Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
Yankees 6, Mariners 4…
I hate solo home runs. I should qualify it by saying I do not dislike home runs…I just prefer to see men on base when it happens. After the Yankees clubbed three home runs (of the solo variety), the Mariners were able to rally past the Yanks against starter Caleb Smith before the Yankees rebounded to take the win, courtesy of Red Thunder (Clint Frazier) and the blazing heat of the bullpen.
Caleb Smith was solid…for three innings. Early, he was backed by homers. Brett Gardner led off the game with his 17th homer of the season off Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (breaking his tie with Matt Holliday to take sole possession of second place for team homers behind Aaron Judge). The hit was #1,040 of Gardner’s career, breaking a tie for 39th place on the all-time franchise list with Tino Martinez. Next within Gardner’s sights is #38 Yanks hit leader, Charlie Keller, with 1,053 hits.
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
In the second inning, Didi Gregorius launched a line drive homer to right center as the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0. Gregorius led off the 4th inning with another shot to the right field stands for his second home run of the game. It was Didi’s first multi-homer game in his young career.
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
Staked to a 3-0 lead, Smith couldn’t hold it in the 4th inning. After breezing through the first three innings allowing only a meaningless second inning double, the Baseball Gods turned against Smith. Danny Valencia got the party started with a single to right. Robinson Cano followed with a liner to right, moving Valencia to second. Smith had Nelson Cruz in a 3-2 count but lost him with Ball 4 to load the bases. For a moment, it looked like Smith might escape the 4th inning unscathed. He struck out Kyle Seager and got Mitch Haniger to fly out in right field foul territory. But Ben Gamel, thoroughly enjoying this series against his former team, singled to score Valencia and Cano. The Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead. Guillermo Heredia followed with a double to left which scored Cruz and Gamel as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead. End of game for Caleb Smith.
Credit: Ted S Warren-AP
A round of ovation for Chad Green. While the entire bullpen was magnificent, Green was outstanding. He struck out Carlos Ruiz to end the 4th, and pitched two more innings without allowing a hit and struck out 3. He has thrived in his current role and this performance was critical as it set the stage for the Yankees’ comeback in the top of the 6th inning. With one out in the top of the 6th, both Chase Headley and Todd Frazier walked against reliever and former Yankee James Pazos. Ronald Torreyes, pinch-hitting for second baseman Tyler Wade, singled to right to load the bases. Brett Gardner followed with a single to left, scoring Headley with the tying run. The Mariners pulled Pazos and replaced him with Tony Zych. Clint Frazier greeted Zych with a double to left, scoring both Frazier and Torreyes as the Yanks moved ahead, 6-4. Zych intentionally walked Aaron Judge, much to the dismay of the Yankee fans in attendance at Safeco Field, but it proved the right decision for the M’s since Gary Sanchez popped out and Matt Holliday grounded into the final out.
From there, it was up to the rest of the bullpen. Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched clean 7th and 8th innings, respectively, pushing the game to the final inning and last licks for the Mariners.
The Yankees had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the 9th. Matt Holliday walked with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. After Didi Gregorius flied out the second out, Chase Headley hit a liner into the right field corner. Ellsbury came flying around the bases but the relay from right fielder Mitch Haniger to second baseman Robinson Cano to catcher Carlos Ruiz was on target and just ahead of the sliding Ellsbury for the final out.
The bottom of the 9th brought Aroldis Chapman and a little holding of the breath to see what type of command he would have. Nelson Cruz, the first batter, reached with a hit that ricocheted off Chapman and retrieved too late by Didi Gregorius to get Cruz at first. The M’s replaced Cruz with pinch-runner Taylor Motter, who sports a similar “Johnny Damon Caveman“ look like Ben Gamel, to get some speed on the base paths. Fortunately, Chapman caught him off first and it was an easy rundown by Chase Headley for the first out. It proved to be invaluable as the next hitter, Kyle Seager, doubled to center. A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Seager to move to third. The game would have looked much different had the Yankees not gotten Motter out. He most likely would have scored with Seager representing the tying run just 90 feet away. As it was, the tying run was still at the plate. Mitch Haniger had first crack but he popped out to Ronald Torreyes. Last chance came up in the form of new Yankee-killer Ben Gamel. But with Chapman’s blazing heat inching up the velocity chart, Gamel went down swinging. Game over. Yankees win. The Yankees win!
Credit: Stephen Brashear-Getty Images
Unlike Saturday when the Yankees failed to gain any ground following losses by the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday was the opposite. With the win, the Yankees (51-46) took sole possession of second place in the AL East and moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Rays slipped a full game behind the Yankees (two games in the loss column). Both the Red Sox and Rays lost one-run games on Sunday. The Red Sox were defeated by the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, while the Rays lost a tough 6-5 game to the Texas Rangers.
Todd Frazier finally got a hit and scored a run so hopefully he’s starting to come around. His Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday will feature a game against his original team, the Cincinnati Reds. So it should give Frazier added incentive when he makes his first home appearance in front of family, friends, and newfound Frazier fans in the Yankees Universe.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees made a rare intra-division trade on Sunday to send infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays. The return is an underwhelming 25-year-old first base prospect who has failed to advance past Double A, Ryan McBroom. Here’s hoping to much better success in the Yankees organization. Welcome, Ryan!
Credit: Mark J Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
And so, the Yankees story for Refsnyder ends with no fanfare. It is rather sad as most of us at one time wanted Ref to succeed as the second baseman for the Yankees. He never succeeded with his limited opportunities…either due to his own inability or the lack of chances or a combination of both. So long, Ref and best of luck as you continue your (hopeful) MLB career in Toronto.
Also, in other transaction news, the Yankees announced they have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The competition for quality starters figures to be very intense as we enter the final week before the trading deadline. With news that Clayton Kershaw was pulled early from a start on Sunday due to lower back tightness (and a possible trip to the DL), the Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be very aggressive in their pursuit of another top starter. The Texas Rangers figure to capture a King’s Ransom for two months of service from impending free agent Yu Darvish. The Yankees starting rotation looks very vulnerable right now with Caleb Smith’s inability to get out of the fourth inning on Sunday and Masahiro Tanaka’s disappointing showing on Saturday. This week should be very interesting but probably a bit disappointing for Yankees fans if the team desires to retain its top prospects (which they should).
The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday with a walk-off run-scoring double by Brandon Moss. The pitcher? Tyler Clippard, facing his first batter wearing a White Sox uniform, with runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the 9th. Man, I sure do not miss Clippard…
Credit: Getty Images
Have a great Monday! The Yankees get to sleep in while the rest of us trudge off to work. Oh well, make it a wonderful day! Go Yankees!
Yankees 4, Mariners 1…
The Yankees took manager Joe Girardi’s biggest concern (“just winning games”) to heart as they defeated the Seattle Mariners on late night TV. Of course, it didn’t hurt to have perhaps the best Yankees starting pitcher (Luis Severino) on the mound. Felix Hernandez is tough but I had the confidence in Sevy to persevere.
|Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP|
The first innings of games, lately, always seem to be so tough. King Felix easily dispatched the first three Yanks to move to the bottom of the first. Ben Gamel ripped a one-out double to left (why did we get rid of him one day after being named the 2016 International League MVP again?…I know, the glut of outfielders but still, he has been very solid for the M’s). Robinson Cano hit an infield grounder that caught Gamel off second (out in a rundown…great athleticism by Sevy to start the play). The deadly Nelson Cruz came up and singled to left to move Cano to second. Corey Seager’s big brother Kyle was next but Sevy dialed up the heat to 99 mph and punched Seager out to end the threat. I am so tired starting games in the hole so it was great to see the Yankees escape without allowing any runs despite the two hits.
The Mariners got their hits against Sevy but pushing them across the plate was a different story. The M’s threatened in the fourth with the game still in a scoreless tie. Kyle Seager opened with a double just fair down the third base line (glad he didn’t do that in the first inning). Danny Valencia followed with a solid single to center to put runners at the corners with no outs. Sevy was able to retire Mitch Haniger on a pop-up and Jarrod Dyson on a shallow center fly out after falling behind 3-0, before walking Mike Zunino to load the bases. Fortunately, Jean Segura, in a long at-bat, hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius who flipped the ball to Starlin Castro to force Zunino out at second to end the inning.
In the 6th inning with one out, Brett Gardner drilled a ‘no doubt about it’ homer right center, his 16th to match Matt Holliday and Todd Frazier, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. He was fortunate as King Felix was still going strong, recording all outs in the 6th by strikeout. But on the other side, Sevy was still holding the M’s off the board.
|Credit: Getty Images|
Former Yankee James Pazos replaced King Felix in the top of the 8th. After Jacoby Ellsbury weakly grounded out to Pazos with a broken bat, Chase Headley singled to center on a ball deflected off the tip of Robinson Cano’s glove. Brett Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice but a fielding error by Jean Segura (he would have easily had the force out at second but was unable to successfully pull the ball out of his glove) allowed Gardy to reach base with Headley safe at second. Tony Zych replaced Pazos and promptly walked Gary Sanchez on a full count to load the bases. A single to right by Aaron Judge scored Headley and it was 2-0 Yankees. Unfortunately, Matt Holliday hit into an inning-ending double play so the Yankees were unable to further cash in with the bases full of Yanks.
Dellin Betances replaced Sevy in the 8th and ran into a little trouble. After hitting Kyle Seager with a pitch, Danny Valencia singled to right to move Seager to second. With one out and the tying run at the plate, Mitch Haniger hit into a force out at second (a play challenged by the M’s after Castro bobbled the ball on the exchange but upheld by the umps). Seager moved to third. Betances reared back and struck out Jarrod Dyson to leave Seager stranded.
The Yankees picked up a couple of huge insurance runs in the 9th courtesy of Robinson Cano. Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier hit one-out singles off M’s reliever Max Povse. After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to left (sure seemed like the Yankees were always having to work around Ellsbury outs), Chase Headley reached first base on a throwing error by Cano. Both Gregorius and Frazier scored on the play. Thanks Robby! To Cano’s defense, first baseman Danny Valencia gave up too early and didn’t try to reach out to catch Cano’s wide throw from shallow right.
It was off to the 9th and Aroldis Chapman with the Yankees leading 4-0. Chapman’s control issues continued as he walked the first batter, Mike Zunino. Zunino was replaced by pinch-runner Guillermo Heredia. A wild pitch by Chapman moved to Heredia to second. Chapman struck out Jean Segura and Ben Gamel, with Heredia taking third, before Robinson Cano laced a double to the center field wall bringing Heredia home to score. Chapman was able to secure the final out when Nelson Cruz flied out to right. The Yankees win…a much needed victory.
|Credit: Getty Images|
Hats off to Luis Severino (6-4) for delivering an ace-like performance against one of the AL’s best starting pitchers. Although he gave up 8 hits and a walk in 7 innings, he held the M’s scoreless while striking out 6. King Felix held the Yanks to 3 hits and struck out 9, but one of those hits was the Gardy homer which gave the Yanks the lead they would not relinquish. I had confidence going into this game with Sevy on the mound and he did not disappoint.
Todd Frazier was 1-for-4 in his first Yankees start with a run scored. Neither David Robertson nor Tommy Kahnle made an appearance in this game although Chapman was giving me reasons to wish that it was D-Rob on the mound in the 9th. Joe Girardi must have thought the same thing as he had Robertson up in the pen after Chapman’s wild pitch.
Ben Gamel was hitless in his next four at-bats after the first inning double, striking out three times. Robby Cano, Dontcha Know!, was 3-for-5 with the lone Mariners RBI.
|Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP|
The Yankees (49-45) picked up on a game on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings and trail by 3 1/2 games. The Red Sox lost 8-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yanks are a game behind the idle Tampa Bay Rays (tied in the loss column).
The Yankees go for their 50th win tonight with CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA) on the mound facing Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA). Sabathia was moved up from Saturday as Masahiro Tanaka was pushed back a day. The Mariners announced a change for their scheduled starter on Sunday. Yovani Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will replace Sam Gaviglio in the match-up against Luis Cessa.
Odds & Ends…
I’ve been reading columns that feel the Yankees overpaid to acquire Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. After watching yesterday’s acquisition of reliever and former Yankee David Phelps by the Seattle Mariners, I am starting to think the Yankees may have underpaid. For Phelps alone, the Miami Marlins acquired four players. Three of the players rank in the Mariners list of Top 30 Prospects according to MLB.com. OF Brayan Hernandez rates the highest at #6. RHP Brandon Miller is #16 and RHP Pablo Lopez is #22. The Marlins also acquired RHP Lukas Schiraldi, son of former Major Leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. Granted, the Yankees have a stronger farm system so #6 on the Mariners’ list does not equal #6 on the Yankees list but this is still a very good haul by the Marlins. I know that one scout referred to them as “just guys” but I am also a believer in ‘expect the unexpected’. Suddenly, losing OF Blake Rutherford, LHP Ian Clarkin, and OF Tito Polo (along with the inconsequential Tyler Clippard) seems like a very small price to pay for a strong third base upgrade and two bullpen power arms. I guess that we’ll be seeing David Phelps very soon unless the Yankees can avoid giving the Mariners any late inning leads to work with.
|Credit: Gary Landers/AP|
Todd Frazier is now saying that he’ll stay with #29 rather than ask Paul O’Neill if he can use #21. If I was O’Neill, I’d probably reach out to Frazier and say, “It’s okay, Kid…you’ve worn the number out of respect for me and for my original team (the Reds). Please take #21 and wear it with pride”. There’s no doubt Frazier will do the number justice.
GM Brian Cashman has said that Clint Frazier will be optioned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns in a few weeks. I know that he’ll be back in September, but it does kind of stink that a douche like Jacoby Ellsbury gets to keep his seat at the grownups’ table while Frazier has to go have a seat with the kids. I hope that Frazier continues to make this a very hard decision for the Yankees.
Have a great Friday! Let’s just keep winning games in Seattle. Go Yankees!
Twins 6, Yankees 1…
The new guys did not help as the Yankees got clobbered in losing the series to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. I liked the tweet by Mike Axisa of CBS Sports-MLB: “Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle for a starting pitcher”. Funny but also a bit truthful. I realize that Jordan Montgomery bounced back after the disastrous 2nd inning to give the Yankees an otherwise strong six innings but those 6 runs in the 2nd proved to be insurmountable. In the game of win or lose, Monty (6-5) sucked.
The toughest part about the 6-run 2nd was that all of the runs were scored with two outs. With runners at second and third, Zack Granite, a native New Yorker who was 2-for-22 in his MLB career to that point, singled up the middle to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. The dangerous Brian Dozier walked on a 3-2 count, pushing Granite to second. A Larry Rothschild visit to the mound later, Eduardo Escobar hit a single to center field which scored Granite and moved Dozier to second. Miguel Sano stepped up and decided to play a game of Home Run Derby with a blast to center off an 0-2 rolling curveball from Jordan Montgomery. It was 6-0 Twins before the new guys, who had just shown up due to a flight delay, could shake hands with all of their new Yankees teammates.
Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP
The Yankees had their biggest chance to get back into the game in the 7th inning. With Twins starter Jose Berrios still on the mound, Clint Frazier started the inning with a single to center. Garrett Cooper hit a liner to left for the first out. He was followed by Austin Romine who was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch. Clint Frazier to second. Todd Frazier then entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ronald Torreyes but went down swinging for the second out. Gardner singled to left center to score Clint Frazier and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder, Robbie Grossman (who mishandled the ball before firing it to third). Romine moved to third. The Twins pulled Berrios and brought in reliever Taylor Duffey to face Jacoby Ellsbury. A single by Ellsbury could have brought the Yankees within striking distance but he struck out with the bat resting on his shoulder with a fastball down the middle to end the inning. It was the second time the Yankees left the bases full with no runs as Ronald Torreyes had grounded out with bases full of Yanks in the top of the 2nd before the onslaught of runs by the Twins.
Tommy Kahnle made his Yankees debut in the 8th in relief of Chad Green. He gave a preview of coming attractions by retiring the three batters he faced including two by strikeout. His pitches were hitting up to 100 mph. I liked Kahnle’s quote after the game, “I always dreamed once they (the Yankees) drafted me I would pitch for them in the big leagues. That day has come”. As a fan of Kahnle’s who was very disappointed when he was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Colorado Rockies and has remained keenly aware of the pitcher, I share his sentiments. Despite the loss, it was very good to see Kahnle in a Yankees uniform.
Credit: Associated Press
Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the 9th but he is expected to be fine for today’s game in Seattle.
Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The Yankees (48-45) need to forget this series and start with a clean slate today against the Mariners. The time is now to make a move after weeks of sliding backwards. The Yankees lost ground to the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1, so the Yankees are now 4 1/2 games behind the leaders. They remain 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays who lost to the Oakland A’s, 7-2.
Next Up: Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA…
The Yankees get a chance to catch up with Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel for four games in the Pacific Northwest.
Here are the scheduled pitching matchups:
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40 ERA)
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.33 ERA)
Mariners: Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA)
Mariners: Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.35 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.61 ERA)
Mariners: Sam Gaviglio (3-5, 4.62 ERA)
I feel fairly confident about Thursday, even with King Felix on the mound, and Saturday, but as for Friday and Sunday…not so much.
Here’s hoping the new guys bring some much needed magic and mojo back to our favorite team.
Odds & Ends…
As expected, the Yankees made a flurry of roster moves yesterday to make room for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle. Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple A and Ji-Man Choi was designated for assignment. Rob Refsnyder, on the 40-man roster, was also DFA’d as the Yankees needed to create the room on the 40-man roster even though Tyler Clippard vacated his spot with the trade to the White Sox. I can’t say that I am overly excited about Luis Cessa remaining on the active roster. Given a choice between Cessa and Caleb Smith, I’d prefer to see Smith get the next start in place of Michael Pineda. Frazier took Tyler Clippard’s old number (29), Robertson reclaimed his own old number (30) with Clint Frazier switching to double-Mickey Mantle (77), and Kahnle’s number with the White Sox was waiting for him thanks to the recent dismissal of Chris Carter (48).
Speaking of poor starts, the Yankees are surely looking for rotation help after Jordan Montgomery’s string of sub-par starts. But being “careful buyers” probably means that the Yankees will not be players for guys like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole. Now is the time for GM Brian Cashman to earn the dollars for his next contract.
This is a hypothetical question considering that Aaron Hicks is not healthy, but if you have five outfielders (Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier), is Jacoby Ellsbury the sixth or seventh best outfielder? Just wondering…
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Manager Joe Girardi has said that Todd Frazier will be the team’s regular third baseman. Chase Headley will move to first and platoon with Garrett Cooper. If Frazier has a strong finish to the season, I’d have to believe it is more likely the team will attempt to re-sign him over Matt Holliday. Frazier intends to talk to YES Network broadcaster Paul O’Neill about possibly switching his number from #29 to #21 before the team returns to the Bronx. Frazier has always worn #21 because of O’Neill. I think it would be appropriate and would not boo the move assuming that he gets O’Neill’s blessing.
Former Yankee Chris Carter has signed with the Oakland A’s, a team he played for from 2010 to 2012. He’ll report to the A’s Triple A club, the Nashville Sounds. I can still remember when the Sounds were a Double A team for the Yankees and Buck Showalter was a first baseman/outfielder for them.
We’ll probably be seeing another former Yankee soon (in the wrong uniform) as the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners have been identified as strong possibilities for David Phelps of the Miami Marlins. The Red Sox are also still looking at Miami’s Martin Prado, currently on the 10-Day DL, as well as Eduardo Nunez of the San Francisco Giants.
Have a great Thursday! Sevy can make it a truly awesome day. Let’s Go Yankees!
To Buy or Not to Buy…
The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away. At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we’ll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers. If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter. However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the ‘sell high’ category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer. If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right…we’re stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner. Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others. There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I don’t think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667). They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats. Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts. Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts. Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they’ve been missing since Zack Greinke left. As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill. The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.
Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me. He’d easily fit into Bruce Bochy’s lineup and give them the left-fielder that they’ve literally been waiting years for.
I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season. My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline. But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we’ll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared. It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does. Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced. But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run. The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East. The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.
Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16. The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best. Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances. Clearly, this group has the potential…and the history…to be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The July schedule, simply put, is tough. After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox. It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th. Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night. The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today. After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break. The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano. This year he’ll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand. Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M’s, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks’ heels. July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers. August doesn’t get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap. In other words, the schedule is a bitch.
The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later. They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners. Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year’s end will be a challenge.
I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.
Will Today be a Holliday?…
All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today. Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return. Many people afflicted by EBV don’t even know they have it since they do not feel sick. I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday. The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup. Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team’s biggest black hole. I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays. Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year. Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room. We’ll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions. In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz’s former club, the Buffalo Bisons. Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.
Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB. It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption. The one dude who I hope isn’t outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter. I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires. Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.
Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder. Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees. Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.
Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline. Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles). But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx. The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5’8″ but he is one of the best arms in the AL East. This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA. He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings. The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe.
Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius. Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals. Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner. I tried. I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi. There’s no doubt he’s an All-Star. On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.
Didi with his Mom
Have a great Friday! Let’s kick this weekend off right with a win! Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Associated Press|
Yankees 13, Astros 4…
I have to admit that I thought Friday night’s game against the Astros was going to be a struggle. The Yankees did not arrive in Houston until 6 am after playing and the losing the rain-delayed game in Chicago the night before. They arrived deep in the heart of Texas to play MLB’s best team and were scheduled to face the very tough Lance McCullers, Jr, the son of a former Yankee. It was noted before the game that McCullers had not given up more than three runs in any of his home starts this year. Against the Yankees, he was 2-0 with 0.75 ERA since 2016. Fortunately, the Yankees came together as a team…as they’ve frequently done this year…and came away with the decisive victory.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be another struggle for runs that would potentially come up short. The Astros scored their first run in the bottom of the inning when George Springer led off with a double against Yankees starter Michael Pineda. He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sac fly by All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.
The Yankees picked up a run to tie the game in the third. Brett Gardner led off with a double when the ball dropped in despite a running dive by Astros right fielder Josh Reddick. It looked like McCullers might escape when he struck out the next two batters, but Didi Gregorius doubled down the first base line to score Gardy.
The Yankees had two runners in scoring position in the top of the 4th with no outs. Unfortunately, both Tyler Wade and Chris Carter struck out. The inning was over when the runner on third, Austin Romine, attempted to score on a wild pitch. Nice trick slide though as Romine tried unsuccessfully to evade the tag.
|Credit: Bob Levey-Getty Images|
In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros led off with two singles. A throwing error by right fielder Tyler Wade put runners at second and third. After former Yankee Brian McCann struck out, another former Yankee, Carlos Beltran, hit into a ground out which scored the lead runner. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to score a run and the Astros led, 3-1. With McCullers Jr pitching well, it looked like it would be difficult to make a comeback.
But the light at the end of tunnel occurred in the sixth inning. Didi Gregorius opened with a single. After Chase Headley struck out, Austin Romine walked and the Astros made a pitching change. They brought in Michael Feliz to replace McCullers Jr. Ronald Torreyes greeted Feliz with a single to left, scoring Gregorius. Tyler Wade struck out for the second out, but Chris Carter, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with run-scoring singles to put the Yankees up, 5-3. A fielding error allowed Gardy to advance to 3rd. He scored the fifth and final run of the inning when Feliz threw a wild pitch. 6-3, Yankees. I really hated to see Feliz go but the Astros brought in Reymin Guduan and he secured the final out.
|Credit: Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle|
Nevertheless, the 7th brought more Yankee offense. Chase Headley and Austin Romine opened with singles, and Ronald Torreyes walked to load the bases. Tyler Wade hit a grounder that erased Headley at home and Chris Carter (wait for it) struck out. So, with two outs and the bases loaded, Brett Gardner, who largely struggled during the month of June, came to the plate. On a 3-2 count, Gardy put one over the right center field wall for the grand slam (his 15th homer of the year, and just two away from his career high).
|Credit: Bob Levey-Getty Images|
With the seven run lead, Michael Pineda’s night was finished. Much better results than the last time Pineda faced a Texas team. Pineda (8-4) went 6 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3. He didn’t walk anybody and more importantly, he didn’t give up any home runs. It wasn’t a perfect outing but he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…a fighting chance until the offense got untracked.
The Astros picked up a meaningless run in the 8th when Josh Reddick opened with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error by Jacoby Ellsbury. He scored when Jose Altuve grounded out. Despite a subsequent single allowed, Bryan Mitchell, who had relieved Pineda in the 7th, was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the 9th. Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade both walked. Chris Carter struc…I mean…doubled to score Torreyes. Brett Gardner lofted a sac fly to right to score Wade, his 6th RBI of the game. Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a groundout, scoring Carter. The runs gave the Yankees the final margin of victory, 13-4. Bryan Mitchell set down the Astros in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the season. Great job by Mitchell to protect the bullpen and to keep the Astros down.
The Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, in 11 innings, so the Yankees (43-35) remain one game behind in the AL East Standings. The Tampa Bay Rays also won in extra innings (6-4 over the Baltimore Orioles) so they are still 3 games behind the Yankees.
This was a great team victory.
|Ronald Torreyes, the “Tall” One…
Credit: Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle
Odds & Ends…
All of our hearts are with Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler as he begins his recovery from knee surgery on Thursday night. It will be a long, hard road of recovery and rehabilitation. It’s been reported that he’ll be on crutches for three months before he begins physical therapy. Everyone is hopeful that he’ll be ready by the time training camp in Tampa opens next February. I thought it was cool the team had a face-time call with Fowler in Joe Girardi’s office before yesterday’s game.
In the aftermath of Fowler’s devastating injury, the Yankees made a few expected moves on Friday. With the placement of Fowler on the 10-Day DL and the demotion of Ronald Herrera to Triple A, the Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell and 3B Miguel Andujar. For Andujar, he returns as a Major League Vet albeit with just one game under his belt. But it will be hard for him to match that terrific first impression (3 hits, 4 ribbies). I hope his defense is ready to play at the MLB level. I’d like to see him get a few turns at third as an alternative to Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes. I am glad to see that Mitchell is back. He is a Major League pitcher that just gets caught in the numbers game. But he’s always been one of my favorites. Best of luck…and health…to both men.
Clint Frazier, according to multiple reports, will be called up today for his first trip to the big leagues. I was surprised when the Yankees recalled Miguel Andujar after previously saying they wanted him to get more reps at third. Nothing against Andujar and of course he had the greatest possible MLB debt performance, but the Yankees have a greater need in the outfield. Rob Refsnyder is not the right answer to rotate with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge (keeping those guys fresh). I’ve heard the most likely candidate to be sent down will be reliever Bryan Mitchell who made an extended appearance in last night’s game in relief of Michael Pineda. I assume that Andujar is another potential candidate for the trip to Scranton, PA. He was a convenient call-up for the Yankees following Fowler’s injury because he was still in Chicago. Frazier will be the 10th Yankee to make his MLB debut this year (counting Fowler’s very brief appearance).
|Credit: J Conrad Williams, Jr|
CC Sabathia pitched a simulated game on Thursday and is expecting to make his next start. I assume that Luis Cessa will be return to Scranton when Sabathia is activated off the DL. Still no word about Matt Holliday as tests continue. This is a bit frightening, to say the least. I really hope this is not something more serious than we’ve been led to believe. Tyler Clippard was away from the team on Friday to attend his grandmother’s funeral. He is expected back today.
Have a great Saturday! Even better if the Yankees can pull out a second victory against a very tough Astros squad. Let’s Go Yankees!
Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP
Yankees 2, Rangers 1…
It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Ronald Torreyes! The unlikely hero delivered in the 10th inning with a walk-off run-scoring single as the Yankees took the first game of a three game set from the Texas Rangers.
The game, delayed for an hour and forty minutes by rain, was a classic pitcher’s duel between Japanese greats Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka. The duel may have ended with goose eggs and no decisions for both pitchers, but they were incredible as the game did not see its first runs until the 9th inning. Worried about Tanaka prior to the game, he showed that he was anything but a concern as he pitched 8 innings of three-hit scoreless ball, Walking just two, he fanned nine. Darvish went 7 innings with no runs and two hits, and did one better than Tanaka with strikeouts (10). I am not sure what we’ll see the next time Tanaka takes the mound but with Darvish as his motivation on Friday night, he was magnificent.
Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP
I was worried that Rangers slugger Joey Gallo would torch Tanaka pitches but he struck out with two runners on in the third inning, and grounded out in a similar situation in the eighth as the last batter Tanaka faced. Gallo finished 0-for-4 and 3 strikeouts.
The Yankees brought Aroldis Chapman in for the 9th inning of the scoreless game. He struck out the first batter, Shin-Soo Choo, but Elvis Andrus followed with a single. Struggling with his command, Chapman, who was sweating profusely, hit Nomar Mazara with a pitch in the shoulder. With Adrian Beltre at the plate, Andrus stole third. A great defensive play by third baseman Torreyes in stopping a wide throw from Gary Sanchez prevented more damage at that point. But when Beltre struck out, the ball got away from Sanchez and Andrus ran home for the game’s first run.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Torreyes went down on a groundout for the first out. But no worries, Brett Gardner came up and delivered with a game-tying home run to right. Aaron Hicks grounded out for the second out. Aaron Judge singled to put the potential winning run at first. Unfortunately, Matt Holliday struck out to send the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, the Rangers loaded the bases against Chad Green and Chasen Shreve with two outs but Shreve got Andrus to pop out to end the threat. This set the stage for the home half of the 10th. With one out, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius singled, with Sanchez taking third. Chris Carter struck out on four pitches (surprise, surprise). But no fear, Ronald Torreyes stepped up to the plate. The little man with the big stick. A line drive single to center scored Sanchez with the winning run. The Yankees win.
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The victory allowed the Yankees (40-31) to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East Standings. The Red Sox had defeated the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 earlier in the evening. The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 15-5, to remain 2 1/2 games back.
After the game, the Yankees mercifully ended the Chris Carter experiment. He seemed lost at the plate, with another 0-for-4 performance and three strikeouts.
Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post
Carter had a chance to be a hero in the bottom of the 8th with Gary Sanchez on first and two outs. But he feebly struck out swinging. There was something about that weak final swing that gave me an “I’m done” feeling. It was reinforced in the 10th when Carter struck out with a huge opportunity to be the game’s hero. Apparently, GM Brian Cashman felt the same way as Carter was designated for assignment immediately after the game. Tyler Austin, who has homered in his last three of his last four games, was recalled to take Carter’s place. In the 27 games at Triple A after his reactivation from the DL in late May, Austin has hit .300/.366/.500 with 4 HR’s and 21 RBI’s for the RailRiders. Of his 30 hits in 100 at-bats, 17 have gone for extra-bases. The alarming statistic is 32 strikeouts but Austin has really been heating up with the bat over the past week. He has played error-free baseball at first. Welcome back, Tyler! Trust us, we are very glad to see you.
Big Papi, The Man Among Boys…
The Boston Red Sox retired the number of David “Big Papi” Ortiz last night in their game against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park. Big Papi was a thorn in the Yankees’ side for many years. Time and again, a game was ended with a Big Papi blast. I am very glad that #34 will no longer be an active number worn when the Red Sox come to town. My biggest fear was that he would “un-retire”.
Credit: Stuart Cahill
Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr expressed it well when he said, “That just lets you know what a special impact he’s made in the community and the organization and all of baseball. What he’s done for the city, the team, people around him, it’s well deserved. I know we couldn’t be any happier for him.” I agree. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t wait for the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton (may he rest in peace) to retire, and I felt the same about Papi. More than anything, it is a sign of how much respect I held for those men.
A close friend of mine who is a lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fan, and Boston-area resident, did post this comment on Social Media: “This is just my humble opinion, but I think it is much too early for the Red Sox to be retiring Ortiz’s number. With the exception of Johnny Pesky, the honor of having a number retired by the Red Sox was reserved for those players who entered the Baseball HOF.” My response…whatever it takes to keep him from coming out of retirement.
Odds & Ends…
Chance Adams is a friggin’ rock star. In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 11-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday, the RailRiders’ ace was magnificent. Pawtucket didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning. Adams (5-2) finished six innings strong, allowing just the one hit and no runs. He issued two walks, while fanning eight. The outstanding performance lowered Adams’ season ERA to 2.12. At some point in the not-so-distant future, it will be determined that Adams has nothing left to prove at the Triple A level. In my mind, he’s just a couple of Luis Cessa bumps and bruises away from stepping on the main stage (or the potential first call if another starter…I hope not…is injured). Why not take a Chance?…
The Boston Red Sox are going hog wild in an attempt to find help. Yesterday, they signed pitcher Doug Fister, released by the Los Angeles Angels, and shortstop/third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who was cut by the St Louis Cardinals. Injuries to their pitching staff forced the Fister move. The disaster known as Pablo Sandoval brought in Peralta. I still think the Red Sox will be heavy players for Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas at the trading deadline. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Sox should have about $9 million to play with before they risk crossing the luxury tax threshold.
Happy Saturday! Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
Yankees 16, Orioles 3…
Like Michael Pineda the day before, Luis Severino’s even better start was lost among the sea of Yankees hits and homers.
Last year, Severino was a failed 5th starter (0-8 when he started games with an 8.50 ERA). This year, he’s playing like the ace (which is more pronounced since the so-called “ace” is now performing like a failed 5th starter). Credit Severino for keeping his focus this game. It would have been so easy to let up on the accelerator in a game that was 9-0 before many people had even found their seats. He had a one-hitter going until Chris Davis tagged him for a homer in the 7th. Sevvy (5-2) finished seven innings strong with two hits, one run, two walks, and eight strikeouts. He lowered his team-leading ERA (for starting pitchers) to 2.75. Severino continues to come up big for the Yankees and he is as responsible as anyone for the team’s placement atop the AL East.
Now let’s set the pitching aside. This was a monster game by the Yankee bats. Aaron Judge owns the Statcast Leaderboard, and his first inning home run off Baltimore Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman topped his previous efforts in exit velocity at 121.1 mph. The hit also ranked as a Statcast-era record. The homer was Judge’s league-leading 19th of the season. I sure hope that Judge didn’t have any plans for the All-Star Game break because travel plans are already underway for his trip to Miami.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
Tillman had retired the first two Yankees to start the game, but after Judge’s homer, Matt Holliday doubled. Starlin Castro followed with a double, Holliday to third. Gary Sanchez then singled both Holliday and Castro home. Didi Gregorius stepped up and hit the second home run of the night to put the Yankees up 5-0. They weren’t quite finished yet. The useless Chase Headley walked. A wild pitch by Tillman moved Headley into scoring position, and Chris Carter promptly singled to score Headley. 6-0, Yankees. In an interesting note, Brett Gardner represented the first and third outs of the first inning.
I was fearful that the long inning would adversely impact Severino but those fears were unfounded. Three up, three down, and it was time for the Yankees fireworks again. After Aaron Hicks grounded out, both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked. Starlin Castro didn’t waste the opportunity, as he blasted a three-run homer to left center to increase the lead to 9-0, finishing loser Chris Tillman’s night. If you have Chris Tillman on your fantasy team, please accept my condolences.
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
In the 4th inning, Aaron Hicks walked and Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners. That brought Bald Brother Matt Holliday to the plate. Trailing fellow Bald Brother Brett Gardner by one home run, Holliday tied the count at 13 homers with a shot to left-center. 12-0, Yankees.
Aaron Judge picked up two more RBI’s in the fifth with a double to left. 14-0, Yankees.
The Orioles scored their first run in the 7th with Chris Davis’ homer off Sevvy, and then added another in the 8th with a solo home run by Joey Rickard off reliever Giovanny Gallegos. Leading 14-2, Ronald Torreyes was hit by a pitch from O’s reliever Mike Wright to open the bottom of the 8th. Gary Sanchez then connected with the fifth home run of the night to cap the Yankees’ scoring at 16.
The O’s added a final meaningless run in the 9th before Trey Mancini grounded out to end the game. By a score of 16-3, the Yankees captured the series with the O’s as they’ve won two heading into the third and final game of the series today. I always have concerns when the Yankees score more than 15 runs. I do not have the stats to back up this statement, but it always feels like the Yankees struggle scoring runs the day after a huge blow-out. Hopefully that’s not the case today as the Yankees prepare to embark on a California road trip following the conclusion of the game.
The Yankees (36-23) maintained their three game lead over the Boston Red Sox. The Sox had an offensive show of their own, with an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Of course, it didn’t help that they had Chris Sale on the mound. The O’s slipped to 5 1/2 games back. If the Tampa Bay Rays would have won (they didn’t), the O’s could have fallen into fourth place in the division. This was probably not one of Buck Showalter’s better experiences at Yankee Stadium.
Odds & Ends…
As expected, Chad Green will start today against the Orioles. Green will be the first time the Yankees have gone outside the original 5-man rotation that started the year. However, in a more surprising move, the Yankees designated former LOOGY Tommy Layne for assignment and called up promising rookie Domingo German. German, a starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will provide long relief for Green should he encounter any bumps in the road.
|Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports|
I knew Layne’s days were numbered as he always seemed to be giving up runs with any appearances. He has not been the same pitcher for the Yankees as he was last year following his release by the Boston Red Sox. I have no problem with Chasen Shreve as the key lefty, but I’d be surprised if the Yankees weren’t looking for another lefty.
Greg Bird was 2-for-5 yesterday in the RailRiders’ 11-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He had two doubles and a RBI. Nice to see that he’s getting that extra base stroke back again. There is still no timetable for when Bird will rejoin the Yankees.
The current plan for Aroldis Chapman is to pitch on Tuesday for High-A Tampa and on Friday for AA-Trenton. If all goes well, we’ll see Chapman next Saturday in Oakland. Rajai Davis, look out, Chapman’s got your number.
Have a great Sunday! I am hoping for a sweep to wisk the Yankees away to Southern California…