Tagged: Blue Jays

Punchless in Toronto…

Credit:  The Associated Press

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0…

So much for heading home with any momentum to face the AL-East leading Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees offense departed Toronto a day too early as the Yankees were blanked by the AL East cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays.  Losing two of three to the division’s worst is not exactly a recipe for October.  

Sonny Gray kept the Yankees in the game but he had no help.  

Credit:  The Associated Press

The first inning started with hope for a run.  With two outs, Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to right.  Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez struck out swinging as the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.

Garrett Cooper doubled in the second inning with two outs but Ronald Torreyes flied out to right on the first pitch he was thrown by Jays starter Marco Estrada.  The Blue Jays didn’t miss their chance in the bottom of the inning.  Ezequiel Carrera doubled to center with one out.  A failed pick off attempt by Sonny Gray allowed Carrera to move to third.  Ryan Goins hit a short grounder which Gray scooped and tossed underhanded with his glove to Sanchez, but Carrera slid in under the tag to score the Jays’ first run.

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Associated Press

The third inning brought another two-out double, this time a line drive down the left field line by Aaron Judge.  But like the others, he was left stranded when Didi Gregorius flied out.  The Jays, unlike the Yankees, didn’t miss their chances.  In the bottom of the third, Jose Bautista walked.  Russell Martin struck out on a ball that got past Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez’s throw beat Martin to first, but Joey Bats had already stolen second on the play. Josh Donaldson singled to left to score Bautista.  It was 2-0 Jays.

After the Yankees went quietly in the 4th, the Blue Jays added another run in the bottom of the inning.  Steve Pearce opened with a single off Gray.  A sacrifice bunt by Ezequiel Carrera moved Pearce to second.  After Ryan Goins walked, Kevin Pillar singled to left (a bouncer between Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius) to score Pearce.  

The fifth inning started with promise.  Garrett Cooper led off with a single to left and Ronald Torreyes walked.  But they didn’t advance any further when Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge recorded outs.  For Judge, who struck out to end the inning, it was his 27th consecutive game with a strikeout (extending his own franchise record).  

Credit:  The Associated Press

It was more of the same in the 6th.  Gary Sanchez walked with one out.  He was followed by Todd Frazier who singled to right.  Sanchez advanced to second but there he would stay as Jacoby Ellsbury and Garrett Cooper failed to move the runners.

Manager Joe Girardi brought Chasen Shreve in to start the 7th inning.  While Shreve’s performance overall was good, he allowed a home run by Jose Bautista, a solo shot to left.  The Blue Jays were up 4-0.  It was Bautista’s 36th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any active player.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees couldn’t do anything with a Gary Sanchez single in the 8th.  For the 9th, the Jays brought in their closer, Roberto Osuna, even though it wasn’t a save opportunity.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk.  Following strikeouts by Garrett Cooper and Chase Headley, Brett Gardner walked.  Aaron Judge came to the plate with a chance to bring the Yankees within a run but it was not to be as he struck out to end the game.  

Sonny Gray (6-7) took the loss.  He went six innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs.  Only 2 of the runs were earned due to Sonny’s error on the failed pick-off attempt in the 2nd inning.  Throwing a total of 103 pitches, he walked 4 batters and struck out 6.

This was a very disappointing loss.  My morning started with a Red Sox fan posting the AL East Standings on my FaceBook page and laughing.  The Yankees (60-53) fell 4 1/2 games behind the idle Red Sox who watched the Yankees lose while sitting in NYC.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-1, to move back to 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles won too, 7-2 over the Oakland A’s, so they’re 4 games behind New York.  The Yankees still have the Wild Card lead (by two games) but this team is not playing like it wants to play in October.  It doesn’t get any easier tonight…

Next Up:  Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

With Boston’s day off on Thursday, they arrived in New York City a day earlier than the Yankees.  So, they’ll be rested and ready for the Bombers tonight.  The Red Sox bring an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s game.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  It’s a bummer that Sonny Gray will miss this series but he’ll be ready next weekend in Boston.  

TODAY

Red Sox:  Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 6.35)

SATURDAY:  

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (11-4, 3.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-4, 2.91 ERA)

SUNDAY:

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (14-4, 2.57 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.05 ERA)

Monty, we need you to get back to New York to start on Sunday in place of CC Sabathia.  Who’s on the mound for Boston?  Um, I’m not sure.  Just go out there and throw zeros and we’ll be fine…  

Odds & Ends…

Clint Frazier has been placed on the 10-Day DL with his oblique tightness.  OF Aaron Hicks was activated off the DL a day earlier than anticipated as a result.  I guess this delays the decision of what to do with Red Thunder when Aaron Hicks returns.  Hicksie gets to fly from Trenton to Toronto and back to New York City in less than 24 hours.  I suppose it could have been worse if the Yankees had been playing in Seattle.


LHP Dietrich Enns, 26, made his Major League debut last night for the Minnesota Twins in their game against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.  It didn’t go so well.  Despite the Twins’ 7-2 win, Enns was pulled after 2 1/2 innings and 53 pitches.  He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (only one earned thanks to his own throwing error).  He walked a batter (with the bases loaded in the third) and gave up a home run to Keon Broxton. Enns went to Minnesota with Zack Littell in the deal that brought Jaime Garcia to New York.  

Credit:  Tom Lynn-The Associated Press

Have a great Friday!  Yankees-Red Sox.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Let’s Go Yankees!

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The Bottom Third and the Bullpen…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5…

The bottom of the Yankees lineup powered the team to victory on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays with an assist by the bullpen.  Six of the eleven runs were courtesy of the bottom third of the order.  Nine runs if you throw in the number 6 hitter (the Toddfather).  It was a much needed win as the Boston Red Sox are currently riding an eight-game winning streak (which they will bring to the Bronx on Friday night when they begin a three-game series against the beloved home team).

Masahiro Tanaka only gave up two hits but he was gone after four innings, pulled in the 5th with no outs, having thrown 88 pitches which included five walks and three runs (two earned).  So, it was up to the stacked bullpen to power its way to victory.

The Yankees got on the board first with two runs in the top of the 2nd.  Gary Sanchez and Todd Frazier led off the inning against Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch with back-to-back home runs.  The Jays’ Kevin Pillar made a nearly successful leap to rob Sanchez, but the ball was just beyond his reach.  I’ve said it before but I hate solo home runs.  It’s not that I hate home runs…I love the runs, but I just prefer men on base when it happens (statement of the obvious).  Two home runs…the potential for eight runs…or two.  I just prefer to be somewhere in the middle (or more).  Oh well, the stats seem to favor the Yankees when they homer in games so I am not complaining.

Credit:  The Associated Press

The Blue Jays got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd when Steve Pearce walked and advanced to third on Kevin Pillar’s double to left.  Nori Aoki hit a grounder to second  for an out, but Pearce scored on the play (with Pillar moving to third).  It got a little too interesting with the next batter when Darwin Barney hit a grounder to third and the Yankees had Pillar caught in a rundown.  But it wasn’t executed cleanly and Pillar almost scored if not for the athleticism of Tanaka who took the throw behind Gary Sanchez to nail the runner at the plate.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the 3rd brought another solo home run, this time a shot to the second deck in right center by Didi Gregorius, as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-1.  

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Jays answered in the bottom of the inning without a single hit.  Raffy Lopez led off and reached base through catcher’s interference on a pitch that would have been the third strike.  Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak walked to load the bases.  Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Donaldson to make it a one-run game.  

It looked like the Yankees were going to break the game open in the 5th when Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to center.  The Jays brought in Leonel Campos to replace Tepesch.  He was successful in striking out Gary Sanchez, but Todd Frazier followed with a double to right center to score Judge and Gregorius.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to center to score Frazier and it was 6-2 Yankees.

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

In the bottom of the 5th, the Jays started to chip away.  Jose Bautista led off with a home run to left.  Masahiro Tanaka walked the next batter (Josh Donaldson) and Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough.  He brought in Chad Green who struck out the side to prevent any further damage.

Unfortunately, the 6th inning didn’t go so well for Green.  Nori Aoki opened with a single.  Darwin Barney hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Aoki, however, Ryan Goins doubled to left center to score Barney.  Girardi elected to pull Green and brought in Tommy Kahnle.  A wild pitch by Kahnle moved Goins to third.  Raffy Lopez walked to put runners at the corners.  Josh Donaldson singled to right center, scoring Goins, and it was a one-run game again.  

The Yankees finally got separation in the 8th when Todd Frazier led off the inning with a single to left center off Jays reliever Dominic Leone.  The Jays pulled Leone for J.P. Howell who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  Howell was then lifted for Taylor Cole which backfired on the Jays.  Garrett Cooper doubled to left with Frazier moving to third.  Ronald Torreyes, who has done a stellar job as a fill-in for Starlin Castro, singled to center to score both Frazier and Cooper.  Torreyes took second on the throw.  The Yankees almost had another run when Chase Headley singled to left center but Toe was gunned down at the plate.  

Nevertheless, the Yankees picked up three more runs in the top of the 9th with Cole still on the mound.  Didi Gregorius reached base on an infield single, Gary Sanchez singled to center and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second but Gregorius scored on the play.  Garrett Cooper doubled to center to bring both Sanchez and Frazier home.  The Jays had seen enough of Cole and pulled him for Danny Barnes who retired the last two Yankee batters get out of the inning and let the Jays come to bat for their last licks.

David Robertson and Dellin Betances had pitched scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively.  For the 9th to close it out, Girardi brought in Adam Warren.  It wasn’t clean but he got the job done.  A walk and a single had runners at the corners with two outs, but Warren got Kevin Pillar to fly out to Aaron Judge to end the game.  The Yankees win!

It was so great to see the Yankees finally make noise with runners in scoring position.  Garrett Cooper led the 17-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night.  He had 2 RBI’s and scored a run.  It was by far his best game as a Yankee.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes also had 2 RBI’s each.  Todd Frazier was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and four runs scored, including his 19th home run of the season.  Didi Gregorius was 3-for-5 with an RBI on the solo homer, his 18th, and three runs scored.  It was good to see Gary Sanchez homer, also his 18th.  He had two hits and scored twice.  This was a great team victory to pick up Tanaka.  Green (2-0) was the winner.  

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

The Yankees (60-52) remain four games behind the Boston Red Sox.  As noted at the top of this post, the Red Sox won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2.  Even though the Yankees didn’t gain any ground on the Red Sox, they increased their lead over the Rays by 3 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles also lost (5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels) so they fell 5 games behind the Yankees.  The Yankees currently hold a 2 1/2 game advantage in the Wild Card standings but I still think the AL East can be won.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees can pick up a 1/2 game with a win today over the Jays on Getaway Day.  The Sox will be waiting for the Yankees in the Bronx for a three-game set starting on Friday night.

Clint Frazier was scheduled to start the game in right field but was a late scratch for oblique tightness.  No immediate word on his condition.  Aaron Judge was moved from DH to right field, Chase Headley from 1B to DH, and Garrett Cooper inserted into the starting lineup at first.  Obviously, Cooper took advantage of the opportunity at Frazier’s expense.

Odds & Ends…

I’ll let others write about the upcoming Players Weekend on August 25th through 27th when players can wear nicknames on the back of alternate uniforms.  I know that many Yankee fans are up in arms, but I am indifferent.  It is a playful three days and it does not involve desecrating the famed Pinstripes.  But Pickles?  Really?  We’re going to throw Pickles at the Seattle Mariners?  Well, at least we can throw The Missile at them later.  I know that Sonny Gray has a story behind the name but it is still hard to wrap my head around it.

CC Sabathia’s MRI came back clear so it sounds as though he’ll be back on the mound sooner rather than later.  No word if he’ll miss any time.  Admittedly, I am skeptical about continuing to throw him out there.  The knee surely factored into the two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Tuesday.  I am not crazy about testing the knee in live, game scenarios.  I’ve enjoyed CC’s Yankees career but the end of this contract is a good farewell point for me.  I have no interest in testing the knee in 2018.  

I was bummed to see the Mets trade Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians.  I thought he would fit well on the Yankees roster as 1B/DH.  With a recent inability to get runs across the plate, Bruce would have helped kickstart the offense.  Apparently the Yankees were involved in trade talks until the end, but the dealbreaker was money.  The Yankees wanted the Mets to pay some of the remaining money owed to Bruce whereas the Indians absorbed the full balance due.  


Have a Sunny Day Thursday…or a Sonny Gray Thursday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Hangin With Mr Cooper Leads to Loss…

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2…

The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded.  Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.  On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded.  But you can’t pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.


The tone of the game was set early.  Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right.  He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin.  Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center.  In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled.  Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius.  With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run.  But that’s all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.


After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first.  Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left.  It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.  A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.  


Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain.  It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago.  After the game, Sabathia said “It’s just hard to land.  It’s hard for me to finish my pitches. It’s just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches.  When I can’t do that, I don’t know where the ball is going.”  There’s no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he’ll head back to New York for further tests.  We’re reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell. 


Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance.  He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.  


The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning.  With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked.  After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first.  Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.


The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play.  Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.  

Credit:  AP

The last great chance came in the 8th.  Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi).  Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley’s foot, to reach base.  Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked.  It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded.  He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn’t help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations.  The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.  

Credit:  AP

The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna.  It was another game of lost opportunities.  The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn’t really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice).  Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times.  Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base.  It’s tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can’t seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.  


Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia’s knee.  The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he’s question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back).  Sabathia (9-5) took the loss.  The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05.  I hope that he’s able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.  

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP

The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts.  So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray.  He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66.  #88, anyone?…

It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game.  While I am not overly optimistic that we’ll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training.  Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro’s absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.

OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment.  He may be activated for this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.  We’ll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.  If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders). 

The Blue Jays scratched today’s scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez.  Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury.  Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.

It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor’s jersey in their dugout for yesterday’s game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians.  Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998.  The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves.  Following Baylor’s passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement:  “He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many.  His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever.  This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”

Credit:  Tony Dejak-Associated Press

Have a great Wednesday!  One more day to Sonny Gray!  Let’s Go Yankees!

52 Games To Go, Let’s Do This!…

Enjoyed An Off Day…


Monday, Monday.  I am glad it’s in the books but it was nice having an off-day while the Yankees enjoyed their free time in Toronto.  But it’s now Tuesday and back to work.

Last month, I was in favor of a trade for a proven first baseman like Yonder Alonso (then with the Oakland A’s) or Lucas Duda (then with the New York Mets).  Alonso’s bat cooled about the time Chase Headley started heating up so Headley probably blocked any potential deal that would have brought Alonso to New York as either part of the Sonny Gray trade or a separate trade.  There’s also speculation that the Mets had a similar offer from the Yankees to one they accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda which showed the only way the Mets would work with the Yankees would be in an “overpay” situation.

So, where does that leave us with the latest speculation that Jay Bruce would be a good fit for the Yankees?  Primarily an outfielder, he has played 11 games at first base this year making him at least as experienced at the position as Headley.  He is left-handed and has mashed 29 homers this year to go with 75 RBI’s.  He is batting .260/.324/.528.  The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year so he’d be a true rental.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce as he has seemed too much like a feast-or-famine type of hitter.  But, like Duda, he might have the swing for Yankee Stadium.   So, I’d have to say that I am intrigued by this one to say the least.  With so much uncertainty around Matt Holliday and Greg Bird, Bruce would bring a big stick to first base/DH for the rest of the year.

Nevertheless, if the Mets insist an overpay because it’s the Yankees, then it is not worth it.  The Yankees are also included in Bruce’s limited no-trade clause but that’s nothing $$$ couldn’t solve.  I am skeptical that the Mets would ever give the Yankees a player that could potentially help them make the play-offs and risk losing market share as a result.

I am not sure what I think about rumors the Yankees should pursue Mike Napoli.  He is a proven winner.  His numbers in his age 35 year are down from last year but he still has some thump in his bat with 22 HR’s albeit with a batting average that is south of the Todd Frazier line.  Napoli’s contract carries a 2018 club option that can be bought out for $2.5 million.  A costly measure, unless the Texas Rangers pay some or all the freight, to add the potential for a few late season bombs.  If only Chris Carter had done what he was paid to do.

I hate to see any more prospects shipped away for a six-week need unless it is for someone that can truly be the difference-maker at this point in the season (a player with the potential to help for an October push).  I want to see what Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin can do, and then there’s, hold your breath, Greg Bird at the end of the month.  Okay, maybe don’t hold your breath.  I suspect that unless Matt Holliday is able to come back after his DL stint to resemble the player we saw in the first half (unlikely), the DH position is going to be very fluid on a day to day basis with player rotation.

More than anything, the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to step up and deliver the promise he showed us last August and September.  At the moment, he’s the most maligned Yankee.  The key will be how he responds to the criticism.  The Yankees are a better team with El Gary in the lineup but he needs to make the defensive plays and wait for his pitches at the plate.  The Yankees play 6 of the next 13 games against the Boston Red Sox and will face Chris Sale twice.  Between the two Red Sox series, the Yankees play a home and away set against the New York Mets for four games.  This is a very crucial two weeks that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual AL East winner.
According to Baseball America, the Los Angeles Dodgers have released former Yankees LOOGY Tommy Layne.  The Dodgers also removed former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple A.  The Los Angeles Angels signed former Yankees reliever Branden Pinder, who was released earlier this summer by the Bombers.  I am sure that Angels GM Billy Eppler is relying upon past information about Pinder to take a chance.  I hope it works out for Pinder.

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

The Toronto Blue Jays may be the AL East cellar dwellers but they always play the Yankees very tough.  The Yankees will see old friend Rob Refsnyder who is currently on the Blue Jays active roster as a backup infielder.

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)

I am not trying to look ahead but it’s a bummer that we won’t have Sonny Gray for this weekend’s series against Boston at Yankee Stadium.  The Red Sox have gone out of their way to ensure that Chris Sale gets three starts against the Yankees in the coming weeks.

Farewell to #25…

Former Yankee Don Baylor died Monday at age 68 from cancer.  Baylor was American League MVP for the then California Angels in 1979 and he won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins at the end of his 19-year playing career, but I remember his toughness as the Yankees DH from 1983 to 1985, playing along side Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. He was a magnet for baseballs with 267 HBP’s.  I wasn’t a fan of the March 1986 trade that sent Baylor to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler.  Rest in peace, Mr Baylor…

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s turn a two-game win streak into three!  Go Yankees

50 Ways To Lose A Game…

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

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6…

I am not sure who to blame this one on.  Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end.  In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error.  Jose Bautista led off the game with a single.  After Russell Martin flied out to center,  Justin Smoak singled.  An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.  


The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner.  Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning.  Jose Bautista walked to open the inning.  After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right.  3-0, Blue Jays.  Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.  


Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0.  The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day.  3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s.  If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.  

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

The Yankees valiantly fought back.  Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning.  The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio.  In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate.  Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man!  Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.  

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

Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.  


The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning.  With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center.  Game tied.  Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.  


On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…



Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs.  Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that.  No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time.  He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases.  He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run.  Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.  

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

The Yankees did not have another rally in them.  The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs.  A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day.  Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss.  Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1.  The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007.  Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year.  Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work.  I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Some losses just make me mad.  This was one of them.  It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton.  It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.


The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral.  Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2.  The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.  

Next Up:  Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Brewers:  Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)

SATURDAY

Brewers:  Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)

SUNDAY

Brewers:  Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)

Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby.  With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic:  Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B.  Venezuela:  Engelbert Ascanio, C.  Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.  There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher.  The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd.  Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.  

Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball.  Nice job, Baby Bombers!

AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):

Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO


AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)

Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO


High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)

Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO


The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season.  I am okay with this move.  Make way for younger, talented arms.


Have a great Thursday!  I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Yankee Doodle Bland-y…

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1…

The 4th of July is a great time for America as it celebrates the birth of our country.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable to provide any fireworks as they fell quietly to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.  

The game marked the return of CC Sabathia. Before the game, Manager Joe Girardi was hoping for 5 or 6 innings from Sabathia.  Unfortunately, it would prove to be something comparable to me hoping for winning PowerBall numbers. In retrospect, maybe CC should have taken a rehab assignment.  

The first inning went well enough as Sabathia retired the first three batters on fly outs to center, although he had Jacoby Ellsbury running hard for several of them.  The 2nd inning saw another three up, three down pass through the Jays lineup.  So far, so good.

Then, the 3rd inning happened.  The first two batters…no problem.  Steve Pearce flied out to left and Kevin Pillar struck out swinging.  Then, with two outs, Darwin Barney walked.  A wild pitch by Sabathia moved Barney to second.  Joey Bats followed with a single to right, scoring Barney.  Russell Martin singled and Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases.  Adam Warren got up in the bullpen to begin warming up.  On a 3-2 count, Sabathia threw Ball 4, high and outside, to Justin Smoak, which scored Bautista.  Kendrys Morales stepped up and lined a single to left through the hole, which scored Martin and Donaldson.  4-0 Blue Jays and it was shower time for Sabathia.  Warren came in to record the final out but the damage was done.  63 pitches by Sabathia (39 in the 3rd inning alone) and he was clearly laboring at the end.  He finished with 3 hits and 4 runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking 3 and striking out just 1.  Sabathia (7-3) saw his season ERA inflate to 3.81.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Yankees’ lone highlight came in the bottom of the 4th when All-Star Aaron Judge crushed a J.A. Happ pitch 456 feet to center, a line drive, for his 28th home run of the year.  The Statcast exit velocity of the ball was measured at 118.4 mph.  One more home run and Judge will match the Yankees rookie season HR record held by Joe DiMaggio. 

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

From there, the Yankees could not muster any further offense against Happ or the Jays bullpen.  Happ, a 20-game winner in 2016, picked up only his 3rd win of the year with six strong innings, holding the Yankees to four hits and the lone run.  The Jays pen held the Yankees hitless for the duration of the game.  It was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen too, most notably the 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief provided by Luis Cessa.  

The Yankees will attempt to take the series today with a win before the Jays leave town.  Tomorrow represents an off day (finally).  In their final series before the All-Star Break, the Yankees will host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games beginning Friday.  

The Yankees (44-38) slid four games behind Boston as the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 11-4.  Boston’s on a roll now with their sixth consecutive victory.   The Tampa Bay Rays are quietly sneaking up on the Yankees for second place as they are now just 1 1/2 games in back of the Pinstripers.  The Rays beat their former manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs yesterday, 6-5.  

It would have been great if the Yankees could have won on the birthdays of the United States and late owner George Steinbrenner but it was not meant to be.  We can only hope that the winning magic will return today.  Michael Pineda can make it happen.  

Odds & Ends…

After yesterday’s game, the Yankees dumped Chris Carter again.  It’s time for Carter to seek employment elsewhere.  In his final game for the Yankees, Carter was 0-for-2 and dropped a ball from Didi Gregorius in the 7th that was scored a hit for Joey Bats.  Fortunately for us, the Yankees decided it was time to pull the plug on Chris Carter Experiment II and have promoted first baseman Ji-Man Choi from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his place.  In 55 games for the RailRiders, Choi, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, hit 8 HR’s and 41 RBI’s while batting .286.  Choi is not the answer but at this point, he’s better than the man he replaced.  Choi will be available for today’s game.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

The Yankees’ decision to send Bryan Mitchell to Triple A on Tuesday rather than Luis Cessa was based on the desire for Mitchell to continue working as a starter for potential help in the rotation later in the season if necessary.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

Logan Morrison, shut up.  The Rays first baseman called out Gary Sanchez on Tuesday when he said the Yankees catcher did not deserve to participate in next week’s Home Run Derby.  In the midst of a career season, Morrison said “I remember when I had 14 home runs (Sanchez currently has 13).  That was a month and a half ago.”  Morrison was not selected for the All-Star Game and is currently one of five listed on the AL Final Vote ballot, along with Didi Gregorius and Mike Moustakas.  Even if Morrison somehow won the Final Vote, I seriously doubt that baseball fans would want to see him over Sanchez in the Home Run Derby.  Morrison can go spend next week in Tampa or Kansas City or wherever he’s from while Sanchez heads for Miami.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I prefer to see this as Winnin’ Wednesday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Chasing the Victory…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

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

The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

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

After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

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

The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough…somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today’s game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!