Tagged: Aroldis Chapman

Step Aside Babies, The Aging Bombers Got This…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Twins 2…

The way the game started, it looked like it was going to be the Twins’ day.  But in the end, it was the grizzled old veterans (CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner) that keyed the victory for the Yankees.

In a game delayed by rain (one hour and five minutes), the Twins got an early jump on Sabathia. Brian Dozier led off with a single to center on the first pitch.  Joe Mauer reached on a bunt to third (a roller on the line that Todd Frazier waited to see if it would roll out), Dozier advanced to second. Jorge Polanco followed with a bunt single back to the pitcher. CC must have been thrilled with all those bunts (memories of Boston). Polanco was called out on the field but the Twins challenged and replay showed that he had beaten Sabathia’s throw to first. The bases were loaded with no outs.  Even though it resulted in a run, the play of the game occurred when Jorge Polanco hit a grounder to short and the Yankees completed a double play (second to first) with Dozier running home to score the game’s first run. Byron Buxton grounded out back to Sabathia to end the threat. The Twins could have scored multiple runs in that situation, which would have changed the complexion of the game, but CC was able to limit the damage.

The top of the 2nd saw a completely different Sabathia. He set down the Twins on a ground out and two strikeouts. Thanks to walks by Starlin Castro and Greg Bird, the Yankees had two runners on base in the bottom of the 2nd, with two outs, for Brett Gardner. Gardy delivered with a line drive to left to score Castro.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

Bird moved to third, but Aaron Judge was unable to bring him home when he flied out to center to end the inning.  Game tied.

Max Kepler led off the top of the 3rd inning with a home run to right center as the Twins recaptured the lead.  

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the bottom of the 4th with a double down the left field line. After Todd Frazier struck out, Greg Bird took his second walk of the game.  Runners at first and second. Brett Gardner came up big again with a single to right, past a diving Joe Mauer, to score Ellsbury. The Twins pulled starter Jose Berrios and replaced him with Alan Busenitz. With Aaron Judge batting, Busenitz uncorked a wild pitch which moved the runners to second and third. Aaron Judge took advantage with a sacrifice fly to the right field warning track that scored Bird. The Yankees had their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Getty Images

The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 5th. With former Met Dillon Gee on the mound and one out, Chase Headley was hit by a pitch near the family jewels. Yikes! Headley was okay, but as Michael Kay of the YES Network said, I hope he was wearing a cup even though he was not playing in the field (DH) for this game. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left through the hole and Headley moved to second.  Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to first for the second out, but the runners advanced to second and third.  Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. The Twins made another pitching change, replacing Gee with Buddy Boshers. Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that looked like it would be a routine play for Joe Mauer but the ball bounced off the side of his glove and all runners were safe, with Headley scoring. If there was ever a guy that deserved to score, it was Headley as he had truly taken one for the team. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-2.  

Sabathia found himself back in another jam in the 6th inning. Two singles, a stolen base, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, but CC was able to get Eddie Rosario to fly out to left to leave the runners stranded.  Rosario’s hit took Brett Gardner to the warning track and back into the wall  but it was still the third out even if it did cause me to lose my breath momentarily.  Sabathia’s day was done.

In the bottom of the 6th, Twins reliever Ryan Pressly took over for Buddy Boshers. The first batter, Aaron Judge, singled to left through the hole.  Gary Sanchez followed with a single to left and the Yankees had runners at the corners. After outs by Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley, Starlin Castro singled to right, inches past a diving Brian Dozier, to score Judge. Sanchez moved to second. A wild pitch had advanced the runners to second and third. From there, Pressly intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier grounded out to short to end the inning but the Yankees had added to their lead, 5-2.  

Chad Green took over for Sabathia in the 7th. It wasn’t the usual Terminator-like appearance for Green, but he did hold the Twins scoreless despite allowing a single and a walk in the inning.

The Yanks missed another scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 7th. Brett Gardner had reached on a one-out grounder to short (a ball that squirted out of the shortstop’s glove). With Aaron Judge batting, Gardy stole second. He then moved to third on a wild pitch by reliever John Curtiss. Judge hit a grounder to third and Gardy made an unsuccessful break for home. Eduardo Escobar’s throw to catcher Chris Gimenez nailed Gardy at the plate.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

In the top of the 8th, David Robertson got the call. Joe Girardi had said prior to the game that Dellin Betances would be unavailable after pitching in the two previous games but obviously there was much discussion among the Yankees Universe yesterday about whether the Yankees should drop Betances to less pressurized situations until he can find himself again. D-Rob added fuel to the argument when he struck out the side.  

Aroldis Chapman came into the game in the 9th. Although he did allow a two-out double to Chris Gimenez, he got Max Kepler to hit a liner to left for the final out to earn his 20th save. The Yankees win!

The Yankees (84-67) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox, staying three games back. The Baltimore Orioles have done the Yankees no favors as they fell to the Sox again, this time by a score of 1-0 in extra innings. Manny Machado, please feel free to mix in a few timely hits. The Yankees have built a commanding six game lead in the Wild Card standings over the Twins. The third place WC-contending team, the Los Angeles Angels, also lost so they failed to make up any ground on their 1 1/2 game deficit to the Twins.  

CC Sabathia (12-5) was clearly the crafty vet in this game. He escaped huge jams and overall held the Twins in check. ‘Get the game to the bullpen’ and he did.  

Both Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro had three hits, and Aaron Judge had two. Another good win by the home team!

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have made a pitching change for today’s game. Earlier, Joe Girardi had announced that Masahiro Tanaka would be the scheduled starter. However, upon reconsideration (based primarily on the fact that the Yankees have not yet clinched a post-season berth), they have decided to pitch Luis Severino (13-6, 2.93 ERA). He’ll be opposed by the ageless Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.80 ERA). Tanaka will pitch Friday night in Toronto. The move gives Severino the potential for three starts if the Yankees are still challenging the Sox for the division championship. If not, he’ll make two more starts, including today, and will take the mound for the Wild Card game.  

It is amazing to think that if/when Aaron Judge hits his 45th home run of the season, he’ll join very select company as the only Yankees with 45 or more home runs in a season…Roger Maris (61); Babe Ruth (60, 59, 54, 54, 49, 47, 46, 46, 46); Mickey Mantle (54, 52); Alex Rodriguez (54, 48); Lou Gehrig (49, 49, 47, 46); and Joe DiMaggio (46). Standing pat at 44 HR’s is impressive as it would also include Tino Martinez but clearly we want Judge to continue to send balls into orbit.   

Have a great Wednesday! It’s a wonderful day for a win!  Go Yankees!  

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The Missile is Back!…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

Yankees 2, Twins 1…

The game had many stars…Jaime Garcia, Aaron Judge, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, but it was Aroldis Chapman who brought home the victory with his 5-out save that included working out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the top of the 8th inning as the Yankees held off the Minnesota Twins.

I’ve not been a very big fan of Jaime Garcia but he delivered on Monday night.  In a game that looked like a mismatch on paper (Garcia against 15-game winner Ervin Santana), Garcia was just a tad bit better on this night. It was evident that he brought his “A” game when he struck out the side in the first inning to start the game against his former team of 6 days in July.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

Aaron Judge gave Garcia an early lead when he belted his 44th homer of the year, a solo shot to right. It was Judge’s 97th RBI of the season.

The Twins tied the game in the top of the 5th inning. Eddie Rosario led off with a single to second on a ball that was deflected off the glove of  a diving Didi Gregorius into shallow right field. Eduardo Escobar singled to right, but Aaron Judge’s slight bobble of the ball (ruled an error) allowed Rosario the time he needed to race around to third base. Robbie Grossman hit a grounder to third. Todd Frazier fielded and threw to second for the force out on Escobar but Rosario scored and the game was tied.

Garcia was able to get the first two outs in the top of the 6th, but when he gave up Joe Mauer’s single to right, his day was done. David Robertson, ready and waiting, came in and struck out Byron Buxton to end the Twins’ side of the inning.  

Garcia probably wished that he could have gotten Mauer out because the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Chase Headley singled to center on a ball that was deflected off the glove of second baseman Brian Dozier with one out.  Starlin Castro singled to left, with Headley moving to second. With Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate, a wild pitch by Ervin Santana allowed the runners to move up to second and third.  Ellsbury was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Todd Frazier’s sacrifice fly to center scored Headley and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.

The Twins made a pitching change and brought in Trevor Hildenberger who retired Greg Bird on a ground out at first so the Yankees were unable to push any further runs across.

Dellin Betances replaced the highly effective David Robertson to start the 8th inning and the drama began. He hit the first batter, Robbie Grossman, with a pitch to the hip. Zach Granite pinch hit for Jason Castro and moved Grossman to second with a sacrifice bunt. Max Kepler pinch hit for Ehire Adrianza and drew a walk on four successive pitches. After pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound, Betances threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. Larry, your talk didn’t work! Betances proceeded to walk Brian Dozier, after almost striking him out on a foul tip that Gary Sanchez was unable to catch earlier in the at-bat, and the bases were full with only one out. Finally, Joe Girardi realized that it was not Dellin’s night and mercifully made the call for Aroldis Chapman.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Chapman proceeded to strike out the dangerous Joe Mauer on three pitches and got Byron Buxton to jump on the first pitch for a fly out to right to end the threat. Chapman had averted disaster in shutting down the Twins on four pitches. Whew!  No wait, a BIG WHEW!  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

Chapman easily retired the Twins in the top of the 9th, with the radar gun reaching 104 mph. His swinging strikeout of Eduardo Escobar ended the game. The Yankees win!

The Yankees (83-67) were unable to make up any ground on the Red Sox.  Boston, despite falling behind by five runs early, overcame the Baltimore Orioles in extra innings, winning 10-8. So, the Yankees remain three games behind the Sox. The Yankees increased their Wild Card lead over the Twins to five games.  

I will continue to be critical of Jaime Garcia because I am not a fan of his, but for this game, he pitched well enough to win. 5 2/3 innings, four hits, one run (no earned runs), and nine strikeouts on 85 pitches. An incredible stat, for him, was no walks given his propensity for free passes. David Robertson (9-2), the winner, has the most wins of any reliever. I love his ‘Andrew Miller’ like attitude (willingness to pitch anywhere, any time). Aroldis Chapman was clearly the game’s MVP for his clean-up of the mess created by Dellin Betances. Even better is that he only threw 16 pitches for the five-out save, his 19th, so he’ll be ready to go again tonight. Chapman pitching at the top of his game is crucial for October success.

Nice win, guys!  

 

Odds & Ends…

MLB.com has released its revised list of Top 100 Prospects and the great Gleyber Torres is #1! Of course, we already knew that and anxiously await his arrival in the Bronx in 2018.

Other notable Yankees and former Yankees include: 23) Clint Frazier; 41) Blake Rutherford (White Sox); 55) Chance Adams; 70) Dustin Fowler (Athletics); 82) Estevan Florial; 84) Justus Sheffield; and 96) Miguel Andujar. Proving that we drafted the wrong son of Dante Bichette Sr, Toronto’s Bo Bichette came in at #26. His brother, Dante Jr, has been a disappointment in the Yankees organization and probably will not return. The Yankees took Dante Jr with their first pick (a compensatory pick, #51) in 2011. It was the same year they drafted Greg Bird, Jake Cave and Jon Gray (who didn’t sign and was later drafted by the Colorado Rockies).   

Have a great Tuesday! Let’s put away those pesky Twins for the series win! Go Yankees!

Turbulence at 10,000 Feet but Landing is Perfect…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 3, Rays 2…


The only way to play drama-free baseball with the Yankees bullpen is to insert Chad Green.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Joe Girardi made a few pitching moves that left a couple of Yankee pitchers with ruffled feathers but in the end, the Yankees came away with the game and series win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  It doesn’t matter how we get the “W” as long as we successfully get the “W”.


The Yankees jumped on Rays starter Chris Archer first.  Starlin Castro led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single to center.  He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who singled to right, putting runners at first and third.  Todd Frazier’s single to left center past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria scored Castro while Ellsbury took second.  After Clint Frazier struck out, Austin Romine walked to load the bases.  Brett Gardner singled through the hole to left, driving in both Ellsbury and the Toddfather.  The Yankees led, 3-0.  Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second so the Yanks were unable to push any further runs across.  Sadly, it would be the last runs the Yankees would see on the day.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 3rd but Archer struck out Clint Frazier to escape the jam.

While I was wishing that the Yankees had anyone on the mound not named  Jaime Garcia, the Rays got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run to right field.  It was Kiermaier’s second home run in as many days. But that’s the hazard of having Garcia pitch, you know the opponent is going to score runs.  The job is to score more than he allows.   


To the Yankees’ credit, they made Chris Archer work.  While they only got the three 2nd inning runs off him, Archer was gone after surrendering a lead-off double to Gary Sanchez in the top of the 5th.  Four innings of work with 92 pitches thrown.  Sonny Gray’s complete game on Tuesday was only 2 more pitches than Archer threw with four more innings.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t do more damage against Archer in light of their extended at-bats.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Jaime Garcia got the hook in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a two-out single to Lucas Duda.  With Evan Longoria coming to bat, Joe Girardi didn’t want to take any chances.  Chad Green came in and got the final out. I was actually amazed that Garcia made it into the 5th inning without allowing more than one run. He didn’t last long enough to qualify for a win but I can assure you that I did not shed a tear as he was walking off the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

As for Chad Green, he’s a freakin’ rock star.  I didn’t want the guy to make the opening day roster yet he’s been Mr Lights Out for the bullpen.  He showed off his magic when he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th.  I can see why  Joe Girardi gets the urge to leave Green in the game, but I was thankful that he only worked 1 1/3 innings despite his stellar work.  I’d rather have Green available on Thursday or Friday as opposed to waiting until Saturday at the earliest.  Need to keep this guy ready for frequent work.


Tommy Kahnle took over in the 7th.  It provoked Rays manager Kevin Cash to start making moves.  First up, Mallex Smith pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos and reached on a single to left field.  Corey Dickerson, pinch-hitting for Jesus Sucre, hit into a double play, first to second.  It was a good thing because Brad Miller followed, pinch-hitting for Danny Espinosa,  and singled to left.  If the Yankees had not been able to erase Smith at second, it is very possible that he could have scored on Miller’s hit.  Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left to end the drama, but Kahnle did his job.  It wasn’t as pretty as Green’s performance but the end result was the same…no runs for the Rays.


The Yankees had a great opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning.  Starlin Castro singled to left, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the right field line and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Clint Frazier had first crack but he popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison in foul territory. Next up was Austin Romine but he struck out to end the inning.  A huge missed opportunity to get at least a run or two more.


On to the 8th and it was Dellin’s turn.  Lucas Duda, potentially facing his last at-bat in his former ball park for this series, flied out to center in front of the warning track.  I was worried about him and it would not have surprised me to see the man on the field with the most career HR’s at Citi Field to have parked one.  It was not to be but it didn’t stop Evan Longoria, Yankee-killer, from hitting a single up the middle in the next at-bat. Betances always makes me think of former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and his reliever Don Stanhouse, whom Weaver referred to as “Full Pack” in reference to the number of cigarettes he would smoke during Stanhouse’s appearances. Betances does that to me even if I don’t smoke.  Dellin struck out Logan Morrison for the second out, but Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances. He made the call to the pen to bring in Aroldis Chapman an inning early.  Of course, Chapman walked his first batter (Stephen Souza, Jr) to move Longoria into scoring position at second base.  Adeiny Hechavarria, the latest Yankee-killer, singled to shallow center field, scoring Longoria. Hechavarria and Chapman played together in the Cuban Leagues ten years ago so there’s history between the two.  Souza moved to third to put runners at the corners.  Chapman finally struck out Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Mallex Smith, on a foul tip, but the Rays had closed the gap to 3-2. Those potential insurance runs in the 8th inning sure would have been nice.  


The Yankees blew another huge opportunity for runs in the 9th.  With Brad Boxberger pitching for the Rays, Brett Gardner led off with a single up the middle. With Chase Headley at bat, Gardy appeared to steal second base but he was sent back to first when it was ruled that Headley’s bat had hit the catcher’s arm for interference. Headley then singled to right, advancing Gardy to third.  Gardy probably would have scored had the steal been successful.  From there, the offense stalled.  Gary Sanchez struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius flied out to left (not deep enough to score Gardy).  Headley stole second but it didn’t really matter when Starlin Castro popped out to center to end the inning.  Ugh!


Chapman had me on the edge in the bottom of the 9th.  He walked the first batter, Curt Casali, a career .197 hitter.  WTF??!!  Fortunately, from there, Chapman struck out Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier.  Lucas Duda was able to make it to the plate for one final Citi Field “home” appearance with a chance to send the ball out of the park for a walk-off win.  But the Missile rose to the occasion and struck out Duda for the final out.  The Yankees win!


The Yankees (79-66) moved back to three games behind Boston with the win.  The Red Sox fell to the Oakland A’s, 7-3. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, so they recaptured third place from the Tampa Bay Rays.  The O’s trail the Yanks by 7 1/2 games entering play today. The Minnesota Twins held off the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in extra innings to remain three games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.  


Jaime Garcia was apparently very upset with Joe Girardi about the early hook but I could care less what Garcia thinks.  His Yankees career will be over soon. There’s no way he is a member of the 2018 Yankees.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-New York Post

Chad Green (5-0) picked up Garcia’s win with his stellar relief effort.  Aroldis Chapman captured his 18th save despite the high wire act.  


I was very grateful that those late missed scoring opportunities didn’t come back to bite the Yankees.  As we saw, they very possibly could have.  The Yankees will need to play better at home in the upcoming series if they want to continue to win.


Next Up:  Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Having completed the short stay in Queens, the Yankees return to home sweet home to face the fading Baltimore Orioles for a long four-game set. The O’s generally play the Yankees very tough so they’ll be looking to play the role of spoiler for this series.  If there is anything I’ve learned over the years it is to never underestimate Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Orioles:  Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82)

FRIDAY

Orioles:  Jeremy Hellickson (2-4, 6.54 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA)

SATURDAY

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)

SUNDAY

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA)

October is coming.  Live it, feel it.  Now is the time for the Yankees to make a charge!

Odds & Ends…

Game 2 of the International League Governor’s Cup Finals goes to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  The RailRiders beat the Durham Bulls, 4-0, behind stellar pitching from Domingo German (7 innings, one hit, no runs, three walks and eight K’s) and two relievers.  The Bulls featured an inning of relief from former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.  Nasty Nate pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Bulls, giving up two hits and striking out one.  The series is tied.  Game 3 will be tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Chance Adams will be on the mound for the RailRiders, while the Rays top prospect, Brent Honeywell, will pitch for the Bulls.


The news wasn’t so good in Trenton, NJ where the Thunder dropped Game 2 of their Eastern League Championship series to the Altoona Curve by a score of 4-2.  The losing pitcher was Justus Sheffield who had been part of a no-hitter during his previous outing.  The series now shifts to Altoona, PA this evening with the Curve needing to win just one game for the best-of-five championship. Will Carter (3-1, 3.26 ERA) gets the start for the Thunder.


Have a great Thursday!  Not asking for much today…just a win!  Go Yankees!

Plouffe! The Toddfather Has Spoken…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 5, Rays 1…

A fielding error by Rays third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the 4th inning opened the door for an offensive outburst that was capped by a three-run homer by Todd Frazier. The single inning explosion carried the Yankees to victory over the “home” Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, NY.  

Credit:  Steven Ryan-Getty Images

For three innings, the Yankees couldn’t muster a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, the Rays scratched out a run against the Yanks in the bottom of the 2nd. Lucas Duda, at home at Citi Field and using his old locker, drew a walk to start the inning.  Yankees starter CC Sabathia retired the next two batters and had Adeiny Hechavarria down to two strikes. Hechavarria battled and finally on the 9th pitch of the at-bat tripled to the center field wall, splitting the outfielders, to score Duda with the game’s first run.  

Aaron Judge opened the 4th inning with a walk, extending his own MLB record for most walks by a rookie to 108. Gary Sanchez finally got the first hit for the Yankees, a line drive to center. The Yankees had runners at the corners.  Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge standing up. The game was tied.  Starlin Castro struck out for the second out. Then the magic happened.  Well, maybe not from Trevor Plouffe’s perspective. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third that Plouffe was unable to field (under his glove). As the ball rolled down the left field line, Sanchez scored to give the Yankees the lead and Holliday moved to second on the play. On a full count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher’s interference when his bat hit the catcher’s mitt. It was the 30th career catcher’s interference for Ellsbury which surpassed Pete Rose for the most all-time. Todd Frazier came to the plate and homered to left off the facing in the second deck to make it 5-1.  The Yankees got two more runners on base when Tyler Austin doubled to the left field wall and Brett Gardner walked. It spelled the end for Jake Odorizzi who went from a no-hitter to a four-run deficit despite only allowing one earned run. Rays reliever Chaz Roe came in and struck out Aaron Judge, who had led off the inning, to end the Yankees’ rally.

CC Sabathia was allowing baserunners, giving up two singles in both the third and fourth innings, but had been escaping unscathed.  He got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th. He walked Peter Bourjos to start the inning. After striking out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches, Trevor Plouffe singled to center over Sabathia’s back with Bourjos moving to second. Manager Joe Girardi opted to take no further chances and pulled Sabathia (to avoid a confrontation with Evan Longoria). The move appeared justified when David Robertson came in and struck out both Longoria and Lucas Duda to end the threat. Sabathia probably wasn’t too happy with the early hook, but he had thrown 88 pitches and allowed six hits. It was only a matter of time before the Rays broke through but the D-Rob insurance card paid off. 

Credit:  Andrew Savulich-The New York Daily News

The Rays did have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th with D-Rob still pitching. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-out ground-rule double which hit the warning track in left and bounced off the back wall. He took third on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez, but was left stranded when Danny Espinosa grounded out to short.

The Yankees got their final hit of the night in the 7th inning when Brett Gardner led off with a single to left. A failed stolen base attempt, a perfect throw from catcher Wilson Ramos to second baseman Danny Espinosa, sent Gardy to the bench.

D-Rob pitched the bottom of the 7th, making this outing the longest in his career (pitching a total of 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with 4 K’s).  

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

The bottom of the 8th brought out Dellin Betances and it was time to start drinking heavily. Evan Longoria started off with a single that dropped in right field. Betances struck out Lucas Duda for the first out, but then walked Cesar Puello. Aargh! Logan Morrison was up next, pinch-hitting for Wilson Ramos, and I was seeing images of a three-run home run to make it a one-run game. Fortunately, those visions proved false as Betances struck out Morrison. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out, with Aaron Judge running to the wall, for the final out. Whew! That was a hard inning to sit through…

Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th. After a brief pause on my part hoping that Chapman has truly righted the ship, he proceeded to retire the side on ten pitches. It wasn’t a save opportunity but the result was the same.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (78-65) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox so they now trail by 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, so the gap between the Yanks and the third-place O’s is now 7 1/2 games. The win also increased the Yankees lead in the Wild Card Standings to 4 games.  

David Robertson (8-2) picked up the vulture win with Sabathia’s inability to make it through five full innings. The Yankees were outhit by the Rays, 8 to 4, but they obviously made the most of their hits with Todd Frazier’s home run leading the way.

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees activated OF Clint Frazier off of the disabled list on Monday. Red Thunder was somewhat underwhelming in his rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder. In 17 at-bats, he had only 2 hits and 10 strikeouts. Here’s hoping that his return to the Pinstripes is little more successful. He should slot back into the fourth outfielder role that has been lacking since Aaron Hicks went on the DL.

When Aaron Judge hit his 40th home run, he joined some lofty company. Prior to Judge’s home run, the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs at 25 years or younger were Babe Ruth (54, 1920), Lou Gehrig (47, 1927), Joe DiMaggio (46, 1937), and Mickey Mantle (52, 1956). That’s a nice group of names to rub shoulders with…

Have a great Tuesday! Seems like a great day for another win! Go Yankees!

No Hits For You — Well, Maybe One!…

Credit:  Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images

Yankees 3, Rangers 1…

Luis Severino was spectacular on Saturday as he combined with two relievers to one-hit the Texas Rangers. Sevy didn’t get the win, but he was masterful a day after Masahiro Tanaka’s implosion. Manager Joe Girardi went with the “A” team for the bullpen, using David Robertson (the winner) and Aroldis Chapman (the save).  

Brett Gardner kicked off the game with a single to left.  However, the Yankees came up empty when Chase Headley hit a sharp fly to center that Gardy thought was going to drop in.  He took off for second and thinking the ball would fall, he accelerated for third. Unfortunately, Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez made a great catch. There was no chance for Gardy to get back to first so the Rangers were able to complete the easy double play.  Gary Sanchez popped out to short so it was time to start the Luis Severino Show.

The Yankees came up with a great defensive play of their own in the bottom of the first when Jacoby Ellsbury, echoing shades of his younger self, recorded the final out with a diving catch to rob Elvis Andrus of a hit.  The play received an ovation from Severino on the mound.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rangers’ Carlos Gomez had to be helped off the field during an at-bat when he rolled his right ankle after hitting a grounder to second and suffered a high ankle sprain.

Through the early innings, Severino was cruising but unfortunately so was Rangers starter Andrew Cashner.    The Yankees threatened again in the top of the 3rd when Brett Gardner hit a two-out single to left.  Chase Headley singled to right to put the runners at the corners, but Gary Sanchez went down swinging to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, with the Rangers still searching for their first hit against Severino, Joey Gallo walked to start the inning for the Rangers.  Will Middlebrooks hit into a fielder’s choice at third and the Yankees erased Gallo at second but they were unable to turn the double play.  Rangers backup catcher Brett Nicholas, starting in place of Robinson Chirinos who had the day off, doubled to the right field corner to score Middlebrooks.  It was the only hit the Rangers would get off Severino and the Yankees bullpen for the duration of the game.  

Luis Severino pitched through the 7th inning but the Yankees still trailed 1-0.

In the top of the 8th with Andrew Cashner still on the mound for the Rangers, Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch.  That would be all for Cashner, who did a magnificent job.  The Rangers brought in Alex Claudio to replace Cashner.  The Yankees sent up Matt Holliday to pinch hit for Greg Bird.  Holliday singled to right and Frazier moved to third.  Tyler Wade replaced Holliday at first.  After Brett Gardner fouled out to the catcher, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly deep to center to score Frazier.  The game was tied.  Gary Sanchez singled to left past shortstop Elvis Andrus, moving Wade to second.  However, the Yankees were unable to capitalize when Didi Gregorius grounded out to the defensive shift at short/second to end the inning.

David Robertson pitched a clean bottom of the 8th to send the game to the 9th.

With Alex Claudio still pitching for the Rangers, Starlin Castro led off the 9th with a single to right.  Aaron Judge hit a grounder to third and the throw erased Castro at second.  The Rangers were unable to turn the double play when the relay to first pulled Joey Gallo off the bag so Judge was safe.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right which advanced Judge to third.  The Rangers replaced Claudio with Ricky Rodriguez.  Todd Frazier was hit by pitch, again, so he took first and Ellsbury moved to second.  The bases were loaded.  Tyler Austin, who had entered the game in the bottom of the 8th to replace Bird, singled to left on a hard hit ball which brought Judge home with the go-ahead run.  

Credit:  Larry W Smith-EPA

Brett Gardner was unable to advance the runners when he popped out to short.  It brought Chase Headley to the plate with the bases still packed.  He patiently took a walk which brought Ellsbury home with the second run of the inning.  The Yankees led 3-1. The Rangers made another pitching change to bring in Nick Gardewine. Gardewine ended the Yankees rally by getting Gary Sanchez to hit into a fielder’s choice which forced Headley at second.  

Bottom the 9th and the heart of the Rangers order due up.  It was time for the return of Aroldis Chapman to his endeared role as the Yankees closer.  He did not disappoint.  After Elvis Andrus grounded out to second (Starlin Castro’s brilliant throw to first just beat the runner as confirmed by the challenge replay), Chapman struck out both Nomar Mazara and pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees (76-65) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox, behind Chris Sale, dismantled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-0, and maintained their 4 1/2 game lead over the Yankees.  The Cleveland Indians won their 17th game in a row.  Their 4-2 victory over Baltimore pushed the O’s 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  

It was an incredible effort by Luis Severino.  He pitched seven innings, allowing only the single hit and run.  He walked three and struck out ten.  The outing lowered his season ERA to 2.96.  David Robertson (7-2) picked up the win and Aroldis Chapman captured his 17th save.  

For the Yankees offense, they had nine hits but all were singles.  Brett Gardner (2-for-5) was the only hitter with multiple hits.  Chase Headley had 2 RBI’s and Tyler Austin had the crucial game-winning RBI in the 9th.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have a change in the pitching match-up for today’s game.  Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.14 ERA) will start in place of CC Sabathia, who was moved to Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field in Queens.  A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09 ERA), who had originally been scheduled to pitch on Saturday until Andrew Cashner was moved up, will start for the Rangers.  The Minnesota Twins lost so they are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings (holding the 2nd spot).  The Los Angeles Angeles and Texas Rangers are 2 and 2 1/2 games behind the Twins, respectively.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders won Game 3 of their Governor’s Cup best-of-five first round series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies).  The 6-1 win, behind the arm of Brady Lail, gives the RailRiders the 2-1 series advantage. Donovan Solano was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Mason Williams was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Billy McKinney homered for the second time in the series with a two-run shot in the 6th inning.

Credit:  Fred Adams-for Times Leader

Game 4 is scheduled for today at 1:05 pm at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Nestor Cortes (2-4, 1.49 ERA) takes the mound in the potential series-clinching game.  he’ll face Jacob Waguespack (9-7, 3.42 ERA in A-Adv and AA this year).

The Double A Trenton Thunder crushed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets), 9-1, in Game 4 of their Eastern League Division Series to win the series and advance to the Eastern League Championship Series.  They’ll face the Altoona Curve (Pirates) with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ.  

As expected, the Yankees signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop prospect Ronny Rojas.  The Yankees have long been tied to the youngster but he didn’t turn 16 until August 23rd.  Rojas was rated as the eleventh best unsigned international prospect earlier this summer by MLB.com.  He is the highest rated Yankees signing behind OF Everson Pereira, who was rated fourth.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s take this series and head for NYC!  Go Yankees!

Betances Fails The Late Night Show…

Credit:  Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Orioles 7, Yankees 6…

I’ve never been a big fan of Dellin Betances as closer and Tuesday night was Exhibit A.  I do not feel that he has the closer’s mentality and his arm plays best in a prime setup role.  His inability to throw strikes to Tim Beckham with two outs set up Manny Machado for the late night heroics with a dramatic two-run walk-off home run.  I’ve felt all along that David Robertson should have been the interim closer but at this point, an argument could be made for the return of Aroldis Chapman.

In a game delayed by rain (game time was 9:15 pm Eastern), the Orioles scored first in the bottom of the first inning.  Jonathan Schoop worked a two-out walk off Yankees starter CC Sabathia.  Adam Jones reached base on an infield single to third (a slow roller that hit the bag).  During Trey Mancini’s at-bat, a wild pitch by Sabathia that got away from Austin Romine allowed the runners to move up to second and third.  Mancini proceeded to hit a short dribbler to short.  Didi Gregorius charged in to retrieve the ball but in the words of Michael Kay, he had to “eat it” when there was no play at either first or home.  Schoop scored and the O’s led 1-0.  

The Yankees erupted in the third inning against Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson.  Austin Romine led off with a single to left through the hole.  After Brett Gardner lined out to right, Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Didi Gregorius lined a single to right which scored both Romine and Judge.  Judge slid in safely under the throw.  Matt Holliday walked to re-load the bases.  The O’s then pulled Hellickson and replaced him with former Yankee Richard Bleier.  Greg Bird hit a sacrifice fly to center which scored Castro.  An error by center fielder Adam Jones, he dropped the ball, allowed Bird to safely reach base and the bases were still loaded.  Todd Frazier grounded out softly to short with the only play the throw to first.  Gregorius came home with the fourth run.  Jacoby Ellsbury was next and he singled up the middle to center to score Holliday and Bird.  The Yankees were seemingly in control at 6-1.

Credit:  Patrick Semansky-Associated Press

Leading off the bottom of the 3rd, Manny Machado, the American League Player of the Month in August, gave a preview of coming attractions with his line drive home run to center.  The Yankees still led, 6-2, but it was statement by Machado that the game was not over.  

While the Yankees were struggling to get runners past second base, the O’s added another run in the bottom of the 5th inning when Jonathan Schoop took Sabathia deep to left center for a solo homer.  

Sabathia pitched into the 6th inning but overstayed his welcome.  Trey Mancini led off with a looper just over Todd Frazier’s outreached glove for a single.  Mark Trumbo took advantage and blasted a two-run shot to left.  It was a one-run game.  After Chris Davis grounded out for the first out of the inning, the Yankees finally pulled Sabathia.  Tommy Kahnle took over and got the final two outs.

Girardi’s formula was then to use David Robertson for the 7th and Aroldis Chapman for the 8th.  Both men did their jobs.  Each retiring the three batters they faced.  Unfortunately, after the big 3rd inning, the Yankees offense stalled. Their last chance came in the 8th when they had two men on base with only one out, but Aaron Judge struck out and Starlin Castro popped out to third in foul territory to strand the runners.

Fast-forward to the bottom of the 9th, Dellin Betances took over for Chapman and retired the first two batters.  He needed just one more out which never came.  He couldn’t throw strikes to Tim Beckham, walking him on a 3-1 count.  Manny Machado, swinging at a poorly placed high pitch from Betances, sent the ball over the wall in center field for the walk-off two-run home run.  

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees (74-64) lost ground to the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th before tying the game and sending it into extra innings.  They finally scored the walk-off run in the 19th inning to win the game and push the Yankees 3 1/2 games back.  The Orioles moved back to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees with the win.  The Los Angeles Angels leap-frogged the Minnesota Twins and trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the Wild Card Standings.  The Angels beat the Oakland A’s, 8-7, in 10 innings, while the Twins fell to the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.

This is another game that the Yankees should have won.  It would have been huge to win the first two games in Baltimore.  But it was not meant to be so hopefully the Yankees can rebound today.  Rain is in the forecast throughout the evening so there’s a strong possibility the game is called and pushed to Thursday.  When the teams take the field, the Yankees must play like a team fighting for the post-season and avoid the mistakes that allow the opponent to capitalize.  Moving Betances back to set up would be a start.

Odds & Ends…

Every time the Yankees add a player from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I can’t help but feel bad for RailRiders Manager Al Pedrique as his team prepares for its International League playoff series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. But then again, the RailRiders can raid from the Double A Trenton Thunder as 2B Billy Fleming will attest.  I guess talent rolls up hill.  The latest RailRider to exit the team is 1B/OF Tyler Austin who was promoted to the big league club prior to yesterday’s game.  It makes more sense for Austin to provide outfield corner support than either Tyler Wade or Ronald Torreyes.  Austin had two home runs the other day in the RailRiders’ regular season finale.

Luis Severino’s post on The Player’s Tribune website entitled My Journey to the Bronx is a great read.  It makes you feel proud and excited to be a Yankees fan. I didn’t realize how close he came to being a Colorado Rockie.  I am glad it didn’t happen and that the opportunity to play for his favorite childhood team came to fruition.

Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s grab a win today at Camden Yards before the team jumps on a plane bound for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex!  Go Yankees!

On Second Thought, He’s Safe!…

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Yankees 9, Red Sox 2…

The most critical play of the game might have been when the Yankees challenged the call in the bottom of the 6th.  The bases were loaded and two outs for Gary Sanchez.  He hit a hard smash to third.  Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers dove to stop the ball and got up, throwing the ball to first.  The ref signaled out and it appeared the inning was over.  But hold on, the Yankees challenged the play and replay showed that Sanchez had reached first just ahead of the ball.  The call was overturned and the inning continued.  Six runs later and the Yankees had placed a dagger in Boston’s heart.

The Yankees had runners at third in the first two innings but nothing to show for it.  Luis Severino was dominating the Red Sox but the Yankees were getting their chances against Boston starter Chris Sale.  Finally, to open the bottom of the 3rd, Chase Headley sent a Sale pitch into the left field stands (just over the wall).  

In the bottom of the 4th, the long ball continued to be the only weapon.  Matt Holliday, after battling off a few pitches, blasted a solo shot to the deepest part of the park in center and was followed by Todd Frazier’s homer to left (a few rows back).  The Yankees had taken a 3-0 lead.  

When Chris Sale was pulled with one out and runner at first in the top of the 5th inning, he was laboring and had thrown 109 pitches.  It’s amazing that as dominant as Sale has been this year against the Yankees, he failed to win a game in four tries.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

The Sox finally got on the board in the top of the 6th.  Eduardo Nunez made it to first with one out when Todd Frazier failed to handle a grounder to third and the ball rolled into left field.  Following the second out by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts hit a grounder to third but Frazier’s low throw bounced past first baseman Chase Headley.  Frazier’s second error of the inning. The runners moved up to second and third.  Nunez came home to score when a low Sevy pitch got past Gary Sanchez to the backstop.  3-1, Yankees.  Boston was unable to bring Betts home from third when Mitch Moreland struck out swinging.  It would be Luis Severino’s final pitch but what a game for the young right-hander!  Two hits, one run (but none earned), no walks and nine strikeouts.  Chris Sale may very well win the AL Cy Young Award (I know, Corey Kluber will have something to say about that) but on this day, Luis Severino was better.

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

With Boston’s Joe Kelly on the mound, Matt Holliday opened the bottom of the 6th by working a walk.  Kelly struck out Todd Frazier and was replaced by Robby Scott.  Jacoby Ellsbury greeted Scott with a single lined to right.  Brett Gardner walked and the bases were full of Yanks.  The Sox made another pitching move and brought in former New York Met Addison Reed.  Reed struck out Chase Headley for the second out.  Gary Sanchez was next.  During the at-bat, Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis was barking about balls and strikes from the Boston dugout when he felt several calls were missed.  He got an early departure from the game for his troubles.  Sanchez hit the ball to third and it appeared that he was out at first for the final out.  The play was incredibly close but I was uncertain.  While Yankee players were signaling safe in the dugout, the Yankees challenged the play and the call was overturned when it showed El Gary’s foot touching first base just ahead of the throw.  The safe call validated Holliday’s run.  It was 4-1 Yankees.

Starlin Castro kept the inning going with a hard liner to right.  The ball went to the wall for a double and all three baserunners scored.  Minutes earlier, the game had been a tight pitching duel and now the Yankees had a six-run lead.  It brought Aaron Judge to the plate.  Boom!  No doubt about it as the ball sailed 469 feet into the left field seats at an exit velocity of 115.1 mph.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

 

From there, it was about riding the bullpen to victory.  Despite the eight-run lead, it was a slightly bumpy ride.  Tommy Kahnle was first.  He pitched the top of the 7th in relief of Severino after Manager Joe Girardi decided against bringing Sevy back out after the long bottom of the 6th.  Kahnle looked rusty as he walked the first batter, Dustin Pedroia.  Deven Marrero was brought in to pinch-run for Pedroia.  Rafael Devers singled to left which moved Marrero to second and no outs.  Fortunately, Kahnle struck out the next two batters and got the final out when Jackie Bradley, Jr popped out to third in foul territory.  

Chasen Shreve took over in the 8th.  Given his recent struggles, I felt far from secure.  But he proved me wrong by retiring the three batters he faced (two by strikeout).  For the 9th, Girardi brought in Giovanny Gallegos.  I know that the Yankees had a big lead, but I probably would have gone with Aroldis Chapman for no other reason than to get him some work.  Oh well, they pay Girardi to make the decisions.  Sam Travis was up first and he singled to left, just past Todd Frazier at third. A wild pitch (high throw from Gallegos) moved Travis to second.  Gallegos was looking a bit like a rookie but then he struck out Deven Marrero.  A groundout by Rafael Devers moved Travis to third. Blake Swihart came in, pinch-hitting for Hanley Ramirez, and drew a walk.  Sandy Leon’s single to left scored Travis.  Swihart moved to second.  Gallegos, with Aroldis Chapman warming up, finally got Jackie Bradley, Jr to swing at the third strike to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees (73-63) moved to within 3 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the win in the final head-to-head match-up between the two teams.  The Yankees took the season series, 11 games to 8.  This was a huge series.  If the results had been in reverse, the Yankees could have potentially been looking up in the Wild Card Standings and holding a distant view of the top of the AL East.  Instead, they are still within striking distance for the division crown and continue to hold the edge in the Wild Card.  The Yankees maintained their 3 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s fought back against the Toronto Blue Jays to win 5-4 in 12 innings.  The Minnesota Twins lost (5-4 to the Kansas City Royals) so the Yankees increased their Wild Card lead to two games.

Luis Severino (12-6) was outstanding.  The guy welcomes the challenge of continually facing the top aces in the game.  Sevy became the youngest Yankees pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season by age 23 since Al Downing did it back in 1964 with 217 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

It was good to see Aaron Judge hit his 38th home run.  Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers had hit his 36th earlier in the day.  The rookies might not reach Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49 (set in 1987) but they’re certainly giving it a try.  

Credit to Gary Sanchez for his effort to get to first base in the 6th inning.  I was listening to sports announcers earlier in the day who were complaining about Robinson Cano’s “60% effort”, at times, when running to first base.  Sanchez showed that hustle can make a difference.

Next Up:  Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland…

After playing a Sunday night game in New York, the Yankees turn right around and play an afternoon game in Baltimore.  It probably feels like a night-day double-header.  No rest for the wicked…or in this case, no rest for the good guys.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15 ERA)

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-8, 3.94 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA)

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.85 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (8-9, 3.36 ERA)

Orioles:  Jeremy Hellickson (2-3, 6.55 ERA)

I was glad to see the Yankees replace Jaime Garcia with Jordan Montgomery.  Not that Monty pitched much better than Garcia last time out (the actual line was worse) but I trust Monty more with the chips on the line. Hopefully the Yankees can take this series to hold off the recent charge by the Orioles.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have placed OF Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain.  After missing time earlier this summer with a right oblique strain, maybe Hicks should invest in a new personal trainer.  Hopefully this is not the end for Hicks’ 2017 season. LHP Caleb Smith was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take A-A-Ron’s roster spot.

Have a great Monday!  It’s Labor Day but let’s hope it is not too much labor to carve out the O’s.  Go Yankees!