American League Division Series, Game 3
Yankees 1, Indians 0…
The Yankees rode the arms of Masahiro Tanaka and Aroldis Chapman, the glove of Aaron Judge and the bat of Greg Bird to to their first win in the ALDS. It was a very exciting game and one that cannot underestimate the value of Gary Sanchez’s defense behind the plate.
After a postseason that was seen a bevy of starting pitching blowups in both leagues, this was a classic pitcher’s duel. Going against Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, a “quiet” 18-game winner during the season, I figured that getting runs would be difficult.
The Indians threatened first. With one out in the top of the 4th, the Indians got their second hit of the game when Jason Kipnis lined a shot into right field for a triple. Aaron Judge, running hard, tried to reach the ball but it bounced off the palm of his glove. It looked like the Indians might score the game’s first run but Tanaka struck out both Jose Ramirez and Jay Bruce, very dangerous sluggers, to retire the Indians (much to the delight of the very loud Yankee Stadium crowd).
As great as Tanaka was pitching, the Yankees were unable to register their first hit against Carrasco until the bottom of the 4th when Didi Gregorius singled to center. He didn’t go anywhere but at least the Yankees had eliminated the goose egg under the hits column.
Roberto Perez opened the top of the 6th inning for the Tribe with a single to left. Giovanny Urshela lined out to right for the first out to bring superstar Francisco Lindor to the plate. Lindor smoked a Tanaka splitter high to right field and it looked like the Indians might have the first runs of the game. Hold your horses! Aaron Judge perfectly timed his leap and with his glove stretched high from his 6’7″ frame, he caught Lindor’s ball from landing in the first rows of the right field seats. It was a brilliant game-saving catch. If you can’t beat them with your bat, beat them with your glove.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
The Yankees mounted their first genuine scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th. The inning started when Aaron Hicks reached first base on a slow grounder to third off the end of his bat. Unfortunately, Brett Gardner hit a grounder to short which the Indians turned for a double play. Aaron Judge was next and he walked on five pitches. Gary Sanchez followed with a single to center. Didi Gregorius, like Judge, also walked on five pitches from Carrasco. Bases loaded for Starlin Castro. Tribe manager Terry Francona made the call to the bullpen and brought in the great Andrew Miller. Miller retired Castro on a pop up to shallow left, leaving the bases full of Yanks. Ugh…
While Tanaka was continuing to breeze through the Indians’ lineup, Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th against Miller with a massive home run into the second deck (almost into the third deck) of right field. Remind me again why we (which includes me) wanted Yonder Alonso, Justin Bour, Lucas Duda or Jay Bruce for first base before the trading deadline. Bird is showing that he was the best first base “acquisition” of the second half. The Yankees were up, 1-0.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
Todd Frazier followed Bird, however, he flied out to left. Francona made another call to the pen, this time for one-time Yankee Tyler Olson. Olson struck out both Chase Headley and Aaron Hicks to end the inning, making me wonder why the Yankees cut Olson in 2016. Olson had come to the Yankees in the January 2016 trade that also brought Ronald Torreyes from the Los Angeles Dodgers for third baseman Rob Segedin. The Yankees ended up cutting both players, although we know that Torreyes eventually found his way back home. Nice job by Olson although I was hoping for a much worse result for him.
David Robertson took over for Tanaka in the top of the 8th. He got Austin Jackson to fly out to right for the first out, but then he walked Michael Brantley on a full count. Manager Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances so he pulled D-Rob and replaced him with Aroldis Chapman. Chapman did his job, racking up two strikeouts on eight pitches.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
In the bottom of the 8th, with Olson still pitching for the Indians, Brett Gardner led off with a fly to center that dropped barely in front of the glove of center fielder Jason Kipnis for a double. The Indians brought in former Los Angeles Angels reliever Joe Smith who struck out Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. After Didi Gregorius was intentionally walked, Starlin Castro hit into a fielder’s choice at third to retire Gardy on the force out. I would have preferred an insurance run or two in that spot but it was not to be.
Onto the top of the 9th, and time for a showdown between Chapman and the Indians, facing the top of the order. Chapman struck out Francisco Lindor for the first out. Then things got very tense. Jason Kipnis singled up the middle to center field, followed by a very sharp grounder to third by Jose Ramirez. Todd Frazier made a great stop but the ball came out of his glove on the transfer from his knees. Runners at first and second with only one out. Chapman, firing at 100 mph+, dug deep and struck out Jay Bruce for the critical second out. One man stood between Chapman and victory and it was Carlos Santana, more than capable of sending one out for the tying run. Chapman won the battle when Santana got under a 102 mph Chapman fastball and lifted a fly to left center into the glove of Aaron Hicks for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Getty Images|
It was a nail-biter at the end but the Yankees persevered to live another day. I honestly didn’t think that Greg Bird’s solo home run would hold up as the margin of victory but to my pleasant surprise, it did. Clearly, if Aaron Judge hadn’t made that great catch in the 6th inning, there would be champagne stains on the floor in the visitor’s clubhouse.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was booed heavily by the home crowd during the pre-game introductions. I blamed Girardi for the Game 2 loss as much as anyone, but I thought it was unfair to treat Girardi so poorly. Regardless of his faults, he is the current manager of the Yankees and his job is win games for us. The last thing he needed was our non-support. Not one of the better moments at Yankee Stadium.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Gary Sanchez, who has taken much heat for his defense and league-leading passed balls, did an excellent job catching this game.
For today’s game, the Cleveland Indians have announced that Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer, pitching on short rest, will get the nod. He’ll be opposed by Luis Severino who made the less-than-stellar extremely short start in the Wild Card game. Hopefully, Sevy will have the answer for his nerves tonight when he steps out on the main stage. His job is to get this series back to Cleveland and into the hands of Sonny Gray.
Odds & Ends…
I enjoy reading Nick Cafardo’s Sunday Baseball Notes in the Boston Globe even if it does have a slight Red Sox taint to it. Cafardo is a very good baseball writer. But one entry this weekend was disturbing. I know that there’s a strong possibility and very likely that new Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter will draw upon past relationships as he builds his new organization in Miami. Already, names like Gary Denbo and even GM Brian Cashman have been mentioned. Cafardo threw out a few more names of potential possibilities…Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Ugh, I really hope that this does not happen. While I may never have been a great fan of Jeter, he’s hitting on some names that I hold very dear within the Yankees history. I didn’t dislike Jeter when he was a Yankee (I appreciated his time in Pinstripes), but he wasn’t one of my favorites. The other names would be a little harder to accept (for me). It is tough enough watching Don Mattingly in a Marlins cap…
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Have a great Monday! Let’s even this series! Go Yankees!
Let someone else try…
While I greatly respect Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo, his column today that implies the Yankees have come the closest in making a bid for Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels just doesn’t make sense to me. While I agree that Hamels is a top shelf starter, I find it very hard to believe that the team would be willing to part with top prospects and major league talent to acquire Hamels. This past winter, they could have acquired Max Scherzer for nothing more than money and a draft pick.
If the team is serious about its bid to get younger, acquiring the 31 year old Hamels is not the answer. You’d only acquire Hamels if you legitimately felt you had a shot for the World Series. The Yankees are not at the doorstep for the Fall Classic and they wouldn’t be even if they acquired Hamels.
I know there is great risk with any prospect and of course the path to the major leagues is littered by sure fire prospects who never made it. In the past, Yankee fans have been teased with the hype associated with players like Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos. Montero is in Seattle and while he may still be the player people thought he would be, he hasn’t done it yet and despite his injury history, Michael Pineda is a better player at this point in their respective careers. Manny Banuelos is in Atlanta and he brought a couple of arms for the bullpen. Perhaps guys like Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge are over-hyped because they are Yankees, but still, I would hate to see them leave and prosper in Philly. I am sure that I felt the same way about Montero and Banuelos at some point, but I do believe the Yankees have made a concerted effort to improve their drafts in recent years.
At a time when there is competitive balance in the MLB thanks to profit sharing and luxury taxes paid by the richer teams and primarily the Yankees, the Yankees have the financial strength to employ the best scouts to uncover the diamonds in the rough. If over a century of Yankees baseball has proven anything, the Yankees know how to adapt and they’ll continue to do so. But the key is getting younger and getting more cost controlled players. That’s why a move for Cole Hamels just does not make sense.
I would love to see Hamels in the Yankees starting rotation. But I simply do not want to part with the farm system to do it. Whoever acquires Hamels is going to overpay. Let some other team overpay, even if it is the Boston Red Sox.
The Bear is sleeping…
With the Yankees in hibernation for the winter, there’s not much for us Yankee fans to talk about. The latest speculation centers on catcher Jorge Posada and where he might end up. Of the three teams mentioned (Rays, Phillies, and Orioles), I don’t see Jorge as a good fit.
In Tampa, he’d back up his former back up, Jose Molina. I suppose that he could earn additional starting time by the virtue of his superior bat, but why tarnish a great Yankees legacy by playing for a key divisional rival. Same goes for the Orioles. I think there’s a strong chance for Jorge to get pushed aside in either organization for younger, cheaper talent. Neither the O’s or the Rays would be beholden to Posada as he didn’t carve out a borderline Hall of Fame career in their uniforms. As for the Phillies, it would probably be a good way for one last shot at the World Series, but the Phillies have emerged as a chief rival for the Yankees. He wouldn’t start for the Phillies, and his pinch-hitting opportunities and DH duty in interleague play would be limited with Jim Thome on the roster.
I would still like to see Jorge go to the Miami Marlins as a best-case scenario if he decides to continue playing. He lives in Miami, and the team is in the opposing league. They are not a natural rival by geography, and he wouldn’t tarnish his Yankees legacy. But as Nick Cafardo said in his Boston Globe column yesterday, “Hope Jorge Posada retires as a Yankee”.
Short-term rental looks better every day…
With the list of prospective pitchers dwindling, I am in favor of a short term signing (such as Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson). The recent trades of Mat Latos to the Reds and Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals has shown that the price is sky high for young, talented pitchers. Giving up Jesus Montero and Manuel Banuelos in any trade would be a mistake. I am not sure if this is akin to 1995 when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera may have been considered potential prospect trade bait, but still, I’d rather see what the future holds with Montero and Banuelos than without. I think that either Oswalt or Jackson would be a better option than either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, and would allow the Yankees more time to work on a more equitable trade or seek potential help in the 2012 free agent market.
Strengthening your team with ex-Yankees…
I really do not want to see the Boston Red Sox weaken the Yankees’ bench by signing Andruw Jones. The Yankees had a great fourth outfielder in 2011, and they need to make his return a priority. This is an area that I’ve been greatly disappointed by the continued silence. I really do not feel that Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson or Melky Mesa can fill Andruw’s shoes.
Just like the Los Angeles Angels crept up and became the star of the Winter Meetings (overtaking the Miami Marlins), I keep expecting the Red Sox, who have been very dormant this winter despite their acquisition of former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon, to make a big splash to improve their 2012 team for new manager Bobby Valentine. It could be the signing of Hiroki Kuroda (whom the Yankees are also interested in) or a trade for the Cubs’ Matt Garza, but if they do improve, it will be difficult for the Yankees to adjust.
The Winter of (Y)our Discontent…
I never thought I’d feel bad for the New York Mets, but it has to be tough for their fans to watch their team move into rebuilding mode when every other team in the division has gotten better. The Mets would appear to have a stranglehold on fifth place in their division, with no competition. There is no great joy in watching the Mets as a defeated organization.
Don’t wake the Beast…
It’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in less than two months. Of course, I am in Minnesota and it’s sunny with an expected high today of nearly 50 degrees. Nothing is what you expect, or I suppose you could say what it seems. There’s a winter beast that will soon be awakened in Minnesota. Does the same hold true for The Bronx?…
The new and improved Yankees make their way to Beantown for a three-game series beginning tonight…
Fresh off a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks find themselves a game up on the Red Sox in the AL East Standings. Of course, anything can happen over the next three days, but the stage is set for a major in-season battle for supremacy.
When they last played, New York was left with a 13-13 record after being swept in a two-game series in early May, Mark Teixeira was batting .198, and Alex Rodriguez was in Tampa in preparation of rejoining the team in Baltimore the following weekend. Since A-Rod has arrived, the Yankees have been on a tear. The Yankees record is now 34-23 and Mark Teixeira has improved his batting average to .286, with 18 home runs.
Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger
The team chemistry is better than I’ve seen in a number of years. A little Swish goes a long way…
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Of course, the usual rhetoric is taking place with the latest Yankees-Red Sox series. Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe wrote a story called “A missed mark” and went as far as to say the Yankees’ signing of Mark Teixeira at the Red Sox expense “…could loom as a pivotal turning point in baseball’s fiercest division”. Teixeira is proving to be one of the best free agent signings ever by the Evil Empire. He has obviously been playing in a higher league for the last month, but taking him away from a bitter rival can never be understated. With Ortiz on the downslope, how much different would the Red Sox have looked with Tex at first and Kevin Youkilis at third? Julia will give you all the reasons for why it’s great to have Mike Lowell in the lineup, but clearly they would have been better with Tex and Youk at the corners. Fortunately, we’ll never know what could have been but rather what was meant to be…
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Julia seems pretty confident that I’ll be wearing a Jason Bay t-shirt by the end of the week. She also thought the Bruins were going to win the Stanley Cup and the Celtics were going to repeat as champions in the NBA. She also said that the Patriots wouldn’t trade Matt Cassel. So, when she says that the Red Sox will sweep the Yankees, I smile and wonder what she’ll look like wearing a Mark Teixeira t-shirt…
Like CC Sabathia said, “We’re pitching better, playing better defense obviously. Getting A-Rod back makes a huge difference. We’re a different team.” Yes, Julia, there is a Santa Claus…
Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for their selection of pitcher Stephen Strasburg as the number one pick in the First Year Player Draft. Granted, the pick had been anticipated for weeks, but I am hopeful to see Strasburg fulfill his tremendous promise.
In a departure from baseball talk, the Minnesota Vikings have given Brett Favre until the end of the week to decide if he’ll play in 2009. Favre had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder last month, and he still doesn’t know if he’ll be ready to resume his playing career. Meanwhile, the Favre family has blocked out 25 to 30 hotel rooms for the November weekend when the Vikings will be in Green Bay to play the Packers. Does it mean Favre will come out of retirement? Who knows. The family certainly has time to cancel the reservations. I have mixed feelings. I am all in favor of anything that would increase the Vikings chances for a 5th Super Bowl appearance. Is Favre better than Sage Rosenfels or Tavaris Jackson? If healthy, the answer is yes. But it was miserable to watch Favre the second half of last season. Is that the Favre we’d be destined to see? If so, I’d prefer he just stay in Mississippi and only make a trip to Green Bay to retire his number. Favre’s presence on the Vikings roster would probably cause the loss of John David Booty who has looked very much improved in this year’s OTA’s. That price is too high for a one year gamble…