Tagged: Austin Romine

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!

Hello Win Column, I’ve Missed You!…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Angels 4…

OMG, we scored more runs than the other team!  What do we do now????  

Seriously, it’s so good to experience the winning feeling again.  Whew!  It has been far too long. Congratulations to us! High fives all around. The game had its moments but in the end, it was a 103 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman blazing into Austin Romine’s mitt for a swinging third strike that brought joy back to the Bronx.  

The Yankees jumped out to the early lead when Didi Gregorius homered following a single by Gary Sanchez in the second inning.  The Angels tied the score in the fourth.  Didi’s buddy from Curacao, Andrelton Simmons, singled and advanced to second on a balk.  Angels catcher Martin Maldonado then hit a ball over the left field wall.  Game tied at 2.  With someone like Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, you’d feel the floodgates were about to open for the opponent.  But on this night, Jordan Montgomery was on the mound and he continues to instill confidence with each outing.  For whatever reason, that dude looked slimmer on the mound than usual.  I guess Pinstripes are thinning but I digress.

Matt Holliday’s solo shot in the fifth gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead which the Yankees took into the sixth.  Montgomery (5-4) retired the first two batters he faced but then Simmons singled again.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Montgomery and inserted Chad Green who promptly struck out Maldonado to end the inning.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees picked up 3 more runs on a two-run double by Austin Romine and a run-scoring single by Aaron Hicks.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

In the seventh, I had an uneasy feeling when Green walked C.J. Cron on four straight pitches.  A ball to the next batter, Danny Espinosa, brought pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the dugout steps but Green found his groove and registered a strikeout.  He retired the next two batters on groundouts and really emerged as one of the stars of this game.  The Yankees picked up a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning when Matt Holliday doubled and scored on Starlin Castro’s single.  Chase Headley singled to score Castro, pushing the score to 8-2.

Dellin Betances pitched a clean eighth inning, punching out the first two batters he faced and getting the third on a groundout to short.

All was going great…until Tyler Clippard got up in the bullpen.  I get the logic of trying to give Clippard a clean inning to work with and much better do it with a 6 run lead but, right now, if there is a pitcher that could butcher a large lead, it’s Clippard.  Sure enough, Girardi brought him in to start the 9th.  Simmons doubled and there was a strong sense of ‘here we go again’.  Maldonado stepped up and hit his second home run of the night which Aarons Judge and Hicks could only watch sail over the right field wall to bring the Angels within four runs.  Mercifully, Girardi pulled Clippard and signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  The walkup music for Chapman drowned the boos for Clippard as he sadly walked off the field.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

Admittedly, I was still a bit concerned with Chapman.  This was only his second appearance since returning from the DL and he had not pitched since Sunday.  I had visions of his control problems from his last minor league rehab stint, but my concerns were unfounded.  He was the Chapman of old and he came out throwing extreme heat.  By the time he was facing his third and final batter, Eric Young Jr, he was throwing pitches that registered on the Statcast leaderboard. His final pitch, at 102.9 mph, was the fastest in the Majors this year.

Credit:  MLB.com

Yankees win.  The Yankees win!  All is right in the world again.

The Yankees (39-30) recaptured first place in the AL East, by 1/2 game, with the victory as the Boston Red Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals, 6-4.  Thank you to Salvador Perez for his 8th inning grand slam.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cincinnati Reds, 8-3.  They are 3 games back.  The Toronto Blue Jays also won so they, along with the Baltimore Orioles, are 5 games behind.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees will either be tied or a full game up upon conclusion of tonight’s series finale with the Angels.  

 

The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth…

I realize that this blog is not for movie news, but hey, they don’t pay me so I’ll take the liberty of the departure.  Director Jay Russell, best known for 2004’s Ladder 49 starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta, has been tabbed to direct a planned feature film called The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.  The movie will be based on Jonathan Eig’s biography Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig.  



For those of you who have not read the book, here is the description per the book’s publisher:

“The definitive account of the life and tragic death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend–the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name.  But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig’s life was more complicated–and, perhaps, even more heroic–than anyone really knew.

Drawing on new interviews and more than two hundred pages of previously unpublished letters to and from Gehrig, Luckiest Man gives us an intimate portrait of a man who became an American hero: his life as a shy and awkward youth growing up in New York City, his unlikely friendship with Babe Ruth (a friendship that allegedly ended over rumors that Ruth had an affair with Gehrig’s wife), and his stellar career with the Yankees, where his consecutive-games streak stood for more than half a century.  What was not previously known, however, is that symptoms of Gehrig’s affliction began appearing in 1938, earlier than is commonly acknowledged.  Later, aware that he was dying, Gehrig exhibited a perseverance that was truly inspiring; he lived the last two years of his short life with the same grace and dignity with which he gave his now-famous “luckiest man” speech.

Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man shows us one of the greatest baseball players of all time as we’ve never seen him before.”

The planned movie already has a script written by Dan Kay.  Branded Entertainment’s Michael Uslan and David Uslan head a producing team that includes Kingsway Productions’ Robert Molloy and Conglomerate Media’s Armando Gutierrez.  

Molloy is the grandson of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  “As my late grandfather always believed, Lou Gehrig was a great role model for the world.  There is triumph even in tragedy and it’s only in the face of great odds that true human heroes are born and inspire us all.”

Barrie Osborne, an executive producer for the film, said, “What I love most about the project is the fact that audiences need to know nothing about sports, baseball, the Yankees, or even the legend of Lou Gehrig in order to be moved by this emotionally uplifting story.”

“Lou Gehrig is an iconic character, not just in baseball, but as a true American hero, a man who faced his intense, personal battles with quiet bravery,” said Russell.  “While Gehrig’s story has previously been told in the beloved Pride of the Yankees (1942), this will be a new depiction with a more contemporary style and approach.”

As a lifelong Lou Gehrig fan, I am very excited to hear this news.  I have always considered Gehrig to be the greatest Yankee and it’s wonderful that they are bringing his story to the big screen.  We know Gehrig’s accomplishments on the baseball field.  This is an opportunity to know and understand the depth of the man behind the legend.  I can’t wait…


Odds & Ends…


A Jacoby Ellsbury sighting has been reported. Ellsbury took batting practice and ran the bases on Wednesday.  GM Brian Cashman said before yesterday’s game that the most important thing is to see how Ellsbury responds to the next three to six days.  As long as Aaron Hicks is healthy, I am completely fine with Ellsbury taking all the time he needs.  But realistically, the Yankees are probably stronger with Hicks rotating through the outfield to provide relief for all of the outfielders and not just center.  But if the Yankees could find a way to trade Ellsbury for a bucket of bolts, I’m all in.  Just be sure that he takes Chris Carter and Tyler Clippard with him.

Congrats to Gleyber Torres for his successful Tommy John surgery yesterday.  Gleyber posted “Surgery went as planned now time to recover and get back on the field.  I can’t wait for next season thank you all for support” on Twitter last evening.  Gleyber, we can’t wait for you to get back on the field either.  Happy Recovery!

Credit:  Gleyber Torres-Twitter

Have a great Thursday!  I like this new thing called winning.  Can we do it again today?…

True Statement — The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field!…

Credit:  Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune

While the Cubs did have their chances, Saturday’s game felt like it was over after the Yankees took their first swings in the top of the first inning en route to the 11-6 victory.  Admittedly, I felt badly for Cubs starter Brett Anderson.  He gave up three doubles, two singles and a bunt with a throwing error that led to multiple runs.  When Anderson departed after 23 pitches, he had gotten only one out…a swinging strikeout by Aaron Judge.  The Yankees held a 5-0 advantage, and we were off the races.

Anderson was once a promising young starter for the Oakland A’s.  He’s pitched very well when healthy, but unfortunately health has not been his friend.  He made 31 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 and then missed most of last year after surgery for a bulging disk in his back.  After yesterday’s start, Anderson was showing signs of back trouble so yet another DL-stint is likely.  After the game, Anderson said that it was “embarrassing”.  He went on to say “Whenever the backup catcher gets more outs than you, it’s not a positive”. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Cubs although he did walk two. Hopefully Anderson is able to recover from his latest setback.

Credit:  Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune

Jordan Montgomery (2-1) was solid again for the Yankees as he continues to cement his role in the starting rotation.  He made it into the seventh inning until running into some trouble after throwing 100 pitches.  He allowed 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3.  He did walk 4 batters.  After two groundouts in the top of the 7th, it looked like it was going to be another quiet inning for Monty.  But he walked Jon Jay and it was followed by a run-scoring triple by former Tampa Bay Rays nemesis Ben Zobrist which ended Montgomery’s day.  

Aaron Hicks, subbing for Jacoby Ellsbury who is still nursing a sore elbow, delivered the clinching shot, a three-run homer in the eighth inning, that put the Yanks up 11-3.  The Cubbies tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the 8th against reliever Tommy Layne, scoring three runs.  Adam Warren came in with a runner at first (Miguel Montero) and two outs.  He allowed a double to Jon Jay which advanced Montero to third.  Ben Zobrist came to bat with a chance to chip away at the 11-6 Yanks lead but Warren struck him out swinging.  Another nice job by the  2016 World Series ring holder.  

Credit:  Tannen Maury/EPA

Hicks finished the day 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He continues to impress and is making it hard for Manager Joe Girardi to keep him on the bench.  I read one columnist who suggested that Hicks should permanently replace center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  I wouldn’t necessarily argue but are we really only four years into Ellsbury’s seven-year $153 contract?  The end of the contract seems so friggin’ far away.  Despite his recent heroics, Brett Gardner remains the more marketable outfielder and it seems that it would make more sense to move him to make room for Hicks…unless GM Brian Cashman would hoodwink some other GM into taking Ellsbury off his hands.  Maybe ply former buddy Billy Eppler with some tequila when the Yankees visit Anaheim in mid-June.  

The other hitting star of the game was the former Chicago Cub Starlin Castro.  You know that he enjoyed his fourth inning home run.  He even paused for a moment to enjoy the view as the ball traveled to the left outfield bleachers.  Increasing his batting average to .381, Castro went 3-for-4.  He had 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Starlin has been enjoying his time at Wrigley Field so I am sure these games will be memorable to him for a very long time.  

Credit:  Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune

The Yankees maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The O’s held off a late challenge by the Chicago White Sox to win 6-5.  Sadly the Boston Red Sox also won.  

I’ve said it before but Tommy Layne is just not doing it for me this year.  His appearance always seems to be accompanied by multiple runs for the opponent.  His ERA is now an unsightly 9.45 after giving up the 3 runs to the Cubs while only recording 2 outs.  I will gladly take Chasen Shreve as my lefty specialist over Layne.  I think we’re seeing why the Boston Red Sox gave up on Layne last year.

I wonder if we’ll see Matt Holliday at first base today as the Yankees face an old foe in former Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester.  It should be a great game as the Yankees go for a sweep with Luis Severino on the mound.

The Yankees completed their off-season trade that sent reliever Nick Goody to the Cleveland Indians.  On Friday, they acquired 21 year-old pitcher Yoiber Marquina, a converted catcher, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month.  The Yankees see promise in Marquina’s lively arm, but meanwhile Goody is delivering the goods for the Indians.  He has an 0.00 ERA in 7 appearances with 10 strikeouts.  He has allowed only three hits in 9 1/3 innings of work.  Sounds like the Indians are making up for lost ground with the talent they gave up in the Andrew Miller trade.

I saw the debate that TGP’s Daniel Burch sparked yesterday when he suggested that the Yankees should trade backup catcher Austin Romine.  My first question is why?  Unless you can include Romine in a trade for a frontline pitcher, I do not see the motivation to make a deal.  He has shown that he can be a very valuable backup catcher.  It’s not that I dislike Kyle Higashioka, but Romine has earned his shot to be a member of the New York Yankees.  If you tell me that the Yankees could acquire Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates (don’t we always send our catchers to the Steel City?) by including Romine with other prospects, I’m on board.  Otherwise, I think Romine should stay.  

I am not trying to look ahead but the Yankees will, for the first time, face the ramifications of their  December 2015 trade for closer Aroldis Chapman.  The team will be traveling to Cincinnati after they complete the three game series against the Cubs later today.  On Monday, they’ll face former top pitching prospect Rookie Davis who is scheduled to start opposite Masahiro Tanaka.  Davis is the only player on the Reds MLB roster in the deal that sent Davis, third baseman Eric Jagielo, pitcher Caleb Cotham, and second baseman Tony Renda to Cincy.  

Credit:  Justin Berl/Getty Images

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s hope the wind carries us to a sweep out of Chicago!

No Room For Racial Injustice…

Credit:  Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The lead for my post today has to be in support of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.  He was subjected to thrown objects and racial taunts in Boston on Monday night.  As a Yankees fan, it would be easy to pick on the Red Sox fans but this is not isolated to Fenway Park.  There are small, narrow-minded people in every stadium, including Yankee Stadium.  There is no excuse for the racial slurs and unacceptable behavior anywhere.  

Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy issued the following statement:

“The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few. Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security, and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark, and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night’s events is ongoing.”

Granted, the Red Sox response was driven in large part by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred but I thought the Red Sox said the right words.  The proof is in the pudding so now let’s see Red Sox security enforce those words.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Security for every MLB team needs to take similar action.  There simply cannot be any tolerance for this type of behavior regardless of geography.  I support the Yankees but I will never support racial inequality and injustice.  I do not support the uniform he wears, but I will always support Adam Jones…the player and the man.  

A close friend of mine, a Boston-area resident and die-hard Red Sox fan, posted this on Social Media yesterday:

“I’m baffled….why are so many Red Sox fans defending the deplorable behavior of the fans last night at Fenway who yelled racial slurs and threw things at Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles? This SHOULD be something we all agree on….there is no room for hate at Fenway.”

I am in 100% agreement with her words.  This type of behavior must stop now.

To Boston’s credit, Red Sox fans gave Adam Jones a much-deserved standing ovation during yesterday’s game.

Moving on to baseball, the Yankees made a couple of moves yesterday.  Greg Bird was placed on the 10-Day Disabled List.  The ankle he injured the last week of training camp has not sufficiently healed and may have contributed to the dreadful 6-for-60 start (.100 batting average) with 22 strikeouts.  Rob Refsnyder was recalled to take Bird’s roster spot and he’ll back up interim starting first baseman Chris Carter.  Also, Luis Cessa was demoted after one day in the Bronx.  He came up long enough to cover the innings that Luis Severino could not on Monday (allowing the rest of the bullpen to take a much needed night off).  Mission accomplished, and back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Recalled in his place is lefty reliever Chasen Shreve.  Shreve has pitched very well this year whether for the Yankees or the RailRiders.  Prior to his demotion to AAA, he pitched three scoreless innings with two strikeouts.  At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed only one run.  He struck out twelve and walked none.  

The Yankees may get catcher Gary Sanchez back on Friday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  

It’s possible that Jacoby Ellsbury could find his way to the DL (surprise, surprise…yeah, not really).  He has a bruised nerve in his left elbow.  The Yankees are going to give it a couple of days before making any decisions.  Oh well, it’s good opportunity for Aaron Hicks to get some regular playing time.  I personally could have come up with many better ways to spend $153 million a few years ago but the Yankees didn’t ask me.  

According to the Miami Herald, Jeb Bush has indicated Derek Jeter will run Baseball Operations if their purchase of the Miami Marlins comes to fruition.  With a lack of experience, it will be interesting, if the sale does go through, to see who Jeter hires or if he’ll retain Yankees Legend Don Mattingly as the team’s manager.  I’ve heard some speculate that Alex Rodriguez could be the eventual manager.  If it were me, one of the first telephone calls I would make to join my administration would be Yankees Vice President and Director of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer.  I could easily envision Oppenheimer as the team’s GM.  If not Oppenheimer, then former Yankees Assistant GM Kim Ng, currently Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball.  Rule Number One, surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.

In last night’s baseball action, where do we begin?  You can talk about Brett Gardner’s second multi-homer game in four days, Matt Holliday’s 3-for-4 night or another win by Masahiro Tanaka (4-1) as the Yankees stopped Toronto’s three-game winning streak with an 11-5 victory.  But really, the game came down to two words:  

Aaron Judge.

The Aaron Judge Show continues to dazzle live and TV audiences.  Judge started the day with a smashed TV in the outfield terrace during batting practice off a monster home run.  It was a sign of things to come as Judge matched Gardner’s two homer day and easily took the spotlight from the speedy Gardner.  With a homer by center fielder Aaron Hicks, the Yankees outfield produced five home runs.  It was the most home runs produced by a Yankees outfield trio since Mickey Mantle (2), Roger Maris (2) and Yogi Berra (1) did it on May 30, 1961 in a 12-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.  Judge finished with four RBI’s while Gardner had three.

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Masahiro Tanaka was unable to match his last start in Boston and he failed to deliver a quality start but fortunately on this night it was not needed.  He needed to do enough to deliver the win and, thanks to the Yankees bats, he did his job.  He went 6 1/3 innings.  He allowed eight eights and four runs, striking out two.  Toronto got to Tanaka in the 7th inning when Steve Pearce homered and Devon Travis singled.  With one out, Clippard replaced Tanaka after the Travis at-bat, and was ineffective.  Although he got Chris Coghlan out, he gave up a single to Kevin Pillar and walked Joey Bats to load the bases.  Dellin Betances replaced Clippard, and balked to allow Travis to score (with the run charged to Tanaka).  Betances then walked Russell Martin to re-load the bases, which brought the tying run to the plate.  But Betances struck out Kendrys Morales to end the threat.  

Former Yankee Steve Pearce had two home runs for Toronto, both off Tanaka.  

With the win, the Yankees (16-9) moved back into a first place tie in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s lost to the Red Sox, 5-2.  

On the downside, catcher Austin Romine left the game with a cramp in his right groin.  According to manager Joe Girardi, Romine was pulled from the game despite saying no at least three times.  Hopefully, Romine is better today and this doesn’t develop into something more serious that causes lost playing time.  Regardless of how Romine feels today, I’d guess that Kyle Higashioka will be the starting catcher for the final game of the three-game set with the Blue Jays.  The Yankees will play it conservatively and allow Romine sufficient rest to recover.  The impending return of #24 comes at a very good time.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Hopefully the Yankees can get over the hump and beat Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays!

Who Was That Masked Man?…

On Saturday, the Yankees were led by slugging outfielder Brett Gardner and the Hit Machine, Austin “So Fine” Romine.  Wait a minute!  Say what?  You’re friggin’ kidding me, right?  Gardner entered the game hitting .188 with no home runs or RBI’s.  Romine, a seemingly career minor leaguer until he finally became a Major League back up last year at age 27, came into the game with a more respectable .277, but only a single homer and five RBI’s.  On Saturday, the two went off for combined nine RBI’s as the Yankees throttled the Baltimore Orioles, 12-4.  The Yankees, in scoring 26 runs in two victories, have ensured that they’ll leave April, pending the outcome of today’s game, no worse than tied for the American League East lead.

Gardner hit not one but two home runs in doing his best impersonation of Aaron Judge, albeit a short one, and drove in four Yankees runs.  His 2-for-4 performance raised his batting average above .200 (to .206).  With a 2-for-3 day (which also included a home run), Romine boosted his average to .300 and bested Gardner’s RBI total by one.  I really didn’t expect Romine to start on Saturday after catching Friday night’s game, but I am glad Manager Joe Girardi penciled his name in.  By the way, Aaron Judge sent one out but that’s getting to be old news.  The big news anymore is the days he doesn’t send a ball screaming out of Yankee Stadium at record speed.  Seriously, Judge is locked in right now and is tied with Khris Davis of the Oakland A’s for the most home runs in the American League with ten.  Things are going so well for Judge, he even stole a base against the O’s, with footsteps that must have reverberated throughout the Stadium as the big man ran toward third.  

Credit:  Al Bello/Getty Images

Michael Pineda was the winning pitcher with 5 1/3 innings of work.  He got into some trouble in the sixth inning when Manny Machado doubled and subsequently scored on a Chase Headley throwing error.  Girardi had a quick hook and pulled Pineda despite the 7-1 lead to avoid a potential return to “Bad Mike”.  Big Mike’s day finished with five hits, two runs (although none earned), one walk, and eight strikeouts.  He picked up his third win (3-1) of the year.  

The Yankees are 15-7, and a game up on the Orioles for the AL East lead.  Aaron Judge is on pace for 74 home runs (I know, it’s not sustainable) and this is an absolutely fun team to watch.  What a difference a year makes!  Last year on April 29th, the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox 4-2 to drop their season record to 8-13.  Last April, the 2016 club felt lethargic and old. This year’s team is enthusiastic, supportive and energetic.  I am not saying this is the 1998 Yankees but this is the best team chemistry I have seen since the golden years of the late 90’s.  

Credit:  Noah K Murray/USA TODAY Sports

Today, the Yankees will send Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face the O’s Wade Miley in the finale of the three game series.  The Yankees stay at home to begin a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday.

Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams is soon going to be making noise for Big League consideration.  So far this season, he is dominating Double-A for the Trenton Thunder.  Through four starts, the 22-year-old is 3-0 with 0.82 ERA (13 hits and 2 earned runs in 22 innings).  Although he has walked 10 batters, he was struck out 22.  He’ll no doubt get the call to make the trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre soon and is positioning himself for a possible late-season call-up to the Bronx.  If the Yankees need an emergency starter, I am sure that it would be Chad Green or Luis Cessa.  But Adams is ensuring that his name will soon be in the conversation.  Good problems to have.

News around Baseball the last few days has shown the risk of making big trades.  On December 9, 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks packaged promising young shortstop Dansby Swanson, pesky outfielder Ender Inciarte, and pitcher Aaron Blair in a deal to acquire starting pitcher Shelby Miller and a minor leaguer.  Miller has struggled in Arizona and this week it was announced that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery.  Like James Kaprielian, he won’t be back until late 2018 at the earliest.  Last year on December 7th, the Washington Nationals traded top young pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White for outfielder Adam Eaton after their failed attempt to acquire Andrew McCutheon from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Yesterday it was announced that Eaton will miss the remainder of the 2017 season with a torn ACL in his left knee.  Ouch!  These were very high prices to pay for nothing.  I hope that both Miller and Eaton are successful in their respective recoveries and return one day stronger than ever, but it doesn’t help either the D-Backs or the Nationals today.  The Nationals have a World Series contending club and now they need outfield help in addition to the desperate need for a proven closer.  

Have a great Sunday!  I have no desire to see former Yankees manager Buck Showalter gain a victory today…let’s sweep this series!

Hopefully, The Weekend Won’t Be For The Birds…

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Well, I should qualify that by saying I hope it is for the Bird (as in Greg)…just not for the Birds of Baltimore.  

The Yankees head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the AL East front-running  Orioles.  The series begins tonight at 7:05 pm ET with CC Sabathia  (2-1, 2.70 ERA) scheduled to take the mound versus the O’s Kevin Gausman (1-2, 7.50 ERA).  In Gausman’s last start on Sunday against the Red Sox, he gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning to Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez as the O’s fell to Boston 6-2.  

The Yankees are playing much better than they did when the O’s took 2 of 3 earlier this month.  When the Yankees salvaged the final game of the series with a 7-3 victory on April 9th, it was the start of an eight-game winning streak.  They left Baltimore with a 2-4 record, and now stand at 13-7 as they prepare for the rematch.  The Yankees currently trail the Orioles by just one game.   

The X Factor is the return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who returns tonight after missing the first 20 games of the season.  Didi performed his rehab assignment at High A Tampa, where he hit .290 with a homer and 13 ribbies.  Credit is owed to interim starting shortstop Ronald Torreyes.  My preference had been to promote prospect Tyler Wade as I didn’t feel Torreyes (or “Toe”) was up to the task.  He proved me wrr, wrrr…not exactly right.  The little guy came up big in clutch situations, and played admirably in the field.  Toe now moves to the critical super-sub role with the ability to cover for Gregorius, Starlin Castro or Chase Headley.  At this point, if you told me that he could play catcher too, I wouldn’t argue.  There’s a reason that Brian Cashman is paid to the general manager and Joe Girardi is paid to be the manager, while I write for free on this blog site.  

Now the question is what becomes of backup shortstop Pete Kozma.  Is he simply optioned to AAA (retaining his spot on the 40-man roster) or designated for assignment?  Personally, for me, the emergency backup shortstop is Wade so I’d shake Kozma’s hand for helping out and then hand him his walking papers.  

Catcher Gary Sanchez is also very close to returning.  He’ll begin his rehab assignment next Tuesday for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Like Torreyes, catcher Austin Romine has done a terrific job filling in for Sanchez.  Obviously, he’ll never be the bat nor the arm of Sanchez, but he held his own at the position.  

This has been a crazy year for guys going on the disabled list.  The San Francisco Giants losing ace Madison Bumgarner for two months due to a dirt bike accident is probably the craziest.  But it seems like no team has been immune from the DL plague.  Soon, the Yankees will be back at full strength for a team that is already playing better than expected.  There is reason for great optimism at 161st and River.  

The pitching match-ups for the rest of the weekend are:

SATURDAY                                      

Balt:  Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 5.95 ERA)   

NYY:  Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.86 ERA)    

SUNDAY

Balt:  Wade Miley (1-1, 2.08 ERA)

NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 3.78 ERA)

I am very glad that we won’t be facing a Chris Sale-like pitcher in this series.  So far this season, the best pitcher for the Orioles has been Dylan Bundy.  The Yankees will miss Bundy (3-1, 1.65 ERA) this go-around.  You have to like the Yankees’ chances in this series, particularly considering they are at home.  Welcome back, Didi!  It will be great to see #18 on the field again.  

Credit:  MLB.com

Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred disputed the reports that the group led by Yankees Legend Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had won the exclusive rights to purchase the Miami Marlins.  Per Manfred, there are still two groups involved in the running but that resolution should be reached within a matter of days.  So, hold your horses, Jeter may not be trading in his pinstripes just yet.  It would be cool if the Steinbrenner Family would sell Jeter part of the Yankees, but that’s not going to happen.  For Jeter’s sake, I hope his group’s bid is successful.  Ownership is his dream and the best case scenario without the Yankees in play is a National League club to avoid frequent competition.  


What did last night’s game against the Boston Red Sox look like?…

What can you say about Masahiro Tanaka’s masterful performance against the Red Sox?  It was an absolute masterpiece as Tanaka out-pitched Boston ace Chris Sale for the the 3-0 victory.  Tanaka went the distance, allowing only three hits and no walks, while striking out three.  It was Tanaka’s best start of the year and one of his greatest in pinstripes.  Sale, who came into the game with a career 1.17 ERA against the Yankees, allowed three runs (two earned) in the loss for the Red Sox.  

For the majority of the game, the Yankees held a slim 1-0 lead, thanks to a sac fly by Matt Holliday in the fourth inning.  Finally, they knocked Sale out of the game in the ninth inning after he allowed singles to the first three batters, including a run-scoring hit by Holliday to pick up his second RBI of the game.  Reliever Heath Embree gave up a hit to the first batter he faced (Starlin Castro), scoring Chase Headley, with the run charged to Sale.    

Chris Carter, carrying the rep of a one-dimensional home run hitter, played very solid defense at first base even if he couldn’t get his bat going against Sale.  

This was one of the more enjoyable victories over the Red Sox in recent memory.  Hats off to Tanaka, and congratulations to the team for the two-game sweep.  

Have a wonderful Friday!  It’s time to cook some Birds!  

Hal’s $3 Million Investment for Home Runs…

Credit:  Joe Sargent/Getty Images

What a difference a day makes!  

Chris “All he does is hit home runs”¹ Carter made my Saturday a fun day after Friday night’s loss.  Michael Pineda, like CC Sabathia the day before, did not have his best stuff and only lasted five innings.  I had felt prior to the game that Pineda needed to be at his best with talented young right-hander Jameson Taillon on the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but fortunately, the Yankees were able to get to Taillon (thanks Starlin!).  The game was tied at 5 in the eighth when Chris Carter came to the plate to pinch hit for Dellin Betances.  The inning had looked like it would be over quickly when the first two Yankee batters flied out (if Bird’s fly could have gone just a few more feet…).  But an error by Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier allowed catcher Austin Romine to reach base and shortstop Ronald Torreyes followed with a single.  Carter is paid to do one thing and against Pirates reliever Felipe Rivero, he did it.  His beautiful swing was met with “it is high, it is far, it is gone!”.  The Yankees had taken a commanding 8-5 lead.

The Yankees would score a couple more times that inning, thanks in large part to another error by the Pirates, but the signature moment was the ninth inning even though the game was already out of reach for the Pirates.  In what is becoming a typical day at the office, Aaron Judge got all of an Antonio Bastardo pitch to send the ball screaming 116 mph for a ‘no doubt about it’ home run.  When all was said and done, the ball had traveled 457 feet.  It is starting to feel like not a question of ‘if’ Judge can hit a ball 500 feet, but ‘when’.  Five batters, including Matt Holliday, have hit longer home runs this year (a total of five feet separates the leaders) but it’s only a matter of time before Judge takes charge of the Statcast leaderboard.  

Credit:  Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Yankees won the game, 11-5 .  They head into today’s game with a chance to take the series against an old friend, Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova.  Jordan Montgomery, wearing Nova’s old jersey number, will take the mound for the Yankees.  

Despite the win, the Yankees failed to gain any ground on the Baltimore Orioles (12-4) who took another game from the Boston Red Sox.  So, the Yankees remain 1 1/2 games out of first with an 11-6 record.  I get the feeling that the Red Sox (10-8) will be playing like a wounded dog when the Yankees get to Fenway Park on Tuesday.  

I was glad to see manager Joe Girardi put Aaron Hicks in Saturday’s lineup.  He acknowledged that he needs to find ways to put Hicks’ hot bat into the game.  But really, left field is the only viable solution.  The $153 million man is actually producing in center (he’s still dead to me despite the .323 batting average) and Aaron Judge is becoming a marquee event in right.  Despite Chris Carter’s home run, I still think first base should stay exclusively with Greg Bird.  I know that he’s only hitting .111 after another 0-for-4 performance, but he seems to be hitting the ball well even if they are going for outs.  It is only a matter of time before the balls start falling in (or leaving the park).  I think he’s close to catching fire.  

I always keep an eye on former Yankees to see how they are doing.  I guess it is a Jay Buhner/Fred McGriff disorder, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for former Yankees prospect Rob Segedin.  Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deal that originally brought Ronald Torreyes to New York, the third baseman recently got another call up to the Dodgers when they placed former Yankees pitcher Rich Hill on the DL.  Two days later, Segedin was on the DL himself with a strained right big toe.  The taste of the Major Leagues can be so elusive for many and it certainly is for the 28-year-old former Yankees third round draft pick.

Credit:  David Crane/Southern California News Group

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s hope this is another Fun Day!  

 ¹A nod to Buddy Ryan’s infamous quote “All he does is catch touchdowns” in reference to Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.