Tagged: Blue Jays

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!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Is the awful Tanaka the new Tanaka?…

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

Orioles 10, Yankees 4…

Disappointing, to say the least…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankees in the News…

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

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

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

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

Credit:  MiLB.com

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

Life North of the Border…

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

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42 ERA)

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

FRIDAY

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

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

SATURDAY

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

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

SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

The Rookies Have Been Judged…

Credit:  Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Live from New York, it’s The Aaron Judge Show!

Aaron Judge has been named AL Rookie of the Month for April.  He becomes the fourth Yankee to win the award.  The previous winners were Hideki Matsui (June 2003), Robinson Cano (September 2005), and Gary Sanchez (August 2016).

For the month, Judge was a little busy:

  • 1st in AL with 23 runs, .750 SLG
  • Tied for 1st in AL with 10 home runs
  • Tied for 5th in AL with 20 RBI’s

Judge was also the leader with exit velocity.  His homer off Greg Bird’s high school buddy, Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles, on April 28th had an exit velocity of 119.4 mph.  He was also seventh in the AL with the longest home run (457 feet).  I still expect Judge to top 500 feet at some point.  The current major league leader is Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks at 481 feet.  

I have not really had a favorite Yankee since Mariano Rivera retired but I am certainly a huge fan of Judge.  I just can’t decide who I like better…Judge or Gary Sanchez.  Well, I’d have to put Aroldis Chapman into the group as I’ve always loved a great closer dating back to the Rich “Goose” Gossage days, or maybe even Sparky Lyle.  All I know is that Judge and Sanchez are incredibly fun to watch.  Looking forward to getting the band back together this weekend when Sanchez returns from the DL.  

Congrats to Aaron for the AL Rookie of the Month Award.  I will really go out on a limb and say this is the first of many awards for the talented young slugger.  Seriously, I thought he was going to be good when he figured this level out but I was never expecting this type of performance.  There’s no way he can sustain it (can he?) but for now I’m enjoying the ride!

I was reading some columns on The Bleacher Report yesterday and I came across one that referenced the single thing every team should do right now.  For the Yankees, it was cutting Tommy Layne and promoting Luis Cessa.  I have to admit that I am probably on board with cutting Layne.  After his release by the Boston Red Sox last year, he did a decent job for the Yankees.  He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings pitched.  He gave up 10 hits, 6 runs, 7 walks, and struck out 13.  His WHIP was 1.063.  This year, at least for his last few outings, he’s been touched for runs.  He is currently carrying a 6.00 ERA in 6 innings pitched.  He has allowed 9 hits, 4 earned runs, and 3 walks.  He has struck out 7.  The innings aren’t sufficient to give great credibility to his WHIP but it is presently very high at 2.00.  Bottomline, Tommy Layne is what he is.  He will never be Andrew Miller and he is not a pitcher with great upside.  He’s replaceable.  The Yankees currently have a better lefty on the 25-man roster in Chasen Shreve.  I have no problem with cutting Layne loose to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.  As for who should take Layne’s place, I would not have any issues with Cessa.  I like him and think he provides a good option for long relief and rotation insurance as a potential back-end starter.  I remain a Bryan Mitchell fan, and there are probably a couple of other pitchers on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster that I could buy into over Layne.  

I feel every youth movement is best served with a combination of veterans and young talent.  If the veterans perform, they should stay.  If they don’t, I’d have no problems showing them the door.  But then again, I don’t write the checks.  I am tired of uneven and at times horrific play from overpaid, aging veterans.  I started to buy into the early season results of CC Sabathia but his last few starts have only reaffirmed that he is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was.  I am ready to move on.  I’d rather see a young pitcher learn at the Major League level like Jordan Montgomery is currently doing than pay an aged veteran who is just collecting paychecks until contract expiration or release.  CC has been great in the clubhouse but there are other guys who can rise to the challenge. I am more tolerant of mistakes by a young player who is learning than a veteran showing signs of decay.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

Speaking of Sabathia, the results were not pretty on Wednesday night.  Before the Yankees had even picked up a bat, CC had put the team in a 4-0 hole against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Justin Smoak delivered a run-scoring single in the top of the first inning and Steve Pearce, who had two homers the night before, followed with a three-run home run.  Fortunately, the Yankees answered quickly as Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run in the bottom of the frame, driving in three runs.  It seemed like it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night when the Blue Jays scored two more runs in the second inning to go up 6-3.  But these are the new and improved Yankees and when the April AL Rookie of the Month came to the plate with Starlin Castro on first base in the third inning, it was a one run game again as Judge sent a Marcus Stroman offering 426 feet over the center field wall.  Fortunately, Sabathia would not allow further damage although he was gone after just four innings.  His line for the night:  4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 SO.  In just two games, Sabathia’s ERA has gone from 2.70 to 5.45.  Sabathia pitched to two batters in the top of the fifth without recording an out, giving up a walk and a single.  Adam Warren came in and stopped the potential Jays rally.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees scored three runs to take the lead.  Two run scoring singles and a bases loaded walk put the Yankees up 8-6.  They could have gotten more runs, but Matt Holliday hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.  At that point, the game was in the hands of the dynamic duo, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

The Blue Jays didn’t threaten in those final two innings, although the game’s final batter, Russell Martin, had the benefit of four strikes before ending the game.  The umps missed a call when Martin swung and missed for an apparent third strike which subsequently bounced off his shoulder.  It should have been game over, but was not.  It took two more Chapman pitches, but the last one gave the Yankees closer his sixth save of the season.  The Yankees win, 8-6.  

Thanks to another Boston Red Sox victory over Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees (17-9) took sole possession of first place in the AL East.  There seems to be much bad blood in Boston between the O’s Manny Machado and the Red Sox.  I can’t help but think this plays into the Yankees’ hands for when Machado becomes a free agent in a couple of years.  There’s nothing better than beating the Red Sox wearing pinstripes.   

Today is an off day as the Yankees make their way to Chicago.  TV is going to be so boring tonight.  I have really gotten used to watching The Aaron Judge Show every day.  I guess I’ll just have to look forward to Friday afternoon when Michael Pineda takes the mound agains the Cubs.

Have a great and restful Thursday!

No Room For Racial Injustice…

Credit:  Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The lead for my post today has to be in support of Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.  He was subjected to thrown objects and racial taunts in Boston on Monday night.  As a Yankees fan, it would be easy to pick on the Red Sox fans but this is not isolated to Fenway Park.  There are small, narrow-minded people in every stadium, including Yankee Stadium.  There is no excuse for the racial slurs and unacceptable behavior anywhere.  

Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy issued the following statement:

“The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few. Such conduct should be reported immediately to Red Sox security, and any spectator behaving in this manner forfeits his/her right to remain in the ballpark, and may be subject to further action. Our review of last night’s events is ongoing.”

Granted, the Red Sox response was driven in large part by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred but I thought the Red Sox said the right words.  The proof is in the pudding so now let’s see Red Sox security enforce those words.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Security for every MLB team needs to take similar action.  There simply cannot be any tolerance for this type of behavior regardless of geography.  I support the Yankees but I will never support racial inequality and injustice.  I do not support the uniform he wears, but I will always support Adam Jones…the player and the man.  

A close friend of mine, a Boston-area resident and die-hard Red Sox fan, posted this on Social Media yesterday:

“I’m baffled….why are so many Red Sox fans defending the deplorable behavior of the fans last night at Fenway who yelled racial slurs and threw things at Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles? This SHOULD be something we all agree on….there is no room for hate at Fenway.”

I am in 100% agreement with her words.  This type of behavior must stop now.

To Boston’s credit, Red Sox fans gave Adam Jones a much-deserved standing ovation during yesterday’s game.

Moving on to baseball, the Yankees made a couple of moves yesterday.  Greg Bird was placed on the 10-Day Disabled List.  The ankle he injured the last week of training camp has not sufficiently healed and may have contributed to the dreadful 6-for-60 start (.100 batting average) with 22 strikeouts.  Rob Refsnyder was recalled to take Bird’s roster spot and he’ll back up interim starting first baseman Chris Carter.  Also, Luis Cessa was demoted after one day in the Bronx.  He came up long enough to cover the innings that Luis Severino could not on Monday (allowing the rest of the bullpen to take a much needed night off).  Mission accomplished, and back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Recalled in his place is lefty reliever Chasen Shreve.  Shreve has pitched very well this year whether for the Yankees or the RailRiders.  Prior to his demotion to AAA, he pitched three scoreless innings with two strikeouts.  At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed only one run.  He struck out twelve and walked none.  

The Yankees may get catcher Gary Sanchez back on Friday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  

It’s possible that Jacoby Ellsbury could find his way to the DL (surprise, surprise…yeah, not really).  He has a bruised nerve in his left elbow.  The Yankees are going to give it a couple of days before making any decisions.  Oh well, it’s good opportunity for Aaron Hicks to get some regular playing time.  I personally could have come up with many better ways to spend $153 million a few years ago but the Yankees didn’t ask me.  

According to the Miami Herald, Jeb Bush has indicated Derek Jeter will run Baseball Operations if their purchase of the Miami Marlins comes to fruition.  With a lack of experience, it will be interesting, if the sale does go through, to see who Jeter hires or if he’ll retain Yankees Legend Don Mattingly as the team’s manager.  I’ve heard some speculate that Alex Rodriguez could be the eventual manager.  If it were me, one of the first telephone calls I would make to join my administration would be Yankees Vice President and Director of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer.  I could easily envision Oppenheimer as the team’s GM.  If not Oppenheimer, then former Yankees Assistant GM Kim Ng, currently Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball.  Rule Number One, surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.

In last night’s baseball action, where do we begin?  You can talk about Brett Gardner’s second multi-homer game in four days, Matt Holliday’s 3-for-4 night or another win by Masahiro Tanaka (4-1) as the Yankees stopped Toronto’s three-game winning streak with an 11-5 victory.  But really, the game came down to two words:  

Aaron Judge.

The Aaron Judge Show continues to dazzle live and TV audiences.  Judge started the day with a smashed TV in the outfield terrace during batting practice off a monster home run.  It was a sign of things to come as Judge matched Gardner’s two homer day and easily took the spotlight from the speedy Gardner.  With a homer by center fielder Aaron Hicks, the Yankees outfield produced five home runs.  It was the most home runs produced by a Yankees outfield trio since Mickey Mantle (2), Roger Maris (2) and Yogi Berra (1) did it on May 30, 1961 in a 12-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.  Judge finished with four RBI’s while Gardner had three.

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Masahiro Tanaka was unable to match his last start in Boston and he failed to deliver a quality start but fortunately on this night it was not needed.  He needed to do enough to deliver the win and, thanks to the Yankees bats, he did his job.  He went 6 1/3 innings.  He allowed eight eights and four runs, striking out two.  Toronto got to Tanaka in the 7th inning when Steve Pearce homered and Devon Travis singled.  With one out, Clippard replaced Tanaka after the Travis at-bat, and was ineffective.  Although he got Chris Coghlan out, he gave up a single to Kevin Pillar and walked Joey Bats to load the bases.  Dellin Betances replaced Clippard, and balked to allow Travis to score (with the run charged to Tanaka).  Betances then walked Russell Martin to re-load the bases, which brought the tying run to the plate.  But Betances struck out Kendrys Morales to end the threat.  

Former Yankee Steve Pearce had two home runs for Toronto, both off Tanaka.  

With the win, the Yankees (16-9) moved back into a first place tie in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s lost to the Red Sox, 5-2.  

On the downside, catcher Austin Romine left the game with a cramp in his right groin.  According to manager Joe Girardi, Romine was pulled from the game despite saying no at least three times.  Hopefully, Romine is better today and this doesn’t develop into something more serious that causes lost playing time.  Regardless of how Romine feels today, I’d guess that Kyle Higashioka will be the starting catcher for the final game of the three-game set with the Blue Jays.  The Yankees will play it conservatively and allow Romine sufficient rest to recover.  The impending return of #24 comes at a very good time.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Hopefully the Yankees can get over the hump and beat Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays!