Tagged: Aaron Hicks

A Hole Too Deep…

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

Rangers 7, Yankees 6…

Bad Mike seems to be making more frequent appearances these days.  Unfortunately, Michael Pineda chose the day of the 71st Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium to throw up another stink ball.  

The Yankees were immediately in the hole when the Texas Rangers opened with three runs in the top of the first.  Delino DeShields, Jr. led off with a double and scored on a single by Elvis Andrus.  Old-Timer Adrian Beltre, showing that he still has it, followed with a homer to left.

In the Rangers’ second, after Jonathan Lucroy opened with a single, Pineda came within a strike of getting out of the inning when he walked DeShields.  Shin-Soo Choo made Pineda pay for it with a three-run blast to the second deck in right.  It was 6-0 Rangers before most people had time to settle in to watch the game.  

Pineda gave us a little view of his dominant side in the third when he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout.  It was a facade. In the 4th, with two outs, the Rangers added what would prove to be the game-winning insurance run when rookie second baseman Drew Robinson grabbed his first major league hit with a solo home run to center.  The Rangers held a commanding 7-0 lead.

Pineda (7-4) didn’t come back for the fifth so his final line was ugly.  4 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, 3 home runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts.  The outing pushed his ERA back over 4 to 4.12.  

Tyler Webb, making his second major league appearance, pitched the fifth.  It didn’t start well for Webb when he walked the first two batters on 3-2 counts.  But he rebounded to get Beltre to hit into a double play and struck out Rougned Odor.  

In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees made it a game again.  Mason Williams led off with a single.  Following outs by Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner, Austin Romine struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch by Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez.  Aaron Judge followed with a run-scoring single to push the first Yankee run across the plate.  Gary Sanchez made it 7-4 with a three-run shot to center.  

The Yankees continued to chip away when Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with his second home run of the season, a shot to left.  Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez walked with two outs. Didi Gregorius singled to right to score Judge, but Sanchez was tagged out at third to end the inning.  The Yankees had closed to within one run, 7-6.  “That’s a mistake on my part.  I should never be the last out at third base.” — said Sanchez through an interpreter after the game.  

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

A scoring opportunity was wasted in the eighth inning when Chase Headley opened with a double, but he was left stranded at second, thanks to a ground out and two strikeouts.  The Yankees had one more shot in the 9th when Aaron Judge hit a two-out single but Gary Sanchez went down swinging against Rangers closer Matt Bush to end the game.  

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

Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect top of the 9th, striking out the side in the losing effort.  Despite the loss, it was good to see a solid effort by the Yankees bullpen.  Webb, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Chapman pitched five scoreless innings after the Pineda debacle.

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

Aaron Hicks left the game with right oblique tightness.  He was scheduled to have a MRI last evening and the immediate word is that he could miss up to 3-4 weeks.  Jacoby Ellsbury is the most likely choice for activation after a weekend of rehab starts.  He was 2-for-5 on Sunday, with 2 RBI’s, for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  This would be a great time to promote Dustin Fowler, but then again, there is the small issue of room on the 40-man roster.  No word yet on the Yankees plans when Hicks is placed on the DL.

Both Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro missed the game.  Holliday is still dealing with the allergic reaction that arose in Oakland while Castro had a cortisone shot for a sore wrist.

The Yankees (40-33) remained tied for first place in the AL East as the Los Angeles Angeles defeated the Boston Red Sox again, 4-2.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 8-5, so they are still 2 1/2 games behind.  The bottom two teams in the AL East were the only ones to gain ground.  The Orioles are 4 games back, while the Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Kansas City Royals 8-2, are 5 games.  

Hopefully, the Yankees can rediscover the magic that has alluded them since the West Coast road trip.  They’ll be in Chicago tonight to start a four-game series against the White Sox.  If they can’t start winning with consistency, next weekend in Houston is not going to be pretty.

2017 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium

The weather cooperated for the 71st Old Timer’s Day.  It was a beautiful setting for the pre-game announcements and it was spectacular to see so many Yankee greats and their families.  

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Following a recorded intro by the late Bob Sheppard, Michael Kay and John Sterling had the honors of the pre-game introductions.

Widows of Yankee Greats

Helen Hunter, wife of Jim “Catfish” Hunter

Jill Martin, wife of Billy Martin

Diana Munson, wife of Thurman Munson

Kay Murcer, wife of Bobby Murcer

Former Players and Managers, and a Long-Time Trainer

Scott Bradley

Pat Kelly

Jesse Barfield

Scott Kamienicki

Tanyon Sturtze

Homer Bush

Marcus Thames

John Flaherty

Kevin Maas

Rick Cerone

Stump Merrill

Lee Mazzilli

Gene Michael

Gene Monahan

Mariano Duncan

Charlie Hayes

Graeme Lloyd

Jeff Nelson

Ramiro Mendoza

David Cone

Brian Doyle

Mike Torrez

Mickey Rivers

Roy White

Bucky Dent

Sparky Lyle

Al Downing

Ralph Terry

Hector Lopez

Don Larsen

Bobby Brown

Tino Martinez

Paul O’Neill

Willie Randolph

Ron Guidry

Bernie Williams

Jorge Posada

Rickey Henderson

Rich Gossage

Reggie Jackson

Joe Torre

Whitey Ford

Tim Raines

The Chairman of the Board
Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees presented two chairs from the old Yankee Stadium to Raines in recognition of his entry into the Hall of Fame, Class of 2017.  

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

They also gave tribute to the many members of the Yankees family that have departed in the past year.

The Old Timer’s Game saw the Clippers defeat the Bombers, 2-1.  

Next Up:  The Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, IL

Here are the pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (5-4, 3.74 ERA)

White Sox:  David Holmberg (1-1, 2.84 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.30 ERA)

White Sox:  Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.69 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)

White Sox:  Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 3.73 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

White Sox:  James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA)

Have a great Monday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

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…

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!

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!

Whatever You Can Do, I Can Do Better…

Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 12, Blue Jays 2…

Oh, that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh,

I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Forget the Toronto Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East.  This is a dangerous club and one that was predicted to battle the Boston Red Sox for the division championship in most pre-season polls.  They’re a good club and much better than their record might indicate.  They’ve been very hot recently (winners of 8 of their prior 10 games) and previously injured stars Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzski have rejoined the team.  So, it is that much sweeter to emerge from the first game of the Yankees-Blue Jays series with such a convincing win.

I love the way Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that Gary Sanchez was due to break out and then Sanchez promptly parks one in the second deck in left during the second inning at Rogers Centre for his fifth homer of the season, followed by another shot to left for his sixth round-tripper in the fourth, a two-run blast.  As John Sterling put it, “Gary is scary!”.  The two home runs traveled a combined distance of 874 feet.  Now if I could just get Girardi to say that GM Brian Cashman is really close to trading (i.e., dumping) Jacoby Ellsbury and Chris Carter…

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

If you purely looked at numbers between two players, who would you start in center field?

Player 1:  135 AB, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .281/.349/.422, .771 OPS

Player 2:  126 AB, 8 HR, 30 RBI, .317/.437/.579, 1.016 OPS

Let’s just say that I am glad Jacoby Ellsbury was unable to come off the DL when he was eligible to be activated on Thursday.  Aaron Hicks is on fire.  It’s hard to say he was the star of the game when Sanchez smacked two massive home runs, but Hicksie was 4-for-5 with 6 RBI’s to achieve at least co-star honors.  A very impressive performance for the player who was slow to realize his potential but seems to be breaking out with full force this season.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Aaron Judge, moved up to third in the batting order, singled in the game’s first run.

The Yankees were in control from the start.  They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada and never looked back.  

The recent solid run by CC Sabathia (6-2) has been nice.  Backed by superb offense, he pitched into the seventh inning.  He departed after allowing the first Blue Jays run on a homer by Kendrys Morales and subsequently striking out Justin Smoak.  The Blue Jays were only able to get five hits off CC, in addition to the one run.  CC had seven strikeouts and did not walk batter. Chad Green finished the game in relief.  He did allow a solo homer by Ezquiel Carrera but provided length to give the rest of the bullpen the night off.  

Brett Gardner, with a single in the fourth inning, achieved a career milestone with his 1,000th hit of his career.  

This was just a fun game.  The Rogers Centre has been a House of Horrors for the Yankees.  Last year, they dropped 8 of 10 games to the Blue Jays in the ballpark.  So the dominating performance made the win that much more enjoyable.  

The Yankees (31-20) were able to gain a game on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, 7-5.  The Red Sox are 3 games back, and the Orioles remained 3 1/2 games behind.  

Yankees in the News…

Reliever Ernesto Frieri opted not to exercise his opt-out yesterday.  Frieri, currently with AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is 2-0 with 3.00 ERA.  Frieri has pitched in 17 games for the RailRiders, covering 21 innings.  He has struck out 24 batters and is currently carrying a WHIP of 1.05.  As the primary closer for the RailRiders, he has 7 saves.  Time will tell if he gets another big league opportunity but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.

Greg Bird began a rehabilitation assignment with the High-A Advanced Tampa Yankees on Thursday.  Bird played first base in the game against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (you gotta love those unique minor league team names).  Maybe Tampa should be the Anti-Rays.  Bird walked in his first two at-bats showing his eyes are as strong as ever.  He finished the game with a single, in addition to the two walks, in the 6-4 loss. 

Credit:  Paul LoMoglio-Yankees

While Chris Carter was putting up another 0-fer night (hitless in 4 at-bats), Tyler Austin, starting at first base for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was getting plenty of legwork with a 3-for-4 night that featured a two run home run in the first inning of the RailRiders’ 6-3 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  Carter’s batting average has plummeted to .179 and is making it much easier for the Yankees to eventually decide between Carter and Austin.  

Aroldis Chapman threw from 90 to 100 feet on Thursday.  Girardi said that the Yankees closer will probably throw a bullpen session next week.  The closer is slowly getter closer.

In the first release of All-Star Game balloting, Aaron Judge is currently third with 730,438 votes.  The only players he trails are Washington Nationals’ star Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout (who is currently on the DL following thumb surgery).  I am hoping that Harper and Judge are teammates in 2019, but Judge says screw that, I want to be his teammate this year!  Not really but if Aaron gets the call for the ASG, I am okay if he does a little schmoozing with Harper and lets him know how wonderful us Yankees fans are.  

Have a great Friday!  It’s a wonderful time to be alive…and a Yankees fan!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Win as a Team, Lose as a Team…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Royals 6, Yankees 2…

Jordan Montgomery showed why he is a Major League pitcher.  After a few outings that had led to speculation he could potentially be replaced in the rotation, Monty delivered his finest outing yet.  The bullpen couldn’t hold it but you’ll never find a complainer with Montgomery.  “I trust those guys coming out of the bullpen.  I trust them all.  They’re doing the best to execute pitches.  They’ve been so great throughout the year already.  Nobody is perfect.  Win as a team, lose as a team.”, Montgomery said in his post-game comments.  

Credit:  Robert Sabo

Monty took a one-hitter into the seventh inning but gave up a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain.  After getting the second out of the inning, Montgomery was pulled for Adam Warren with the Yankees leading 2-1 and no one on, finishing with a two-hit effort.  At that point, the bullpen imploded to the tune of four hits and five runs, which allowed the Royals to walk away with the 6-2 victory.  After watching Montgomery’s brilliant two-hitter, Warren (1-1) allowed two hits to the first two batters he faced, the second a homer by Jorge Bonifacio, while both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve were greeted with solo shots from the first batters they faced in the eighth.  Bryan Mitchell pitched a three-up, three down ninth inning but by then, it was too little, too late as the Yankees were unable to rally.

It’s disappointing to see such a great performance by Montgomery wasted but the overworked bullpen is a byproduct of the overall recent poor performances by the starting rotation.  It’s hard to fault Warren and Company as it was inevitable they’d crack from overuse and it was really good to see the maturity of Montgomery as he refused to place any blame on his teammates.  You could say that manager Joe Girardi should have left Montgomery in the game, but he was at 98 pitches.  It was time for his tip of the cap as he walked off the mound.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Danny Duffy, the winning pitcher for the Royals, took notice.  After the game, Duffy said “He’s out there, and he’s beyond his years and it’s fun to watch him compete.”

The Yankees scored their only runs in the fourth and fifth innings with solo home runs from Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter, respectively.  The Yankees had a chance to close the gap in the eighth when Chase Headley came to bat with two outs and runners at the corners, but his liner to Eric Hosmer, who made a great play, thwarted the attempt.  

Prior to the game, the Yankees took a moment of silence for the victims of the horrific and senseless terror attack in Manchester, England, playing “God Save The Queen”.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees (26-17) maintained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East despite the loss.  The Orioles fell 2-0 to Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins.  Santana pitched a complete game two-hitter.  The Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 to close to within 3 1/2 games.

Bird Update…

Greg Bird has resumed hitting off a tee as he begins his journey back from the bruised ankle injury.

I know, that pic couldn’t possibly be Greg Bird.  He’d never wear his jeans that high up!

The current plan is for Bird to hit in an indoor cage today, rest tomorrow, and take outdoor batting practice on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday, he’d travel down to Florida to begin either extended spring training on Monday or start a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa.

It’s possible that we could see Bird back with the Yankees late next week or weekend depending upon how things go.  Hopefully, there will be no setbacks and he’ll be much stronger and healthier than we last saw him.

Gerrit Cole Update…

Yeah, that’s probably true.

For the record, Cole did kind of stink it up in Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.  He was almost Masahiro Tanaka-like in lasting only 4 2/3 innings.  The Braves teed off him, maybe using Bird’s tee, for 10 hits and 5 runs.  I guess we can get that production from our own staff without giving up prospects off the MLB Top 100 list.  

But all things considered, and throwing in the AL East surcharge on ERA, I’d still take Cole.  I know that he spurned the Yankees when drafted a few years ago, but I have to say that for a chance to go to UCLA, I probably would have too.  

Gleyber Torres Update…

Tuesday night saw Gleyber Torres in the lineup for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at third base.  Rob Refsnyder was at second, and Tyler Wade at short.  Physically, Torres really isn’t that much smaller than Headley.  He is an inch shorter at 6’1″ and about 40 pounds lighter at 175 lbs.  I guess when I think of third basemen, I think of guys like Kris Bryant (6’5″, 230 lbs) but Torres is taller than others such as Justin Turner or Pablo Sandoval.  Nolan Arenado sets the bar for third base from a performance standpoint and he’s only 6’2″, 215 lbs.  Torres will continue to pack muscle on his frame so he certainly has the physical attributes to excel at the position.  I guess selfishly I wanted to keep third base relatively open or flexible for the possible addition of Manny Machado but I am not going to complain if Torres grabs third for years of All-Star games and World Series Championship rings.  

Torres was 1-for-3 with a single in the RailRiders’ 3-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to get a new winning streak started!  It’s a new day!

Looking Ahead to 14 Days in July…

Credit:  Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

Team Prospect-Hugger could get a new look the last two weeks of July.  In an interview, Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner indicated that he’ll look at any deal that crosses his desk during the final two weeks of July.  He’ll read the scouting reports, talk to GM Brian Cashman and the Scouting Department and tap into other resources to determine the best moves for the Yankees organization moving forward.  He said that he’ll divert all of his attention to any one deal that comes across his desk as he has always done in the couple of weeks leading up to the trading deadline.  It doesn’t mean that he’ll approve a deal but he’ll certainly give more than a passing thought to any deal that makes sense.

Steinbrenner sees the value in holding onto the team’s prospects as they have done for the last three or four years.

With significant dollars coming off the payroll at the end of the year ($59 million alone with the expiring contracts of CC Sabathia, Matt Holliday, and Alex Rodriguez), Steinbrenner feels the Yankees will be active in the free agent market.  “To what degree, and in what areas remains to be seen”, said Steinbrenner, in talking with reporters.

I am probably somewhere in between Hal and his father, George.  I’d be more inclined to make moves to strengthen weaker areas.  But I’d also be trying to find ways to unload dead weight off the roster.  Spending $46 million for CC Sabathia’s unreliable performances and Alex Rodriguez’s “consulting services” is a bad return on investment in a statement of the obvious.  Why don’t they just increase it to $47 million and toss me the difference? I would certainly have a more company-aligned outlook and they would be no worse for the wear.  I am looking forward to next year when a greater percentage of the payroll goes to active, contributing members of the team’s 25-man roster.  

Even though Steinbrenner may not be open to considering any deals until mid-July, there’s no doubt that Cashman and Company have already begin dialing other teams to open dialogue for potential trades involving targeted players.  If the Yankees do prove that they are for real this year, it should be a very fun and active July.  I am certainly not expecting a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado type trade, but reinforcements to stay the upward course would be very much appreciated.  

I am glad to hear that one of my favorite prospects, pitcher Albert Abreu, will be coming off the DL for High-A Tampa on Friday.  Abreu has been on the DL since May 2nd with elbow inflammation.  Abreu will start in Friday’s game against the Dayton Tortugas in place of Domingo Acevedo, who was promoted to AA-Trenton.  

Last summer, the two best outfield prospects in the Cleveland Indians organization were Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer.  Zimmer received his call to join the Show this week, and looks to be a long-term fixture in Cleveland as an Andrew Miller teammate.  On Wednesday, with his parents in attendance, Zimmer had a run-scoring double and a home run.  Zimmer, two years older than Frazier, looks to be one of the game’s superior talents for years to come.  I know it’s not Yankees-related but it is great to see good young players flourish in the Major Leagues.  There’s no doubt he received a congratulatory text from Frazier.

The Yankees were victorious in baseball action last night with an 11-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals.  With the final game of the series to be played today, the Yankees have already taken the series by winning the first two games of the three-game set.  

Of the three Royals pitchers that we would be facing, I was most concerned about Jason Vargas.  The veteran pitcher had gotten off to a great start at 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA.  But four innings and six runs later, the ERA had more than doubled to 2.03.  Michael Pineda (4-2) was the winner, but he did give up two home runs.  For six innings of work, he gave up six hits, four runs (three earned), and two walks.  He also registered 5 K’s.  I would have liked to have seen better work but with the Yankees racing out to a 10-2 lead by the fifth inning, Pineda was guilty somewhat of letting up on the gas.  

Every Yankee in the starting lineup got a hit in the 16-hit attack.  Aaron Hicks, filling in for Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a three run homer in the fourth inning on a 2-for-4 night.

Credit:  John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

The Royals scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning against Yankees reliever Giovanny Gallegos.  With two runners on base and the potential tying run on deck, Dellin Betances came in for one out, a soft grounder back to the pitcher, to end the game, recording his first save of the season with just four pitches. 

The Yankees (24-13) took advantage of a loss by the Baltimore Orioles to move 1 1/2 games up in the AL East.  The O’s lost to the Detroit Tigers in a close game, 5-4.  Former Yankee Justin Wilson, recently named closer for the Tigers, picked up his third save.  It could have been a great night but the Boston Red Sox pulled out a 5-4 win in 13 innings against the St Louis Cardinals.  

Have a great Thursday!  Hopefully the Yankees grab another “W” before racing to Kansas City International Airport for the flight to Tampa later this evening.