Tagged: Aaron Hicks

Sonny Wins Despite Gray Skies…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Mets 4…

Sonny Gray finally won his first game as a Yankee, blanking the Mets until rookie first baseman Dominic Smith blasted his first Major League home run.  All was good up until the 9th when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run homer to Amed Rosario, showing he is not over whatever this funk is, to bring the Mets within a run.  Fortunately, the Yanks prevailed but it was a disappointing end to what should have been an exciting win.

The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a double to left off Mets starter Jacob DeGrom.  The third baseman, Wilmer Flores, was playing in and was unable to reach the ball which went past third base.  Toe fell down at first base but was able to get up and slide into second ahead of the throw. It was a nice recovery by Toe who had alertly slapped first base with his hand as he got up to run.  Brett Gardner executed a sacrifice bunt to move Toe to third.  Aaron Hicks rapped a fly ball to right that dropped in ahead of Curtis Granderson to score Toe and the Yankees led 1-0.

They added two more runs in the bottom of the 4th.  Chase Headley worked a two-out walk.  He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who parked one in the right center stands on a line drive to increase the score to 3-0.  As the Mets announcers said, “It’s a double in every other park except this one”.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Sonny Gray still going strong, Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the 6th inning and unloaded on a DeGrom pitch for a tremendous home run to left center.  The homer, Gary’s 21st of the year, increased the lead to 4-0.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Wilmer Flores led off the 7th and he battled Gray for 8 pitches before walking to reach first.  He didn’t stay there long as Dominic Smith followed with a home run to center.  End of day for Gray, but it was a great performance despite the two-run homer.  Manager Joe Girardi brought in Tommy Kahnle who retired the next three Mets to halt the Mets’ momentum.  

Dellin Betances pitched the 8th.  He did walk a batter (Yoenis Cespedes) with two outs.  Cespedes moved into a scoring position after a wild pitch off Gary Sanchez’s glove but was left stranded when Betances struck out Michael Conforto.

The Yankees added an insurance run (which would prove to be huge) in the bottom of the 8th.  Aaron Judge led off with a double to the left field corner wall, sliding into second with his left hand just under the perfect throw from Yoenis Cespedes.  Didi Gregorius singled on a fly to shallow left that fell just beyond Wilmer Flores, the third baseman, to put runners on the corners.  A sacrifice fly to center by Gary Sanchez was deep enough (warning track) to score Judge to give the Yankees a 5-2 advantage.  The Mets replaced DeGrom with lefty Jerry Blevins.  Chase Headley singled to left, moving Gregorius to second.  Blevins then struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  The Mets pulled Blevins and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford (there’s another reliever in MLB from Las Vegas, Nevada named Chasen besides Shreve? Was it something in the Clark County water 27-28 years ago?).  Bradford got Todd Frazier to pop out to first to end the inning.  In retrospect, we could have used those additional runs to help prevent an agonizing 9th.

I started to get nervous when I saw Aroldis Chapman warming up.  I was thankful the Yankees weren’t nursing a one-run lead.  Wilmer Flores was first up.  He worked the count full which had me fearing that Chapman would walk the lead-off batter.  Fortunately, he struck out Flores on a foul tip to get the first out.  The Mets then inserted Jose Reyes as a pinch-hitter for Dominic Smith which seemed odd given that Smith had homered in his last at-bat and Chapman had been beaten by a young slugger the night before.  Nevertheless, Reyes hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley could not corral.  Reyes was awarded a single but Headley could have cleanly handled the play for an out.  Rookie Amed Rosario came to the plate and hit a long fly ball to center that Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury could only watch as it sailed over the fence.  The Yankees’ lead had been cut to 5-4 and there was still only one out.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound. Maybe he told Chapman to stop trying to be cute with the flat sliders.  Whatever he told Chapman, it must have worked.  Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to short on a great stop and throw to first by Didi Gregorius (despite losing his footing).  Chapman had Juan Lagares down to two strikes but he hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley successfully handled.  Chapman was moving toward first and took the toss from Headley just ahead of Lagares, but he must have pulled something in his leg as he was running toward first.  Chapman got the save, his 16th, but it was far from an exciting win.  I’ll take the win, don’t get me wrong.  But Chapman’s struggles took away some of the euphoria that normally accompanies the excitement of victory.  

The Yankees (63-55) still trail the Boston Red Sox by 4 1/2 games.  The Red Sox pounded the St Louis Cardinals, 10-4, in a game that saw the Sox turn an easy triple play to go with an eight-run inning.  The Toronto Blue Jays moved back into third place with their 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  They trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles, sliding back to fourth place, lost to the Seattle Mariners, 3-1.  They are 5 games behind the Yanks.  The Yankees increased their lead in the Wild Card standings by 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels.  It’s amazing to think that 8 AL teams are within 5 games of each other.  In the National League, the two WC leaders (Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks) hold a five-game cushion.  

Aaron Judge struck out in the first inning against Jacob DeGrom to extend his consecutive game streak with a strikeout to 32 games.  He tied Adam Dunn’s 2012 record for non-pitchers.  If he strikes out tonight, he’ll hold the dubious record by himself.  

As great as the Yankees bullpen has been this year, it seems like there is an ugly stick that is passed from reliever to reliever.  Former Yankee reliever Tyler Clippard was awful for a stretch prior to his trade to the Chicago White Sox.  By the time he was traded to the Houston Astros, he was once again being touted as a two-time All-Star.  He passed his awfulness before his departure to Dellin Betances, who rebounded, but must have given the baton to Chapman.  The Yankees were downplaying Chapman’s hamstring tightness after the game but there’s reason for concern (in my opinion).  If it were my decision, I’d pull Chapman from the closer’s role until he can right the ship.  My choice for closer would be David Robertson.  Betances tends to have more problems with base runners and I’d prefer to keep him in his effective set-up role.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

For Sonny Gray (7-7), it was great to see him get the win in his Yankee Stadium debut.  Pitching six innings, he held the Mets to 5 hits and only gave  up the 2 runs on the Dominic Smith homer in the 7th.  He walked two batters and struck out 5.  This is why Gray was worth the cost of Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian.

Odds & Ends…

The latest Subway Series moves to Citi Field tonight.  Jaime Garcia gets to pitch in familiar National League digs.  Have Bat–Will Travel.  Hopefully the Yankees will back Garcia with a few runs this time or maybe he just takes matters into his own hands…

Credit:  FOX Sports

The New York Mets have made a pitching change for tonight’s game.  The scheduled starter, Seth Lugo, has been placed on the DL with an impingement in his right shoulder. Robert Gsellman, a 24-year-old righty, will start in his place.  Gsellman is 5-5 with 6.16 ERA for the Mets this season. 

Credit:  Kathy Willens-The Associated Press

It’s hard for me to get overly excited about Greg Bird after a series of disappointments this year since Spring Training.  Nevertheless, he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today.  Bird is hoping to join the Yankees next week but for me, he needs to show that he can hit again before Garrett Cooper loses his spot as the backup first baseman for the big league club.  I am very skeptical that we’ll have any significant productivity from Bird in 2017.  I hope he proves me wrong.


As expected, the Yankees placed RHP Luis Cessa on the 10-day DL with his ribcage injury. LHP Caleb Smith, demoted yesterday, was recalled to take Cessa’s place.  The lovely Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…


Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s show Queens how Bronxites like to party!  Go Yankees!

Recipe for Success: Just Add Hicks to the Mix…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Yankees 4, Mets 2…

A day after a disappointing one-run loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees bullpen backed homers by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez to give the Yankees the victory over the New York Mets in the opener of their four-game series.  

Normally, I hate solo home runs.  Stronger preference (obviously) for round-trippers with men on base, but in this game, three solo shots were enough to power the Yankees to the win despite two home runs by the Mets (also of the solo variety).  

The Mets scored their runs in the third inning against Yankees starter Luis Cessa.  The Grandy Man, Curtis Granderson, showing how much he misses the right field porch, parked one there down the right field line.  One out later, Yoenis Cespedes sent one that bounced off the right field wall for a homer, just missed by Aaron Judge, and the Mets led 2-0.

The Yankees had a chance for a big inning in the 4th against Mets starter Rafael Montero.  Aaron Hicks singled to center, a soft liner, with one out.  Aaron Judge followed with a walk on four pitches.  A wild pitch by Montero advanced the runners to second and third, but it didn’t really matter as the next batter, Didi Gregorius, walked on a full count to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Hicks (who came in just ahead of the tag), but that’s all the Yankees would get as Chase Headley flied out to right.  The Mets still led, 2-1.  

While pitching to Rene Rivera to open the 5th, Luis Cessa apparently felt discomfort in his back which brought Manager Joe Girardi to the mound.  Cessa convinced Girardi to let him stay.  He was able to retire Rivera on a ground out, but the next batter, Juan Lagares, singled to center, a roller up the middle.  After making his second trip to the mound, Girardi pulled Cessa and replaced him with Chad Green.  After the game, Girardi said the medical staff does not believe the injury, a right rhomboid muscle issue, is serious, however, Cessa will undergo an MRI this morning.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Back to the game, Lagares attempted to steal second but was erased on Gary Sanchez’s brilliant throw to shortstop Tyler Wade.  Green then struck out Curtis Granderson to get out of the inning.

Aaron Judge, showing signs of breaking out of his recent extended slump, homered to open the 6th inning to tie the game at two.  The ball landed near the Modell’s sign in right.  It was Judge’s 36th of the season.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Outstanding pitching performance by Chad Green who continued to shut the Mets down through the seventh inning.  He kept the Mets off the board for 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief, walking one batter and striking out four.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post

David Robertson continued the bullpen mastery in the 8th when he struck out the side, with the only flaw a two-out walk to Asdrubal Cabrera.  

Aaron Hicks, leading off the bottom of the 8th inning, broke the tie when he belted a pitch from Mets reliever Hansel Robles deep into the right center stands.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After Robles struck out Aaron Judge, the Mets brought in lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to retire Didi Gregorius on a ground out, and then made another switch to bring in righty Erik Goeddel to face Gary Sanchez.  As Julia Roberts said in the movie Pretty Woman, “Big mistake”.  A blast to right center by Sanchez, near where Judge had parked his shot, and it was 4-2 Yankees.  Unlike Sunday night, the Yankees had their insurance run although they wouldn’t need it.

Dellin Betances entered the game in the 9th due to Aroldis Chapman’s unavailability (he had thrown 26 pitches over nearly two innings of work during Sunday’s loss).  Betances, unlike Chapman, got the job done.  He allowed a two-out single to Mets rookie Dominic Smith when Tyler Wade, at short, was unable to make an accurate throw after a bare-handed grab.  Smith moved to second on defensive indifference but was left stranded when Betances struck out Amed Rosario to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (62-55) were able to pick up a game they had lost over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox with the victory.  The Red Sox, despite two home runs by Sunday night’s hero…Rafael Devers, fell to the Cleveland Indians, 7-3, at Fenway Park.  So, the Yankees are back to 4 1/2 games behind the Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles took sole possession of third place in the AL East with their 11-3 victory over the sliding Seattle Mariners.  They are four games behind the Yankees.  The Tampa Bay Rays, dropping to fourth, lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1.  The Rays trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games and are just a game away from the AL East cellar.  

I have to admit that it took me a minute to get Mike Axisa’s tweet during the game about the great pitching performances of Luis Cessa and Chad Green.  One of the night’s best tweets…

Aaron Judge extended his consecutive game streak with a strikeout (excluding pitchers) to 31 games.  He now trails Adam Dunn’s record by only one game.  But to Judge’s defense, he did hit his 40th career home run.  Gary Sanchez’s shot was also his 40th career HR.  

David Robertson (6-2) was the beneficiary of the home run by Aaron Hicks as he took the victory.  The save was the seventh of the season for Dellin Betances.  

Odds & Ends…

To make yesterday’s start, RHP Luis Cessa was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with LHP Caleb Smith, called up this past weekend, going the other way without tossing a pitch.  

I know that Aroldis Chapman’s pitch on Sunday to Rafael Devers came in hot (103 mph) and Devers’ swing was as perfect as it could be to make the home run the product of the hitter and not the pitcher, but count me among those who feel that Chapman is still not right.  It’s going to take a few shutdown performances (Kenley Jansen-style) before I am going to believe that Chapman is the man for the 9th.  I like Chapman a lot and I was excited when the Yankees re-signed him, but at this moment in time, I feel that David Robertson and Dellin Betances represent stronger closing options.  That opinion dissipates when The Missile can show me he is once again the man for the job.  That’s on him…not on me.

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Have a great Tuesday!  Last day at Yankee Stadium before the road trip.  Let’s rock the house!  Go Yankees!

There Was Almost Life After Sale…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Red Sox 3, Yankees 2…

The Yankees had victory in their hands but Aroldis Chapman was unable to hold a one-run lead in the 9th and the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in extra innings.  

This was one tough.  I felt very uneasy with Chapman taking the mound.  The Yankees really needed an insurance run in the 8th when Didi Gregorius struck out in the bottom of the 8th with runners at the corners and two outs.  I was concerned that Chapman would not be able to hold a one-run advantage.  Unfortunately, I was right.  Dellin Betances may have righted the ship but Chapman has not.  I don’t know if it’s the World Series “hangover” (too many pitches thrown in an extended season), but…right now…the Yankees have two better closers in Betances and David Robertson.  

It was expected that Chris Sale would be tough and he was.  Entering the game, his season ERA was only 1.15 against the Yankees in two starts.  We could have used that 0.15 of a run.  After Boston had scored the game’s first run in the top of the 5th on a run-scoring single by Jackie Bradley, Jr, the Yankees struck back against Sale when they got their turn at bat.  Chase Headley lined a one-out single to center.  After Ronald Torreyes struck out, Austin Romine tripled to right to score Headley.  Mookie Betts was at the wall but couldn’t make the catch on Romine’s hit.  The game was tied at 1.  It would be the sole run the Yankees would score off Sale.  He went 7 strong innings and only allowed 4 hits and the single run, while walking 2 and striking out 12.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

Still, the Yankees had a chance.  Jordan Montgomery, struck in the head by a line drive during batting practice on Saturday, was excellent.  He kept the Yankees in the game, holding the Red Sox at bay to match Sale’s dominance for 5 1/3 innings.  The Red Sox were able to get only two hits off Monty, and the run in the 5th.  Throwing 84 pitches, Monty did walk 3 batters but struck out 4.  

Credit:  Jason Scenes-EPA

With Sale out of the game, the Yankees finally broke through with a run in the 8th against Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes.  Aaron Hicks worked a one-out walk.  Aaron Judge singled to right, Hicks moved to second.  Another walk, this time to Gary Sanchez, loaded the bases.    Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hicks with the go-ahead run.  The Yankees led, 2-1.  The Red Sox pulled Barnes and replaced him with reliever Robby Scott to face Didi Gregorius.  A single by Didi in this spot would have been huge, but sadly Scott struck out Didi on three pitches.

Enter Aroldis Chapman, goodbye potential win.  With two strikes on Rafael Devers, Chapman unleashed a 103 mph fastball and Devers was ready for it.  Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks could only watch as the ball landed over the wall in left center.  The game was tied.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun

The Yankees could have won the game in the bottom of the 9th.  With Addison Reed pitching, Chase Headley led off with a walk.  Ronald Torreyes laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to second.  Jacoby Ellsbury, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, grounded out to first, but Headley was able to advance to third.  The potential winning run just 90 feet away.  The Sox replaced Reed with closer Craig Kimbrel to face Brett Gardner.  It was a big opportunity for Gardy but but he struck out to end the inning.

Aroldis Chapman was still on the mound when the Yankees took the field in the 10th.  With one out, he hit Jackie Bradley, Jr with a pitch and walked Eduardo Nunez.  Manager Joe Girardi finally had the stones to remove Chapman and replaced him with Tommy Kahnle.  Kahnle walked the first batter he faced (Mookie Betts) to load the bases.  Andrew Benintendi’s single to right scored JBJ with the go-ahead run.  Kahnle was able to retire the next two batters but the damage had been done.  The Sox were up, 3-2.

Craig Kimbrel easily retired the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th, and the Red Sox walked off the field with the game and series win.

It won’t get any easier when the Yankees play in Boston next weekend.  The Red Sox do not fear Chapman, nor should they have any reason to.  “He’s my closer”, Joe Girardi said after the game.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

The Yankees (61-55) fell a season high 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.  They had a chance to make a statement and it didn’t happen.  The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles were unable to make up any ground on the Yankees.  The Rays lost, 4-3, to the Cleveland Indians while the O’s were thumped, 9-3, by the Oakland A’s.  The A’s are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the O’s are trailing by four.  The Yankees hold the Wild Card advantage by 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels (where did they come from?…) and 2 games over Jaime Garcia’s former team (for 6 days), the Minnesota Twins.  

Aaron Hicks made a great diving catch in the first inning to rob Eduardo Nunez of an extra-base hit.  

Aaron Judge had three more strikeouts on Sunday to extend his consecutive game streak to 30.  He trails the record that Adam Dunn set, for non-pitchers, in 2012 with strikeouts in 32 consecutive games.  The Yankees really need Judge to make the necessary adjustments to get out of this funk if they are to have any October aspirations.

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Next Up:  New York Mets at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY (2) and Citi Field, Flushing, NY (2)…

The Yankees play a quick two-game set at home against the Mets before the series resumes at Citi Field for two games beginning on Wednesday.  The series follows some recent bad blood between the two teams over contentious failed trade negotiations leading up to the trading deadline.

Here are the pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Mets:  Rafael Montero (1-8, 6.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.83 ERA)

TUESDAY

Mets:  Jacob DeGrom (13-5, 3.21 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-7, 3.39 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.82 ERA)

Mets:  Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-5, 3.32 ERA)

Mets:  Steven Matz (2-6, 5.54 ERA)

May Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia finally got some runs to work with, and may Luis Severino pitch much, much better than he did last Saturday against the Red Sox.  As for Cessa today, at least he’s facing a pitcher with 8 losses and ERA above six.  

Odds & Ends…

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees returned reliever Giovanny Gallegos to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled LHP Caleb Smith (who had been scheduled to pitch for the RailRiders on Sunday but was scratched with the promotion).  LHP Nestor Cortes made the start for SWB in Smith’s place.  Cortes didn’t get the win but he held the Durham Bulls to one hit and one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings.  With no free passes, he struck out eight.  The RailRiders won the game on a two-run homer by Ji-Man Choi in the top of the 9th.

The Texas Rangers have released infielder Pete Kozma who was on the Yankees’ opening day roster as an injury replacement for Didi Gregorius.  The Rangers had previously sold reliever Ernesto Frieri, who was in spring training with the Yankees, to the Seattle Mariners for $1 earlier in the week.  

The Houston Astros have acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Clippard rebuilt his stock after the trade   from the Yankees to the White Sox.  Although he lost his first appearance for the White Sox, he won his only other decision in 11 appearances and finished with a 1.80 ERA and two saves.  The Astros get a much better pitcher than the Yankees had earlier this year.

Have a great Monday!  A win today would be great!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Better Late Than Never…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Red Sox 4…

And thus endeth the Red Sox eight-game winning streak.  For seven innings, it looked like the Yankees offense was still MIA.  But then the 8th inning happened.  It got a little dicey in the 9th with Aroldis Chapman on the mound but in the end he got the job done with a huge assist from Aaron Hicks and Todd Frazier.  The Yankees emerged with the victory in the first game of a three game set with the Boston Red Sox.
Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post

The Red Sox jumped on the board first.  In the top of the first inning, with Mookie Betts on first after a walk, Yankees starter Jaime Garcia decided to challenge Hanley Ramirez with an inside fastball on a 3-1 count.  Bad idea.  Ramirez deposited the ball over the left center wall into the bullpen, and the Red Sox had the early 2-0 lead.  In the bottom of the first, walks to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge had a runner in scoring position with only one out.  But like the struggles in Toronto on Wednesday night, the Yankees failed to advance the runners.  Admittedly, it felt like it was going to be another one of those games.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

It seemed Red Sox were going to blow the game open in the 3rd inning.  Mookie Betts singled to left with one out  Great stop by Aaron Hicks that prevented a double.  He was followed by Andrew Benintendi who laced a soft line drive single to center.  Betts moved to third on the hit, with Benintendi advancing to second on Jacoby Ellsbury’s late throw to third.  Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, loading the bases.  Jaime Garcia, in one of the keys to the game, struck out former Yankee Chris Young and got Xander Bogarts to ground out to escape the inning unscathed.

Bottom of the third, another Yankee (Aaron Hicks) was left stranded at second after he had hit a one-out double to center past a lunging Mookie Betts.  The RISP struggle continued.

Boston added another run in the top of the 5th.  With Garcia still pitching, Andrew Benintendi homered to right with two outs, a solo shot into the second deck.  Garcia got into a little further trouble when the next batter (Hanley Ramirez) doubled off the center field wall and Chris Young walked, but, after a talk with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, he was able to get Xander Bogarts to hit a fly to right for the third out.

Ronald Torreyes doubled to left off the wall with one out in the bottom of the 5th, but like Hicks in the 3rd, he could go no further.  Another failed scoring opportunity.

The Red Sox had a chance to add to their lead in the 6th.  Garcia struck out Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers but Christian Vazquez got on base with a single up the middle.  Jackie Bradley, Jr hit a grounder to short which erased Vazquez at second but the Yankees couldn’t turn the double play.  With JBJ at first and Eduardo Nunez coming to bat, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia and replaced him with Adam Warren.  Nunez stroked a single to right, with JBJ taking second.  The dangerous Mookie Betts came up but Warren got him on a fly out to right.  Whew!  Evading trouble in that spot was huge.  

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez did not return for the 7th inning.  It was good to see him leave the game.  Six innings, two hits, no runs, seven strikeouts.  But the Yankees didn’t fare much better against Sox reliever Matt Barnes in the bottom of the 7th.  After he walked Todd Frazier, he easily set down the next three batters.

Hats off to Adam Warren.  He had shut down the Sox in the 7th and did the same in the 8th.  He was as responsible as anyone for the setting the stage for the bottom of the 8th dramatics.  If he had not held the Red Sox at bay, the hole might have been too large to overcome.  

Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the 8th against former New York Mets reliever Addison Reed.  Gardner reached first when he was hit by a pitch on his front foot (a call made after a replay challenge by the Yankees).  A-A-Ron Hicks, in his second game back from the DL, blasted Reed’s slider into the right field stands just inside the foul pole to make it a 3-2 game.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

Continuing the inning, Gary Sanchez singled to left and took second on a wild pitch by Reed.  Aaron Judge patiently accepted a walk, and Reed was pulled in favor of Joe Kelly.  Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Sanchez to tie the game.  Judge moved to third.  Todd Frazier joined the party with a single to left that dropped in front of Andrew Benintendi to score Judge with the go-ahead run.  The Yankees loaded the bases when Jacoby Ellsbury, the $153 million man, singled to right after Chase Headley had struck out.  Ronald Torreyes, the little man with a big stick, hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Gregorius with what would prove to be a HUGE insurance run.  It was 5-3 Yankees.  Brett Gardner walked to re-load the bases, but the Sox replaced Kelly with Fernando Abad who retired Aaron Hicks, coming to bat for the second time in the inning, on a pop out to end the inning.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

The 9th inning brought Aroldis Chapman into the game.  Unfortunately, this season has seen Chapman struggle with too much rest or too much use.  This time it was too much rust as he hadn’t pitched since last Saturday.  He walked the first three batters to load the bases (while I was losing my mind).  Girardi was much more patient than I would have been.  I would have pulled Chapman after he walked the second batter to replace him with David Robertson…the luxury of having proven closers in the pen behind Chapman.  But Girardi’s patience with Chapman paid off.  Even though the Red Sox scored a run with the next batter, Andrew Benintendi, the Yankees probably would have been unable to hold the lead without the sequence of events.  Benintendi hit a deep fly to left.  Aaron Hicks noticed that his former teammate with the Minnesota Twins, Eduardo Nunez, was breaking for third, and he fired a shot to Todd Frazier who grazed the sliding Nunez with the tag before he was able to reach third.  The Red Sox challenged the play (admittedly very close) but lost the appeal.  The double play thwarted the Red Sox momentum.  The next batter, Mitch Moreland, flied out to center to end the game.  If the Yankees had not thrown Nunez out, he most likely would have scored the game tying run when Moreland lofted his fly ball.  The  Yankees win, 5-4, and stop the Red Sox winning streak.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Adam Warren (3-2) was the winner in relief of Jaime Garcia.  New acquisitions Garcia and Sonny Gray can’t seem to get any runs from the Yankees offense.  Garcia’s final line was respectable…5 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts.  It was a ‘bend but not break’ performance that kept the Yankees in the game.  A-A-Ron Hicks was the clear MVP of the game with his home run and the brilliant throw to nail Nunez.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post

The Yankees (61-53) moved back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East Standings after it had felt like they might fall a season high 5 1/2 games back.  The Cleveland Indians shut out the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-0, to push the Rays 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles fell 5 games behind the Yanks with their 5-4 loss to the Oakland A’s.    

Aaron Judge struck out for his 28th consecutive game.  He was 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored plus the strikeout.  

Odds & Ends…

It sounds like Derek Jeter is finally going to be Don Mattingly’s boss after months of rumors and speculation.  Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has accepted a bid to sell the team to a group headed by New York businessman Bruce Sherman and Jeter for $1.2 billion.  Apparently, Sherman will be the “control person” (the Hal Steinbrenner of the group) and Jeter will run baseball and business operations.  The investment group headed by Sherman and Jeter includes NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.  The sale, which must be approved by MLB owners, is expected to close in October.  

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-New York Daily News

As expected, the Yankees placed LHP CC Sabathia (right knee inflammation) on the 10-Day DL and recalled LHP Jordan Montgomery.  Montgomery is expected to start on Sunday against Boston’s Chris Sale.  1B Tyler Austin was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I am sure that Garrett Cooper’s recent performance had a strong say in that decision.

Friday night featured a great match-up between Chance Adams of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Ryan Yarbrough of the Durham Bulls (Triple A team for the Tampa Bay Rays).  Yarbrough may not be a top pitching prospect for the Rays (he is #23 on their top prospect list according to MLB.com) but he entered the game with 12 wins, tied for the International League lead, or four more than Adams.  The RailRiders tagged Yarbrough with his sixth loss in the 6-2 victory as Adams (9-3) picked up the win.  I was very pleased to see that he walked only one batter.  Adams threw 101 pitches (69 for strikes) over six innings.  He only allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out six.  His season ERA stands at 2.31.  Soon, Young Grasshopper…

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s take down the Sox again this afternoon!  Go Yankees!

Punchless in Toronto…

Credit:  The Associated Press

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0…

So much for heading home with any momentum to face the AL-East leading Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees offense departed Toronto a day too early as the Yankees were blanked by the AL East cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays.  Losing two of three to the division’s worst is not exactly a recipe for October.  

Sonny Gray kept the Yankees in the game but he had no help.  

Credit:  The Associated Press

The first inning started with hope for a run.  With two outs, Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to right.  Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez struck out swinging as the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.

Garrett Cooper doubled in the second inning with two outs but Ronald Torreyes flied out to right on the first pitch he was thrown by Jays starter Marco Estrada.  The Blue Jays didn’t miss their chance in the bottom of the inning.  Ezequiel Carrera doubled to center with one out.  A failed pick off attempt by Sonny Gray allowed Carrera to move to third.  Ryan Goins hit a short grounder which Gray scooped and tossed underhanded with his glove to Sanchez, but Carrera slid in under the tag to score the Jays’ first run.

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Associated Press

The third inning brought another two-out double, this time a line drive down the left field line by Aaron Judge.  But like the others, he was left stranded when Didi Gregorius flied out.  The Jays, unlike the Yankees, didn’t miss their chances.  In the bottom of the third, Jose Bautista walked.  Russell Martin struck out on a ball that got past Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez’s throw beat Martin to first, but Joey Bats had already stolen second on the play. Josh Donaldson singled to left to score Bautista.  It was 2-0 Jays.

After the Yankees went quietly in the 4th, the Blue Jays added another run in the bottom of the inning.  Steve Pearce opened with a single off Gray.  A sacrifice bunt by Ezequiel Carrera moved Pearce to second.  After Ryan Goins walked, Kevin Pillar singled to left (a bouncer between Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius) to score Pearce.  

The fifth inning started with promise.  Garrett Cooper led off with a single to left and Ronald Torreyes walked.  But they didn’t advance any further when Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge recorded outs.  For Judge, who struck out to end the inning, it was his 27th consecutive game with a strikeout (extending his own franchise record).  

Credit:  The Associated Press

It was more of the same in the 6th.  Gary Sanchez walked with one out.  He was followed by Todd Frazier who singled to right.  Sanchez advanced to second but there he would stay as Jacoby Ellsbury and Garrett Cooper failed to move the runners.

Manager Joe Girardi brought Chasen Shreve in to start the 7th inning.  While Shreve’s performance overall was good, he allowed a home run by Jose Bautista, a solo shot to left.  The Blue Jays were up 4-0.  It was Bautista’s 36th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any active player.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees couldn’t do anything with a Gary Sanchez single in the 8th.  For the 9th, the Jays brought in their closer, Roberto Osuna, even though it wasn’t a save opportunity.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk.  Following strikeouts by Garrett Cooper and Chase Headley, Brett Gardner walked.  Aaron Judge came to the plate with a chance to bring the Yankees within a run but it was not to be as he struck out to end the game.  

Sonny Gray (6-7) took the loss.  He went six innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs.  Only 2 of the runs were earned due to Sonny’s error on the failed pick-off attempt in the 2nd inning.  Throwing a total of 103 pitches, he walked 4 batters and struck out 6.

This was a very disappointing loss.  My morning started with a Red Sox fan posting the AL East Standings on my FaceBook page and laughing.  The Yankees (60-53) fell 4 1/2 games behind the idle Red Sox who watched the Yankees lose while sitting in NYC.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-1, to move back to 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles won too, 7-2 over the Oakland A’s, so they’re 4 games behind New York.  The Yankees still have the Wild Card lead (by two games) but this team is not playing like it wants to play in October.  It doesn’t get any easier tonight…

Next Up:  Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

With Boston’s day off on Thursday, they arrived in New York City a day earlier than the Yankees.  So, they’ll be rested and ready for the Bombers tonight.  The Red Sox bring an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s game.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  It’s a bummer that Sonny Gray will miss this series but he’ll be ready next weekend in Boston.  

TODAY

Red Sox:  Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 6.35)

SATURDAY:  

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (11-4, 3.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-4, 2.91 ERA)

SUNDAY:

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (14-4, 2.57 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.05 ERA)

Monty, we need you to get back to New York to start on Sunday in place of CC Sabathia.  Who’s on the mound for Boston?  Um, I’m not sure.  Just go out there and throw zeros and we’ll be fine…  

Odds & Ends…

Clint Frazier has been placed on the 10-Day DL with his oblique tightness.  OF Aaron Hicks was activated off the DL a day earlier than anticipated as a result.  I guess this delays the decision of what to do with Red Thunder when Aaron Hicks returns.  Hicksie gets to fly from Trenton to Toronto and back to New York City in less than 24 hours.  I suppose it could have been worse if the Yankees had been playing in Seattle.


LHP Dietrich Enns, 26, made his Major League debut last night for the Minnesota Twins in their game against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.  It didn’t go so well.  Despite the Twins’ 7-2 win, Enns was pulled after 2 1/2 innings and 53 pitches.  He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (only one earned thanks to his own throwing error).  He walked a batter (with the bases loaded in the third) and gave up a home run to Keon Broxton. Enns went to Minnesota with Zack Littell in the deal that brought Jaime Garcia to New York.  

Credit:  Tom Lynn-The Associated Press

Have a great Friday!  Yankees-Red Sox.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Gray’s “Errorable” Yankees Debut…

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Indians 5, Yankees 1…

Actually, Sonny Gray pitched very well.  Sadly, he had no support from Yankees team offense or defense.  Todd Frazier made his Yankee Stadium debut by hitting into a triple play, but Gray topped him, admittedly through no fault of his own, as three first inning defensive errors led to an early 2-0 Indians lead as the Tribe sailed to the easy victory.  

Credit:  Getty Images
Facing one of the AL’s best pitchers in Corey Kluber, there was no margin for error.  Unfortunately, the first inning looked like Keystone Cops.  Bradley Zimmer hit a grounder to first that should have been the first out, but Chase Headley was unable to field it cleanly which allowed Zimmer to reach base.  Francisco Lindor grounded out with Zimmer moving to second.  Michael Brantley hit a grounder to Tyler Wade that should have been the second out, but the ball got away from Wade and Brantley was safe at first.  Zimmer to third.  Jose Ramirez hit a liner to right that Clint Frazier stopped cleanly but then he must have been throwing to the fans in the first or second row of the third base stands as the threw sailed over the head of third baseman Ronald Torreyes into the camera well for the third error, which allowed both Zimmer and Brantley to score.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could barely touch Kluber, mustering just three hits off the Indians’ ace.  Clint Frazier picked up the Yankees first hit in the fourth inning with a double to right.  He made it to third on a subsequent fly out, but like any Yankee on third base these days, he was left stranded.
The Indians picked up a couple of insurance runs in the sixth.  With two outs, Carlos Santana walked on four straight balls.  Brandon Guyer lined a single to right, moving Santana to second.  Yan Gomes doubled off the left field wall, scoring both Santana and Guyer.  It was 4-0 Indians.  Gray got the final out of the 6th, but it was the end of his debut.  His final line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO.  If he continues to pitch like that, he’ll pick up his share of wins for the Yankees.
Credit:  Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees finally scored their one and only run in the top of the 7th when Gary Sanchez blasted a home run to center.  Unfortunately, it would be the last hit off Kluber who went the distance.  With Chasen Shreve pitching in the bottom of the 7th, Francisco Lindor answered El Gary’s home run with a shot of his own over the left field wall.  From there, the Yankees went quietly.  Kluber picked up his ninth victory of the season.  He struck out 11 Yankees, the 9th time in his last 10 games he has struck out 10 or more batters.  Gray (6-6) took the loss.  The only other Yankee to get a hit, besides Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez, was Ronald Torreyes who singled in the 5th inning.
Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer
The Yankees (57-50) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  Boston beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-5.  The Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees with a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros.  The Detroit Tigers stopped the Baltimore Orioles’ winning streak, 7-5, so the O’s remain 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner was hitless in four at-bats to snap his 14-game hitting streak.  It had been the longest current streak in MLB.  He also struck out twice.
Manager Joe Girardi took heat for benching Aaron Judge, Todd Frazier and Matt Holliday but I had no issue with the rest days for those guys.  They haven’t been hitting and it was unlikely they would have had any better results against Kluber.  Hopefully, the rest day helps them today when they return to the lineup.  Jaime Garcia could use the run support (and defense) that Sonny Gray failed to get.  On the bright side, the Yankees won’t see Kluber again this series.
Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer
Odds & Ends…

According to MLB.com, OF Dustin Fowler ranks as the Oakland A’s third best top prospect, while SS/OF Jorge Mateo is #5 and RHP James Kaprielian is #11.  Fowler will be given every opportunity to break camp next Spring with the A’s as their starting center fielder. I guess we are going to be “Ben Gameled” quite often in the future.  

Credit:  John Shea

Speaking of top prospects, 2B Nick Solak is now in the Top 10 for the Yankees (according to MLB.com) and seems to be shooting through the system.  He was called up to the Double A Trenton Thunder a couple of days ago from the High A Tampa Yankees.  For Tampa, the 22 year old Solak hit .301/.397/.460 with 10 HR’s and 44 RBI’s.  He also had 17 doubles and 13 steals.  Solak was the Yankees’ 2nd round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.   

Credit:  Mark LoMoglio

The Yankees should be getting some help soon.  Aaron Hicks is currently on rehab assignment at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is 2-for-6 in two games, with an extra base hit and a run scored.  Greg Bird is traveling with the team and slowly beginning baseball activities.  There’s hope that he can return by early September.  Starlin Castro will soon begin a running program as he recovers from the hamstring strain that landed him on the DL.

Have a great Friday!  Here’s hoping for better results with Jaime Garcia’s Yankees debut.  Go Yankees!

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!