|Photo Credit: MiLB.com and Scranton/WB RailRiders|
Young Righty Gets First Taste of Major League Camp…
It seemed like such an innocuous and under-the-radar trade in November 2017 when the Yankees traded marginal prospects LHP Caleb Smith and 1B/OF Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for $250,000 in international bonus pool money and young Single A RHP Michael King. Moving Smith and Cooper were clearly designed to clear space on the 40-man roster in advance of that year’s Rule 5 Draft. At the time of the trade, the international bonus pool money appeared to be the objective as the Yankees were making preparations for what would prove to be the failed run at international superstar Shohei Ohtani. King just came along for the ride…or did he?
In 2017, Caleb Smith was dominant for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, riding an unbeaten streak for most of the year. He finished 9-1, with a 2.39 ERA, starting 17 of 18 games played for the RailRiders. He made his Major League debut for the Yankees on July 17, 2017 but the Yankees and Smith lost to the Minnesota Twins, 4-2. He shuttled back and forth between Scranton, PA and the Bronx, finishing 0-1, with 7.71 ERA, in 18 2/3 innings. Despite his Triple A success, Smith, then 26, did not appear to be a top prospect. To his credit, Smith did pitch better for the Marlins last year. He went 5-6 with 4.19 ERA over 16 starts covering 77 1/3 innings before shoulder tightness ended his season. He is expected to be part of the Marlins’ rotation this year.
Garrett Cooper had been acquired by the Yankees in July 2017 in a trade that sent LHP Tyler Webb to the Milwaukee Brewers. Cooper had some nice moments in the Bronx, playing 13 games. He was 14-for-43 (six extra-base hits) with no homers and 6 RBI’s. 2018, in a Marlins uniform, was largely a lost season for Cooper. He injured his wrist early in the season and later re-injured it during a rehab assignment, undergoing surgery in August. He appeared in just 14 games for the Marlins. He’s now healthy and expected to compete for a job with the Marlins this season, likely as a reserve first baseman/outfielder.
After the Yankees lost out on Ohtani, the international bonus pool money was put to good use as the Yankees had a number of highly rated signings including OF Kevin Alcantara, OF Mauro Bonifacio, C Antonio Gomez, C Agustin Ramirez, RHP Denny Larrondo, and RHP Osiel Rodriguez, plus Luis Severino’s little brother, RHP Rafael Severino.
But setting everything aside, the crown jewel of the Yankees-Marlins trade has turned out to be Michael King. King, born in Rochester, New York and a graduate of Bishop Hendricksen High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, was drafted in the 12th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Marlins. At the time, King was the staff ace for Boston College. He signed with the Marlins, foregoing his final year of college eligibility, and was a combined 3-3 with 4.11 ERA over 30 2/3 innings at the lowest three levels of the Marlins’ farm system. He returned to Class A Greensboro in 2017 with much better results, 11-9 with 3.14 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 106 strikeouts, over 149 innings. Still, at the time of the trade to the Yankees, he was largely unheralded and unranked as a prospect.
Last year, he opened eyes in the Yankees farm system. He started the year with High A Tampa, spent time with Double A Trenton, and finished the year with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 24 starts and a relief appearance, King was 11-5 with 1.79 ERA. He struck out 152 batters in 161 1/3 innings with 0.91 WHIP.
Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell, via The New York Post, recently said, “Every time he moved up, he seemed to get better. He wasn’t fazed by the better competition and he knows how to pitch.” Borrell went on to say that he could see King pitching in New York this year if he pitches like last season and does not see the young right-hander regressing.
King, 6’3” and 210 lbs, turns 24 on May 25th. He is currently rated as the Yankees’ fifth-best prospect by Baseball America, behind OF Estevan Florial, RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, OF Everson Pereira, and C Anthony Seigler. His primary pitch is a two-seam fastball that sits in the mid-90’s. The key to his success in the Major Leagues is dependent upon his continued development of secondary pitches.
King will get his first taste of Big League Camp this year when he reports to Tampa as a non-roster invitee for the Yankees. While he is not expected to make the Opening Day Roster (he only made six Triple A starts last year), his goal is simple. Catch the attention of Manager Aaron Boone, Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and the Yankees’ army of analytics. Even though he is not yet on the 40-man roster, there’s no doubt he will be among the first to be considered if/when the Yankees have needs for help in the starting rotation this year. I’ve heard the claims that he’ll never be anything more than a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but if memory serves correctly, that’s what they said about Andy Pettitte when he was first called up. Let Luis Severino and James Paxton be the aces, the strength of the middle to back end of the rotation is what championships are made of. I am thrilled about King and what he potentially means for the Yankees. This could very well be the year of his Major League debut. I have greater belief in King as a starter than a guy like Chance Adams who I feel is better suited for the pen. Mike King is a winner, and carrying that intangible with his tremendous talent, should make Yankee fans very excited. The King of the Hill is going to create great memories in the Bronx in the not-so-distant future.
This was a brilliant trade by GM Brian Cashman. King has proven better than we expected and he’ll continue to open eyes in Tampa in a few weeks. When the Spring games start, be sure to look out for #93.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post|
The 40-Man Chess Match…
Yesterday figured to be a very busy day for the Yankees as MLB teams had to set their 40-man Rosters of Record for Rule 5 eligibility (draft to be held at the conclusion of next month’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL) and it was.
Before the past weekend, the Yankees only had two open spots on the 40-man. Then, a few trades later, the Yankees were able to protect six young prospects from becoming potential ex-Yankees. Granted, any player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft has to stick on a MLB roster for the entire year but it happened as recent as last year when the San Diego Padres held on to Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens (even though the very young Torrens was over-matched at the Major League level).
RHP Nick Rumbelow
RHP Ronald Herrera
LHP Caleb Smith
1B Garrett Cooper
LHP Reiver Sanmartin
LHP J.P. Sears
RHP Juan Then
RHP Michael King
International Bonus Pool Money ($250,000)
ADDED TO THE 40-MAN ROSTER
RHP Domingo Acevedo
RHP Albert Abreu
RHP Jonathan Loaisiga
INF Gleyber Torres
INF Thairo Estrada
OF Billy McKinney
Trade: Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then. I thought this was the best trade. Sears, 21, fits the Yankees mold as a former collegiate player who could be useful in the bullpen. Even though his fastball tops out at 92 mph, he has been something of a strikeout machine. In his final year at The Citadel, he led NCAA Division I with 142 K’s in 95 1/3 innings. Then (not the pitcher), last year, in his first year in the Minors, he struck out 51 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Then (the pitcher), 17, a projected middle of the rotation starter, is the only new prospect to crack MLB’s Top 30 Prospects for the Yankees (his debut is at #28 in front of RHPs Giovanny Gallegos and Trevor Stephan).
Trade: Ronald Herrera to the Texas Rangers for LHP Reiver Sanmartin. Herrera provides the Rangers with an arm that is nearly ready while the Yankees buy some time with a lower level prospect. Sanmartin, 21, is a year younger than Herrera and has compiled a 14-4 record with 2.62 ERA over three minor league seasons.
Trade: Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for Michael King and Shohei Otani Money. The Yankees lose a valuable lefty with Smith’s departure but I figured that his roster spot was the least secure. Cooper did a decent job when called upon last year, but it was inevitable that the Yankees would have to make a decision between Tyler Austin and Cooper despite the latter owning a name that recalls the late great actor Gary Cooper and the movie classic The Pride of the Yankees. The writing was on the wall when Billy McKinney started working out at first base in The Arizona Fall League. This trade is being advertised as Derek Jeter’s first even if he probably didn’t handle any of the negotiations. Marlins VP of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo knows a thing or two about Yankees prospects. Many were calling this trade a huge win for the Marlins but I thought it served a very useful purpose for the Yankees. They cleared two spots on the roster which ensured that Thairo Estrada and Jonathan Loaisiga (“Johnny Lasagna”) could be protected and added a lottery ticket with the 22-year-old King. Maybe King never realizes his dream, but the additional international bonus pool money gives the Yankees a total of $3.5 million to pursue Shohei Otani. If the Yankees are successful in signing Otani, it would be very hard to look at this trade as a failure for the Yankees regardless of how Smith or Cooper eventually perform for the Marlins.
The Yankees should gain better clarity about the availability of Otani later today. The MLBPA extended the posting agreement deadline, which had been scheduled to expire yesterday, by 24 hours. The new deadline is tonight at 8 pm ET. If the parties are able to agree on a new posting agreement, it ensures that Otani will be posted this off-season and will make his much anticipated trip to the United States to choose his next team (or as I prefer, sign with the Yankees).
|Credit: The Japan Times|
The Yankees will need to make additional roster moves should they sign Otani and/or re-sign CC Sabathia but for now, the Yankees are prepared for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. I am fearful of losing LHP Nestor Cortes, RHP Cale Coshow, and/or RHP J.P. Feyereisen, among others, but it speaks to the strength of the Yankees farm system that the potential losses will hurt.
I can’t end this post without mentioning another transaction that occurred yesterday even if it was non-Yankees news. The Toronto Blue Jays waived former Yankees fan favorite Rob Refsnyder and he was claimed by the Cleveland Indians. While I wish Refsnyder well in Cleveland, I kind of wish that he’d go somewhere like San Francisco where the Yankees wouldn’t have to routinely see him. I hold out hope that Refsnyder will achieve the promise he once held but admittedly his flame of potential is growing dimmer.
|Credit: Mark Lomoglio, Icon Sportswire|
Now that the 40-man roster maneuvering has been completed, I fully expect the next week to be very quiet. Perhaps there are more managerial interviews but most likely, we’ll be on the other side of the Thanksgiving Weekend before we see any notable Yankees news.
While I would have loved being able to protect every valuable prospect, I thought the Yankees did a very good job covering the best of the best. Project Next Dynasty continues on its very very bright and positive path. We are now accepting applications for Bandwagon Fans. Go Yankees!
Rangers 11, Yankees 5…
It felt like the Battle of Little Bighorn but unfortunately the Yankees were Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry Regiment. I had hoped the momentum from Thursday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles would carry over to Friday night in Texas. Yeah, right. The Yankees were unable to hold a lead against the Rangers and then were overwhelmed in defeat.
The game started right when the Yankees broke through with multiple runs in the top of the 2nd inning. It can be argued that they should have scored more runs in the inning but still, you’d think a 4-0 lead with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound represented good odds.
|Credit: Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press|
The inning started with Matt Holliday’s single up the middle to center field. Didi Gregorius reached base on a fielder’s choice but a throwing error (flip wide of second) by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor failed to force Holliday at second so two runners on and no outs. Chase Headley lined a single to right and the bases were loaded. Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right just over the head of a leaping Odor and Holliday scored the game’s first run. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch (left front foot) from Rangers starter Martin Perez which brought Gregorius home to score. After a coaching visit to the mound, Perez struck out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Gary Sanchez, in his first game back after the three-game suspension, hit a single to left through the hole at short. Headley and Ellsbury both came home to score, but Todd Frazier was tagged out at third to end the inning. 4-0, Yankees.
|Credit: Associated Press|
In the bottom of the 2nd, Masahiro Tanaka fell behind lead-off hitter Nomar Mazara on a 3-1 count. Mazara found the pitch he wanted and sent it high into the second deck in right. Tanaka was able to retire the next three hitters, the last two by strikeout.
On to the 3rd. Starlin Castro reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Joey Gallo when the ball glanced off his glove into left field. Matt Holliday hit into a double play which was unfortunate because Didi Gregorius followed with his 21st home run (a high fly to right). The solo home run is a new career high for Didi. The Yankees were up, 5-1.
From there, the Rangers started to chip away. In the bottom of the 3rd, Robinson Chirinos hit a one-out single to center past a diving Didi Gregorius. Delino DeShields doubled down the left field line into the corner, scoring Chirinos. After Shin-Soo Choo lined out to center for the second out, with DeShields moving to third, Elvis Andrus doubled down the left field line, a high hop over Todd Frazier’s glove, to score DeShields. A wild pitch advanced Andrus to third, but Tanaka was able to strike out Nomar Mazara to end the inning. Yankees still led, 5-3.
The Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 4th inning but Starlin Castro popped out to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right to waste a huge opportunity.
After the Yankees went down quietly in the top of the 5th, the Rangers struck hard. Rougned Odor got it started with a single to right. Robinson Chirinos doubled down the left line, scoring Odor from first. It was a one-run game. Delino DeShields singled to left, moving Chirinos to third. With Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, a wild pitch by Masahiro Tanaka (low pitch that got under El Gary’s glove) freed Chirinos to come home and score the tying run. Choo doubled to left on a high fly that Brett Gardner almost caught but he “heard” the wall. DeShields moved to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough of Tanaka and made the switch to bring in Tommy Kahnle. Elvis Andrus greeted Kahnle with a single to right, scoring both DeShields and Chirinos. Starlin Castro tried diving for the ball but came up just short. The Rangers had taken a 7-5 lead. Kahnle induced Nomar Mazara to hit into a double play, but a single to center by Carlos Gomez ended his latest appearance. Chasen Shreve came in and struck out Joey Gallo to finally end the painful inning.
While the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Martin Perez and the Texas bullpen, the Rangers struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the game away. It was the kill shot to Custer’s head. With Caleb Smith taking over for Shreve, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left. While Elvis Andrus was batting, Smith threw a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt past Gary Sanchez and Choo advanced to second. Andrus subsequently walked. Nomar Mazara’s hard single to the right field wall loaded the bases, bringing an end to Smith’s stay. Ben Heller entered the game in relief of Smith and the Rangers inserted pinch-runner Jared Hoying at first for Mazara. Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Choo. With Joey Gallo batting, Heller threw the second wild pitch of the inning (smh) and Andrus moved to third, beating the throw from Gary Sanchez. Gallo’s single to right scored Andrus. Hoying moved to second. Heller got the second out of the inning when he struck out Mike Napoli. However, Rougned Odor’s bases-clearing triple to right increased the Rangers’ lead to 11-5. Heller’s subsequent walk of Robinson Chirinos ended his unsuccessful appearance. Bryan Mitchell came in to finally end the inning, but the bloody massacre had been completed.
The Yankees went down meekly from there, including three strikeouts in the top of the 9th, sending the Rangers into celebration on the field.
|Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports|
This was a very ugly loss. It had started to feel that Masahiro Tanaka was back on track after his struggles earlier in the season but this game reopened doubts. It was the kind of game that makes one hope that Tanaka opts out of his contract at the end of the year. But of course the bullpen did him no favors, nor did the team’s hitters. Michael Kay made a good observation about why Joe Girardi would go with second tier relievers when the game was still tight. I wondered the same thing when they brought in Caleb Smith who was followed by Ben Heller when Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson were rested and ready in the pen.
Sadly, the Boston Red Sox throttled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games. The Yankees (75-65) maintained their 4 1/2 game edge over the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s were the latest victim of the Cleveland Indian’s winning streak which now stands at 16 games (MLB’s longest streak since 2002). The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5, to move within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.
Odds & Ends…
As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees’ series with the Tampa Bay Rays this week (Monday through Wednesday) will be played at Citi Field in Queens instead of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL. There had been speculation that the games would be played in Chicago but it makes sense to use the Mets’ turf since the Rays are currently in Boston and most of he players are traveling with their families due to the impending storm in Florida. Lucas Duda at home in Citi Field…has a certain ring of deja vu to it.
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
Austin Romine’s original two-game suspension for the Motor City Brawl has been reduced to one game (last night). I am glad the suspensions are behind us. Erik Kratz, thanks for riding the bench and please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders evened their play-off series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at one with a 4-2 victory last night. Chance Adams was the winner. He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He walked too many (four) but struck out five. The hitting stars were Miguel Andujar (3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI) and Mason Williams (2-for-4 with three runs scored). Game 3 is tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Brady Lail (6-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for the RailRiders.
The Double A Trenton Thunder pulled off a rare feat when Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener combined for a no-hitter to beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Game 3 of their play-off series. The Thunder lead the Eastern Division Championship Series, 2 games to 1.
Have a great Saturday! I’m hoping y’all get a win down deepinaharta Texas! Go Yankees!
Credit: Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Yankees 10, Mariners 1…
Okay, the ugliness was isolated to the first inning, for the most part, but the Yankees came out on the right side and coasted to the easy victory over the Seattle Mariners. I would love to have one of these kind of games against the Boston Red Sox but we’re never so lucky.
The top of the first inning didn’t start out very well as it took Masahiro Tanaka a few batters before he could find his groove. After Jean Segura lined out directly to Aaron Judge in right to start the game, Yonder Alonso singled to left and advanced to second when left fielder Aaron Hicks was unable to field the ball cleanly. Error on Hicks. Robinson Cano, making his first start in the series after sitting out two games with hamstring tightness, singled to left in front of Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury (“you get it”…“no, no, after you”). Alonso moved to third. Nelson Cruz was next and he smacked a double to the left field wall, scoring Alonso. Cano advanced to third. Fortunately, from there, Tanaka found his pitches. He struck out Kyle Seager and then got out of the inning with only one run scored when Mitch Haniger flied out to right center. It could have been much worse but Tanaka was able to limit the damage.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
In the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka was rewarded for his effort. Aaron Hicks led off against Mariners starter Andrew Albers and popped out to short. Starlin Castro followed with a double over the head of right fielder Mitch Haniger. The Baseball Gods decided to smile upon the home team at this point. Gary Sanchez singled to left and Ben Gamel ran up on the ball and missed it with his glove. By the time center fielder Guillermo Heredia had retrieved the ball and threw it to the infield, Castro had scored and Sanchez was standing on second. The game was tied. After Aaron Judge walked, Didi Gregorius hit a fly to shallow left. With the trio of Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Jean Segura converging, no one called for the ball and it fell in. The error was charged to Segura and the bases were loaded. For the Mariners, the nightmare continued. Chase Headley hit a grounder to third that Kyle Seager bobbled and dropped. Sanchez scored and Headley was safe at first. The bases were still loaded. Todd Frazier struck out for the second out. It brought Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate. Ells lined a double to left. Ben Gamel retrieved the ball and threw it into Jean Segura at short who dropped the ball and momentarily lost sight of it. Judge and Gregorius scored. Headley, seeing the opportunity when Segura dropped the ball, broke for home. Segura’s throw bounced past the catcher as Headley scored and Ellsbury took third. Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to third and then beat out the throw from Seager. Ellsbury scored and it was 6-1 Yankees. Aaron Hicks, who had started the inning with a pop out, flied out to center to end the inning. Alas, all good things must end. The Mariners were charged a total of five errors in the inning.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Manager Joe Girardi’s day was over before the Mariners starter was out of the game. With one out and Jean Segura at first in the top of the 3rd, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to first baseman Chase Headley who threw to Didi Gregorius at second for the force out. However, the Yankees were unable to turn the inning-ending double play when Segura ran out of the base path and obstructed the view of Gregorius to first which caused an errant throw. Girardi came flying out, demanding an explanation and got tossed for his inquisitive approach. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field. Fortunately, Tanaka struck out Nelson Cruz to avoid any damage, but Girardi got to watch the rest of the game on TV like the rest of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be at Yankee Stadium.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees added to their lead. Ronald Torreyes, singled to center for his second hit of the game with two outs. Aaron Hicks lined a single to right, moving Toe to second. Starlin Castro singled with a blooper to center to score Toe and the Yankees were up 7-1.
Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post
Todd Frazier committed the game’s seventh error, and the second by the Yankees, to open the top of the 6th when he was unable to field a grounder hit by Nelson Cruz. Tanaka struck out the next two batters and got Ben Gamel to ground out to first to leave Cruz stranded at first. No harm, no foul.
In the bottom of the 6th with Andrew Albers still pitching for the Mariners, Starlin Castro led off with a soft line drive to center. After Gary Sanchez walked, the Mariners made a pitching change to bring in reliever Dan Altavilla. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third. Aaron Judge walked to load the bases. After Didi Gregorius struck out, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to center. Castro scored but Gary Sanchez was caught between second and third on the throw back into the infield and the Mariners were able to complete the double play. However, the run counted and it was 8-1 Yankees.
After Masahiro Tanaka cruised through the Mariners in a three-up, three-down top of the 7th, the Yankees made more noise in the bottom of the inning. Todd Frazier led off with a walk and moved to second when Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a roller to right. Ronald Torreyes, with his third hit of the game, lined a single to left and the bases were loaded. After Aaron Hicks popped out (infield fly rule invoked), Greg Bird pinch-hit for Starlin Castro. Bird singled to right between the two infield defenders, scoring both Frazier and Ellsbury. The Yankees now led 10-1.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Caleb Smith took over for Tanaka in the 8th and retired the six batters he faced over the final two innings. Danny Valencia, the game’s final batter, took Smith deep with Aaron Judge’s back nearly to the wall, but the ball landed in Judge’s glove for the final out. Game over. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (70-59) were able to pick up another game on Boston as the Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1. The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by only 2 1/2 games. Oh, if only the Yankees could have scored more runs Friday night. The O’s finally reached .500 with their sweep of the Red Sox and continue to trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games. The Tampa Bay Rays won in extra innings over the St Louis Cardinals, 3-2, so they remain 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees. No change in the Wild Card Standings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, behind three homers by Byron Buxton to remain 3 1/2 games behind New York.
I was worried going into this game given Masahiro Tanaka’s weird split of pitching much better at night than during daytime games. But after the bumpy start, he settled down and gave the Yankees an ace-like performance. Tanaka (10-10) went seven strong innings, holding the Mariners to the one run on six hits. He walked one batter but more importantly did not give up any homers. He struck out ten. Nice job by Caleb Smith in saving the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians.
Starlin Castro was 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-4, with a single RBI and a run scored. The Yankee offense finished with 15 hits but surprisingly no home runs. No matter, it was a very solid win and good momentum for the week ahead.
Next Up: Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees begin a very difficult week that starts with the Indians and ends with the Boston Red Sox. Every game is important at this stage of the season. The Indians come into this series a little banged up. They have a total of nine players on the DL, including LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Danny Salazar, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Michael Brantley and 2B Jason Kipnis. The Indians have a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Indians: Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)
Indians: Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)
Indians: Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82 ERA)
This will be a tough series. Admittedly, I wish Jordan Montgomery was here with the big league club and pitching on Tuesday night. Jaime Garcia does not inspire much confidence and certainly not when he’s facing a very tough Trevor Bauer. I hope Caleb Smith is prepared to pitch that day.
Have a great Monday! I know that Corey Kluber will be tough but let’s make it three-in-a-row! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
Red Sox 5, Yankees 1…
Sunday’s loss was a microcosm of the season. In the end, it was about missing the pitches as the Yankees dropped the finale and the series with the Boston Red Sox.
It’s been a difficult season for last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, but on Sunday, he gave a glimpse why he won the award last year. He held the Yankees to three hits over six innings, and three Red Sox relievers including closer Craig Kimbrel no-hit them the rest of the way.
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Boston scored first with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd. Inevitably, it would be the only runs they would need. Jackie Bradley, Jr’s two-out triple to the center field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray scored Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon. The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had runners in scoring position from the second through fourth innings but could not capitalize. Finally, in the top of the 5th inning, Brett Gardner lined a shot just inside of the Pesky Pole in right to pull the Yankees within one run, 2-1. But it was the last hit the Yankees would get off Porcello and the Red Sox bullpen.
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox added a run against Yankees reliever Adam Warren. Mitch Moreland reached on a single to left, and moved to second on a wild pitch by Warren that went through Gary Sanchez’s legs. A ground out by Sandy Leon moved Moreland to third. Jackie Bradley, Jr didn’t waste the opportunity like so many Yankee hitters had done. His single to right that dropped in front of Aaron Judge scored Moreland and Boston increased their lead to 3-1. Aroldis Chapman was brought in to replace Warren (the earliest he has appeared in a game as Yankee) and he struck out Brock Holt to end the inning.
Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images
The Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom of the 8th. Tommy Kahnle started the inning in relief of Chapman. He couldn’t find the strike zone at all with the first batter, Xander Bogaerts, issuing a free pass on four pitches. Mitch Moreland doubled to left off the Green Monster and the Sox had runners at second and third. Sandy Leon lined a double to the right field corner, both Bogaerts and Moreland scored. 5-1, Red Sox. Kahnle was pulled and replaced by Caleb Smith. A walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs, but Smith was able to retire the next three Red Sox batters to leave the runners stranded.
It didn’t really matter. The Yankees weren’t going to win this game. Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th and set the Yankees down in order, the last two by strikeouts.
If the Yankees were looking to make a statement in this series, they failed to do it. Boston exhibited superior bullpen strength and their hitters, excluding Saturday, didn’t miss their pitches. The Yankees (66-57) slipped back to five games behind the Red Sox with the loss. The Tampa Bay Rays’ 3-0 win, coupled with a loss by the Baltimore Orioles, moved them back into third place in the AL East. They are 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The O’s lost, 5-4, to the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels picked up a game on the Yankees in the Wild Card standings and trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games for the top position. The Minnesota Twins, who pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-5, are also just 2 1/2 games behind.
Sonny Gray (7-8) took the loss. He pitched five innings on a high pitch count (106), allowing seven hits and two runs. He walked two and did not strike anybody out. Run support has not been his friend with the Yankees.
Credit: Steven Senne-Associated Press
If Aroldis Chapman can piece together more outings like his, his name might be back in play for the closer’s role. Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle have some things to work on.
Brett Gardner, with two hits (a single and a homer), and Chase Headley, with one (a double), were the only Yankees with a hit. Everyone else took an 0-fer.
A win today would have been huge. But it was not to be. The Yankees need to re-group during today’s off-day and come out ready to play on Tuesday. There will be one more shot at the Red Sox. They’ll come to the Bronx for four games over Labor Day Weekend. The AL East is not dead…just wounded. There’s time to heal and show the Red Sox that the Pinstripes are back.
Next Up: The Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Detroit, MI…
The Yankees get a much-needed day off today, hanging around the Motor City, before starting a three-game series with the Tigers on Tuesday.
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.92 ERA)
Tigers: Matthew Boyd (5-6, 5.70 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.64 ERA)
Tigers: Buck Farmer (2-1, 6.62 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (10-5, 3.18 ERA)
Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 5.87 ERA)
The Yankees need to win these games. Anything less than two out of three will be a major disappointment. The Tigers stopped a six-game winning streak by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a convincing 6-1 victory behind Justin Verlander (making perhaps his final start in a Tigers uniform although I think he stays). A team with nothing to play for has nothing to lose. The Yankees had better be prepared. After the series, the Yankees return home for Player’s Weekend to take on the Wild Card contending Seattle Mariners and the player named “Don’t You Know”.
Odds & Ends…
Greg Bird had the day off on Sunday for his rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar did not as they powered the RailRiders to a 3-0 win over the Durham Bulls. Cave was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored, while Andujar was 3-for-4, with a double and a home run, for 2 RBI’s. I am looking forward to seeing these guys in a few weeks when MLB rosters expand. It was a nice pitching performance by Domingo German (5-2), who shut out the Bulls for seven innings on four hits. He walked two and struck out nine. Giovanny Gallegos, with two innings of scoreless relief, got the save.
In anticipation of Masahiro Tanaka’s impending activation from the DL, the Yankees have optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Have a great Monday! A day off…a day closer to the return of good health for Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and others. Go Yankees!
Yankees 5, Mets 4…
Sonny Gray finally won his first game as a Yankee, blanking the Mets until rookie first baseman Dominic Smith blasted his first Major League home run. All was good up until the 9th when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run homer to Amed Rosario, showing he is not over whatever this funk is, to bring the Mets within a run. Fortunately, the Yanks prevailed but it was a disappointing end to what should have been an exciting win.
The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd. Ronald Torreyes led off with a double to left off Mets starter Jacob DeGrom. The third baseman, Wilmer Flores, was playing in and was unable to reach the ball which went past third base. Toe fell down at first base but was able to get up and slide into second ahead of the throw. It was a nice recovery by Toe who had alertly slapped first base with his hand as he got up to run. Brett Gardner executed a sacrifice bunt to move Toe to third. Aaron Hicks rapped a fly ball to right that dropped in ahead of Curtis Granderson to score Toe and the Yankees led 1-0.
They added two more runs in the bottom of the 4th. Chase Headley worked a two-out walk. He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who parked one in the right center stands on a line drive to increase the score to 3-0. As the Mets announcers said, “It’s a double in every other park except this one”.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
With Sonny Gray still going strong, Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the 6th inning and unloaded on a DeGrom pitch for a tremendous home run to left center. The homer, Gary’s 21st of the year, increased the lead to 4-0.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-The Associated Press|
Wilmer Flores led off the 7th and he battled Gray for 8 pitches before walking to reach first. He didn’t stay there long as Dominic Smith followed with a home run to center. End of day for Gray, but it was a great performance despite the two-run homer. Manager Joe Girardi brought in Tommy Kahnle who retired the next three Mets to halt the Mets’ momentum.
Dellin Betances pitched the 8th. He did walk a batter (Yoenis Cespedes) with two outs. Cespedes moved into a scoring position after a wild pitch off Gary Sanchez’s glove but was left stranded when Betances struck out Michael Conforto.
The Yankees added an insurance run (which would prove to be huge) in the bottom of the 8th. Aaron Judge led off with a double to the left field corner wall, sliding into second with his left hand just under the perfect throw from Yoenis Cespedes. Didi Gregorius singled on a fly to shallow left that fell just beyond Wilmer Flores, the third baseman, to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly to center by Gary Sanchez was deep enough (warning track) to score Judge to give the Yankees a 5-2 advantage. The Mets replaced DeGrom with lefty Jerry Blevins. Chase Headley singled to left, moving Gregorius to second. Blevins then struck out Jacoby Ellsbury. The Mets pulled Blevins and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford (there’s another reliever in MLB from Las Vegas, Nevada named Chasen besides Shreve? Was it something in the Clark County water 27-28 years ago?). Bradford got Todd Frazier to pop out to first to end the inning. In retrospect, we could have used those additional runs to help prevent an agonizing 9th.
I started to get nervous when I saw Aroldis Chapman warming up. I was thankful the Yankees weren’t nursing a one-run lead. Wilmer Flores was first up. He worked the count full which had me fearing that Chapman would walk the lead-off batter. Fortunately, he struck out Flores on a foul tip to get the first out. The Mets then inserted Jose Reyes as a pinch-hitter for Dominic Smith which seemed odd given that Smith had homered in his last at-bat and Chapman had been beaten by a young slugger the night before. Nevertheless, Reyes hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley could not corral. Reyes was awarded a single but Headley could have cleanly handled the play for an out. Rookie Amed Rosario came to the plate and hit a long fly ball to center that Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury could only watch as it sailed over the fence. The Yankees’ lead had been cut to 5-4 and there was still only one out.
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound. Maybe he told Chapman to stop trying to be cute with the flat sliders. Whatever he told Chapman, it must have worked. Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to short on a great stop and throw to first by Didi Gregorius (despite losing his footing). Chapman had Juan Lagares down to two strikes but he hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley successfully handled. Chapman was moving toward first and took the toss from Headley just ahead of Lagares, but he must have pulled something in his leg as he was running toward first. Chapman got the save, his 16th, but it was far from an exciting win. I’ll take the win, don’t get me wrong. But Chapman’s struggles took away some of the euphoria that normally accompanies the excitement of victory.
The Yankees (63-55) still trail the Boston Red Sox by 4 1/2 games. The Red Sox pounded the St Louis Cardinals, 10-4, in a game that saw the Sox turn an easy triple play to go with an eight-run inning. The Toronto Blue Jays moved back into third place with their 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. They trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games. The Baltimore Orioles, sliding back to fourth place, lost to the Seattle Mariners, 3-1. They are 5 games behind the Yanks. The Yankees increased their lead in the Wild Card standings by 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels. It’s amazing to think that 8 AL teams are within 5 games of each other. In the National League, the two WC leaders (Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks) hold a five-game cushion.
Aaron Judge struck out in the first inning against Jacob DeGrom to extend his consecutive game streak with a strikeout to 32 games. He tied Adam Dunn’s 2012 record for non-pitchers. If he strikes out tonight, he’ll hold the dubious record by himself.
As great as the Yankees bullpen has been this year, it seems like there is an ugly stick that is passed from reliever to reliever. Former Yankee reliever Tyler Clippard was awful for a stretch prior to his trade to the Chicago White Sox. By the time he was traded to the Houston Astros, he was once again being touted as a two-time All-Star. He passed his awfulness before his departure to Dellin Betances, who rebounded, but must have given the baton to Chapman. The Yankees were downplaying Chapman’s hamstring tightness after the game but there’s reason for concern (in my opinion). If it were my decision, I’d pull Chapman from the closer’s role until he can right the ship. My choice for closer would be David Robertson. Betances tends to have more problems with base runners and I’d prefer to keep him in his effective set-up role.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press|
For Sonny Gray (7-7), it was great to see him get the win in his Yankee Stadium debut. Pitching six innings, he held the Mets to 5 hits and only gave up the 2 runs on the Dominic Smith homer in the 7th. He walked two batters and struck out 5. This is why Gray was worth the cost of Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian.
Odds & Ends…
The latest Subway Series moves to Citi Field tonight. Jaime Garcia gets to pitch in familiar National League digs. Have Bat–Will Travel. Hopefully the Yankees will back Garcia with a few runs this time or maybe he just takes matters into his own hands…
Credit: FOX Sports
The New York Mets have made a pitching change for tonight’s game. The scheduled starter, Seth Lugo, has been placed on the DL with an impingement in his right shoulder. Robert Gsellman, a 24-year-old righty, will start in his place. Gsellman is 5-5 with 6.16 ERA for the Mets this season.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-The Associated Press|
It’s hard for me to get overly excited about Greg Bird after a series of disappointments this year since Spring Training. Nevertheless, he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today. Bird is hoping to join the Yankees next week but for me, he needs to show that he can hit again before Garrett Cooper loses his spot as the backup first baseman for the big league club. I am very skeptical that we’ll have any significant productivity from Bird in 2017. I hope he proves me wrong.
As expected, the Yankees placed RHP Luis Cessa on the 10-day DL with his ribcage injury. LHP Caleb Smith, demoted yesterday, was recalled to take Cessa’s place. The lovely Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…
Have a great Wednesday! Let’s show Queens how Bronxites like to party! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
Yankees 5, Rays 4…
Aroldis Chapman to stop the top of the 9th and Brett Gardner to walk it off in the bottom of inning. This formula seems to be working. Chapman has long been a high end finisher, but Gardy is the one who seems to come through in the clutch when you need him the most. He is the first Yankees player to two walk-off’s in the same series. The Yankees used this formula to pull out another victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, their third consecutive win over the Rays and sixth overall.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
Caleb Smith, perhaps making his final start for the Yankees this year, was in a hole immediately when Peter Bourjos homered to left center with the game’s second pitch. He recovered to get out of the inning without any further damage.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Gary Sanchez led off with a ground-rule double to right. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to the left side but Sanchez wisely read that third baseman Trevor Plouffe was committed to throwing to first so he was easily able to take third on the play. Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to center and Sanchez tagged and scored standing up. Game was tied.
The Rays had a huge opportunity to break the game open in the third inning. Jesus Sucre led off with a single to left against Smith. Peter Bourjos hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius which erased Sucre at second. Steven Souza, Jr hit a hard liner which Gregorius almost snared (man, that would have been a brilliant play) but the ball bounced out of his glove toward third. Runners at first and second. Evan Longoria walked to load the bases, still with only one out. Lucas Duda hit a sacrifice fly to center as Bourjos scored, giving the Rays the 2-1 lead. With runners at the corners and two outs, I thought Todd Frazier had one of the plays of the game when he made a barehanded grab on Trevor Plouffe’s grounder and his throw to Garrett Cooper just beat Plouffe to first. If the Rays had been able to score multiple runs, the game would have had a much different look.
Caleb Smith pitched into the 4th inning. After striking out Corey Dickerson, he walked Tim Beckham. Even the YES Network announcers were commenting about Smith leaving his pitches up in the strike zone. All things considered, he was very lucky the Rays weren’t more successful against him. Smith’s departure after 71 pitches underscored the Yankees need for a quality starter. Adam Warren replaced Smith and struck out Adeiny Hechavarria. Beckham attempted to steal on the swinging strikeout, but the throw from Gary Sanchez to Ronald Torreyes was on target to nail the runner for the final out.
The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 4th when Gary Sanchez homered to left center. But this seemed like one of those games where the Rays continually had the answer for the Yankees runs. In the top of the 5th, Steven Souza, Jr homered to left as the Rays re-took the lead, 3-2.
Dellin Betances pitched the the top of the 6th inning. It wasn’t clean as he walked the first batter, Lucas Duda, on four straight balls. But he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning, leaving Duda stranded at second. In the bottom of the frame, Matt Holliday opened with a single to left. A fly out by Didi Gregorius ended the day for Rays starter Blake Snell and he was replaced by former San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo. The Yankees sent Chase Headley to the plate to pinch hit for Garrett Cooper. Good call by Manager Joe Girardi as Headley homered to left to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 4-3.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
The 7th inning brought Tommy Kahnle to the mound to replace Betances. A couple of hits had runners at the corners with one out but he was able to strike out Steven Souza, Jr and get Yankee killer Evan Longoria to pop out in foul territory to strand the runners. Steve Cishek, acquired during this series by the Rays from the Seattle Mariners, entered the game in the bottom of the 7th in relief of Romo. Last Saturday in Seattle, Aaron Judge had homered off Cishek but it was not to be this time around as Cishek struck out the side including Judge who went down swinging.
David Robertson took over for Kahnle in the 8th but he was immediately victimized by Lucas Duda who absolutely crushed the D-Rob pitch into the right field upper deck. Duda has been the Ben Gamel of this series. Watching how tailor-made Duda’s swing is for Yankee Stadium makes one wish that GM Brian Cashman had been more aggressive in his talks with the Mets before the first baseman was acquired by the Rays. Robertson gave up another single was was able to get out of the inning with the game tied at 4.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
9th inning and it was time for Aroldis Chapman. It wasn’t a perfect inning as Wilson Ramos was awarded first base on catcher’s interference (if the bat touched El Gary’s glove, it must have only been one of the strings as it wasn’t readily apparent watching replay). A ground out by Steven Souza, Jr eliminated Ramos at second but Souza, Jr subsequently made it to third when he stole second and advanced another base on an error. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Chapman retired Evan Longoria for the final out on a pop up in foul territory.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
For the bottom of the 9th, the Rays replaced reliever Tommy Hunter with Brad Boxberger. He walked his first batter, Chase Headley, and the Yankees replaced Headley with the $153 million pinch-runner, Jacoby Ellsbury, sporting stylish shades. Ellsbury successfully stole second with Todd Frazier at bat but it didn’t really matter as Boxberger plunked Frazier with a pitch to give him first base. Ronald Torreyes then laid down a beautiful bunt to third which left all three runners safe and the bases loaded. The Rays then pulled Boxberger and replaced him with former White Sox reliever Dan Jennings. Maybe Rays manager Kevin Cash didn’t catch the fact that this was not the best of games for former White Sox relievers (see Kahnle and Robertson). Brett Gardner came the plate and nicely laid down a single to center to score Ellsbury with the winning run. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
The Yankees (56-46) remained the AL East division leaders with the win, but the Boston Red Sox stayed just a half game off the pace with their comeback win over the Kansas City Royals. The Sox won in 10 innings with a walk-off grounder by former Yankee Eduardo Nunez which scored Sandy Leon with the winning run. It was a big game for Nunez. He was 3-for-6 with 2 homers and 3 RBI’s. With the loss, the Rays fell 4 1/2 games behind the leaders.
Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 in the game with a run scored so hopefully it is a sign that his bat is starting to unthaw. Todd Frazier is still cold as he was hitless in 3 at-bats.
Odds & Ends…
Gray skies are forming over Yankee Stadium. I am not referring to the weather but as we near the final 24 hours before the trading deadline, the Sonny Gray rumors will not go away. Twitter was abuzz with words yesterday that Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s had moved off their demand for either Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier in the deal. I think most of us are expecting outfielder Estevan Florial and 2B/SS/OF Jorge Mateo to be included so it is a matter of what other pitching prospects will comprise the package and whether or not Yonder Alonzo will be coming the other way. It seems like there is strong room for agreement at this point.
This morning’s news brings word that the Yankees are nearing a deal for lefty starter Jaime Garcia of the Minnesota Twins. Pitching prospect Zach Littell (currently in Double A) is a healthy scratch today for the Trenton Thunder which has led to speculation that he’ll be the prospect heading to the Twin Cities. Littell was acquired by the Yankees last fall in the trade that sent reliever James Pazos to the Seattle Mariners and has been terrific in the Yankees system this year. But he is a casualty of the roster-crunch as the Yankees must protect him on the 40-man roster this year or risk exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft. Garcia does not appear to be a fall back plan for Gray considering he is nowhere near the same level of pitcher. He represents rotation insurance, with Jordan Montgomery nearing a career high in innings pitched (and is potentially working with an innings limit) and would be hedge for good health with CC Sabathia and potentially Gray.
Garcia came up with the St Louis Cardinals where he was a starter for the majority of the Matt Holliday years. He was traded last December to the Atlanta Braves. Garcia, who turned 31 earlier this month, was traded to the Twins a week ago for the pennant push. But a string of losses subsequently caused the Twins to re-think their strategy. Entering play today, the Twins find themselves 7 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Garcia has only pitched one game for the Twins. He was the winner in Oakland on Friday night (6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 SO).
If the Yankees successfully acquire Gray, Alonzo, and/or Garcia, the MLB roster losers appear to be Caleb Smith, Luis Cessa, and Garrett Cooper. GM Brian Cashman will have to get very creative with his 40-man roster moves.
Word is now breaking that the Yankees have, in fact, acquired Garcia for Littell and Triple A pitcher Dietrich Enns. The Twins will also pay some of the money remaining on Garcia’s contract. My initial reaction is that the cost seems very high to acquire a journeyman starter but Enns held a highly valued spot on the 40-man roster.
Sounds like we are in for a turbulent ride until the trading deadline.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s make the Rays series a sweeping success! Go Yankees!
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!
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
Mariners 6, Yankees 5…
So much for a potential sweep in Seattle as the Mariners prevailed over the Yankees in extra innings on Saturday night. Ex-Yankees Ben Gamel and Robinson Cano made themselves heard in this game. The Yankees can still take three of four with a victory today so they can still end this road trip on a high note.
Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff (in a statement that we have made far too often this season). The Yankees scored first in the second inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to right, a one-hopper off the wall. After Sanchez was nearly picked off at second, Didi Gregorius hit a single to right which moved Sanchez to third. Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Sanchez scored on the play. After allowing a meaningless single in each of the two first innings, Tanaka lost the lead in the third. Mike Zunino opened with a blast to left center and the game was tied. Following a strikeout of Jean Segura, former Yankee Ben Gamel homered on the first pitch to right center. It was the 26th home run allowed by Tanaka this season, tying him for the dubious AL lead with Ricky Nolasco. Robinson Cano went down swinging for the second out. Nelson Cruz singled on an infield grounder to third (Tood Frazier’s long throw was up the line which took Garrett Cooper off first) and Kyle Seager was hit by a pitch on the back toe to put runners at first and second. Following a coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Danny Valencia ripped a single to left to score Cruz and Mitch Haniger singled through the hole to left to score Seager. It was 4-1 Mariners. Jarrod Dyson grounded out to end the inning.
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
Garrett Cooper tripled to center in the fifth with a near home run which sent center fielder Jarrod Dyson into the wall. Dyson stayed but you could tell that he was still affected by the collision. He would depart the game after the inning was over. Ronald Torreyes lofted a fly ball to Dyson in center as Cooper tagged and scored. In the sixth, Clint Frazier started the inning with a 10-pitch at-bat against M’s starter Ariel Miranda but chased an upstairs fastball to strike out. The Mariners pulled Miranda and replaced him with Steve Cishek. Aaron Judge greeted Cishek with a high fly to right center for his 32nd home run of the season. The Yankees had closed the gap to 4-3.
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
The Yankees tied the game in the 8th inning. With one out, Brett Gardner beat out a grounder to short for a single. Clint Frazier doubled to center off the top of the wall (if only it had been just a few more inches), Gardner moved to third. The Mariners intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday. Holliday hit a deep sacrifice fly to right, easily scoring Gardner. The game was tied at 4. Gary Sanchez lined out to right so the Yankees were unable to push any more runs across the plate. In retrospect, this was a very big missed opportunity.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Mariners recaptured the lead when Robinson Cano led off with a home run to left off David Robertson. Bummer, but you couldn’t blame D-Rob as it was an excellent pitch. He was able to retire the next three batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.
The Yankees had life again in the top of the 9th with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz on the mound. Didi Gregorius walked to start the inning. Diaz was able to retire the next two batters, Todd Frazier and Chase Headley who pinch-hit for Garrett Cooper. With Ronald Torreyes at the plate, Jacoby Ellsbury was brought in to pinch run for Gregorius and promptly stole second. Torreyes singled to left on a line drive, bringing Ellsbury around to score and the game was tied again. After Tommy Kahnle finished the M’s in the bottom of the 9th, it was off to extra innings.
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
M’s reliever Tony Zych replaced Diaz in the 10th and easily retired the Yankees, including strikeouts of both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge. In the bottom of the 10th, Adam Warren was on the mound. Warren gave up a lead-off double by Ben Gamel (rapidly becoming a Yankee killer). Robinson Cano was intentionally walked to open the possibility for a double play, but unfortunately, Nelson Cruz hit a line drive to left and Clint Frazier’s throw to the plate was off the mark as Gamel scored the winning run. The Mariners win, 6-5.
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
The Yankees (50-46) didn’t lose any ground in the AL East despite the loss. The Boston Red Sox fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 7-3, while the Texas Rangers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3. It would have been a great opportunity to pick up ground in the division but it was not meant to be. The Yankees and Rays remain 3 1/2 games behind Boston.
Somehow, the Yankees need to get Todd Frazier going. His 0-for-4 night dropped his season batting average to .201. Anything from him last night could have been a difference-maker. Among the starting position players, he was the only one without a hit for the second game in a row.
Odds & Ends…
Second baseman Starlin Castro has been placed on the 10-Day DL after re-aggravating his hamstring. Tyler Wade, who was seen in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre locker room before the RailRiders’ game yesterday, was recalled and didn’t get to Seattle until late last night. Presumably, he’ll share time at second with Ronald Torreyes. Wade had a tremendous game on Thursday when the RailRiders defeated the Charlotte Knights, 13-2. He tripled and homered, driving in 4 RBI’s.
Caleb Smith (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will start today’s getaway game against the Mariners in place of Luis Cessa. I am very glad to see this move. I’d rather see what Smith is capable of doing with his first Major League start versus another uneven performance by Luis Cessa. I am sure that Cessa will be the first call to the pen if Smith gets into trouble early but hopefully he is able to show the great success he has enjoyed in Triple A this year. Yovanni Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will oppose Smith.
Jacoby Ellsbury, at least temporarily, has lost his starting gig. With over $68 million still owed Ellsbury after this year, there’s probably not much chance he’ll be exiting anytime soon. Manager Joe Girardi has said that he wants to go with the hot hand which means keeping Clint Frazier in the lineup. The threat of Frazier being demoted to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns still looms as the Yankees are not going to cut Ellsbury. This goes against the premise of putting your best players on the field but obviously there are more factors at play.
The Yankees get a much needed day off on Monday following their cross-country flight home. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox, flying up from Orange County, will replace the Yankees at Safeco Field for a three-game series against the Mariners.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s make this a fun day with a much-needed win! Go Yankees!
Twins 4, Yankees 2…
The Baby Bombers tried but without too much help from the veteran leadership, the Yankees fell to the Twins in Minneapolis.
New first baseman Garrett Cooper finally had his coming out party with three hits (two doubles) and his first Major League RBI. Clint Frazier, penciled in at #2 in the lineup, contributed two speed-earned doubles.
The Twins struck first, picking up a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Kennys Vargas walked and scored when Eddie Rosario lined a double to the center field wall. They added another run the next inning. Brian Dozier and Zack Granite both singled, and Joe Mauer walked to load the bases. In one of the game’s great plays, Miguel Sano hit a fly ball to Aaron Judge in right. Dozier attempted to score on the fly ball, but was nailed at the plate by an exceptional throw from Judge to catcher Austin Romine.
|Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP|
The Yankees nearly escaped the inning without any damage, but starter Bryan Mitchell, covering first base, botched a catch from second baseman Starlin Castro which allowed Max Kepler to reach base with Granite scoring the Twins’ second run.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th. The inning opened with a challenge play that was ruled in Minnesota’s favor. Didi Gregorius was initially ruled safe at first on an infield hit and headfirst slide, but replay subsequently showed that he was late to the bag as Adalberto Mejia’s foot touched base just before Didi’s hands. With two outs, Garrett Cooper doubled to right center, a smash to the wall. He scored on Austin Romine’s double over the head of right fielder Max Kepler. 2-1, Twins.
The game was tied in the top of the 7th when Chase Headley doubled to left center between the outfielders. He scored on Garrett Cooper’s second double of the game, a solid line drive to left.
Then the game fell apart for the Yankees. In the top of 8th, it looked to have the potential of a big inning that could have given the Yankees the lead. Clint Frazier hit a double to left, motoring around to second without hesitation. Twins reliever Taylor Rogers intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday. It proved to be the right decision by Twins manager Paul Molitor when Holliday hit into a 6-4-3 double play which erased Judge at second. Frazier moved to third. After taking a big swing for a strike, Didi Gregorius attempted an awful bunt which just bounced up and down at home plate. Twins catcher Jason Castro was able to easily throw out Gregorius for the final out.
In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to stick with Caleb Smith. Smith had entered the game in the 6th inning in relief of Bryan Mitchell. For two innings, he was tremendous in retiring 6 batters with 3 strikeouts. I know it is easy to second guess Girardi after-the-fact, but I felt that Girardi should have brought in one of his veteran relievers for the pressure-packed 8th. Smith’s brilliant two-inning work would have been a great confidence booster in making his MLB debut so it would have been a good place to pull him, especially with the Twins’ 3-4-5 hitters coming up. But Girardi elected to stay with the hot hand. Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano opened the bottom of the 8th with singles off Smith. Mauer’s hit fell just short of Aaron Judge’s sliding glove and Sano’s seeing-eye single made it to left past a sliding Didi Gregorius. After striking out Max Kepler, Smith gave up a single to left by pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar which scored Mauer. Sano moved to third on the play, beating a throw from Austin Romine to Gregorius, and scored when Eddie Rosario doubled, a rolling liner, to right. The Twins had taken a 4-2 lead which would prove to be the game’s final runs. To Smith’s credit, with the bases loaded after an intentional walk, retired the next two batters get out of the inning.
|Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP|
The Yankees were unable to muster any offense in the top of the 9th in the rain against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler and went down 1-2-3.
|Credit: Star Tribune|
Doing the little things right could have won this game but it was not meant to be.
The Yankees (47-44) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. The Sox fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3. The second place Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games in front of the Yankees and 2 games behind Boston with their 3-2 victory over the Oakland A’s.
Caleb Smith (0-1) took his first loss of the season after his 8-0 start at Triple A. Bryan Mitchell’s final line wasn’t bad. 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 run unearned thanks to his own error), 2 BB, and 2 SO. Aaron Judge’s post All-Star Game slump continued with his 0-for-3 performance which dropped him to 1-for-21 for the second half. He struck out once.
Odds & Ends…
Michael Pineda’s consultation with Dr Timothy Kremchek for a second opinion has confirmed the need for Tommy John surgery. Dr Kremchek will perform the surgery today in Cincinnati. Although I doubt Michael ever pitches for the Yankees again, I wish him much success with the surgery and a speedy recovery.
Greg Bird will also have surgery on his ankle today. He is expected to be out for six weeks. While it is projected that he could be back in September, I’d find it highly unlikely given he has missed so much time the past two years. Even more unlikely if the Yankees swing a trade for someone like Yonder Alonso or Justin Bour. I hope this surgery puts Bird back on the path to be a contributing member for the Yankees.
Have a great Tuesday! Time to get back in the win column. Let’s Go Yankees!