Winning Gregoriusly…

Credit:  Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Didi Gregorius was the man on the field and with the bat on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Baltimore Orioles for the second consecutive day.  His brilliant defensive play and 4 RBI’s helped Joe Girardi achieve his 900th  career victory as Yankees manager.  Of course, it didn’t hurt having the great Luis Severino on the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 1st inning.  Brett Gardner led off with a double to center.  Gary Sanchez lined a one-out single to left, moving Gardy to third.  A sacrifice fly to right by Didi Gregorius scored the speedy Gardner and the Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.

The Orioles got to Luis Severino in the top of the 2nd for really the only weakness in Sevy’s start.  Chris Davis took a two-out walk, and Wellington Castillo followed with a shot to the right field porch to put the O’s in front, 2-1.

Chase Headley, starting at third base when Todd Frazier was scratched due to back stiffness, reached base to start the bottom of the 2nd with a bunt toward third.  After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to center, Matt Holliday lined a single to left, moving Headley to second.  Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that was mishandled by Chris Davis (ball went through his legs into right field), allowing Bird to reach base.  Headley scored and Holliday advanced to third.  The game was tied at 2.  The Yankees were unable to bring Holliday home when O’s starter Gabriel Ynoa struck out both Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, Aaron Judge walked with one out.  Buck Showalter went to the pen, replacing Ynoa with reliever Miguel Castro.  With Gary Sanchez at bat, Judge stole second with a headfirst slide.  El Gary subsequently grounded out with a short bouncer at the plate, but Didi Gregorius didn’t miss the opportunity with a home run to right center to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a walk.  Brett Gardner hit a grounder between first and second but the O’s were unable to force Bird or get a double play when second baseman Jonathan Schoop misplayed the ball (bounced off his glove). The runners were safe at first and second. Showalter pulled Castro and brought in Mychal Givens.  Givens walked Judge to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez hit a single to right, a fly ball that dropped in front of Mark Trumbo.  Bird scored.  Not that I am complaining but I thought it was a lazy defensive effort by Trumbo.  Oh well, the Yankees had increased their lead to 5-2.  Showalter went to the pen again, this time bringing in former Yankees reliever Richard Bleier.  Didi Gregorius hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, a fly to center, scoring Gardner who slid into home just under the great outfield throw.  After Starlin Castro lined out to short, Chase Headley singled to right, scoring Judge.  The throw in from the outfield easily tagged Sanchez out at third for the final out, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 7-2.

Luis Severino was cruising.  He pitched as strongly in the 8th inning as he had earlier in the game, and he finished his day with three up, three down.  

Greg Bird added a run in the bottom of the 8th when he hit his 4th home run of the year, a solo shot to right into the second deck off Bleier.  It was good to see Bird get good results even if the run was unnecessary at that point.  Hopefully he’s on the path to showing us the hitter he was in Spring Training.  If he gets hot, the Yankees offense will be very hard to stop.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

David Robertson took over for Severino in the top of the 9th.  He started off by walking Manny Machado.  A wild pitch allowed Machado to move to second.  D-Rob was able to retire Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini, but another wild pitch moved Machado to third.  But there he would stay as Mark Trumbo flied out to left to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (81-66) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox and still trail by three games.  It looked like the Yanks might move to within two games when the Tampa Bay Rays had a 5-2 lead in the top of the 9th with closer Alex Colome on the mound, but the Sox scored 3 runs to tie it and eventually won 13-6 in 15 innings.  Although he was not the loser, it was a former Yankee on the mound (Chase Whitley) when Red Sox offense blew the flood gates open.  The Yankees did increase their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to four games.  The Twins lost a close 4-3 game to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yanks have a six-game advantage over the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.

Luis Severino is clearly the guy I want on the mound if the Yankees must settle for the Wild Card.  He pitched eight strong innings, allowing only three hits and the two runs on the 2nd inning homer.  He walked one and struck out seven.  As strong as he was pitching, he could have easily finished with a complete game.  But at 95 pitches and a six-run lead, it was better to let D-Rob close it out.  Sevy (13-6) lowered his season ERA to 2.93 with the performance.  Nice job, Sevy!

Didi Gregorius was clearly the hitting star with the home run and 4 RBI’s, but Chase Headley was 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored.  He did record an out on one of those hits when he tried, unsuccessfully, to stretch a single to a double.  Gary Sanchez chipped in two hits and a RBI.  Even though he didn’t get a hit, Aaron Judge was still in the mix with two runs scored courtesy of the walks he took.  Greg Bird, Brett Gardner and others…this was a great team win!

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Odds & Ends…

Sadly, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost the Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls.  The Rays’ top farm team took the championship with a Game Four victory to win the series, three games to one.  The RailRiders tried to claw back into the game but fell short, losing 6-4.  Brady Lail was the starter and loser.  

Now that the RailRiders’ season is over, I wonder if we’ll see the addition of guys like Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar to the MLB roster.  I really do not expect to see Chance Adams since the Yankees have no pressure to add him to the 40-man roster this year.  Cave, on the other hand, must be protected or he’ll most likely be lost in the Rule 5 Draft.  Erik Kratz, I know you’re batting 1.000 (2-for-2) but I think your taxi is here waiting for you.  I hope you enjoyed the show.

Credit:  Jason Farmer, Staff Photographer/Times-Tribune

It was great season for the Yankees farm teams even if the top two clubs were unable to deliver championships.  They are gaining the knowledge and experience that will help them deliver World Series championships for the big league team.  The bigger picture.  

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s take the series with a win today.  Go Yankees!

Advertisements

All Rise with Thumbs Down!…

Yankees 13, Orioles 5…

It is fun to have these kind of games. After Masahiro Tanaka set down the Baltimore Orioles with seven pitches in the top of the 1st inning, the Yankees offense jumped all over Orioles starter Wade Miley with six runs in the bottom of the inning enroute to the easy victory.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off for the Yankees with a single up the middle. Aaron Judge’s single to center, a fly that dropped in, advanced Ellsbury to third. Gary Sanchez doubled to the left field corner with a hard line drive that scored Ellsbury. Judge moved to third. Matt Holliday recorded the first out on a grounder to third, but Judge, running on contact, scored easily. The hits kept coming as Chase Headley singled to right over the second baseman’s glove, scoring Sanchez. Didi Gregorius lined a single to right, Headley moved to second. Todd Frazier made it a 6-0 game with his blast into Monument Park. End of the night for Miley after giving up six runs while getting only one out. Mike Wright came in for long relief.  Despite a two-out walk to Clint Frazier, Wright was able to get the O’s out of the inning without any further damage.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The Orioles got a run back when Jonathan Schoop led off the 4th inning with a homer to left, a high fly that momentarily looked foul but stayed in. They threatened for more when Adam Jones followed with a single and Trey Mancini reached base on a fielding error by Todd Frazier, but Masahiro Tanaka struck out sluggers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, and was able to get Wellington Castillo to ground into a force play at second to end the inning.

The Yankees quickly answered the call.  In the bottom of the 4th, Clint Frazier reached on a single to center and Jacoby Ellsbury walked. Aaron Judge stepped to the plate and drew the ‘It is high, it is far, it is gone!’ call from John Sterling with his shot to right center.  9-1, Yankees.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Trey Mancini homered in the top of the 6th with one out and no runners on, a fly into the second deck of right field. But like the 4th inning, the Yankees responded. Clint Frazier led off the bottom of the 6th with a double bouncing off the center field wall and Jacoby Ellsbury took another walk. Aaron Judge stepped up again.  While he was batting, I was thinking that his last homer was nice but it wasn’t crushed like we know that Judge can do.  Boom! He made up it for it with a monster blast to the second deck in left to make it a 12-2 game.  While we were still enjoying the thought of Judge’s 43rd homer, Gary Sanchez followed with a home run to center (another ball landing in Monument Park).  It was his 31st homer of the year, setting a new mark for Yankees catchers, breaking a tie with Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

In the top of the 7th, Orioles top prospect, catcher Chance Sisco, recorded his first major league hit with a double to the right field corner off Tanaka.  With runners at second and third, and only one out, Tanaka struck out Anthony Santander and Austin Hays to get out of the inning with no runs allowed. They were the final pitches thrown by Tanaka, who was replaced by Bryan Mitchell to start the 8th.  

I’ve always liked Bryan Mitchell, but this hasn’t been a great year for him.  Trey Mancini led off the 8th with a single to right on a line drive.  Mitchell was able to retire the next two batters on ground outs but Joey Rickard’s double to the left  field wall scored Mancini. Caleb Joseph followed with a double to the right field wall between the outfielders, scoring Rickard. Mitchell was finally able to get out of the inning when he got Tim Beckham to ground out.

Giovanny Gallegos took over for Mitchell in the top of the 9th inning.  Chance Sisco came to bat again after getting his first MLB hit two innings earlier and accomplished another first when he homered to the right field porch leading off.  I suspect that we’ll be seeing more…much more…from Sisco in the future.  The next batter, Anthony Santander, hit a high fly to right that looked like it had a chance for a back-to-back HR but it sailed just to the right of the foul pole.  Gallegos subsequently got Santander to strike out.  He retired the next two batters (great catch of a line drive by Ronald Torreyes at second to end the game), and the Yankees had the win.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Oakland A’s, 6-2, to maintain their three game lead over the Yankees (80-66).  The Yankees remained three games up in the Wild Card Standings.  The second-place WC team, the Minnesota Twins, beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2, in extra innings.  

Masahiro Tanaka (12-11) was the winner.  His final line was 7 innings, 8 hits (a bit high but he did a good job in leaving the runners stranded), 2 runs, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts.  He was also able to lower his season ERA to 4.73.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Sonny Gray was probably wondering why he can never get this type of run support…

Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA) takes the hill for the Yankees tonight.  He’ll be opposed by Gabriel Ynoa (1-1, 4.19).  Hopefully, the Yankees win and continue to put pressure on the Red Sox.  

Odds & Ends…

It was not a good night for the Yankees top two farm teams.  

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost Game 3 of the Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls, 6-2.  Chance Adams took the loss. The Bulls lead the series, 2 games to 1, and can take the championship with a win tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Brady Lail will draw the start and attempt to even the series.

The Trenton Thunder bowed out of the Eastern League Championship Series when they were swept by the Altoona Curve. The Curve defeated the Thunder, 4-2, to win the best-of-five series in three games. Will Carter was the starter and loser.  

Have a great Friday! Let’s have another thumbs-down performance! Go Yankees!

Credit:  YES Network

Turbulence at 10,000 Feet but Landing is Perfect…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 3, Rays 2…


The only way to play drama-free baseball with the Yankees bullpen is to insert Chad Green.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Joe Girardi made a few pitching moves that left a couple of Yankee pitchers with ruffled feathers but in the end, the Yankees came away with the game and series win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  It doesn’t matter how we get the “W” as long as we successfully get the “W”.


The Yankees jumped on Rays starter Chris Archer first.  Starlin Castro led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single to center.  He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who singled to right, putting runners at first and third.  Todd Frazier’s single to left center past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria scored Castro while Ellsbury took second.  After Clint Frazier struck out, Austin Romine walked to load the bases.  Brett Gardner singled through the hole to left, driving in both Ellsbury and the Toddfather.  The Yankees led, 3-0.  Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second so the Yanks were unable to push any further runs across.  Sadly, it would be the last runs the Yankees would see on the day.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 3rd but Archer struck out Clint Frazier to escape the jam.

While I was wishing that the Yankees had anyone on the mound not named  Jaime Garcia, the Rays got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run to right field.  It was Kiermaier’s second home run in as many days. But that’s the hazard of having Garcia pitch, you know the opponent is going to score runs.  The job is to score more than he allows.   


To the Yankees’ credit, they made Chris Archer work.  While they only got the three 2nd inning runs off him, Archer was gone after surrendering a lead-off double to Gary Sanchez in the top of the 5th.  Four innings of work with 92 pitches thrown.  Sonny Gray’s complete game on Tuesday was only 2 more pitches than Archer threw with four more innings.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t do more damage against Archer in light of their extended at-bats.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Jaime Garcia got the hook in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a two-out single to Lucas Duda.  With Evan Longoria coming to bat, Joe Girardi didn’t want to take any chances.  Chad Green came in and got the final out. I was actually amazed that Garcia made it into the 5th inning without allowing more than one run. He didn’t last long enough to qualify for a win but I can assure you that I did not shed a tear as he was walking off the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

As for Chad Green, he’s a freakin’ rock star.  I didn’t want the guy to make the opening day roster yet he’s been Mr Lights Out for the bullpen.  He showed off his magic when he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th.  I can see why  Joe Girardi gets the urge to leave Green in the game, but I was thankful that he only worked 1 1/3 innings despite his stellar work.  I’d rather have Green available on Thursday or Friday as opposed to waiting until Saturday at the earliest.  Need to keep this guy ready for frequent work.


Tommy Kahnle took over in the 7th.  It provoked Rays manager Kevin Cash to start making moves.  First up, Mallex Smith pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos and reached on a single to left field.  Corey Dickerson, pinch-hitting for Jesus Sucre, hit into a double play, first to second.  It was a good thing because Brad Miller followed, pinch-hitting for Danny Espinosa,  and singled to left.  If the Yankees had not been able to erase Smith at second, it is very possible that he could have scored on Miller’s hit.  Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left to end the drama, but Kahnle did his job.  It wasn’t as pretty as Green’s performance but the end result was the same…no runs for the Rays.


The Yankees had a great opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning.  Starlin Castro singled to left, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the right field line and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Clint Frazier had first crack but he popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison in foul territory. Next up was Austin Romine but he struck out to end the inning.  A huge missed opportunity to get at least a run or two more.


On to the 8th and it was Dellin’s turn.  Lucas Duda, potentially facing his last at-bat in his former ball park for this series, flied out to center in front of the warning track.  I was worried about him and it would not have surprised me to see the man on the field with the most career HR’s at Citi Field to have parked one.  It was not to be but it didn’t stop Evan Longoria, Yankee-killer, from hitting a single up the middle in the next at-bat. Betances always makes me think of former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and his reliever Don Stanhouse, whom Weaver referred to as “Full Pack” in reference to the number of cigarettes he would smoke during Stanhouse’s appearances. Betances does that to me even if I don’t smoke.  Dellin struck out Logan Morrison for the second out, but Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances. He made the call to the pen to bring in Aroldis Chapman an inning early.  Of course, Chapman walked his first batter (Stephen Souza, Jr) to move Longoria into scoring position at second base.  Adeiny Hechavarria, the latest Yankee-killer, singled to shallow center field, scoring Longoria. Hechavarria and Chapman played together in the Cuban Leagues ten years ago so there’s history between the two.  Souza moved to third to put runners at the corners.  Chapman finally struck out Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Mallex Smith, on a foul tip, but the Rays had closed the gap to 3-2. Those potential insurance runs in the 8th inning sure would have been nice.  


The Yankees blew another huge opportunity for runs in the 9th.  With Brad Boxberger pitching for the Rays, Brett Gardner led off with a single up the middle. With Chase Headley at bat, Gardy appeared to steal second base but he was sent back to first when it was ruled that Headley’s bat had hit the catcher’s arm for interference. Headley then singled to right, advancing Gardy to third.  Gardy probably would have scored had the steal been successful.  From there, the offense stalled.  Gary Sanchez struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius flied out to left (not deep enough to score Gardy).  Headley stole second but it didn’t really matter when Starlin Castro popped out to center to end the inning.  Ugh!


Chapman had me on the edge in the bottom of the 9th.  He walked the first batter, Curt Casali, a career .197 hitter.  WTF??!!  Fortunately, from there, Chapman struck out Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier.  Lucas Duda was able to make it to the plate for one final Citi Field “home” appearance with a chance to send the ball out of the park for a walk-off win.  But the Missile rose to the occasion and struck out Duda for the final out.  The Yankees win!


The Yankees (79-66) moved back to three games behind Boston with the win.  The Red Sox fell to the Oakland A’s, 7-3. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, so they recaptured third place from the Tampa Bay Rays.  The O’s trail the Yanks by 7 1/2 games entering play today. The Minnesota Twins held off the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in extra innings to remain three games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.  


Jaime Garcia was apparently very upset with Joe Girardi about the early hook but I could care less what Garcia thinks.  His Yankees career will be over soon. There’s no way he is a member of the 2018 Yankees.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-New York Post

Chad Green (5-0) picked up Garcia’s win with his stellar relief effort.  Aroldis Chapman captured his 18th save despite the high wire act.  


I was very grateful that those late missed scoring opportunities didn’t come back to bite the Yankees.  As we saw, they very possibly could have.  The Yankees will need to play better at home in the upcoming series if they want to continue to win.


Next Up:  Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Having completed the short stay in Queens, the Yankees return to home sweet home to face the fading Baltimore Orioles for a long four-game set. The O’s generally play the Yankees very tough so they’ll be looking to play the role of spoiler for this series.  If there is anything I’ve learned over the years it is to never underestimate Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Orioles:  Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82)

FRIDAY

Orioles:  Jeremy Hellickson (2-4, 6.54 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA)

SATURDAY

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)

SUNDAY

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA)

October is coming.  Live it, feel it.  Now is the time for the Yankees to make a charge!

Odds & Ends…

Game 2 of the International League Governor’s Cup Finals goes to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  The RailRiders beat the Durham Bulls, 4-0, behind stellar pitching from Domingo German (7 innings, one hit, no runs, three walks and eight K’s) and two relievers.  The Bulls featured an inning of relief from former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.  Nasty Nate pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Bulls, giving up two hits and striking out one.  The series is tied.  Game 3 will be tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Chance Adams will be on the mound for the RailRiders, while the Rays top prospect, Brent Honeywell, will pitch for the Bulls.


The news wasn’t so good in Trenton, NJ where the Thunder dropped Game 2 of their Eastern League Championship series to the Altoona Curve by a score of 4-2.  The losing pitcher was Justus Sheffield who had been part of a no-hitter during his previous outing.  The series now shifts to Altoona, PA this evening with the Curve needing to win just one game for the best-of-five championship. Will Carter (3-1, 3.26 ERA) gets the start for the Thunder.


Have a great Thursday!  Not asking for much today…just a win!  Go Yankees!

The Night of 2 Bad Pitches…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Rays 2, Yankees 1…

The Yankees picked a bad night to go dry offensively as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays despite a solid complete game effort from Sonny Gray.  In the end, it was two misplaced pitches that were deposited into the outfield seats that helped the Rays overcome the Yankees.  If the Yankees fall short of their bid to win the AL East, they’ll look back at games like this and wonder what could have been.

Matt Holliday put the Yankees on the board first.  Aaron Judge took a one-out walk in the top of the 1st inning, his 110th of the season to extend his own MLB rookie record.  He moved to second on a slow rolling ground out by Gary Sanchez.  Matt Holliday laced a double to left when the ball went under the glove of left fielder Corey Dickerson, scoring Judge.  But Holliday was left stranded when Starlin Castro followed by striking out.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Rays wasted no time in answering the run.  Rays leadoff hitter Kevin Kiermaier jumped on the first pitch by Sonny Gray to send it over the center field wall.  As YES Network announcer Al Leiter said, “Welcome to the game, Sonny Gray”.  

Gray rebounded and found his groove, shutting the Rays down until the 8th inning.  Unfortunately, he left a pitch high and over the middle of the plate for Adeiny Hechavarria and the hitter did not waste the opportunity.  He got all of the Gray pitch to send it over the wall in left center.  The Rays had their first lead of the game, 2-1.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the Yankees just couldn’t get any going.  Rare was the inning they sent more than three men to the plate.  A 5th inning walk by Todd Frazier, a 6th inning single by Brett Gardner, and a 7th inning single by Chase Headley were the only baserunners that the Yankees could get.  Unfortunately, none could get past first base, thanks in large part to ten strikeouts by Rays starter Blake Snell and the bullpen.  

The Yankees bowed out quietly in the 9th against Rays closer Alex Colome who picked up his 44th save.  

The Boston Red Sox beat the punchless Oakland A’s, 11-1, so they increased their AL East lead over the Yankees (78-66) to four games. The Minnesota Twins scored two touchdowns and a safety in destroying the San Diego Padres, 16-0 (hey, it’s football season, gimme a break!).  So, the lead in the Wild Card Standings shrank to three games. The Rays were able to leap-frog the Baltimore Orioles for third place in the AL East with the win. They are 7 games behind the Yankees. The O’s lost a close 3-2 game to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sonny Gray’s final line was great.  He pitched 8 innings and only allowed five hits, two runs, and one walk.  He struck out five.  But the killer was two home runs out of 94 pitches thrown.  Run support has not been Gray’s friend during his short Yankees career.  In his five losses as a Yankee, he’s been backed by four runs.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Frazier, making his return from the disabled list, tried.  He had a couple of deep balls in his two at-bats, the second of which would have been met with “See ya!” from Michael Kay had the game been played at Yankee Stadium. Instead, it was just a running catch by Rays right fielder Stephen Souza, Jr.

Credit:  Anthony J Causi-NY Post

I wish I had more optimism about today’s game but it is hard to get excited about Jaime Garcia, especially when he is going against Chris Archer.  On paper, it looks like a mismatch in favor of the Rays.  The Yankees have had a fair amount of success against Archer so hopefully this afternoon will be another one of those times.  We need runs.  Hopefully the offense decides to bring their bats for the series finale.

Odds & Ends…

It was also a bad night for the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders as they dropped Game 1 of the International League’s Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls (Rays), 6-0.  The losing pitcher for the RailRiders was starter Ronald Herrera.  Not much offense as the RailRiders were only able to pound out three hits (two by Mason Williams).  Game 2 is scheduled for this evening in Durham, NC.  Domingo German gets the start for the RailRiders.

Credit:  Ben McKeown-for Times Leader

The losing continued with the Double A Trenton Thunder as they dropped Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) by a score of 2-1.  The losing pitcher for the Thunder was Dillon Tate, who like Sonny Gray pitched a great game.  But at the end of the game, the scoreboard showed more runs for the other team.  Game 2 will be this evening in Trenton, NJ with Justus Sheffield on the mound for the home team.

Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s make it a Winning Wednesday for the Pinstripers and their top farm teams!  Go Yankees…and RailRiders…and Thunder!

Plouffe! The Toddfather Has Spoken…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 5, Rays 1…

A fielding error by Rays third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the 4th inning opened the door for an offensive outburst that was capped by a three-run homer by Todd Frazier. The single inning explosion carried the Yankees to victory over the “home” Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, NY.  

Credit:  Steven Ryan-Getty Images

For three innings, the Yankees couldn’t muster a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, the Rays scratched out a run against the Yanks in the bottom of the 2nd. Lucas Duda, at home at Citi Field and using his old locker, drew a walk to start the inning.  Yankees starter CC Sabathia retired the next two batters and had Adeiny Hechavarria down to two strikes. Hechavarria battled and finally on the 9th pitch of the at-bat tripled to the center field wall, splitting the outfielders, to score Duda with the game’s first run.  

Aaron Judge opened the 4th inning with a walk, extending his own MLB record for most walks by a rookie to 108. Gary Sanchez finally got the first hit for the Yankees, a line drive to center. The Yankees had runners at the corners.  Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge standing up. The game was tied.  Starlin Castro struck out for the second out. Then the magic happened.  Well, maybe not from Trevor Plouffe’s perspective. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third that Plouffe was unable to field (under his glove). As the ball rolled down the left field line, Sanchez scored to give the Yankees the lead and Holliday moved to second on the play. On a full count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher’s interference when his bat hit the catcher’s mitt. It was the 30th career catcher’s interference for Ellsbury which surpassed Pete Rose for the most all-time. Todd Frazier came to the plate and homered to left off the facing in the second deck to make it 5-1.  The Yankees got two more runners on base when Tyler Austin doubled to the left field wall and Brett Gardner walked. It spelled the end for Jake Odorizzi who went from a no-hitter to a four-run deficit despite only allowing one earned run. Rays reliever Chaz Roe came in and struck out Aaron Judge, who had led off the inning, to end the Yankees’ rally.

CC Sabathia was allowing baserunners, giving up two singles in both the third and fourth innings, but had been escaping unscathed.  He got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th. He walked Peter Bourjos to start the inning. After striking out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches, Trevor Plouffe singled to center over Sabathia’s back with Bourjos moving to second. Manager Joe Girardi opted to take no further chances and pulled Sabathia (to avoid a confrontation with Evan Longoria). The move appeared justified when David Robertson came in and struck out both Longoria and Lucas Duda to end the threat. Sabathia probably wasn’t too happy with the early hook, but he had thrown 88 pitches and allowed six hits. It was only a matter of time before the Rays broke through but the D-Rob insurance card paid off. 

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-The New York Daily News

The Rays did have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th with D-Rob still pitching. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-out ground-rule double which hit the warning track in left and bounced off the back wall. He took third on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez, but was left stranded when Danny Espinosa grounded out to short.

The Yankees got their final hit of the night in the 7th inning when Brett Gardner led off with a single to left. A failed stolen base attempt, a perfect throw from catcher Wilson Ramos to second baseman Danny Espinosa, sent Gardy to the bench.

D-Rob pitched the bottom of the 7th, making this outing the longest in his career (pitching a total of 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with 4 K’s).  

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

The bottom of the 8th brought out Dellin Betances and it was time to start drinking heavily. Evan Longoria started off with a single that dropped in right field. Betances struck out Lucas Duda for the first out, but then walked Cesar Puello. Aargh! Logan Morrison was up next, pinch-hitting for Wilson Ramos, and I was seeing images of a three-run home run to make it a one-run game. Fortunately, those visions proved false as Betances struck out Morrison. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out, with Aaron Judge running to the wall, for the final out. Whew! That was a hard inning to sit through…

Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th. After a brief pause on my part hoping that Chapman has truly righted the ship, he proceeded to retire the side on ten pitches. It wasn’t a save opportunity but the result was the same.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (78-65) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox so they now trail by 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, so the gap between the Yanks and the third-place O’s is now 7 1/2 games. The win also increased the Yankees lead in the Wild Card Standings to 4 games.  

David Robertson (8-2) picked up the vulture win with Sabathia’s inability to make it through five full innings. The Yankees were outhit by the Rays, 8 to 4, but they obviously made the most of their hits with Todd Frazier’s home run leading the way.

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees activated OF Clint Frazier off of the disabled list on Monday. Red Thunder was somewhat underwhelming in his rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder. In 17 at-bats, he had only 2 hits and 10 strikeouts. Here’s hoping that his return to the Pinstripes is little more successful. He should slot back into the fourth outfielder role that has been lacking since Aaron Hicks went on the DL.

When Aaron Judge hit his 40th home run, he joined some lofty company. Prior to Judge’s home run, the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs at 25 years or younger were Babe Ruth (54, 1920), Lou Gehrig (47, 1927), Joe DiMaggio (46, 1937), and Mickey Mantle (52, 1956). That’s a nice group of names to rub shoulders with…

Have a great Tuesday! Seems like a great day for another win! Go Yankees!

Dueling Dingers by All Rise & The Kraken…

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Yankees 16, Rangers 7…

Given it was the opening weekend for the NFL, I guess it was appropriate for the Yankees to win using a football score. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both homered twice to power the Yankees to the series-clinching win over the Texas Rangers.  

The Yankees didn’t waste any time getting on the board. With two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez hit a long home run to left center, a solo shot that traveled 412 feet, off Rangers starter A.J. Griffin for the early 1-0 lead.  It was El Gary’s 29th homer of the year.  

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

The Rangers got the run back in the bottom of the 2nd when catcher Robinson Chirinos took Jordan Montgomery deep with a solo shot of his own to the right field bleachers.

Brett Gardner led off the top of the 3rd with a single to left past a diving Joey Gallo. After Chase Headley flied out to center for the first out, Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch on the back of his shoulder to put runners at first and second. A double to the wall in right by Didi Gregorius scored Gardner with the go-ahead run, while Sanchez moved to third.  Starlin Castro reached base when he hit into a fielder’s choice at third. Third baseman Joey Gallo made the decision to try and tag Sanchez who started toward home but turned back. Sanchez beat Gallo back to third so all runners were safe. Aaron Judge followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Sanchez. It was 3-1 Yankees.

With A.J. Griffin still on the mound for the Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the 4th.  Austin Romine lined a single to left, moving Ellsbury to second. That was all for Griffin as the Rangers brought in reliever Nick Martinez.  Brett Gardner greeted Martinez with a triple to the center field wall which scored Ellsbury and Romine. Chase Headley’s single to center through the drawn-in infield scored Gardy. Gary Sanchez doubled down the left field line, advancing Headley to third. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Headley.  Sanchez moved to third. Starlin Castro hit into a double play at short, with the Rangers recording the outs at second and first but Sanchez scored.  Aaron Judge was next up to take swings against the Yankees-friendly Martinez.  He blasted a solo home run to center, his 40th of the year.  It was 9-1 Yankees and the end of Martinez’s enjoyable stay. Texas brought in reliever Yohander Mendez to replace Martinez and he retired Greg Bird on a pop out in foul territory to end the inning.  

In the bottom of the 4th, Jordan Montgomery walked the first two batters he faced (Robinson Chirinos and Joey Gallo). After striking out Rougned Odor, Montgomery gave up a run-scoring double to left over the head of Brett Gardner by Ryan Rua. Gallo moved to third.  Monty was removed at that point, failing to get the additional two outs he needed to qualify for the win.  Chad Green came in and surrendered a sacrifice fly to center by Delino DeShields which scored Gallo to make it 9-3. Green then struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning, leaving Rua stranded at third.  

The Yankees added to their lead in the 5th. Doubles to right by both Jacoby Ellsbury and Austin Romine had runners at second and third. After Brett Gardner grounded out to first, Chase Headley hit a grounder to third but the ball bounced off Joey Gallo’s glove. Shortstop Elvis Andrus got to the ball but he became distracted with Jacoby Ellsbury at third and had no play. The bases were loaded.  Gary Sanchez flied out to right field in foul territory for the second out.  Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring both Ellsbury and Romine, but he was caught off first base by the throw from the outfield for the final out. The Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.

Credit the Texas Rangers for refusing to roll over.  They led off the bottom of the 5th with a double to center by Elvis Andrus.  Mike Napoli’s single to left scored Andrus to make it 11-4. Green retired the next three batters to move the game to the top of the 6th.

After Starlin Castro grounded out to start the 6th, Aaron Judge blasted a long home run to left center that traveled 463 feet for his second HR of the game and 41st of the year.  12-4, Yankees.

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Gary Sanchez led off the top of the 8th with his second long home run of the game. The shot to center off Rangers pitcher Tyson Ross, which fell two feet short of Judge’s last blast, was El Gary’s 30th of the year and it increased the Yankee lead to 13-4.

Dellin Betances took over for Tommy Kahnle to start the bottom of the 8th.  Kahnle had relieved Green with two outs in the bottom of the 6th and had kept the Rangers off the board. Betances was not so lucky.  He started off right by striking out Drew Robinson but then proceeded to walk Ryan Rua and Delino Deshields.  Shin-Soo Choo took advantage of Dellin’s control problems by hitting a two-run double to right center to make it 13-6. It must have served as a wakeup call for Betances as he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.  

On to the 9th. Tyson Ross was still on the mound for the Rangers and he walked Jacoby Ellsbury to get things started. Austin Romine singled to left, with Ellsbury moving to second.  Tyler Wade singled to center to score Ellsbury.  14-6, Yankees, with Romine moving to third.  Up to the plate strolled Erik Kratz, pinch-hitting for Gary Sanchez and making his first official at-bat for the Yankees. His double to deep left center scored both Romine and Wade to make it a 16-6 game. Welcome to the Pinstripes, Mr Kratz!  That hit may have earned you a free, all-expenses paid trip to New York City.  

The bottom the 9th brought out Caleb Smith to relieve Betances. Smith retired the first two hitters on pop outs, but then he walked Brett Nicholas, who had the only Rangers hit in Saturday’s game against Luis Severino. Drew Robinson hit a long fly ball to deep left that fell in against the wall to score Nicholas to make it 16-7. Smith recovered and struck out Ryan Rua to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

The Yankees (77-65) pulled back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox with the win. Boston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1. The Baltimore Orioles trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games after falling to the Cleveland Indians, 3-2.  It was Cleveland’s 18th consecutive win. The Rays trail the Yankees by 7 games. The Yankees also increased their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to 3 1/2 games. The Twins were defeated 11-3 by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. The Los Angeles Angels are a game behind the Twins following their 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.  

Chad Green (4-0) picked up the win in relief of Jordan Montgomery.

Aaron Judge is only the second rookie in MLB history with at least 40 home runs. Mark McGwire holds the record with 49 in 1987. Judge also set the MLB record for most walks by a rookie when he walked for the 107th time in the 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius tied a career high with four hits, and same with Gary Sanchez in scoring four runs. The Yankees had 18 hits in total, ten of which were for extra bases.  

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field, Flushing Meadow (Queens), New York…

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by Hurricane Irma. It must be very tough for the Rays to be on the road while friends and family are dealing with the impact of the hurricane in Florida. It’s unfortunate that the Rays are unable to play this series on their home turf and we wish them  and their families the very best as they deal with the aftermath of the disaster.  

For the games on the field, here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA)

Rays:  Jake Odorizzi (8-7, 4.58 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-9, 3.22 ERA)

Rays:  Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.88 ERA)

Rays:  Chris Archer (9-9, 4.00 ERA)

Wednesday’s game looks to be a bit of a mismatch so hopefully the Yankees can take at least the first two games.  

Odds & Ends...

Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders! They won their best-of-five International League Division Series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.  Nestor Cortes got the win with seven strong innings. He held the IronPigs to five hits and no runs. He walked a batter and struck out eight. Nick Rumbelow worked out of trouble in the 9th after two singles to record the save. He struck out Dylan Cozens to end the game and preserve the shutout win.  The RailRiders scored their only run in the 7th inning on a home run by Mike Ford.

The RailRiders will advance to the best-of-five Governor’s Cup Finals to play the Durham Bulls (Rays). The series begins Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.  

The Yankees activated 1B Garrett Cooper from the DL and optioned him to the RailRiders. He had been on a rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder. The Yankees are also expected to activate OF Clint Frazier sometime this week. He has also been on a rehab assignment with Trenton.  The Thunder will begin play in the Eastern League Championship Series on Tuesday.

Have a great Monday! The Yanks may still be on the road but they are back in NYC!  Go Yankees!  

No Hits For You — Well, Maybe One!…

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

Yankees 3, Rangers 1…

Luis Severino was spectacular on Saturday as he combined with two relievers to one-hit the Texas Rangers. Sevy didn’t get the win, but he was masterful a day after Masahiro Tanaka’s implosion. Manager Joe Girardi went with the “A” team for the bullpen, using David Robertson (the winner) and Aroldis Chapman (the save).  

Brett Gardner kicked off the game with a single to left.  However, the Yankees came up empty when Chase Headley hit a sharp fly to center that Gardy thought was going to drop in.  He took off for second and thinking the ball would fall, he accelerated for third. Unfortunately, Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez made a great catch. There was no chance for Gardy to get back to first so the Rangers were able to complete the easy double play.  Gary Sanchez popped out to short so it was time to start the Luis Severino Show.

The Yankees came up with a great defensive play of their own in the bottom of the first when Jacoby Ellsbury, echoing shades of his younger self, recorded the final out with a diving catch to rob Elvis Andrus of a hit.  The play received an ovation from Severino on the mound.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rangers’ Carlos Gomez had to be helped off the field during an at-bat when he rolled his right ankle after hitting a grounder to second and suffered a high ankle sprain.

Through the early innings, Severino was cruising but unfortunately so was Rangers starter Andrew Cashner.    The Yankees threatened again in the top of the 3rd when Brett Gardner hit a two-out single to left.  Chase Headley singled to right to put the runners at the corners, but Gary Sanchez went down swinging to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, with the Rangers still searching for their first hit against Severino, Joey Gallo walked to start the inning for the Rangers.  Will Middlebrooks hit into a fielder’s choice at third and the Yankees erased Gallo at second but they were unable to turn the double play.  Rangers backup catcher Brett Nicholas, starting in place of Robinson Chirinos who had the day off, doubled to the right field corner to score Middlebrooks.  It was the only hit the Rangers would get off Severino and the Yankees bullpen for the duration of the game.  

Luis Severino pitched through the 7th inning but the Yankees still trailed 1-0.

In the top of the 8th with Andrew Cashner still on the mound for the Rangers, Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch.  That would be all for Cashner, who did a magnificent job.  The Rangers brought in Alex Claudio to replace Cashner.  The Yankees sent up Matt Holliday to pinch hit for Greg Bird.  Holliday singled to right and Frazier moved to third.  Tyler Wade replaced Holliday at first.  After Brett Gardner fouled out to the catcher, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly deep to center to score Frazier.  The game was tied.  Gary Sanchez singled to left past shortstop Elvis Andrus, moving Wade to second.  However, the Yankees were unable to capitalize when Didi Gregorius grounded out to the defensive shift at short/second to end the inning.

David Robertson pitched a clean bottom of the 8th to send the game to the 9th.

With Alex Claudio still pitching for the Rangers, Starlin Castro led off the 9th with a single to right.  Aaron Judge hit a grounder to third and the throw erased Castro at second.  The Rangers were unable to turn the double play when the relay to first pulled Joey Gallo off the bag so Judge was safe.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right which advanced Judge to third.  The Rangers replaced Claudio with Ricky Rodriguez.  Todd Frazier was hit by pitch, again, so he took first and Ellsbury moved to second.  The bases were loaded.  Tyler Austin, who had entered the game in the bottom of the 8th to replace Bird, singled to left on a hard hit ball which brought Judge home with the go-ahead run.  

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Brett Gardner was unable to advance the runners when he popped out to short.  It brought Chase Headley to the plate with the bases still packed.  He patiently took a walk which brought Ellsbury home with the second run of the inning.  The Yankees led 3-1. The Rangers made another pitching change to bring in Nick Gardewine. Gardewine ended the Yankees rally by getting Gary Sanchez to hit into a fielder’s choice which forced Headley at second.  

Bottom the 9th and the heart of the Rangers order due up.  It was time for the return of Aroldis Chapman to his endeared role as the Yankees closer.  He did not disappoint.  After Elvis Andrus grounded out to second (Starlin Castro’s brilliant throw to first just beat the runner as confirmed by the challenge replay), Chapman struck out both Nomar Mazara and pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees (76-65) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox, behind Chris Sale, dismantled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-0, and maintained their 4 1/2 game lead over the Yankees.  The Cleveland Indians won their 17th game in a row.  Their 4-2 victory over Baltimore pushed the O’s 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  

It was an incredible effort by Luis Severino.  He pitched seven innings, allowing only the single hit and run.  He walked three and struck out ten.  The outing lowered his season ERA to 2.96.  David Robertson (7-2) picked up the win and Aroldis Chapman captured his 17th save.  

For the Yankees offense, they had nine hits but all were singles.  Brett Gardner (2-for-5) was the only hitter with multiple hits.  Chase Headley had 2 RBI’s and Tyler Austin had the crucial game-winning RBI in the 9th.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have a change in the pitching match-up for today’s game.  Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.14 ERA) will start in place of CC Sabathia, who was moved to Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field in Queens.  A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09 ERA), who had originally been scheduled to pitch on Saturday until Andrew Cashner was moved up, will start for the Rangers.  The Minnesota Twins lost so they are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings (holding the 2nd spot).  The Los Angeles Angeles and Texas Rangers are 2 and 2 1/2 games behind the Twins, respectively.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders won Game 3 of their Governor’s Cup best-of-five first round series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies).  The 6-1 win, behind the arm of Brady Lail, gives the RailRiders the 2-1 series advantage. Donovan Solano was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Mason Williams was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Billy McKinney homered for the second time in the series with a two-run shot in the 6th inning.

Credit:  Fred Adams-for Times Leader

Game 4 is scheduled for today at 1:05 pm at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Nestor Cortes (2-4, 1.49 ERA) takes the mound in the potential series-clinching game.  he’ll face Jacob Waguespack (9-7, 3.42 ERA in A-Adv and AA this year).

The Double A Trenton Thunder crushed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets), 9-1, in Game 4 of their Eastern League Division Series to win the series and advance to the Eastern League Championship Series.  They’ll face the Altoona Curve (Pirates) with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ.  

As expected, the Yankees signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop prospect Ronny Rojas.  The Yankees have long been tied to the youngster but he didn’t turn 16 until August 23rd.  Rojas was rated as the eleventh best unsigned international prospect earlier this summer by MLB.com.  He is the highest rated Yankees signing behind OF Everson Pereira, who was rated fourth.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s take this series and head for NYC!  Go Yankees!