Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…
The Yankees paid $86 million for Aroldis Chapman to blow last night’s game. The bad with the good. I’ve been concerned about Chapman for a few weeks now, actually dating back before he went on the DL. His struggles with command have largely flown under the radar given the horrific stretches encountered by both Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances. I thought maybe Chapman’s contract might look bad toward the end but not in the first year. For the same money, the Yankees could have signed Kenley Jansen in the off-season. Jansen earned his 22nd save last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is 4-0 with 0.93 ERA. Chapman has 8 saves and 3.92 ERA. Granted, Chapman could have used some defensive help in the 9th so to his defense, it was not entirely his fault. I think Chapman will be alright and a force in the second half.
The game was a struggle for Jordan Montgomery, laboring every inning he pitched. Even if he did give up 6 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings worked, it could have been much worse. So credit to him for not rolling over. The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the first two innings but failed to get them home. They finally broke through in third inning after the Yankees had taken a 1-0 lead. With Xander Bogaerts at first (single), Hanley Ramirez hammered a Montgomery fastball over the Green Monster in center to give the Sox a 2-1 lead.
The Red Sox picked up a third run in the 4th inning. Sam Travis opened with a walk off Montgomery. Christian Vasquez ripped a single to left, runners at first and second. Deven Marrero hit an infield grounder to Didi Gregorius who fired the ball to Ronald Torreyes at second in an attempt to get the force out but Torreyes took his eyes off the ball and it glanced off his glove for an error to load the bases. Montgomery was able to retire Mookie Betts on a pop up but Dustin Pedroia singled to left to score Travis, 3-1 Sox. A subsequent double play with the bases still loaded prevented any further damage.
In the top of the 5th, the Yankees led off with a double by Chase Headley. Brett Gardner lined a one-out single to right to score Headley. Gary Sanchez, the Sanchino, followed with his 14th home run of the year, a high fly ball that sailed out of Fenway Park in left, and the Yankees had taken a 4-3 lead.
|Credit: CJ Gunther-EPA|
The Yankees bullpen took over in the bottom of the 5th. Chad Green was spectacular, working two innings with no hits and 5 strikeouts. Adam Warren despite giving up two singles in the 7th, kept the Sox off the board. Dellin Betances hit Mitch Moreland with a pitch in the 8th but otherwise was great with three strikeouts.
The Yankees were unable to add any insurance runs against Sox starter Drew Pomeranz and the Red Sox bullpen (who held the Yanks hitless for the final 3 innings) so it was off to the bottom of the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.
I hate to re-live this inning but here we go. Mookie Betts reached first on an infield single to deep short. Dustin Pedroia followed with a grounder to short. The throw from Didi Gregorius to Ronald Torreyes at second was too high and Torreyes had to jump to catch the ball, taking his feet off the bag. Betts safe at second, Pedroia at first. A double steal moved the runners to second and third. Xander Bogaerts hit an infield grounder to Torreyes and he was unable to handle it for his second error of the game. Betts scored the tying run. The Yankees intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases. Chapman then struggled to find the strike zone with Andrew Benintendi and walked him on a 3-1 count, bringing home Pedroia with the winning run. Defeat with no balls out of the infield…a disappointing loss.
|Credit: Stuart Cahill-Boston Herald|
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1, in 10 innings to take sole possession of 2nd place in the AL as the Yankees (45-42) dropped to third. The Yankees are 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a game behind the Rays.
Oh, By The Way…
The news for the second half is certainly not starting off on the right foot. With Michael Pineda’s diagnosis of a flexor muscle strain and a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, there’s a strong possibility for Tommy John surgery. He’ll seek a second opinion but this is not good news. Considering this is his “walk” year, I wonder if he’ll go the way of Nathan Evoldi who was released and later signed by the Tampa Bay Rays. With Bryan Mitchell scheduled to start Game 1 of Sunday’s double-header and Luis Cessa next week in Minneapolis, the rotation is looking very shaky. I am sure that the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates are salivating over the potential price tag they can assign to Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole. My fear is that the desperation forces the Yankees to part with Chance Adams in addition to other high-ranking prospects to acquire an established starter. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will be throwing Chris Sale and two former AL Cy Young Award winners at us this weekend.
I had my doubts that Pineda would be back next year but this probably seals it for his departure.
Scouts from other teams seem to think that Chance Adams is Major League ready but according to the Yankees, he still needs to work on his command and his third pitch. That’s more involved than a start or two so it’s anybody’s guess when we’ll see Adams in the Bronx. I think he’s potentially more effective than Luis Cessa but they didn’t ask me. Maybe it is Caleb Smith that gets the next call.
|Credit: Fred Adams-Times Leader`|
Oh yeah, and Greg Bird has inflammation in the Os Trigonum of his right ankle and surgery is a strong possibility (if so, 6-8 weeks recovery).
The roster moves made in advance of yesterday’s game with the Red Sox were the activation of DH Matt Holliday and the purchase of 1B Garrett Cooper’s contract from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Making room were the placement of Michael Pineda on the disabled list and the demotion of Rob Refsnyder to SWB. Cooper was thrown to the wolves immediately as he made his Major League debut last night in Boston. Yeah, Garrett, Yankee games can be intense. Welcome to the Pinstripes!
Cooper started last night’s game although he was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts in his MLB debut.
Odds & Ends…
It is interesting that the Yankees played the fewest games (86) in the first half of any team according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. The team is scheduled to play 52 games in the next 55 days and of course they have 3 games in the next 2 days. With no days off, they play games on the road in Minneapolis and Seattle before they get a break (which of course will be consumed by a cross-country flight to return home from the Pacific Northwest). No rest for the weary…
Have a great Saturday! I’ll be out on my Harley so hopefully the Yankees bring home a victory against the great Chris Sale. Let’s Go Yankees!
Aw shucks, do we really hafta?…
I have to admit the break was very nice. I took full advantage of it and enjoyed every minute. But alas, all good things must end. Time to get back to baseball and hopefully what will be a very productive second half for the Pinstripers.
I am glad the Chicago Cubs laid the Jose Quintana rumors to rest. It was a serious overpay (in my opinion) and I don’t think the cost was worth the top prospects in the organization. So, congratulations to GM Brian Cashman for his restraint. There’s no doubt we need pitching but we’ll just have to find another well, and hopefully a less costly one. The long term view is still the best view in the house. I am sure teams will now move to other rumored trade targets, ramping up the cost for guys like Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole (should they be placed on the market). I’d rather see Chance Adams get a chance at some point rather than his inclusion in a trade for an older, more established pitcher.
|Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports|
With less than three weeks to the trading deadline, Thursday should just be a slight preview of the days ahead as teams jockey for position.
I thought yesterday’s trade for first baseman Garrett Cooper was a chance worth taking. Why not?…the Yankees do not have anything to lose. By trading Tyler Webb, it was an indication that he didn’t fit into their long-term plans. Plus, he tied up a valuable 40-man roster spot which will be a premium in the off-season when the Yankees have to decide whom to protect and whom to potentially expose to the Rule 5 Draft. Every move made today has ramifications on the off-season so I am sure that Cashman is being both near- and far-sighted at the same time. Ji-Man Choi has had a couple of nice home runs but I am not sold on him as a Major League first baseman. If he falters, it is nice to know that Cooper is waiting in the wings. He probably represents an upgrade over Mike Ford (currently on the DL for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).
Stay tuned as I am sure we’re in for a ride.
I honestly did not think Aaron Judge would win the Home Run Derby last Monday. The win didn’t surprise me and I certainly loved watching the incredible show as much as anyone. But there was so much hype about him going into the Derby, I felt the weight of expectations would be too much. Between Judge and Gary Sanchez, I thought Sanchez would be the one to persevere. So, my apologies to Aaron and congratulations on the tremendous win. Now, in one of those bottom of the 9th at-bats when the Yankees are trailing and you represent the tying or winning run, please feel free to mix in a tape measure, Statcast-blowing blast instead of the usual strikeout. I am not trying to be critical of Judge and I am very appreciative of his consistent contributions game by game…but…outside of Clint Frazier’s recent walk-off, the bottom of the 9th at Yankee Stadium has generally meant three outs in recent weeks.
No All-Star Game recap from me, but it was tough to see a “formerly” beloved ex-Yankee hit the home run to win the game and another “probably still” beloved ex-Yankee save the win. Robinson Cano hurts more than Andrew Miller since the added measure (salt in the wound) was that Cano on the team as an injury replacement for current Yankee Starlin Castro. The losses of Cano leaving via free agency and the trade of Miller (not his fault) still sting. If Cano was still a Yankee, we’d probably be talking about the potential future retirement of his number. Now, Gary Sanchez gets the honors and Cano has a career that you primarily only see through box scores unless you live in Seattle.
Next Up: Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, MA…
The Yankees get a very quick and hard test to open the second half. They’ll travel to Boston to play the first place Red Sox for four games in three days. The break, outside of Chris Sale, gave the Sox the opportunity to reset their pitching rotation. With Sale pitching Tuesday’s All-Star Game, he’ll take the mound on Saturday. But we’ll see the top 4 pitchers in Boston’s rotation for this series. So no fifth starters this go-around. The Red Sox are starting to play like everyone expected although they did lose their most recent series when they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently tied with the Yankees for second place in the AL East. If Boston finds a solution for their third base problem and perhaps more arms for the pen, they’ll be a formidable team although at this point, I’d have to say the Houston Astros are the likely winners of the ALCS regardless of who they play.
By catching closer Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star Game, I am hopeful that Gary Sanchez picked up a thing or two to use during his at-bats. I think he was surprised at the movement of Kimbrel’s pitches from the catcher’s point of view. Very weird to see a Yankee catch a Red Sox pitcher.
The Red Sox can be beaten but not by the Yankees team we saw the last couple of weeks. They’ll need to rise to the challenge. I hope that Dellin Betances can right the ship once and for all. The same goes for Masahiro Tanaka. I only hope that we are not forced to use Tyler Clippard in a critical situation.
As expected, the Yankees have sent Starlin Castro to Double-A Trenton on a rehab assignment. They also released Chris Carter after he cleared waivers so there will be no Carter Experiment III.
Have a great Friday! Let’s start the second half off right with a win in Beantown! Let’s Go Yankees!
Mini Cooper he is not…
The Yankees have made their first trade of July 2017 with the acquisition of Garrett Cooper, a first baseman for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. When I first heard that the Yankees had traded lefty reliever Tyler Webb to Milwaukee to acquire Cooper, I admit that I was skeptical. I have not been following the Brewers farm system nor did I watch this week’s Triple A All-Star Game. If I had, I would have realized that the Yankees have acquired a promising first baseman which happens to be a great need.
Cooper was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the week ending July 9th. He was also the starting first baseman for the PCL in the Triple A All-Star Game yesterday. He has steadily progressed through the ranks. He was taken in the 6th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Brewers, and is considered a “late bloomer” in the midst of a breakout year. Cooper is currently hitting .366 with 17 HR and 82 RBI in 75 games for the Sky Sox. There’s not much doubt he’ll soon be the latest Baby Bomber in Pinstripes even if he has never played a game for the organization. He’s 26 and is a “big boy” (6’6″, 230 lbs). He has benefited from the altitude of Colorado Springs and playing in a hitters’ league but why not roll the dice.
After watching the Chicago Cubs send their top prospect, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the #5 prospect in the MLB according to Baseball America’s midseason update, and other prospects to the Chicago White Sox for starting pitcher Jose Quintana, it’s clear that the cost of pitching is astronomical (as if we didn’t know that already). There’s no way I would have signed off on a deal to send Gleyber Torres or even Clint Frazier to the White Sox for Quintana. Let the Cubs fork over the farm. This reinforces that the Yankees should stay the course and continue to build for the next few years and avoid the “quick fix” for the Wild Card. So, I am okay with the under-the-radar moves that do not cost high-ranking prospects.
I hated to see Webb go as I’ve liked the pitcher and I was excited that he finally had his opportunity at the big league level. I felt that he performed well in his few appearances for the Yankees. He obviously was not one of Joe Girardi’s “go to” guys in the pen but he played a valuable support role. I guess all things considered, this was a modest cost for a guy who has torn apart Triple A pitching. How that translates to the Major Leagues only time will tell. But if my name was Ji-Man Choi, I’d probably be packing my bags. Yanks will want to see how Cooper performs in the International League before making his MLB debut but the guy with the similar name to the actor who played Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees is on his way. If he fields his position, knocks in a few runs, and doesn’t kill rallies by hitting into double plays, he’ll be better than anything we’ve seen yet at first base.
Cooper has been assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Welcome to the Yankees, Garrett!
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
Brewers 5, Yankees 3…
I guess three positive starts by Masahiro Tanaka was not enough to prove that the right-hander was back. He followed up those three starts with another disappointing performance on a beautiful day in the Bronx as the Yankees fell to the Brew Crew. Tanaka (7-8) lasted just 4 1/3 innings and 83 pitches, giving up 6 hits, 5 runs (including two home runs), and a walk. He struck out 5 in the loss. He didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday but he also didn’t receive much help. If only…
Saturday’s hero, Clint Frazier, tried. He had another homer but the big bats of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were a combined 2-for-9 with no homers or RBI’s and 5 strikeouts.
The Brewers jumped on Tanaka right away with three runs in the first. Jonathan Villar opened the game with a single. Eric Thames singled to right to put runners at the corners. After Domingo Santana struck out, former Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw pummeled a Tanaka pitch over the bullpen in right to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead. I wonder how much Boston wishes they still had Shaw (19 HR and 65 RBI) instead of Pablo Sandoval and fill-ins at third base. The guy they traded for (former Brewers closer Tyler Thornburg) underwent season-ending surgery last month.
The Brewers added another run in the top of the 2nd inning when Stephen Vogt, formerly of the Oakland A’s, opened with a solo shot to center which dropped into the bullpen. 4-0, Brewers.
The Yankees offense finally got something going in the 4th. With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left and subsequently stole second. Headley singled to left, which scored Ellsbury with the Yankees’ first run. Clint Frazier followed with his third homer as a Yankee, to right center, which brought the Yankees within one run, 4-3.
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
After Tanaka gave up two one-out singles in the top of the 5th, his day was done. Chasen Shreve was brought in and he lost the battle to the only batter he faced when Travis Shaw collected his 4th RBI of the day with a run-scoring single. Adam Warren should be called The Cleaner because he’s always the one that has to clean up the mess. He struck out both batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.
The Yankees had a runner in scoring position in every inning from the 5th inning through the 9th but all were left stranded. For a moment, it seemed as though the Yankees had taken a 6-5 lead on an apparent 3-run home run by Chase Headley in the 6th inning, but appeal and further review clearly showed the ball sailed just to the right of the right field foul pole so the homer was erased…yes, if only. Headley subsequently went down swinging. It was another lost opportunity in a day of lost opportunities. Brett Gardner was on second in the bottom of the 9th after he walked and stole a base, but Gary Sanchez took a called third strike to end the game. Gary, Dude…if only. The Brewers escaped with the 5-3 win.
I got my pre-game wish. More Red Thunder and no Tyler Clippard. But it was not enough. If only we had won…
With the loss, the Yankees (45-41) dropped into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays. Both teams are 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox, who fell to the Rays, 5-3, on Sunday. It was a very disappointing finish to the first half for the Yankees who had started the season so strongly. I have no clue if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers at the end of the month, but I am in agreement with those who believe the Yankees are not yet a World Series contender. I know that GM Brian Cashman feels a return to good health and a few enhancements could be the difference-maker but I’d hate to see the team make moves this year that might steal from 2018 or 2019 when the Yankees really will be World Series contenders. But I admit, we do need a new first baseman.
Odds & Ends…
Matt Holliday played DH for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Sunday in their 5-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. His lone hit in four at-bats was a run-scoring single.
The Home Run Derby is tonight. I have already completed my bracket and have Aaron Judge emerging as the victor over Giancarlo Stanton but I do think that Gary Sanchez could get on a roll to steal this one. It’s unfortunate that he drew Stanton as his first round opponent. Former Yankee Clay Bellinger will serve as the Derby pitcher for his son, Cody. I am sure Yankee fans will be paying close attention to Aaron Judge’s first round opponent given the trade rumors swirling about the potential trade of Justin Bour to the Yankees.
Have a great Monday! Let’s Go Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge! Enjoy the HR Derby!
|Credit: Al Bello-Getty Images|
Yankees 5, Brewers 3…
Finally! A fun and dramatic game. Clint Frazier was the man of the hour with three hits. The first hit broke up a no-hitter by Milwaukee starter Brent Suter in the fifth inning. The second hit brought the Yankees within a run when the ball landed on top of the Stub Hub sign in left for a triple to score two runs. The third hit was a game-winning walk-off home run to left as the Yankees overcame the Brewers on Saturday afternoon.
The first inning didn’t get started on the right foot. After Eric Thames looped a double to right field, Travis Shaw was awarded first base in a controversial “hit by pitch”. The umpire didn’t react until Shaw said something which caused the ump to send Shaw to first base, drawing the ire of Manager Joe Girardi. Girardi could be overheard saying “He called it, you didn’t call it”. The TV replays, to me, were inconclusive. If the ball hit Shaw, it was fabric only but even then, the jersey didn’t move as the ball passed through to the catcher’s mitt.
|Credit: Julio Cortez-AP|
Domingo Santana followed with a fly ball just over the right field wall which gave the Brewers an early 3-0 lead.
|Credit: Getty Images|
For the Brewers, it would be the end of their offensive show for the day. Luis Severino made the necessary adjustments (I hope you were watching, Michael Pineda!) and shut the Brewers down for the next six innings. By the time he departed, he had pitched 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and the 3 runs allowed via the first inning home run. He walked two, both in the 6th inning, while striking out 10. It was a no-decision for him but the Yankees do not win this game without Severino’s performance.
|Credit: Julio Cortez-AP|
The Yankees had a scoring opportunity in the 2nd inning when Didi Gregorius lofted a fly ball to center. Four Brewers converged at the same time and the ball fell between them for an error on Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia. But the Yankees were subsequently caught with awful base-running. Chase Headley hit a come-backer to the pitcher and the Brewers had Didi caught between second and third. Didi didn’t try to extend the rundown and the Brewers were able to tag Didi out and nail Headley off first base for the double play. If Didi had tried to evade the tag, it would have given Headley the time to get back to first.
The Yankee bats were silent until the fifth inning when Clint Frazier finally collected the Yankees’ first hit off Brent Suter, a two-out single to right. The Yankees weren’t able to do anything with it but it was a start.
After Luis Severino struck out Eric Thames with a runner in scoring position to end the top of the 7th, the Yankees finally got some runs on the board. Chase Headley hit a one-out ground rule double to center. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to move Headley to third. A failed pick-off attempt at first allowed Headley to score while Ellsbury moved to third. Clint Frazier hit a fly ball that momentarily looked to be a home run but it bounced off the lower part of the left field wall for a triple which scored Ellsbury. The Yankees had closed the gap to 3-2. Ji-Man Choi, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, and Ronald Torreyes were unable to bring Frazier home.
Onto the 8th inning and it was time for the Yankees bullpen which has been an Achilles Heel in recent days. Dellin Betances took the mound in relief of Severino. It was a ‘hold your breath’ moment until Betances proved to be the All-Star that he is, allowing everyone to exhale. He induced Ryan Braun to ground out and then struck out both Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana. Whew…Welcome back, Dellin!
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-New York Post|
The Yankees were unable to generate any offense in the bottom of the 8th. Moving to the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman replaced Betances. Chapman has struggled with his command in recent games, but not yesterday. Three strikeouts later, it was off the bottom of the 9th with the Yankees still trailing by one run. The Brewers brought in their strong closer, Corey Knebel, who has been a very pleasant surprise for the Brewers this year. Knebel has struck out 72 batters in 41 innings while saving 13 games for Milwaukee. He came into the game having only allowed 5 runs in 41 games. The only knock against him is a tendency to walk too many batters. The weakness appeared right away as Didi Gregorius walked to open the inning on four straight balls. Chase Headley went down swinging but Jacoby Ellsbury, like Didi, also walked on four straight balls as Knebel continued to struggle with his control. So, the Yankees had runners at first and second with one-out when Red Thunder strolled to the plate. After a ball in the dirt, Knebel grooved a 97 mph four-seam fastball down the middle. With his blazing bat speed, Frazier quickly blasted a shot into the left field stands for the game-winning three-run home run as the Yankees won the game, 5-3.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Aroldis Chapman (2-0) was the winner. The Yankees (45-40) were able to pick up a game on the Boston Red Sox so they are 3.5 games out in the AL East. The Tampa Bay Rays remain a game behind the Yankees, courtesy of their 1-0 victory over the Red Sox.
|Credit: Julio Cortez-AP|
The Yankees conclude the first half today when Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA) takes the mound against Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA). Hopefully, yesterday’s dramatic win and stellar bullpen work provide the momentum for a new surge by the home team.
Odds & Ends…
The rumor mill is certainly heating up. Within the last 24 hours, it has been reported the Yankees have heavy interest in first baseman Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins and reliever Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres. I am always a little suspect of the trade rumors you openly hear about as GM Brian Cashman generally plays his cards close to the vest. The more likely trades are the ones that you never hear about in advance. I would love to have Hand in the bullpen but the issue is cost. I’d hate to lose Chance Adams or Miguel Andujar (a couple of the names that have been mentioned). There would be a bit of irony with the Marlins (which includes Manager Don Mattingly) sending Bour to New York to be the Yankees first baseman. Bour hit his 20th homer of the year yesterday in Miami’s 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants. There’s no doubt he’d be an upgrade over Ji-Man Choi.
|Credit: Ben Margot-AP|
The YES Network’s Michael Kay mentioned an interesting stat during the telecast. Yesterday was the 17-year anniversary of the Yankees’ double-header sweep over the New York Mets which featured games at both home parks. Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens were the winning pitchers in the subway double-header. It’s hard to believe that it has been 17 years as I can clearly remember that day well. It was a preview of the memorable Fall Classic that would pit the two teams against each other.
Matt Holliday was 2-for-4, both singles, with two runs scored in his rehab assignment for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The RailRiders won the game, 8-1, over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Jake Cave was 3-for-3 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s. Miguel Andujar also chipped in a home run.
Have a great Sunday! I am looking forward to more Red Thunder! But, please, no Tyler Clippard. Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Brewers 9, Yankees 4…
In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.
We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.
But first, Aaron Judge. With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936. The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet. Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance. He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery. He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error. Didi ended up at third on the play. Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.
The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead. The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right. “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.
The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay. When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles. I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance. Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play. For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision. In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run. 4-2, Yankees.
Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th. He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third. Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third. Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.
The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.
With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating. With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third. Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now. Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night). I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game. When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.
Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced. A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez. The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory. Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.
The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games. But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes. He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning. Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.
I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense. I miss those days…
Odds & Ends…
When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot…sorry I mean…President, Randy Levine. The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy. You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this. Apparently not.” I may be frustrated that Bird has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player. If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns. Bird responded “I want to play. I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember. I love baseball. For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back. I love it and I want to be playing with these guys. I would hope people see it”. I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…
Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday. So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon. This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger.
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston. Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today. Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement. Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.
In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard’s meltdown. Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.
Have a great Saturday! A new day and a new opportunity to win a game. Let’s Go Yankees!
To Buy or Not to Buy…
The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away. At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we’ll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers. If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter. However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the ‘sell high’ category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer. If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right…we’re stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner. Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others. There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I don’t think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667). They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats. Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts. Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts. Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they’ve been missing since Zack Greinke left. As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill. The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.
Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me. He’d easily fit into Bruce Bochy’s lineup and give them the left-fielder that they’ve literally been waiting years for.
I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season. My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline. But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we’ll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared. It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does. Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced. But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run. The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East. The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.
Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16. The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best. Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances. Clearly, this group has the potential…and the history…to be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The July schedule, simply put, is tough. After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox. It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th. Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night. The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today. After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break. The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano. This year he’ll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand. Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M’s, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks’ heels. July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers. August doesn’t get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap. In other words, the schedule is a bitch.
The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later. They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners. Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year’s end will be a challenge.
I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.
Will Today be a Holliday?…
All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today. Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return. Many people afflicted by EBV don’t even know they have it since they do not feel sick. I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday. The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup. Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team’s biggest black hole. I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays. Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year. Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room. We’ll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions. In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz’s former club, the Buffalo Bisons. Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.
Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB. It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption. The one dude who I hope isn’t outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter. I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires. Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.
Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees. Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.
Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline. Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles). But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx. The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5’8″ but he is one of the best arms in the AL East. This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA. He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings. The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe.
Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius. Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals. Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner. I tried. I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi. There’s no doubt he’s an All-Star. On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.
Didi with his Mom
Have a great Friday! Let’s kick this weekend off right with a win! Let’s Go Yankees!