Tagged: Blue Jays

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!

The Power of a Good Third Baseman…

Credit:  Associated Press

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 2…

Two great offensive games and two not-so-great, so the Yankees go home with a split in Toronto.  Not the best case scenario with the Boston Red Sox on tap in the Bronx starting Tuesday night.  The Blue Jays used two late home runs to over take the Yankees in the series finale.

It was another good start by Luis Severino.  He was pitching a shutout until Justin Smoak connected for a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2.  Severino bent but he did not break.  Sadly, that was Tyler Clippard who served up the eventual game-winning home run by Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson in eighth.  For his effort in the no-decision, Sevvy went 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and the aforementioned 2 runs.  He only allowed one walk and struck out 7 while lowering his season ERA to a team-best 2.90 for starters.

Credit:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

As for Clippard (0-3), it is hard to blame anyone who gives up homers to Donaldson.  He has a knack for doing that against the best.  Still, the game might have looked different had Aroldis Chapman been healthy and active as it would have ensured the placement of Dellin Betances in the critical 8th inning.  

The Yankees only offense on this day was provided courtesy of Matt Holliday.  He had a run-scoring double in the fourth, and picked up another RBI in the sixth inning when he hit into a force play at second base that allowed Brett Gardner to score from third.

Credit:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Sevvy pitched well enough to win.  Through the last run through the rotation, the only weak links were Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda.  Unfortunately, the former is on the mound for the opening game of the Boston series.  It’s sad when the rotation’s ace is the one you trust the least (at the moment).  Severino is starting to pitch like a guy who intends to supplant Tanaka atop the rotation one day.

The Jays have a very good third baseman.  I wish we had one of those…

Credit:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

With Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the Red Sox are just two games behind the Yankees (32-22) in the AL East.  The Orioles remain 3 1/2 games back.  

Odds & Ends…

The series finale on Sunday between the AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Toledo Mud Hens was rained out.  The RailRiders resume play tonight in Rochester, New York against the Red Wings, the top farm affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.  The game will feature the next start for Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams (3-1).  He will be opposed by Yohan Pino (0-1).  

The RailRiders officially released reliever Ernesto Frieri yesterday after he had exercised a June 1st opt-out of his AAA contract.

The Yankees traded infielder Ruben Tejada, who was on the RailRiders roster, to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations.  Tejada was batting .269/.345/.462 with 6 homers and 21 RBI’s in 37 games.  Tejada had lost playing time with the arrival of Gleyber Torres and the recent activation of Donovan Solano off the DL.  Granted, Tejada is not the second coming of Cal Ripken, Jr, but I am not sure why the Yankees would want to help the Orioles in any way.  Tejada was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Greg Bird had a run-scoring single (driving in Jorge Mateo) in the High-A Tampa Yankees 9-1 win over the Jupiter Hammerheads.  Prior to the 7th inning hit, Bird’s other three at-bats ended with fly outs.  

Have a great Monday!  Hopefully it’s a restful one for the Yankees as they prepare for the Red Sox tomorrow night.

Putting Two (Bald) Heads Together…

Credit:  MLB.com

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 0…

The Yankees now have as many wins at Rogers Centre (two) as they had all of last year.  They’ve also assured themselves that they’ll leave Toronto later today with no worse than a split of the four-game series and have the potential to take three of four.

There were questions about Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery coming into the game.  Even Manager Joe Girardi was a bit testy before the game when the subject of hot prospect Chance Adams was raised.  “Are you kidding me?”, Girardi said.  “Chance Adams has one or two starts in Triple-A.  That kid was like 16-5 last year between Double-A and Triple-A.  He’s pitched really well here.  Give Chance a chance to get ready.  I like what he’s doing and he might pitch for us one day, but we’re not ready to start that.”  Adams has actually had four starts at Triple-A and was 13-1 last year between High-A and Double A but that’s beside the point.  The best answer to the Chance Adams question is to pitch like you belong in the Major Leagues.

Jordan Montgomery answered that question.

The tall lefty limited the Blue Jays to three hits over six innings.  He did walk 3 batters but struck out 5 in lowering his season ERA to 3.67.  It was a great performance by the 24-year-old and one that shows he wants to be part of the fun that is called the 2017 New York Yankees.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The game was really a tale of two stories.  The first half was a tight pitcher’s game as the Yankees were only able to score two unearned runs in the third through the game’s first six innings.  In the third, with one out, Rob Refsnyder reached first base when Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki booted a ground ball twice for an E-6.  Ref stole second (let’s see Chris Carter do that) to put himself in scoring position.  After Brett Gardner flied out for the second out, the Aarons followed with doubles as Hicks scored Refsnyder and Judge scored Hicks.  Those were the only Yankees hits until the seventh inning.

The Yankees finally scored an earned run off Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini in the seventh but it was a very good performance by Toronto’s 27-year-old right-hander.  However, on this day, Montgomery was  better.

With the pitching duel out of the way following the departures of both Montgomery and Biagini, the game turned into a Home Run Derby in the eighth inning for the Bombers.  With reliever Jason Grilli, a former closer, on the mound, it was time for some fun.  Brett Gardner opened the inning with his 12th homer of the year with a shot to right to put the Yankees up 4-0.  After the Aarons contributed the first two outs of the inning, it was time for the show.  First up, Matt Holliday.  Obviously upset that his Bald Brother, Gardner, had taken the lead in their home run battle, evened the score with his 12th.  “I gotcha Gardy!”  I loved that line as Holliday returned to the dugout.  The next batter, Starlin Castro, with the 9th pitch of the at-bat, just cleared the left field fence for his 9th home run of the season.  That brought Didi Gregorius to the plate.  With a shot to right, Didi completed the back-to-back-to-back homer barrage, ending Grilli’s day and capping the Yankees’ scoring.  Man, I hated to see Grilli go…

Credit:  Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters

Credit David Cone of the YES Network with the reference to Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Easy Money when talking about the Bald Brothers.  “Why don’t you two put your heads together and make an @$$ out of yourselves.”  The ending of the quote may not be appropriate for these two but it is a blast watching Holliday and Gardner match each other homer by homer.  

It was an interesting stat that the Yankees won this game without hitting at least one single.  All of the hits were either doubles or home runs.  

Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances combined for three innings of hitless relief in support of Montgomery (3-4).

The Yankees (32-21) increased their AL East lead to three games as the Baltimore Orioles slipped back to third following their 5-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.  The O’s are 3 1/2 games back.  

Odds & Ends…

I need to preface this by saying that I hope Jacoby Ellsbury is not seriously hurt and will not have long-term health implications.  According to the Yankees, Ellsbury has suspended baseball activities and will see a neurologist in New York tomorrow due to continued headaches after his concussion.  I was glad to hear that Aaron Hicks will continue as the starter in center field although I hate to take satisfaction at Ellsbury’s expense.  Ellsbury aside, Hicks has proven he deserves to be a starter in the Major Leagues.  The former top Twins prospect is having a career year and is such a part of the success so far this season. 

There is not much to report from AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  The RailRiders were two-hit in a shutout loss to the Toledo Mud Hens so it was an off-night for everybody.  

Although the talk is that Gleyber Torres will be promoted to the Yankees later this summer if Chase Headley continues to scuffle, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that New York is more likely to pursue a more proven veteran for the hot corner if the Yankees remain in the pennant chase.  

Congratulations to Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels who hit his 600th home run in grand fashion…a grand slam off Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins.  

Credit:  Mark J Terrill-Associated Press

Also, a shout out to Miami Marlins starter Edinson Volquez.  He threw the season’s first no-hitter yesterday against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Miami.  He accomplished the feat with just 98 pitches and he did it on a day when he paid tribute prior to the game to his good friend and former teammate, the late Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura.  Yesterday would have been Ventura’s 26th birthday.  After the game, Volquez dedicated the performance to late Miami ace Jose Fernandez and Ventura.  

Credit:  Wilfredo Lee-Associated Press

Have a great Sunday!  Hopefully the Yankees can continue the winning feeling today to help make the flight back to New York a happy one.

Good Hitting < Bad Pitching…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-Associated Press

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 5…

Bummer…

I was hoping for better results last night with Big Mike on the mound.  The Yankees tried a valiant comeback with a couple of two-run home runs but it was not enough.  

The Yankees were in an early hole when the Blue Jays scored three runs off Pineda in the first.  Josh Donaldson homered with one out and no one on.  After getting Joey Bats for the second out, Pineda walked Kendrys Morales.  That brought up Justin Smoak, who is having a breakout year at age 30.  Unfortunately, Smoak smoked the ball to right center and I was having visions of Pineda from years past.

The Blue Jays picked up a couple of more runs in the third and fourth innings to lead 5-0 when the Yankees began their comeback in the sixth.  Gary Sanchez led off with a single and Aaron Judge followed with his 18th homer.  It ended Francisco Liriano’s start.  Reliever Danny Barnes walked Matt Holliday on a 3-2 count and the next batter up, Starlin Castro, brought the Yankees to within a run at 5-4 with a homer to right center.  

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Blue Jays came right back in the bottom of the sixth when Donaldson hit his second homer of the night, a solo shot.  

The Yankees scored a run in the seventh when Matt Holliday doubled to score Aaron Judge who had walked in the previous at-bat.  But again, the Blue Jays answered in the bottom of the frame.  After Justin Smoak reached first on an error charged to Chris Carter (Yankees challenged the play and lost), Troy Tulowitzki doubled to push Smoak to third.  Devon Travis then hit a sac fly to score Smoak, bringing the score to 7-5.  

From there, the Yankees were unable to mount any threats against the Blue Jays bullpen and it was game over.  

It was a disappointing start by Michael Pineda (6-3).  He went five innings, giving up 10 hits and 5 runs.  He walked 3 batters while only striking out one.  He was unable to overcome that first inning breakdown when he allowed the two home runs.  Of course, it didn’t help that neither Jonathan Holder nor Adam Warren were able to deliver clean innings.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (31-21) remain in first place in the AL East, but the Baltimore Orioles did pick up a game and leap frogged Boston with a 3-2 win over the Red Sox.  The Orioles are 2 1/2 games back, while the Red Sox remain 3 games behind.  The Blue Jays may be in last place but they are just 5 1/2 games behind the leaders.   The only division that is tighter is the NL Central where the first place Milwaukee Brewers lead the last place Pittsburgh Pirates by only four games.  It must be nice to be a Houston Astros or Washington Nationals fan with double digit leads over their closest competitors.  One day, it will be our time to shine.  

Odds & Ends…

The rumors of Gleyber Torres to the Bronx seem to be picking up steam.  I don’t think he’s ready yet, but reports are indicating that we could see Torres as early as next month.  There’s no doubt the kid has maturity beyond his years and is a special talent, but I feel that he is an asset for opening in Spring 2018.  The lackluster play of Chase Headley, of course, is forcing acceleration of the plan.  At AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Torres is currently batting .212 (7-for-33).  In last night’s 7-5 win over the Toledo Mud Hens, Torres was 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored.  Two of his outs were by strikeout, and he walked once.  He was charged with a fielding error, his fourth at AAA.  

Credit:  Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that ultimately this may come down to a choice between Tyler Austin or Torres.  If Torres is called up, Headley becomes the backup first/third baseman.  If Austin comes up, he backs up Greg Bird at first, with Ronald Torreyes remaining the primary backup at third for Headley.  None of these scenarios bode well for Chris Carter.  We still have the potential problem at first (what if Bird continues to struggle when he returns) but there’s clearly some difficult decisions looming on the horizon.  

Austin was 1-for-4 (single) for the RailRiders yesterday.

All he does is friggin’ win.  The story of Chance Adams is amazing.  In a short time, he’s become a minor league legend.  Since being drafted in the fifth round in 2015, he’s 23-3 with 1.96 ERA in 34 games started covering 220 2/3 innings.  He has struck out 248 batters.  In the 2015 MLB Draft, current Yankees pitching prospect Dillon Tate was the fourth overall selection by the Texas Rangers.  Adams wasn’t chosen until 149 picks later.  2015 was the year the Yankees chose James Kaprielian as their first round choice.  We know the talent that Kaprielian possesses but staying healthy has been another matter.  Before the Yankees took Adams, they chose two other pitchers after Kaprielian…Jeff Degano and Drew Finley.  In a do-over, I think you’d take Adams over any of the three or four if you threw in Tate.  I still have high hopes for Kaprielian, but there is so much to be excited about Adams.   I liked the quote from AA-Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, “He is just a big leaguer in the making”.  The finished product is probably not too far away.

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In AAA transactions on Friday, the RailRiders released LHP Jason Gurka.  Gurka was signed as a minor league free agent in December 2016.  He appeared in a few Spring Training games, but wasn’t going to be an arm for consideration at the big league level.  For the RailRiders, he was 0-0 with 5.40 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.  He did strike out 20 batters so I am sure that he’ll get a look by another organization.  Best of luck to him.

Have a great Saturday!  Go Yankees!

Whatever You Can Do, I Can Do Better…

Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 12, Blue Jays 2…

Oh, that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh,

I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Forget the Toronto Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East.  This is a dangerous club and one that was predicted to battle the Boston Red Sox for the division championship in most pre-season polls.  They’re a good club and much better than their record might indicate.  They’ve been very hot recently (winners of 8 of their prior 10 games) and previously injured stars Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzski have rejoined the team.  So, it is that much sweeter to emerge from the first game of the Yankees-Blue Jays series with such a convincing win.

I love the way Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that Gary Sanchez was due to break out and then Sanchez promptly parks one in the second deck in left during the second inning at Rogers Centre for his fifth homer of the season, followed by another shot to left for his sixth round-tripper in the fourth, a two-run blast.  As John Sterling put it, “Gary is scary!”.  The two home runs traveled a combined distance of 874 feet.  Now if I could just get Girardi to say that GM Brian Cashman is really close to trading (i.e., dumping) Jacoby Ellsbury and Chris Carter…

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

If you purely looked at numbers between two players, who would you start in center field?

Player 1:  135 AB, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .281/.349/.422, .771 OPS

Player 2:  126 AB, 8 HR, 30 RBI, .317/.437/.579, 1.016 OPS

Let’s just say that I am glad Jacoby Ellsbury was unable to come off the DL when he was eligible to be activated on Thursday.  Aaron Hicks is on fire.  It’s hard to say he was the star of the game when Sanchez smacked two massive home runs, but Hicksie was 4-for-5 with 6 RBI’s to achieve at least co-star honors.  A very impressive performance for the player who was slow to realize his potential but seems to be breaking out with full force this season.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Aaron Judge, moved up to third in the batting order, singled in the game’s first run.

The Yankees were in control from the start.  They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada and never looked back.  

The recent solid run by CC Sabathia (6-2) has been nice.  Backed by superb offense, he pitched into the seventh inning.  He departed after allowing the first Blue Jays run on a homer by Kendrys Morales and subsequently striking out Justin Smoak.  The Blue Jays were only able to get five hits off CC, in addition to the one run.  CC had seven strikeouts and did not walk batter. Chad Green finished the game in relief.  He did allow a solo homer by Ezquiel Carrera but provided length to give the rest of the bullpen the night off.  

Brett Gardner, with a single in the fourth inning, achieved a career milestone with his 1,000th hit of his career.  

This was just a fun game.  The Rogers Centre has been a House of Horrors for the Yankees.  Last year, they dropped 8 of 10 games to the Blue Jays in the ballpark.  So the dominating performance made the win that much more enjoyable.  

The Yankees (31-20) were able to gain a game on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, 7-5.  The Red Sox are 3 games back, and the Orioles remained 3 1/2 games behind.  

Yankees in the News…

Reliever Ernesto Frieri opted not to exercise his opt-out yesterday.  Frieri, currently with AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is 2-0 with 3.00 ERA.  Frieri has pitched in 17 games for the RailRiders, covering 21 innings.  He has struck out 24 batters and is currently carrying a WHIP of 1.05.  As the primary closer for the RailRiders, he has 7 saves.  Time will tell if he gets another big league opportunity but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.

Greg Bird began a rehabilitation assignment with the High-A Advanced Tampa Yankees on Thursday.  Bird played first base in the game against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (you gotta love those unique minor league team names).  Maybe Tampa should be the Anti-Rays.  Bird walked in his first two at-bats showing his eyes are as strong as ever.  He finished the game with a single, in addition to the two walks, in the 6-4 loss. 

Credit:  Paul LoMoglio-Yankees

While Chris Carter was putting up another 0-fer night (hitless in 4 at-bats), Tyler Austin, starting at first base for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was getting plenty of legwork with a 3-for-4 night that featured a two run home run in the first inning of the RailRiders’ 6-3 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  Carter’s batting average has plummeted to .179 and is making it much easier for the Yankees to eventually decide between Carter and Austin.  

Aroldis Chapman threw from 90 to 100 feet on Thursday.  Girardi said that the Yankees closer will probably throw a bullpen session next week.  The closer is slowly getter closer.

In the first release of All-Star Game balloting, Aaron Judge is currently third with 730,438 votes.  The only players he trails are Washington Nationals’ star Bryce Harper and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout (who is currently on the DL following thumb surgery).  I am hoping that Harper and Judge are teammates in 2019, but Judge says screw that, I want to be his teammate this year!  Not really but if Aaron gets the call for the ASG, I am okay if he does a little schmoozing with Harper and lets him know how wonderful us Yankees fans are.  

Have a great Friday!  It’s a wonderful time to be alive…and a Yankees fan!