Tagged: Boston

Thank You, We’ll Just Take The Wild Card…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1…

The title is sarcastic (if you didn’t notice). I am very disappointed with Masahiro Tanaka and the blow out loss to the AL East Cellar Dwellers. Trailing the Red Sox by four games with only nine games to play makes it a near impossibility to catch Boston unless they go into a tailspin like the Los Angeles Dodgers recently did. I seriously doubt that will happen for the Red Sox as they keep winning.

The Yankees had been playing so well, winning 15 of 20 games since August 31st. For a year that the Yankees have exceeded all expectations, Tanaka’s overall performance is the reason the Yankees are talking Wild Card and not AL East title. If he had pitched like his previous three years, we’d be talking about how many games the Red Sox are behind. It bothers me that we can hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, we can sweep the most recent series with the Twins, and yet, the Twins have a chance for one game to send the Yankees packing for the winter. If the Yankees play like they did yesterday, there will be no expanded playoffs for the Pinstripes.  

Aaron Judge is the only player that came ready to play. His solo home run in the first inning, a monster 469 foot blast to left center off the facing of the second deck, gave the Yankees an early lead but it was the last run the Yankees would score. It was Judge’s 46th home run of the season, matching Joe DiMaggio’s career high. 

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

The Blue Jays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the 1st against Tanaka.  Teoscar Hernandez led off with a single to left center. Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder’s choice at third but Todd Frazier’s throw to Starlin Castro, which should have been an easy force out at second, got past Castro for an error as Hernandez raced around to third. Runners at the corners. Jose Bautista hit a soft grounder to third and was thrown out at first but Hernandez scored. Game tied, 1-1.

In the top of the 3rd, Todd Frazier doubled to right on a ball that went to the wall, sliding into second just under the throw from Jose Bautista. Clint Frazier popped out to the shortstop for the first out.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right on a great running catch by Bautista, who then threw the ball in to second baseman Ryan Goins.  With the Toddfather standing on second, Goins used the old hidden ball trick with a fake throw.  Frazier momentarily lifted his foot off second to turn around and Goins nabbed him for the out to complete the double play. It was that type of game…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

In the bottom of the 3rd, Teoscar Hernandez got to Tanaka again, this time a solo shot to left to give the Blue Jays the 2-1 lead. Bottom of the 4th, it was Russell Martin’s turn. His two-run shot, a liner just over the left field wall off Tanaka after Joey Bats had walked to start the inning, put the Blue Jays, 4-1.  

The Yankees’ third and final hit came in the top of the 6th when Aaron Judge led off with a double to deep left center that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall.  But the silent Yankee bats left him stranded behind the pitching of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, the recipient of a $13 million contract extension a few days earlier.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays put the game away against Tanaka.  Jose Bautista walked to start the inning.  Kevin Pillar singled to center as Joey Bats moved to second.  Tanaka struck out Russell Martin and Miguel Montero so it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning, but then he walked Kendrys Morales, pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney, on four consecutive balls out of the strike zone to load the bases.  Tanaka had two strikes on the ‘Hidden Ball’ Master, Ryan Goins, but the third pitch, a slider, left the park in right for a grand slam. 8-1 Blue Jays, and, finally, the end of the night for Tanaka.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The only remaining runner that the Yankees could muster was when Aaron Judge walked in the 8th. The Blue Jays easily coasted to victory and most likely handed the Boston Red Sox the AL East Championship.

I apologize to those of you who are Tanaka fans but he sucked. His win-loss record now stands at 12-12 and his season ERA has increased to 4.94.  He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and three home runs in 5 2/3 innings.  He disappeared at a time when the Yankees needed him the most.  Dude, please opt out at the end of the year if this is truly the pitcher you are now.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Yankees (85-68), as mentioned, fell four games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat Sal Romano, who grew up as a Yankees fan, and the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4.  The Minnesota Twins have won two straight since they were swept by the Yankees so they have reduced their Wild Card deficit from 7 games to 5 1/2 in two days.  The Los Angeles Angels are in a downward spiral, losers of five in a row, so they trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games, along with the Texas Rangers.  

I don’t mind when the Yankees battle hard and lose, but Friday night was not one of those games.  Outside of Aaron Judge, it was a complete team letdown. If I didn’t know better, it looked like the Toronto Blue Jays were the playoff team, not the Yankees.  We expect and demand better play today.

Odds & Ends…

Today’s pitching matchup will feature Sonny Gray (9-11) versus Joe Biagini (3-11). A change was announced for Sunday. Jaime Garcia (5-9) now gets the start. He’ll oppose New York native Marcus Stroman (12-8).  

Todd Frazier was able to talk to the father of the little girl struck by the foul ball during Wednesday’s game. The little girl is still in the hospital and as one relative indicated, it will be a long process. Frazier was told by the girl’s father that “she’s doing okay”. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the little girl as she continues to recover.  

After last night’s game, an unauthorized man apparently gained access to the Yankees clubhouse in an attempt to steal some towels and a batting helmet. He was chased away by Todd Frazier, Tyler Wade, and others. The man was subsequently detained by stadium security but it’s scary that someone could have penetrated the crowded clubhouse that easily.  

Have a great Saturday!  Hopefully this a much better baseball day for all of us.  Go Yankees!

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On Second Thought, He’s Safe!…

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Yankees 9, Red Sox 2…

The most critical play of the game might have been when the Yankees challenged the call in the bottom of the 6th.  The bases were loaded and two outs for Gary Sanchez.  He hit a hard smash to third.  Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers dove to stop the ball and got up, throwing the ball to first.  The ref signaled out and it appeared the inning was over.  But hold on, the Yankees challenged the play and replay showed that Sanchez had reached first just ahead of the ball.  The call was overturned and the inning continued.  Six runs later and the Yankees had placed a dagger in Boston’s heart.

The Yankees had runners at third in the first two innings but nothing to show for it.  Luis Severino was dominating the Red Sox but the Yankees were getting their chances against Boston starter Chris Sale.  Finally, to open the bottom of the 3rd, Chase Headley sent a Sale pitch into the left field stands (just over the wall).  

In the bottom of the 4th, the long ball continued to be the only weapon.  Matt Holliday, after battling off a few pitches, blasted a solo shot to the deepest part of the park in center and was followed by Todd Frazier’s homer to left (a few rows back).  The Yankees had taken a 3-0 lead.  

When Chris Sale was pulled with one out and runner at first in the top of the 5th inning, he was laboring and had thrown 109 pitches.  It’s amazing that as dominant as Sale has been this year against the Yankees, he failed to win a game in four tries.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

The Sox finally got on the board in the top of the 6th.  Eduardo Nunez made it to first with one out when Todd Frazier failed to handle a grounder to third and the ball rolled into left field.  Following the second out by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts hit a grounder to third but Frazier’s low throw bounced past first baseman Chase Headley.  Frazier’s second error of the inning. The runners moved up to second and third.  Nunez came home to score when a low Sevy pitch got past Gary Sanchez to the backstop.  3-1, Yankees.  Boston was unable to bring Betts home from third when Mitch Moreland struck out swinging.  It would be Luis Severino’s final pitch but what a game for the young right-hander!  Two hits, one run (but none earned), no walks and nine strikeouts.  Chris Sale may very well win the AL Cy Young Award (I know, Corey Kluber will have something to say about that) but on this day, Luis Severino was better.

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

With Boston’s Joe Kelly on the mound, Matt Holliday opened the bottom of the 6th by working a walk.  Kelly struck out Todd Frazier and was replaced by Robby Scott.  Jacoby Ellsbury greeted Scott with a single lined to right.  Brett Gardner walked and the bases were full of Yanks.  The Sox made another pitching move and brought in former New York Met Addison Reed.  Reed struck out Chase Headley for the second out.  Gary Sanchez was next.  During the at-bat, Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis was barking about balls and strikes from the Boston dugout when he felt several calls were missed.  He got an early departure from the game for his troubles.  Sanchez hit the ball to third and it appeared that he was out at first for the final out.  The play was incredibly close but I was uncertain.  While Yankee players were signaling safe in the dugout, the Yankees challenged the play and the call was overturned when it showed El Gary’s foot touching first base just ahead of the throw.  The safe call validated Holliday’s run.  It was 4-1 Yankees.

Starlin Castro kept the inning going with a hard liner to right.  The ball went to the wall for a double and all three baserunners scored.  Minutes earlier, the game had been a tight pitching duel and now the Yankees had a six-run lead.  It brought Aaron Judge to the plate.  Boom!  No doubt about it as the ball sailed 469 feet into the left field seats at an exit velocity of 115.1 mph.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

 

From there, it was about riding the bullpen to victory.  Despite the eight-run lead, it was a slightly bumpy ride.  Tommy Kahnle was first.  He pitched the top of the 7th in relief of Severino after Manager Joe Girardi decided against bringing Sevy back out after the long bottom of the 6th.  Kahnle looked rusty as he walked the first batter, Dustin Pedroia.  Deven Marrero was brought in to pinch-run for Pedroia.  Rafael Devers singled to left which moved Marrero to second and no outs.  Fortunately, Kahnle struck out the next two batters and got the final out when Jackie Bradley, Jr popped out to third in foul territory.  

Chasen Shreve took over in the 8th.  Given his recent struggles, I felt far from secure.  But he proved me wrong by retiring the three batters he faced (two by strikeout).  For the 9th, Girardi brought in Giovanny Gallegos.  I know that the Yankees had a big lead, but I probably would have gone with Aroldis Chapman for no other reason than to get him some work.  Oh well, they pay Girardi to make the decisions.  Sam Travis was up first and he singled to left, just past Todd Frazier at third. A wild pitch (high throw from Gallegos) moved Travis to second.  Gallegos was looking a bit like a rookie but then he struck out Deven Marrero.  A groundout by Rafael Devers moved Travis to third. Blake Swihart came in, pinch-hitting for Hanley Ramirez, and drew a walk.  Sandy Leon’s single to left scored Travis.  Swihart moved to second.  Gallegos, with Aroldis Chapman warming up, finally got Jackie Bradley, Jr to swing at the third strike to end the game.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees (73-63) moved to within 3 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the win in the final head-to-head match-up between the two teams.  The Yankees took the season series, 11 games to 8.  This was a huge series.  If the results had been in reverse, the Yankees could have potentially been looking up in the Wild Card Standings and holding a distant view of the top of the AL East.  Instead, they are still within striking distance for the division crown and continue to hold the edge in the Wild Card.  The Yankees maintained their 3 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s fought back against the Toronto Blue Jays to win 5-4 in 12 innings.  The Minnesota Twins lost (5-4 to the Kansas City Royals) so the Yankees increased their Wild Card lead to two games.

Luis Severino (12-6) was outstanding.  The guy welcomes the challenge of continually facing the top aces in the game.  Sevy became the youngest Yankees pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season by age 23 since Al Downing did it back in 1964 with 217 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

It was good to see Aaron Judge hit his 38th home run.  Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers had hit his 36th earlier in the day.  The rookies might not reach Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49 (set in 1987) but they’re certainly giving it a try.  

Credit to Gary Sanchez for his effort to get to first base in the 6th inning.  I was listening to sports announcers earlier in the day who were complaining about Robinson Cano’s “60% effort”, at times, when running to first base.  Sanchez showed that hustle can make a difference.

Next Up:  Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland…

After playing a Sunday night game in New York, the Yankees turn right around and play an afternoon game in Baltimore.  It probably feels like a night-day double-header.  No rest for the wicked…or in this case, no rest for the good guys.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15 ERA)

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-8, 3.94 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA)

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.85 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (8-9, 3.36 ERA)

Orioles:  Jeremy Hellickson (2-3, 6.55 ERA)

I was glad to see the Yankees replace Jaime Garcia with Jordan Montgomery.  Not that Monty pitched much better than Garcia last time out (the actual line was worse) but I trust Monty more with the chips on the line. Hopefully the Yankees can take this series to hold off the recent charge by the Orioles.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have placed OF Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain.  After missing time earlier this summer with a right oblique strain, maybe Hicks should invest in a new personal trainer.  Hopefully this is not the end for Hicks’ 2017 season. LHP Caleb Smith was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take A-A-Ron’s roster spot.

Have a great Monday!  It’s Labor Day but let’s hope it is not too much labor to carve out the O’s.  Go Yankees!

The Holliday Weekend…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Red Sox 1…

Matt Holliday gets great credit for the win with his three-run homer, but admittedly, this game was about Masahiro Tanaka as the Yankees took down the Sox in the third game of their four game series. Luis Severino may be the trendy new choice as staff ace but Tanaka is showing that he is still the master.  From the first pitch (a called strike), you could tell that Tanaka had his pitches working. I was listening to the NESN broadcasters during the game and they marveled all game at how Tanaka was keeping his pitches down.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

The Yankees got on the board first when Chase Headley hit a high fly to left for solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd off Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz. After the Headley home run, the Yankees loaded the bases but they were left stranded when Aaron Hicks grounded out to second on a bullet that was stopped by second baseman Tzu-Wei Lin. His throw to first easily beat Hicks.

Meanwhile, Tanaka was dealing. The Red Sox didn’t pick up their first hit until the top of the 4th when Andrew Benintendi led off with a single to right center.  

The Red Sox briefly tied the game in the top of the 6th. The pesky Eduardo Nunez led off with a beautiful swing that drove the ball to left field.  Brett Gardner played the ball of the wall but Nunez slid into second ahead of the throw for a double. Andrew Benintendi hit a grounder to second and was thrown out at first, but Nunez moved to third.  With Mookie Betts at the plate, a Tanaka pitch hit the dirt and ricocheted off Gary Sanchez’s glove. Nunez came flying home ahead of Tanaka who was covering. Game tied, 1-1. The Yankees prevented any further damage when Didi Gregorius made a great diving catch for the second out and Aaron Hicks tracked down a fly ball running to the wall for the final out.  

In the bottom of the 6th, Drew Pomeranz walked Didi Gregorius on a full count. Chase Headley lined a single to center and Didi slid headfirst into third ahead of the throw from Jackie Bradley, Jr. Runners safe at the corners.  Matt Holliday came up and crushed a Pomeranz pitch with a high fly into the left field stands.  Andrew Benintendi just stood and watched the ball sail into the crowd for the three-run bomb.  4-1, Yankees.  

Credit:  Robert Sabo

The Yankees added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th against Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had replaced Aaron Hicks at the top of the inning, roped a shot into left center field. Andrew Benintendi retrieved the ball but overthrew his first cut-off man.  It allowed the couple seconds that Ellsbury needed to safely slide into third for a triple.  Gary Sanchez followed with a grounder between second and third. Eduardo Nunez was going to his right and Rafael Devers went in front of him, moving to his left.  The ball glanced off Devers’ glove and rolled into left field. Ellsbury scored on the play.

Masahiro Tanaka came back out for the top of the 8th, but he was pulled by Joe Girardi after the lead-off hitter, Tzu-Wei Lin, singled through the hole into right field.  David Robertson replaced Masa and recorded two quick outs.  Lin moved into scoring position when Didi Gregorius made a bare-handed grab  on a grounder by Mookie Betts but held the ball knowing he couldn’t beat Betts to first. Fortunately, Mitch Moreland grounded to Gregorius for a force out at second to end the threat.

Dellin Betances took over for D-Rob in the 9th.  Unlike his last outing, there was no drama this time. After it appeared that Gary Sanchez had caught a pop up  by Hanley Ramirez behind the backstop for the first out, the call was overruled when it was determined the ball had hit the netting.  It didn’t matter…Betances struck out Ramirez and the next two batters to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (72-63) pulled back to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the win. They maintained their one-game edge over the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Standings.  The Twins absolutely destroyed the Kansas City Royals, 17-0.  The Yankees did increase their lead over the third place Baltimore Orioles to 3 1/2 games.  The O’s fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2.  

Masahiro Tanaka (11-10) got the win with his seven innings of work.  He held the Red Sox to five hits, two walks and one run.  He only struck out three, but the most important stat…he didn’t allow any home runs. Nice job by Dellin Betances to strike out the side in the 9th.  Matt Holliday was clearly the hitting star with the massive home run but both Chase Headley and Gary Sanchez were 3-for-4 in the game. Plus, Headley had the homer that gave the Yankees an early lead. 

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Ronald Torreyes, subbing for Starlin Castro, was hitless in three at-bats for his 25th birthday. Castro missed Saturday’s game after undergoing a root canal in the morning following the loss of an artificial front tooth sometime Friday night. Despite the lack of hits, Toe made his plays in the field, including his tag of Rafael Devers who had attempted to steal second in the 5th inning.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Aaron Hicks left the game after the sixth inning due to tightness in his left oblique (the opposite side of prior injury that landed him on the DL earlier in the season). He’ll undergo a MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Hicks apparently felt the tightness while making the running catch of the high fly to center by Hanley Ramirez  to end the top of the 6th. The injury will most likely reinsert Jacoby Ellsbury as a prominent part of the starting lineup. Clint Frazier was in Trenton doing some light work with the Thunder but he has yet to begin a rehab assignment so he’s not an immediate option.

Odds & Ends…

The suspension appeals have been heard for both Miguel Cabrera and Alex Wilson for their part in the recent Yankees-Tigers brawl. Both players saw a game shaved off their respective penalties. Cabrera will sit out six games instead of seven, while Wilson takes a 3-day rest (instead of four). Hopefully, it is a sign that Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine will receive the benefit of a one-game reduction when the results of their appeals are announced. Cabrera may have gotten the longest penalty but there’s no doubt the cost is much greater for the Yankees given they have something to play for this month.

Have a great Sunday! The Yanks can take the series win today against AL Cy Young frontrunner Chris Sale. They’ll need to bring their “A” game.  Go Yankees!

Seriously? It Was Only Doug Friggin’ Fister…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Red Sox 4, Yankees 1…

For Friday’s starters, the Yankees previously sent three of their top prospects to the Oakland A’s for their ace while the Boston Red Sox picked up their’s off the scrap heap.  Nothing against Doug Fister but there’s no way he should look like Corey Kluber or Chris Sale on the mound.  However, for yesterday’s game, the listless Yankees made him appear to be one of the game’s aces as the Red Sox easily got past the Yankees.

Credit:  Corey Perrine-Getty Images

When the Yankees scored first, on Aaron Judge’s first RBI against the Red Sox since April, it looked like it might be the start of something good with Sonny Gray on the mound.  But after that point, the Yankees didn’t have to worry about their problem with runners in scoring position because they couldn’t get any.  

After Gray breezed through the Red Sox in the top of the first, the Yankees got to business in the bottom of the inning.  Brett Gardner led off with a double to deep center, bouncing on the warning track and off the wall.  Aaron Judge followed him with another double to the wall in left center to score Gardy with the game’s first run.  Sadly, at that moment, the Yankees forgot that it was only Doug Fister on the mound.  The next three hitters grounded out and the Yankees had seen their last RISP when Judge was left standing at second.

The Red Sox erased the Yankees’ lead in the top of the 3rd.  After striking out Sandy Leon, Gray walked Brock Holt.  Eduardo Nunez made him pay for it with a two-run shot to left. Brett Gardner could only watch as the ball sail into the stands.  From there, the Red Sox tacked on a couple of unnecessary insurance runs in the form of solo home runs.

Andrew Benintendi, doing to the Yankees what I can only wish Aaron Judge would do to the Red Sox, pounded a Gray pitch into the right field stands (nearly into the Judge’s Chambers) in the top of the 5th.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Hanley Ramirez, having a down year against any team not called the Yankees, drilled a shot to right center in the top of the 7th.  

I’d like to find a positive in the game but unfortunately I can’t.  Both Gray and Fister went seven innings with 98 pitches.  Gray only gave up one more hit than Fister (five to four) but the three home runs were the difference maker.  We needed Gray to have his finest moment in Pinstripes but instead it was the Red Sox partying on the field after the game.  

Credit:  Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman pitched the eighth inning.  He gave a hit (a single to Mookie Betts) but recorded all three outs by strikeout. Velocity didn’t seem to be a problem with Chapman hitting nearly 105 mph on a pitch that Dustin Pedroia fouled off.  Adam Warren also pitched an inning of one-hit, scoreless relief.  

I’m sorry, there was one positive in the game.  Bernie Williams did a great job of playing the National Anthem on his guitar during pre-game ceremonies.  I will always appreciate #51.  

This was a very winnable game.  Instead, the Yankees (71-63) are back to 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings.  The Baltimore Orioles won, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 in extra innings, so they are just 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  New York maintained its one game lead in the Wild Card standings thanks to the Minnesota Twins’ 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals, but there are seven AL teams within striking distance (3 1/2 games or less).  

The Yankees need to take care of business. If they go down fighting, it’s one thing.  When they go down meekly, it is unacceptable.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees made the first of their September call-ups with names you’d expect to see:  DH Matt Holliday, C Erik Kratz (acquired solely to back up Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine while they serve their staggered suspensions), RHP Bryan Mitchell, LHP Jordan Montgomery, and RHP Ben Heller.  To make room for Kratz on the 40-man roster, the Yankees moved RHP Luis Cessa (ribcage injury) to the 60-day DL.  I am glad to see that the Kratz move didn’t result in a “forced” DFA.  I didn’t see an easy candidate to dump.  There will be other names to follow but the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will begin play in the International League play-offs next week so it may be a few weeks before we see guys like Miguel Andujar or Jake Cave.  

I thought CC Sabathia getting upset about Eduardo Nunez’s bunt in the first inning of Thursday’s game was a little over-reactionary (why not exploit an opponent’s weakness?).  But Hall of Famer Jim Rice’s comments about CC’s weight were, in my opinion, out of line.  

Tyler Clippard must think he won the lottery.  A couple of months ago, he was pitching like the worst reliever in baseball for the Yankees.  Now, he finds himself with a vital role in the bullpen for a team poised to make a World Series run with starting pitchers led by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.  

Credit:  Christian Petersen-Getty Images

Have a great Saturday!  Here’s hoping that Masa washes those dirty Sox.  Go Yankees!

Holding the Door to Victory…

Credit:  HBO

Yankees 6, Red Sox 2…

There was too much drama in the 9th inning but the Yankees persevered to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series in the Bronx.

CC Sabathia, reinforcing his reputation this year as the Yankees’ stopper, got the win in a strong performance.  The first inning started a little rocky, but Sabathia made his pitches and avoided putting the Yankees in the early hole like they had with the Cleveland Indians the last couple of games.  After easily retiring lead-off hitter Rajai Davis, Eduardo Nunez, in a move that would draw CC’s ire, bunted toward the pitcher.  Sabathia retrieved the ball but his throw to first base pulled Greg Bird off the bag.  Two subsequent walks and the bases were loaded.  Sabathia struck out the next two batters to avoid what could have been a very big inning for the Red Sox.  

Credit:  Craig Ruttle-Associated Press

There were a few challenges in the game.  The first one occurred in the top of the 2nd.  Rajai Davis was at the plate with a runner on first and two outs.  He was awarded base on a hit by pitch, but replay showed that the ball hit the end of the bat and not the player.  So, Davis, who had taken first with his acting performance, had to return to the plate.  He proceeded to strike out to end the inning.

Top of the 3rd and more challenges.  Eduardo Nunez led off the inning for the Red Sox with a single up the middle.  Next up was Andrew Benintendi who hit a liner to left field.  Nunez went around to third, and Benintendi slid into second at the same time as the throw.  The call on the field was safe but the Yankees challenged it and Benintendi was ruled out upon review (in a very close call).

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Mookie Betts walked to put runners at the corners.  Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder to short that appeared to be turned for a double play, but it was Boston’s turn to challenge.  Betts, sliding into second, was ruled safe ahead of the throw from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro, so Bogaerts was the only out and Nunez scored on the play.  1-0, Red Sox.  Betts subsequently stole third and the Sox had runners at the corners when Rafael Devers walked, but Sabathia, continuing his bend but not break outing, induced Hanley Ramirez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.

The Yankees finally got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd to tie the game.  Brett Gardner led off with a single to left, but he was erased when Aaron Hicks hit into a double play.  So, the bases were empty when Gary Sanchez came to the plate.  El Gary hit a high fly off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez that carried into the right field stands. It was Gary’s 28th home run of the season and his 12th in August.

Credit:  Craig Ruttle-Associated Press

Sanchez always takes heat for the passed balls and wild pitches that get past him, but his arm is a thing of beauty.  In the top of the 5th, with Andrew Benintendi on first and Mookie Betts at the plate, Benintendi broke for second on a called third strike on Betts and El Gary’s throw to Starlin Castro was easily in time to nail the sliding runner for the strike-em out, throw-em out double play.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees took the lead.  With one out, singles by Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks put runners at the corners.  Gary Sanchez hit a high fly to shallow right that looked like it would be the second out but Eduardo Nunez went too far and couldn’t reach back to make the catch over his shoulder so the ball fell in.  Sanchez was awarded a single in what appeared to be an error.  No matter, Gardy scored on the play and it was 2-1 Yankees.  The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases for Aaron Judge with two outs but he weakly popped out for a missed opportunity.

While Sabathia was holding the Red Sox in check, the Yankees broke through with more runs in the bottom of the 6th.  Chase Headley started the inning with a double off the center field wall.  Greg Bird, who can be a huge asset down the stretch, ripped a Rodriguez pitch deep into the right-center field stands for a two-run home run.  After Todd Frazier singled to left, the Sox pulled Eduardo Rodriguez and replaced him with Fernando Abad.  Abad struck out Brett Gardner, but Aaron Hicks reached first with an infield hit.  Gary Sanchez lined out for the second out, however, Didi Gregorius singled up the middle to center field to score Headley.  The Yankees had taken a 5-1 lead.  The Sox replaced Abad with Heath Hembree who got the final out when Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short, forcing Didi out at second.

David Robertson took the mound to start the 7th inning so it closed the book on CC Sabathia.  It was a very gutty performance by Sabathia.  He could have easily broken and allowed the Red Sox to take advantage of their scoring opportunities but he held the door.  DRob easily set down the Red Sox for three quick outs to send the game to the bottom of the 7th.  The Yankees had an opportunity for a big inning but they were only able to score a single run.  Aaron Judge started things by working a walk on four pitches.  Chase Headley singled to center, a fly that dropped in, with Judge moving to third.  Greg Bird singled to left on a grounder through second and short to score Judge.  The Yankees were up 6-1.  Todd Frazier subsequently walked to load the bases with no outs.  The Sox went to the pen and brought in Robby Scott.  Sadly, Brett Gardner hit a liner at Eduardo Nunez and his throw to Xander Bogaerts beat Bird sliding back into second for the double play.  The Yankees challenged the play (replay did appear to show Bird’s hand reaching second base just ahead of Bogaerts’ foot) but the umps felt otherwise and stood by the call on the field.  Aaron Hicks followed by striking out for a huge missed opportunity.  I know that I didn’t feel comfortable with a five-run lead at that point against the dangerous Red Sox lineup.

Robertson evaded trouble in the top of the 8th when the first two batters reached base, the second on his own fielding error.  Fortunately, he retired the next three batters to end the inning unscathed.  Moments like that make me appreciate that Big Papi retired last year.

Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer easily set down the Yankees in the bottom of the 8th to send the game into the 9th inning.  Dellin Betances replaced DRob and then proceeded to scare the h**l out of me.  After Chris Young walked, Betances hit the next two batters (Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt) to load the bases with no outs.  He finally got the first out when Eduardo Nunez struck out swinging.  But a walk to Andrew Benintendi scored Young.  The Red Sox had two chances with the potential tying run at the plate and two hitters very capable of hitting the long ball.  Mookie Betts was first and he popped up for the second out.  Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, was next.  Moreland has done some damage against the Yankees this year, but Betances got him to fly out to left for the final out.  Whew, game over!  Yankees win!

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The Yankees (71-62) moved to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the victory.  They maintained a one-game lead in the Wild Card standings over the red-hot Minnesota Twins.  The Baltimore Orioles finally lost, 11-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays, so they fell 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

CC Sabathia (11-5) got the much-deserved win.  He walked too many (five) but he held the Sox to four hits and one run despite what seemed like multiple run-scoring opportunities.  He struck out six.  I was so fearful that Dellin Betances was going to blow the big lead in the top of the 9th but credit to him for his recovery to get the outs when he needed them.  My preference, not shared by Joe Girardi, is to keep Betances in a setup role and use David Robertson as the closer until Aroldis Chapman can right the ship.  

I like what I am seeing out of Greg Bird.  He is clearly showing signs of being the tremendous hitter he exhibited in spring training before injuring his foot.  He was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s.  Gary Sanchez was great with his home run and 2 RBI’s but it’s a little bittersweet given the impending suspension. 

The Judge’s Chambers featured a true Judge with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in attendance.

Credit:  Craig Ruttle-Associated Press

Hopefully the Yankees can continue their success against the Red Sox tonight when Sonny Gray takes the hill in perhaps his most significant Yankees start yet.  He’ll be opposed by journeyman Doug Fister.   

Odds & Ends…

While we continue to await word on the suspension appeals for Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine (it is my understanding that Gary’s appeal will be heard today), it sounds as though the Yankees will be able to stagger the suspensions so that the team is not without at least one member of its top catching tandem.  It’s disappointing that Kyle Higashioka remains on the DL since it will most likely result in the loss of a 40-man roster spot for another player in order to create room for a back-up catcher.  It was looking like career minor leaguer Eddy Rodriguez might get the call, but the Yankees acquired veteran catcher Erik Kratz yesterday from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. The Yankees will soon make a roster move to add Kratz.  Kratz is 37 and has logged 225 MLB games since 2010 for various teams.  By comparison, the 31-year-old Rodriguez has only played 2 MLB games (for San Diego in 2012).  Any way you look at it, there’s going to be a noticeable drop-off from the team of Sanchez and Romine to whomever fills the interim backup role.  


Prior to last night’s game, the Yankees recalled RHP Giovanny Gallegos.  He takes the roster spot vacated when LHP Caleb Smith was optioned to Triple A after Wednesday’s double-header loss to the Cleveland Indians.  DH Matt Holliday is expected to be activated soon.


Former Yankees Assistant GM and now Angels GM Billy Eppler is getting aggressive in helping his team track down the Yankees and the Twins in the Wild Card chase.  Eppler made a bold move yesterday to acquire OF Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers.  Upton is batting .279 with 28 HRs and 94 RBIs. Solid move for the Halos.  They gave up young pitching prospect RHP Grayson Long.  To make room for Upton, the Angels placed much-traveled Cameron Maybin on waivers.  He was subsequently acquired by the Houston Astros.  Later in the day, the Angels acquired 2B Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves and the Astros, in a move that could solidify their chances for the World Series, picked up pitcher Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers.

There has been much talk about Shohei Otani this week with GM Brian Cashman’s trip to Japan, but it is too premature for me to read anything into it. The Yankees do not have an advantage over other clubs should Otani decide to come to the United States other than they’d have more dollars to spend on some future contract that would have absolutely no bearing on the dollars that will be present for Otani’s first contract.  It’s a level playing field for the most part in terms of the international bonus pool money, with the slight increases for those teams like the Yankees that have added money through trades.  Still, the cap on those dollars can be reached by any number of teams.  I’ll get excited if there are signs that Otani is actually considering the Yankees, but until then, it’s a pipe dream.

Have a great Friday!  Hopefully the Yankees won’t have to “labor” too hard for victories this weekend!  Go Yankees!

Missing the Pitches…

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Red Sox 5, Yankees 1…


Sunday’s loss was a microcosm of the season.  In the end, it was about missing the pitches as the Yankees dropped the finale and the series with the Boston Red Sox.


It’s been a difficult season for last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, but on Sunday, he gave a glimpse why he won the award last year.  He held the Yankees to three hits over six innings, and three Red Sox relievers including closer Craig Kimbrel no-hit them the rest of the way.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston scored first with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd.  Inevitably, it would be the only runs they would need.  Jackie Bradley, Jr’s two-out triple to the center field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray scored Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon.  The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead.


Meanwhile, the Yankees had runners in scoring position from the second through fourth innings but could not capitalize.  Finally, in the top of the 5th inning, Brett Gardner lined a shot just inside of the Pesky Pole in right to pull the Yankees within one run, 2-1.  But it was the last hit the Yankees would get off Porcello and the Red Sox bullpen.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox added a run against Yankees reliever Adam Warren. Mitch Moreland reached on a single to left, and moved to second on a wild pitch by Warren that went through Gary Sanchez’s legs.  A ground out by Sandy Leon moved Moreland to third.  Jackie Bradley, Jr didn’t waste the opportunity like so many Yankee hitters had done.  His single to right that dropped in front of Aaron Judge scored Moreland and Boston increased their lead to 3-1. Aroldis Chapman was brought in to replace Warren (the earliest he has appeared in a game as Yankee) and he struck out Brock Holt to end the inning.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

The Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom of the 8th.  Tommy Kahnle started the inning in relief of Chapman.  He couldn’t find the strike zone at all with the first batter, Xander Bogaerts, issuing a free pass on four pitches.  Mitch Moreland doubled to left off the Green Monster and the Sox had runners at second and third.  Sandy Leon lined a double to the right field corner, both Bogaerts and Moreland scored.  5-1, Red Sox.  Kahnle was pulled and replaced by Caleb Smith.  A walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs, but Smith was able to retire the next three Red Sox batters to leave the runners stranded.


It didn’t really matter.  The Yankees weren’t going to win this game.  Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th and set the Yankees down in order, the last two by strikeouts.  


If the Yankees were looking to make a statement in this series, they failed to do it.  Boston exhibited superior bullpen strength and their hitters, excluding Saturday, didn’t miss their pitches.  The Yankees (66-57) slipped back to five games behind the Red Sox with the loss.  The Tampa Bay Rays’ 3-0 win, coupled with a loss by the Baltimore Orioles, moved them back into third place in the AL East.  They are 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The O’s lost, 5-4, to the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels picked up a game on the Yankees in the Wild Card standings and trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games for the top position.  The Minnesota Twins, who pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-5, are also just 2 1/2 games behind.


Sonny Gray (7-8) took the loss.  He pitched five innings on a high pitch count (106), allowing seven hits and two runs.  He walked two and did not strike anybody out.  Run support has not been his friend with the Yankees.  

Credit:  Steven Senne-Associated Press

If Aroldis Chapman can piece together more outings like his, his name might be back in play for the closer’s role.  Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle have some things to work on.  


Brett Gardner, with two hits (a single and a homer), and Chase Headley, with one (a double), were the only Yankees with a hit.  Everyone else took an 0-fer.  


A win today would have been huge.  But it was not to be.  The Yankees need to re-group during today’s off-day and come out ready to play on Tuesday.  There will be one more shot at the Red Sox.  They’ll come to the Bronx for four games over Labor Day Weekend.  The AL East is not dead…just wounded.  There’s time to heal and show the Red Sox that the Pinstripes are back.  

Next Up:  The Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Detroit, MI…

The Yankees get a much-needed day off today, hanging around the Motor City, before starting a three-game series with the Tigers on Tuesday.

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.92 ERA)

Tigers:  Matthew Boyd (5-6, 5.70 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.64 ERA)

Tigers:  Buck Farmer (2-1, 6.62 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (10-5, 3.18 ERA)

Tigers:  Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 5.87 ERA)

The Yankees need to win these games.  Anything less than two out of three will be a major disappointment.  The Tigers stopped a six-game winning streak by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a convincing 6-1 victory behind Justin Verlander (making perhaps his final start in a Tigers uniform although I think he stays). A team with nothing to play for has nothing to lose.  The Yankees had better be prepared. After the series, the Yankees return home for Player’s Weekend to take on the Wild Card contending Seattle Mariners and the player named “Don’t You Know”.  

Odds & Ends…

Greg Bird had the day off on Sunday for his rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar did not as they powered the RailRiders to a 3-0 win over the Durham Bulls.  Cave was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored, while Andujar was 3-for-4, with a double and a home run, for 2 RBI’s.  I am looking forward to seeing these guys in a few weeks when MLB rosters expand.  It was a nice pitching performance by Domingo German (5-2), who shut out the Bulls for seven innings on four hits.  He walked two and struck out nine.  Giovanny Gallegos, with two innings of scoreless relief, got the save.

In anticipation of Masahiro Tanaka’s impending activation from the DL, the Yankees have optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Have a great Monday!  A day off…a day closer to the return of good health for Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and others.  Go Yankees!

Austin Decides to Buy on Sale…

Credit:  Getty Images

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3…

Tyler Austin apparently did not get the memo that the Yankees are not supposed to score multiple runs off Boston ace Chris Sale.  His three-run dinger gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.  CC Sabathia, fresh off the DL, pitched like an ace and the bullpen duo of David Robertson and Dellin Betances came through in the clutch to help the Yankees hold off the Red Sox for the much-needed win.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

There’s no disputing Chris Sale is a great pitcher.  But for whatever reason, the Yankees have fared well against him this season.  In 4 starts, including Saturday, Sale is 0-2.  He has only lost a total of five games this season.  But in the three preceding games against the Yankees, he had only given up only one homer and three earned runs.  With one swing, Tyler Austin matched that production.

Didi Gregorius got on base first in the top of the 2nd inning with a one-out ground rule double that bounced into the right field stands.  It probably would have been a homer at Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch.  Todd Frazier reached first base when he was hit in the left shin with a 82 mph slider by Sale (Ouch!).  Joe Girardi and Trainer Steve Donohue walked with Frazier down the first base line, but he stayed in the game.  Tyler Austin was the beneficiary of a mistake fastball by Sale and he crushed it out of Fenway Park in left.  The Yankees led, 3-0.

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the 5th inning.  With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk on six pitches.  Rafael Devers, rapidly becoming a Yankee killer at only 20 years of age, rapped a single to right.  Bogaerts raced around to third, sliding in ahead of Aaron Judge’s strong throw.  Sandy Leon grounded out to Ronald Torreyes at second, but Bogaerts scored on the play.  Devers moved to second.  Jackie Bradley, Jr singled to left which brought Devers home ahead of the slightly high and away throw, and it was a one-run game, 3-2.  Sabathia held it there as he was able to get Eduardo Nunez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.

Todd Frazier provided what would prove to be the game-winning run when he blasted a solo shot to left center, just over the Green Monster, in the 6th with two outs and down to two strikes.  It was Frazier’s 21st home run of the season.  He showed no ill effects of the earlier ball to the shin but you have to believe that he’ll be feeling it today.  

Sabathia allowed a lead off double to deep center by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the 6th, but he retired the next three Red Sox hitters to leave Betts stranded at second.  That would be all for Sabathia who finished six innings strong, holding the Sox to four hits and two runs.  He walked a batter and punched out four.  I was expecting the worst from Sabathia and his balky knee but he proved me wrong.  I am glad he did.

Adam Warren was brought into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning.  After Xander Bogaerts struck out, Rafael Devers took Warren deep to center for a home run. The ball hit the left side of the yellow line but caromed into the triangle.  The Yankees challenged the play but it was upheld.  It was a one-run game again, 4-3 Yankees.    Warren struck out Sandy Leon.  The ball got away from Gary Sanchez but he easily threw Leon out at first to complete the strikeout.  The Yankees then made a pitching change. David Robertson came in and got Jackie Bradley, Jr to ground out on one pitch.  Man, every friggin’ day I am grateful for D-Rob.

The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the 8th inning against D-Rob.  Andrew Benintendi struck out swinging but made it to first base on a wild pitch when Gary Sanchez was unable to stop the ball.  It took a wicked bounce so I couldn’t really fault Sanchez on the play.  Hanley Ramirez lined a double to  deep left, but Benintendi, the potential game-tying run, pulled up at third.  D-Rob intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, loading the bases, to pitch to Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts went down swinging on three pitches and the inning was over.  Thanks, D-Rob.

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the 9th.  Tyler Austin doubled  between the gap to the center field wall off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree.  He was replaced by the $153 million pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.   After a pickoff attempt nearly got Ellsbury, a sacrifice bunt by Ronald Torreyes moved Ells to third.  Brett Gardner hit a fielder’s choice to third with Ellsbury breaking for home.  Third baseman Rafael Devers’ throw to catcher Sandy Leon easily nailed Ellsbury short of home plate. The Yankees had runners at first and second, following a wild pitch and subsequent walk of Aaron Hicks, for Aaron Judge but he struck out on a foul tip to the mitt to end the threat.

With Aroldis Chapman temporarily removed from the closer’s role by Manager Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances came on in the bottom of the 9th.  Betances struck out the first batter, Rafael Devers, but Sandy Leon reached base on a swinging strikeout when the third strike got away from Gary Sanchez.  Betances was charged with the wild pitch.  But in baseball, there is always a chance for atonement.  Brock Holt, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Leon, made a break for second with Jackie Bradley, Jr. at bat. The throw by Gary Sanchez to Didi Gregorius was perfect to nail the sliding Holt for the second out.  JBJ  flied out to left and it was game over.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

The Yankees (66-56) regained the game on the Red Sox they had lost on Friday night, and trail the Sox by four games in the AL East Standings again.  The Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, so the Angels remain 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings (the Angels and Minnesota Twins are tied for the second WC spot).  The O’s, the third place team in the AL East, slid 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays lost on Saturday.

It was a great game by CC Sabathia (10-5).  The Yankees had their chances to put more runs on the board (leaving a total of eight men on base) but the bullpen held to give Sabathia the win over Chris Sale.  I am really glad that we didn’t see Aroldis Chapman.  While my preference is Betances then Robertson, the reversed order worked and Betances had his 9th save.

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Girardi continues to bat Aaron Judge third in the lineup, but at this point, Judge seems to be living off his first half reputation.  The Yankees would probably be better served moving Didi Gregorius up to third and dropping Judge down in the order.  Judge was hitless in four at-bats, and struck out 3 times to extend his MLB record with strikeouts to 3 consecutive games.  Judge had been tied with Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman who struck out in 35 consecutive games in 1971.  At 36 games regardless of season, Judge has tied the MLB record so if he strikes out again today, he’ll be the all-time consecutive game strikeout leader.  I know, Judge could care less about the strike outs as long as he gets his hits and walks, but I personally would like to see the end of the streak and maybe a clutch hit or two with men in scoring position.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

Perhaps Tyler Austin heard footsteps.  On Friday night, first baseman Greg Bird homered twice in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 10-6 loss to the Durham Bulls.  Yesterday, Bird was 2-for-4, with double and a run scored, in the RailRiders’ 8-4 loss to the Bulls.  I really hope that Bird continues hitting when he returns to the Yankees.  This would be a great boost for the team as they attempt to stave off Wild Card challengers while holding aspirations for the division crown.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-For Times Leader

Prior to yesterday’s game, LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for CC Sabathia.  With Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to return this week in the Detroit Tigers series, Monty returns to Triple A for “softer” innings while the Yankees monitor his pitch count.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Yankees VP of Player Development Gary Denbo is a strong early candidate to become GM for the Miami Marlins once Derek Jeter takes control of the team’s operations.  I am hopeful the Marlins retain manager Don Mattingly, one of my favorite managers.  Well, unless the Yankees decide to part ways with Joe Girardi…

Have a great Sunday!  The Yankees, with ‘OMG, it’s Sonny Gray!’, can take the series today with a win.  Let’s Go Yankees!