Tagged: Ben Heller

Just Another Game for the History Books…

Credit:  Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 11, Twins 3…

I don’t know, the Minnesota Twins might want to consider forfeiting the Wild Card game. Seriously, the Yankees seem to have the Twins number as evidenced by the sweep of the most recent three-game series. I only hope that it continues into October assuming the Twins are successful in holding off the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card spot.

For the first two innings, the game appeared to be a pitching duel between Yankees ace Luis Severino and the ancient Bartolo Colon. A few isolated hits but no serious threats. Then, in the top of the 3rd inning, the Twins came out charging. Kennys Vargas singled on a soft bouncer to short that Didi Gregorius  tried to barehand..unsuccessfully…with one out. Jason Castro followed with a single, a line drive to right. Runners at the corners.  Brian Dozier drew a walk and the bases were full. Joe Mauer, battling Sevy for 13 pitches, singled to right, scoring Vargas. After a trip to the mound by Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (which never seems to work), Jorge Polanco lashed a single to right just past a running Greg Bird who nearly had the ball, Castro and Dozier scored. The Twins were up, 3-0. Severino evaded further trouble by retiring the next two batters.  

All I could think was, “We’re going to let Bartolo Colon beat us? Really?”. Fortunately, the Yankees heard me.  Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double to the right field wall, sliding into second just under the outfield throw. After Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Judge hammered a Colon pitch over the wall in right for a two-run home run.  It was Judge’s 45th of the year and his 100th RBI. Amazing. This was a guy who was almost beat out of a job by Aaron Hicks in Spring Training. 

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-AP

Gary Sanchez was up next and he delivered his 32nd home run with a shot to center in Monument Park. Drop the accolades for Judge and pick them up for Sanchez. 32 homers…the most ever for a Yankees catcher despite missing nearly a month of the season. More homers than Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada accomplished in one season. Incredible. The game was tied.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-AP

Luis Severino did not return for the 4th inning. 3 innings worked, 5 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 3 K’s on 71 pitches. He needed 46 pitches for the 3rd inning alone. A no decision that pushed his season ERA back over three (3.03).  

Credit:  Andrew Theodorakis-The NY Post

Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Given Shreve’s recent performances, I was feeling a little shell-shocked. But he retired the first batter he faced, Max Kepler, on a swinging strikeout. Eduardo Escobar followed by flying out to left on a ball that took Brett Gardner to the warning track. Whew! So far, so good. Then, he walked Kennys Vargas. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Get that bum out of there! Nobody listened to me, so Shreve was able to pitch to the next batter, Jason Castro, who grounded out to second for the final out. Okay, Shreve, that wasn’t bad. I feel better now…

The bottom of the 4th arrived and, man, so did the rejuvenated September 2017 Yankees. Well, Matt Holliday excluded. He started the inning with a pop out to first in foul territory. Jacoby Ellsbury, playing like a man who is worth $153 million, tripled to left (actually, it probably should have been an error on left fielder Eddie Rosario who didn’t take a good route to the ball and it bounced out of his glove). Todd Frazier walked. Greg Bird doubled to the right field corner with Ellsbury scoring on the play and the Toddfather moving to third. The Yankees had their first lead of the game. Paul Molitor decided to make a pitching change and brought in Tyler Duffey to replace Colon. I was worried that our little rally was going to be short-fused. Silly me. Brett Gardner lined a single to center which scored Frazier. Bird moved to third. Aaron Judge struck out to briefly bring the return of my pessimism, but Gary Sanchez lightened my mood with a single to right, scoring Bird. Didi Gregorius was up next and he crushed a three-run homer to the second deck in right. It was Didi’s 25th home run of the year, giving him the most for a Yankees shortstop in franchise history. After the hit, Didi turned around and apologized to Jason Castro for dropping the bat in front of him.  Class act by a very classy guy.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-AP

The Yankees had scored 6 runs and now led 9-3. Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning but I was okay with that.

Chasen Shreve did his job in the top of the 5th with no complaints or inner dialogue from me. In the bottom of the 5th, former Yankees farmhand Nik Turley took over for Tyler Duffey. Matt Holliday, deciding he wanted to join the party, started the Yankees half of the inning with a single to center. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk on four pitches. After a game delay when Todd Frazier hit a young fan with a foul ball, he flied out to center but Holliday tagged and moved to third. With Greg Bird at bat, Turley unleashed a wild pitch that got away from Jason Castro and Holliday came in to score. Ellsbury moved to second. Bird then singled on a grounder to first that the first baseman momentarily lost after stopping the ball to put runners at the corners.  It was another hit that probably should have been ruled an error. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch in the back and the bases were loaded. That would be all for Turley and he was replaced by Michael Tonklin. Aaron Judge hit a fly to right, scoring Ellsbury. The Yankees were now up, 11-3.  Gary Sanchez singled to left to reload the bases, but Didi Gregorius struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.

Shreve returned with another solid inning in the 6th to help restore some of my confidence in the young Las Vegan left-hander. By the bottom of the 7th, both teams began making multiple substitutions. The Yanks rode the arms of Ben Heller and Domingo German to the finish.  Nice job by both but special mention for German.  He pitched two scoreless innings with no hits and a meaningless walk in the 9th.  He struck out a total of four Twins including Kennys Vargas to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (85-67) increased their lead in the Wild Card standings to seven games over the Twins with 10 games to play. The Twins retained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-5.  The Boston Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles with a 9-0 win on Wednesday, so they remain three games in front of the Yankees.  The win clinched a post-season berth for the Red Sox.

Chasen Shreve (4-1), by virtue of Severino’s early departure, got the win. Three Yankees had three hits (Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird) and two had three RBI’s (Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius).  Sanchez had two ribbies. Judge now has 101 RBIs, becoming the fourth Yankees rookie to reach the 100 RBI mark, joining Tony Lazzeri (1926), Joe DiMaggio (1936), and Hideki Matsui (2003). Judge also became the third rookie in MLB history and eighth player in Yankees history with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks. This was yet another great team victory.  Thumbs down, Everyone!  

Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…

The Yankees enjoy their final day off of the regular season today (barring any rainouts) before embarking on their last road trip with a quick three-game set north of the border starting Friday night. The Blue Jays, picked by many to finish as high as second in the AL East prior to the season, have successfully held off the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, for rights to the AL East Cellar although they’ll need to keep losing to fend off the O’s.  

It may be a down year for the Blue Jays but they always seem to play the Yankees very tough. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01 ERA)

Marco Estrada, who had been due to become a free agent after the season, signed a one-year contract extension for $13 million this week. So, he’ll be a happy man on Friday night.  

I really hope that the Yankees find the perfect combination of excellent pitching from Sonny Gray and run support on Sunday.

Odds & Ends…

The downside to Wednesday’s victory was the injury of a young girl who was hit by the foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the 5th inning.  The girl, a toddler, was attending the game with her grandparents.  She was apparently struck in the mouth. 

After the game, the Yankees released a short statement:  “The child who was struck with a batted ball today was given first aid at the ballpark and is receiving medical attention at an area hospital.  The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, prevents the team from giving more information.  We will have no further comment at this time.”  

Our prayers and well wishes to the young girl for a full and speedy recovery.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-AP

Credit:  Abbie Parr-Getty Images

Joe Girardi said after the game that the little girl was “doing OK”.  This was a wake up call for the Yankees organization to extend the netting to protect fans.

I do feel bad for the Twins fans. Many of them are fans of the Minnesota Vikings like me. The Vikings took one on the chin last Sunday when they were steamrolled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-9, behind backup QB Case Keenum. So it has not been a great week for sports fans in and around Minneapolis/St Paul, MN.  But I certainly do not feel bad enough that I wanted the Twins to escape with a victory.  How sweep it is!  

Have a great Thursday!  It’s a day off…let’s enjoy!  Go Yankees!  

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Monty & The Power of Three…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Yankees 9, Orioles 3…

Jordan Montgomery turned in one of his best performances of the season with six shutout innings to lead the Yankees over Buck Showalter’s Orioles. He was backed by three home runs in the third game of the four-game series with the O’s. Chasen Shreve was unable to get three outs in the ninth, but the Yankees emerged with their third consecutive victory over the Orioles.

The Orioles started a fly ball pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, which is probably not the best of ideas at Yankee Stadium. To his credit, he held the Yankees at bay for 2 2/3 innings.  But then, with two outs in the 3rd inning, he walked both Chase Headley and Aaron Judge. Didi Gregorius made him pay for it with a three-run homer to the right field porch.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-Associated Press

While Jordan Montgomery was cruising, the Yankees struck again in the 4th inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started when he ripped a double to the right field wall. After Todd Frazier walked, Greg Bird hit a home run into the second deck in right (“See ya!”) to make it a 6-0 game. It was the second consecutive game with a homer for Bird. Buck Showalter decided he’d seen enough of Hellickson and brought in Chris Tillman who got the O’s out of the inning.

The Yankees added a run in the 5th inning. Didi Gregorius reached base on a one-out single to second that was deflected by Tillman.  Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch on his right knee (Ouch!) which moved Gregorius into scoring position at second.  Jacoby Ellsbury’s single, through the fielders at third and shortstop into left field, brought Gregorius home and it was 7-0 Yankees.  

Tommy Kahnle took over for Jordan Montgomery in the top of the 7th inning.  It started well when Kahnle struck out the first two batters, but then JJ Hardy reached base on an infield single to third, a soft roller.  A wild pitch that got past Austin Romine moved Hardy to second.  Kahnle had Austin Hays down to two strikes (2-2 count) but lost him with two successive balls to put runners at first and second.  Fortunately, Kahnle struck out Joey Rickard to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees added to their lead.  Donnie Hart took over Chris Tillman on the mound.  Didi Gregorius hit an infield single to third, beating the throw to first, to lead off the inning for the Yanks.  Then, with two outs, Todd Frazier homered on a high fly to center, just to the left of Monument Park.  The Yankees had a commanding 9-0 lead.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

From there, it was up to the second tier bullpen.  Ben Heller replaced Kahnle for the eighth.  I was a bit concerned when he walked the first two batters, but then he settled down and retired the next three batters.  Chasen Shreve took over in the 9th and was dreadful.  JJ Hardy took a one-out walk and Austin Hays followed with a homer to right in front of the Modell’s sign to spoil the shutout.  Shreve struck out Joey Rickard but then proceeded to walk the next three batters to load the bases.  Joe Girardi finally made the move to replace Shreve and brought in Giovanny Gallegos.  With Anthony Santander batting, Gallegos balked which brought Tim Beckham home from third to score.  I can’t say that I saw the balk but Joe Girardi didn’t argue the call. Aroldis Chapman was up in the bullpen but Gallegos was able to end the game when he struck out Santander.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (82-66) won their fourth consecutive game but remain three games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, as both the O’s and Rays fade to oblivion.  The Minnesota Twins lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, so the Yankees’ lead in the Wild Card Standings has increased to five games.  They remain six games up on the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.  

Excellent job by Jordan Montgomery (8-7) in picking up his first win since July.  Pitching six scoreless innings, he only allowed 4 scattered hits and 1 walk while striking out six.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

What can you say about Didi Gregorius?  He’s been incredible and continued his dominance with a 3-for-4 day, scoring three runs and driving in 3 RBI’s.  At the beginning of the season, I would have laughed at the thought of Didi batting in the cleanup position.  I am not laughing anymore. He needs one more home run to match Derek Jeter for most HR’s in a season by a Yankees shortstop.  Jacoby Ellsbury, continuing his resurgence as a force in the lineup, also had a 3-for-4 day, with one run scored and an RBI.  Greg Bird, the Toddfather…it was yet another great team win.

With yesterday’s win, the Yankees assured themselves of their 25th consecutive winning season.  It is the longest streak in Yankees history since the Yankees won for 39 consecutive seasons between 1926 and 1964.

The series finale is set for this afternoon at 1:05 pm.  The Yankees have made a pitching change for the game.  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA) gets the start while the originally scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, has been moved to Tuesday to pitch against the Minnesota Twins.  Jaime Garcia gets the start on Monday versus his former team of six days in July.  The moves allow CC to avoid the series in Toronto and the artificial turf of Rogers Centre.  The Yanks also avoid sending Luis Severino out to face the Twins, their likely Wild Card opponent if the current standing remain unchanged.  Gray will be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA).

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees recalled 3B Miguel Andujar and RHP Jonathan Holder from Triple A.  Andujar made it into the game as a pinch-hitter but he grounded out in the 8th inning.  The Yankees also placed LHP Caleb Smith on the 10-day DL with a viral infection.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s make it a sweeping success.  Go Yankees!

Battle of Little Bighorn II, Texas-Style…

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

Rangers 11, Yankees 5…

It felt like the Battle of Little Bighorn but unfortunately the Yankees were Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry Regiment. I had hoped the momentum from Thursday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles would carry over to Friday night in Texas.  Yeah, right.  The Yankees were unable to hold a lead against the Rangers and then were overwhelmed in defeat.

The game started right when the Yankees broke through with multiple runs in the top of the 2nd inning.  It can be argued that they should have scored more runs in the inning but still, you’d think a 4-0 lead with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound represented good odds.  

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

The inning started with Matt Holliday’s single up the middle to center field.  Didi Gregorius reached base on a fielder’s choice but a throwing error (flip wide of second) by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor failed to force Holliday at second so two runners on and no outs.  Chase Headley lined a single to right and the bases were loaded.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right just over the head of a leaping Odor and Holliday scored the game’s first run.  Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch (left front foot) from Rangers starter Martin Perez which brought Gregorius home to score.  After a coaching visit to the mound, Perez struck out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge.  Gary Sanchez, in his first game back after the three-game suspension, hit a single to left through the hole at short.  Headley and Ellsbury both came home to score, but Todd Frazier was tagged out at third to end the inning.  4-0, Yankees.  

Credit:  Associated Press

In the bottom of the 2nd, Masahiro Tanaka fell behind lead-off hitter Nomar Mazara on a 3-1 count. Mazara found the pitch he wanted and sent it high into the second deck in right.  Tanaka was able to retire the next three hitters, the last two by strikeout.  

On to the 3rd.  Starlin Castro reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Joey Gallo when the ball glanced off his glove into left field.  Matt Holliday hit into a double play which was unfortunate because Didi Gregorius followed with his 21st home run (a high fly to right).  The solo home run is a new career high for Didi.  The Yankees were up, 5-1.  

From there, the Rangers started to chip away.  In the bottom of the 3rd, Robinson Chirinos hit a one-out single to center past a diving Didi Gregorius.  Delino DeShields doubled down the left field line into the corner, scoring Chirinos.  After Shin-Soo Choo lined out to center for the second out, with DeShields moving to third, Elvis Andrus doubled down the left field line, a high hop over Todd Frazier’s glove, to score DeShields.  A wild pitch advanced Andrus to third, but Tanaka was able to strike out Nomar Mazara to end the inning.  Yankees still led, 5-3. 

The Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 4th inning but Starlin Castro popped out to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right to waste a huge opportunity.  

After the Yankees went down quietly in the top of the 5th, the Rangers struck hard.  Rougned Odor got it started with a single to right.  Robinson Chirinos doubled down the left line, scoring Odor from first.  It was a one-run game.  Delino DeShields singled to left, moving Chirinos to third.  With Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, a wild pitch by Masahiro Tanaka (low pitch that got under El Gary’s glove) freed Chirinos to come home and score the tying run.  Choo doubled  to left on a high fly that Brett Gardner almost caught but he “heard” the wall. DeShields moved to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough of Tanaka and made the switch to bring in Tommy Kahnle.  Elvis Andrus greeted Kahnle with a single to right, scoring both DeShields and Chirinos.  Starlin Castro tried diving for the ball but came up just short.  The Rangers had taken a 7-5 lead.  Kahnle induced Nomar Mazara to hit into a double play, but a single to center by Carlos Gomez ended his latest appearance.  Chasen Shreve came in and struck out Joey Gallo to finally end the painful inning.

While the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Martin Perez and the Texas bullpen, the Rangers struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the game away.  It was the kill shot to Custer’s head.  With Caleb Smith taking over for Shreve, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left.  While Elvis Andrus was batting, Smith threw a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt past Gary Sanchez and Choo advanced to second.  Andrus subsequently walked.  Nomar Mazara’s hard single to  the right field wall loaded the bases, bringing an end to Smith’s stay.  Ben Heller entered the game in relief of Smith and the Rangers inserted pinch-runner Jared Hoying at first for Mazara.  Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Choo.  With Joey Gallo batting, Heller threw the second wild pitch of the inning (smh) and Andrus moved to third, beating the throw from Gary Sanchez.  Gallo’s single to right scored Andrus.  Hoying moved to second.  Heller got the second out of the inning when he struck out Mike Napoli. However, Rougned Odor’s bases-clearing triple to right increased the Rangers’ lead to 11-5.  Heller’s subsequent walk of Robinson Chirinos ended his unsuccessful appearance.  Bryan Mitchell came in to finally end the inning, but the bloody massacre had been completed.  

The Yankees went down meekly from there, including three strikeouts in the top of the 9th, sending the Rangers into celebration on the field.  

Credit:  Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This was a very ugly loss.  It had started to feel that Masahiro Tanaka was back on track after his struggles earlier in the season but this game reopened doubts.   It was the kind of game that makes one hope that Tanaka opts out of his contract at the end of the year.  But of course the bullpen did him no favors, nor did the team’s hitters.  Michael Kay made a good observation about why Joe Girardi would go with second tier relievers when the game was still tight.  I wondered the same thing when they brought in Caleb Smith who was followed by Ben Heller when Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson were rested and ready in the pen.  

Sadly, the Boston Red Sox throttled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games.  The Yankees (75-65) maintained their 4 1/2 game edge over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s were the latest victim of the Cleveland Indian’s winning streak which now stands at 16 games (MLB’s longest streak since 2002).  The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5, to move within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.   

Odds & Ends…

As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees’ series with the Tampa Bay Rays this week (Monday through Wednesday) will be played at Citi Field in Queens instead of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL.  There had been speculation that the games would be played in Chicago but it makes sense to use the Mets’ turf since the Rays are currently in Boston and most of he players are traveling with their families due to the impending storm in Florida. Lucas Duda at home in Citi Field…has a certain ring of deja vu to it.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Austin Romine’s original two-game suspension for the Motor City Brawl has been reduced to one game (last night).  I am glad the suspensions are behind us. Erik Kratz, thanks for riding the bench and please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders evened their play-off series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at one with a 4-2 victory last night.  Chance Adams was the winner.  He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and two runs.  He walked too many (four) but struck out five.  The hitting stars were Miguel Andujar (3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI) and Mason Williams (2-for-4 with three runs scored).  Game 3 is tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Brady Lail (6-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for the RailRiders.

The Double A Trenton Thunder pulled off a rare feat when Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener combined for a no-hitter to beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Game 3 of their play-off series.  The Thunder lead the Eastern Division Championship Series, 2 games to 1.

Have a great Saturday!  I’m hoping y’all get a win down deepinaharta Texas! Go Yankees!

I’ll Take A Win To Go, Please…

Credit:  Gail Burton-Associated Press

Yankees 9, Orioles 1…


Thursday was supposed to have been an off-day.  But thanks to Wednesday’s rainout, the Yankees were forced to grab a win yesterday before they high-tailed it to BWI for the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth.  

The starting pitcher for Baltimore was Kevin Gausman, Greg Bird’s former Grandview High School (Centennial, Colorado) teammate.  Bird was a catcher in high school so the two formed the battery for  the Wolves.  I was looking forward to watching Bird bat against Gausman but he was out of the lineup for Thursday’s game.  He pinch-hit later in the game but Gausman was in the showers by that time.

Credit:  Aurora Sentinel

The game got started on the right foot.  Brett Gardner walked to lead off the first inning.  There’s never anything wrong with getting the speedy Gardner on base.  After fellow Coloradan Chase Headley struck out against Gausman, Gardy stole second.  Gausman recorded his second strikeout when Starlin Castro went down swinging.  But never fear, Sir Didi’s here.  Gregorius hit a double to right which brought Gardner around to score.  But the Yankees weren’t done.  Next up was Aaron Judge.  Judge, showing no respect for Bird’s good friend, boomed a towering shot to center.  T-Ball Practice! Note to Gausman:  It’s probably best not to leave a high fat one over the middle of the plate. 3-0 Yankees before Sonny Gray could even pick up a baseball.

Credit:  Rob Carr-Getty Images

With Gray cruising through the first few innings, the Yankees struck again in the top of the 3rd.  Didi Gregorius, continuing his hot hitting, reached first on an infield single to short.  Aaron Judge walked (his 104th of the season) so there were two men on base for Matt Holliday.  Holliday’s single lined to right scored Gregorius and moved Judge to third just ahead of the throw.  Jacoby Ellsbury hit a one-out grounder to second which forced Holliday but Judge was able to score when Ellsbury beat the throw to first to prevent the double play.  The Yankees had increased their lead to 5-0.


Gausman didn’t return for the start of the 4th inning which dashed my hopes for a potential Greg Bird pinch-hitting opportunity against his friend.  Mike Wright took over for the O’s.  With one out, Brett Gardner doubled to left.  Chase Headley added two more runs with his long home run to right.  

Star-light, Star-bright.  The top of the 6th, with O’s reliever Donnie Hart pitching, opened with a lead-off single by Brett Gardner.  Sadly, to my disappointment, his stay on the base paths was ended when Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second.  Starlin Castro came up and asked ‘is this what Manny Machado did the other night?’ by way of his blast to left-center. Yankees led, 8-0, and Sonny Gray was still pitching like I wish he had pitched against the Boston Red Sox.

Credit:  Rob Carr-Getty Images

Unfortunately, Sonny ran out of gas in the bottom of the 6th.  Jonathan Schoop got it started for the O’s with an infield single.  Adam Jones hit a grounder to short with the fielder’s choice eliminating Schoop at second.  Gray struck out Trey Mancini, but Chris Davis followed with a single to right center.  Jones moved to second.  Mark Trumbo hit a grounder to short but a throwing error by Didi Gregorius (off-balance throw over the head of Starlin Castro at second) allowed Davis to reach third while Jones scored.  Great overall job by Sonny Gray but it was time for his day to come to an end. Enter Chad Green; end of inning (by strikeout).  


The Yankees homered again in the top of the 7th when Todd Frazier joined the party with a solo blast to left. Orioles left-fielder Trey Mancini tried to leap but the home run ball was over his glove. Chad Green powered through the O’s lineup in the bottom of the 7th, erasing the only base runner on a double play.  Coming into the season, I didn’t really want the guy on the MLB roster and he’s arguably been the most valuable (and most consistent) reliever in the bullpen.  I am glad the Yankees never hired me to be a talent evaluator. 


Tommy Kahnle helped three Orioles find their way to the bench in the 8th. Recent Triple A call-up Ben Heller took over in the 9th and he continued the trend set by his bullpen predecessors.  1-2-3, game over.  Yankees win!


The Yankees (75-64) are 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox were idle on Thursday but they had won the day before.  The Orioles slipped back to 4 1/2 games behind the Yanks.  The Yankees’ lead in the Wild Card Standings is 2 1/2 games over the Minnesota Twins (the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2).


Nice job by Sonny Gray (9-9).  He pitched 5 2/3 innings (102 pitches) and allowed six hits, two walks, and one run (none earned).  He struck out five while lowering his season ERA to 3.22.  Hand clap for the bullpen.  Green, Kahnle and Heller combined for 3 1/3 innnings of one-hit scoreless relief with three K’s.  No drama…exactly the way I like it.


As for the hitting stars, pass the hat…everyone contributed.  This was a great team victory. Congrats to Austin Romine for successfully holding down the catching position while Gary Sanchez was on the golf course..or at the bar or wherever he may have been for three games off.  


The Yankees came close to the series sweep but taking two out of three at Camden Yards is still a notable accomplishment.   It’s a good springboard for the next series.

 

Next Up:  Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas…

The Yankees travel to Dallas/Fort Worth to take on the Yu Darvish-less Texas Rangers.  The Rangers remain in the hunt for a Wild Card spot so they’ll be ready to play.  Like the Baltimore Orioles, the Rangers have a team of sluggers with 218 home runs this season which leads MLB.  Any mistake pitches will be making long distance travel plans.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (11-10, 4.54 ERA)

Rangers:  Martin Perez (11-10, 4.87 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (12-6, 3.03 ERA)

Rangers:  A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA)

Rangers:  Andrew Cashner (9-9, 3.29 ERA)

The Rangers’ Ballpark has long been one of my favorites. Hopefully it holds good things for the Yankees this time around.  

Gene “Stick” Michael, Yankees Legend…


The Yankees Universe was deeply saddened yesterday when it was learned that Yankees Senior Adviser Gene “Stick” Michael had passed away due to a heart attack at age 79.  


There will be many obituaries and that’s really not the intent of my mention of his passing. Growing up with the Yankees as my favorite team, Stick was such an integral part through the years.  I don’t really remember his playing days, but I do remember his brief managerial stints with the team in the early 80’s.  Of course, he directed the course of the franchise in the early 90’s as the team’s general manager while George Steinbrenner was serving his suspension and was probably the man most responsible for the late 90’s dynasty.  What really stuck out to me about Stick over the years was his strong sense of loyalty to the Yankees organization and his ability to speak his mind and hold his ground with the Boss.  It was tough when Stick left the Yankees to become the manager for the Chicago Cubs in 1986 but I was happy when he found his way back home. 


The Yankees will wear black armbands on their left sleeve for the duration of the season in honor of Stick.  

Credit:  Barton Silverman-The New York Times

This is a HUGE loss for the Yankees.  Stick was one of kind and perhaps one of the greatest baseball evaluators ever. The man can stand among the huge Legends who wore Pinstripes.  He earned it. His impact to the organization has been as great if not greater than most.  He will be missed.  Rest in peace, Sir… 

Odds & Ends…

A few weeks ago, everybody was talking about how the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers were among the greatest teams of all-time.  Now, after losing seven in a row and 12 of 13 games, they’d have to go undefeated the rest of the way to match the 1998 Yankees.  Clayton Kershaw was pounded last night by the Colorado Rockies in his own ballpark.  If the Dodgers can’t figure this out, their stay in October is going to be very short-lived.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost the first game of their first round five-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 6-5, in 12 innings.  Game 2 is set for tonight at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA with Chance Adams on the mound for the RailRiders.


Have a great Friday!  Let’s keep contributing the ‘W’ column!  Go Yankees!

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…

Credit:  Rich Gagnon-Getty Images

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1…

What started out as a nice afternoon game in Boston turned out to be an extended night game as the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox.  Chris Sale, with a career ERA of 1.17 against the Yankees, was outstanding on Saturday which generally does not bode well for our guys.  Fortunately, Luis Severino was up to the task and kept the Yankees in the game, setting the stage for late inning heroics.  

Credit:  Associated Press

The Red Sox scored the first run in the 3rd inning.  With one out, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia both walked to put runners at first and second.  Xander Bogaerts hit an infield roller to third that Chase Headley scooped up, looked to first and then turned around and threw too late to shortstop Ronald Torreyes, covering at third.  Everyone was safe.  Mitch Moreland then lofted a deep fly to left and Betts easily ran home for the game’s first run.  Hanley Ramirez could have done more damage but Severino got him on a line out to Chase Headley to end the threat.  

The Yankees only managed three hits off Chris Sale, which included two doubles, but they were unable to push any runs across the plate.  Sale went into the 8th inning, getting Ronald Torreyes to ground out before Brett Gardner singled to right.  Sale then got Gary Sanchez to go down swinging, but with 118 pitches thrown (and 13 strikeouts), the Sox made the call to closer Craig Kimbrel.  Aaron Judge flied out to right to end the top half of the inning.  

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) to replace Luis Severino.  Tzu-Wei Lin promptly singled to center and I had a sinking feeling of “here we go again”.  It didn’t help when the count rose to 3-0 on the next batter, Mookie Betts, but on a full count, Betts popped out to short.  Lin then got a great jump on a steal attempt and was sliding past second baseman Starlin Castro who stayed with the play and took the throw from Gary Sanchez to catch Lin on the foot before his hands reached second base.  The Red Sox challenged the play but the call on the field was upheld (rightfully so).  So good to have Castro back at second.  Dustin Pedroia lined out and Clippard was able to leave the field with his head held high.  

For his Red Sox career, Craig Kimbrel was 30-for-30 in save opportunities as he took the mound in the 9th.  A good point was made during the FOX TV telecast by A.J. Pierzynski with the four-out save attempt.  Aaron Judge, despite the fly out to end the top of the 8th, extended the at-bat which forced Kimbrel to throw 10 pitches.  It’s not often that he throws that many pitches before having to sit and come back out again.  It would be a foretelling comment as Matt Holliday greeted Kimbrel with a game-tying, save-blowing home run to left center over the Green Monster to open the inning. 

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

Starlin Castro subsequently reached base when first baseman Mitch Moreland was pulled off the base on an errant throw from Xander Bogaerts and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second, just beating the tag by Bogaerts.  But Ellsbury was left stranded when Kimbrel proceeded to strike out the side.  The bottom of the 9th brought in Dellin Betances who seems to have left his control problems behind him.  He easily retired the three batters he faced and the game headed into extra innings.

The Red Sox looked like they were in position for the walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th.  Chasen Shreve had been brought in to replace Betances, and he gave up singles to Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley, Jr to put a runner in scoring position with no outs.  It was a little surprising that Benintendi didn’t try to run for third on JBJ’s hit, but thankfully he did not.  Girardi wasted no time in giving Shreve the hook and brought in Adam Warren.  Warren, proving how much he means to this team, retired the three batters he faced, leaving Benintendi stranded at second.  Had Benintendi been on third, he most likely would have scored the winning run when Tzu-Wei Lin flied out to Aaron Judge for the second out against Warren.  

The 11th inning brought an unusual play that resulted in a game protest by Red Sox manager John Farrell.  Matt Holliday walked to open the inning.  Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a grounder to first, and Mitch Moreland threw the ball to Xander Bogaerts for the force out at second.  But Matt Holliday, as we later found out, mistakenly thought that Moreland had stepped on first to retire Ellsbury (he had not) and turned to dive back toward first base.  Bogaerts threw the ball back to Moreland but it glanced off Ellsbury’s leg since Holliday was in Moreland’s way, leaving Ellsbury safe at first.  Farrell argued unsuccessfully that it should have been called a double play due to interference. Despite the 4 minute, 50 second delay, it didn’t really matter as neither Chase Headley nor Didi Gregorius were able to advance Ellsbury from first.

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

From there it was a battle of the bullpens until the top of the 16th inning with Boston’s Doug Fister pitching.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left  and Chase Headley singled to center to put runners at the corners with no outs.  Didi Gregorius singled to center which scored Ellsbury with the go-ahead run.  Austin Romine followed with a single to center, scoring Headley while Gregorius took second.  Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third.  Gary Sanchez hit a sac fly to left, scoring Gregorius with an insurance run as the Yankees took a 4-1 lead. 

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

Ben Heller (1-0), who had replaced Aroldis Chapman in the 15th inning, retired Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland to win the game for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-Associated Press

It was a very long game (5 hours and 50 minutes) but perseverance paid off as the Yankees eventually pulled out the win.  I can’t say enough about the tremendous performance by Luis Severino.  It was the key to the game, along with the dramatic home run by Matt Holliday in the 9th which gave Craig Kimbrel his first blown save at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform.  Considering today’s double-header, it is amazing to think the Yankees will have played at least 34 innings in 24 hours by the end of the day.  

The Yankees (46-42) remain in third place in the AL East standings but moved 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels again, 6-3, to move 2 1/2 games behind Boston.  

New Yankees first baseman Garrett Cooper had another unsuccessful day at the plate before he was lifted from the game.  He was 0-for-3, with two strikeouts.  Aaron Judge may have been 0-for-6 but I’d still go back to his extended at-bat against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 8th as a key factor for Holliday’s 9th inning home run.

A long hard day but it’s so much better to walk off the field with a win.

Odds & Ends…

Michael Pineda will meet with Dr Timothy Kremchek, an orthopaedic surgeon, in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday for a second opinion.  Dr Kremchek is the medical director for the Cincinnati Reds.  If Tommy John surgery is needed (as expected), the procedure could be performed as early as Tuesday.  

CC Sabathia will start Game 1 of today’s double-header in place of Bryan Mitchell.  In a flurry of roster moves today, the Yankees recalled RHP Domingo German and added LHP Caleb Smith to the 25-man roster.  Relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, both of whom would have been unavailable today after yesterday’s game, were optioned to Triple A.  Michael Pineda was moved to the 60-day DL with his right UCL injury and RHP Bryan Mitchell was added as the “26th man”.  

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees activated Starlin Castro and optioned Tyler Wade to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

I am not sure why it took so long but Manager Joe Girardi has finally said that Tyler Clippard is no longer the “7th inning” guy.  Adam Warren and Chad Green will take over the duties of setting up Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.  Good move.  Warren and Green have both been outstanding in recent weeks while the bullpen overall as struggled.  

Chance Adams had his latest start for the RailRiders yesterday.  While he did limit the Buffalo Bisons to two hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings, he walked four batters.  It is the command issues that are holding Adams back at this point (along with the development of his third pitch) so yesterday was not a positive outcome.  Adams did not factor into the decision as the RailRiders defeated the Bisons, 2-1.  Miguel Andujar was the hitting star.  He was 2-for-3 and provided the eventual margin of victory with a run-scoring single in the 7th inning.

Have a great Sunday!  In honor of the double-header, let’s have twice the fun!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Angels 3, Yankees 2…

After a weekend when runs came so easily, they were hard to find on Tuesday night as the Angels took down the Yankees in extra innings.  The loss snapped the Yankees’ six-game winning streak.  However, the bigger loss may have been CC Sabathia who strained his left hamstring and is probably headed for a DL stint.  CC will undergo a MRI later today.

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

The feast or famine (with the emphasis on the latter) that surrounds Chris Carter was a primary ingredient for the loss.  Carter was 1-for-5 (with a meaningless single), and he popped out with the bases loaded and only one out in the top of the 11th inning.  He struck out 3 times, and committed an error at first in the fourth inning when he missed an accurate routine throw with two outs from Didi Gregorius, setting the stage for the first Angels’ run.  The runner, Andrelton Simmons, advanced to second on the play, and scored on a single by C.J. Cron.  

The Yankees tied the score in the 5th when Chase Headley doubled and Brett Gardner delivered a two-out run-scoring single. In the 7th, Headley hit a solo shot to center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.  Headley, arguably the worst Yankees hitter not named Chris Carter, was the night’s best hitter.  He finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.

From there, the Yankees were undone by a former Yankee, Eric Young, Jr.  In the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees nursing the one-run lead, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard to pitch and he was greeted by a Young home run which tied the game.  As great a job as Clippard did last year after his acquisition last year at the trading deadline from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he’s been a weak link this year in the critical setup role.  A healthy Aroldis Chapman would have meant Dellin Betances in that situation and the outcome may have been different.  The homer denied the first Major League victory for Giovanny Gallegos who had relieved Sabathia in the fifth and pitched admirably for two innings, allowing only one hit and no runs.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one-out in the top of the 11th.  Gary Sanchez walked and then advanced to third on a double by Didi Gregorius.  Headley received an intentional walk, which brought Carter to the plate with a chance to bring runners home.  He jumped on the first pitch from new reliever Keynan Middleton, who had just entered the game, but unfortunately, he popped out with an infield fly to third.  Brett Gardner followed with another pop out which ended the Yankees’ threat and set the stage for the Angels’ walk-off in the bottom of the frame.

With Chasen Shreve pitching, Andrelton Simmons walked to open the bottom of the inning.  Shreve got the next batter, C.J. Cron, on a fly out to left, but then Manager Joe Girardi pulled Shreve (he had thrown 38 pitches to that point in his 1 2/3 innings of work) to replace him with Ben Heller.  Heller got the first batter he faced (Martin Maldonado) on a ground out, but Simmons stole second during the at-bat and advanced to third with the out.  Eric Young, Jr, came to bat after Heller had walked Cliff Pennington and he hit an infield single that was deflected off the pitcher’s backside, scoring Simmons with the winning run.

Credit:  Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda’ was the story to this game.  Losing is never fun, but losing games that should have been won are harder. 

No word who will replace Sabathia in the rotation.  Chad Green, Sunday’s starter, was limited to a pitch count of 50 (he was pulled after throwing 53 pitches).  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell recalled to be the interim starter.  The less likely options would be Caleb Smith (who was the winning pitcher yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and is currently 4-0 with 2.71 ERA) or Chance Adams (3-2, 2.52 ERA) since neither one is on the 40-man roster.

The Boston Red Sox picked up a game on the Yankees, thanks to their second consecutive extra inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Red Sox now trail the Yankees (38-24) by three games.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won so they are 5.5 games behind.  Both the Orioles and the Blue Jays lost.  

Odds & Ends…

The MLB Draft completed Rounds 3 through 10 on Tuesday.  Like the day before, the emphasis was high on right-handed pitchers.  Only one position player was taken.  High School catcher (who will be converted to the outfield) Canaan Smith (not to be confused with the country singer by the same name).  Smith, a graduate of Rockwall-Heath (Texas) High School, was routinely pitched around with a Barry Bonds-like walk rate.  He was selected in the 4th round.  

The lone lefty taken was Dalton Lehnen of Augustana College in the 6th round.  Otherwise, Day 2 was stacked with righties.

Here is the list of players taken on Day 2:

Round 3 (92):  Trevor Stephan, Arkansas, RHP

Round 4 (122):  Canaan Smith, Rockwall-Heath HS, RF

Round 5 (152):  Glenn Otto, Rice, RHP

Round 6 (182):  Dalton Lehnen, Augustana College, LHP

Round 7 (212):  Dalton Higgins, Dallas Baptist, RHP

Round 8 (242):  Kyle Zurak, Redford U, RHP

Round 9 (272):  Austin Gardner, U Texas-Arlington, RHP

Round 10 (302):  Chad Whitmer, Southern Illinois U Carbondale, RHP

The Baltimore Orioles are gushing about the fall of D.L. Hall to them.  They didn’t expect him to be the board with the 21st pick on Monday.  Nothing against Clarke Schmidt, but I hope this choice doesn’t come back to haunt the Yankees in future years.

Day 3 concludes today with Rounds 11 through 40.  Start time is 12:00 pm Eastern.  

LHP Tommy Layne, who was previously designated for assignment, has been outrighted to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

RHP Ronald Herrera has been named the Eastern League (AA) Pitcher of the Week.  In his last start, Herrera pitched 6 2/3 innings while only allowing two hits in the Trenton Thunder’s 9-0 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats.  After giving up a two-out single in the first inning, Herrera retired 16 consecutive Yard Goats before surrendering the second hit.  He struck out 9 in picking up the win.  Herrera is the fourth Thunder pitcher to win the weekly award this year, following Chance Adams, Yefry Ramirez, and Justus Sheffield. 

Credit:  TrentonThunder.com

Aroldis Chapman was scheduled to pitch yesterday for High-A Tampa, however, the game was rained out.  Chapman will pitch one inning Friday for AA-Trenton and is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the Yankees on Sunday in Oakland.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to start a new winning streak!