Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Yankees 14, Orioles 3…
Wow…the Yankees figured out the best way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is to just blast them in the bottom of the first inning. A day after they crushed the O’s 16-3, the Yankee bats were in high gear once again. I carried a fear that they’d struggle a day after the blow-out but these Yankees do not play to anyone’s predictions. The forecasted 82-win team keeps rolling along as they pummeled the O’s 14-3 on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep.
This was a tough 13-game stretch against AL East opponents. When the Yankees returned home to face the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, they were 3-4 in road games against the O’s and the Toronto Blue Jays. Boston had a chance to overtake the Yankees in the AL East standings with a sweep, but instead the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Sox. Then, they absolutely crushed the Orioles by a cumulative score of 38-8 in sweeping the three-game series. So, the Yankees finish 8-5 for the 13 AL East games and are beginning to make believers that this team may be for real.
After losing the opening game of the Red Sox series, the Baby Bombers won the next five games against the Red Sox and the O’s by a combined score of 55-9. It was the first five game stretch of at least 8 runs or more for the Yankees since July 1956.
Replicating Saturday’s fast start, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Two of the first three batters (Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge) singled to put runners at the corners. Judge moved to second on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter as Matt Holliday walked to load the bases. Starlin Castro hit the second pitch of the at-bat up the middle off O’s starter Kevin Gausman, scoring Gardner and Judge. Holliday moved to second. That brought up Gary Sanchez who parked one in left center to score three more runs.
Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press
The Yankees could have blown the game open in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but Starlin Castro hit into a double-play to strand the runners.
Staked to the big lead, Chad Green, making his first Major League start of the season, couldn’t survive the third inning. The only blemish of the first two innings was a walk of Trey Mancini in the second inning, but JJ Hardy opened the third with a double off Green. The next hitter, former Yankee (or should I say RailRider) Ruben Tejada doubled off his former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammate to score Hardy. Green’s day was ended after 52 pitches. But the “doubles parade” continued against Chasen Shreve. Seth Smith lined a double to score Tejada, followed by Jonathan Schoop’s double to score Smith. Suddenly, the game was much tighter at 5-3. Or as Michael Kay put it, “a laugher has become a nail-biter”. Fortunately, Shreve rebounded to get Adam Jones on a ground-out, holding the runner at second. This was followed by swinging strikeouts of O’s sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, after Jonathan Holder held the O’s scoreless in the top of the frame, the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs when Aaron Hicks walked and moved to third on a double by Aaron Judge. Matt Holliday rapped a single to center to score both of the Aarons, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 7-3.
Moving to the sixth, Aaron Judge smashed another monster home run. They should probably re-name Statcast as “Judge-cast” because he owns the leaderboards. A day after the hardest hit ball this year, Judge captured the lead for home run distance with 495 feet. Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks had held the previous longest homer (481 feet) since April 29th. I’ve been convinced that we’ll see a 500 ft home run from Judge this season and he came within 5 feet of making my dream a reality. 8-3, Yankees.
Not finished in the sixth, Matt Holliday reached first base on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Scoop. Starlin Castro followed with a homer to left-center, making up for his second inning-ending double play. The once close score was now 10-3 Yankees.
You’d think that the Yankees bats were done for the day but not the Aarons. In the 7th, both Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner walked with one out. Aaron Hicks subsequently lined a double to center, scoring both runners. 12-3, Yankees. That set the stage for the man of the hour, Aaron Judge. In the daily game of who is going to hit two home runs next, Judge answered the call with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to cap the Yankees scoring for the day and give the Yankees a 14-3 lead.
It’s nice to have games where it is difficult to pick the player of the game. Certainly, two home runs (including one that traveled nearly 500 ft) and a 4-for-4 day with 3 RBI’s gives Judge the leg up, but Starlin Castro’s 4 RBI’s warrant consideration. Gary Sanchez and his three-run homer. Or Matt Holliday, who has a knack for always being in the thick of the action. 1-for-3, Holliday walked twice, scored two runs, and had 2 RBI’s. I am not ready to say that this is a World Series contender quite yet, but this is the most exciting Yankees team that I’ve seen since the late 90’s. Please do not let the bubble burst.
In a game of relievers, the Yankees used 5 members of the bullpen to complete the game. The longest stint was provided by Domingo German who was making his Major League debut. German finished the final 2 2/3 innings of the game. Although he did allow two hits and a walk, he held the O’s scoreless and struck out a batter (Jonathan Schoop, to end the top of the 7th inning). Adam Warren (2-1), who preceded German, picked up the win.
The Yankees (37-23) moved up 3 1/2 games in the AL East, pending the outcome of Boston’s game on Sunday night. The Tampa Bay Rays won (5-4 over the Oakland A’s) to move into third place, 6 games behind the Yankees. The Orioles slipped to fourth with the loss, 6 1/2 games back.
This was an impressive home stand by the Yankees. But all good things must end. The Yankees take the show on the road for seven games in Southern and Northern California before returning to Yankee Stadium on June 20th to face the Los Angeles Angels. With the West Coast games, I guess there are going to be a few bleary-eyed fans this week suffering from lack of sleep.
Odds & Ends…
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, 6-4. The RailRiders led the majority of the game, but the IronPigs scored 5 runs late to capture the win. Chance Adams was the starter, and pitched very well until the fateful 7th inning (when the IronPigs pushed 4 runs across the plate). He finished with a pitching line of 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, while increasing his season ERA to 2.52. He didn’t figure in the decision. Tyler Webb, who I had hoped would eventually find his way to the Bronx, was an absolute train wreck. He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (plus a run charged to Adams) before recording the final out of the 7th inning. Adams deserved better but this was a learning experience.
Greg Bird had a quiet day at the plate. He was 0-for-2, with 2 walks and a run scored.
Domingo German’s stay in the Major Leagues was short-lived. Following yesterday’s game, he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Right-handed reliever Ben Heller was recalled to take his place. Either Heller or Gallegos will be heading back to SWB when Aroldis Chapman is activated (hopefully this weekend in Oakland).
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups in Anaheim for the series with the Los Angeles Angels:
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA)
Angels: Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA)
Angels: JC Ramirez ( 6-4, 4.33 ERA)
Yankees: Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.39 ERA)
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (6-3, 4.22 ERA)
Have a great Monday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill|
Yankees 9, A’s 5…
On the eve of thirteen consecutive games against American League East teams, the Yankees used the Judge to set sentence Sunday on the three game series with the Oakland A’s. The verdict — the Yankees are guilty of taking the series, two games to one.
With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the third inning, they loaded the bases (I can’t believe that Matt Joyce dropped that fly ball by Matt Holliday but hey, I’ll take it) with two outs for Aaron Judge. In the preceding at-bat, Starlin Castro had a chance for the grand salami but he struck out. A’s pitcher Andrew Triggs, with the count at two balls and a strike, threw a two-seam fastball to Judge. As Julia Roberts said in the movie ‘Pretty Woman’, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” Judge made the most of his swing as he sent the ball over the center field wall for his 16th home run of the year. The Yankees were up by three runs at 5-2 with the grand slam, Judge’s first, and a lead that they would not relinquish this day.
It wasn’t a clean outing for Michael Pineda (6-2) but he did enough to capture the win. He needs to clean up the mental errors…the three walks (two of the runners eventually scored), a balk and a throwing error. In the sixth inning, with the Yankees leading 6-2, Pineda walked Jed Lowrie and then, with Khris Davis at the plate, balked to allow Lowrie to advance to second. Davis subsequently reached first base on a throwing error by Pineda, while Lowrie raced around to home plate to close the gap to 6-3. As the YES Network’s Michael Kay put it, “A walk, a balk, and an E-1”. Pineda finished the sixth, thanks to a double play, but that would be it for his day. He finished with three hits, three runs (two earned although he was the responsible party for the unearned run), and five strikeouts.
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
The Yankees picked up another run in the seventh inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to left with two outs and Ronald Torreyes on first. The hit scored Torreyes, to push the score to 7-3. The A’s challenged the call saying that left fielder Khris Davis held the ball long enough before bouncing out of his glove but the call on the field was upheld.
The A’s responded with two runs in the eighth inning when Khris Davis hit his fifteenth homer of the season, a two-run shot off Yankees reliever Chad Green (with yet another walked batter that scored) to tighten the score, 7-5. After a one batter appearance by the LOOGY (Tommy Layne, who retired lefty swinging Yonder Alonso on a fly out to right), Adam Warren was brought in for the role of cleaner (Mr Kaplan?) and he eliminated Ryon Healy with a fly out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner gave the Yankees some breathing room with a two-run double to increase the Yankees lead to 9-5. Warren stayed in the game in the ninth to clean up the bodies with three up, three down for his first save of the season. Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York…
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
It was a good day all around for the Yankees (29-18). The Boston Red Sox finally dropped a game to Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners, 5-0, while the Baltimore Orioles, today’s opponent, lost their seventh consecutive game, 8-4 to the Houston Astros. The losses increased the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to 3 games over the Red Sox and 4 1/2 games over the Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays, the only other team to win in the AL East on Sunday, are 5 games back.
Down on the Farm…
Tyler Austin continued his latest rehab assignment in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. At DH, he was 1-for-3 with a run scored in the RailRiders’ 3-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens. Gleyber Torres, at short, was 1-for-4 with a single.
Yankees left-hander Justus Sheffield had a great game for the AA-Trenton Thunder. He pitched a three-hitter in 6 2/3 innings to beat the Portland Sea Dogs, 6-2. He only gave up one run (none earned), walked one and struck out six. With more performances like that, the 21-year-old could very well find himself in Pennsylvania. The hitting star for the Thunder was third baseman Miguel Andujar. He was 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.
The Road Ahead…
The Yankees take to the road today with a trip to Baltimore, Maryland for three games with the Orioles, followed by a trip north of the border to Toronto, Canada for a four-game set with the Blue Jays. Upon completion of the road trip, the Yankees return home to face the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in three-game series. As losers of seven straight, the Orioles will be looking to turn things around in their home park. It’s not going to be an easy series by any stretch of the imagination.
Here are the pitching matchup’s for the Baltimore series:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11 ERA)
Orioles: Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.43 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86 ERA)
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (2-4, 6.17 ERA)
Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day! Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has lost family, friends, and loved ones in the defense of our Country. Our eternal thanks to the men and women who gave all…
Royals 6, Yankees 2…
Jordan Montgomery showed why he is a Major League pitcher. After a few outings that had led to speculation he could potentially be replaced in the rotation, Monty delivered his finest outing yet. The bullpen couldn’t hold it but you’ll never find a complainer with Montgomery. “I trust those guys coming out of the bullpen. I trust them all. They’re doing the best to execute pitches. They’ve been so great throughout the year already. Nobody is perfect. Win as a team, lose as a team.”, Montgomery said in his post-game comments.
|Credit: Robert Sabo|
Monty took a one-hitter into the seventh inning but gave up a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain. After getting the second out of the inning, Montgomery was pulled for Adam Warren with the Yankees leading 2-1 and no one on, finishing with a two-hit effort. At that point, the bullpen imploded to the tune of four hits and five runs, which allowed the Royals to walk away with the 6-2 victory. After watching Montgomery’s brilliant two-hitter, Warren (1-1) allowed two hits to the first two batters he faced, the second a homer by Jorge Bonifacio, while both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve were greeted with solo shots from the first batters they faced in the eighth. Bryan Mitchell pitched a three-up, three down ninth inning but by then, it was too little, too late as the Yankees were unable to rally.
It’s disappointing to see such a great performance by Montgomery wasted but the overworked bullpen is a byproduct of the overall recent poor performances by the starting rotation. It’s hard to fault Warren and Company as it was inevitable they’d crack from overuse and it was really good to see the maturity of Montgomery as he refused to place any blame on his teammates. You could say that manager Joe Girardi should have left Montgomery in the game, but he was at 98 pitches. It was time for his tip of the cap as he walked off the mound.
|Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images|
Danny Duffy, the winning pitcher for the Royals, took notice. After the game, Duffy said “He’s out there, and he’s beyond his years and it’s fun to watch him compete.”
The Yankees scored their only runs in the fourth and fifth innings with solo home runs from Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter, respectively. The Yankees had a chance to close the gap in the eighth when Chase Headley came to bat with two outs and runners at the corners, but his liner to Eric Hosmer, who made a great play, thwarted the attempt.
Prior to the game, the Yankees took a moment of silence for the victims of the horrific and senseless terror attack in Manchester, England, playing “God Save The Queen”.
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
The Yankees (26-17) maintained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East despite the loss. The Orioles fell 2-0 to Ervin Santana and the Minnesota Twins. Santana pitched a complete game two-hitter. The Boston Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 11-6 to close to within 3 1/2 games.
Greg Bird has resumed hitting off a tee as he begins his journey back from the bruised ankle injury.
I know, that pic couldn’t possibly be Greg Bird. He’d never wear his jeans that high up!
The current plan is for Bird to hit in an indoor cage today, rest tomorrow, and take outdoor batting practice on Friday and Saturday. Sunday, he’d travel down to Florida to begin either extended spring training on Monday or start a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa.
It’s possible that we could see Bird back with the Yankees late next week or weekend depending upon how things go. Hopefully, there will be no setbacks and he’ll be much stronger and healthier than we last saw him.
Gerrit Cole Update…
Yeah, that’s probably true.
For the record, Cole did kind of stink it up in Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday. He was almost Masahiro Tanaka-like in lasting only 4 2/3 innings. The Braves teed off him, maybe using Bird’s tee, for 10 hits and 5 runs. I guess we can get that production from our own staff without giving up prospects off the MLB Top 100 list.
But all things considered, and throwing in the AL East surcharge on ERA, I’d still take Cole. I know that he spurned the Yankees when drafted a few years ago, but I have to say that for a chance to go to UCLA, I probably would have too.
Gleyber Torres Update…
Tuesday night saw Gleyber Torres in the lineup for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at third base. Rob Refsnyder was at second, and Tyler Wade at short. Physically, Torres really isn’t that much smaller than Headley. He is an inch shorter at 6’1″ and about 40 pounds lighter at 175 lbs. I guess when I think of third basemen, I think of guys like Kris Bryant (6’5″, 230 lbs) but Torres is taller than others such as Justin Turner or Pablo Sandoval. Nolan Arenado sets the bar for third base from a performance standpoint and he’s only 6’2″, 215 lbs. Torres will continue to pack muscle on his frame so he certainly has the physical attributes to excel at the position. I guess selfishly I wanted to keep third base relatively open or flexible for the possible addition of Manny Machado but I am not going to complain if Torres grabs third for years of All-Star games and World Series Championship rings.
Torres was 1-for-3 with a single in the RailRiders’ 3-1 loss to the Columbus Clippers.
Have a great Wednesday! Time to get a new winning streak started! It’s a new day!
Credit: David Banks/USA TODAY Sports
It is frustrating when the Yankees lose games they should have won so there was satisfaction with Friday afternoon’s stunning victory over the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, thanks to a ninth inning two-out, two-strike three-run home run by Brett Gardner. The Yankees had their chances early in the game, but seemed to self-sabotage every attempt to push runs across the plate.
The Yankees were fortunate that Cubs closer Wade Davis was unavailable after pitching in the three preceding games for the Northsiders. Davis is currently 2-0 with an 0.00 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. He has 15 strikeouts and has only given up four hits and walks. His WHIP is a paltry 0.60. I’ve read a few Chicago articles that think the Cubs upgraded the closing position with the addition of Wade Davis (a bit of a slam against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman). But with Davis unavailable, the Cubs were forced to turn to former closer, Hector Rondon, who had been displaced last July when Chapman arrived.
Honestly, it didn’t feel like Gardner was going to emerge from the day victorious. After he reached two strikes, he fouled off a couple of Rondon pitches to stay alive. It felt like Rondon just needed to put one in the outside corner to earn his first save of the season. Instead, he left the pitch in the exact spot that he shouldn’t have…low and inside. That’s all Gardner needed to deposit the pitch in the outfield bleachers.
The Gardner home run put the game in the hands of former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman. It wasn’t pretty when the first batter, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, reached second base as a result of a Chase Headley error. With the game-tying run on second and no outs, Chapman retired the next three batters which included a swinging third strike by Cubs powerful second baseman Javier Baez to end the game.
Hats off to Michael Pineda. I know that he gave up two home runs, but he could’ve folded like a cheap suit as he has in years past. He held the Cubs to only two runs on the solo homers and only three hits overall in six innings of work. He struck out six and walked only one. It was a quality start and there’s no way the Yankees could have staged the improbable comeback if not for Pineda’s efforts.
The win moved the Yankees to 18-9. They precariously remain in sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 despite starting pitcher Wade Miley being hit by successive line drives 12 pitches into the game that forced his departure.
Aroldis Chapman received his World Series ring prior to the start of the game. It was good to see him receive recognition for his contributions for helping to bring the first World Series championship to Chicago for the Cubs in 108 years. People tend to remember the game-tying home run that a weary Chapman gave up in Game 7 but the Cubs would not have been in the World Series if not for #54.
Credit: Tannen Maury/EPA
Adam Warren also received his World Series ring as a member of the 2016 Cubs, but he chose a private ceremony (he wanted the spotlight on the Yankees closer since Chapman was part of the post-season team that won the World Series plus he didn’t feel right wearing Yankees gear with a Cubs ring…’Attaboy, Adam!).
It was also a fun day for former Cubs shortstop/second baseman Starlin Castro. He received a standing ovation as the Cubs played his walk-up music when he came up to bat for the first time. There’s no doubt it was an emotional day for Castro who remains appreciative of the Cubs for giving him his first opportunity in Major League Baseball.
Credit: Getty Images
Gary Sanchez was activated before the game and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Kyle Higashioka was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/WilkesBarre after failing to record in a hit in 18 at-bats. I had really been hoping that he could have gotten that first one out of the way before heading back to Eastern Pennsylvania.
Have a great Saturday! Sounds like it may be a cold, windy night in Chicago. Hopefully it will be a memorable evening for the Baby Bombers in the Windy City.
Credit: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune
ChiTown is spreading the love for our second baseman, Starlin Castro. From comments by Cubs manager Joe Maddon “He was a great teammate here” to current Cubs players like Anthony Rizzo “He played hard and played every day”, the warm accolades about Castro are overflowing in the Chicago papers. As Rizzo went on to say, “He was here for a while and part of this two-year run. But I’m sure he was pulling for us. I’m sure it would have been great for him to be a part of it, too, but I think a little part of him was.”
The Cubs will honor Castro before today’s game at Wrigley Field as a thank you for his contributions while a long-time member of the Cubs organization. From the 2010 to 2015 seasons, Castro played in 891 games and batted .281/.321/.404. He hit 62 home runs with 363 RBI’s and 75 stolen bases.
I am sure that it will be tough for Castro to watch Adam Warren and Aroldis Chapman accept their World Series rings from Cubs President Theo Epstein and Maddon, considering he was part of the rebuilding effort that led to the championship run. He played six seasons in Chicago’s North Side, while you could piece together only one season collectively for Warren and Chapman (if you include Warren’s time in the minors).
Credit: Jonathan Danie/Getty Images
I fully expect a loud and rousing ovation for Castro when he comes to bat for the first time today. He has always said the right things about his time in Chicago and I don’t think I really understood before how willing Castro was to accept the position change from shortstop to second base during his final months as a Cub. It had to have been a huge letdown but he didn’t complain or argue. He embraced the change and has continued to improve as a second baseman.
I am very happy that he’ll be recognized by the city of Chicago and Cubs fans. But of course, once the first pitch is thrown, he is a Yankee and his job will be to beat the Cubs.
While three Yankees will be having fun reminiscing, one Yankee returns to the field of his arch-rival. With so many years in St Louis as a member of the Cardinals, Wrigley Field is like a Yankee setting foot on Fenway Park turf for Matt Holliday. He’ll have no trouble going to war when the games begin.
Credit: Getty Images
It will also be interesting to see how Chapman does. I don’t expect any spillover from his negative comments about his handling by Joe Maddon in the World Series (the two have apparently talked and mended fences since then, plus Chapman was right). I think Aroldis will be a pro when he takes the mound. He played a huge role in getting the Cubs to the World Series and certainly deserves the ring he’ll receive.
Credit: Jon Durr/Getty Images
I forgot to mention Yankees manager Joe Girardi as this is a homecoming for him too. A Chicagoland native, he is also a former Cub (1989-1992, 2000-2002). I am sure that he’ll have fun visiting with friends and family. When I think of Girardi and the Cubs, it always reminds me of a very tragic day. On June 22, 2002, Girardi, then the Cubs catcher, took the microphone to speak to the Wrigley Field crowd moments after a game with the Cardinals was scheduled to begin. A very emotional Girardi spoke the words “I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinals family, the Commissioner has cancelled the game today. I ask you to say a prayer for the St Louis Cardinals family.” The crowd was silenced. The name had not yet been released but we subsequently found out that Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile had been found dead (heart disease) in his hotel room. I have always admired Girardi for how he handled the situation that day even though he didn’t know Kile.
Among the Coaching Staff, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was the long-time pitching coach for the Cubs prior to his arrival in New York (from 2002 to 2010). Bullpen coach Mike Harkey played for the Cubs in 1988 and 1990-1993.
Here are the pitching match-ups for the Yankees-Cubs series:
NYY: Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.14 ERA)
CHC: Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 4.18 ERA)
NYY: Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.15 ERA)
CHC: Brett Anderson (2-1, 6.23 ERA)
NYY: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA)
CHC: Jon Lester (1-1, 3.67 ERA)
Gary Sanchez is expected to be activated before today’s game. He is the one guy capable of stealing ratings away from The Aaron Judge Show. It’s going to be so much fun watching those two in the lineup together again. It’s an awesome time to be a Yankees fan!
Credit: Seth Wenig/AP
Have a great Friday! Let’s show the World Champions that we can play this game!
Credit: Andy Martin/USA TODAY Sports
With the better-than-expected start to the season, it’s easy to get caught up with the thinking that the Yankees could actually win the American League East. Sadly, I still do not believe that will be the case. I think the Boston Red Sox remain the heavy favorite to win the division. While the Yankees may be playing great without Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox are starting to gather some steam even though Jackie Bradley, Jr. and arguably their best player, Mookie Betts, are currently on the DL. Add Betts to the stellar starting rotation, and the Red Sox will be a very formidable force throughout the summer. We’ll have some bumps and bruises with the younger starters as time goes by, and there’s no certainty that Michael Pineda has finally turned the corner. My only reservation with the Red Sox is that they do not seem to have the same heart they did with David Ortiz in the lineup. Hanley Ramirez is a great baseball player but he’s no Big Papi.
Nevertheless, I do feel the strong start has positioned the Yankees to make a run at a Wild Card spot, especially with the horrific start of the perennial playoff contending Toronto Blue Jays.
While the Yankees are currently chasing Baltimore, the Orioles lost their lock-down closer Zach Britton for at least ten days with a left sore forearm (his throwing arm). Britton is obviously an elite closer so this severely weakens the O’s pen. Although it’s possible that Britton will be back before the O’s get to New York late next week, they do go into a head-to-head showdown with the Red Sox starting Friday night for a three-game set in their weakened state.
It is amazing to think that the Yankees have played this well without Gregorius and Sanchez. If they can continue to get solid pitching from the starting rotation, the return of Gregorius and Sanchez in a few weeks should be a great lift. It’ll almost be like getting All-Star caliber players at the trading deadline with the only difference being the Yankees do not have to give up any premier prospects (or any prospects, for that matter, other than the probable DFA of Pete Kozma).
The Yankees announced they’ve traded reliever Johnny Barbato to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash. Those types of deals usually turn out to be cash. Barbato was optioned to AAA by the Pirates. It’s unfortunate that the Yankees didn’t get more out of Barbato considering they gave up dependable reliever Shawn Kelley to get him. The Pirates always seem to get high mileage out of Yankee rejects. Barbato will probably be their ace closer within a couple of years.
I apologize in advance for going off topic (non-Yankees talk) but I have been very interested in watching Cody Bellinger, a first baseman in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Bellinger, son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger, is the Dodgers top prospect and the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez. On Sunday, Bellinger was responsible for all three runs in Oklahoma City’s 3-2 win over the Memphis Redbirds. Bellinger scored a run after walking in the fourth; tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth; and singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh. For the season, the 21-year-old Bellinger is batting .372 (16-for-43) with 4 doubles, 3 homers, and 12 RBI’s. Meanwhile, for the Big League Dodgers, the 34-year-old Gonzalez is hitting .250 with no homers and 4 RBI’s. If Bellinger keeps it up, there could soon be a changing of the guard at first base in Dodger Stadium. Looks like the Dodgers could be back to the days of bringing up an All-Star to the Majors every year. If Bellinger does not get the call, top pitching prospect Julio Urias most certainly will.
Credit: Rob Tringali/Getty Images
Speaking of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (in an attempt to keep this Yankees-oriented), it’s kind of cool that their stadium, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, is located at 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive. Too bad there was no room to build the stadium across the street and down a little for 7 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.
In other non-Yankees news (or is it?), Bryan Harper stepped to the plate on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, with the Washington Nationals trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 and Philly closer Joaquin Benoit on the mound. With two runners on base, Harper homered to center to win the game, 6-4. It was his second home run of the game and it gave him 5 RBI’s for the day. Preview of coming attractions at Yankee Stadium? Time will tell, as it often does. Hal, what’s a half-billion in the grand scheme of things? It’s just money…
Welcome back, Matt Holliday! After sitting out two games against his former team, the St Louis Cardinals, this past weekend, Matt Holliday returned on Monday to absolutely crush a baseball which allowed the Yankees to jump ahead of the Chicago White Sox with an early 3-0 lead. The ball traveled 459 feet, with exit velocity of 113.9 MPH, and according to Statcast was the second longest homer of the year (two feet behind a Carlos Gomez blast).
Aaron Judge also homered in the fourth inning with one on and two outs.
Jordan Montgomery impressed once again. You gotta love his calm demeanor on the mound (unflappable). His deceptive arm angle is a thing of beauty with the over the top motion. Montgomery gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work, with two walks and two strikeouts. The runs didn’t come until the seventh inning when Montgomery was tiring (a three run bomb by Yolmer Sanchez that ended Montgomery’s night). Regardless of the end, Montgomery was better the second time around (as I thought he would be). He’s an exciting part of the rotation and is quickly earning his pinstripes for the long haul.
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Adam Warren did what he does best. After Montgomery’s exit, he bridged the gap to the ninth inning. Although he finally allowed a run, he did his job and turned the game over to Aroldis Chapman with one out and a runner on base. Although Chapman did allow a single to the first hitter, pushing the lead runner to third, he needed just two pitches to earn his fourth save. The next batter, Tyler Saladino, hit into a game-ending double play.
The Yankees won 7-4, and have now won eight consecutive games.
Have a great Tuesday! Nine would be just fine!
How will the Yankees “manage” potential change?…
Will Joe Girardi be the Yankees manager this time next year? As the manager enters the final year of his contract, the expectation is that he’ll re-sign with the Yankees in October or November. But anything is possible. The Steinbrenner family might have a change of heart and decide that a change is needed. Girardi has held the job for a long time (this will be his 10th season as Yankees skipper).
Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
I get frustrated with Girardi at times. He’s never been one of my favorite managers. I had greater confidence in Joe Torre’s ability to lead. Among current managers, I hold Don Mattingly and Terry “Tito” Francona in highest regard.
Mattingly was my favorite player so sentimentally that’s probably why he is my favorite manager. In 2008, when the Yankees hired Girardi over Mattingly, I did think it was the right decision given Mattingly’s lack of managerial experience at the time. Mattingly was not able to succeed in Los Angeles for the Dodgers, but I’ve felt he has continually improved each year. Today, I’d easily take Mattingly over Girardi. My only reservation with hiring Mattingly as Yankees manager (assuming the Yankees could pry him from Miami) is preservation of his Yankees legacy. Managers are hired to be fired or so the saying goes. I wouldn’t want my final memory of Mattingly in pinstripes to be him walking away after being fired.
I have admired Francona since he was manager of the Boston Red Sox. I had great respect for the champions he built and of course he was responsible for ending The Curse of the Bambino, along with then general manager Theo Epstein. I doubt that Francona would ever leave the Cleveland Indians (by his own choice). The Yankees could have hired him after he was fired in Boston but they did not express any interest. Francona has history with the Cleveland Indians franchise (pre-dating his time in Boston), and after taking the team to the World Series last year, he is very beloved in the city.
If the Yankees do decide to make a managerial change at the end of the season, I just don’t see any overwhelming candidates who could do a better job. Mattingly would be great, but he is under contract, so it would take a trade to make it happen. I am not enthused by simply elevating one of the coaches (Rob Thomson or Tony Pena).
This situation bears watching over the course of the season. I think the odds are much better that GM Brian Cashman, also in the final year of a contract, re-signs with the Yankees than Girardi. Time will tell.
Let the competition be Judged…
The Yankees have various degrees of competition at certain positions this spring. The most obvious is the two open spots in the pitching rotation behind Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. The early leaders, in my opinion, are Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell. But there is still time for Chad Green, Luis Cessa, and perhaps Adam Warren to state their case. I am anxious and excited for Jordan Montgomery and James Kaprielian but it does not appear to be their times yet. Kaprielian has the higher ceiling but he won’t make an appearance at Yankee Stadium, barring injuries, until September at the earliest. Montgomery could show up sooner and might be the first or second option if someone gets hurt.
The competition at first base evaporated somewhat when Tyler Austin broke his foot. Greg Bird clearly holds the advantage over Chris Carter despite the latter’s 41 home runs last season. Unlike Carter, Bird is good defensively (even if he’s not on par with former first baseman Mark Teixeira’s glove) and hits for average. As Bird has shown this spring, he still has his power following last year’s injury.
Right field was also a speculated position of competition. Most assume that Aaron Judge will get the job, but technically, he is in competition with Aaron Hicks. Judge has a much greater upside, but he did strike out 42 out of 84 times late last season. If he is not able to make the necessary adjustments at the big league level, it could open the door for Hicks to take the job. I personally hope it does not happen. I am hopeful that Judge figures it out at this level like he has at every level thus far.
The flaming red hair is left on the barbershop floor…
Kudos to OF Clint Frazier for cutting his bushy red hair this week. While I personally feel that the Yankees current hair policy is outdated, I thought it was a good move by Frazier to cut his hair after a talk with Manager Joe Girardi. Girardi felt that the hair had become a distraction. It was a mature statement by Frazier in saying that he loved playing for the organization more than his hair.
Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Frazier won’t break camp with the Yankees, but he’ll be there soon enough. This is all part of his maturation into a dynamic young future star outfielder for the Pinstripers.
There’s other baseball on TV…
I should probably watch the WBC more but I’ve never been into it. Still, I fully understand the importance of placing Baseball on the World Stage and should reconsider my complacency. I guess I am just get tired of seeing the Dominican Republic or Japan always win the competition.
Regardless, it was fun to see the USA defeat Columbia, 3-2, on a run-scoring single by Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard picked up the win. The game featured a very strong start by Jose Quintana for Columbia. The rumors continue to swirl about Quintana’s future and the Yankees remain one of the potential destinations. His WBC performance yesterday did nothing to dispel those rumors.
Credit: Logan Bowles, USA TODAY Sports
Have a great weekend, everyone!