Tagged: Blue Jays

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!

Forget Yesterday, Fight for Today…

It’s tough to follow a game that you should have won with a dull, listless performance.  So it was for the Yankees as they fell 7-1 to the AL cellar rats, the Toronto Blue Jays.  To the Blue Jays credit, they are now on a three-game winning streak and have held their opponents to a single run in each of those victories.  It was just a matter of time before the Blue Jays started playing like the team many predicted to contend for the AL East and unfortunately the Yankees may have run into them at the wrong time. 

Luis Severino, after his brilliant performance in Boston, let the bottom of Toronto’s batting order do the damage.  In the second inning, he allowed a two-run homer to the number seven hitter, shortstop Ryan Goins, who is subbing for the injured Troy Tulowitzki.  It would be the only runs Toronto would need on a quiet night for Yankee bats.  Severino allowed another home run in the sixth inning to the number nine hitter, third baseman Chris Coghlan, a fill-in for the injured Josh Donaldson.  Severino (2-2) lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 5 runs.  He walked two and struck out 3.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Reliever Luis Cessa took one for the team and finished the remaining 3 1/3 innings to provide rest for the weary Yankees bullpen.  He did give up a two-run shot to Jose Bautista in the seventh inning but was otherwise effective.  

Jacoby Ellsbury made a great play in the sixth inning with a leaping catch of a potential double.  His momentum carried him into the centerfield wall.  A runner on third scored on the sac fly, but then Ellsbury overthrew Aaron Judge on an attempt to get the ball back into the infield which allowed a runner on second to also score.  

Greg Bird is lost at the plate.  His latest 0-for-4 performance dropped his batting average to an even .100.  He left 5 men on base.  The Yankees continue to give him chances to turn it around, but when is enough?  I’ve been in Bird’s corner but at some point, he needs to figure this out at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, not New York, in order to restore his confidence.  I had thought he was getting better swings in recent days but the results are not there.  I am not ready to say ‘send him down today’ but it is probably not going to take too many more games of hitless results.  

It was just one of those games.  The Yankees have struggled against the Blue Jays in recent years as they are just 13-26 against Toronto since the start of the 2015 season.  The loss dropped the Yankees (15-9) one game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The O’s beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Monday night to recapture sole possession of first place.  But today, yesterday means nothing.  The Yankees can still take this series and it starts today with timely hitting and precision pitching.   

Prior to the game, the Yankees recalled Cessa to provide long relief insurance and optioned reliever Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Brendan Kuty of NJ.com had the best Twitter line:  “Mitchell will likely share 1B duties with Refsnyder and Choi” in reference to Mitchell’s one inning of work at first base on Sunday.  Too funny!

With no offense to Jorge Mateo, my personal favorite for the future of center field at Yankee Stadium had quite a game on Sunday.  Dustin Fowler, a strong candidate to eventually unseat Jacoby Ellsbury, hit for the cycle as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Indianapolis Indians (the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top farm club), 7-6. 

In the bottom of the 11th inning, Fowler capped his memorable day with a walk-off home run, completing the cycle.   For the game, the 22-year-old went 5-for-6 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s.  For the season, Fowler is batting .293 (24-for-82), 4 home runs, and 12 RBI’s.  He is second on the team with a .914 OPS.  He has also stolen two bases.

Fowler’s day:

1st Inning:  Tripled to right.

3rd Inning:  Grounded out to third.

5th Inning:  Doubled to right, scoring Tyler Wade.

7th Inning:  Singled to center.

9th Inning:  Doubled to right.

11th Inning:  Homered to right, no one on…RailRiders win!

It may have taken two extra innings, but what a way to cap hitting for the cycle!  Congrats to Fowler for the terrific game.  I look forward to the day when he is doing this in the Bronx.

Credit:  Times Leader

I am a Yankees Homer but I can’t predict an AL championship for the Yankees yet.  Granted, the team finished the month of April in a first-place tie with the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s still a very long season.  The Yankees had a chance to bury the Orioles on Sunday and couldn’t do it.  The ebbs and flows the season will ultimately predict the final standings.  Let’s see how the team handles its first real stretch of difficulty.  With the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros looming on the horizon, adversity is on its way.  The last time catcher Gary Sanchez started a game, the Yankees were 1-4.  So let’s not start printing World Series tickets just yet.  Through May 1st last year, the Yankees were 8-15.  This season, they are 15-9 through the same date.  If they finish the season, from this point forward, with the same number of wins and losses as last year, they are a 90-win team.  I think this team can contend for a Wild Card spot but I am not ready to anoint them as potential division champions. I still expect Boston to play much better as the season progresses, particularly if they get David Price back.  And I’ve learned to never underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles.  The charging Blue Jays also have the Yankees’ number.  If the Yankees are still slugging it out for first place at the All-Star Break, then I’ll reconsider my forecast.  But for now, I still feel the best case scenario is a Wild Card slot with the division championship a season or two away.

Have a great Tuesday!  Today is a new day…time to beat these pesky Jays!

Fifteen wins for April? Sign me up…

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

All things considered, I’d rather talk about wins than losses…  

After reeling off two wins against the Baltimore Orioles, it felt like the chances were good for a sweep when the Yankees rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie Sunday’s game 4-4.  But unfortunately, luck ran out and the Yankees lost 7-4 as they now await the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays later today.  

The loss dropped the Yankees to 15-8 and back into a tie for first place with the Orioles.

Although the Yankees had their chances late in the game, I thought the inability to push more runs across early in the game was key.  Had they broken open the game early, there would have been no need for late game heroics.  Through the first three innings, the Yankees left seven men on base.  The Yankees had runners on second and third with no outs in the second inning, but failed to score when O’s starter Wade Miley struck out Kyle Higashioka, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks in succession.

For the game, the Yankees left sixteen runners on base.  Still, they had a chance, thanks to a single by Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the ninth that scored Aaron Judge and Chase Headley to tie the game.  After Gregorius took second due to defensive indifference, the Yankees had runners at second and third.  Unfortunately, Chris Carter struck out to end the threat with a weak at-bat.  

From there, things got interesting.  Manager Joe Girardi moved reliever Bryan Mitchell, who had pitched the top of the ninth, to first base, and brought in Aroldis Chapman.  By keeping Mitchell in the game, the Yankees lost the DH spot in the lineup as it was taken by the new pitcher.  Had the Yankees won the game in the bottom of the tenth, it would have been a brilliant move.  Mitchell did commit one error (dropped foul pop) but Chapman prevented any other damage.  Sadly, with no DH, Matt Holliday was out of the game, and the Yankees had to pinch hit Greg Bird with the winning run at third base and only one out.  Bird was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and the next batter, Starlin Castro, hit into a force out that got Austin Romine out at the plate.  With the bases still loaded and two outs, Aaron Judge had a chance to send his team to victory, but it was not meant to be as he struck out.  

The lost chances eliminated the Yankees’ hopes for a win as the Orioles scored three runs in the top of the eleventh against Bryan Mitchell, who had moved back to pitching from first base to replace Chapman at the start of the inning.  

It was a frustrating set of circumstances that led to the lost DH but I do not fault Girardi for trying to get creative.  With a depleted bullpen, the Yankees did not have the men for an extended extra inning affair.  I would have preferred to have seen Holliday batting in the tenth with the winning run 90 feet away but you cannot fault Girardi’s logic.  He was trying to win a game and it could have (coulda, woulda, shoulda) worked out.  

I am not going to worry about a loss on April 30th.  The Yankees are still playing very well, and there’s nothing about yesterday’s loss that can detract from the excitement about the team.  If the Yankee took two games out of three for every series, they’d be in excellent shape.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Tonight, the Yankees begin a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.  After a horrific start to the season, the Blue Jays are starting to win.  They took two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend.  This will be a big test for the young Yankees.

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

MONDAY

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.70 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-1, 3.00 ERA)

TUESDAY

Blue Jays:  Mat Latos (0.00, 3.27 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 4.20 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (2-2, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (2-1, 4.34 ERA)

The former Yankees in this series are Blue Jays starting catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Steve Pearce.

Speaking of ex-Yankees, infielder Pete Kozma, who had been designated for assignment when Didi Gregorius returned, has been claimed by the Texas Rangers.  To make room for Kozma, the Rangers demoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar to Triple-A.  Best of luck to Kozma and thanks to him for his brief efforts in the Bronx.

As for current Yankees, catcher Gary Sanchez begins a rehab assignment with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow with eyes on returning this weekend at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  

Have a great Monday!  Let’s get this machine back in the win column!

Well, that didn’t turn out as planned…

Be careful what you ask for…

In my last post, I stated my preference for Masahiro Tanaka to be named the Opening Day starter.  This, of course, was before Joe Girardi announced that Tanaka, in fact, would be the starter.  So of course, Tanaka promptly bombed as the Yankees were throttled by the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1.

The start didn’t change my opinion that Tanaka was the best choice.  Michael Pineda is the next best starter on the staff, but he didn’t deserve the nod over Tanaka.  CC Sabathia may have been the sentimental choice if for no other reason than the consecutive years he has been the starter.  But his performance last season (injuries combined with the continued gradual decline) didn’t warrant the start either.  Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t going to get it, and neither was Adam Warren.  The right choice was made by Girardi even if the results indicated otherwise.

My concern, more than anything, is the health of Tanaka’s arm.  Yes, it was only one start and one start does not a season make.  But going to last year after he returned from the DL, the results of not been great.  If Tanaka has to learn to be a different pitcher at age 26 to lessen the strain on the elbow ligament, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be successful.  A solid outing would certainly help allay some of the concerns, but inevitably, I do feel this road leads to Tommy John surgery.  The sad part is that if he undergoes the surgery at any point this season, we most likely would not see him again until 2017, with 2018 being the target for a full return to health.

It’s too bad the Yankees do not have the quality starters to go six deep.  I’d rather lessen the load on Tanaka by spreading the distance between his starts.

Tanaka’s health certainly increases the spotlight on Adam Warren, as he’ll need to be the man to bridge the gap.  Today he is covering for Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova, but later in the summer, it could very well be for Tanaka.

Larry Rothschild is certainly earning his paycheck.  Earlier in the year, I didn’t think we’d see Luis Severino in the major leagues this year.  Now, it appears to be only a matter of time.

Another prospect lost…

It is hard not to get excited about certain prospects, and that certainly held true for catcher Austin Romine who was once billed as one of the organization’s best catching prospects along with since traded Jesus Montero.  Romine has the bloodline (his father Kevin played for the Boston Red Sox among other teams and his brother Andrew plays for the Detroit Tigers).  I was hopeful that Romine would use spring training to show the team that he belongs in New York.  It didn’t happen with a sub .200 batting average.  Perhaps the odds were against him since he was out of options and John Ryan Murphy, his competition for the back-up catching spot, is the better hitter.  Still, it was sad when the team announced just before the start of the season that it had designated Romine for assignment.  Maybe there’s a chance that he stays in the organization, but it seems inevitable that a trade is the more probable outcome as there isn’t much of a chance Romine could slide through waivers (teams need catching help too much, just ask Boston).  Romine has been an outstanding team guy and he’ll serve some organization well when/if he finally gets his chance at the Show.

A-Rod…

I am still not an A-Rod fan but I have to admit that he carried himself well in spring training and has done everything the team has asked.  If the Yankees suddenly found a way to rid themselves of A-Rod, I’d be all in favor.  But since that’s not going to happen, I’ll have to give A-Rod credit for not rocking the boat.

I still can’t bring myself to cheer for A-Rod but he’s effectively shut me up from booing for now.

*    *     *

I am glad that the baseball season is back but it would have been more exciting to open the season with a victory.  It was tougher to see the loss combined with a convincing Red Sox win on Opening Day.  Red Sox always gloat in victory so Opening Day was no exception.

I do feel more confident with Michael Pineda on the mound Wednesday, however, the team offense needs to step up their game.

Let’s Go, Yankees!

–Scott

Like it or not, here comes the 2015 season…

What’s the plan?…

Well, it’s January 2015.  The Yankees roster is slowly evolving.  The latest addition/return was the surprise re-signing of Stephen Drew which certainly makes sense.  While I still prefer to see Rob Refsnyder win the second base job outright, Drew certainly provides great insurance at both second base and shortstop.  It’s no sure thing that Didi Gregorius will be successful and I’d prefer not to see Brendan Ryan as the only other choice, even if he is a slick fielder.

I am still concerned about the starting rotation.  Reading CC Sabathia say the knee is fine is hardly a ringing endorsement that he’ll be the CC of old.  I think best case he is a strong #3 in the rotation if he is able to come back healthy.  His days as the team’s ace are over…in my opinion.  The hope of the rotation lies with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda.  Obviously, there are health concerns with both pitchers.  Even though Ivan Nova will return later in the year, I do not expect him to be back up to par until 2016.  Nathan Eovaldi is the project.  The Yankees apparently think they can turn him around and perhaps they can.  It would be good to get him to the point that he is as reliable and consistent as Hiroki Kuroda was.

While I get why the Yankees will not pay $200 million for Max Scherzer, I wish they would make a play for James Shields.  With a rotation containing so much uncertainty, the Yankees really need a dependable starter without question marks.

I have heard some rumblings that the Yankees now have the prospects to make a trade for Cole Hamels, but I am not sure that’s one I would pursue.  I like prospects such as Aaron Judge and Luis Severino and want to see them succeed in pinstripes.  It was tough when I was a kid and the Yankees were always trading youth for veterans.  Doug Drabek, Jay Buhner, Fred McGriff, Al Leiter, J.T. Snow, Brad Ausmus.  I know the list is much longer than this, but it was tough watching guys like that succeed elsewhere.

I don’t think that Cole Hamels would be the missing ingredient to suddenly make the Yankees the World Series favorites.  So, if he is not the difference maker, then the Yankees shouldn’t raid the cupboards to bring him aboard.  I’d rather see Hamels go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The fear of course is that he’ll be calling Fenway Park home next season.

At this point, I still do not see the 2015 Yankees making the play-offs.  I think the Baltimore Orioles will still be the team to beat.  They suffered off-season losses, yes, but they’ll also be getting back Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.  The Toronto Blue Jays look to be the most improved team and they’ve been a team of potential for a few years.  Boston will be stronger, and it’s best to never underestimate the Tampa Bay Rays even if Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman are no longer calling the shots.

There’s still time for GM Brian Cashman to make the moves to propel the Yankees into contention but so much is riding on better seasons from Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Mark Teixeira.  Of the group, McCann is the only one I feel is capable for turning it around.  Beltran and Teixeira are in their decline years, and that slippery slope is steeper for some guys.

Hear the voice of the Bard!…

There’s a nice piece in Nick Cafardo’s column today (Sunday Baseball Notes in The Boston Globe) about the comeback of Daniel Bard.  It would be good to see Bard successfully return to his position of bullpen relevance after years of struggle.  Perhaps that’s a buy low signing the Yankees should pursue.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  There was a time when Bard was a Yankees draft pick although he never signed.  Even if he goes back to Boston or another team, I truly hope that Bard is successful.

Short walk to the Hall…

Congratulations to the Hall of Fame inductees:  John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, and Pedro Martinez.  I think all of the selections were justified.  It was sad that it was the final ballot appearance for Don Mattingly, but it was a given that he was not going to make it.  Maybe he can take the Joe Torre route…great managerial success to go with a strong playing career…to gain access to the Hall.

25 years is long enough…

Put me in the group of people who want to see Pete Rose allowed to enter the Hall of Fame.  He remains one of the best players I’ve been privileged to see play in my lifetime.  This is not an endorsement of Pete the man and I feel what he did was wrong, however, Pete the player was one of the best players of all-time.

I am glad that this is the last full month without any baseball activity.  Looking forward to the opening of spring training camps next month.

–Scott