Tagged: Astros

A Forgettable Day in Hot, Humid H-Town…

Astros 8, Yankees 1…

It was nothing more than a good ol’ fashioned butt kickin’.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were on the receiving end as they lost the game and the series to the Houston Astros.

It was a dismal performance by starter Luis Severino (5-4).  He was tagged for 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven.  The outing inflated his season ERA to 3.52.  He left trailing 5-0 in the sixth, with one out, after George Springer laced a double to center.  He was charged for the run when Springer scored on Carlos Correa’s single against Yankees reliever Tyler Webb.

Credit:  Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

If Friday’s win was a complete team victory, this would have to be classified as a complete team loss.  You know things are bad when the only RBI producer is first baseman Chris Carter.  He had a run-scoring single in the 9th to prevent the shutout.  Aaron Judge continues to hit (2-for-4) but he also had two strikeouts.  Gary Sanchez, following Judge in the batting order, was 2-for-3.  Unfortunately, those guys had no help and the result was an easy win for the Astros.

The Astros got home runs from Marwin Gonzalez (2nd inning, off Severino) and Yuli Gurriel (7th inning, off Domingo German).  Carlos Correa was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s.  He doubled twice and all of his RBI’s came with two outs.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

The Yankees (43-37) fell further behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings with the loss.  They are now 3 games behind the Red Sox, who annihilated the Toronto Blue Jays, 15-1, powered by 8 RBI’s from Mookie Betts.  The Tampa Bay Rays finally lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 7-1, so they remain two games away from the Yankees.  

This was not a fun game and not one that I really care to revisit so let’s move on.  Today is a new day…

2017 All-Star Game Selections…

Aaron Judge was the highest vote getter for the American League All-Star Team with 4,488,702 votes.  He’ll start in the outfield.  He’ll be joined by Starlin Castro and Gary Sanchez, both of whom were selected as reserves.  Luis Severino, freshly off Sunday’s beating, was added to the pitching staff, along with Dellin Betances.  Betances will be making his fourth straight ASG appearance.  Congrats to Aaron, Starlin, Gary, Luis and Dellin!

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Didi Gregorius is on the final fan vote ballot so he has a chance although the time lost on the disabled list will probably work against him.  Nonetheless, he got my vote.  The AL Final Vote ballot is open until Thursday at 4 pm ET.  

The ASG will be played next Tuesday, July 11th, in Miami, FL.  

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Continuing the 4th of July Weekend, the Yankees are home to face the AL East cellar dwellers.  Although the Blue Jays are better than their 37-44 record, they were swept in Boston over the weekend.  They’ll come to the Bronx looking for blood…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (8-4, 3.41 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (6-7, 5.56 ERA)

TUESDAY, 4TH OF JULY

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (2-5, 3.71 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.46 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.05 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees seem to be on a mission to rebuild the Baltimore Orioles bullpen.  After trading Richard Bleier to the O’s in Spring Training, they’ve shipped 25-year-old RHP Matt Wotherspoon to Baltimore for undisclosed international signing bonus pool money.  In 21 games with Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton, Wotherspoon was 3-1 with 1.85 ERA.  He has struck out 45 batters in 39 innings.  After the trade, the Mountain Top, PA native was assigned to the Triple A Norfolk Tides.

The Yankees have reached agreements with the following international prospects.  The number indicates their ranking on Baseball America’s Top 50 international prospects:

04.  Everson Pereira, OF, Venezuela

11.  Ronny Rojas, SS, Dominican Republic (expected to sign in August when he turns 16)

20.  Roberto Chirinos, SS, Venezuela

28.  Anthony Garcia, OF, Dominican Republic

Anthony Garcia / Credit:  Pinstriped Prospects

Jorge Mateo is tearing up Double A.  In 6 games since his promotion from Class A, Mateo is batting .522/.621/.913 (12-for-23) with 3 triples, a homer, and 10 RBI’s for the Trenton Thunder.  He’s stolen two bags although he has been caught three times.  Sounds like the Yanks former top prospect wants to join the MLB Debut Party in the Bronx.  

The Yankees expect to activate both Adam Warren and CC Sabathia prior to Tuesday’s game.  In all likelihood, Starlin Castro will be activated before the All-Star break.  It will be good to get these guys back in action.  

Happy Monday!  Now that the Bombers are back in the Bronx, let’s get back to winning!  Go Yankees!

The Bullpen Implosion…

Credit:  Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 7, Yankees 6…

It was very disappointing to lose a game because of Dellin Betances, who looked like the new Tyler Clippard, and Aroldis Chapman.  I defended Betances during his arbitration loss last off-season but he pretty much looked like a $3 million (if that) pitcher on Saturday.  Of course, the Yankees didn’t exactly intend to pay $86 million for their ace closer to give up the game-winning hit either.  The two combined to allow four runs in the eighth as the Astros erased a 6-3 deficit.  It was the 15th blown save by the bullpen in 79 games.

After the game, Betances said “The reason we lost is because I had bad command.  I walked three guys.  That’s not going to help.  I have to be able to challenge guys.  For whatever reason, my stuff just hasn’t been as sharp.  I just have to continue to work and I know I’ll find it.”  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It’s been tough this season when one pitcher followed by another continues to go through periods of complete and total ineffectiveness.  

This game should have been about the positive debut of Clint Frazier.  Frazier became the first Yankee in 100 years to debut with a double and a home run.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Jordan Montgomery started the game, pitching very strongly.  He got into trouble in the fifth when Marwin Gonzalez opened with a walk and Yuli Gurriel homered to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.  

The Yankees came right back in the top of the sixth (reminiscent of the day before).  Clint Frazier opened the inning with his first Major League hit, a double to left.  It was touching to watch his mom, Kim, wiping her eyes.  Brett Gardner singled to move Frazier to third.  It ended the day for Astros starter Francis Marte who had really held the Yankees in check to that point.  Facing reliever Will Harris, Jacoby Ellsbury walked and the bases were loaded.  Gary Sanchez singled to right, scoring Frazier (his first run scored…blah, blah, blah).  While Sanchez missed the opportunity for a grand slam, Didi Gregorius did not.  On an 0-1 count, he lifted the Harris pitch just over the right center field wall.  Very rapidly, the 0-2 deficit had turned into a 5-2 lead.  The Yankees subsequently had Ronald Torreyes at third following a single, steal and ground out that advanced him to just 90 feet away.  But in one of the great surprises of the game (not really), Chris Carter struck out to end the inning.  Carter was 0-for-3, with the one strikeout.  

The Astros scored another run in the bottom of the 6th when Carlos Correa homered off Montgomery with one out.  Evan Gattis followed with a double, and Montgomery headed for the showers.  Chad Green, the lone bullpen star, retired the next two batters by strikeout.  I have to compliment Green.  He was done a very fine job in his current role as he has transitioned from being a starter to a long reliever.  

Clint Frazier led off the top of the 7th with his home run, off reliever Tony Sipp, to increase the Yankees’ lead to 6-3.  It was funny how he was met with silence in the Yankees dugout before they erupted with the congratulatory high five’s.  From there, it was up to the Yankees bullpen to finish the job.  Green effectively finished the bottom of the 7th with a double play grounder and strikeout, but then we moved to the forgettable 8th inning.  Dellin Betances, channeling the bad versions of Masahiro Tanaka and Tyler Clippard, entered the game in relief of Green.  It started well enough with a strike out of the talented George Springer, but then Betances walked All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve. With Carlos Correa at bat, Altuve stole second, then third, and scored when Correa ground out to second.   Okay, the Yankees still had a 6-4 lead so there was still hope.  Evan Gattis stepped up and made it 6-5 with a shot to left.  By this point, I was screaming for Manager Joe Girardi to pull Betances but he wasn’t listening.  Betances walked Carlos Beltran on four pitches (Aargh!).  Josh Reddick entered the game as a pinch runner for Beltran and advanced to second when first baseman Chris Carter failed to handle a pick-off attempt.  Reddick stole third.  After walking Marwin Gonzalez, Girardi finally signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  Yuli Gurriel came to the plate for a showdown between Cuban countrymen.  Despite throwing 100 mph pitches, Gurriel won the battle when he doubled on a 3-2 count, scoring Reddick and Gonzalez with the go-ahead runs.  

The Yankees went down weakly in the 9th against Ken Giles when pinch-hitter Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier both pooped…err, popped…out.  Brett Gardner hit a single but rounded for second before changing his mind and was erased as the game’s final out when he tried to get back to first.  The Yankees lose another one-run game, 7-6.  

Credit:  David J Phillip-AP

The Yankees (43-36) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox easily defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-1.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-3, so they are just two games behind the Yanks.  

If the Yankees can’t fix Betances, this free-fall is going to continue.  He is perhaps the most vital man in the pen.  The Blue Jays, getting their asses handed to them in Boston, will be playing like a wounded dog when they come to the Bronx tomorrow.  

Odds & Ends…

With the July 2nd international signing period now open, the Yankees can be players on the international market once again.  Limited for two years following their huge splash from the 2014 -15 signing period spending spree, the Yankees can now spend up to the hard cap of $4.75 for the current signing period.  As expected, the Yankees signed notable international prospects OF Everson Pereira (the fourth ranked prospect on MLB’s list of Top International Prospects), SS Ronny Rojas, and SS Roberto Chirinos. Rojas and Chirinos are ranked 11th and 16th, respectively, by MLB. River Ave Blues reported these anticipated signings in early May.  It’s weird to see players born in this century joining the Yankees.  Welcome to Pinstripes, Everson, Ronny and Roberto! Note:  Rojas technically cannot sign until August 23rd when he turns 16.

To make room on the MLB roster for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar was sent to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He didn’t make any appearances during this short call-up, but it was simply a procedural move as Andujar was still with the team in Chicago before it departed for Houston.  He was activated for a game until the Yankees could make the move to call up Frazier.  Andujar will now return to Scranton to play third every day.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, he’ll be back.

Happy Sunday!  Flush the Saturday debacle and let’s take the series with a win today before the flight to NYC!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Feliz Navidad, in June, for the Yankees…

Credit:  Associated Press

Yankees 13, Astros 4…

I have to admit that I thought Friday night’s game against the Astros was going to be a struggle.  The Yankees did not arrive in Houston until 6 am after playing and the losing the rain-delayed game in Chicago the night before.  They arrived deep in the heart of Texas to play MLB’s best team and were scheduled to face the very tough Lance McCullers, Jr, the son of a former Yankee.  It was noted before the game that McCullers had not given up more than three runs in any of his home starts this year.  Against the Yankees, he was 2-0 with 0.75 ERA since 2016.  Fortunately, the Yankees came together as a team…as they’ve frequently done this year…and came away with the decisive victory.

Early on, it looked like it was going to be another struggle for runs that would potentially come up short.  The Astros scored their first run in the bottom of the inning when George Springer led off with a double against Yankees starter Michael Pineda.  He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sac fly by All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.

The Yankees picked up a run to tie the game in the third.  Brett Gardner led off with a double when the ball dropped in despite a running dive by Astros right fielder Josh Reddick.  It looked like McCullers might escape when he struck out the next two batters, but Didi Gregorius doubled  down the first base line to score Gardy.

The Yankees had two runners in scoring position in the top of the 4th with no outs.  Unfortunately, both Tyler Wade and Chris Carter struck out.  The inning was over when the runner on third, Austin Romine, attempted to score on a wild pitch.  Nice trick slide though as Romine tried unsuccessfully to evade the tag.

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros led off with two singles.  A throwing error by right fielder Tyler Wade put runners at second and third.  After former Yankee Brian McCann struck out, another former Yankee, Carlos Beltran, hit into a ground out which scored the lead runner.  Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to score a run and the Astros led, 3-1.  With McCullers Jr pitching well, it looked like it would be difficult to make a comeback.  

But the light at the end of tunnel occurred in the sixth inning.  Didi Gregorius opened with a single.  After Chase Headley struck out, Austin Romine walked and the Astros made a pitching change.  They brought in Michael Feliz to replace McCullers Jr.  Ronald Torreyes greeted Feliz with a single to left, scoring Gregorius.  Tyler Wade struck out for the second out, but Chris Carter, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with run-scoring singles to put the Yankees up, 5-3.  A fielding error allowed Gardy to advance to 3rd.  He scored the fifth and final run of the inning when Feliz threw a wild pitch.  6-3, Yankees.  I really hated to see Feliz go but the Astros brought in Reymin Guduan and he secured the final out.  

Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Nevertheless, the 7th brought more Yankee offense.  Chase Headley and Austin Romine opened with singles, and Ronald Torreyes walked to load the bases.  Tyler Wade hit a grounder that erased Headley at home and Chris Carter (wait for it) struck out.  So, with two outs and the bases loaded, Brett Gardner, who largely struggled during the month of June, came to the plate.  On a 3-2 count, Gardy put one over the right center field wall for the grand slam (his 15th homer of the year, and just two away from his career high).  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

With the seven run lead, Michael Pineda’s night was finished.  Much better results than the last time Pineda faced a Texas team.  Pineda (8-4) went 6 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3.  He didn’t walk anybody and more importantly, he didn’t give up any home runs.  It wasn’t a perfect outing but he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…a fighting chance until the offense got untracked.  

The Astros picked up a meaningless run in the 8th when Josh Reddick opened with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error by Jacoby Ellsbury.  He scored when Jose Altuve grounded out.  Despite a subsequent single allowed, Bryan Mitchell, who had relieved Pineda in the 7th, was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the 9th.  Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade both walked.  Chris Carter struc…I mean…doubled to score Torreyes.  Brett Gardner lofted a sac fly to right to score Wade, his 6th RBI of the game.  Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a groundout, scoring Carter.  The runs gave the Yankees the final margin of victory, 13-4.  Bryan Mitchell set down the Astros in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the season.  Great job by Mitchell to protect the bullpen and to keep the Astros down.  

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, in 11 innings, so the Yankees (43-35) remain one game behind in the AL East Standings.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won in extra innings (6-4 over the Baltimore Orioles) so they are still 3 games behind the Yankees.

This was a great team victory.

Ronald Torreyes, the “Tall” One…
Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Odds & Ends…

All of our hearts are with Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler as he begins his recovery from knee surgery on Thursday night.  It will be a long, hard road of recovery and rehabilitation.  It’s been reported that he’ll be on crutches for three months before he begins physical therapy.  Everyone is hopeful that he’ll be ready by the time training camp in Tampa opens next February.  I thought it was cool the team had a face-time call with Fowler in Joe Girardi’s office before yesterday’s game.  

In the aftermath of Fowler’s devastating injury, the Yankees made a few expected moves on Friday.  With the placement of Fowler on the 10-Day DL and the demotion of Ronald Herrera to Triple A, the Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell and 3B Miguel Andujar.  For Andujar, he returns as a Major League Vet albeit with just one game under his belt.  But it will be hard for him to match that terrific first impression (3 hits, 4 ribbies).  I hope his defense is ready to play at the MLB level.  I’d like to see him get a few turns at third as an alternative to Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes.  I am glad to see that Mitchell is back.  He is a Major League pitcher that just gets caught in the numbers game.  But he’s always been one of my favorites.  Best of luck…and health…to both men.

Clint Frazier, according to multiple reports, will be called up today for his first trip to the big leagues.  I was surprised when the Yankees recalled Miguel Andujar after previously saying they wanted him to get more reps at third.  Nothing against Andujar and of course he had the greatest possible MLB debt performance, but the Yankees have a greater need in the outfield.  Rob Refsnyder is not the right answer to rotate with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge (keeping those guys fresh).  I’ve heard the most likely candidate to be sent down will be reliever Bryan Mitchell who made an extended appearance in last night’s game in relief of Michael Pineda.  I assume that Andujar is another potential candidate for the trip to Scranton, PA.  He was a convenient call-up for the Yankees following Fowler’s injury because he was still in Chicago.  Frazier will be the 10th Yankee to make his MLB debut this year (counting Fowler’s very brief appearance).  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams, Jr

CC Sabathia pitched a simulated game on Thursday and is expecting to make his next start.  I assume that Luis Cessa will be return to Scranton when Sabathia is activated off the DL.  Still no word about Matt Holliday as tests continue.  This is a bit frightening, to say the least.  I really hope this is not something more serious than we’ve been led to believe.  Tyler Clippard was away from the team on Friday to attend his grandmother’s funeral.  He is expected back today.

Have a great Saturday!  Even better if the Yankees can pull out a second victory against a very tough Astros squad.  Let’s Go Yankees!

A Long, Hard Day Falls Short…

Credit:  USATSI

Brian Cashman on Line 3…

The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time.  Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.

On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history.  For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home.  He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base.  Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.  

I get the logic.  The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time.  There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.  

Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter.  I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’.  Sad but true.  With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman.  Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.  

To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.  

The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar.  I wondered what was up with Fowler.  Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header.  No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday.  Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees.  Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games.  It must be tough to be a Triple A manager.  Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A.  I don’t dispute calling up Fowler.  There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury.  It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler.  More on Fowler later.

Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island.  Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams.  As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects.  I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing.  I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong.  If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders.  Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk?  Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year.  Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…

Busy, busy day.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3…

The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine.  On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall.  I had been worried about Fowler going into this game.  Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York).  The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut.  I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central.  It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.

Credit:  Patrick Gorski-AP

The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move.  Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.  

The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half.  Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field.  Gardner scored on the play.  

In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead.  The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error.  Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.  

The Yankees tied the game in the fourth.  Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury).  But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.  Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox.  Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second.  Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base.  Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2. 

The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple.  He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally.  They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.  

I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.

This was a sickening loss.  The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern.  But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played.  The cost was far too great.  If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them.  With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.

Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1.  If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard.  The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.  

I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today.  He has much work to do.

Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros.  It doesn’t get any easier.

Next Up:  Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)

Astros:  Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)

Astros:  Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)

Astros:  Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line.  The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment.  I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer.  Let him go back to the Mets.

Have a great Friday!  Today has to be better than yesterday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Despite Jeter, Yankees Unable To Turn 2…

Credit:  John Munson/NJ Advance Media

It was a majestic day as the Yankees honored Derek Jeter and officially hung No. 2 among the Legends in Monument Park.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable “Turn 2” as they lost the second game of the doubleheader following the Jeter ceremony.

In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the pink Yankees rallied, after falling behind, to win the game.  The Yankees opened the scoring in the first inning on a run-scoring groundout by Matt Holliday.  Sadly, Luis Severino did not have it for Mother’s Day and he fell apart in the third inning.  He opened the inning by hitting George Springer with a pitch, and then gave up a single to Josh Reddick.  After Jose Altuve hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Reddick out at second, the Astros put together a string of four singles to score three runs, ending Severino’s day.  Chad Green, called up earlier in the day from AAA, got Alex Bregman to hit into an inning-ending double play.  

As bad as Severino was, Green was terrific.  He went 3 2/3 innings, holding the Astros to only one hit and no runs.  He walked one and struck out three.  In the 4th inning, the Yankee tied the game with a two-run homer by Starlin Castro and then took a 4-3 lead in the next at-bat when Aaron Judge finally went deep again with his 14th home run of the season.

Credit:  Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The game stayed 4-3 until the top of the 7th inning with Adam Warren pitching.  A couple of singles, a walk, a fielding error by Starlin Castro and a sac fly allowed the Astros to re-take the lead, 6-4.  Heading into the bottom of the 7th after Austin Romine grounded out, Brett Gardner singled and Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, moving Gardner to third.  Matt Holliday, in a gutsy at-bat after falling behind 0-2, fought off a few pitches and singled in a failed diving attempt by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa which scored Gardner.  At that point, the Astros brought in Chris Devenski who has been virtually unhittable this year.  Apparently, Starlin Castro hasn’t been listening to how dominant Devenski is and he doubled to score Ellsbury.  After an intentional walk to Aaron Judge and a strikeout of Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley came to bat with the bases loaded.  On the TV telecast, Michael Kay was making comments about how Headley is due.  Then, as if Headley heard Kay, he laced a triple to right to clear the bases, putting the Yankees up 9-6.  Chris Carter doubled to score Headley, and the Yankees held a 10-6 lead after pushing six runs across the plate in the inning.

Brett Gardner added an insurance run in the 8th with a solo shot to center.  In probably his worst outing of the season, Adam Warren (1-0) picked up the victory.  Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless 9th inning to close out the game in a non-save situation.  Yankees win, 11-6.

The second game started very badly for starter Masahiro Tanaka.  From the beginning, Tanaka was struggling with each batter, and by the time Alex Bregman hit a grand slam, the Astros were up 6-0 before the Yankees had even taken an at-bat. When Tanaka was pulled after 1 2/3 innings, he had given up two home runs to George Springer and was trailing 8-0. Tanaka has given up 16 runs in his last 15 innings. Still, this was Derek Jeter’s day so I felt no lead was too much.  The Yankees almost proved me right.  In the 5th, trailing 9-0, the Yanks scored four runs on an RBI single by Brett Gardner and a three-run homer by Matt Holliday.  

In the 9th inning, after a passed ball had allowed Marwin Gonzalez to score to put the Astros up 10-4, the Yankees tried valiantly to erase the deficit.  A two-run single by Starlin Castro and a run-scoring single by Aaron Judge brought the Yankees within three runs at 10-7.  With two outs and runners at the corners, the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate with Aaron Hicks.  It could have been a signature moment for Hicksey but unfortunately he grounded out to end the game.  

It was a good job by the bullpen to limit the damage after the Tanaka disaster.  The two runs charged to the bullpen were both unearned.  They gave the team a chance to win despite the overwhelming early Astros lead.  

The doubleheader split left the Yankees with a 22-13 record (losing three of four to Houston).  However, thanks to Tuesday’s opponent (the Kansas City Royals), the Baltimore Orioles lost their fourth in a row in a 9-8 loss.  The loss allowed the Yankees to re-take sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game.  The Boston Red Sox also lost, 11-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The hottest team in the division at the moment is the cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays, winners of their fifth consecutive game.  

The Yankees were competitive with the Astros but unfortunately Houston proved the age-old adage, “good pitching beats good hitting”.  Things do not get any easier as the Yankees hit the road to Kansas City.  The Royals swept the O’s over the weekend with three one-run victories.  The Yankees will need better starting pitching than they received in the Astros series if they are to have any hope.  

Sunday morning started with disturbing news.  The Yankees announced they had placed closer Aroldis Chapman on the 10-Day Disabled List.  Clearly, something was not right with Chapman who failed to get out of the inning in his last two appearances.  A MRI showed no structural damage (whew!) so Chapman only needs rest.  He’ll avoid any baseball-related activities for two weeks and then he’ll resume throwing.  He’ll most likely need a rehab stint before he is activated so the current projection is that he’ll be out for a month.  In the interim, Dellin Betances will slide into the closer’s role with Warren, Holder and Tyler Clippard providing set-up.  There’s no doubt that Holder has been a Godsend this year and his presence helps ease the sting of losing Chapman.  Hopefully, the Betances that struggled last September was simply one that was tired after a long season.  Now, Betances has a chance for redemption.  If he proves successful, the Yankees need to take care of Betances financially this coming off-season and avoid penny-pinching him like they did during last year’s arbitration hearing.  

Recently, when top closers Zach Britton and Mark Melancon had been placed on the DL, I had expressed hope that the DL-epidemic would not impact the remaining elite closers, Chapman and Kenley Jansen.  Now, Jansen is the last man standing.  It definitely shows the value of having an elite set-up artist capable of filling in for a closing role.  

Chad Green was called up to replace Chapman.  Green is getting used to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx commute.  If he keeps pitching like he did in yesterday’s first game, he’s making an argument for why he shouldn’t go back to Pennsylvania.  

Here’s hoping that Chapman is able to fully recover with rest and is able to return on schedule next month.  

Despite the mixed results from the doubleheader and the loss of our closer, it was a special day.  The Jeter ceremony was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen and it will be a long-time before we see such a memorable event again.  Congratulations to Derek as he awaits the arrival of his first child, a child who almost certainly felt the magic of the day in his mother’s womb.  It was a good day, a very good day…

Credit:  Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News

Have a great Monday!  Yesterday was Jeter’s Day, today is your day.  

A Memorable Day and Night at Yankee Stadium…

Happy Mother’s Day!  With no offense to Derek Jeter, that’s still the primary special occasion today.  So I hope it’s a wonderful Mother’s Day for all mothers in the Yankees Universe.  This is your day!  None of us would be here getting ready to celebrate Derek Jeter Night if not for you.

Congrats to Derek Jeter as he gets ready to leave a permanent reminder of his notable Yankee achievements in Monument Park.  Unless someone eventually takes number “0”, it’s the final single-digit number to be retired.  

As the number 2 begins to make its way to the Monument Park Wall, it’s hard not to remember when it was worn by the late Bobby Murcer.  Murcer wore the number when he was reacquired from the Chicago Cubs in 1979 until his release in 1983.  Bobby was a great Yankee.  I don’t really remember much of his first tour with the Yankees, but growing up in the Midwest, Murcer was constantly on TV with the Cubs.  I knew his history with the Yankees and he was a welcome addition to the 1979 Yankees which would soon be marred by one of the team’s greatest tragedies (the death of catcher Thurman Munson).  As a close friend of Munson, Murcer’s actions and words in the days following the tragic plane crash in Akron, Ohio were huge.  It was easy to see how much Murcer loved Munson and the Yankees.  We were later privileged to have Murcer as a Yankees broadcaster until his passing.

Of course, #2 recognition also has to be given to Mark Koenig who was the first Yankee to wear the number in 1929 courtesy of his spot in the lineup.  Koenig, the team’s shortstop, was part of the famed 1927 Murderer’s Row, when he batted second in front of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri.

Yankees third baseman Red Rolfe wore the number from 1931 until his retirement after the 1942 season.  

The only person to wear #2 for more years than Jeter was Frankie Crosetti.  Also a shortstop, Crosetti spent his entire 17-year playing career as a member of the Yankees.  He started wearing #2 in the final years of his playing career in 1945 and continued throughout his 20-year coaching career with the team which ended in 1968.

While Number 2 is being retired for Jeter, the number will forever carry the significant contributions of those who wore the number before the kid from Kalamazoo.  

The first game of today’s double-header begins at 2:05 pm Eastern.  The Derek Jeter Night pre-game ceremony scheduled between games will start no earlier than 6:30 pm ET.  The second game of the doubleheader will begin following the pregame ceremony but no earlier than 7:30 pm ET.  Many former teammates will be in attendance including David Cone, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Gerald Williams, and Bernie Williams.  Former Yankee greats Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph will also be there, along with Dick Groch, an area scout who signed Jeter, former Yankees head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, and Jean “Soot” Zimmer, widow of former Yankees coach Don Zimmer.  

Derek Jeter, this is your day…your night.  Enjoy!

The New York Post’s Steve Serby had a Q&A with Aaron Hicks this morning.  When asked what is the biggest criticism he’s heard that bothers him the most, he responded:  “I don’t want to be considered…I want to be a starter.  I don’t want to be a fourth outfielder.  That’s kind of something that I don’t like.  I’m better than a fourth outfielder.”  I agree 100%.  Sadly it is time for GM Brian Cashman to create the room in the outfield for Hicks to start.  Without question, I would love for the Yankees to move Jacoby Ellsbury, but that’s not happening.  So, it is back to Brett Gardner as the most marketable outfield asset for a trade.  Gardner’s recent homer binge hopefully raised his perceived value.  

Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals agreed to a one-year $21.65 million contract for the 2018 season.  It includes a $1 million incentive if he win’s the MVP Award. The contract buys out Harper’s final year of arbitration eligibility and he maintains eligibility to become a free agent following the 2018 season.  He’s making $13.625 million this year.  To celebrate his new contract, he hit a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.  I am anxious to see what he does when he signs that 10-year $400 million deal with the Yankees in a couple of years.  Hal, it’s just money…

It’s not really Yankees news but Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta took a fastball to the face in Friday’s action.  The pitch fractured some teeth and Iannetta’s nose, but the catcher is doing okay and hoping to avoid a DL stint.  The pitch was thrown by former Yankees prospect Johnny Barbato, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this year.  All the best to Iannetta with his recovery.  It could have been much worse and I am thankful it was not.  

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Have a great Mother’s Day and Derek Jeter Night!  Let’s take two! 

Not Ready for Prime Time…

The latest Yahoo Sports MLB Power Rankings that pushed the New York Yankees to #1 were a bit premature.  These Yankees are not quite up to par with the high flying Houston Astros (who were ranked #3).  Two games does not a season make, but the Yankees haven’t exactly shown they can hang with the Astros so far in this series.  

The Astros seem to have every answer and it appears that both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have found themselves on the right side of the equation.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Right now, the two best teams in Baseball are the Astros and the Washington Nationals (even with their bullpen problems).  

The Yankees have two games to right the ship.  They can prove that they can play with the Astros, just not with pitchers named Keuchel or McCullers.  Today’s game has been postponed due to inclement weather so the Yankees will play a double-header tomorrow for the joint Derek Jeter’s and Mother’s Day.  It’s single-admission entry so only Sunday’s ticketholders have seats for the Derek Jeter ceremonies.  Saturday’s ticketholders will be able to exchange their tickets for future games. The Bronx weather forecast calls for a 60% chance for rain tomorrow which falls to 20% by evening.  The first game is expected to start at 2:05 pm.  Hopefully we’ll be listening to Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York by the end of the day.  

Yesterday’s game was not pretty.  Brian McCann set the tone early with his three run homer off Jordan Montgomery in the fourth inning.  The ball traveled just inside right-field foul pole into an area that McCann has frequently deposited pitches.  As a guy we once cheered for, McCann is becoming a thorn.  He caught the pitch that nailed Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate to end Thursday’s game, then he launched the deciding blast yesterday. Lance McCullers, Jr showed why he is one of the great young talents in the game.  It was eery when the TV telecast showed a comparison of his dad pitching for the Yankees and then the younger McCullers.  They are very similar with their pitching motions and release.  Young Lance went six innings, holding the Yanks to four hits and no runs.  He showed excellent control with no walks, and struck out seven Bombers (although Gary Sanchez was the most frequent contributor to those K’s).  

The Yankees scored a run in the ninth inning on a two-out RBI single by Didi Gregorius, but it was too little, too late.  Ronald Torreyes struck out to end the game.

I felt bad for Jordan Montgomery.  Remove the McCann homer, and he didn’t pitch that badly.  He did register 7 strikeouts, but the final line in six innings was not pretty.  8 hits and 4 runs saw the elevation of Montgomery’s season ERA from 3.81 to 4.19.  As for the bullpen, Jonathan Holder and Tyler Clippard continue to show that the arms in front of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman are very strong.  Aroldis Chapman, on the other hand, is cause for concern.  Chapman only lasted two-thirds of an inning in the ninth when he allowed three hits, including a two-out RBI single to Josh Reddick.  With shades of his poor performance in Cincinnati earlier in the week, Chapman couldn’t finish the inning after he gave up a single to Jose Altuve.  Giovanny Gallegos, making his Major League debut, had to be called on to retire the Astros (he induced Yankee killer Carlos Correa into a fly out to center).  Hopefully this is just a temporary funk for Chapman and he is not seriously injured.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Despite the loss (their third in a row), the Yankees (21-12) remain a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East as the O’s fell to the Kansas City, 3-2.  The Boston Red Sox tried unsuccessfully to rally against the Tampa Bay Rays and lost 5-4, so there was no movement at the top of the division standings.

Chance Adams is getting closer to New York.  You can feel the rumble.  On Friday, the Yankees promoted the 22-year old right-hander from AA-Trenton to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  In six games for the Thunder, Adams was 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA.  In 35 innings, he has only given up 23 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), 2 HR’s, and 15 walks.  He has also sent 32 batters muttering to themselves as they walked back to the dugout after strikeouts.  There’s no doubt we’ll soon be taking a chance on Adams in the Big Apple in the not-so-distant future if he keeps pitching like this.  Given that he’s dominated every level, there’s little doubt that AAA is his next victim.

Credit:  MiLB.com

The word is that Tyler Austin will begin playing rehab games soon.  So, when he is ready, the Yankees have decisions to make.  They can send Austin to AAA or they can bring him to the Bronx.  If he arrives at 161st and River and starts making solid contributions, Chris Carter is going to become obsolete.  I do not see a need for Carter once both Austin and Greg Bird are healthy.  If Carter was at least demonstrating some of the power that led to 41 home runs last year, it would be one thing but he’s not.  He’s a one-dimensional player that isn’t exactly tearing it up in his one dimension.  I think Carter needs regular at-bats to get into a groove but the Yankees are not going to afford him that opportunity (nor should they).  The team would be best served by flipping Carter to another team for some spare parts.

Have a great Saturday!  Stay dry and keep your fun and excitement at an all-time high!