Tagged: Boston

Now, That’s More Like It!…

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Julie Jacobson)

Yankees Win and Red Sox Lose…

For only the second time this season, the Yankees won on the same day the Red Sox lost. But, wow, yesterday the Yankees won big and the Red Sox lost in the worst way imaginable. I love it when that happens.

Jordan Montgomery had me worried in the top of the third inning when he loaded the bases with only one out and the score 0-0. With Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte due up next (two hitters that have been feasting on Yankees pitching), I was fearful of a big early lead for the Toronto Blue Jays. Monty struck out Hernandez and got Solarte to pop up to short to end the inning unscathed. For me, that was the huge point of the game.

In the bottom of the inning, a two-run homer by Aaron Judge (his sixth of the year) and the Yankees were off to the races. The Blue Jays finally scored a run in the fifth, but the Yankees answered in a big way when they pushed seven runs across the plate in the bottom of the sixth to break the game open. The lengthy sixth inning ensured that Montgomery (2-0) did not return, but hats off to him for his valiant, gritty effort to put the Yankees in the win column. His final pitching line was 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts on 91 pitches.  Not bad for the team’s number five starter (who’s arguably been much better than certain other pitchers in the starting rotation).

The final score was 9-1 and improved the Yankees season record to 10-9.

While the day’s offense was primarily driven by the top of the order trio of Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, and Didi Gregorius (total of five runs and five RBI’s), Miguel Andujar made a statement in the sixth inning when he came to bat with the bases full of Yanks. His double cleared the bases and chased Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman.

Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)

After Friday’s dismal performance and loss by Sonny Gray, it felt great to take such a convincing win. It was a game that showed how devastating the Yankees offense can be, even if Giancarlo Stanton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He did walk and score a run on Andujar’s three-run double during the big sixth inning but the wait for his huge Yankee Stadium breakout continues to be delayed.

If you had told me before the game that the pitchers in relief of Montgomery would be Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holder, I would have cringed, with an image of pouring gasoline on a fire in my mind. But those two combined for three innings of perfect relief (no walks, hits or runs), while striking out four. Holder was able to reduce his ghastly season ERA to 11.57 with two innings of clean work.

Out in Oakland, California, the Boston Red Sox had Chris Sale on the mound to face the A’s Sean Manaea. The Red Sox, sporting MLB’s best record at 17-2, looked like they had the right ingredients for their 18th win but Manaea had other ideas. After walking the leadoff batter, Manaea settled down and did not allow a hit to the potent Red Sox offense. He was helped along the way when Marcus Semien was charged with an error on a dropped popup in shallow left during the fifth inning that allowed Sandy Leon to reach base. Manaea issued his second walk in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, which brought the dangerous Hanley Ramirez to the plate and the Sox trailing 3-0. Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to short and the A’s were able to end the game with a force out at second. It’s always fun to see Ramirez fail in big spots.  The end result was the first no-hitter of the 2018 season and the third loss of the year for Boston.

Photo Credit: Associated Press (John Hefti)

Manaea, unlike a former teammate that now resides in the Bronx, has raised his game this year. The no-hitter was great, but he had ten strikeouts in the 108-pitch effort. For the season, Manaea is sporting a 1.23 ERA and has only given up more than one run once (when he gave up two runs in five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 10th).

A great win by the Yankees and a wonderful loss by the Red Sox. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Today is Gleyber Torres Day.

Photo Credit: Newsday (Thomas A Ferrara)

The long-awaited arrival of the Yankees best prospect and the fifth-best prospect in baseball happens today. Through fourteen games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Torres is batting .347/.393/.510 with .903 OPS. He has a homer to go with eleven RBI’s. Concerns about the back stiffness early last week are long forgotten. Gleyber seems ready to go and more importantly ready to take his spot among Pinstripes.

Time will tell if Gleyber is up for good or if his stay will be temporary until Brandon Drury is ready to return. But like Miguel Andujar is starting to show, you can make the decision very difficult for the Yankees by proving you belong. The Yankees production at second base this year has been rather underwhelming so the stars are aligned for Gleyber to grab the position. The odd man out, assuming that Tyler Wade isn’t sent down to Triple A to rediscover his Spring Training magic, appears to be Jace Peterson. I wasn’t really sure why the Yankees re-signed Peterson, a player who doesn’t really fit the team for the long run.

At some point soon, the Yankees will be a man short when Tyler Austin begins serving his suspension. Peterson’s a nice luxury since he can play both infield and outfield but he is the least valuable man on the roster. I am hopeful Gleyber, like Andujar, proves he is here to stay.

My guess is Torres goes back to Triple A when Drury is ready but who knows. Things can change quickly and Gleyber has a chance to alter any decisions.

Gleyber will be the starting second baseman for today’s series finale with the Blue Jays and he’ll bat eighth.

I am a little surprised by his choice of numbers (25) given that it is normally reserved for slugging first basemen in recent years. But what the heck, the only Yankees pinstriped jersey I own is Number 25 (thankful for no names) so I am armed and ready to support young Gleyber.

The Yankees are also expected to promote RHP David Hale today which is something of a surprise. It also leads me to believe that Jace Peterson will, in fact, be cut today since the Yankees will need to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Hale in addition to making room for Torres on the active roster. Hale has given up nine runs in 14 2/3 innings this year for the RailRiders but hopefully he’ll have better success in the coming days. Hale’s worst day as a RailRider was his most recent when he gave up 12 hits and 6 runs in a start that lasted only four innings on April 18th. Fail your way to success? I hope so.

Update: As expected, the Yankees did option Tyler Wade to Triple A and designated Jace Peterson for assignment to make room for Torres and Hale.

It’s going to be a fun and exciting day. Welcome, Gleyber! We’ve been waiting for you.

Go Yankees!

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Time to Improve is Now…

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Photo Credit: Associated Press (Julie Jacobson)

Please End the Battle of .500…

We are two-thirds the way through April and the Yankees are only one game above .500. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox are winning at an amazing .889 clip.

Remember back in January and early February when we were so excited about the dynamic Yankees offense featuring the NL MVP and everyone said that the Yankees pitching staff was better than any potential replacements? Or how the Red Sox had no offense to go with their solid pitching rotation? Yeah, I miss those days.

Three weeks into the season and things are not quite as rosy. Yes, it’s a long season and much can happen between now and the end of September. I keep waiting for the silver lining to appear but sadly, so far anyway, the Boston Red Sox continue to devastate their opposition. Absolute annihilation might be more descriptive. It feels like HBO’s Game of Thrones and Red Sox manager Alex Cora is the Night King with an ice dragon and an army of the undead at his disposal.

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Hitting

.292/.362/.496, .859 OPS, 24 Home Runs, 109 RBIs, 323 Total Bases

.249/.343/.438, .781 OPS, 23 Home Runs, 92 RBIs, 260 Total Bases

Pitching

2.63 ERA, 127 Hits, 10 home runs, 1.09 WHIP

4.47 ERA, 145 Hits, 18 home runs, 1.27 WHIP

Fielding

.992 Fielding Percentage, 5 Team Errors

.971 Fielding Percentage, 18 Team Errors

It’s easy to look at the above numbers and recognize that the team with the top line is superior to the lower line team. I guess it’s little wonder why the Yankees trail the Boston Red Sox by six and a half games and it’s still only April (allegedly, according to my calendar).

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The team fielding is the most horrific stat since the Yankees are the worst team in Major League Baseball and the Red Sox are the second best, trailing only the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s starting to feel like the Yankees are going to give away runs every game with their defense.

The law of averages say that the Yankees will improve their numbers while the Red Sox should cool off, but for the first three weeks of the season, Boston has been in a sprint. The Los Angeles Angels got off to a great start this year. When their series against Boston (at home) started on Tuesday, the Angels were 13-3. Three games later, when the Red Sox finally left Anaheim, the Angels had fallen to 13-6. They were decimated by a combined score of 27-3 over the course of the three games series sweep by the Red Sox. The Red Sox Nation is gloating and it sucks.

 Red Sox Angels Baseball
Photo Credit: Associated Press

The Yankees have won three of four after last night’s 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, although the sting of the drubbing by the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night still hurts. Even though the Yankees did hang on Thursday evening for the one-run win, they gave two runs away and David Robertson walked a precarious tightrope in the 8th inning when the Jays loaded the bases with a couple of hits and walks and only one out. It was incredible that he emerged from the inning allowing only one run on a single by his former Yankees teammate Curtis Granderson. No offense to Dellin Betances (who pitched decently in the seventh inning), but it seems like if it had been Dellin in the eighth with the bases juiced, the Jays would have scored a plethora of runs. D-Rob’s performance (cleaning up his own mess in the face of great adversity) is one reason I hope the Yankees re-sign him in the off-season. I have far greater trust in Robertson as the setup man for Aroldis Chapman than I do Betances. By the way, it was very nice to see Chapman strike out the side in the ninth inning to preserve the win. It was a win but one that could have very easily gotten away from us.

Something’s got to give. At some point, Giancarlo Stanton is going to hit and he’ll carry the team on his back. I have no doubts about it but how deep is the hole going to be before it happens. That’s my biggest concern.  If the Red Sox play .550 baseball the rest of the way, they are a 95-win team. The Yankees need to improve their hitting, pitching and defense now, not later. The Yankees can’t let the Red Sox run away and hide with the AL East championship. Otherwise, we’re back into the one-game ‘do or die’ situation, assuming that the Yankees can grab one of the Wild Card slots.

There are 145 games left to play. Let’s make the most of them.

The Yankees re-signed first baseman Adam Lind this week to a minor league contract, most likely as a hedge against the health of Greg Bird and the sustained play of Tyler Austin. I don’t see how Lind will be ready to play when Austin begins serving his five-game suspension (or three or four games, whatever it turns out to be after the appeal is heard). I kind of wish Austin had started serving his suspension immediately. Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies received his five-game suspension after Austin and he has already finished serving his time.  With the Yankees only one game into a brutal 18-day consecutive game stretch against some of the best teams in baseball, it sucks that we’ll have to feature Neil Walker as the starting first baseman for a chunk of the games.

At this point, I can only say Thank God for Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius. I am not sure where the Yankees would be without those two guys. The rest of the team should feel free to raise the level of their game to match the two young Yankees superstars. It starts tonight.  Sonny Gray, this is your wake up call. Pitch like we know you can. That’s all we ask.

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Photo Credit: MLB.com

I hate to keep using Daniel Burch’s line, but it’s never been more appropriate. Need a win…get a win.

Maybe one of these days I can wake up happy and cheerful like Daniel.

Go Yankees!

Wading for Gleyber Torres…

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Credit: MiLB.com

 The Gleyber Torres Watch is on…

I’ve seen conflicting reports about the calculation of MLB Service Time. After earlier reports that today could be the day, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic clarified today is the first day that prospects not on the 40-man roster can be called up to ensure an extra year of control. According to Ken, players on the 40-man roster need to wait 20 days. So, the earliest Gleyber could show up for the Yankees would be next Thursday at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. Regardless of whether it is next week or in a couple of weeks, the Gleyber Torres Era will soon officially begin.

With no offense to Tyler Wade (since he currently has none), I am ready to move on from Wade as the team’s second baseman. I have no doubt Wade will be a legitimate big leaguer and he was fun to watch in Spring Training, but he has not done anything in the regular season to excite me. I know, he battled the flu and it’s been friggin’ cold in New York and Boston. But second base belongs to Gleyber. I’d rather take my lumps with Gleyber at the position than taking lumps for the future utility-man.

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Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

Through yesterday’s game, Gleyber Torres is the hottest hitter for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. His batting line is .370/.379/.556 with .935. He has one home run and six RBI’s in seven games. Sure, it’s early and these numbers are not sustainable nor do they automatically translate to potential MLB numbers. Nevertheless, this is a very talented young man (as we all know) who has mastered his current level. Onward and upward. Soon, young Grasshopper. He’s already snatched the pebble from his master’s hand.

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Wade is easily the weakest hitter, right now, on the Yankees. His line is .097/.176/.161 with .338 OPS, no homers, and three RBI’s in 10 games. Like Gleyber’s numbers, these are not sustainable (in Wade’s case, they will get better). Between Torres and Wade, give me Gleyber every day. I am tired of Wading. It’s Gleyber’s Time.

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Photo Credit: AP (Lynne Sladky) – The Future Star

Like the entire Yankees Universe, I was very disappointed to lose two of three games in Boston. I am convinced the Yankees are the better team, but right now, the Red Sox are playing better. The season is still very young. The Yankees have only played 13 of 162 games and they have 16 games remaining against the hated Red Sox. The season is not lost on Friday the 13th of April.

I don’t really want to give a play-by-play of the brawl on Wednesday night, but after watching the replay of Tyler Austin sliding into second base (repeatedly, thanks to ESPN and others), I am firmly convinced Austin did not have the intent to harm. Yes, his foot caught Brock Holt’s leg but when you slow down the replay to say that Austin intentionally tried to take out Holt, it’s grossly unfair. The actual play happened very fast with no time to react. Austin was trying hard to get to second and his mind was more focused on the right foot sliding in. It’s unfortunate that Holt was unintentionally the recipient of cleats on his lower leg/ankle but it was a genuine baseball play with proper determination by Austin.

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Photo Credit: Boston Globe – Austin sliding into 2B

As much as I dislike Joe Kelly and how he baited Austin after hitting him with the pitch, Red Sox manager Alex Cora infuriated me the most with his ‘get back in your box’ gesture to Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin. Cora showed himself to be a punk.

 MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement) – “Piece of S**t”

I was glad Gary Sanchez held back this time to avoid a potential suspension. His bat is starting to heat up so it’s not one we want or can afford to lose. Nice job by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for trying to control the situation. Those are definitely two guys that you’d want on your side in a bar room right.

MLB handed down suspensions and fines yesterday. Joe Kelly (six games) and Tyler Austin (five games) received suspensions. Both are expected to appeal. The fines included Phil Nevin, Alex (“Piece of S**t”) Cora, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Marco Hernandez. I do not know the amount of the fines but I appreciate Nevin and Sabathia for their roles in defending the Yankees.

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Photo Credit: AP (Winslow Townson) – Yankees coaches Marcus Thames and Phil Nevin

I wish the Yankees could have left Boston yesterday with a win. Admittedly, I am concerned about Sonny Gray. Unlike the opposing pitcher (Rick Porcello), Gray did not bring his “A” game. Or as Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media said, “Sonny is not grayt”. Time and again, Gray has proven he gets into trouble when he nibbles instead of attacks hitters. So there he was nibbling last night and the team paid for it with a loss. At least Aaron Judge broke up the no-hitter and Gary Sanchez ruined the shutout, but I would have preferred to win two of three from Boston. Or really just winning the game after the fight would have been the best case scenario.

I really thought this season would show the return of Gray to top of the rotation dominance. He has had time to adjust to life in the Bronx and he’s healthy. Yet, against Boston, it feels like we’re throwing Jose Contreras out there again.  He is 1-5 with a 5.97 ERA against the Red Sox, and 0-3 with a 7.13 ERA at Fenway Park.  He’s dangerously encroaching into ‘Sonny Gray Sucks’ territory. I really hope warmer weather brings out the true Sonny Gray.  At the moment, I am deeply missing James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler. Gray has the power to change my line of thinking. Next start would be a great time to start in more ways than one. We know that Gray can pitch exceedingly well. He just needs to show it in Pinstripes.

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Photo Credit: AP (Winslow Townson) – A Bad Shade of Gray

No game is ever easy but the Yankees need to take advantage of the next five games. They play three games in Detroit, starting tonight, and then return to the Bronx on Monday for a two-game set against Giancarlo Stanton’s old team, the Miami Marlins. Win these games. If the Yankees can get on a roll, they should have good momentum heading into the four-game series next Thursday with the Blue Jays. It is the start of a brutal stretch that includes the Blue Jays (currently the second place team in the AL East), the Minnesota Twins (co-leaders of the AL Central), the Los Angeles Angels (the AL West leaders), and the Houston Astros (the defending World Series champions). These games are immediately followed with match-ups against the Cleveland Indians (the other co-leaders of the AL Central) and the next showdown against the Boston Red Sox, this time at Yankee Stadium. We’ll have a very good idea about the strength and resolve of the 2018 Yankees by the final game against the Red Sox on Thursday, May 10th.

For the upcoming series starting tonight at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan against the Tigers, here are the scheduled pitching matchups:

Friday the 13th, 7:10 ET

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 4.82 ERA)

Tigers:  Mike Fiers (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Saturday, April 14th at 1:10 ET

Yankees:  TBA (expected to be Domingo German or Luis Cessa)

Tigers:  Francisco Liriano (1-1, 2.13 ERA)

Sunday, April 15th at 1:10 ET

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-1, 3.50 ERA)

Tigers:  Matthew Boyd (0-1, 1.38 ERA)

The Yankees currently have two players in DFA limbo. Jace Peterson, who was designated to make room for Shane Robinson, and Robinson, who was DFA’d for the activation of Aaron Hicks. Neither player figures in future plans so regardless of whether they clear waivers and are sent outright to Triple A, traded away or handed their walking papers, we appreciate their brief contributions. Best of luck in their future endeavors.

I’ll borrow a few words from TGP’s Daniel Burch. We need a win; let’s get a win.

Go Yankees!

The Showdown in Boston…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Adam Glanzman)

Yankees invade Fenway Park…

Without delving too much into last weekend, I’ve had better days. Losing three of four to a team that you are supposed to beat (the Baltimore Orioles) is difficult to accept, especially when the Yankee could have easily won the last loss when they had the bases loaded, no outs, in extra innings with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton coming to bat.

Am I disappointed in Stanton so far? Absolutely. Am I going to fret over him in Pinstripes as a result? Absolutely NOT! Death, taxes, and Giancarlo Stanton going on a home run tear are certainties of life. Things will get better and so will Stanton and Company. When Stanton is on one of his monster tears like last summer, his slow start (the two Opening Day home runs in Toronto excluded) will be long forgotten.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)

While the Yankees have struggled out of the gate (winning only five of ten games), the Boston Red Sox have been on a roll. The last time Boston lost was the season opener in St Petersburg, FL on March 29th. They have yet to lose another game, and lead the AL East by two games over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees trail the Sox by three and a half games.  As many have already said, no division championships were ever won in April. Well, except for maybe a few NBA and NHL teams. For MLB teams, this is far from over. Once the Yankee bats heat up like we know they can, it’s going to be a fun and exciting chase in the American League East. The Red Sox can run but they can’t hide. The target is on their back; not ours.

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I am sure that Red Sox fans are ecstatic over their team’s 8-1 record but you have to keep in mind they did it against the lowly Florida teams. Sorry Jetes, but your team does suck right now (poor Starlin). So does Rob Refsnyder’s team. The Yankees represent the first real test Boston has faced this year. I know, it would be better if the Yankees weren’t scuffling coming into this series, but the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry always seems to bring out the best in everyone. The Red Sox will throw Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello at the Yankees on successive nights.  The Yankees counter with their best…Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and most likely Sonny Gray. Win or lose, this is going to be a great series.  If the Yankees can take at least two of three, they’ll be in great shape. A sweep would be perfect but that might be asking for too much. So, for now, I’d settle for at least two of the games.

Tuesday, April 10th at 7:10 pm ET

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-0, 1.38 ERA)

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA)

Wednesday, April 11th at 7:10 ET

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 2.92 ERA)

Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Thursday, April 12th at 7:10 ET

Yankees:  TBA (expected to be Sonny Gray, 1-0, 3.60 ERA)

Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA)

The Red Sox did suffer a setback prior to the start of the series. It was announced yesterday they have placed shortstop Xander Bogaerts on the 10-day DL with a small fracture in his left ankle. He is expected to be out 10-14 days. To take his place on the roster, the Red Sox recalled infielder Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple A Pawtucket. Lin and Brock Holt are expected to share time at short while Bogaerts is out.

MLB.com finally resolved the 40-man roster dilemma by removing Cody Asche. I never did see any explanations so I honestly do not know if Asche was reported on the 40-man roster in error or if he cleared waivers. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders site was also corrected to show that he is not on the 40-man roster. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why forty-one names were showing on the 40-man roster last weekend. I knew that Asche had to be the key but it was odd no explanations could be found. On the transactions page of MLB.com, the 4/04/18 entry shows that Asche was “optioned” to Triple A which implies that he was on the MLB roster. There are no subsequent transactions involving Asche, who started at third base last night for the RailRiders. I guess whatever the situation is/was, they got it resolved as I knew they would. I just hate it when something does not make sense to me.
The Yankees are expected to get Aaron Hicks back for the getaway game on Thursday before the Yankees leave Boston for Detroit. He will be a welcome addition. Hopefully A-A-Ron can hit the ground running when he returns. We need his bat and defense ASAP.

Today is a new day.  It is time for the Giancarlo Stanton Era to begin in earnest. The Yankees are deep in the heart of enemy territory. All hands on deck. Let’s beat the Red Sox.

Go Yankees!

Get to Class Before the (Yankees) Bell Rings…

Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Corey Sipkin)

Aaron Boone is present and accounted for in Tampa…

As we bear down on the reporting date for pitchers and catchers (with many players already at camp) in a few days, it has continued to be very quiet for the Yankees and their primary division rival, the Boston Red Sox.

It really does not feel like there is any team willing to match or exceed the alleged offer made to free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez by the Red Sox. There has been some talk that the Arizona Diamondbacks could come up with a $100 million contract offer but they’d need to move salary to make it happen (sounds like the Yankees and their interest in free agent starting pitcher Yu Darvish except their ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like’ albatross is the heavy contract of starting pitcher Zack Greinke who at least remains a vital part of the team’s plans). Martinez would prefer to play right field which probably makes Phoenix more desirable (to him) than Boston but I remain convinced that dollars will win in the end and that Martinez will be on display at Fenway Park as the team’s primary DH. There’s always the chance they could trade Jackie Bradley, Jr and move Andrew Benintendi to center but that would weaken the outfield defense.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jennifer Stewart)

If the Red Sox fail to sign Martinez, names like Mike Moustakas and Logan Morrison have been mentioned. None are easy fits. Signing Moose Tacos would require an adjustment with plans for young starting third baseman Rafael Devers. Morrison probably makes more sense as he could share 1B and DH with Mitch Moreland. Nevertheless, I really feel the Red Sox will persevere and eventually sign Martinez. The Red Sox know that they need a big bopper to compete with the Yankees this year. I am not quick to say the Yankees are the superior favorites in the AL East. I feel the Red Sox are the champions until proven otherwise. I also expect the Red Sox starting rotation to be stronger this year, with bounce backs by David Price and Rick Porcello. It was great that Chris Sale couldn’t get a victory against the Yankees last year, but the odds of that happening again are similar to the odds of the Yankees successfully trading Ellsbury. Boston is not going away and the Yankees won’t be sneaking up on anybody this year like they did in 2017. Baseball Prospectus released its annual PECOTA projections last week and they have the Yankees winning the division by 9 games over the Red Sox with 96 wins. I think the division will be much closer than that, especially if the Sox are successful in snagging Martinez.  I have been a Yankees fan too long to underestimate the Sox.

PECOTA, for what it’s worth, projects Aaron Judge with a batting average of only .247 (really?), with 37 home runs and 94 RBI’s. Giancarlo Stanton is projected at .259, 41 home runs and 106 RBI’s. Gary Sanchez is not far behind with .269 BA, 34 homers and 97 RBI’s.

The one that really stands out to me is first baseman Greg Bird. The projection has him getting over 500 plate appearances, while batting .246 with 28 homers and 86 RBI’s. I am really hopeful that this is the year that Bird finally stays healthy. I love his swing and his bat in the stacked Yankees lineup. But until he proves that he can stay on the field for the duration of the season, I am going to be a bit skeptical.

Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Andrew Savulich)

My fear is that the Yankees have to lean on Tyler Austin at first base more heavily than expected. I guess all things considered that’s better than rolling out Chris Carter, but I’d prefer no question marks at first base as the Yankees attempt to break in rookies at second and third bases.

The Tampa Bay Rays might actually play in Tampa…

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they’d like to build a new stadium in Ybor City, a historic Latin community northeast of downtown Tampa. There are many hurdles before it can come to fruition, but I hope the Rays are successful. I don’t know much about Tampa politics but it makes more sense to have the Rays in Tampa than St Petersburg. Watching a baseball game at Tropicana Field always feels like watching a game in an oversized warehouse. I really hope that Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg is successful in getting his stadium initiative approved and funded. This seems like such a win-win situation for the Rays and the greater Tampa metropolitan area.

Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times (Marc Topkin)

Ybor City is about five miles east of Steinbrenner Field and Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I don’t like the smell of that rumor…

Speaking of the Rays, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported this week that the Yankees had checked in on Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi is only 27 (28 in late March) but the right-hander had a down year in 2017. He was 10-8 with 4.14 ERA in 28 starts. He only struck out 127 batters while walking 61, the worst K/BB ratio of his career. A fly-ball pitcher, he gave up 30 home runs, which obviously would not play well in Yankee Stadium. One Rays blog proposed sending Odorizzi and reliever Alex Colome to the Yankees for outfielder Clint Frazier and a low-level lottery ticket. I wouldn’t do it. I would consider sending Frazier to Tampa for a trade circled around Chris Archer, but not Odorizzi.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mark Cunningham)

“Odo” would not be a significant upgrade over any of the starters in the current Yankees rotation so I dismiss the thought that the Yankees might be interested. I’ll gladly take a promising young arm like Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield over Odorizzi. The only reason you’d make a trade for Odorizzi would be on his potential as a breakout candidate but I’d prefer the in-house options…and keeping Red Thunder in pinstripes.

But wait, weren’t we part of the exciting young Yankees?…

Yesterday, Tyler Kepner of The New York Times wrote an article about which teams stand a chance in 2018. It was kind of sad looking for the photo that he posted with the caption, “The Yankees reached the American League Championship Series last season, but fell short against the Astros.” Of the recognizable faces, only one player and one coach remain from this pic taken just last October.

Photo Credit: The New York Times (Chang W Lee)

Joe Girardi can now be found on the MLB Network sporting a suit and defending his managerial choices during last season’s post-season. Rob Thomson is helping set up training camp in Clearwater, Florida for the Philadelphia Phillies as new manager Gabe Kapler’s bench coach and most likely the lead training camp organizer. No word about the future plans for former hitting coach Alan Cockrell, seen in the photo standing next to current hitting coach Marcus Thames. Yankees centerfielder Aaron Hicks looks at a trio of ex-Yankees. Todd Frazier will soon be headed to Port St Lucie, FL for the New York Mets; Starlin Castro, assuming he is not traded, will go to Jupiter, FL for the Miami Marlins; while Chase Headley returns to the Valley of the Sun in Peoria, AZ to play for his original team, the San Diego Padres. Hicks, as we know, will help ensure that Jacoby Ellsbury is the most expensive bench player in baseball. Thames, I am sure, is salivating at the opportunity to work with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, and others. Good times…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Go Yankees!

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!

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!