Tagged: 4th of July

Yankee Doodle Bland-y…

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Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1…

The 4th of July is a great time for America as it celebrates the birth of our country.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable to provide any fireworks as they fell quietly to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.  

The game marked the return of CC Sabathia. Before the game, Manager Joe Girardi was hoping for 5 or 6 innings from Sabathia.  Unfortunately, it would prove to be something comparable to me hoping for winning PowerBall numbers. In retrospect, maybe CC should have taken a rehab assignment.  

The first inning went well enough as Sabathia retired the first three batters on fly outs to center, although he had Jacoby Ellsbury running hard for several of them.  The 2nd inning saw another three up, three down pass through the Jays lineup.  So far, so good.

Then, the 3rd inning happened.  The first two batters…no problem.  Steve Pearce flied out to left and Kevin Pillar struck out swinging.  Then, with two outs, Darwin Barney walked.  A wild pitch by Sabathia moved Barney to second.  Joey Bats followed with a single to right, scoring Barney.  Russell Martin singled and Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases.  Adam Warren got up in the bullpen to begin warming up.  On a 3-2 count, Sabathia threw Ball 4, high and outside, to Justin Smoak, which scored Bautista.  Kendrys Morales stepped up and lined a single to left through the hole, which scored Martin and Donaldson.  4-0 Blue Jays and it was shower time for Sabathia.  Warren came in to record the final out but the damage was done.  63 pitches by Sabathia (39 in the 3rd inning alone) and he was clearly laboring at the end.  He finished with 3 hits and 4 runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking 3 and striking out just 1.  Sabathia (7-3) saw his season ERA inflate to 3.81.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Yankees’ lone highlight came in the bottom of the 4th when All-Star Aaron Judge crushed a J.A. Happ pitch 456 feet to center, a line drive, for his 28th home run of the year.  The Statcast exit velocity of the ball was measured at 118.4 mph.  One more home run and Judge will match the Yankees rookie season HR record held by Joe DiMaggio. 

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

From there, the Yankees could not muster any further offense against Happ or the Jays bullpen.  Happ, a 20-game winner in 2016, picked up only his 3rd win of the year with six strong innings, holding the Yankees to four hits and the lone run.  The Jays pen held the Yankees hitless for the duration of the game.  It was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen too, most notably the 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief provided by Luis Cessa.  

The Yankees will attempt to take the series today with a win before the Jays leave town.  Tomorrow represents an off day (finally).  In their final series before the All-Star Break, the Yankees will host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games beginning Friday.  

The Yankees (44-38) slid four games behind Boston as the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 11-4.  Boston’s on a roll now with their sixth consecutive victory.   The Tampa Bay Rays are quietly sneaking up on the Yankees for second place as they are now just 1 1/2 games in back of the Pinstripers.  The Rays beat their former manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs yesterday, 6-5.  

It would have been great if the Yankees could have won on the birthdays of the United States and late owner George Steinbrenner but it was not meant to be.  We can only hope that the winning magic will return today.  Michael Pineda can make it happen.  

Odds & Ends…

After yesterday’s game, the Yankees dumped Chris Carter again.  It’s time for Carter to seek employment elsewhere.  In his final game for the Yankees, Carter was 0-for-2 and dropped a ball from Didi Gregorius in the 7th that was scored a hit for Joey Bats.  Fortunately for us, the Yankees decided it was time to pull the plug on Chris Carter Experiment II and have promoted first baseman Ji-Man Choi from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his place.  In 55 games for the RailRiders, Choi, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, hit 8 HR’s and 41 RBI’s while batting .286.  Choi is not the answer but at this point, he’s better than the man he replaced.  Choi will be available for today’s game.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

The Yankees’ decision to send Bryan Mitchell to Triple A on Tuesday rather than Luis Cessa was based on the desire for Mitchell to continue working as a starter for potential help in the rotation later in the season if necessary.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

Logan Morrison, shut up.  The Rays first baseman called out Gary Sanchez on Tuesday when he said the Yankees catcher did not deserve to participate in next week’s Home Run Derby.  In the midst of a career season, Morrison said “I remember when I had 14 home runs (Sanchez currently has 13).  That was a month and a half ago.”  Morrison was not selected for the All-Star Game and is currently one of five listed on the AL Final Vote ballot, along with Didi Gregorius and Mike Moustakas.  Even if Morrison somehow won the Final Vote, I seriously doubt that baseball fans would want to see him over Sanchez in the Home Run Derby.  Morrison can go spend next week in Tampa or Kansas City or wherever he’s from while Sanchez heads for Miami.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I prefer to see this as Winnin’ Wednesday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

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Chasing the Victory…

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Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

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

The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

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

After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

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

The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough…somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today’s game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!

It’s July and the Yankees are in first place, what could go wrong?…

Happy 4th of July!

American Flag, baseball

Holding their own…

All things considered, I should be grateful the Yankees hold a slim 1/2 game lead entering play today.  Truth is, every team in the AL East still has a shot, including the Boston Red Sox if they are able to strengthen their pitching rotation.

The Yankees still have too many holes to win in October, but we’ll see what the July trading deadline brings (if anything).  My single biggest fear is the Yankees trading one of their top prospects like Luis Severino or Aaron Judge.  I am not sure that I’d want to part with either, even if the return meant someone like Cole Hamels.  Cole is 31 and at some point in the not-so-distant future, he’s going to look more like CC Sabathia than Clayton Kershaw.

CC So-BAD-thia…

Speaking of CC, his contract is feeling as heavy as A-Rod’s.  At least Alex is providing some return this year, CC has only served to be a momentum killer.  Anytime the Yankees get on a roll, it’s a certainty it will come to a scratching halt with another marginal Sabathia performance.  I keep hearing how he needs to reinvent himself as a pitcher (ala Andy Petite) but so far there have been no signs he’ll be able to make the conversion.  He’s clearly become the #5 guy in the rotation and it’s sad that Adam Warren, who has been effective, is the one to lose his spot.  I know, it’s about the innings, but still.

With news that CC is going to be skipped on his next start to allow him to have additional rest, the sportswriters talked about his snippy responses as a result.  CC should accept that he is no longer the pitcher he once was and should take every opportunity to try to improve himself.  Snippy comments, if true, serve no purpose, and are an indication that CC is still not mentally ready to work on being a new pitcher in the latter stages of his career.

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Every pitcher in the rotation has gone through struggles this year, but for the most part, they’ve rebounded.  Nathan Eovaldi pitches the worst game of the year against his former team, the Miami Marlins, and has been a rock ever since.  Masahiro Tanaka is not pitching like the ace he once was, but he is managing to keep his team in a position to win.  Michael Pineda has been uneven but is still probably the best pitcher on the roster.  Ivan Nova has been a breath of fresh air, but he’s not a top of the rotation pitcher.  With the inconsistency of the entire staff, the Yankees cannot afford Sabathia’s repeated clunkers.  At some point, he needs to make way for Luis Severino.

I realize the Yankees would have to pay most of the salary, but it’s too bad that they can’t find a way to find Sabathia a new home.  I really do not wish to see him to continue to grow old on the Yankees roster.  A change of scenery often works wonders…just ask A.J. Burnett.  Even reliever David Carpenter, who failed in the Bronx, has found new life in Washington.  I am just not convinced that CC will be able to reinvent himself.  I feel that what we have is what we are going to get and it will only get worse from here.  I’d love for him to prove me wrong.

The Redemption Tour continues…

Congratulations to the Yankees for settling the $6 million bonus issue with Alex Rodriguez.  The compromise which results in the Yankees giving $3.5 million to charity.  I know there were financial implications (the Yankees no longer have to pay luxury tax on the $6 million bonus) but I feel that they had taken the right approach.  I have been a very big critic of Alex Rodriguez, although I do admit that he’s been a model citizen this season.  I do not rejoice in his proud moments, like the 3,000th hit, but I’ve stayed away from negative comments too.  After all these years, Alex is finally just letting his performance say his words.  Knowing that it is a “clean” performance, it is the best case scenario.

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USA Today Sports

It’s almost Miller Time!…

While Dellin Betances has done a good job as the Yankees closer, I am looking forward to the return of Andrew Miller and pushing Betances back to his setup role.  The bullpen is at its strongest when those two are on.  It will allow Manager Joe Girardi to have greater flexibility with the other pieces in the pen.  Given the struggles of the starting rotation, a strong bullpen in the second half of the season is a must.  I know, that’s a Captain Obvious statement…

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Jay Buhner, we hardly knew ye…

If the Yankees make any moves, I hope that they do not sacrifice the future for the present.  GM Brian Cashman has shown commitment to his plan to rebuild the farm system, so I do not expect the George Steinbrenner impulsive moves of the 80’s but it’s always hard to see a former Yankees prospect do well in another uniform.  The latest was the successful major league debut by Manny Banuelos for the Atlanta Braves.  Although he was pulled for health reasons and did not get the win, it was still a quality performance.  We had expected to see it in the Bronx until injuries derailed the plan.

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Happy Birthday America!

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—Scott