|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Brewers 9, Yankees 4…
In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.
We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.
But first, Aaron Judge. With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936. The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet. Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance. He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery. He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error. Didi ended up at third on the play. Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.
The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead. The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right. “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.
The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay. When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles. I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance. Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play. For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision. In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run. 4-2, Yankees.
Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th. He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third. Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third. Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.
The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.
With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating. With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third. Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now. Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night). I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game. When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.
Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced. A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez. The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory. Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.
The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games. But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes. He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning. Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.
I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense. I miss those days…
Odds & Ends…
When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot…sorry I mean…President, Randy Levine. The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy. You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this. Apparently not.” I may be frustrated that Bird has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player. If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns. Bird responded “I want to play. I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember. I love baseball. For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back. I love it and I want to be playing with these guys. I would hope people see it”. I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…
Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday. So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon. This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger.
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston. Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today. Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement. Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.
In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard’s meltdown. Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.
Have a great Saturday! A new day and a new opportunity to win a game. Let’s Go Yankees!
To Buy or Not to Buy…
The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away. At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we’ll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers. If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter. However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the ‘sell high’ category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer. If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right…we’re stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner. Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others. There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I don’t think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667). They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats. Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts. Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts. Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they’ve been missing since Zack Greinke left. As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill. The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.
Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me. He’d easily fit into Bruce Bochy’s lineup and give them the left-fielder that they’ve literally been waiting years for.
I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season. My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline. But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we’ll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared. It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does. Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced. But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run. The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East. The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.
Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16. The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best. Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances. Clearly, this group has the potential…and the history…to be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The July schedule, simply put, is tough. After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox. It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th. Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night. The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today. After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break. The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano. This year he’ll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand. Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M’s, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks’ heels. July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers. August doesn’t get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap. In other words, the schedule is a bitch.
The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later. They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners. Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year’s end will be a challenge.
I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.
Will Today be a Holliday?…
All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today. Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return. Many people afflicted by EBV don’t even know they have it since they do not feel sick. I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday. The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup. Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team’s biggest black hole. I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays. Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year. Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room. We’ll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions. In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz’s former club, the Buffalo Bisons. Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.
Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB. It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption. The one dude who I hope isn’t outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter. I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires. Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.
Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees. Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.
Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline. Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles). But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx. The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5’8″ but he is one of the best arms in the AL East. This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA. He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings. The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe.
Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius. Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals. Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner. I tried. I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi. There’s no doubt he’s an All-Star. On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.
Didi with his Mom
Have a great Friday! Let’s kick this weekend off right with a win! Let’s Go Yankees!