Tagged: Baby Bombers

Masa and a Few Runs = Formula for Success…

Credit:  Al Bello-Getty Images

American League Championship Series

Yankees 5, Astros 0…

Yankees lead the Series, 3-2


The Yankees rode stellar pitching and a few clutch hits to take the advantage in the ALCS as the series now shifts to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night.

It was great to see Andy Pettitte throw out the ceremonial first pitch and it certainly brought a championship pedigree to the mound.  Nothing like starting a game exactly right!  As a Houstonian and a former Astro, it would be easy for Andy to root for the road team but I am so glad (and proud) that he has always been entrenched in his love for the Yankees. 

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees proved that they are not afraid of Chris Sale and Corey Kluber, the AL’s best, and while they may not be afraid of Dallas Keuchel, the latter has proven to be an enigma in recent years and, in particular, this season. So, there was some reservation, at least on my part, with the thought of Keuchel picking up the ball for the pivotal Game 5.  

First up, though, was Masahiro Tanaka to face the potent Astros line up. It was not that long ago that Jose Altuve blasted three home runs in an ALDS game against the Boston Red Sox. The man short on stature and long on talent will most likely beat out Aaron Judge for AL MVP. Throw in the countless other stars in the Astros lineup, and it is easy to see why the team won 101 games in the regular season. Tanaka easily retired the first two hitters, but then a fielding error by third baseman Todd Frazier allowed the dangerous Altuve to reach first base. Time and again, Altuve has worked his way through the bases, through speed and superior baseball instincts, to find home plate, but not this time. Carlos Correa hit a soft grounder to third to end the inning and send the Astros to the field for the first time.


Of course, Dallas Keuchel treated the top third of the Yankees order like kindergartners trying to connect with Major League heat. He retired the Yankees in order to complete the first inning, including strikeouts of young sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. It looked like it might be one of those days.


Yuli Gurriel led off the top of the 2nd with a double to the wall in left to put the Astros in business. However, Tanaka wasn’t having any of it. Although Gurriel would find his way to third, there would be no homecoming as Masa retired the next three hitters on ground outs.  


In the bottom of the 2nd, it looked like it was going to be more of the same with Keuchel. He struck out Didi Gregorius on a foul tip and got Aaron Hicks to ground out to short for the first two outs. Hits were starting to look like they would be hard to come by when Starlin Castro hit a sharp line drive to the warning track in left and off the wall for a double. Greg Bird followed with a single to right and the Yankees had their first run off Keuchel in the post-season. Todd Frazier struck out to end the inning but the Yankees were able to walk back onto the field with a 1-0 lead.

Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle

After the Astros were unable to do anything with a one-out single by George Springer in the top of the 3rd, Chase Headley led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center. Brett Gardner grounded into a force out at second but all things considered, I was okay with substituting the speedier Gardner for Headley. It paid off when Aaron Judge ripped a double to the left field corner, bringing Gardner around to score. The Yankees were up, 2-0. A couple of strikeouts ended the inning, but at least the Yankees were getting their hits against the very difficult Keuchel.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

After the teams traded ‘3-up, 3-down’ innings in the 4th, the Astros looked like they might put together a little rally in the top of the 5th. Tanaka struck out the first batter, Carlos Beltran, but Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to right. A wild pitch during Brian McCann’s at-bat moved Gonzalez to second. McCann subsequently took a walk to put two runners on with only one out. Tanaka rose to the occasion and struck out both George Springer and Josh Reddick. A huge performance by Tanaka in a tough spot.

Credit:  Andrew Maclean-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Chase Headley hit a soft grounder to third to lead off the bottom of the 5th. A throwing error by third baseman Alex Bregman (ball was low and skipped past first baseman Yuli Gurriel) allowed Headley to take second. After a ground out by Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge drew a walk. I think the FOX TV Crew described it as the ‘intentional unintentional walk’. That’s fine. Bring Gary Sanchez to the plate. El Gary did not disappoint when he singled to left into the corner, bringing Headley home to score. Judge moved to third. Didi Gregorius lined a single up the middle that deflected off the glove of diving second baseman Jose Altuve in center field. Judge scored to make it 4-0. End of the day for Yankee killer Keuchel. 

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Astros made the call to the pen to bring in Will Harris. Win or lose, the Yankees were finally able to find the solution for Keuchel like they had Sale and Kluber. Harris got the Astros out of the inning when Aaron Hicks flied out to left, but it had been a very productive inning for the Pinstripers. However, last night showed that a 4-0 lead is not safe, so onward we go. Or rather I should say onward Tanaka went.  


Tanaka breezed through the 6th and 7th innings although the final out of the latter inning saw the third strike get away from Gary Sanchez. Fortunately, El Gary was able to retrieve the ball in foul territory and throw a zinger to Greg Bird ahead of Marwin Gonzalez to complete the final out. 

Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Regardless of the final outcome of the game, it was a masterpiece by Tanaka. Seven innings, three hits, no runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. Okay, I think I am back in “Masa, please do not opt out” mode.


While David Robertson was warming up in the Yankees bullpen, Gary Sanchez unloaded on a pitch from Astros reliever Brad Peacock in the bottom of the 7th to send it flying into the left center seats. 

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Didi Gregorius followed El Gary with a sharply hit ball to left and he slid into second just ahead of the throw for a double. David Robertson took a seat after the Sanchez home run and Tommy Kahnle began warming up. The Yankees weren’t able to do anything with Didi when Aaron Hicks struck out and Starlin Castro grounded out to third, but at least they had padded their lead by one and now led the Astros, 5-0.


Kahnle, as expected, got the call for the 8th. He did his job…make it an uneventful inning and he did. A couple of fly outs and a punch out of Josh Reddick and it was time to get the Yankees back up for hopefully their final at-bats of the night.


With Francisco Liriano taking over for Brad Peacock in the bottom of the 8th, Greg Bird led off with a walk. While Todd Frazier was batting, a wild pitch freed Bird to take second. Frazier subsequently grounded out to third. Chase Headley was next and his short squibbler that died in front of home plate was scooped up by catcher Brian McCann who threw Headley out at first. Bird made his way to third. Unfortunately, Bird was left stranded when Brett Gardner struck out.  Off to the 9th inning…


Holding a five-run lead, Tommy Kahnle returned for the top of the 9th. Jose Altuve jumped on Kahnle’s first pitch to fly out to center. One out. Carlos Correa lined a hard hit ball to right for a double, causing some movement in the Yankees bullpen. Nevertheless, Yuli Gurriel hit a grounder to short which Didi Gregorius threw to first for the out. Two outs. Correa advanced to third on the play. Obviously, Correa was inconsequential at this point, but everyone wanted the shutout (well, except for maybe the Astros, their fans and the Red Sox Nation). Kahnle made it happen when he got Alex Bregman to fly out to Aaron Hicks in center. Three outs…game over. Yankees win!  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Best case scenario played out as the Yankees now head back to Houston needing one win in the next two games to advance to their World Series since 2009. The Astros are now the team with their backs to the wall. The road ahead remains difficult but the young Baby Bombers have heart and ‘no quit’ desire like none other.  


This was a great team victory, led…obviously…by the great Masahiro Tanaka. I am sure that Sonny Gray is asking, “What is this run support you speak of?”. Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius…too many heroes to name. Great job by Tommy Kahnle to finish off the win for Tanaka! 


Let’s keep this winning streak alive. Great job, Bronx Bombers! Thumbs down, Guys!  

Credit:  Michael Ciaglo-Houston Chronicle

Odds & Ends…

There was a funny Twitter exchange between the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees prior to Tuesday’s game. The Red Sox tweeted “Today’s basically a holiday…” showing a clip of Game 4 of the ALCS on October 17, 2004 when the Red Sox tied the series on a walk-off home run by David Ortiz in 12 innings after falling behind 2 games to none. The Yankees had the perfect response, “Ah, work day for us. Game time is 5:08pm, if you’re not busy”. The Red Sox could only respond with a rolling eyes emoji.  

Have a great Thursday! It’s a day off as the Yankees head back to the deep of the heart of Texas. Bring home the AL Championship, Boys! Go Yankees!

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Tanaka + Baby Bombers + 99 = 1 for the Win Column!…

Credit:  Associated Press

Yankees 12, White Sox 3…

Two young Bombers collected their first Major League hits to help power Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees to the victory over the Chicago White Sox.  Throw in another Aaron Judge home run and it was a good night at the office (even if it was a slightly wet and windy one).

When I saw the lineup card, I was a little concerned when I saw that two “fresh” rookies would be starting.  But on this night, they were exactly what the doctor ordered.  The Yankees jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.  Brett Gardner walked to open the game.  Following outs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and a passed ball that moved Gardy to second, Didi Gregorius reached first safely on a throwing error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.  Gardy scored on the play.  Chase Headley and Austin Romine both walked to load the bases.  Miguel Andujar, a new arrival from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, stepped to the plate and chopped a single to center which scored Gregorius and Headley. 

Credit:  Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

Tanaka escaped a bases loaded jam in the 2nd but he wasn’t so lucky in the 5th.  After the White Sox opened the inning by loading the bases with two hits and a walk, former Yankee Melky Cabrera lined a single to left, scoring two runs.  Fortunately, Tanaka was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.  3-2, Yankees.

The Yankees wasted no time in re-establishing a multiple run lead.  In the top of the 6th, against Sox reliever Jake Petricka, Austin Romine doubled with one out.  After Miguel Andujar hit a grounder for the second out, Tyler Wade followed with his first Major League hit, a fly ball that dropped in for a double to score Romine.  Ronald Torreyes then laced a sharp double to right, scoring Wade.  5-2, Yankees.  White Sox manager Rick Renteria came out to talk to Petricka and was thrown out when he began jarring with the Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.  The Yankees two-out hit parade continued as Brett Gardner singled to center to score Torreyes.  Aaron Judge came up and lined “a bullet” to left for his 27th home run of the season.  8-2, Yanks.

Credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

Tanaka (6-7) finished his day by striking out the side in the bottom of the 6th.  I really didn’t know what to expect out of Tanaka for this start.  I didn’t know if last week’s stellar performance against Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers was an aberration or a sign that Tanaka was back on track.  Fortunately, it appears the turbulence may be a thing of the past…or at least I hope so.  Tanaka’s final line was very solid.  6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 5 SO.  He threw 101 pitches, lowered his season ERA to 5.56 and most importantly, did not give up any home runs.  

It started to rain in the 7th inning.  It got a little tense in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Wade, playing left field, was charged with an error.  A fly ball that normally would have been destined for center field drifted toward left with the aid of the wind.  Brett Gardner, playing center field, was moving with the ball and attempted to catch it but so was the left-fielder Wade.  Their gloves collided causing the ball to bounce out of Gardy’s glove.  The White Sox put a second runner on base on another wind-aided fly ball that Ronald Torreyes missed.  There was also a fly in foul territory that normally would have been caught if not for the wind.  Despite a subsequent walk that loaded the bases, Chad Green was able to strike out Todd Frazier to end the threat.  Whew!  I was very worried that the wind was going to help the White Sox get back in the game.  I guess there’s a reason they call it the Windy City.

In the top of the 9th, Didi Gregorius hit a one-out two-run homer to increase the lead to 10-2.    In a bit of deja vu from earlier in the game, both Chase Headley and Austin Romine walked in front of Miguel Andujar.  Like the first inning, Andujar didn’t miss the opportunity.  He lined a double to center to score (again) both Headley and Romine.  Nice debut performance by Andujar with 4 RBI’s on the night.  He finished 3-for-4 with a stolen base.  He was probably left wondering what’s so hard about baseball at this level.

Chicago’s Adam Engel homered off Tyler Webb in the bottom of the 9th to make it 12-3 but then Webb settled down and retired the next three batters (two by strikeout).  The Yankees win!

Then it was off to bed for the Baby Bombers…

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After so many close games and disappointing losses, it was nice to have a blowout.  The Yankees (42-34) moved back into a first place tie in the AL East with the win.  The Boston Red Sox lost to the Minnesota Twins, 4-1.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2, so they are three games back.  

Odds & Ends…

Former Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero, 27, is looking for a new team.  He was released on Tuesday by the Triple A Norfolk Tides, the top farm team for the Baltimore Orioles.  Montero recently completed a 50-game suspension for a banned substance and was only batting .143 in 49 at-bats with 14 strikeouts for the Tide. After Montero’s trade to the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 deal that brought Michael Pineda to New York, he has spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization in addition to his latest Minors stint with the O’s.  I guess that means the Red Sox or the Rays are on tap next.  It’s been a hard road for the player once billed to be the next greatest catcher for the Yankees.  Now he’s struggling to just stay in the game at first base or DH.  Sad story for the guy who was supposed to be Gary Sanchez before Gary Sanchez was.   

News started breaking early on Wednesday about the promotion of third base prospect Miguel Andujar to the Yankees.  Andujar had just been promoted from Double A Trenton to Triple A Scranton on June 19th.  In 67 games for the Thunder, Andujar had a slash line of .312/.342/.494 with 7 HR’s and 52 RBI’s.  Out of 79 total hits, 23 went for doubles.  He also had a team-high 10 errors.  In 7 games for the RailRiders, Andujar was hitting .308 with 1 HR and 2 RBI’s (8-for-26). It is a small sample size but he only committed one error at Triple A.  He hit well during Spring Training but his fielding was questionable. Nevertheless, he is known as an above-average defender.  He now has a golden opportunity to out-perform an over-priced, 33-year-old veteran.  Yesterday’s debut, even if he was at DH and not third, was a great start.

Credit:  ESPN.com

To make room for Andujar, the Yankees placed DH Matt Holliday (viral infection) on the 10-Day DL retroactive to June 25th.  Holliday has been battling the symptoms of the allergic reaction he first encountered in Oakland.  He’ll return to New York for further tests.  We wish Matt the best and hope to see him back on the  field in the near future.  


We thought the Chris Carter Experiment was over, but alas, it might not be.  The Yankees have announced that Carter, previously designated for assignment, has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple A. He now represents the next option should the Yankees decide it is necessary to place Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring).  So, just when you thought it was safe to watch a Yankees game again…


Happy Thursday!  One final game in Chicago before the getaway to Houston, Texas.  Let’s Go Yankees!

There’s baseball activity at Steinbrenner Field…

Yankees Baseball is back!

Okay, it’s only spring training but it’s great to see the Pinstripers take the field again.

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Credit:  Butch Dill, USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the Yankees won their spring training opener over the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-4, at Steinbrenner Field.  The game featured a monster home run by right fielder Aaron Judge that bounced off the scorecard.  Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa, in competition for rotation spots, both pitched two innings of scoreless, no-hit ball.  Granted, spring training games mean absolutely zilch at this point but after a winter that saw Boston gain the premier pitcher in the American League (Chris Sale) and a NFL championship, it is time to turn the page.

The spring opener also featured a triple by Clint Frazier, scoring two runs in the eighth inning.  Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t play (the only regular not in the starting lineup), but I couldn’t help but wonder how much better Frazier would look in centerfield than Ellsbury.  Patience, young Grasshopper, patience…

It’s early, but Matt Holliday’s veteran influence on the team is showing.  When Holliday first arrived in the Major Leagues with the Colorado Rockies, he had guys like Todd Helton and Larry Walker to look up to.  He has said that his former teammates Mark Sweeney and Todd Greene were also crucial to his development both on and off the field.  Holliday comes from a baseball background.  His father, Tom, was a long-time assistant coach with Miami (FL), Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Texas, NC State, and Auburn.  Tom Holliday also served as head coach of Oklahoma State from 1997-2003.  Matt’s brother Josh is the current head coach of Oklahoma State.  Matt understands the value of mentorship and is setting the example that will be replicated and paid forward by the current Baby Bombers for years to come.

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When it was the announced the Yankees had signed free agent slugging first baseman Chris Carter, there was some question where he would fit in.  The Yankees already have Matt Holliday at DH, with plans to rotate other players through the role as a form of rest.  At first, the Yankees have starting favorite Greg Bird and last year’s boy wonder junior in Tyler Austin.  One sportswriter (I do not remember who) wrote that these things have a way of working themselves out.  Subsequently, Austin broke his foot and will be lost for six weeks.  This certainly opens the door for Carter to make an impact at first, even if he isn’t the starter (and is a sub-standard fielder).  But, man, those long home runs are going to look beautiful in Yankee Stadium.

Early Season Loss…

I guess there’s a reason the Yankees try to avoid going to arbitration with their players.  It is never a joyous process.  When the Yankees offered $3 million for Dellin Betances but he wanted $5 million, the gap was too wide for compromise.  It set the stage for a contentious arbitration battle between player and team.  After Betances had to sit through 90 minutes of hearing about his faults, the arbitrators ruled in favor of the team.  Betances is certainly worth $5 million but that’s not how the process works.  He’ll eventually get his money.  It would have been best if the two sides had said nothing following the arbitrators’ decision, but Yankees team President, bad hair and all, had to hold a press conference to berate the agents for Betances.  It was a very poor decision by Levine, an experienced labor attorney.

It’s possible that Levine’s actions will make future contract negotiations with Betances and his agents very difficult and may eventually lead to Dellin’s departure.  I am not a fan of Levine, and feel the team would be better served promoting GM Brian Cashman to President, Baseball Operations, and hiring a new general manager.

Off-Topic:  Mayans MC…

As a fan of the TV series Sons of Anarchy, I am excited that a pilot spinoff series about SOA’s rival motorcycle club, the Mayans, is currently in development.  The pilot episode will be filmed in March.  FX has not announced that Mayans MC will be part of its fall lineup but that’s the hope.

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After months of only hearing that SOA creator Kurt Sutter was writing the new Mayans MC series with Elgin James, and that Sutter would direct the pilot episode, the casting decisions are starting to be announced.

The first name was Edward James Olmos who will play the father of the protagonist, a young prospect in the Santo Padre Chapter (Mexi-Cali border) of the Mayans MC.  Olmos’ character, Felipe Reyes will have at least two sons.  The lead character is Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (the prospect) and will be played by JD Pardo.  The other son, Angel, will be played by Clayton Cardenas, and is a full-patch member of the MC.

The President of the Santo Padre Chapter is Esai “Taino” Osorio, who will be played by John Ortiz.  The Osorio character has history with original SOA character Marcus Alvarez who was the president of the Northern California chapter of the Mayans (played by Emilio Rivera).

I am excited for this series and hopeful that it reaches its goal of making the fall TV lineup.  The casting decisions, so far, have been excellent, and I am looking forward to seeing who they cast in the female roles (primarily the woman that EZ Reyes loves).

After the misstep with The Bastard Executioner, I am glad to see Sutter return to the genre and world that has served him so well.  There will never be another show like Sons of Anarchy, but hopefully the Mayans MC can make its own mark.

—Scott