Tagged: Baltimore

Yankees: Can You Hear Me Now?…

Credit:  Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 14, Orioles 3…

Wow…the Yankees figured out the best way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is to just blast them in the bottom of the first inning.  A day after they crushed the O’s 16-3, the Yankee bats were in high gear once again.  I carried a fear that they’d struggle a day after the blow-out but these Yankees do not play to anyone’s predictions.  The forecasted 82-win team keeps rolling along as they pummeled the O’s 14-3 on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep.

This was a tough 13-game stretch against AL East opponents.  When the Yankees returned home to face the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, they were 3-4 in road games against the O’s and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Boston had a chance to overtake the Yankees in the AL East standings with a sweep, but instead the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Sox.  Then, they absolutely crushed the Orioles by a cumulative score of 38-8 in sweeping the three-game series.  So, the Yankees finish 8-5 for the 13 AL East games and are beginning to make believers that this team may be for real.  

After losing the opening game of the Red Sox series, the Baby Bombers won the next five games against the Red Sox and the O’s by a combined score of 55-9.  It was the first five game stretch of at least 8 runs or more for the Yankees since July 1956. 

Replicating Saturday’s fast start, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning.  Two of the first three batters (Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge) singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge moved to second on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter as Matt Holliday walked to load the bases.  Starlin Castro hit the second pitch of the at-bat up the middle off O’s starter Kevin Gausman, scoring Gardner and Judge.  Holliday moved to second.  That brought up Gary Sanchez who parked one in left center to score three more runs.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

The Yankees could have blown the game open in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but Starlin Castro hit into a double-play to strand the runners.   

Staked to the big lead, Chad Green, making his first Major League start of the season, couldn’t survive the third inning.  The only blemish of the first two innings was a walk of Trey Mancini in the second inning, but JJ Hardy opened the third with a double off Green.  The next hitter, former Yankee (or should I say RailRider) Ruben Tejada doubled off his former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammate to score Hardy.  Green’s day was ended after 52 pitches.  But the “doubles parade” continued against Chasen Shreve.  Seth Smith lined a double to score Tejada, followed by Jonathan Schoop’s double to score Smith.  Suddenly, the game was much tighter at 5-3.  Or as Michael Kay put it, “a laugher has become a nail-biter”.  Fortunately, Shreve rebounded to get Adam Jones on a ground-out, holding the runner at second.  This was followed by swinging strikeouts of O’s sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, after Jonathan Holder held the O’s scoreless in the top of the frame, the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs when Aaron Hicks walked and moved to third on a double by Aaron Judge.  Matt Holliday rapped a single to center to score both of the Aarons, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 7-3.

Moving to the sixth, Aaron Judge smashed another monster home run.  They should probably re-name Statcast as “Judge-cast” because he owns the leaderboards.  A day after the hardest hit ball this year, Judge captured the lead for home run distance with 495 feet.  Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks had held the previous longest homer (481 feet) since April 29th.  I’ve been convinced that we’ll see a 500 ft home run from Judge this season and he came within 5 feet of making my dream a reality.  8-3, Yankees.

Credit:  MLB.com

Not finished in the sixth, Matt Holliday reached first base on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Scoop.  Starlin Castro followed with a homer to left-center, making up for his second inning-ending double play.  The once close score was now 10-3 Yankees.  

You’d think that the Yankees bats were done for the day but not the Aarons.  In the 7th, both Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner walked with one out.  Aaron Hicks subsequently lined a double to center, scoring both runners.  12-3, Yankees.  That set the stage for the man of the hour, Aaron Judge.  In the daily game of who is going to hit two home runs next, Judge answered the call with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to cap the Yankees scoring for the day and give the Yankees a 14-3 lead.

It’s nice to have games where it is difficult to pick the player of the game.  Certainly, two home runs (including one that traveled nearly 500 ft) and a 4-for-4 day with 3 RBI’s gives Judge the leg up, but Starlin Castro’s 4 RBI’s warrant consideration.  Gary Sanchez and his three-run homer.  Or Matt Holliday, who has a knack for always being in the thick of the action.  1-for-3, Holliday walked twice, scored two runs, and had 2 RBI’s.  I am not ready to say that this is a World Series contender quite yet, but this is the most exciting Yankees team that I’ve seen since the late 90’s.  Please do not let the bubble burst.

In a game of relievers, the Yankees used 5 members of the bullpen to complete the game.  The longest stint was provided by Domingo German who was making his Major League debut.  German finished the final 2 2/3 innings of the game.  Although he did allow two hits and a walk, he held the O’s scoreless and struck out a batter (Jonathan Schoop, to end the top of the 7th inning).  Adam Warren (2-1), who preceded German, picked up the win.

The Yankees (37-23) moved up 3 1/2 games in the AL East, pending the outcome of Boston’s game on Sunday night.  The Tampa Bay Rays won (5-4 over the Oakland A’s) to move into third place, 6 games behind the Yankees.  The Orioles slipped to fourth with the loss, 6 1/2 games back.

This was an impressive home stand by the Yankees.  But all good things must end.  The Yankees take the show on the road for seven games in Southern and Northern California before returning to Yankee Stadium on June 20th to face the Los Angeles Angels.  With the West Coast games, I guess there are going to be a few bleary-eyed fans this week suffering from lack of sleep.

Odds & Ends…

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, 6-4.  The RailRiders led the majority of the game, but the IronPigs scored 5 runs late to capture the win.  Chance Adams was the starter, and pitched very well until the fateful 7th inning (when the IronPigs pushed 4 runs across the plate).  He finished with a pitching line of 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, while increasing his season ERA to 2.52.  He didn’t figure in the decision.  Tyler Webb, who I had hoped would eventually find his way to the Bronx, was an absolute train wreck.  He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (plus a run charged to Adams) before recording the final out of the 7th inning.  Adams deserved better but this was a learning experience.

Greg Bird had a quiet day at the plate.  He was 0-for-2, with 2 walks and a run scored.  

Domingo German’s stay in the Major Leagues was short-lived.  Following yesterday’s game, he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Right-handed reliever Ben Heller was recalled to take his place.  Either Heller or Gallegos will be heading back to SWB when Aroldis Chapman is activated (hopefully this weekend in Oakland).  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups in Anaheim for the series with the Los Angeles Angels:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Angels:  Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA)

Angels:  JC Ramirez ( 6-4, 4.33 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.39 ERA)

Angels:  Matt Shoemaker (6-3, 4.22 ERA)

Have a great Monday!  Let’s keep this winning streak alive!  Go Yankees!

Sevvy + 5 Home Runs = Easy Win…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 16, Orioles 3…

Like Michael Pineda the day before, Luis Severino’s even better start was lost among the sea of Yankees hits and homers.  

Last year, Severino was a failed 5th starter (0-8 when he started games with an 8.50 ERA).  This year, he’s playing like the ace (which is more pronounced since the so-called “ace” is now performing like a failed 5th starter).  Credit Severino for keeping his focus this game.  It would have been so easy to let up on the accelerator in a game that was 9-0 before many people had even found their seats.  He had a one-hitter going until Chris Davis tagged him for a homer in the 7th.  Sevvy (5-2) finished seven innings strong with two hits, one run, two walks, and eight strikeouts.  He lowered his team-leading ERA (for starting pitchers) to 2.75.  Severino continues to come up big for the Yankees and he is as responsible as anyone for the team’s placement atop the AL East.  

Now let’s set the pitching aside.  This was a monster game by the Yankee bats.  Aaron Judge owns the Statcast Leaderboard, and his first inning home run off Baltimore Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman topped his previous efforts in exit velocity at 121.1 mph.  The hit also ranked as a Statcast-era record.  The homer was Judge’s league-leading 19th of the season.  I sure hope that Judge didn’t have any plans for the All-Star Game break because travel plans are already underway for his trip to Miami.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Tillman had retired the first two Yankees to start the game, but after Judge’s homer, Matt Holliday doubled.  Starlin Castro followed with a double, Holliday to third.  Gary Sanchez then singled both Holliday and Castro home.  Didi Gregorius stepped up and hit the second home run of the night to put the Yankees up 5-0.  They weren’t quite finished yet.  The useless Chase Headley walked.  A wild pitch by Tillman moved Headley into scoring position, and Chris Carter promptly singled to score Headley.  6-0, Yankees.  In an interesting note, Brett Gardner represented the first and third outs of the first inning.

I was fearful that the long inning would adversely impact Severino but those fears were unfounded.  Three up, three down, and it was time for the Yankees fireworks again.  After Aaron Hicks grounded out, both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked.  Starlin Castro didn’t waste the opportunity, as he blasted a three-run homer to left center to increase the lead to 9-0, finishing  loser Chris Tillman’s night.  If you have Chris Tillman on your fantasy team, please accept my condolences.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the 4th inning, Aaron Hicks walked and Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners.  That brought Bald Brother Matt Holliday to the plate.  Trailing fellow Bald Brother Brett Gardner by one home run, Holliday tied the count at 13 homers with a shot to left-center.  12-0, Yankees.

Aaron Judge picked up two more RBI’s in the fifth with a double to left.  14-0, Yankees.

The Orioles scored their first run in the 7th with Chris Davis’ homer off Sevvy, and then added another in the 8th with a solo home run by Joey Rickard off reliever Giovanny Gallegos.  Leading 14-2, Ronald Torreyes was hit by a pitch from O’s reliever Mike Wright to open the bottom of the 8th.  Gary Sanchez then connected with the fifth home run of the night to cap the Yankees’ scoring at 16.  

The O’s added a final meaningless run in the 9th before Trey Mancini grounded out to end the game.  By a score of 16-3, the Yankees captured the series with the O’s as they’ve won two heading into the third and final game of the series today.  I always have concerns when the Yankees score more than 15 runs.  I do not have the stats to back up this statement, but it always feels like the Yankees struggle scoring runs the day after a huge blow-out.  Hopefully that’s not the case today as the Yankees prepare to embark on a California road trip following the conclusion of the game.

The Yankees (36-23) maintained their three game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox had an offensive show of their own, with an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.  Of course, it didn’t help that they had Chris Sale on the mound.  The O’s slipped to 5 1/2 games back.  If the Tampa Bay Rays would have won (they didn’t), the O’s could have fallen into fourth place in the division.  This was probably not one of Buck Showalter’s better experiences at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, Chad Green will start today against the Orioles.  Green will be the first time the Yankees have gone outside the original 5-man rotation that started the year.  However, in a more surprising move, the Yankees designated former LOOGY Tommy Layne for assignment and called up promising rookie Domingo German.  German, a starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will provide long relief for Green should he encounter any bumps in the road.  

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I knew Layne’s days were numbered as he always seemed to be giving up runs with any appearances.  He has not been the same pitcher for the Yankees as he was last year following his release by the Boston Red Sox.  I have no problem with Chasen Shreve as the key lefty, but I’d be surprised if the Yankees weren’t looking for another lefty.

Greg Bird was 2-for-5 yesterday in the RailRiders’ 11-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  He had two doubles and a RBI.  Nice to see that he’s getting that extra base stroke back again.  There is still no timetable for when Bird will rejoin the Yankees.  

The current plan for Aroldis Chapman is to pitch on Tuesday for High-A Tampa and on Friday for AA-Trenton.  If all goes well, we’ll see Chapman next Saturday in Oakland.  Rajai Davis, look out, Chapman’s got your number.

Have a great Sunday!  I am hoping for a sweep to wisk the Yankees away to Southern California…

Mission: Making J-Ellsbury The Next Wally Pipp…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Does Jacoby Ellsbury really deserve his job back if/when he gets healthy?  This might be one of the few times that I’ve enjoyed the injury replacement better than the regular.  Aaron Friggin’ Hicks.  A day after the two-homer game by Gary Sanchez, Hicksie put up a deuce of his own.  A new day, a new hero.

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-N.Y. Post

The game featured another strong start from Jordan Montgomery who continues to show that he is a competitor on the mound in the mold of Andy Pettitte.  It didn’t look like it was going to be a very good night for Monty in the second inning.  Chris Davis walked to open the inning and Jonathan Schoop followed with a homer to center to pick the O’s up 2-0.  Two of the next three batters reached base with singles but Monty shut the O’s down from there.  The only hit he allowed from that point forward was a harmless double by former Yankee Ruben Tejada (whom the Yankees sold to the O’s last week).  The boy is growing into a man before our very eyes.  There’s no way that we would have had the trust in Chad Green, Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell like we do with Monty had they won the fifth starter’s role out of training camp.  He’s also pitched better than many of the rumored trade candidates.

Monty (4-4) was pulled at the start of the eighth inning.  For the game, he limited the O’s to just 5 hits and the two runs on the homer by Schoop.  He walked a batter and struck out 8.  His season ERA was lowered to 3.55.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

The Yankee offense quickly answered Schoop’s homer.  Starlin Castro deposited the third pitch of the bottom of the 2nd under the Modell sign in right-center to cut the margin to 2-1.  Thursday night’s hero, Gary Sanchez (the Sanchino!)  followed with a double.  He moved to third on a flyout by Didi Gregorius and then scored on a sac fly by the generally-useless Chase Headley to tie the game.

The game remained tied until the sixth inning as both Montgomery and the O’s Dylan Bundy were pitching great.  In the bottom of the 6th, it was time for the Hicksie Show.  He opened the inning with a solo shot, a ‘no doubt about it’ smash, to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 3-2.  It was ironically the first ball placed in The Judge’s Chambers.  

Credit:  MLB.com

In the 7th, Chase Headley reached first on a throwing error by pitcher Edwin Jackson who had just relieved Bundy.  Aaron Hicks came to bat again, with two outs, and he crushed Jackson’s offering to the right center bleachers to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead.  Aaron Judge was walked on four straight pitches out of the strike zone, and Jackson paid the price when Matt Holliday doubled in the next at-bat to score Judge.

The Yankees tacked on two more unneeded runs in the eighth when Austin Romine singled with the bases loaded.  Hats off to Romine for this game.  No offense to Sanchez, but Romine and Montgomery work very well together.  He could have gone hitless and it would have been fine given the strong work he provides behind the plate for Monty.  

The Boston Red Sox won on a late comeback against the Detroit Tigers so the Yankees (35-23) remained three games ahead of the Sox in the AL East.  The O’s fell to 4 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers.  The Tampa Bay Rays have won three in a row and are 5 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

Manager Joe Girardi said that Masahiro Tanaka’s scheduled start on Sunday has been pushed back.  He is now scheduled to pick up the baton on Monday when the Yankees travel to Anaheim, CA to play the Los Angeles Angels.  He’ll be facing the Angels’ Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA).  

No word yet who’ll start for the Yankees on Sunday.  The present roster candidates would be Chad Green or Adam Warren, with an advantage toward Green since he’s been stretched out more recently.  Potential call-ups include Bryan Mitchell or Luis Cessa.  I think the Yankees will choose one of the more experienced arms, so I would not expect the elevation of Chance Adams to the 40-man roster.  He’s young (only 22) and only at AA-Trenton, but Ronald Herrera is an intriguing arm.  On Thursday night, he tied his career high with 9 strikeouts in leading the Thunder to a 9-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats.   Pitching 6 2/3 innings, he limited the Yard Goats (damn, I love these minor league names!) to just two hits.  In 8 starts, Herrera is 7-0 and is currently sporting a 1.07 ERA.  He has struck out 41 batters in 50 1/3 innings.  Herrera was acquired in November 2015 through the trade that sent Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres.  He is also on the 40-man roster which places him at an advantage over the older and the more advanced Adams.  I extremely doubt the Yankees entrust a key AL East start to a pitcher who has only made one start (last year with poor results) at the AAA Level.  But he is a name to watch.  Probably the most advanced arm, outside of the Major League vets, is the 24-year old righty Domingo German.  German is also on the 40-man roster.  He’s currently 2-1 with 3.76 ERA in four games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  My bet is the start goes to Green.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman flew to Tampa last night and will pitch in a simulated game today.  The plan is for him to pitch with AA-Trenton next week before rejoining the Yankees in Oakland for the weekend series against the A’s.  By all accounts, Chapman is healthy and throwing strikes.  Coming soon, sore catchers’ hands at a Yankees game near you.

Credit:  MLB.com

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s keep this Yankees winning streak alive!

Is the awful Tanaka the new Tanaka?…

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Orioles 10, Yankees 4…

Disappointing, to say the least…

Masahiro Tanaka, proving that his last start was just a facade, got hammered again as the Orioles cruised to victory.  In 5 2/3 painful innings, Tanaka (5-5) was pounded for nine hits and seven runs.  The latest implosion pushed his ERA up to 6.34 for the season.  

The Yankees had their opportunities to get back into the game but couldn’t deliver.  The Yankees bullpen, most notably Giovanny Gallegos who had been called up earlier in the day to replace Bryan Mitchell, let the Orioles break the game open.  Gallegos allowed a two-run homer to Chris Davis in the seventh inning and three runs overall in his 1 2/3 innings.

For the Orioles, Adam Jones was the offensive force of the night.  After missing multiple games due to a sore ankle and hip, Jones was back in the lineup on Wednesday night.  Apparently he felt that he had to make up for lost time as he was 3-for-5 with 5 RBI’s.  His crushing hit was a three-run homer off Tanaka in the fourth inning.  

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

To the Yankees credit, they completely shut down Manny Machado in the series.  He was 0-for-5 and struck out twice.  In the three games played, Machado was hitless in 15 at-bats which dropped his batting average to .205.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t hold the other Orioles sluggers in check as they lost the three game series, two games to one.  

I guess on the bright side, the Yankees had no need to use their top bullpen arms so Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren will be fresh for the latest series in Toronto.  

Every Yankees starter got at least one hit except for Chase Headley, who was hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts although he did walk twice.  Rob Refsnyder, manning first base for the second game in a row, picked up two hits in his four plate appearances.  The hits were Refsnyder’s first of the season.   

It is very hard to find any positives with this game.  I am not sure what can be done to fix Tanaka.  It’s up to him to make the necessary adjustments but for whatever reason, his adjustments so far have been futile.  

Things do not get any easier for the Yankees as they now travel to Toronto to face a suddenly red-hot Blue Jays squad (8-2 in their last ten games).  

The Yankees (30-20) lost ground in the AL East as the Boston Red Sox pulled within two games with their 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The Orioles moved up to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Last-placed Toronto is only 5 1/2 games back so they have an opportunity to make some noise over the next few days.  

Yankees in the News…

Future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper (hey, if everyone else can talk about it, so can I!) received good news on Wednesday.  His four-game suspension for this week’s fight with Hunter Strickland and the San Francisco Giants has been reduced to three games.  The suspension should not impact Harper’s availability to open the 2019 season for the Yankees.  

Greg Bird is getting ready to fly.  After playing in three simulated innings on Wednesday, he’ll begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa today.  I am really hoping to see the bat that wore out pitchers in Spring Training and not the Mark Teixeira Annual April-Ice-Cold bat we saw after his ankle injury.  

Tyler Austin didn’t do much for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders yesterday in their 4-3 victory over the Columbus Clippers in the second game of a doubleheader.  He was penciled in at DH (did not play in the first game).  He went hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times, in his best impersonation of Chris Carter.  I guess to be Chris Carter and take his job, you have to become Chris Carter.  Still, Austin is a better first baseman than either Carter or Rob Refsnyder.  So, once that bat starts humming, it will be Bronx-bound.  

As for the first game of the RailRiders doubleheader, WHOA!  Chance Adams was spectacular.  He threw a one-hitter over six scoreless innings of work.  He struck out twelve batters while walking only two.  He is now 3-1 at the AAA Level with a 1.57 ERA.  The RailRiders won the game, 6-0.  Adams has the accelerator mashed to the floor in his drive for the Bronx.  At some point, somebody is going to have to make room in the rotation.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

Reliever Ernesto Frieri, currently at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, has an opt-out clause in his contract that can be exercised today.  Let him go.  I see no compelling reasons to create room on the 40-man roster for Frieri.  He has been the RailRiders’ closer, picking up his seventh save in yesterday’s second game of the double-header.  He was touched for two runs in the bottom of the seventh as the Clippers tried an unsuccessful rally against the RailRiders.  He walked a batter in his one inning of work and one of the two hits he allowed was a homer.  Frieri hasn’t been relevant in years and he is not going to be relevant in 2017.  Pass.

Life North of the Border…

The Yankees begin a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this evening.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15 ERA)

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.32 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Francisco Liriano (2-2, 6.35 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-4, 4.11 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Joe Biagini (1-3, 3.64 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.28 ERA)

This puts Masahiro Tanaka on track to open the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox next Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.  Things do not get any easier…

Have a great Thursday!  Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  Don’t quit.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Putting Crooked Numbers on the Board…

Credit:  Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 3…

For a moment there, I thought the Yankees were playing a game of Home Run Derby between Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday.  By the fourth inning, both players had two home runs.  After chasing Orioles starter Chris Tillman and roughing up reliever Logan Verrett, the Yankees offense was finished for the night but like the 70’s show, Eight is Enough.  

For both Gardner and Holliday, it was their tenth and eleventh home runs of the season.    After the game, Gardner said, “Offensively we got off to such a great start early in the season, the last week or two we slowed down a bit collectively. It’s nice to put some runs back up, put some crooked numbers on the board and give Sevvy a lead he’s comfortable with.” The Yankees were able to put up crooked numbers in three of those first four innings as they cruised to the victory.

The maturation of Luis Severino continues.  I thought he did an excellent job escaping the bases loaded jam in the second inning when he struck out JJ Hardy with Gary Sanchez completing the out by throwing to first.  Severino (4-2) lasted 6 1/3 innings, limiting the O’s to only one run on seven hits.  He walked a batter and struck out eight.  

Credit:  Ron Sachs/CNP

Aaron Judge didn’t join the Home Run Derby but his bat was just as lethal.  He had a two-run double in the fourth to cap the Yankees’ scoring and was 2-for-4 on the day, raising his season batting average to .323.

Rob Refsnyer got the start at first base.  He was 0-for-3, but had a nice defensive play in the bottom of the third with a diving stop and quick run to first base to erase Seth Smith.  Refsnyder, lifted for Chris Carter in the bottom of the seventh inning, was the only Yankees starter without a hit.

The Yankees bullpen did a great job except for a sloppy eighth inning when Bryan Mitchell  committed a throwing error and subsequently allowed two runs.  Tyler Clippard, overcoming his recent woes, cleanly got the final four outs.  He struck out the dangerous Mark Trumbo to finish the game.

Credit Yankees pitching for the great job they’ve done with the O’s great Manny Machado.  Machado was hitless in five at-bats with four strikeouts.  In the first two games of the series, he is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

The Yankees did receive a scare in the ninth when Didi Gregorius was hit on the hand with a pitch from former Yankees pitcher Richard Bleier, but he was able to shake it off and continue playing.  X-rays after the game revealed no fractures.  Whew!

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Boston Red Sox hammered the Chicago White Sox, 13-7, behind former White Sock Chris Sale (who received a standing ovation from the crowd prior to the game).  So, the Yankees  (30-19) maintained their three game lead over the Sox in the AL East.  Baltimore fell 4 1/2 games back.

The series concludes this evening with Masahiro Tanaka seeking to continue his rebound from an earlier slump.  Greg Bird’s Grandview High School (Aurora, CO) teammate, Kevin Gausman, will oppose Tanaka.  

Yankees in the News…

Okay, we may have to fast-forward to 2019 for this one…future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper has been suspended for four games.  After he was plunked on Monday by Hunter Strickland of the San Francisco Giants, Harper “charged the mound, threw his helmet, and fought”.  Strickland was suspended for six games.  Both players have appealed.  The penalty is harsher for Harper as an every day player.  We’ll have to wait and see if Gerrit Cole plunks a Giant in defense of his future Yankees teammate when San Francisco visits Pittsburgh at the end of June…

Credit:  Ben Margot/Associated Press

Wanted:  Billionaire.  Yankees Legend Derek Jeter is searching for a new investment group after Jeb Bush dropped out of the bidding for the Miami Marlins.  It will be interesting to see if Jeter joins up with the group headed by Tagg Romney, which also includes Tom Glavine and Dave Stewart.  Jeter remains part of the Bush-less group so time will tell if they have the financial resources to top the Romney group.  If not, it’s potentially the old ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ situation.  

Jacoby Ellsbury is feeling better (finally) and has been cleared to fly to Toronto with the team on Wednesday.  He is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday but there’s still no timetable when he’ll be ready.  He could be activated this weekend.  Given that I am completely comfortable with Aaron Hicks in center, I really wouldn’t mind if Ellsbury wanted to take another week off.  

Tyler Austin was the starting DH last night for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in a 5-0 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  He had two hits in four at-bats with a single and a double.  

Considering Austin’s multi-position eligibility and much cheaper price tag, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with Chris Carter when Greg Bird returns to health.  Carter hasn’t hit enough to warrant future consideration in my mind.  He is a below average hitter and fielder so if he’s not hitting home runs like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he’s not worth the roster space.  Maybe Austin should start taking some reps at third to expand his resume.  Seriously, I think there’s more value with Austin than Carter.  So, to Carter, I’d say SEE YA!

After taking a rest day yesterday, Aroldis Chapman will throw again today.  Hopefully, all continues to go well for Chapman as he eyes a mid-June return.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Here’s hoping the Yankees take the series tonight before embarking on their flight to Toronto.  Safe travels to the team and of course, Go Yankees!

Two Little, Too Late…

Credit:  Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Orioles 3, Yankees 2…

Admittedly, I had wished the Baltimore Orioles had won on Sunday (when they lost to the Houston Astros, 8-4).  Coming into the series with the Yankees, the O’s were on a seven-game losing streak but were returning home to Camden Yards for the Memorial Day showdown (a wounded dog ready to bite).  The Orioles were due and unfortunately it came at the expense of the Yankees.

It was a winnable game, but you need offense to win.  Dylan Bundy, who has been Baltimore’s best pitcher so far this year, was good but you can’t say great.  He scattered seven hits over seven innings and held the Yanks to only two runs.  Bundy was the beneficiary of three double-plays.  It was hard to say if it was simply great Bundy pitching or anemic Yankee bats.  Outside of the Aarons, the Yankees couldn’t generate any runs.  Aaron Hicks had an early sac fly, scoring Starlin Castro to tie the game at one in the second inning, and Aaron Judge had a solo homer in the seventh (his 17th of the year).  

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The two runs were not enough to overcome Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring single in the first and Jonathan Scoop’s two-run double in the third.

Jordan Montgomery (2-4) reopened long term concerns about his spot in the rotation.  He threw 100 pitches just to get into the fifth inning.  After allowing two one-out singles in the fifth, Montgomery was finished.  For 4 1/3 innings of work, he had allowed eight hits and three runs (only one earned, thanks to Starlin Castro’s fielding error in the third).  He walked one and struck out five.  He is pitching well enough to earn his next start, but if the Yankees do make a trade for a starter within the next couple of months, Montgomery could be the odd man out.  

Both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve pitched well in relief of Montgomery as they combined for 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief and six strikeouts.  The only blemish was Shreve’s insignificant walk of Mark Trumbo in the seventh.

Aaron Judge had one final shot in the ninth inning to try and tie the game, but he struck out against interim O’s closer Brad Brach.  Brach, hardly a clone of injured O’s elite closer Zach Britton, also struck out Didi Gregorius to end the game.

Credit:  Ulysses Munoz/Baltimore Sun

Chris Carter was miserable.  He had an 0-for-3 day with two strikeouts.  Overall, he is 0-for-12 for his last five games and has been punched out in half of those at-bats.  Carter is batting .188 on the season.  When both Tyler Austin and Greg Bird are healthy, Carter is going to be in a very precarious situation if he doesn’t find the swing that drilled 41 homers last year.  

Chase Headley, after a two game rest, was 1-for-2 with a walk.  It kind of makes me wonder what the pesky Ronald Torreyes could have done against Bundy.  But alas, we’ll never know.  The Orioles won this game, and pulled back to within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees (29-19) in the AL East.  Fortunately, the Chicago White Sox rallied against the Red Sox bullpen to beat Boston 5-4 in a game saved by former Yankee closer David Robertson.  So, the Red Sox remain 3 games behind the Yankees.  

Credit:  Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune

Better luck to the Baby Bombers today.  It is more fun to write about wins than losses.  

Player Updates…

It doesn’t sound like Jacoby Ellsbury will be back anytime soon.  As of Sunday, he still had a headache and continues to deal with the neck sprain so he has not resumed baseball activities.  The presence of Aaron Hicks makes Ellsbury’s absence a non-factor unless Brett Gardner or Aaron Judge get hurt.

Aroldis Chapman was able to throw again prior to yesterday’s game against Baltimore but still no word when he’ll be ready for a rehab assignment.  He’ll take today off before resuming light throwing tomorrow.

Tyler Austin was 1-for-4 (single) in his latest rehab assignment as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders fell to the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-0.

The Yankees will miss Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout in a couple of weeks when they make their West Coast road trip.  Trout had surgery yesterday on a torn ulnar ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.  Trout injured the thumb on Sunday with a head first slide in Miami. 

Have a great Tuesday!  Twelve games left against the AL East in the current stretch…let’s make the most of it.  A win today would be a good start…

I Guess It Was In The Cards…

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Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The World certainly looks better when the Yankees are winning.  We have our  own problems but somehow they seem more manageable when the Yankees win.

While it was technically a quality start by definition, Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff on Friday night.  He got off to an ominous start when he gave up a two-run first inning home run to Matt Carpenter of the St Louis Cardinals.  Carpenter, by the way, makes a strong point for the Yankees Facial Hair policy as he proves not everyone looks good with a beard.  Fortunately, the Yankees answered Carpenter’s homer very quickly when Starlin Castro, no stranger to the Cards from his days with the Chicago Cubs, launched a two-run bomb of his own to tie the game.

An Austin Romine solo homer and a run courtesy of a throwing error by Cardinals second baseman Kolton Wong were the only additional runs the Yankees needed to hold off St Louis for their fifth consecutive win.  Tanaka was strong after the shaky first inning until he got into trouble in the seventh.  He finished the game with 6 2/3 innings, five hits, three runs, two walks and five strikeouts to pick up his first win of the year.

The game was in doubt in each of the seventh, eighth and ninth innings as the dynamic trio of Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman succeeded Tanaka.  Clippard, replacing Tanaka with runners at second and third and only one out, got both Wong and Dexter Fowler on fly outs with a great play by Aaron Judge on the latter as it looked like it could have been an extra base hit.  Betances was solid as he recorded all three outs in the eighth by strikeout, but he did have  brief trouble throwing strikes as he nearly walked Matt Carpenter and then did walk the next batter, Stephen Piscotty, on four consecutive balls.  In the ninth inning, Aroldis Chapman, pitching for the third consecutive day, walked Randal Grichuk after easily getting the first two outs of the inning.  The next batter, pinch hitter Jose Martinez, hit a solid double to left, which Brett Gardner got back to the infield quickly keeping Grichuk from scoring.  The Cardinals third base coach initially wanted to send Grichuk but quickly changed his mind when the ball was returned by Gardner so quickly.  That brought Chapman’s former Cubs teammate Dexter Fowler to the plate in a match-up of World Series Champions.  Chapman won the battle as Fowler grounded out to Starlin Castro, and the baseball safely made it to first base before the speedy Fowler did.

It was an intense game but with Yankees-Cardinals, you wouldn’t expect anything less.

I watched Matt Holliday with great interest as this was the first time he had played against the Cardinals since May 8, 2008 when he was a member of the Colorado Rockies.  For the game, Holliday did nothing as he was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.  I am sure that it was an emotional night for Holliday, being reunited with his former Cardinals teammates.  It would be hard to spend eight years with a team and not have emotional attachments.  Holliday’s last game against the Cardinals in 2008 was a much greater success.  He was 4-for-5, with three runs scored, in Colorado’s 9-3 victory over St Louis.  On that same night (to put into perspective how long it has been), Mike Mussina was beating the Cleveland Indians, 6-3, with a save by Mariano Rivera.  Hopefully, Holliday will have greater success against his former team today and tomorrow.

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I know that Greg Bird has struggled with the foot injury and the flu, but I am concerned about his 1-for-23 start.  He hasn’t indicated any signs of the hitter he was during Spring Training.  I had hoped the days of Mark Teixeira and his ice-cold starts were a thing of the past with the new first baseman but so far that’s not been the case.  Hopefully, Bird will get untracked soon and start hitting like we know he can.  I prefer Bird at first over Chris Carter, but if Bird continues on this path, we’ll be seeing more of Carter.

The Yankees are currently 2nd in the AL East Standings behind the Baltimore Orioles.  The biggest surprise to me isn’t that the Boston Red Sox are in the 4th place with a .500 record (they’ll catch fire sooner rather later), but rather the last place Toronto Blue Jays with only one win on the year (1-9).  I think I heard a stat that no team that has lost 9 of its first 10 games has ever made the playoffs.  The Blue Jays were predicted to battle the Red Sox at the top of the division.

I have to comment on two incidents that occurred with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and two of their former tight ends in the last 24 hours.  One was a very heartwarming story (no pun intended) and the other was one of life’s most devastating moments.  In December, former Ravens tight end Konrad Reuland died of a brain aneurysm.  On Friday, it was revealed that the recipient of his heart and kidney was none other than legendary Hall of Famer Rod Carew.  Ironically, Reuland’s age (29) matched Carew’s playing number for the Minnesota Twins.  Also, on Friday, former Ravens tight end Todd Heap accidentally struck and killed his three-year-old daughter while moving his truck in his driveway in Mesa, Arizona.  This was such devastating news to hear and I cannot possibly imagine how Heap will be able to deal with this tragedy.  I am so very saddened by this news, and my thoughts and prayers go out to Heap and his family.

It’s kind of hard to say ‘have a great day’ after that news, so I’ll only say hug your loved ones and be thankful they are in your life.