Cishek with a high fly to right center for his 32nd home run of the season.  The Yankees had closed the gap to 4-3.

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP

The Yankees tied the game in the 8th inning.  With one out, Brett Gardner beat out a grounder to short for a single.  Clint Frazier doubled to center off the top of the wall (if only it had been just a few more inches), Gardner moved to third.  The Mariners intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday.  Holliday hit a deep sacrifice fly to right, easily scoring Gardner.  The game was tied at 4.  Gary Sanchez lined out to right so the Yankees were unable to push any more runs across the plate.  In retrospect, this was a very big missed opportunity.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Mariners recaptured the lead when Robinson Cano led off with a home run to left off David Robertson. Bummer, but you couldn’t blame D-Rob as it was an excellent pitch. He was able to retire the next three batters to get out of the inning without any further damage. 

The Yankees had life again in the top of the 9th with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz on the mound.  Didi Gregorius walked to start the inning.  Diaz was able to retire the next two batters, Todd Frazier and Chase Headley who pinch-hit for Garrett Cooper.  With Ronald Torreyes at the plate, Jacoby Ellsbury was brought in to pinch run for Gregorius and promptly stole second.  Torreyes singled to left on a line drive, bringing Ellsbury around to score and the game was tied again.  After Tommy Kahnle finished the M’s in the bottom of the 9th, it was off to extra innings.

Credit:  Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

M’s reliever Tony Zych replaced Diaz in the 10th and easily retired the Yankees, including strikeouts of both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge.  In the bottom of the 10th, Adam Warren was on the mound.  Warren gave up a lead-off double by Ben Gamel (rapidly becoming a Yankee killer).  Robinson Cano was intentionally walked to open the possibility for a double play, but unfortunately, Nelson Cruz hit a line drive to left and Clint Frazier’s throw to the plate was off the mark as Gamel scored the winning run.  The Mariners win, 6-5.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP

The Yankees (50-46) didn’t lose any ground in the AL East despite the loss.  The Boston Red Sox fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 7-3, while the Texas Rangers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3.  It would have been a great opportunity to pick up ground in the division but it was not meant to be.  The Yankees and Rays remain 3 1/2 games behind Boston.  

Somehow, the Yankees need to get Todd Frazier going.  His 0-for-4 night dropped his season batting average to .201.  Anything from him last night could have been a difference-maker.  Among the starting position players, he was the only one without a hit for the second game in a row.

Odds & Ends…

Second baseman Starlin Castro has been placed on the 10-Day DL after re-aggravating his hamstring.  Tyler Wade, who was seen in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre locker room before the RailRiders’ game yesterday, was recalled and didn’t get to Seattle until late last night.  Presumably, he’ll share time at second with Ronald Torreyes.  Wade had a tremendous game on Thursday when the RailRiders defeated the Charlotte Knights, 13-2.  He tripled and homered, driving in 4 RBI’s.  

Caleb Smith (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will start today’s getaway game against the Mariners in place of Luis Cessa.  I am very glad to see this move.  I’d rather see what Smith is capable of doing with his first Major League start versus another uneven performance by Luis Cessa.  I am sure that Cessa will be the first call to the pen if Smith gets into trouble early but hopefully he is able to show the great success he has enjoyed in Triple A this year.  Yovanni Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will oppose Smith.  

Jacoby Ellsbury, at least temporarily, has lost his starting gig.  With over $68 million still owed Ellsbury after this year, there’s probably not much chance he’ll be exiting anytime soon.  Manager Joe Girardi has said that he wants to go with the hot hand which means keeping Clint Frazier in the lineup.  The threat of Frazier being demoted to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns still looms as the Yankees are not going to cut Ellsbury.  This goes against the premise of putting your best players on the field but obviously there are more factors at play.  

The Yankees get a much needed day off on Monday following their cross-country flight home.  Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox, flying up from Orange County, will replace the Yankees at Safeco Field for a three-game series against the Mariners.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s make this a fun day with a much-needed win!  Go Yankees!

Judge Rules In Favor Of Yanks…

Credit:  Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 5, Mariners 1…

Powered by a monster blast from Aaron Judge that nearly reached the back wall of the upper left stands (if not for a fan in the next to the last row), the Yankees won for the second night in a row in Seattle.  Statcast was unable to capture the length of the homer and it was estimated at 440 feet although it seemed longer to most people watching.  It probably wasn’t the game highlight that Mariners starter Andrew Moore wanted to see after the game but he’s not the first nor the last pitcher that will have to wait a very long time to watch a home run ball drop with Judge at the plate.  

The game should have been about veteran lefty starter CC Sabathia (9-3).  Celebrating his 37th birthday, CC had previously never won a birthday start in his career.  Friday night was a different story.  The game didn’t start like it was going to be a good evening for the road gray.  After Moore breezed through the first three of the Yankees order in the top of the first inning, CC ran into trouble after easily retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the inning.  He lost Robinson Cano, walking him on a full count.  Nelson Cruz hit a “loud” single to the left field wall, with Cano racing around to third.  Chase Headley’s inexperience as a first baseman showed with the next batter, Kyle Seager.  Seager hit a grounder that deflected off Headley’s glove and was retrieved by Starlin Castro in shallow right.  Headley went back to first but his foot placement was inch or two off the base.  So, although Castro’s throw to first was in time, Headley’s recovery to move his foot to the base was too late to get Seager.  Cano scored on the play.  Mitch Haniger laced a line drive down the first base line, past a diving Headley, to load the bases.  Fortunately, CC induced Guillermo Heredia to hit an infield grounder, Todd Frazier to Starlin Castro, to force Haniger out at second for the final out.  Whew!

Credit:  Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

After the Yankees failed to score in the of the 2nd despite a couple of hits, Ben Gamel opened the bottom of the inning for the M’s with a double to center past a running Brett Gardner.  Mike Zunino followed with a hard hit liner to left but Clint Frazier made a terrific diving catch for the out and held Gamel at second.  As YES Network Analyst David Cone said, “Young athleticism on display”.  Gamel was subsequently erased at third on a fielder’s choice by Didi Gregorius with a snap throw to Todd Frazier.  CC was able to retire Danny Valencia on a weak grounder back to the pitcher to emerge from the inning unscathed.  

The Yankees were finally able to get to M’s starter Andrew Moore in the 3rd inning.  Chase Headley opened the inning with a double to left center, just beyond the glove of diving center fielder Guillermo Heredia.  Red Thunder blasted a double off the right center wall as Headley circled around to score just ahead of the throw which got away from catcher Mike Zunino.  Clint Frazier tagged on the next play, a fly ball by Brett Gardner to center, and made it to third just ahead of a tremendous throw by Heredia.  A sacrifice fly to warning track in center by Aaron Judge scored Frazier and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.

With CC Sabathia seemingly gaining steam as he progressed through the innings, the Yankees scored again in the 5th.  Brett Gardner singled on a line drive to right.  Gary Sanchez singled to left, with Gardner moving to third.  Aaron Judge came up and smashed the Andrew Moore offering to left as the ball nearly left the stadium.  5-1, Yankees.  4 RBI’s on the night for Judge.

Credit:  Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

CC opened the sixth but he walked the leadoff batter, Kyle Seager, and his night was done.  I know that CC could have continued to be effective, but the high pitch count in the early innings had Sabathia at 98 pitches following the walk to Seager.  Nevertheless, this is no longer the Tyler Clippard era of the bullpen.  Tommy Kahnle, who might be my new favorite Yankee, came in to strike out Mitch Haniger.  He easily retired pinch-hitter Jarrod Dyson and Ben Gamel for another highly effective inning of work.

The bottom of the 7th saw the 2017 Yankees debut for former Yankees and White Sox closer David Robertson.  D-Rob was the magnificent reliever of old as he retired the side by strikeout.  Welcome back, D-Rob!  We have certainly missed you and  your leg kick.  My only concern about D-Rob pitching the 7th was that he would not be there as a safety net in later innings.  Fortunately, the Yankees bullpen was as good as advertised.  Dellin Betances got into a little trouble with a double by Robinson Cano and a single by Mitch Haniger, sandwiched between two strikeouts, had runners at the corners.  But he was able to get Jarrod Dyson to pop up to third to leave the runners stranded.

With Aroldis Chapman taking the night off due to a non-save situation, Adam Warren came on in the 9th.  The pesky Ben Gamel opened with a single to left, but was eliminated when Mike Zunino grounded into a double play, Gregorius to Castro to Headley.  Jean Segura hit a hard grounder to Didi Gregorius and he threw to Chase Headley for the final out.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Yankees (50-45) were unable to gain ground on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, however, they did move into a tie for second place.  The Red Sox scored five runs in the first inning to back Chris Sale as they beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2.  The Tampa Bay Rays fell 4-3 to the Texas Rangers.  The Yankees and the Rays are both 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.

The Toddfather was the only Yankee without a hit other than the bench players who didn’t get into the game.  So, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the first T-Frazier blast.

Odds & Ends…

It’s tough watching Ben Gamel have such success in Seattle.  I understand the reasons for the trade but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch him thrive at the MLB level for another team.  I don’t know if he’ll have a Jay Buhner type career but it was comparable circumstances.  Enjoyed watching the tremendous Minor League exploits of the player, only to watch him traded to Seattle for a long and prosperous career.  The two players the Yankees received for Gamel are Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula.  Orozco, 19, a right-handed pitcher, is 2-0 with 2.36 ERA in five games (four starts) for the Advanced Rookie League Pulaski Yankees while De Paula, also a 19-year-old righty, is 2-3 with 5.25 ERA in five games (all starts) for the Short-Season A Staten Island Yankees.  In other words, it is going to be a very long time before we see any payoff for Gamel.  

I liked David Cone’s comments about the Yankees new and improved combination of power arms in the bullpen.  He said that it has reduced the need for starting pitchers to a “soft-tossing lefty to give you three or four (innings)”.  I know that I am loving the bullpen parade of the current crew.  I do not miss the cringing feeling that came with the entry of Tyler Clippard into the game.  But despite the strong pen, the Yankees do need to do something about the starting rotation.  We’ll probably have to live with a few more starts by Luis Cessa (I’d prefer to see Caleb Smith) as I doubt any of the available starters are moved until the last minute before the trading deadline as their current teams seek maximum return.  I have no speculation who the Yankees should acquire other than I don’t want to lose top and highly regarding prospects which probably means the team will have to stand pat or take chances for catching lightning in a bottle with bottom feeders.  I am hopefully optimistic that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me.

Brian Cashman is on record saying that Red Thunder will be returned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks comes off the DL but with each passing game, it is so hard to think that the Yankees most exciting outfielder, behind Aaron Judge, will have to go down.  He has shown he is ready the big time and he has nothing left to prove for the RailRiders.  He is better player, right now, than Jacoby Ellsbury despite the $20 million plus difference being paid to the latter player this year.  Money for nothin’ and the chicks for free.  I hope Clint Frazier stays.

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

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP