Tagged: Aaron Judge

Setting Our Sights for the Wild Card…

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

Sadly, Boston shows no signs of slowing down…

Just when you think you might be able to trust Masahiro Tanaka, you can’t. Since his return from the disabled list in early July, Tanaka had given up no more than three runs in any start and had only allowed a grand total of six runs in five starts. Yet, on Friday night, he was hammered for six runs including three home runs in the Yankees’ 12-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. When you score seven runs against losing teams, you should win games, not lose them.

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox overcame an 8-3 deficit to crush the Baltimore Orioles, 19-12.  Boston, 82-35, is on pace to match the Yankees’ historic 1998 season when they won 114 games in the regular season. At their current winning percentage, the Red Sox project to 113 wins. This is not 1978 and the Red Sox are not going to collapse.

Photo Credit: AP (Patrick Semansky)

With Boston’s nine game lead in the AL East, the Yankees are headed for the one-and-out Wild Card playoff game. At the moment, their only competition for the Wild Card is the resurgent Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. The A’s are only 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the Mariners sit 6 games back.

Oakland has been very aggressive in rebuilding their bullpen in recent weeks. Their closer, former Washington National Blake Treinen, has had a breakout season. He currently has 29 saves to go with a 0.93 ERA in 48 games.  Behind Treinen, the A’s have added former New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, former Yankees/Nationals reliever Shaun Kelley, and former Minnesota Twins closer Fernando Rodney. For the starting rotation, they’ve added former Detroit Tigers starter Mike Fiers, a target Yankee fans love to hate. None of the names shake fear but it shows the A’s are serious about their Wild Card run. There’s no question they have the talent to beat the Yankees in a one-game do-or-die playoff game.

I wish I could say that I am not worried like The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch can, but I am worried. Sorry Daniel. We knew in the off-season the Yankees needed to add a quality starting pitcher and it didn’t happen. So, the team had to scramble in July to add Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ. Both guys have done fine jobs but neither is going to make a difference when the chips are on the line. When Aaron Judge was lost with the minor bone fracture, it was evident the Yankees needed to add a short-term bat for the outfield. But instead, the decision was made to roll with one of the few healthy outfielders in the system, journeyman Shane Robinson. The Yankees could have easily added a guy like former Yankee Curtis Granderson who would have filled a valuable void. His bat likes Yankee Stadium and has the track record to show it. He may not be the player he was during his Yankee days thanks to the terminal affliction known as aging but he is more than capable of giving the Yankees a supportive bat and a valuable bench player when Judge returns.

The Mariners strengthened their bullpen with the addition of Adam Warren, a guy the Yankees certainly could have used the last couple of games. Warren was the winning pitcher in the M’s 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros last night. The Mariners also benefit from the return of Robinson Cano in a few days. Cano may not be eligible for the post-season but he’ll certainly help the Mariners make the push for October. He’s a valuable late season addition for Seattle. We’ll see if there is rust to shake off but I suspect that Cano will be ready to go.

Photo Credit:  The Herald, Everett, WA (Kevin Clark)

Please do not get me wrong. I like the 2018 New York Yankees. No one expected a historic season from the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, despite their struggles, have won more games in Major League Baseball than any team other than the Red Sox and the Houston Astros. It is very possible they’ll go into a potential Wild Card game with over 100 wins. My only concern is that GM Brian Cashman could have done a better job (if that is possible). Everyone is so quick to give him credit for his genius but standing back, he’s had his share of misses. I like manager Aaron Boone but there’s no question we’ve paid a price for his inexperience.

I am anxious for the returns of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees need to take care of business now. August is filled with losing teams on the schedule. The Yankees have the potential to have a very successful month despite starting it with a four-game sweep by the Red Sox but they can’t let 52 win teams like the Rangers crush them. Rookie Ronald Guzman looks like the greatest player who ever lived when he feasts on Yankees pitching, having accumulated six home runs already this season. Half of his season total are against the Pinstripers. He was the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game last night against the Yankees. That’s covering many years and players and is the strongest rookie performance against the Yankees since the A’s Reggie Jackson slugged six homers against his future team in 1968. This cannot happen if the Yankees expect to be successful. Ronald Guzman is no Reggie Jackson and the rest of the American League knows it. Apparently, the Yankees pitching staff didn’t get the memo.  To digress slightly, why is A.J. Cole on the MLB roster and Justus Sheffield is not?  Time to add Top Sheff to the 40-man and open a spot on the active roster by punting Cole.

It sounds like we can add Neil Walker to the list of wounded. After last night’s game, Aaron Boone said that Walker tweaked his neck and was dealing with illness. I had wondered why he wasn’t in the lineup or why he wasn’t used to pinch hit but that explains it. As Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want. Fortunately, Walker is penciled into today’s lineup (outfield, no less) so hopefully his physical ailments were minor.

I could care less if Jacoby Ellsbury is going to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn hip labrum. I had not counted on the player and did not want to see his return potentially cost another player a valuable roster spot. As much as I would love for the Yankees to cut bait, the truth is they won’t as long as they can collect insurance on his salary. I get it. I am just ready for the day when the Yankees can finally give him his walking papers.

I was very glad to hear that YES Network analyst Ken Singleton will return for another season after he had announced that 2018 would be his last. There is something so calming and reassuring about Singleton’s voice and his stories are so great to listen to. I’ve long been amazed that a former Yankees enemy (courtesy of his days in Baltimore) could excel calling Yankee games with no bitterness or regret.  He has exuded class and professionalism from the start and I’m glad he’ll be back in 2019 even if he will be carrying a much lighter load. In a season that has seen Michael Kay’s stock drop and Ryan Ruocco’s elevate, Singleton was been a voice of consistency.

I was sorry to see Phil Hughes designated for assignment yesterday by the San Diego Padres. I had hoped the former Yankee would fare better in his native sunny Southern California but it was not meant to be. I’ve always liked the guy and I am hopeful that he can find a good home to make a difference even if it is in relief. I don’t really see a fit with the Yankees, but there are plenty of teams in need of help. I am not ready to see the end of Hughes career so hopefully this is just the next chapter in his book.

I’ll be headed to see Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver. It should be a fun game. Former Yankee Rich Hill will get the start for the Dodgers. I was in LA last weekend and didn’t get the chance to see the Dodgers play the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium so this is a good consolation prize. Manny remains a guy that I’d love to see the Yankees pursue in the off-season (dump Greg Bird and move Miguel Andujar to first to open third for Machado) and I’ll certainly be cheering for him on Sunday.

Well, time for my voice of pessimism to close. Time for a new Yankees winning streak to start. Can we get another quality start from Lance Lynn? We’ll find out in a few hours. In Rangers starter Drew Hutchison’s last game, he gave up six runs in three innings to the Baltimore Orioles. We can do better.

Go Yankees!

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Mother Nature Beats Yankees Again…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

Ninth Postponement of the Season…

Friday brought another weather-related postponement for our favorite baseball team. It was the ninth of the season. The Yankees and the Kansas City Royals will play two today as a result with a day/night double-header. In one of the most used phrases ever in the Yankees Universe, ‘it’s not what you want’.

I guess if there is a positive, the Yankees opponent today will be a little weaker. They lost significant power with last night’s trade of Mike Moustakas to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers, who aggressively lost out on Manny Machado, presumably will move third baseman, and former Red Sock, Travis Shaw to second to make room at third for Moose Tacos. I am a little disappointed the Yankees were unable to acquire Moose. His left-handed bat would have played nicely at Yankee Stadium, and his power would have helped compensate for the temporary losses of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I don’t really see any other options on the market that would appeal to me as greatly as Moustakas, who was batting .249/.309/.468, .778 OPS, with 20 homers and 62 RBIs.

I was a little surprised to see him end up with Milwaukee. Earlier in the day, it had been reported the Brewers were in heavy talks with the Baltimore Orioles for second baseman Jonathan Schoop and possibly RHP Kevin Gausman. They must have pivoted to the Royals over a failure to make any headway with Orioles GM Dan Duquette or whomever is running the show for the O’s these days (surprise, surprise).

I keep hearing Curtis Granderson’s name as a possibility. I enjoyed his time in Pinstripes but at this stage of his career, I am not really interested in a reunion. He is 37 years old and is no longer the player he once was. The Grandy Man is batting .231/.334/.421, .756 OPS, with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 288 plate appearances. No thanks. I’d rather get Clint Frazier healthy although admittedly I don’t know how long that will take. Oh man, my head hurts. No wait, that’s Frazier, not me.

Another name that seems to come up frequently is Jose Martinez of the St Louis Cardinals. The Aaron Judge-sized first baseman/outfielder has put up some good numbers this year (.295/.358/.463, 13 homers, 58 RBIs) but he is losing playing time because of his poor defensive skills. I am not interested in a guy who can only DH. Any acquisition the Yankees make would need to be someone who can continue to help the team after Judge and Sanchez return in late August or early September.

I guess it’s not the end of the world for the Yankees to roll with what they currently have. I may not be Neil Walker’s greatest fan but I recognize he plays better with regular playing time. Using DH as a rotation between Walker and Neil Walker is certainly passable for a few weeks. I thought Tyler Austin would be the one to get the call when Aaron Judge was placed on the disabled list but the Yankees went with Tyler Wade instead. From a defensive perspective, Wade makes more sense. He can field the corner outfield positions better than Austin, making him a more useful fourth outfielder-type. But he can also spell relief at second and short, something Austin obviously cannot do. The only guy on the roster who doesn’t make sense to me right now, excluding Chasen Shreve, is outfielder Shane Robinson but he is expected to be demoted today to make room for J.A. Happ.

The month of August is filled with winnable series. The only playoff contender they face is the Boston Red Sox with a four-game series starting Thursday, August 2nd. They won’t see a potential playoff team again until Labor Day (Monday, September 3rd) when they travel to Oakland, CA to take on Dustin Fowler and the Athletics. My concern is the difficulty the Yankees have had with losing teams this year. Boston is winning the games they are supposed to and as it stands right now, it is why they are the first place club in the AL East. Last night, they blew a lead in the ninth inning but still came back to tie it to push the game into extra innings where they won it on a walk-off home run by Mookie Betts. They are finding ways to beat the losing clubs. Sorry, Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Yankees are struggling against those teams. Well, maybe not against the Twins, but the other losing teams. The Twins, who apparently have given up on the season (they are 12 1/2 games out in the Wild Card chase), are a weaker team today after trading infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday and reliever Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros last night. I am sure the Red Sox are salivating although they probably could have used Pressly themselves if only Dave Dombrowski had not stripped the cupboards of quality prospects.

Apparently the weather is impacting J.A. Happ’s ability to get to New York City. His flight was cancelled yesterday so he has yet to join the team.  He is expected to arrive today. I am always curious about numbers since there is such a limited selection with so many retired numbers. Happ will take number 34, a number previously worn by A.J. Burnett and Brian McCann. With Zach Britton getting Phil Nevin’s #53, the third base coach will flip the numbers to grab 35. Happ is expected to get the start in the series finale with the Royals tomorrow although we’ll see if Happ’s late arrival alters those plans.

The Yankees received some good news for Sonny Gray. Assuming he is not traded, Gray will make his next start as planned. X-rays on his thumb were negative and he’s feeling much better after the come-backer off his right hand during Thursday’s game.

For today’s double-header, Luis Severino will get the start for the day game. Sevy (14-3, 2.63 ERA) looks to get back on track after a couple of bumpy starts. He’ll be opposed by Brad Keller (3-4, 3.20 ERA). For the night game, yesterday’s scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, will take the mound. CC (6-4, 3.51 ERA) will face Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 2.82 ERA). The Yankees enter the day five games behind the Boston Red Sox. A perfect day would find the Yankees trailing the Sox by only 3 1/2 games when the clock strikes midnight tonight. It’s a great day for two wins and a Red Sox loss. Let’s do this.

Go Yankees!

Stanton Goes From “Want” to “Need”…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

Yanks lose despite win…

When the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton last December, everyone talked about how it was filling a “want” and not a “need”. Sadly, he has become the “need” as he is now the team’s regular starting right fielder for the foreseeable future.

Although I am a little concerned about the defense we give up with Stanton playing right field compared to Aaron Judge, the chip fracture in Judge’s wrist forced the move. I am confident we’re in good hands with Stanton…and August is normally his most torrid month. He’s fully capable of pulling the team on his back and charging toward the finish line.

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The loss of Judge hurts, no doubt about it. It will be three weeks before he can pick up a bat again and he’ll need additional time to get back into form so we probably won’t see him again until September. If there is a positive in this, Judge should be rested and ready to go at the season’s most critical point.

Losing the offense provided by Judge and Gary Sanchez, the other guys have to pick it up. At one time, it seemed like we had a glut of outfielders and now we have Shane Robinson on the roster. If he hadn’t been traded yesterday, I am sure that Billy McKinney would have been in the Bronx today. When you look at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre active roster, there is only one outfielder listed (Mark Payton).

Who replaces Judge on the roster? The most likely candidate, to me, is Tyler Austin given his ability to play first base and the corner outfield positions. It’s not ideal but it is what it is.

The big question is whether the Yankees should make another trade to provide an offensive bridge for the eventual return of Sanchez and Judge. I still like the idea of acquiring Mike Moustakas and we have a firsthand view of the player right now given his team is playing in the Bronx. Moose Tacos would allow the Yankees to use the DH rotation for him and Miguel Andujar. I’d prefer to see Moustakas at third over Neil Walker. The prorated portion of his salary would fit despite the acquisitions of Zach Britton and J.A. Happ. The Yankees have the ability to move some salary to make it fit if necessary. When Judge returns, slide Stanton back to left and use Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks in a platoon in center. Moustakas could also replace Walker as the backup support at first base for Greg Bird. There’s no guarantee Judge comes back 100%. Wrists can be very troublesome as we’ve seen with past injuries to other players. Moustakas is an excellent hedge.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)

I am glad to see that lefty J.A. Happ has joined the Yankees rotation but I thought the cost was excessive. I’ve said all season I like Brandon Drury despite his non-disclosure of health issues earlier this year which caused headaches for all of us. At the time of his acquisition, the Yankees felt there was much more potential in Drury’s bat than he had shown in Arizona and I still believe that to be the case. I would have been okay with the Yankees trading Miguel Andujar for a premium starting pitcher and playing Drury at third even if Andujar has the higher ceiling.  Starting pitching is the greater need. That’s a moot point now.  The Yankees no longer have the luxury of considering a potential trade with the inclusion of Andujar. Billy McKinney was a tough loss. I think he is going to be a very good Major League outfielder. From a trust standpoint, I have far greater faith in McKinney than I do Clint Frazier. Frazier seems too injury prone at the moment. Multiple concussion issues within a single season are a great concern. There’s no doubt the Toronto Blue Jays won the Happ trade. If the Yankees win the World Series, I’ll probably have a different point of view but as it stands right now, I feel that Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins got the better of Brian Cashman.

It is interesting that our two big mid-season acquisitions are battle-tested AL East veterans. I really enjoyed it when Zach Britton took over for David Robertson in the eighth inning of last night’s game. Britton seemed to be in control from the first pitch and I had an immediate sense of confidence with his presence on the mound. I really like the guy and his stuff. Those deadly sinkers are unlike anything else we have on the pitching staff. It’s been my desire to see the Yankees sign Andrew Miller when the free agency period opens in November, but I have to say that I might prefer Britton. I love Andrew Miller but every time I look up, he’s on the disabled list. Sure, Britton knows the DL about as well as anyone not named Jacoby Ellsbury, but he’s a Yankee and I’d like to see him stay. If the Yanks can’t get Britton to sign, then they should definitely go after Miller. I am not really expecting the Yankees to make a strong effort to re-sign David Robertson, which pains me because he is another guy that I love having on this team. So, in my opinion, Britton should be a top free agent target for the Yankees in a few months.

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Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)

The Yankees did win yesterday despite the loss of Aaron Judge. They beat the Kansas City Royals, 7-2, behind surprisingly good home pitching from Sonny Gray, until he suffered his own hand injury, and a three-run bomb by Didi Gregorius. That throw by Aaron Hicks to nail Alex Gordon at the plate for the final out in the ninth inning was stellar. On paper, it looks like Chasen Shreve did his job.  An inning of scoreless relief after the three up-three down performance by Zach Britton. But those three hits that Shreve gave up could have been very costly if not for A-A-Ron’s heroics. I am really hopeful that Britton’s presence will eventually lead to Shreve’s exit. He continues to be the bullpen’s weakest link and my favorite candidate for DFA.

While the Yankees (65-36) were winning, the Boston Red Sox were not. They dropped a 2-1 decision to the Minnesota Twins. Kyle Gibson held the Red Sox hitters at bay, a fact that probably did not go unnoticed by Brian Cashman and his staff. I believe it was TGP’s Daniel Burch who recently suggested the Yankees should go after Gibson. Not many guys have been able to shut down the Red Sox offense this year. Not only did Gibson hold the Sox to four hits and an isolated run over eight innings, he struck out seven and did not allow a homer to the dinger-happy Red Sox lineup. I know the Yankees just acquired J.A. Happ, but I’d gladly take Gibson too if we can get him. After all, we are the Greedy Pinstripes.

So, the Yankees begin play today four and a half games behind Boston in the division. There’s still plenty of baseball to be played. It hurts that we have lost Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge for the immediate future, but this is still a very good team. Perhaps Brian Cashman is finished with the heavy lifting but then again maybe he isn’t. The next few days should be fun.

Meanwhile, let’s continue to take care of business. Last night, the Yankees played like the team that went on the great run in May and June. They need to continue to be that team. If the Yankees make no further moves, so be it. I have confidence in this group of 25 guys. Well, maybe not Chasen Shreve, or Shane Robinson…or Neil Walker.  But this group of guys can win in the coming days and weeks, and will only get better in September when Judgey and El Gary come back. The division is not lost. The race has only begun. Buckle up, boys, let’s take down the Red Sox!

Go Yankees!

Implosion of the Cuban Missile…

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

Yanks avert loss despite ‘outta control’ Chapman…

Let me get this straight. The Yankees take a four-run lead into the ninth inning, bring in closer Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Mets, nearly lose the game, and Chappy has to be “saved” by Chasen Shreve? You’re kidding me, right?

Chapman’s very forgettable (maybe not so forgettable for us) ninth inning was directly attributable to his inability to throw strikes. Only 3 of 19 pitches were strikes and the last 11 pitches he threw were outside of the strike zone. In order, Chapman walked a batter, gave up an infield single, walked two more batters and then plunked a hitter before giving way to the bullpen’s weakest link. Shreve inherited the bases loaded situation with no outs and the Yankees clinging to a two-run lead. In other words, he had to walk a high wire without a net.  Fortunately, Shreve and the Yankees held on to beat the New York Mets, 7-6, to even up the series at a game apiece.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hopefully it was “just a bad day” as Chapman described to the media after the game. Health-wise, Chapman seemed fine, balky knee and all. His meltdown nearly deprived Sonny Gray (7-7) of his first win at Yankee Stadium since May 5th.

The game didn’t start out well when Sonny Gray gave up a homer to Michael Conforto, a solo shot to right, in the second inning for the game’s first run. Michael Kay of the YES Network was quick to point out that Gray has an 8.25 ERA at home compared to a road ERA of 3.62 to illustrate how challenging Yankee Stadium is for the Tennessean.

The Mets’ Steven Matz, a favorite of TGP’s Daniel Burch, kept the Yankees off the board until the fourth inning. The Yankees were able to victimize Mets center fielder Matt den Dekker, who probably wished he was still playing Triple A ball in Las Vegas, for a few runs. Or perhaps it was the Mets fans wished he was still in Vegas. Giancarlo Stanton opened the bottom of the inning with an infield single. Matz had thrown three consecutive balls to give Stanton the perfect hitter’s count but he hit a soft grounder to third instead of one of his tailor-made homers. Oh well, no matter. Stanton was safe at first. After Gary Sanchez struck out (of course), Didi Gregorius laced a triple to deep center that den Dekker dived for but couldn’t reach. Stanton scored and the game was tied. Miguel Andujar followed with a fly to right that was caught by a fan. Miggy was awarded second with a ground-rule double, while Gregorius scored the go-ahead run. Greg Bird’s double to deep center, a ball that bounced off the side of den Dekker’s outstretched glove, scored Andujar. After Brandon Drury flied out, Austin Romine singled to, who else, a diving den Dekker who couldn’t make the catch and Bird scored to make it a 4-1 game.

There was a little drama in the top of the fifth for the Mets when Asdrubal Cabrera was tossed for throwing his bat down after a called strikeout on a checked swing (looked like his wrists broke on the replay to support the call). Cabrera continued barking at the third base umpire (Hunter Wendelstedt), throwing his batting helmet and gloves, before he eventually departed. Cabrera was the second Met to get tossed after hitting coach Pat Roessler was ejected earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes.

Sonny Gray took the three-run lead into the sixth inning but it unraveled for him. After getting Wilmer Flores to pop out, he walked the next two batters (Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista) to earn his exit from the game. David Robertson came in, striking out Kevin Plawecki after working the count full. He was not so lucky when the next batter, Amed Rosario, drilled a single to right center to score Conforto. Joey Bats slid safely into third. With Matt den Dekker batting, D-Rob was charged with an error on a throw to first to check the runner. The bad throw hit Rosario, sliding back to first base, in the foot with the ball bouncing away, and Joey Bats scored to close the gap to 4-3.

Gray deserved better than his final line…5 1/3 innings, three hits, three runs (two earned), three walks, and six strikeouts…but it put him in position for the win even though the two Mets runs had scored to make it a one-run game.

Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)

The Yankees picked up a run in the bottom of the sixth inning while Steven Matz was still on the mound for the Mets. Miguel Andujar led off for the Yanks with a double to right. Miggy was seemingly in the heart of every scoring opportunity on this day. Greg Bird ended Matz’s day with a single to right, scoring Andujar.  It was 5-3 Yankees.

Aaron Judge homered leading off the bottom of the seventh inning against Mets reliever Tim Peterson. The line drive which fought against the wind landed in the Mets bullpen in left field.  It was Judge’s 26th home run of the year to make it a three-run game again.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees scored what would prove to be the decisive run. With former Yankee Anthony Swarzak pitching for the Mets, Miguel Andujar led off with a single to center, a ground ball that got past Amed Rosario. After Greg Bird struck out, Brandon Drury singled to right center, advancing Andujar to third. Drury took second on the throw when the ball, over the head of the cutoff man, bounced off third baseman Jose Bautista on a short hop. Austin Romine hit a grounder to second with the infield drawn but the play scored Andujar. The Yankees were up, 7-3.

Michael Kay asked the question “does Aaron Boone bring in Chapman to keep him fresh?” while the Yankees were still batting in the eighth. The answer would soon be provided but it was not the Chapman we wanted to see.

The YES Network illustrated a grand shot of Chapman entering the game from center field (ala Mariano Rivera style) but the effort would not match the entrance. Kevin Plawecki, walk.  Amed Rosario, infield single under the glove of the diving Miguel Andujar. Ty Kelly, pinch-hitting for Matt den Dekker, walk. Bases loaded, no outs. With Michael Kay repeatedly saying Chapman had no control, he stayed in the game.  Jose Reyes, walk, which pushed Plawecki across home plate for a run. A visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Rothchild’s visit didn’t help. Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch on his upper arm and the Mets had their second run to make it 7-5. Finally, Aaron Boone had seen enough (not sure what took so long) and made the call to the pen for Chasen Shreve, my favorite DFA candidate.  Devin Mesoraco hit a grounder to Brandon Drury who stepped on second and completed the double play with a throw to first. The Mets scored to make it a one-run game, but the DP was huge. It brought Wilmer Flores to the plate as the last hope for the Mets. Flores hit a slow roller back to the mound but Shreve picked up the ball and fired it to first to end the game. Yankees win, 7-6. Credit to Shreve for outperforming my expectations. It was his first save of the season and might have been one of the biggest saves of the year for the Yankees.

It was not a great game for Gary Sanchez who finished the day hitless in four at-bats. He struck out twice. I saw one Twitter post that asked how you strike out Sanchez. You throw him a pitch outside the strike zone. Sadly, there is some truth to it.

Despite the horrific outing for Aroldis Chapman, credit to Jonathan Holder and Dellin Betances for their combined two innings of hitless relief with three K’s. If they had failed, the Mets most likely would have won this game.

The Yankees (63-34) picked up a game on the Red Sox. They are back to four and a half games behind the AL East leaders after Boston fell to the Detroit Tigers and rumored trade candidate Mike Fiers, 5-0.

Domingo Acevedo’s stay in the Big Leagues was short-lived. After getting to dress for Saturday’s game (but not pitching), Acevedo was returned to Double-A Trenton after the game. The demotion was not a surprise. Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com had speculated prior to the game that Acevedo was called up as insurance for Sonny Gray. With job complete and no need for his long relief services, Acevedo was sent “home”. Giovanny Gallegos is expected to take Acevedo’s place. I am not quite sure what Tommy Kahnle has to do to get back as he is a Major Leaguer stuck in Triple A like Drury was until recently.

In other Yankees transaction news, Clint Frazier was moved from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 7-day DL to the Yankees 10-day DL for his concussion protocol.

In an interview with the Seattle Times on Friday, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said second base belongs to Dee Gordon with the impending return of former Yankee Robinson Cano. Cano, who is eligible to return from his 80-game suspension on August 14th, is expected to see time at first base and designated hitter. It makes sense for the Mariners given Cano is not eligible for post-season play and they’ll need Gordon in top form at second base. But admittedly, it will be weird to see Cano playing first base even if he has the athleticism and bat to play the position.

Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who sat out the first two games of the Mets series with the Yankees, was traded to the Oakland A’s yesterday. The A’s are unexpectedly in the Wild Card hunt and even though Blake Treinen has had a breakout year as their closer, Familia deepens their pen. After the Padres grabbed one of the best prospects in baseball for their closer, I was surprised the best the Mets could do was land the A’s 17th best prospect among the two players they received along with international bonus pool money. But then again, they’re the Mets.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is reporting Brandon Drury was the headliner in the Yankees offer for Manny Machado. I suppose that’s not a great surprise. Cafardo also mentioned that the general feeling around Baseball is that the Yankees are trying to move Sonny Gray. The thinking is Gray would be better served in a smaller market. Despite his win on Saturday, I can’t say I am in disagreement. But of course it is all dependent upon the level of pitching talent GM Brian Cashman can secure by the trading deadline. If Cash is unable to land at least two quality starters, they’d be foolish to move Gray.

The Yankees and Mets conclude their three-game series tonight. Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.68 ERA), a pitcher most Yankees fans covet even if a trade with the Mets is improbable, will take on Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.54 ERA). deGrom would like great in Pinstripes, I’m just sayin’.  I don’t think it will happen but until the trading deadline passes, it’s nice to think about. I’d love to charge into October with Sevy and deGrom leading the way. Anyway, I hope deGrom pitches great but not too great.

Go Yankees!

Another Day of “Trading Manny” Speculation…

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Machado prepares to say goodbye to his O’s uniform…

It’s the All-Star Break and Manny Machado is still a Baltimore Oriole. A few more days anyway. If you believe the reports, the Philadelphia Phillies would seem to be the frontrunner, closely followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. I’ve seen one (most likely fictitious) report that has the Phillies sending third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop J.P. Crawford, and top pitching prospect Adonis Medina to Baltimore. If that’s the level of talent on the table for Manny, I don’t see why the Yankees can’t beat it. I don’t think they will, but any way you look at it, Manny would make any team’s offense and defense better. For the Yankees, it only works if he is willing to move back to third base, but I’d gladly take the legitimate superstar over the young rookie at third (with no offense to Miguel Andujar who has done a fine job).

It is exciting to think about Manny Machado as a Yankee. The images of him wearing Pinstripes have been tremendous and then there was yesterday’s Instagram pic posted by Aroldis Chapman showing Manny sitting among Chappy, Luis Severino and Gleyber Torres.

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I continue to believe that the Orioles will not trade with the Yankees (even though we routinely seem give them quality arms with guys like Richard Bleier and Yefry Ramirez). But for all the excitement about Machado, it will be a letdown if the July trading deadline passes and we end up with only a pedestrian rental like J.A. Happ or Cole Hamels.

If he does not come to the Bronx, I’d like to see Machado end up with the Dodgers. Play him at short this year to free up Chris Taylor to roam positions again. The Dodgers would have a great chance to re-sign Manny if he likes LA. He can hang out with LeBron. Next year, if they are successful in signing him, the Dodgers could move him to third when Corey Seager returns, push Justin Turner to first base, play Max Muncy at second, and keep Cody Bellinger in the outfield.  I certainly feel the Dodgers would have a much better chance at signing Manny to a long-term deal than either the Phillies or the Brewers. I’d still rather see Manny with the Yankees, but having him on the Dodgers would be a nice consolation prize (for me anyway). Sorry, it’s not about you, it’s all about me. Kidding…

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The Boston Red Sox may hold a 4 ½ game advantage on the Yankees, but the Yankees have the farm system to make significantly greater moves than the Red Sox can make. Boston has the much weaker farm system and as baseball’s top spender, they are maxed out on salary unless they want to encroach into the highest tax penalty category. If we do nothing, it will be a lost opportunity.  Same if we come away with an arm that has difficulty keeping runners off home plate. We already have one of those with Sonny Gray.  We don’t need to add to our collection.

Probably the only moves that would be more meaningful to me than Manny Machado would be a frontline starter like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Blake Snell, or Madison Bumgarner. Unfortunately, I think the chances of landing one of those guys is about as good as Peter Angelos warming up to the Yankees.

So, this leaves me with the opinion that I am going be disappointed come July 31st. Whether it will be a lot or just a little, I don’t know but I sense that disappointment is headed my way. If there was ever a time for GM Brian Cashman to deliver one of his golden stealth moves, now is the time.

The Yankees have played 95 games so there are only 67 games left. I am excited about the impending returns of both Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres which provide immediate upgrades, especially if El Gary can start hitting like we know he can. He has homered the last couple of games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders so hopefully his timing is coming around quickly.

The next couple of weeks will be very crucial for the Yankees as they attempt to chase down the Red Sox. They don’t have to be in first place by August 1st but they need to make the necessary moves now to ensure that they are properly positioned for the impending sprint to the finish line.  Don’t let us down, Cash. This is your time.

Congratulations to Bryce Harper for the hometown Home Run Derby championship over Kyle Schwarber at Nationals Park last evening, but I must admit that I didn’t watch. There was just no drama or intrigue for me with this year’s participants.  I admire Rhys Hoskins and I think Mad Max Muncy is a great story but something was missing without Pinstripes.  I don’t blame Aaron Judge for passing on it, but without any Yankees, there was simply no motivation for me to watch.  I don’t really expect Harper to sign with the Yankees in the off-season so I didn’t have the urge to watch him take swings. Maybe if Manny Machado had been a participant, it would have carried a little more significance. Or even the great Mike Trout. Oh well, next year.

It’s been great to see the pics of Gleyber Torres at the All-Star Game festivities. I’ve missed that guy. I look forward to having his energy back in the Yankees lineup very soon.

Don’t look now, but LHP Nestor Cortes, who spent spring training with the Orioles, is a man on fire. In yesterday’s 5-0 win by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over the Toledo Mud Hens, Cortes (4-3, 3.11 ERA) threw a one-hitter over six innings while striking out ten. Over his last 38 1/3 innings, Cortes has only allowed three earned runs. This is how I wish Chance Adams was pitching but sadly it is not.

Here’s another shameless plug for Kurt Sutter’s new TV show Mayans MC which makes its premiere on Tuesday, September 4th. The first season (set in a post-Jax Teller/Sons of Anarchy world) will feature ten episodes and tells the story of young Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, played by JD Pardo. Reyes is fresh out of prison and a prospect in the Santo Padre charter of the Mayans MC, located on the Cali/Mexi border. According to the storyline, EZ must carve out his new identity in a town where he was once the golden boy with the American Dream in his grasp. The show also stars Clayton Cardenas, Edward James Olmos, Sarah Bolger, Michael Irby, Carla Baratta, Antonio Jaramillo, Raoul Max Trujillo, Richard Cabral and Danny Pino. Sons of Anarchy star Emilio Rivera returns as Marcus Alvarez, El Padrino of the Mayans MC.  I am looking forward to the ride.

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We are still a few days away from the next Yankees game (Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the cross-town Mets) but at least we’ll get to see Luis Severino and Aaron Judge in action tonight (and maybe some shots of Aroldis Chapman and Gleyber Torres as spectators).

As always, Go Yankees!

Losing the Battle of Baltimore…

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Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun/TNS (Karl Merton Ferron)

Splitting the Series is better than losing it but…

Why is it that the Yankees waited until the final game of the series in Baltimore to play like they are supposed to against Baseball’s worst professional team? Okay, I’ll give you the Luis Cessa game but realistically, the Yankees should have taken three of four or all four of the games in B-more.

Sonny Gray was great last night, but honestly, I still do not trust the pitcher. He has a long way to go before I’ll have confidence in his starts. One game does not a season make.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Scott Taetsch)

If the Yankees lose the AL East, the deciding factor will be the Battle of Baltimore. The Boston Red Sox have beaten the O’s nine times out of ten, while the Yanks and Orioles have split ten games. If the Yankees had matched Boston’s record against the woeful O’s, the Yankees would have had a better winning percentage than the Red Sox even though the Sox have currently won nine games in a row.

The Yankees face a tough challenge starting tonight with a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians.  The pitching matchup for the opener doesn’t get any better than the marquee event pitting Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA) against Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.49 ERA). The Yankees swept the Indians in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium in early May but it took two walk-off performances. In the latest series, the Indians will have last at-bat. The Indians (50-41) currently hold an 8 ½ game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. Cleveland’s had some bullpen issues but they remain a very dangerous team. I learned long ago to never underestimate Cleveland manager Terry Francona.

The Yankees (60-31) have fallen 3 ½ games behind the Red Sox in the AL East after no more than a two-game separation in June.  Boston is on a historic run for their organization. There’s still plenty of time for the Yankees to catch Boston but hats off to them for their refusal to lose. Earlier in the season, I was a bit frustrated by Boston’s cream puff schedule (seemed like they were mostly playing losing teams) but the truth is they know how to beat those teams better than the Yankees. For the Yankees to have a better record against winning teams than the losers, it makes no sense to me. They really need to stop playing down to the level of their opponents and start playing more like last night’s game.

I am not sure what to think about the Manny Machado rumors which have been running rampant the last couple of days. I’d love to have Manny in Pinstripes. But acquiring Manny only seems to make sense if the Yankees already have a plan in place to acquire an upper echelon starting pitcher, they are fearful the Red Sox might swoop in and grab him, or if they see the pitching market as a collection of Sonny Grays and feel that making further enhancements to the team’s potent offense is the way to go.

I am intrigued by the idea of having Manny on my team. He is one of the best players in the game today.  Probably the only deal-killer for me is if he continues to insist on playing shortstop. I have no desire to replace Didi Gregorius. But if Miguel Andujar is included in a deal for a top starting pitcher or if the Yankees decide to move Andujar to first base to make room for Manny at third, I am on board. I know Greg Bird has hit home runs in the last couple of games including a grand slam yesterday, but health-wise and production-wise, I have more faith in Andujar than I do Bird. I could be very wrong on this given Bird’s history as a clutch performer in the Minor Leagues, but conversely, I am all about doing whatever is necessary to make the Yankees a better team. There’s no guarantee the Yankees re-sign Machado after the season so that’s certainly the risk of trading top prospects to Baltimore who could potentially become Yankee killers. Growing up, it bothered me to see Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez and Rick Dempsey thrive in Baltimore after starting their careers with the Yankees. Not that they were great players (although McGregor did win 20 games for the O’s in 1980) but it’s hard to see your team’s prospects thrive elsewhere, particularly for teams in the AL East. I’d like to think that Manny would enjoy his time in the Bronx and would aggressively work to stay. I don’t think the Yankees would make the move to acquire Machado unless they felt they had a strong chance to sign him to a new contract after the season. Not that I think he’d give the Yankees any type of discount (in fact, it might the opposite given the high cost of living in America’s largest city), but it would be better than him going to Los Angeles and developing a love for Dodger Blue or becoming a Beer King in Milwaukee.

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So, my vote is to acquire Machado now. Realistically, I don’t think he ends up in New York, at least not yet but it’s fun to think about.

I enjoyed hearing that Justus Sheffield would not be part of any trade for Machado but I would absolutely include Top Sheff in a deal for an ace like Jacob deGrom, Blake Snell or Madison Bumgarner. I wouldn’t do it for one of the lesser caliber pitchers including Michael Fulmer. The Yankees have a wealth of talented young arms in the system. There’s simply no way every one of them will reach the Majors with the Yankees. If Sheffield leaves, other young, talented pitchers will ascend to the top of the prospect lists.  Luis Medina was drawn much praise this season, and Luis Gil, acquired from the Minnesota Twins, is drawing accolades in the lower level of the farm system.  I still have very high hopes for Albert Abreu and Domingo Acevedo but you keep hearing great things about guys like Trevor Stephan, Nick Nelson, Garrett Whitlock and others. The top pitching prospects tend to be mostly right-handers (unlike Sheffield) but I would trade a potential ace for a proven ace any day of the week, especially considering the team is prepared to win now.

I want the Yankees to capture the World Series THIS year, not next year or the year after (well, actually I want all of the above but for now, let’s take the 2018 World Series). I don’t want to see the team play a one-game Wild Card ‘do-or-die’ playoff to determine their fate. Even a five-game series is not a true test of the best team, but that’s better than ending the season because of one off-night. So I am in favor of whatever GM Brian Cashman wants to do to improve the Yankees and their chances for October. There will be painful losses. As they say, you have to give up quality to get quality. The Chicago Cubs felt it was the right thing to do to give up their top prospect a couple of years ago for a chance to win the 2016 World Series. The Yankees were the beneficiary of that decision but now they are the team with the great opportunity to win it all.  We’ve had trust in Cashman’s decisions up to this point so there’s no reason to believe that he’s going to go ‘George Steinbrenner-style’ and start trading away premier prospects for aging veterans who have seen their better days. I always trust Cash with the vision to simultaneously look at today and tomorrow. He has not led us astray yet.

I am kind of glad that Giancarlo Stanton is not going to this year’s All-Star Game. He’s heating up and I’d prefer to see him take some rest days next week. I am really glad that he opted to pass on the Home Run Derby even though it means no Yankees will be represented. We need Giancarlo humming through October and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks with him. Hopefully AL Manager A.J. Hinch opts to replace Aaron Judge sooner rather than later in right field and Luis Severino doesn’t pitch more than an inning. We need a rested and ready team for the second half.

I don’t envy Brian Cashman. He has some very tough decisions to make in the coming days and weeks leading up to the non-waiver trading deadline at the end of the month. Even if he does nothing, the Yankees still have a very good team. We need starting pitching but that’s been a known fact for a very long time. When opportunity presents itself, guys step up. Either Cashman believes in the guys we have or he sees opportunity with players currently wearing other uniforms. Regardless, he has my faith and confidence. He’ll do the right thing, and we’ll be enjoying some great baseball in October.  Life is good.

Go Yankees!

Life’s a Gardy Party…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Yanks Vet lead Bombers past Blue Jays….

Brett Gardner may be the oldest position player on the Yankees roster, but age didn’t slow him down on Saturday. He took the first offering from Toronto Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ and deposited it into the right center field stands, much to the chagrin of the Blue Jays crowd. Not to be outdone, Aaron Judge followed Gardy with a homer to right. Back-to-back jacks are a very nice way to start the day (unless the guys play for the other team, of course).

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)

The first inning continued with walks of both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. Happ was able to strike out both Miguel Andujar and Didi Gregorius, and might have been able to get out of the inning without further damage if not for Brandon Drury. Drury laced a double to center which bounced in front of Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar and up off his glove to score both Stanton and Hicks. The Yankees had a 4-0 lead and Luis Severino had yet to throw a pitch. It looked like Kyle Higashioka was going to get a hit for extra bases but a great diving catch to end the inning was made by former Yankee Curtis Granderson. Grandy’s way of keeping Higgy’s homer streak intact although Higgy would later blow it with an eighth inning single.

It looked like the second inning might be another big one for the Yankees. A couple of walks and an infield single had the bases loaded against Happ and only one out. Happ was able to escape the jam when he struck out both Aaron Hicks and Miguel Andujar.

Kevin Pillar made an atonement for his inability to get to Drury’s hit in the first inning when he blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning to bring the Jays within two of the Yankees.

Didi Gregorius led off the third inning against Happ with a walk.  He advanced to second on a two-out steal, although Greg Bird took a walk that would have pushed Didi to second anyway. The Bird walk ended Happ’s not-so-pretty audition for the Yankees. The Jays brought in reliever Jake Petricka to face Brett Gardner. With the two men on base, Gardy tripled to deep center to add two more runs.  He scored when a Petricka pitch got by Jays catcher Luke Maile for a passed ball. The Yankees led the Blue Jays, 7-2.

The Jays got to Luis Severino again in the fourth inning when Randal Grichuk homered to left, a solo shot.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Yankees made some defensive changes with Clint Frazier, called up earlier in the day after David Hale had been DFA’d, entering the game in left and Brett Gardner sliding over to center to replace Aaron Hicks. The Hicks exit was later described as cramping and not considered serious.

Severino exited the game after completing the fifth inning. It was not one of his better performances but he was in position for the win. For five innings  of work and 97 pitches, he gave up five hits and three runs. He walked a couple of batters and struck out five. The two uncharacteristic homers increased his season ERA to 2.12 which is still very, very good.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)

Jonathan Holder replaced Sevy in the sixth and was greeted by a double from Justin Smoak when Brett Gardner was unable to make the backhanded catch in center. Kendrys Morales singled to put runners at the corners for Kevin Pillar. Pillar lofted a fly to center that was deep enough to score Smoak and it was 7-4. Holder was able to retire the next two to get out of the inning. All things considered, it could have been worse.

The Yankees had the bases loaded again in the top of the eighth inning with two outs but Clint Frazier grounded into a fielder’s choice at short to strand the runners. I had really been hoping that Red Thunder could come up big in that spot but it was not meant to be.

In the top of the ninth, Miguel Andujar led off with a ground rule double to left that bounced off the chalk line into the stands against Jays reliever Rhiner Cruz. It was Andujar’s 25th double of the season. A single to left field by Sir Didi brought Andujar home with the Yankees’ eighth run. With two outs and two men on, Cruz left the game with an apparent injury but John Axford came into retire Brett Gardner on three consecutive strikes to prevent the Yankees from adding any further insurance runs.

For the Jays’ last swings, Manager Aaron Boone made the curious decision to bring in Aroldis Chapman in the non-save situation. Chapman had been warming up in the bullpen along with Chasen Shreve. Not that I wanted to see Shreve enter a game, but with a double-header against Baltimore coming up on Monday, I wanted to make sure that Chapman was rested and ready. Boone had other thoughts, but after Chapman struck out Randal Grichuck, he appeared to land poorly on his left knee (has been dealing with tendonitis in the knee). Boone opted not to take any chances (was observed mouthing it was “not worth it”) and pulled Chappy.  Chasen Shreve came in and was able to retire Luke Maile with a come-backer to the mound for the second out. But then Aledmys Diaz blasted a ‘no doubt about it’ shot to left center to make it a three-run game again. Thoughts of “Chasen Shreve, you suck!” started seeping into my mind but fortunately he was able to strike out Teoscar Hernandez to end the game.  Yankees win, 8-5.

My frustration with this game was the continued problem with men in scoring position. The Yankees ended up leaving eleven men on base and were unable to score two separate times with the bases loaded. Fortunately, the offense was strong enough to withstand the comeback by the Blue Jays.

Even if it was not one of Luis Severino’s better performances, he picked up his league-leading 14th victory of the season. At 14-2, this is reminiscent of the great season posted by Ron Guidry in 1978 when he finished 25-3 with 1.74 ERA. I liked Aaron Boone’s quote that he didn’t mind if Sevy started the All-Star Game…but was pulled after an inning. I hear ya, Skip.  We need this dude for the second half.

Nice job by Dellin Betances yet again. I love it. I am so glad to see the big guy back on track and pitching like the perennial All-Star he is.  An inning of work.  No hits, no runs, two strikeouts.  Just another day at the office.  He has owned the eighth inning for months and it does not bode well for American League hitters.

The Yankees (57-29) remained two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Red Sox spotted the Kansas City Royals an early 3-0 lead and then pounded them into submission with a 15-4 drubbing. It was a costly victory for the Sox as they lost their starting catcher, Christian Vasquez, with a broken pinky. It is unclear how much time Vasquez will miss, but he’s headed for the 10-day DL so he’ll be out for at least ten days dependent upon the severity of the injury. I hate to see anyone get hurt and I always believe in playing the best team possible so it is my hope that Vasquez is able to rebound from the injury very quickly.

Looking at the pitching lines for the most rumored Yankees targets yesterday were mostly forgettable, but one stands out. I think I know which pitcher I want. Blake Snell is a guy that I’d gladly trade a boatload of top prospects for.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Listening to the Blue Jays TV announcers yesterday (which included former Yankee Pat Tabler), they were speculating that the pitcher (or pitchers) GM Brian Cashman will acquire by the trading deadline are most likely name(s) we are not currently hearing associated with the Yankees. It makes sense. After all, Cash did legitimately earn his Ninja nickname. I remain hopeful that he’ll bring in a top arm or two, leaving all of us flabbergasted at how he did it…once again.

The best Tweet on Twitter yesterday was the one by the fake Ken Rosenthal reporting the Yankees had traded Sonny Gray to the Oakland A’s for a glazed doughnut. One commenter said the most disappointing part was realizing the tweet was fake and the Yankees weren’t really getting glazed doughnut back. Nice…

It’s Domingo German Day. A great day to end the latest Canadian visit with a win. Go Yankees!