Losing the Game of Inches…

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sport

A’s 8, Yankees 7…


I love California but this road trip has been horrific.


The Yankees fought back in this game time and again and took the lead in the 10th, only to lose another game with a rookie pitcher on the mound.  I am not pinning this on Giovanny Gallegos but it’s a testament to the mounting bangs and bruises on this team.


After the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded in the first inning, the A’s took the early lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot by Jed Lowrie.  The A’s took a 3-0 lead in the second when Adam Rosales doubled off Jordan Montgomery, following a walk by Matt Chapman, making his Major League debut, and a ground-rule double by Josh Phegley, scoring both base runners.


The game stayed that way until the sixth.  In the top of the inning, Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded to score two runs.  Chris Carter followed with a single to tie the game at 3.  The A’s replaced starting pitcher Sonny Gray with Sean Dolittle who retired the next two Yankees to get out of the inning.  In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso homered as the A’s re-captured the lead, 4-3.  


The seesaw battle continued in the 7th inning when Gary Sanchez doubled with Starlin Castro on second, scoring Castro with the tying run.  But the A’s answered the run with a run-scoring single by Chad Pinder in the bottom of the inning and the A’s were back up, 5-4.


Chris Carter homered in the top of the 8th to once again tie the game, 5-5.  Like the inning before, the A’s answered the call in the bottom of the inning when Matt Joyce hit a grounder into a force out with the bases loaded and only one out, scoring the lead runner.  6-5, A’s. Tyler Clippard had started the inning but he was ineffective (again) as two of three batters he faced reached base through a single and a walk.  Dellin Betances was on the mound when the A’s scored their run, but he was able to strike out Rajai Davis to prevent any further damage.


The 9th inning saw the Yankees tie the game again when Starlin Castro doubled off A’s closer Santiago Casilla and Gary Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.  Gary Sanchez stole second to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position (replaced by pinch runner Ronald Torreyes as Sanchez came out of the game with a tight groin) with only one out, but Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter could not move the runner.  Didi flied out, and Carter went down swinging on a 3-2 count.  In the bottom of the 9th, the A’s loaded the bases with two outs against Betances but he was able to get out of the inning by striking out Matt Chapman.


The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the 10th when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.  Matt Holliday, entering the game at DH to replace Torreyes, struck out against A’s reliever Liam Hendricks to end the inning.  The Yankees could have used a few insurance runs on this night.  In the bottom of the 10th, Giovanny Gallegos replaced Betances.  He retired the first two batters he faced, but then Rajai Davis singled and Chad Pinder doubled to move Davis to third.  Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Khris Davis ended the game with a single just over Starlin Castro (ball tipped off his glove), scoring Davis and Pinder with the winning runs.  A’s emerged with the 8-7 victory in another lost opportunity for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi summed it up after the game, “It hurts because it’s a matter of a couple inches that you lose that game by and it’s frustrating.”


This was another game that shows how much the Yankees miss closer Aroldis Chapman.  It will be good to get Chapman back this weekend (hopefully on Sunday) so that Betances can get into games earlier and lessen the reliance on other arms.  


Fingers crossed for both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks who also left the game in the 9th with tightness in his Achilles Heel.  After the game, it was disclosed that reliever Adam Warren is battling tightness in his trapezius muscle which accounted for his unavailability.  Hopefully, none of these ailments are serious.  

Didi Gregorius singled in the game to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games.


Fortunately, the Yankees (38-26) did not lose any ground to any AL East team except the Toronto Blue Jays as everyone else lost.  The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays remain 2 games and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively, while the Blue Jays moved up to 6 1/2 games back (bringing  the Baltimore Orioles into a tie for the AL East cellar).  


Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends…

Ronald Herrera, we hardly knew ye.  After taking the loss in his lone Big League appearance on Wednesday night, Herrera has found himself back with the Double A Trenton Thunder.  I thought it was much to ask of Herrera to make the jump from AA to the Majors, and the proof was in the pudding with the pitch he threw Andrelton Simmons.  What works in AA goes for a long home run in the Big Leagues.  The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on the Disabled List, as expected.  To replace Herrera and Sabathia, the Yankees have recalled Luis Cessa and Domingo German.  Sunday’s starter has not yet been determined but Girardi has a pool of Cessa, German and Chad Green to choose from.  Cessa appears to be the favorite to start on Sunday (or on Saturday if Girardi decides to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day).

The Yankees stopped the rehabilitation for Greg Bird yesterday and he’ll see Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad today.  Bird told Trainer Steve Donohue on Thursday morning that the leg was not feeling right and not functioning right.  This is not good news.  The Yankees are already suspect at both infield corners.  Tyler Austin has not exactly set the World on fire at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is currently batting .303 but only has 1 homer and 6 RBI’s in 17 games (66 AB’s).  In my opinion, the best first baseman in the system is Thunder first baseman Mike Ford.  This year, including his time at AAA, Ford, 24, is batting .289/.410/.509 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI’s.  He has played 61 games and has walked 44 times.  He even stole a base…once.  But he has the same disadvantage as Chance Adams and others, he does not have a place on the 40-man roster.  

There was already talk the Yankees needed to upgrade at third.  If the priority becomes first base, does this increase the likelihood that we’ll see Gleyber Torres as soon as next month?  I still think it is too premature for him and his AAA manager is on record saying that he is not ready yet.  I guess this is why GM Brian Cashman is paid to make these decisions.  The added pressure on him is the moves over the next 45 days will go a long way toward determining his future at the end of the year with the expiration of his contract.  


Have a great Friday!  Let’s win one of these close games for a change…

Lots of Hits, Not Enough Runs…

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

Angels 7, Yankees 5…

Another tough loss for the Yankees despite fourteen hits.

The game started out well enough.  The Yankees scored four runs in the first inning to give Michael Pineda the lead before he faced his first batter.  Brett Gardner opened the game with a single off Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker.  After Aaron Hicks struck out, Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge stole second and Matt Holliday hit a sacrifice fly to score Gardy.  The next batter, Starlin Castro, was  hit by pitch, which brought up Gary Sanchez.  The Sanchino homered to left and the Yankees looked like they were off to the races.  

Credit:  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, this was not Michael Pineda’s night.  The Angels came back in the bottom of the first with a run with they loaded the bases with singles from three of the first four Angels batters. Luis Valbuena then hit a fly to center that could have been a grand slam if not for a leaping catch by Aaron Hicks.  Cameron Maybin scored on the sac fly.  Pineda was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

In the second inning, with one out, the Yankees wasted a triple by Rob Refsnyder when neither Brett Gardner nor Aaron Hicks were able to push the run across.  When the Angels came to bat in the bottom of the inning, Eric Young Jr, the previous night’s hero, singled, and Danny Espinosa followed with a homer to right to bring the Angels within a run at 4-3.  

The lead was lost in the third when Albert Pujols scored on a wild pitch with Young in the batter’s box.  Young subsequently lined a run-scoring single to give the Angels a 5-4 advantage.

The Yankees tied the score in the sixth when Chase Headley singled home Gary Sanchez.  Headley was thrown out trying to take two bases.  

Manager Joe Girardi pulled Michael Pineda after six innings, and brought in Ronald Herrera to face the Angels in the 7th.  It would not be a memorable debut for the rookie.  He was able to get the first two batters (Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar) on ground-outs, but then he walked Valbuena.  Andrelton Simmons came to the plate and rudely introduced Herrera (0-1) to life in the Big Leagues with a homer to center. 

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees had a chance in the 9th when Aaron Hicks doubled with two outs.  The play was initially ruled as a game-ending out, but the call was overturned upon challenge by the Yankees.  It didn’t matter as Aaron Judge hit a grounder to third for the final out.

The final line for Pineda was 6 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 2 SO.  He allowed the one home run and his season ERA was pushed to 3.71.  

Credit:  Sean M Haffey-Getty Images

I felt bad for Herrera.  He was in a difficult situation for his first Major League appearance, particularly for a pitcher who has yet to find success at the AAA Level.  What works at AA does not necessarily work in the Major Leagues as Herrera found out.

This was a tough series.  The Yankees were in all three games and could have easily won the series.  Instead, the Angels took 2 of 3 and the Yankees left town on a bit of a downer. 

The Boston Red Sox pulled to within two games of the Yankees (38-25) with a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to remain 5 1/2 games back.  Both the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays.  They are 6 1/2 and 7 games back, respectively.

Odds & Ends…

RHP Ronald Herrera has been promoted to the Yankees prior to yesterday’s game in the aftermath of CC Sabathia’s strained hamstring.  Herrera, 22, was acquired in 2015 from the San Diego Padres in the trade that sent infielder Jose Pirela to Southern CA.  Herrera caught my attention this season, but I honestly didn’t expect the pitcher to make the jump from AA to the Majors even if he was already a member of the 40-man roster.  Herrera combined with Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder to throw a no-hitter on April 26, 2016 for the Trenton Thunder.  This season for the Thunder, Herrera is 7-0 with 1.07 ERA.  In 8 games, he has pitched 50 1/3 innings, with 41 strikeouts and 9 walks.  His WHIP is 0.7555. Herrera was born in Maracay, Venezuela, near the Caribbean Coast.  Yankees utility infielder Ronald Torreyes is a fellow Venezuelan.  Reliever Ben Heller was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.  Welcome to The Show, Ronald! I wish your first Major League decision could have been a victory but hopefully next time it is.  

Credit:  ESPN.com

No roster decisions have yet been made regarding CC Sabathia, but it is speculated that he’ll be placed on the disabled list with a moderate (Grade 2) hamstring strain (expected to miss at least four weeks) with the recall of pitcher Domingo German.  

The Yankees have acquired relief pitcher Matt Frawley (R) from the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete the trade that sent reliever Johnny Barbato to the Steel City.  Frawley was drafted by the Pirates last year in the 17th Round out of Purdue University.  He’ll be assigned to Class A Charleston.  Turning 22 in August, Frawley (3-1) is an older prospect at the A Level but in 19 appearances and 33 1/3 innings, he has to pitched to an ERA of 1.62 with only 4 walks and 32 strikeouts (WHIP is an impressive 0.75).  If Frawley continues to pitch as well as he did with the Class A West Virginia Power, he should soon find himself in AA with the Trenton Thunder.  

In reviewing the draft choices on Day 3 of the MLB Draft, I have to say that I love the name of the 22nd pick.  RHP Janson Junk.  Now that’s a baseball name.  Former Major League closer Brad Lidge’s cousin, Ryan Lidge, was chosen #20.  Lidge is a senior catcher from Notre Dame.  This helps offset the loss of catcher Luis Torrens who was taken in last year’s Rule 5 Draft by the San Diego Padres and is still on their Major League roster.  

There were a couple of late names that stood out to me.  In Round 29, the Yankees selected RHP Tristan Beck of Stanford.  Beck is highly touted but missed the 2017 season due to a back injury.  In some very early mock drafts, I saw Beck going as high as the first round.  Without any knowledge of the situation, I suspect that he’ll return to Stanford for his junior year and attempt to rehabilitate his stock for higher placement in a future draft.  In Round 37, the Yankees took high school pitcher Tanner Burns.  Also highly touted, Burns’ father has said that it’s 100% his son will be attending Auburn University.  It would be a great coup if the Yankees could sign one of these guys (or both) but I seriously doubt it.  I suspect that we’ll see Burns as a much higher draft choice in a future draft.


The Yankees begin a four-game set tonight against the Athletics in Oakland, CA.  Here are the pitching match-ups:


THURSDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.55 ERA)

A’s:  Sonny Gray (2-2, 4.37 ERA)


FRIDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-2, 2.75 ERA)

A’s:  Sean Manaea (6-3, 3.67 ERA)


SATURDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.07 ERA)

A’s:  Jesse Hahn (2-4, 3.56 ERA)


SUNDAY

Yankees:  TBA

A’s:  Jharel Cotton (3-7, 5.52 ERA)


Have a great Thursday!  Here’s hoping for much better success in No-Cal than So-Cal…

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Angels 3, Yankees 2…

After a weekend when runs came so easily, they were hard to find on Tuesday night as the Angels took down the Yankees in extra innings.  The loss snapped the Yankees’ six-game winning streak.  However, the bigger loss may have been CC Sabathia who strained his left hamstring and is probably headed for a DL stint.  CC will undergo a MRI later today.

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

The feast or famine (with the emphasis on the latter) that surrounds Chris Carter was a primary ingredient for the loss.  Carter was 1-for-5 (with a meaningless single), and he popped out with the bases loaded and only one out in the top of the 11th inning.  He struck out 3 times, and committed an error at first in the fourth inning when he missed an accurate routine throw with two outs from Didi Gregorius, setting the stage for the first Angels’ run.  The runner, Andrelton Simmons, advanced to second on the play, and scored on a single by C.J. Cron.  

The Yankees tied the score in the 5th when Chase Headley doubled and Brett Gardner delivered a two-out run-scoring single. In the 7th, Headley hit a solo shot to center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.  Headley, arguably the worst Yankees hitter not named Chris Carter, was the night’s best hitter.  He finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.

From there, the Yankees were undone by a former Yankee, Eric Young, Jr.  In the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees nursing the one-run lead, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard to pitch and he was greeted by a Young home run which tied the game.  As great a job as Clippard did last year after his acquisition last year at the trading deadline from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he’s been a weak link this year in the critical setup role.  A healthy Aroldis Chapman would have meant Dellin Betances in that situation and the outcome may have been different.  The homer denied the first Major League victory for Giovanny Gallegos who had relieved Sabathia in the fifth and pitched admirably for two innings, allowing only one hit and no runs.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one-out in the top of the 11th.  Gary Sanchez walked and then advanced to third on a double by Didi Gregorius.  Headley received an intentional walk, which brought Carter to the plate with a chance to bring runners home.  He jumped on the first pitch from new reliever Keynan Middleton, who had just entered the game, but unfortunately, he popped out with an infield fly to third.  Brett Gardner followed with another pop out which ended the Yankees’ threat and set the stage for the Angels’ walk-off in the bottom of the frame.

With Chasen Shreve pitching, Andrelton Simmons walked to open the bottom of the inning.  Shreve got the next batter, C.J. Cron, on a fly out to left, but then Manager Joe Girardi pulled Shreve (he had thrown 38 pitches to that point in his 1 2/3 innings of work) to replace him with Ben Heller.  Heller got the first batter he faced (Martin Maldonado) on a ground out, but Simmons stole second during the at-bat and advanced to third with the out.  Eric Young, Jr, came to bat after Heller had walked Cliff Pennington and he hit an infield single that was deflected off the pitcher’s backside, scoring Simmons with the winning run.

Credit:  Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda’ was the story to this game.  Losing is never fun, but losing games that should have been won are harder. 

No word who will replace Sabathia in the rotation.  Chad Green, Sunday’s starter, was limited to a pitch count of 50 (he was pulled after throwing 53 pitches).  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell recalled to be the interim starter.  The less likely options would be Caleb Smith (who was the winning pitcher yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and is currently 4-0 with 2.71 ERA) or Chance Adams (3-2, 2.52 ERA) since neither one is on the 40-man roster.

The Boston Red Sox picked up a game on the Yankees, thanks to their second consecutive extra inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Red Sox now trail the Yankees (38-24) by three games.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won so they are 5.5 games behind.  Both the Orioles and the Blue Jays lost.  

Odds & Ends…

The MLB Draft completed Rounds 3 through 10 on Tuesday.  Like the day before, the emphasis was high on right-handed pitchers.  Only one position player was taken.  High School catcher (who will be converted to the outfield) Canaan Smith (not to be confused with the country singer by the same name).  Smith, a graduate of Rockwall-Heath (Texas) High School, was routinely pitched around with a Barry Bonds-like walk rate.  He was selected in the 4th round.  

The lone lefty taken was Dalton Lehnen of Augustana College in the 6th round.  Otherwise, Day 2 was stacked with righties.

Here is the list of players taken on Day 2:

Round 3 (92):  Trevor Stephan, Arkansas, RHP

Round 4 (122):  Canaan Smith, Rockwall-Heath HS, RF

Round 5 (152):  Glenn Otto, Rice, RHP

Round 6 (182):  Dalton Lehnen, Augustana College, LHP

Round 7 (212):  Dalton Higgins, Dallas Baptist, RHP

Round 8 (242):  Kyle Zurak, Redford U, RHP

Round 9 (272):  Austin Gardner, U Texas-Arlington, RHP

Round 10 (302):  Chad Whitmer, Southern Illinois U Carbondale, RHP

The Baltimore Orioles are gushing about the fall of D.L. Hall to them.  They didn’t expect him to be the board with the 21st pick on Monday.  Nothing against Clarke Schmidt, but I hope this choice doesn’t come back to haunt the Yankees in future years.

Day 3 concludes today with Rounds 11 through 40.  Start time is 12:00 pm Eastern.  

LHP Tommy Layne, who was previously designated for assignment, has been outrighted to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

RHP Ronald Herrera has been named the Eastern League (AA) Pitcher of the Week.  In his last start, Herrera pitched 6 2/3 innings while only allowing two hits in the Trenton Thunder’s 9-0 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats.  After giving up a two-out single in the first inning, Herrera retired 16 consecutive Yard Goats before surrendering the second hit.  He struck out 9 in picking up the win.  Herrera is the fourth Thunder pitcher to win the weekly award this year, following Chance Adams, Yefry Ramirez, and Justus Sheffield. 

Credit:  TrentonThunder.com

Aroldis Chapman was scheduled to pitch yesterday for High-A Tampa, however, the game was rained out.  Chapman will pitch one inning Friday for AA-Trenton and is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the Yankees on Sunday in Oakland.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to start a new winning streak!

Telling It To The Judge…

Credit:  Sean M Haffey-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Angels 3…

One of the greatest highlights of this game were the chants of “MVP!” for Aaron Judge from the Anaheim crowd.  It was incredible to get that type of response from the park that Mike Trout calls home.  Judge is certainly deserving of the accolades but it is not something that you’d expect on enemy turf.    

When Kole Calhoun, the second batter in the bottom of the first inning, homered with no one on, I had fears that Masahiro Tanaka was going to get rocked once again.  But fortunately, the old Tanaka re-emerged and kept the Angels off the board until the 7th inning.  

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

The Yankees built up a 3-1 lead through the top of the 7th.  Following a couple of two-out walks of Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro in the third inning, Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Holliday and tying the game at 1.  The Yankees took the lead in the 5th, thanks again to another two-out hit from Gregorius.  After Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro singled, Gregorius singled to center which scored Judge.  In the 7th, Judge singled and moved to second on a groundout by Matt Holliday.  Castro followed with a ground out to the pitcher, bringing Gregorius up again with two outs.  The Los Angeles Angels took no chances and intentionally walked Didi to put the bat in the hands of Chase Headley (ugh!).  Despite my lack of excitement about Headley, he delivered with a single, scoring Judge.  The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases, but Austin Romine hit a grounder for the final out of the inning.  

Tanaka pitched well enough to win but it was not to be.  In the bottom of the 7th, after Andrelton Simmons had flied out, Eric Young, Jr reached base as a result of a fielding error by Chase Headley (his 11th of the season, one more than he had last year in 140 games at third).  The next batter, Martin Maldonado, struck out but Young advanced to second on a steal.  Former Washington National Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, scoring Young.  Aaron Judge mistakenly threw the ball home on an overthrow which allowed Espinosa to take second.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Tanaka (hand clap for #19) and brought in Tyler Clippard.  Clippard promptly gave up a double to Cameron Maybin, scoring Espinosa for a run charged to Tanaka and the game was tied at 3.  He struck out Kole Calhoun for the final out, and the game moved to the 8th inning.

After Brett Gardner flied out, Aaron Hicks doubled to left.  The Angels made a pitching change to bring in their interim closer, Bud Norris.  On a 2-0 count, Judge showed the Anaheim crowd the magic that we’ve been experiencing in the Bronx with a home run to right center, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead and the eventual margin of victory. 

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

With two outs and a runner at first thanks to a walk in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi took no chances and brought in Dellin Betances to get the final out of the inning.  It was a much cleaner than the last time Betances entered an inning with two outs (when he loaded the bases and threw 17 pitches to record the necessary out).  This time, it was three pitches and a fly out.

In the 9th, Betances was on his game as he struck out the side.  Yankees win, 5-3.

This was a great game for the California Central Valley native Judge.  He finished 2-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, while increasing his batting average to .347, in front of family, friends and James Kaprielian.  Yankees fans are everywhere and they certainly made themselves known on this night with the “MVP!” chants.

Gregorius was 4-for-4 with the 2 RBI’s.  

It may be a down year for the Angels, but they’ve always played well against the Yankees so this was a satisfying victory.  It would have been nice for Tanaka to pick up the win, but still, it had to be a confidence-booster for him.  His final line was 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER,  2 BB, 8 SO.  I hope to see more of this and less of the Tanaka starts we saw over the past month.  Clippard, responsible for costing Tanaka the victory, took the win, thanks to Judge’s timely homer.  

The Yankees (38-23) maintained their four-game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays (who had the night off) remained in third, but dropped to 6 1/2 games back.  The Baltimore Orioles lost again (10-7 to the Chicago White Sox), sliding to 7 1/2 games behind the leaders.  The O’s are now just a half game from falling into the AL East Cellar.  

Odds & Ends…

I hate to say that I am disappointed with the MLB Draft because Yankees scouts know a heck of lot more than I do, but I was not enthused with the first round selection (16th pick) of right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt.  Schmidt had Tommy John surgery earlier this Spring and will be unavailable to pitch until sometime in late 2018.  I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the pick of Andrew Brackman a number of years ago.  Taking a chance on an injured but high ceiling pitcher who never rose to the level of his potential and is subsequently out of baseball.  I hope this is not the same situation with Schmidt.  I thought first baseman Evan White or lefty pitcher D.L. Hall would have been great picks at that spot, or even lefty David Peterson (who was later picked by the Mets).   

Damon Oppenheimer,  Yankees VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting, had these words for Schmidt (who is from the University of South Carolina like Jordan Montgomery):  “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus.  He has command, he has makeup.  We really like his delivery.  He’s got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff.  And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.”  A few of the pitchers taken in the first round sound better suited for relief work so I suppose if you have a chance for a top of the rotation guy, you take it.  I hope this one works out.

In the second round (with the 54th pick), the Yankees chose a high school pitcher (Matt Sauer).  I like this pick, perhaps more so than Schmidt.  Sauer is right-handed and just 18 years old, he is already 6’4”.  He a product of an appropriately named Righetti High School (CA) even if the school is named for a guy named Ernest Righetti and not former Yankees closer Dave “Rags” Righetti.  Oppenheimer offered these words about Sauer:  “Sauer is a projectable high school right-hander who is athletic, with a ‘now’ fastball and a plus slider.  He really has a good way about his aggressiveness and makeup on the mound.  We see a chance there for a starter with power stuff.”

Credit:  The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)

Welcome to the Yankees Family, Clarke and Matt!

Have a great Tuesday!  It should be a fun day as the Yankees try to keep this winning streak alive and MLB Draft continues with rounds 3 through 10.  

Yankees: Can You Hear Me Now?…

Credit:  Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 14, Orioles 3…

Wow…the Yankees figured out the best way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is to just blast them in the bottom of the first inning.  A day after they crushed the O’s 16-3, the Yankee bats were in high gear once again.  I carried a fear that they’d struggle a day after the blow-out but these Yankees do not play to anyone’s predictions.  The forecasted 82-win team keeps rolling along as they pummeled the O’s 14-3 on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep.

This was a tough 13-game stretch against AL East opponents.  When the Yankees returned home to face the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, they were 3-4 in road games against the O’s and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Boston had a chance to overtake the Yankees in the AL East standings with a sweep, but instead the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Sox.  Then, they absolutely crushed the Orioles by a cumulative score of 38-8 in sweeping the three-game series.  So, the Yankees finish 8-5 for the 13 AL East games and are beginning to make believers that this team may be for real.  

After losing the opening game of the Red Sox series, the Baby Bombers won the next five games against the Red Sox and the O’s by a combined score of 55-9.  It was the first five game stretch of at least 8 runs or more for the Yankees since July 1956. 

Replicating Saturday’s fast start, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning.  Two of the first three batters (Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge) singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge moved to second on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter as Matt Holliday walked to load the bases.  Starlin Castro hit the second pitch of the at-bat up the middle off O’s starter Kevin Gausman, scoring Gardner and Judge.  Holliday moved to second.  That brought up Gary Sanchez who parked one in left center to score three more runs.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

The Yankees could have blown the game open in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but Starlin Castro hit into a double-play to strand the runners.   

Staked to the big lead, Chad Green, making his first Major League start of the season, couldn’t survive the third inning.  The only blemish of the first two innings was a walk of Trey Mancini in the second inning, but JJ Hardy opened the third with a double off Green.  The next hitter, former Yankee (or should I say RailRider) Ruben Tejada doubled off his former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammate to score Hardy.  Green’s day was ended after 52 pitches.  But the “doubles parade” continued against Chasen Shreve.  Seth Smith lined a double to score Tejada, followed by Jonathan Schoop’s double to score Smith.  Suddenly, the game was much tighter at 5-3.  Or as Michael Kay put it, “a laugher has become a nail-biter”.  Fortunately, Shreve rebounded to get Adam Jones on a ground-out, holding the runner at second.  This was followed by swinging strikeouts of O’s sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, after Jonathan Holder held the O’s scoreless in the top of the frame, the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs when Aaron Hicks walked and moved to third on a double by Aaron Judge.  Matt Holliday rapped a single to center to score both of the Aarons, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 7-3.

Moving to the sixth, Aaron Judge smashed another monster home run.  They should probably re-name Statcast as “Judge-cast” because he owns the leaderboards.  A day after the hardest hit ball this year, Judge captured the lead for home run distance with 495 feet.  Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks had held the previous longest homer (481 feet) since April 29th.  I’ve been convinced that we’ll see a 500 ft home run from Judge this season and he came within 5 feet of making my dream a reality.  8-3, Yankees.

Credit:  MLB.com

Not finished in the sixth, Matt Holliday reached first base on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Scoop.  Starlin Castro followed with a homer to left-center, making up for his second inning-ending double play.  The once close score was now 10-3 Yankees.  

You’d think that the Yankees bats were done for the day but not the Aarons.  In the 7th, both Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner walked with one out.  Aaron Hicks subsequently lined a double to center, scoring both runners.  12-3, Yankees.  That set the stage for the man of the hour, Aaron Judge.  In the daily game of who is going to hit two home runs next, Judge answered the call with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to cap the Yankees scoring for the day and give the Yankees a 14-3 lead.

It’s nice to have games where it is difficult to pick the player of the game.  Certainly, two home runs (including one that traveled nearly 500 ft) and a 4-for-4 day with 3 RBI’s gives Judge the leg up, but Starlin Castro’s 4 RBI’s warrant consideration.  Gary Sanchez and his three-run homer.  Or Matt Holliday, who has a knack for always being in the thick of the action.  1-for-3, Holliday walked twice, scored two runs, and had 2 RBI’s.  I am not ready to say that this is a World Series contender quite yet, but this is the most exciting Yankees team that I’ve seen since the late 90’s.  Please do not let the bubble burst.

In a game of relievers, the Yankees used 5 members of the bullpen to complete the game.  The longest stint was provided by Domingo German who was making his Major League debut.  German finished the final 2 2/3 innings of the game.  Although he did allow two hits and a walk, he held the O’s scoreless and struck out a batter (Jonathan Schoop, to end the top of the 7th inning).  Adam Warren (2-1), who preceded German, picked up the win.

The Yankees (37-23) moved up 3 1/2 games in the AL East, pending the outcome of Boston’s game on Sunday night.  The Tampa Bay Rays won (5-4 over the Oakland A’s) to move into third place, 6 games behind the Yankees.  The Orioles slipped to fourth with the loss, 6 1/2 games back.

This was an impressive home stand by the Yankees.  But all good things must end.  The Yankees take the show on the road for seven games in Southern and Northern California before returning to Yankee Stadium on June 20th to face the Los Angeles Angels.  With the West Coast games, I guess there are going to be a few bleary-eyed fans this week suffering from lack of sleep.

Odds & Ends…

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, 6-4.  The RailRiders led the majority of the game, but the IronPigs scored 5 runs late to capture the win.  Chance Adams was the starter, and pitched very well until the fateful 7th inning (when the IronPigs pushed 4 runs across the plate).  He finished with a pitching line of 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, while increasing his season ERA to 2.52.  He didn’t figure in the decision.  Tyler Webb, who I had hoped would eventually find his way to the Bronx, was an absolute train wreck.  He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (plus a run charged to Adams) before recording the final out of the 7th inning.  Adams deserved better but this was a learning experience.

Greg Bird had a quiet day at the plate.  He was 0-for-2, with 2 walks and a run scored.  

Domingo German’s stay in the Major Leagues was short-lived.  Following yesterday’s game, he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Right-handed reliever Ben Heller was recalled to take his place.  Either Heller or Gallegos will be heading back to SWB when Aroldis Chapman is activated (hopefully this weekend in Oakland).  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups in Anaheim for the series with the Los Angeles Angels:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Angels:  Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA)

Angels:  JC Ramirez ( 6-4, 4.33 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.39 ERA)

Angels:  Matt Shoemaker (6-3, 4.22 ERA)

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

Sevvy + 5 Home Runs = Easy Win…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 16, Orioles 3…

Like Michael Pineda the day before, Luis Severino’s even better start was lost among the sea of Yankees hits and homers.  

Last year, Severino was a failed 5th starter (0-8 when he started games with an 8.50 ERA).  This year, he’s playing like the ace (which is more pronounced since the so-called “ace” is now performing like a failed 5th starter).  Credit Severino for keeping his focus this game.  It would have been so easy to let up on the accelerator in a game that was 9-0 before many people had even found their seats.  He had a one-hitter going until Chris Davis tagged him for a homer in the 7th.  Sevvy (5-2) finished seven innings strong with two hits, one run, two walks, and eight strikeouts.  He lowered his team-leading ERA (for starting pitchers) to 2.75.  Severino continues to come up big for the Yankees and he is as responsible as anyone for the team’s placement atop the AL East.  

Now let’s set the pitching aside.  This was a monster game by the Yankee bats.  Aaron Judge owns the Statcast Leaderboard, and his first inning home run off Baltimore Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman topped his previous efforts in exit velocity at 121.1 mph.  The hit also ranked as a Statcast-era record.  The homer was Judge’s league-leading 19th of the season.  I sure hope that Judge didn’t have any plans for the All-Star Game break because travel plans are already underway for his trip to Miami.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Tillman had retired the first two Yankees to start the game, but after Judge’s homer, Matt Holliday doubled.  Starlin Castro followed with a double, Holliday to third.  Gary Sanchez then singled both Holliday and Castro home.  Didi Gregorius stepped up and hit the second home run of the night to put the Yankees up 5-0.  They weren’t quite finished yet.  The useless Chase Headley walked.  A wild pitch by Tillman moved Headley into scoring position, and Chris Carter promptly singled to score Headley.  6-0, Yankees.  In an interesting note, Brett Gardner represented the first and third outs of the first inning.

I was fearful that the long inning would adversely impact Severino but those fears were unfounded.  Three up, three down, and it was time for the Yankees fireworks again.  After Aaron Hicks grounded out, both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked.  Starlin Castro didn’t waste the opportunity, as he blasted a three-run homer to left center to increase the lead to 9-0, finishing  loser Chris Tillman’s night.  If you have Chris Tillman on your fantasy team, please accept my condolences.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the 4th inning, Aaron Hicks walked and Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners.  That brought Bald Brother Matt Holliday to the plate.  Trailing fellow Bald Brother Brett Gardner by one home run, Holliday tied the count at 13 homers with a shot to left-center.  12-0, Yankees.

Aaron Judge picked up two more RBI’s in the fifth with a double to left.  14-0, Yankees.

The Orioles scored their first run in the 7th with Chris Davis’ homer off Sevvy, and then added another in the 8th with a solo home run by Joey Rickard off reliever Giovanny Gallegos.  Leading 14-2, Ronald Torreyes was hit by a pitch from O’s reliever Mike Wright to open the bottom of the 8th.  Gary Sanchez then connected with the fifth home run of the night to cap the Yankees’ scoring at 16.  

The O’s added a final meaningless run in the 9th before Trey Mancini grounded out to end the game.  By a score of 16-3, the Yankees captured the series with the O’s as they’ve won two heading into the third and final game of the series today.  I always have concerns when the Yankees score more than 15 runs.  I do not have the stats to back up this statement, but it always feels like the Yankees struggle scoring runs the day after a huge blow-out.  Hopefully that’s not the case today as the Yankees prepare to embark on a California road trip following the conclusion of the game.

The Yankees (36-23) maintained their three game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox had an offensive show of their own, with an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.  Of course, it didn’t help that they had Chris Sale on the mound.  The O’s slipped to 5 1/2 games back.  If the Tampa Bay Rays would have won (they didn’t), the O’s could have fallen into fourth place in the division.  This was probably not one of Buck Showalter’s better experiences at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, Chad Green will start today against the Orioles.  Green will be the first time the Yankees have gone outside the original 5-man rotation that started the year.  However, in a more surprising move, the Yankees designated former LOOGY Tommy Layne for assignment and called up promising rookie Domingo German.  German, a starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will provide long relief for Green should he encounter any bumps in the road.  

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I knew Layne’s days were numbered as he always seemed to be giving up runs with any appearances.  He has not been the same pitcher for the Yankees as he was last year following his release by the Boston Red Sox.  I have no problem with Chasen Shreve as the key lefty, but I’d be surprised if the Yankees weren’t looking for another lefty.

Greg Bird was 2-for-5 yesterday in the RailRiders’ 11-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  He had two doubles and a RBI.  Nice to see that he’s getting that extra base stroke back again.  There is still no timetable for when Bird will rejoin the Yankees.  

The current plan for Aroldis Chapman is to pitch on Tuesday for High-A Tampa and on Friday for AA-Trenton.  If all goes well, we’ll see Chapman next Saturday in Oakland.  Rajai Davis, look out, Chapman’s got your number.

Have a great Sunday!  I am hoping for a sweep to wisk the Yankees away to Southern California…

Mission: Making J-Ellsbury The Next Wally Pipp…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Does Jacoby Ellsbury really deserve his job back if/when he gets healthy?  This might be one of the few times that I’ve enjoyed the injury replacement better than the regular.  Aaron Friggin’ Hicks.  A day after the two-homer game by Gary Sanchez, Hicksie put up a deuce of his own.  A new day, a new hero.

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-N.Y. Post

The game featured another strong start from Jordan Montgomery who continues to show that he is a competitor on the mound in the mold of Andy Pettitte.  It didn’t look like it was going to be a very good night for Monty in the second inning.  Chris Davis walked to open the inning and Jonathan Schoop followed with a homer to center to pick the O’s up 2-0.  Two of the next three batters reached base with singles but Monty shut the O’s down from there.  The only hit he allowed from that point forward was a harmless double by former Yankee Ruben Tejada (whom the Yankees sold to the O’s last week).  The boy is growing into a man before our very eyes.  There’s no way that we would have had the trust in Chad Green, Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell like we do with Monty had they won the fifth starter’s role out of training camp.  He’s also pitched better than many of the rumored trade candidates.

Monty (4-4) was pulled at the start of the eighth inning.  For the game, he limited the O’s to just 5 hits and the two runs on the homer by Schoop.  He walked a batter and struck out 8.  His season ERA was lowered to 3.55.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

The Yankee offense quickly answered Schoop’s homer.  Starlin Castro deposited the third pitch of the bottom of the 2nd under the Modell sign in right-center to cut the margin to 2-1.  Thursday night’s hero, Gary Sanchez (the Sanchino!)  followed with a double.  He moved to third on a flyout by Didi Gregorius and then scored on a sac fly by the generally-useless Chase Headley to tie the game.

The game remained tied until the sixth inning as both Montgomery and the O’s Dylan Bundy were pitching great.  In the bottom of the 6th, it was time for the Hicksie Show.  He opened the inning with a solo shot, a ‘no doubt about it’ smash, to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 3-2.  It was ironically the first ball placed in The Judge’s Chambers.  

Credit:  MLB.com

In the 7th, Chase Headley reached first on a throwing error by pitcher Edwin Jackson who had just relieved Bundy.  Aaron Hicks came to bat again, with two outs, and he crushed Jackson’s offering to the right center bleachers to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead.  Aaron Judge was walked on four straight pitches out of the strike zone, and Jackson paid the price when Matt Holliday doubled in the next at-bat to score Judge.

The Yankees tacked on two more unneeded runs in the eighth when Austin Romine singled with the bases loaded.  Hats off to Romine for this game.  No offense to Sanchez, but Romine and Montgomery work very well together.  He could have gone hitless and it would have been fine given the strong work he provides behind the plate for Monty.  

The Boston Red Sox won on a late comeback against the Detroit Tigers so the Yankees (35-23) remained three games ahead of the Sox in the AL East.  The O’s fell to 4 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers.  The Tampa Bay Rays have won three in a row and are 5 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

Manager Joe Girardi said that Masahiro Tanaka’s scheduled start on Sunday has been pushed back.  He is now scheduled to pick up the baton on Monday when the Yankees travel to Anaheim, CA to play the Los Angeles Angels.  He’ll be facing the Angels’ Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA).  

No word yet who’ll start for the Yankees on Sunday.  The present roster candidates would be Chad Green or Adam Warren, with an advantage toward Green since he’s been stretched out more recently.  Potential call-ups include Bryan Mitchell or Luis Cessa.  I think the Yankees will choose one of the more experienced arms, so I would not expect the elevation of Chance Adams to the 40-man roster.  He’s young (only 22) and only at AA-Trenton, but Ronald Herrera is an intriguing arm.  On Thursday night, he tied his career high with 9 strikeouts in leading the Thunder to a 9-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats.   Pitching 6 2/3 innings, he limited the Yard Goats (damn, I love these minor league names!) to just two hits.  In 8 starts, Herrera is 7-0 and is currently sporting a 1.07 ERA.  He has struck out 41 batters in 50 1/3 innings.  Herrera was acquired in November 2015 through the trade that sent Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres.  He is also on the 40-man roster which places him at an advantage over the older and the more advanced Adams.  I extremely doubt the Yankees entrust a key AL East start to a pitcher who has only made one start (last year with poor results) at the AAA Level.  But he is a name to watch.  Probably the most advanced arm, outside of the Major League vets, is the 24-year old righty Domingo German.  German is also on the 40-man roster.  He’s currently 2-1 with 3.76 ERA in four games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  My bet is the start goes to Green.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman flew to Tampa last night and will pitch in a simulated game today.  The plan is for him to pitch with AA-Trenton next week before rejoining the Yankees in Oakland for the weekend series against the A’s.  By all accounts, Chapman is healthy and throwing strikes.  Coming soon, sore catchers’ hands at a Yankees game near you.

Credit:  MLB.com

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