Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
Rays 5, Yankees 3…
Ronald Torreyes tried but nobody else in the offensive lineup was cooperative as the Yankees lost the fourth and final game of the series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Yankee hitters were 1-for-11 in scoring opportunities so this one goes down as a game of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’.
On a day when it was announced the Yankees had acquired left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, one of the other lefties in the rotation…Jordan Montgomery…failed to get out of the third inning. Like Saturday, the Rays took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Montgomery struck out Peter Bourjos, walked Steven Souza, Jr, and struck out Evan Longoria. Lucas Duda singled to left as Souza, Jr took second. Trevor Plouffe followed with a single up the middle, scoring Souza, Jr with the game’s first run.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
The Yankees grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second. Chase Headley walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Rays starter Jacob Faria. After Todd Frazier struck out, Ronald Torreyes hit a homer over the left field wall…2-1, Yankees.
Peter Bourjos led off the third inning with a double to the left field wall. After Steven Souza, Jr struck out, Evan Longoria reached on an infield chopper as the speedy Bourjos took third. Lucas Duda walked to load the bases with only one out. For a moment, it looked like Monty might be able to work out of the jam. He struck out Trevor Plouffe and had Corey Dickerson a strike away from ending the inning. But Dickerson hit a 1-2 pitch into center field, scoring Bourjos and Longoria with the tying and go-ahead runs. Wilson Ramos followed with a single to center, scoring Duda, and it was 4-2 Rays. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough, and pulled Montgomery, who had thrown 71 pitches despite an inability to get out of the 3rd inning, in favor of Luis Cessa. Cessa threw a wild pitch which allowed Dickerson to take third as Ramos moved to second, but he was able to strike out Tim Beckham to get out of the inning.
The Yankees made it a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th. With two outs, Todd Frazier walked on four straight balls and scored when Ronald Torreyes doubled to the left field corner. Frazier slid in under the throw from the outfield to score while Torreyes moved to third but Toe was left stranded when Austin Romine grounded out.
The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the 8th against Yankees reliever Chad Green. Mallex Smith, pinch-hitting for Tim Beckham, led off the 8th with an infield single. Smith stole second, easily sliding in under the tag. With two outs, Steven Souza, Jr doubled off the left center wall to bring Smith home for the Rays’ fifth and final run.
The Yankees had numerous scoring opportunities in this game, but none bigger than the bottom of the 9th. After Gary Sanchez struck out against Rays closer Alex Colome, Brett Gardner singled to left. A wild pitch moved Gardy to second and Clint Frazier reached first when Colome threw four straight pitches outside of the strike zone. With the tying run at first and one out, the Yankees had the heart of the lineup representing the winning run at the plate. Aaron Judge had the first opportunity but got under a pitch and popped out to Trevor Plouffe in foul territory. It came down to Matt Holliday for the Yankees’ last chance. He weakly grounded out to Evan Longoria who easily threw Holliday out at first.
The Yankees could have won this game, leaving a total of 22 men on base, but it was not meant to be. The bullpen did a very good job after Montgomery’s early exit. The combination of Luis Cessa, Chasen Shreve and Chad Green pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing only 3 hits and the 8th inning run given up by Green. They walked 6 batters but struck out 11. Shreve and Green worked out of a bases loaded threat in the top of the 7th inning. The trio gave the Yankees the chance to win so that’s all you can ask.
Fortunately, the Boston Red Sox also lost on Sunday, by the same 5-3 score to the Kansas City Royals, so the Yankees (56-47) maintained their half game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East. The Rays picked up a game so they are 3 1/2 back after losing three of four to the Yankees over the weekend.
Austin Romine left the game after getting hit by a pitch in the 6th inning. It was a tough game for him. He was struck in the throat by a bounced foul ball earlier in the game, and was hit in the head by Steven Souza, Jr’s bat on a follow-through of his swing. Although he stayed in the game to run after getting hit, he was replaced at catcher by Gary Sanchez the next inning. The cameras showed a bruised welt on Romine’s hand but x-rays proved negative. Manager Joe Girardi does not expect any DL time for Romine, and of course Romine’s attitude was the usual ‘just cram the hand in the glove and go’.
Credit: Getty Images
Clint Frazier had quite a second inning. Right before Romine got the ball to the throat, Frazier caught a fly ball in front of Brett Gardner who had tried to call Frazier off. The next batter, Adeiny Hechavarria, hit a ball to the left field wall and Frazier timed his leap and catch perfectly to take away an extra base hit. Bad play-good play, but fortunately both were for outs.
Next Up: Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees entertain the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series at the Stadium beginning today. By game time, the Trading Deadline will have come and gone. It’s time to focus on winning the AL East. Newcomer Jaime Garcia, having pitched last Friday in Oakland for the Twins, will be unavailable to pitch until Thursday, thereby missing the Detroit series.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Tigers: Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03 ERA)
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 6.18 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.66 ERA)
Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann (6-8, 5.69 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-9, 5.09 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees optioned lefty starter Caleb Smith to Triple A and recalled lefty reliever Chasen Shreve. After the game, they optioned RHP Luis Cessa to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (presumably to make room for LHP Jaime Garcia).
I had thought Tigers reliever Justin Wilson would be the next ex-Yankee traded this month in what has been a flurry of transactions involving former Pinstripers. I was wrong. Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox made their latest veteran dump when they sent OF Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals. This is Melky’s second tour with the Royals where he spent the 2011 season. But Wilson wasn’t far behind as word spread that he was on his way to Wrigley Field by the end of the day.
Congratulations to third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers for becoming a member of the 3,000 Hit Club. Beltre reached the milestone on Sunday with a double off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wade Miley. Beltre is currently in his 20th MLB season and is the first player born in the Dominican Republic to reach 3,000 hits.
Credit: Tom Fox-The Dallas Morning News
As of this writing, I don’t know what to think about the Sonny Gray rumors. On Saturday, it sounded like the Yankees were making significant progress with the Oakland A’s but then yesterday, nothing (implying a potential impasse). With the clock clicking down, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. While I remain optimistic the Yankees will get Gray, there is a good possibility that Jaime Garcia is the Yankees’ last acquisition before the deadline. Although the Yankees are rumored to be looking at Yu Darvish as a backup plan, I think that is far less likely to happen. I’m hoping we’ll be looking at Sonny skies before game time today but prepared to move on with the arms and bats currently on the roster.
Have a great Monday! It’s should be a wild ride up to 4 pm Eastern today but afterwards, let’s start a new winning streak. Go Yankees!
Life beyond 3,000 hits…
I hate to make any anti-Derek Jeter comments but I was fearful that the Yankees’ recent winning roll would get derailed by DJ’s return to the lineup. Sure, the recent losses are not his fault, but for whatever reason, the team fared better when he was out of the lineup. I didn’t like the errors made by Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, but Nunez in particular seemed to have a fresher bat.
Art by Scott Dalgleish, http://scottydal.deviantart.com/
I would like to see more batting orders in the second half of the season with Brett Gardner leading off. I suspect that will happen anyway, but Jeter is clearly the focal point of baseball right now as he approaches 3,000 hits.
Will he get those 2 hits that he needs today against the Tampa Bay Rays? He could, but I think it’s more likely that the 3,000th hit will come tomorrow. Of course, I could be completely wrong and DJ might go 0-4 both days.
Don’t get me wrong…I like Jeter and what he has meant to the organization. I will enjoy the day that they retire #2 and make the speeches at Yankee Stadium to induct a commemorative stone into Monument Park on his behalf. But as great as it is to see a player spend his entire career with one organization, I can definitely see the downside which is the deterioration of the player’s skills and ability.
Don Mattingly was in a fast decline when he retired after the 1995 season, however, I don’t think that I was mentally ready for his departure. Perhaps it was because I really wanted to see him win a championship. But with DJ, he has the championships and will soon be the only player in Yankee history with 3,000 hits. He has done everything you could ask for in pinstripes. My only request is that he steps away from the field when he realizes that his skills have eroded to the point that he is a liability. It’s not there yet, but the day is rapidly approaching. As the saying goes, time stops for no one.
A tear in the team’s hopes…
I just read that Alex Rodriguez might have a meniscus tear in his right knee which could require surgery. If Alex and the team decide now is the time for the surgery, it is speculated that he would miss a month. That’s definitely not good news as the Yankees have fallen behind the Boston Red Sox in the standings. I’d feel better if there was a healthy Eric Chavez on the roster but as it stands, it would be necessary for Eduardo Nunez to fill in at third. A-Rod’s loss definitely weakens the Yankees and it puts some pressure on GM Brian Cashman to find a replacement third baseman (in addition to his search for pitching).
I do not know the ramifications of A-Rod playing through the injury, but I hope that he takes the path that leads to good health by September. Of course, if the Yankees fall too far out, there won’t be an extended playing season this year.
What can we find at Nordy’s Rack?….
As far as moves the Yankees are looking at, it appears that there is a dearth of quality starting pitching available on the trade front. The Yankees are apparently looking at relief pitching, like many other teams. Reports have the Yankees interested in, among others, Sean Burnett of the Washington Nationals and Randy Choate of the Florida Marlins. I have liked what Choate has done since he left the Yankees as he became a very solid lefty option for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Marlins. Burnett probably has the better potential at this point although I am not enamored by his 5.76 ERA. But ERA can be deceiving and I don’t know the reasons behind Burnett’s number as I don’t follow the Nats.
These are the times that I am appreciative that Brian Cashman is the team’s general manager. It is his job to find what ails the team and hopefully bring in the necessary chips to ensure that the team is playing meaningful baseball in October. I am full confidence in his abilities and I’d never underestimate the power of his network throughout baseball.
This month should get very interesting as the days go by…
A sad day in baseball…
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tragedy in Arlington, Texas where the fan reaching for a ball thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton fell to his death. I have never caught a ball at a game, and I can remember as a kid how much I wanted to catch one during every visit to the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I can see how the ball would become your prime focus. The loss of the fan, Shannon Stone, was horrible by itself but it was made worse by the presence of his 6-year-old son. I lost my father as a child but I wasn’t there when he died. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it will be for Shannon’s son in the days and years ahead. I definitely hope that he and his family are taken care of by the Texas Rangers organization and Major League Baseball.
Now there’s talk the players could be barred from throwing baseballs into the stands (they’d have to hand the ball to a fan or hand it to an usher who, in turn, would hand it to the fan). While I am in favor of additional safety measures to prevent future unnecessary deaths like Shannon, I would hate to see the players lose the ability to toss a ball into the stands.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (AP Photo)
No, really, I don’t want to go to Phoenix…
When the All-Star Team was announced, I was excited about the number of Yankees making the team. But it appears that many of them won’t be making the trip to Phoenix. First, Mariano Rivera pulled out, and now, both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have withdrawn from the game. I am still surprised that CC Sabathia did not make the team, but then again, I am okay avoiding the added wear and tear on his arm. So, as it is, I will be cheering for Robinson Cano and Russell Martin. As for A-Rod, it is a bit ironic that his All-Star replacement would be Boston’s Kevin Youkilis. Former Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre (Texas) moves up to the starting position.
One week, everything can be coming up roses, and the next it is doom and gloom. I guess that’s just life as a Yankees fan…
New Year, same problems in left…
Okay, I didn’t really want to start the new year with any mention of left field, but unfortunately, there hasn’t been much more to talk about. 2010 begins where 2009 left off…the Yankees are still in search of the right combination for left field. Perhaps the answer is already on the roster in the form of Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann, or maybe the Yanks should move Curtis Granderson to left and install Gardner back in center. Ultimately, I don’t think either of those options will be viable ones when training camp opens in Tampa. But they do underscore the lack of urgency on the Yankees’ part.
I am a big proponent of finding a low-cost option with high upside. When Paul O’Neill was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, he wasn’t a “big” name and he only cost the Yankees the long-forgotten Roberto Kelly. At the time, I was miffed that the Yanks would give up on Kelly, but history clearly showed that it was one of the most astute moves in Yankee history.
I read a blog that speculated David DeJesus of the Kansas City Royals would be a good fit. I do not disagree. Today, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues suggested Travis Buck of the Oakland A’s. Regardless of the latter’s health history, I am okay with either player. Ideally, there’s no question that I’d prefer Johnny Damon first and foremost. But I just don’t think it will happen for whatever reason. So, short of Damon, I like the idea of inserting a player with potential. It is a given that the Yankees will aggressively pursue Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out. I don’t think the Mets would give him up at this point, but I have liked Jeff Francoeur. I still think that he’ll turn it around and live up to his early career promise. The Indians signed free agent and former Yankee Shelley Duncan today. In retrospect, it is too bad that the Yankees never gave him a chance.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
At the end of the day, I think that GM Brian Cashman won’t leave the Yanks short-changed in left. I have faith in the man with the plan…
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Allegedly, 15 teams have expressed interest in pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (with the Yankees included). I hope that the team can find a way to bring Wang back home. If Wang is right, how awesome would the Yanks bullpen be with both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
So, the Boston Red Sox finally solved their third base woes with the signing of free agent Adrian Beltre. I do not dispute that he is masterful with the glove, but anybody who has owned him in fantasy baseball knows that he is brutal offensively. He is clearly not the slugger he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago. So, if you ask me if I am disappointed the Red Sox signed Beltre? No, if it means that the team can no longer pursue San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (financially speaking). Gonzalez is a difference-maker; Beltre is not. The sad part of the Beltre signing is that it will relegate Casey Kotchman to the bench or at the most, DH. At DH, he has potential, but of course, it means the end of David Ortiz. Also, this almost certainly ensures that Mike Lowell will be dealt. The latest rumor has him going to the Mets for Luis Castillo, which is kind of funny considering that the Mets haven’t been able to unload Castillo on anybody. So, the Beltre signing is “nice”, but it doesn’t improve the Sox in the long run, in my opinion.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Did the Vikings’ total domination of the New York Giants and capture of the NFC second seed restore my faith in the Minnesota Vikings? Not really. The New York Giants gave up last week, so they pretty much rolled over for the Vikings on Sunday. It is hard for me to believe that the Vikings are truly a team capable of laying a 44-7 whuppin’ on a play-off foe. It’s funny that the Vikings were rooting for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday considering that the Cowboys have long been my “second” favorite team dating back to the Roger Staubach days. I admit that I was a bit miffed with the Cowboys beat the Vikings on the Hail Mary pass, but I did enjoy the Cowboys’ success under Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman in the 90’s. Of course, I did live in Dallas at the time, so it was a bit more enjoyable. Nevertheless, I still remain on the Purple side, so I’ll await the outcome of the NFC wild card games to see if the Vikings can legitimately move the closest to the Super Bowl that they’ve been since 1998. I am not a great fan of the current Dallas Cowboys so I don’t know who I’ll root for should my Vikings stub their toe. Perhaps I’ll root for Julia’s New England Patriots, but admittedly, they’ll have a tough road sans Wes Welker.
I am not surprised that the Washington Redskins sacked head coach Jim Zorn. I know they are wining and dining Mike Shanahan, and that would probably be a very good move for them. I think Shanahan is a better fit than Steve Spurrier ever was. He knows owner Daniel Snyder so I think the two could co-exist so long as Shanahan can produce. Yeah, I wish the Vikings could be in play for a good coach…
I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and a very happy New Year! Just think, baseball training camps open next month. I can’t wait. I am anxious to resume my battles with a certain friend in Boston…