The way the game started, it looked like it was going to be the Twins’ day. But in the end, it was the grizzled old veterans (CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner) that keyed the victory for the Yankees.
In a game delayed by rain (one hour and five minutes), the Twins got an early jump on Sabathia. Brian Dozier led off with a single to center on the first pitch. Joe Mauer reached on a bunt to third (a roller on the line that Todd Frazier waited to see if it would roll out), Dozier advanced to second. Jorge Polanco followed with a bunt single back to the pitcher. CC must have been thrilled with all those bunts (memories of Boston). Polanco was called out on the field but the Twins challenged and replay showed that he had beaten Sabathia’s throw to first. The bases were loaded with no outs. Even though it resulted in a run, the play of the game occurred when Jorge Polanco hit a grounder to short and the Yankees completed a double play (second to first) with Dozier running home to score the game’s first run. Byron Buxton grounded out back to Sabathia to end the threat. The Twins could have scored multiple runs in that situation, which would have changed the complexion of the game, but CC was able to limit the damage.
The top of the 2nd saw a completely different Sabathia. He set down the Twins on a ground out and two strikeouts. Thanks to walks by Starlin Castro and Greg Bird, the Yankees had two runners on base in the bottom of the 2nd, with two outs, for Brett Gardner. Gardy delivered with a line drive to left to score Castro.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press|
Bird moved to third, but Aaron Judge was unable to bring him home when he flied out to center to end the inning. Game tied.
Max Kepler led off the top of the 3rd inning with a home run to right center as the Twins recaptured the lead.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the bottom of the 4th with a double down the left field line. After Todd Frazier struck out, Greg Bird took his second walk of the game. Runners at first and second. Brett Gardner came up big again with a single to right, past a diving Joe Mauer, to score Ellsbury. The Twins pulled starter Jose Berrios and replaced him with Alan Busenitz. With Aaron Judge batting, Busenitz uncorked a wild pitch which moved the runners to second and third. Aaron Judge took advantage with a sacrifice fly to the right field warning track that scored Bird. The Yankees had their first lead of the game, 3-2.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-Getty Images|
The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 5th. With former Met Dillon Gee on the mound and one out, Chase Headley was hit by a pitch near the family jewels. Yikes! Headley was okay, but as Michael Kay of the YES Network said, I hope he was wearing a cup even though he was not playing in the field (DH) for this game. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left through the hole and Headley moved to second. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to first for the second out, but the runners advanced to second and third. Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. The Twins made another pitching change, replacing Gee with Buddy Boshers. Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that looked like it would be a routine play for Joe Mauer but the ball bounced off the side of his glove and all runners were safe, with Headley scoring. If there was ever a guy that deserved to score, it was Headley as he had truly taken one for the team. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-2.
Sabathia found himself back in another jam in the 6th inning. Two singles, a stolen base, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, but CC was able to get Eddie Rosario to fly out to left to leave the runners stranded. Rosario’s hit took Brett Gardner to the warning track and back into the wall but it was still the third out even if it did cause me to lose my breath momentarily. Sabathia’s day was done.
In the bottom of the 6th, Twins reliever Ryan Pressly took over for Buddy Boshers. The first batter, Aaron Judge, singled to left through the hole. Gary Sanchez followed with a single to left and the Yankees had runners at the corners. After outs by Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley, Starlin Castro singled to right, inches past a diving Brian Dozier, to score Judge. Sanchez moved to second. A wild pitch had advanced the runners to second and third. From there, Pressly intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier grounded out to short to end the inning but the Yankees had added to their lead, 5-2.
Chad Green took over for Sabathia in the 7th. It wasn’t the usual Terminator-like appearance for Green, but he did hold the Twins scoreless despite allowing a single and a walk in the inning.
The Yanks missed another scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 7th. Brett Gardner had reached on a one-out grounder to short (a ball that squirted out of the shortstop’s glove). With Aaron Judge batting, Gardy stole second. He then moved to third on a wild pitch by reliever John Curtiss. Judge hit a grounder to third and Gardy made an unsuccessful break for home. Eduardo Escobar’s throw to catcher Chris Gimenez nailed Gardy at the plate.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press|
In the top of the 8th, David Robertson got the call. Joe Girardi had said prior to the game that Dellin Betances would be unavailable after pitching in the two previous games but obviously there was much discussion among the Yankees Universe yesterday about whether the Yankees should drop Betances to less pressurized situations until he can find himself again. D-Rob added fuel to the argument when he struck out the side.
Aroldis Chapman came into the game in the 9th. Although he did allow a two-out double to Chris Gimenez, he got Max Kepler to hit a liner to left for the final out to earn his 20th save. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (84-67) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox, staying three games back. The Baltimore Orioles have done the Yankees no favors as they fell to the Sox again, this time by a score of 1-0 in extra innings. Manny Machado, please feel free to mix in a few timely hits. The Yankees have built a commanding six game lead in the Wild Card standings over the Twins. The third place WC-contending team, the Los Angeles Angels, also lost so they failed to make up any ground on their 1 1/2 game deficit to the Twins.
CC Sabathia (12-5) was clearly the crafty vet in this game. He escaped huge jams and overall held the Twins in check. ‘Get the game to the bullpen’ and he did.
Both Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro had three hits, and Aaron Judge had two. Another good win by the home team!
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have made a pitching change for today’s game. Earlier, Joe Girardi had announced that Masahiro Tanaka would be the scheduled starter. However, upon reconsideration (based primarily on the fact that the Yankees have not yet clinched a post-season berth), they have decided to pitch Luis Severino (13-6, 2.93 ERA). He’ll be opposed by the ageless Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.80 ERA). Tanaka will pitch Friday night in Toronto. The move gives Severino the potential for three starts if the Yankees are still challenging the Sox for the division championship. If not, he’ll make two more starts, including today, and will take the mound for the Wild Card game.
It is amazing to think that if/when Aaron Judge hits his 45th home run of the season, he’ll join very select company as the only Yankees with 45 or more home runs in a season…Roger Maris (61); Babe Ruth (60, 59, 54, 54, 49, 47, 46, 46, 46); Mickey Mantle (54, 52); Alex Rodriguez (54, 48); Lou Gehrig (49, 49, 47, 46); and Joe DiMaggio (46). Standing pat at 44 HR’s is impressive as it would also include Tino Martinez but clearly we want Judge to continue to send balls into orbit.
Have a great Wednesday! It’s a wonderful day for a win! Go Yankees!
Yankees 5, Rays 1…
A fielding error by Rays third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the 4th inning opened the door for an offensive outburst that was capped by a three-run homer by Todd Frazier. The single inning explosion carried the Yankees to victory over the “home” Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, NY.
|Credit: Steven Ryan-Getty Images|
For three innings, the Yankees couldn’t muster a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, the Rays scratched out a run against the Yanks in the bottom of the 2nd. Lucas Duda, at home at Citi Field and using his old locker, drew a walk to start the inning. Yankees starter CC Sabathia retired the next two batters and had Adeiny Hechavarria down to two strikes. Hechavarria battled and finally on the 9th pitch of the at-bat tripled to the center field wall, splitting the outfielders, to score Duda with the game’s first run.
Aaron Judge opened the 4th inning with a walk, extending his own MLB record for most walks by a rookie to 108. Gary Sanchez finally got the first hit for the Yankees, a line drive to center. The Yankees had runners at the corners. Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge standing up. The game was tied. Starlin Castro struck out for the second out. Then the magic happened. Well, maybe not from Trevor Plouffe’s perspective. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third that Plouffe was unable to field (under his glove). As the ball rolled down the left field line, Sanchez scored to give the Yankees the lead and Holliday moved to second on the play. On a full count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher’s interference when his bat hit the catcher’s mitt. It was the 30th career catcher’s interference for Ellsbury which surpassed Pete Rose for the most all-time. Todd Frazier came to the plate and homered to left off the facing in the second deck to make it 5-1. The Yankees got two more runners on base when Tyler Austin doubled to the left field wall and Brett Gardner walked. It spelled the end for Jake Odorizzi who went from a no-hitter to a four-run deficit despite only allowing one earned run. Rays reliever Chaz Roe came in and struck out Aaron Judge, who had led off the inning, to end the Yankees’ rally.
CC Sabathia was allowing baserunners, giving up two singles in both the third and fourth innings, but had been escaping unscathed. He got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th. He walked Peter Bourjos to start the inning. After striking out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches, Trevor Plouffe singled to center over Sabathia’s back with Bourjos moving to second. Manager Joe Girardi opted to take no further chances and pulled Sabathia (to avoid a confrontation with Evan Longoria). The move appeared justified when David Robertson came in and struck out both Longoria and Lucas Duda to end the threat. Sabathia probably wasn’t too happy with the early hook, but he had thrown 88 pitches and allowed six hits. It was only a matter of time before the Rays broke through but the D-Rob insurance card paid off.
|Credit: Andrew Savulich-The New York Daily News|
The Rays did have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th with D-Rob still pitching. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-out ground-rule double which hit the warning track in left and bounced off the back wall. He took third on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez, but was left stranded when Danny Espinosa grounded out to short.
The Yankees got their final hit of the night in the 7th inning when Brett Gardner led off with a single to left. A failed stolen base attempt, a perfect throw from catcher Wilson Ramos to second baseman Danny Espinosa, sent Gardy to the bench.
D-Rob pitched the bottom of the 7th, making this outing the longest in his career (pitching a total of 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with 4 K’s).
|Credit: Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images|
The bottom of the 8th brought out Dellin Betances and it was time to start drinking heavily. Evan Longoria started off with a single that dropped in right field. Betances struck out Lucas Duda for the first out, but then walked Cesar Puello. Aargh! Logan Morrison was up next, pinch-hitting for Wilson Ramos, and I was seeing images of a three-run home run to make it a one-run game. Fortunately, those visions proved false as Betances struck out Morrison. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out, with Aaron Judge running to the wall, for the final out. Whew! That was a hard inning to sit through…
Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th. After a brief pause on my part hoping that Chapman has truly righted the ship, he proceeded to retire the side on ten pitches. It wasn’t a save opportunity but the result was the same. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (78-65) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox so they now trail by 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, so the gap between the Yanks and the third-place O’s is now 7 1/2 games. The win also increased the Yankees lead in the Wild Card Standings to 4 games.
David Robertson (8-2) picked up the vulture win with Sabathia’s inability to make it through five full innings. The Yankees were outhit by the Rays, 8 to 4, but they obviously made the most of their hits with Todd Frazier’s home run leading the way.
|Credit: Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press|
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees activated OF Clint Frazier off of the disabled list on Monday. Red Thunder was somewhat underwhelming in his rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder. In 17 at-bats, he had only 2 hits and 10 strikeouts. Here’s hoping that his return to the Pinstripes is little more successful. He should slot back into the fourth outfielder role that has been lacking since Aaron Hicks went on the DL.
When Aaron Judge hit his 40th home run, he joined some lofty company. Prior to Judge’s home run, the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs at 25 years or younger were Babe Ruth (54, 1920), Lou Gehrig (47, 1927), Joe DiMaggio (46, 1937), and Mickey Mantle (52, 1956). That’s a nice group of names to rub shoulders with…
Have a great Tuesday! Seems like a great day for another win! Go Yankees!
Orioles 7, Yankees 6…
I’ve never been a big fan of Dellin Betances as closer and Tuesday night was Exhibit A. I do not feel that he has the closer’s mentality and his arm plays best in a prime setup role. His inability to throw strikes to Tim Beckham with two outs set up Manny Machado for the late night heroics with a dramatic two-run walk-off home run. I’ve felt all along that David Robertson should have been the interim closer but at this point, an argument could be made for the return of Aroldis Chapman.
In a game delayed by rain (game time was 9:15 pm Eastern), the Orioles scored first in the bottom of the first inning. Jonathan Schoop worked a two-out walk off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Adam Jones reached base on an infield single to third (a slow roller that hit the bag). During Trey Mancini’s at-bat, a wild pitch by Sabathia that got away from Austin Romine allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Mancini proceeded to hit a short dribbler to short. Didi Gregorius charged in to retrieve the ball but in the words of Michael Kay, he had to “eat it” when there was no play at either first or home. Schoop scored and the O’s led 1-0.
The Yankees erupted in the third inning against Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson. Austin Romine led off with a single to left through the hole. After Brett Gardner lined out to right, Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Didi Gregorius lined a single to right which scored both Romine and Judge. Judge slid in safely under the throw. Matt Holliday walked to re-load the bases. The O’s then pulled Hellickson and replaced him with former Yankee Richard Bleier. Greg Bird hit a sacrifice fly to center which scored Castro. An error by center fielder Adam Jones, he dropped the ball, allowed Bird to safely reach base and the bases were still loaded. Todd Frazier grounded out softly to short with the only play the throw to first. Gregorius came home with the fourth run. Jacoby Ellsbury was next and he singled up the middle to center to score Holliday and Bird. The Yankees were seemingly in control at 6-1.
|Credit: Patrick Semansky-Associated Press|
Leading off the bottom of the 3rd, Manny Machado, the American League Player of the Month in August, gave a preview of coming attractions with his line drive home run to center. The Yankees still led, 6-2, but it was statement by Machado that the game was not over.
While the Yankees were struggling to get runners past second base, the O’s added another run in the bottom of the 5th inning when Jonathan Schoop took Sabathia deep to left center for a solo homer.
Sabathia pitched into the 6th inning but overstayed his welcome. Trey Mancini led off with a looper just over Todd Frazier’s outreached glove for a single. Mark Trumbo took advantage and blasted a two-run shot to left. It was a one-run game. After Chris Davis grounded out for the first out of the inning, the Yankees finally pulled Sabathia. Tommy Kahnle took over and got the final two outs.
Girardi’s formula was then to use David Robertson for the 7th and Aroldis Chapman for the 8th. Both men did their jobs. Each retiring the three batters they faced. Unfortunately, after the big 3rd inning, the Yankees offense stalled. Their last chance came in the 8th when they had two men on base with only one out, but Aaron Judge struck out and Starlin Castro popped out to third in foul territory to strand the runners.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the 9th, Dellin Betances took over for Chapman and retired the first two batters. He needed just one more out which never came. He couldn’t throw strikes to Tim Beckham, walking him on a 3-1 count. Manny Machado, swinging at a poorly placed high pitch from Betances, sent the ball over the wall in center field for the walk-off two-run home run.
|Credit: Associated Press|
The Yankees (74-64) lost ground to the Boston Red Sox. The Sox were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th before tying the game and sending it into extra innings. They finally scored the walk-off run in the 19th inning to win the game and push the Yankees 3 1/2 games back. The Orioles moved back to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees with the win. The Los Angeles Angels leap-frogged the Minnesota Twins and trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the Wild Card Standings. The Angels beat the Oakland A’s, 8-7, in 10 innings, while the Twins fell to the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.
This is another game that the Yankees should have won. It would have been huge to win the first two games in Baltimore. But it was not meant to be so hopefully the Yankees can rebound today. Rain is in the forecast throughout the evening so there’s a strong possibility the game is called and pushed to Thursday. When the teams take the field, the Yankees must play like a team fighting for the post-season and avoid the mistakes that allow the opponent to capitalize. Moving Betances back to set up would be a start.
Odds & Ends…
Every time the Yankees add a player from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I can’t help but feel bad for RailRiders Manager Al Pedrique as his team prepares for its International League playoff series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. But then again, the RailRiders can raid from the Double A Trenton Thunder as 2B Billy Fleming will attest. I guess talent rolls up hill. The latest RailRider to exit the team is 1B/OF Tyler Austin who was promoted to the big league club prior to yesterday’s game. It makes more sense for Austin to provide outfield corner support than either Tyler Wade or Ronald Torreyes. Austin had two home runs the other day in the RailRiders’ regular season finale.
Luis Severino’s post on The Player’s Tribune website entitled My Journey to the Bronx is a great read. It makes you feel proud and excited to be a Yankees fan. I didn’t realize how close he came to being a Colorado Rockie. I am glad it didn’t happen and that the opportunity to play for his favorite childhood team came to fruition.
Have a great Wednesday! Let’s grab a win today at Camden Yards before the team jumps on a plane bound for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex! Go Yankees!
Red Sox 4, Yankees 1…
For Friday’s starters, the Yankees previously sent three of their top prospects to the Oakland A’s for their ace while the Boston Red Sox picked up their’s off the scrap heap. Nothing against Doug Fister but there’s no way he should look like Corey Kluber or Chris Sale on the mound. However, for yesterday’s game, the listless Yankees made him appear to be one of the game’s aces as the Red Sox easily got past the Yankees.
|Credit: Corey Perrine-Getty Images|
When the Yankees scored first, on Aaron Judge’s first RBI against the Red Sox since April, it looked like it might be the start of something good with Sonny Gray on the mound. But after that point, the Yankees didn’t have to worry about their problem with runners in scoring position because they couldn’t get any.
After Gray breezed through the Red Sox in the top of the first, the Yankees got to business in the bottom of the inning. Brett Gardner led off with a double to deep center, bouncing on the warning track and off the wall. Aaron Judge followed him with another double to the wall in left center to score Gardy with the game’s first run. Sadly, at that moment, the Yankees forgot that it was only Doug Fister on the mound. The next three hitters grounded out and the Yankees had seen their last RISP when Judge was left standing at second.
The Red Sox erased the Yankees’ lead in the top of the 3rd. After striking out Sandy Leon, Gray walked Brock Holt. Eduardo Nunez made him pay for it with a two-run shot to left. Brett Gardner could only watch as the ball sail into the stands. From there, the Red Sox tacked on a couple of unnecessary insurance runs in the form of solo home runs.
Andrew Benintendi, doing to the Yankees what I can only wish Aaron Judge would do to the Red Sox, pounded a Gray pitch into the right field stands (nearly into the Judge’s Chambers) in the top of the 5th.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Hanley Ramirez, having a down year against any team not called the Yankees, drilled a shot to right center in the top of the 7th.
I’d like to find a positive in the game but unfortunately I can’t. Both Gray and Fister went seven innings with 98 pitches. Gray only gave up one more hit than Fister (five to four) but the three home runs were the difference maker. We needed Gray to have his finest moment in Pinstripes but instead it was the Red Sox partying on the field after the game.
|Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports|
Aroldis Chapman pitched the eighth inning. He gave a hit (a single to Mookie Betts) but recorded all three outs by strikeout. Velocity didn’t seem to be a problem with Chapman hitting nearly 105 mph on a pitch that Dustin Pedroia fouled off. Adam Warren also pitched an inning of one-hit, scoreless relief.
I’m sorry, there was one positive in the game. Bernie Williams did a great job of playing the National Anthem on his guitar during pre-game ceremonies. I will always appreciate #51.
This was a very winnable game. Instead, the Yankees (71-63) are back to 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Baltimore Orioles won, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 in extra innings, so they are just 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. New York maintained its one game lead in the Wild Card standings thanks to the Minnesota Twins’ 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals, but there are seven AL teams within striking distance (3 1/2 games or less).
The Yankees need to take care of business. If they go down fighting, it’s one thing. When they go down meekly, it is unacceptable.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees made the first of their September call-ups with names you’d expect to see: DH Matt Holliday, C Erik Kratz (acquired solely to back up Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine while they serve their staggered suspensions), RHP Bryan Mitchell, LHP Jordan Montgomery, and RHP Ben Heller. To make room for Kratz on the 40-man roster, the Yankees moved RHP Luis Cessa (ribcage injury) to the 60-day DL. I am glad to see that the Kratz move didn’t result in a “forced” DFA. I didn’t see an easy candidate to dump. There will be other names to follow but the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will begin play in the International League play-offs next week so it may be a few weeks before we see guys like Miguel Andujar or Jake Cave.
I thought CC Sabathia getting upset about Eduardo Nunez’s bunt in the first inning of Thursday’s game was a little over-reactionary (why not exploit an opponent’s weakness?). But Hall of Famer Jim Rice’s comments about CC’s weight were, in my opinion, out of line.
Tyler Clippard must think he won the lottery. A couple of months ago, he was pitching like the worst reliever in baseball for the Yankees. Now, he finds himself with a vital role in the bullpen for a team poised to make a World Series run with starting pitchers led by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.
|Credit: Christian Petersen-Getty Images|
Have a great Saturday! Here’s hoping that Masa washes those dirty Sox. Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Red Sox 2…
There was too much drama in the 9th inning but the Yankees persevered to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series in the Bronx.
CC Sabathia, reinforcing his reputation this year as the Yankees’ stopper, got the win in a strong performance. The first inning started a little rocky, but Sabathia made his pitches and avoided putting the Yankees in the early hole like they had with the Cleveland Indians the last couple of games. After easily retiring lead-off hitter Rajai Davis, Eduardo Nunez, in a move that would draw CC’s ire, bunted toward the pitcher. Sabathia retrieved the ball but his throw to first base pulled Greg Bird off the bag. Two subsequent walks and the bases were loaded. Sabathia struck out the next two batters to avoid what could have been a very big inning for the Red Sox.
|Credit: Craig Ruttle-Associated Press|
There were a few challenges in the game. The first one occurred in the top of the 2nd. Rajai Davis was at the plate with a runner on first and two outs. He was awarded base on a hit by pitch, but replay showed that the ball hit the end of the bat and not the player. So, Davis, who had taken first with his acting performance, had to return to the plate. He proceeded to strike out to end the inning.
Top of the 3rd and more challenges. Eduardo Nunez led off the inning for the Red Sox with a single up the middle. Next up was Andrew Benintendi who hit a liner to left field. Nunez went around to third, and Benintendi slid into second at the same time as the throw. The call on the field was safe but the Yankees challenged it and Benintendi was ruled out upon review (in a very close call).
|Credit: Rich Schultz-Getty Images|
Mookie Betts walked to put runners at the corners. Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder to short that appeared to be turned for a double play, but it was Boston’s turn to challenge. Betts, sliding into second, was ruled safe ahead of the throw from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro, so Bogaerts was the only out and Nunez scored on the play. 1-0, Red Sox. Betts subsequently stole third and the Sox had runners at the corners when Rafael Devers walked, but Sabathia, continuing his bend but not break outing, induced Hanley Ramirez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd to tie the game. Brett Gardner led off with a single to left, but he was erased when Aaron Hicks hit into a double play. So, the bases were empty when Gary Sanchez came to the plate. El Gary hit a high fly off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez that carried into the right field stands. It was Gary’s 28th home run of the season and his 12th in August.
|Credit: Craig Ruttle-Associated Press|
Sanchez always takes heat for the passed balls and wild pitches that get past him, but his arm is a thing of beauty. In the top of the 5th, with Andrew Benintendi on first and Mookie Betts at the plate, Benintendi broke for second on a called third strike on Betts and El Gary’s throw to Starlin Castro was easily in time to nail the sliding runner for the strike-em out, throw-em out double play.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees took the lead. With one out, singles by Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks put runners at the corners. Gary Sanchez hit a high fly to shallow right that looked like it would be the second out but Eduardo Nunez went too far and couldn’t reach back to make the catch over his shoulder so the ball fell in. Sanchez was awarded a single in what appeared to be an error. No matter, Gardy scored on the play and it was 2-1 Yankees. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases for Aaron Judge with two outs but he weakly popped out for a missed opportunity.
While Sabathia was holding the Red Sox in check, the Yankees broke through with more runs in the bottom of the 6th. Chase Headley started the inning with a double off the center field wall. Greg Bird, who can be a huge asset down the stretch, ripped a Rodriguez pitch deep into the right-center field stands for a two-run home run. After Todd Frazier singled to left, the Sox pulled Eduardo Rodriguez and replaced him with Fernando Abad. Abad struck out Brett Gardner, but Aaron Hicks reached first with an infield hit. Gary Sanchez lined out for the second out, however, Didi Gregorius singled up the middle to center field to score Headley. The Yankees had taken a 5-1 lead. The Sox replaced Abad with Heath Hembree who got the final out when Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short, forcing Didi out at second.
David Robertson took the mound to start the 7th inning so it closed the book on CC Sabathia. It was a very gutty performance by Sabathia. He could have easily broken and allowed the Red Sox to take advantage of their scoring opportunities but he held the door. DRob easily set down the Red Sox for three quick outs to send the game to the bottom of the 7th. The Yankees had an opportunity for a big inning but they were only able to score a single run. Aaron Judge started things by working a walk on four pitches. Chase Headley singled to center, a fly that dropped in, with Judge moving to third. Greg Bird singled to left on a grounder through second and short to score Judge. The Yankees were up 6-1. Todd Frazier subsequently walked to load the bases with no outs. The Sox went to the pen and brought in Robby Scott. Sadly, Brett Gardner hit a liner at Eduardo Nunez and his throw to Xander Bogaerts beat Bird sliding back into second for the double play. The Yankees challenged the play (replay did appear to show Bird’s hand reaching second base just ahead of Bogaerts’ foot) but the umps felt otherwise and stood by the call on the field. Aaron Hicks followed by striking out for a huge missed opportunity. I know that I didn’t feel comfortable with a five-run lead at that point against the dangerous Red Sox lineup.
Robertson evaded trouble in the top of the 8th when the first two batters reached base, the second on his own fielding error. Fortunately, he retired the next three batters to end the inning unscathed. Moments like that make me appreciate that Big Papi retired last year.
Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer easily set down the Yankees in the bottom of the 8th to send the game into the 9th inning. Dellin Betances replaced DRob and then proceeded to scare the h**l out of me. After Chris Young walked, Betances hit the next two batters (Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt) to load the bases with no outs. He finally got the first out when Eduardo Nunez struck out swinging. But a walk to Andrew Benintendi scored Young. The Red Sox had two chances with the potential tying run at the plate and two hitters very capable of hitting the long ball. Mookie Betts was first and he popped up for the second out. Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, was next. Moreland has done some damage against the Yankees this year, but Betances got him to fly out to left for the final out. Whew, game over! Yankees win!
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
The Yankees (71-62) moved to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the victory. They maintained a one-game lead in the Wild Card standings over the red-hot Minnesota Twins. The Baltimore Orioles finally lost, 11-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays, so they fell 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
CC Sabathia (11-5) got the much-deserved win. He walked too many (five) but he held the Sox to four hits and one run despite what seemed like multiple run-scoring opportunities. He struck out six. I was so fearful that Dellin Betances was going to blow the big lead in the top of the 9th but credit to him for his recovery to get the outs when he needed them. My preference, not shared by Joe Girardi, is to keep Betances in a setup role and use David Robertson as the closer until Aroldis Chapman can right the ship.
I like what I am seeing out of Greg Bird. He is clearly showing signs of being the tremendous hitter he exhibited in spring training before injuring his foot. He was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s. Gary Sanchez was great with his home run and 2 RBI’s but it’s a little bittersweet given the impending suspension.
The Judge’s Chambers featured a true Judge with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in attendance.
|Credit: Craig Ruttle-Associated Press|
Hopefully the Yankees can continue their success against the Red Sox tonight when Sonny Gray takes the hill in perhaps his most significant Yankees start yet. He’ll be opposed by journeyman Doug Fister.
Odds & Ends…
While we continue to await word on the suspension appeals for Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine (it is my understanding that Gary’s appeal will be heard today), it sounds as though the Yankees will be able to stagger the suspensions so that the team is not without at least one member of its top catching tandem. It’s disappointing that Kyle Higashioka remains on the DL since it will most likely result in the loss of a 40-man roster spot for another player in order to create room for a back-up catcher. It was looking like career minor leaguer Eddy Rodriguez might get the call, but the Yankees acquired veteran catcher Erik Kratz yesterday from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. The Yankees will soon make a roster move to add Kratz. Kratz is 37 and has logged 225 MLB games since 2010 for various teams. By comparison, the 31-year-old Rodriguez has only played 2 MLB games (for San Diego in 2012). Any way you look at it, there’s going to be a noticeable drop-off from the team of Sanchez and Romine to whomever fills the interim backup role.
Prior to last night’s game, the Yankees recalled RHP Giovanny Gallegos. He takes the roster spot vacated when LHP Caleb Smith was optioned to Triple A after Wednesday’s double-header loss to the Cleveland Indians. DH Matt Holliday is expected to be activated soon.
Former Yankees Assistant GM and now Angels GM Billy Eppler is getting aggressive in helping his team track down the Yankees and the Twins in the Wild Card chase. Eppler made a bold move yesterday to acquire OF Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers. Upton is batting .279 with 28 HRs and 94 RBIs. Solid move for the Halos. They gave up young pitching prospect RHP Grayson Long. To make room for Upton, the Angels placed much-traveled Cameron Maybin on waivers. He was subsequently acquired by the Houston Astros. Later in the day, the Angels acquired 2B Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves and the Astros, in a move that could solidify their chances for the World Series, picked up pitcher Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers.
There has been much talk about Shohei Otani this week with GM Brian Cashman’s trip to Japan, but it is too premature for me to read anything into it. The Yankees do not have an advantage over other clubs should Otani decide to come to the United States other than they’d have more dollars to spend on some future contract that would have absolutely no bearing on the dollars that will be present for Otani’s first contract. It’s a level playing field for the most part in terms of the international bonus pool money, with the slight increases for those teams like the Yankees that have added money through trades. Still, the cap on those dollars can be reached by any number of teams. I’ll get excited if there are signs that Otani is actually considering the Yankees, but until then, it’s a pipe dream.
Have a great Friday! Hopefully the Yankees won’t have to “labor” too hard for victories this weekend! Go Yankees!
Mariners 2, Yankees 1…
I was surprised when the Sonny Grade trade last month did not include first baseman Yonder Alonzo. The Yankees had been so closely connected to both players, but Chase Headley’s play after the switch to first had softened the need for a first baseman. I’ve never trusted Headley to sustain his production and felt that the Yankees should have made the deal for Alonzo, especially after losing out on Lucas Duda. The Yankees didn’t make the deal and the Seattle Mariners swooped in and grabbed him from the Oakland A’s. The move paid dividends for the Mariners when Alonzo provided the game-winning home run off Aroldis Chapman last night as the M’s sent the Yankees to their second consecutive loss.
For the Yankees, the old problem of missing scoring opportunities re-surfaced. They loaded the bases a few times yet had no runs to show for it.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
The Mariners threatened to score in the 2nd and 3rd innings against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, but he was able to emerge unscathed both times. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees loaded the bases on three walks with only one out. Aaron Hicks flied out to left but it wasn’t deep enough to score a run. Gary Sanchez came up and blasted a high fly that sounded like a home run but left fielder Ben Gamel caught it on the warning track. Oh, if it could have only traveled a few feet further. It was a huge missed opportunity.
In the top of the 4th, the Mariners scored the game’s first run when Mike Zunino blasted a home run to left, a solo shot. It’s where I wish that El Gary’s shot could have landed the previous inning. The Yankees re-loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning. Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch in his back as he attempted to turn away so he took first base. Starlin Castro doubled to right with the ball bouncing to the wall. Didi Gregorius was held at third. With two outs, Chase Headley walked to fill the bases, but Todd Frazier went down swinging to end the inning. Sad face for me.
The game progressed into the latter innings with the Yankees unable to scratch out any runs M’s starter Ariel Miranda and the Seattle bullpen until the 8th inning. Former Yankee reliever David Phelps took the mound in the 8th and walked Aaron Judge with one out. Didi Gregorius followed with a double to left center. Guillermo Heredia bobbled the stop and it gave Judge the time to score. The game was tied.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
A base running gaffe cost the Yankees for potentially more runs. Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short and Didi aggressively broke for third. A great play if he had been safe, but third baseman Kyle Seager was able to apply the tag for the out. Two subsequent walks loaded the bases, but like the 4th inning, Todd Frazier struck out…again.
Dellin Betances took over in the 9th and the Mariners almost blew the game open. Kyle Seager walked, and Mike Zunino doubled to left down the line to the corner. Seager was given the stop sign at third. Yonder Alonzo, pinch-hitting for Guillermo Heredia, drew a walk to load the bases. There was only one out. Following a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Betances got Ben Gamel to pop up in foul territory for the second out. Robinson Cano entered the game as pinch-hitter for Taylor Motter but he struck out on three pitches. Betances had worked his way out of trouble.
David Robertson held the M’s in the top of the 10th, allowing only a meaningless single. Aroldis Chapman took over in the 11th inning and it looked good for two batters. Both Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino grounded out so Chapman only needed one more out. Yonder Alonzo, with a swing that would have looked great in pinstripes or at least these funkly little league looking uniforms, destroyed a Chapman pitch over the center field wall into Monument Park. The M’s had taken a one run lead.
Mariners closer Edwin Diaz took over for reliever James Pazos in the bottom of the 11th. After two quick outs (the second a deep fly to the warning track in left by Todd Frazier), Brett Gardner worked a walk. He attempted to steal second and was called out on the field, with the Mariners thinking they won the game, but the Yankees challenged. Upon further review, Gardy was ruled safe as his hands reached the bag before the tag. There was brief hope but Aaron Hicks struck out to end the game. Not A-A-Ron’s finest moment…
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
This was yet another very disappointing loss. The Yankees could have shaved two games off the AL East deficit the last two days but they’ve failed to take advantage of Red Sox losses. The Yankees (68-59) remain 4 1/2 games behind Boston. The Baltimore Orioles beat, or should I say crushed, the Red Sox, 16-3. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the St Louis Cardinals, 7-3, so the Rays and O’s remain tied for third place, trailing the Yankees by 5 1/2 games. The Mariners were able to close the Wild Card gap with the Yankees to three games. The Yankees still lead the Wild Card chase, but the Minnesota Twins picked up a game with their 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. They trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games.
It was a very strong game for CC Sabathia. He pitched seven innings for the no-decision, giving up only five hits, a walk, and one run. He struck out six. Aroldis Chapman (4-3) took the loss. His season ERA is now 4.23.
Hopefully the Yankees can shake out of the RISP doldrums today but they never seem to give Sonny Gray any run support. Today is as good as any to change that.
Odds & Ends…
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees reinstated 2B Starlin Castro from the DL and optioned little used 2B/SS Tyler Wade to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Although Wade looked starstruck early on, his lack of play had more to do with the terrific performance of Ronald Torreyes. But for everything that Toe’s done, I am glad to have Castro back on the field. Too bad for Wade that his last MLB memory (at least for now) is the fight-marred game in Detroit.
Today, the Yankees activated first baseman Greg Bird. He’s in the lineup and will bat sixth. Tyler Austin is the unlucky odd man out as he heads for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Major League Baseball issued a release yesterday regarding the suspensions and fines as a result of Thursday’s brawl in Detroit:
I’ve heard screams about no suspensions for Michael Fulmer, Dellin Betances or Tommy Kahnle, but honestly, I felt there was reasonable doubt about the intentions of both Fulmer and Betances. Perhaps Kahnle should have been suspended for not hitting Miguel Cabrera!
The suspensions are currently being appealed by all (hoping for reduced penalties).
Joe Girardi has indicated the Yankees will attempt to stagger the suspensions since they do not currently have any other catchers on the MLB active roster and the only other catcher on the 40-man roster (Kyle Higashioka) is on the DL. It’s unfortunate that someone will lose their 40-man roster spot out of the need for a temporary catcher.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s All Rise for Victory! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Getty Images|
Yankees 4, Red Sox 3…
Tyler Austin apparently did not get the memo that the Yankees are not supposed to score multiple runs off Boston ace Chris Sale. His three-run dinger gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. CC Sabathia, fresh off the DL, pitched like an ace and the bullpen duo of David Robertson and Dellin Betances came through in the clutch to help the Yankees hold off the Red Sox for the much-needed win.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
There’s no disputing Chris Sale is a great pitcher. But for whatever reason, the Yankees have fared well against him this season. In 4 starts, including Saturday, Sale is 0-2. He has only lost a total of five games this season. But in the three preceding games against the Yankees, he had only given up only one homer and three earned runs. With one swing, Tyler Austin matched that production.
Didi Gregorius got on base first in the top of the 2nd inning with a one-out ground rule double that bounced into the right field stands. It probably would have been a homer at Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch. Todd Frazier reached first base when he was hit in the left shin with a 82 mph slider by Sale (Ouch!). Joe Girardi and Trainer Steve Donohue walked with Frazier down the first base line, but he stayed in the game. Tyler Austin was the beneficiary of a mistake fastball by Sale and he crushed it out of Fenway Park in left. The Yankees led, 3-0.
|Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports|
The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the 5th inning. With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk on six pitches. Rafael Devers, rapidly becoming a Yankee killer at only 20 years of age, rapped a single to right. Bogaerts raced around to third, sliding in ahead of Aaron Judge’s strong throw. Sandy Leon grounded out to Ronald Torreyes at second, but Bogaerts scored on the play. Devers moved to second. Jackie Bradley, Jr singled to left which brought Devers home ahead of the slightly high and away throw, and it was a one-run game, 3-2. Sabathia held it there as he was able to get Eduardo Nunez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.
Todd Frazier provided what would prove to be the game-winning run when he blasted a solo shot to left center, just over the Green Monster, in the 6th with two outs and down to two strikes. It was Frazier’s 21st home run of the season. He showed no ill effects of the earlier ball to the shin but you have to believe that he’ll be feeling it today.
Sabathia allowed a lead off double to deep center by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the 6th, but he retired the next three Red Sox hitters to leave Betts stranded at second. That would be all for Sabathia who finished six innings strong, holding the Sox to four hits and two runs. He walked a batter and punched out four. I was expecting the worst from Sabathia and his balky knee but he proved me wrong. I am glad he did.
Adam Warren was brought into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning. After Xander Bogaerts struck out, Rafael Devers took Warren deep to center for a home run. The ball hit the left side of the yellow line but caromed into the triangle. The Yankees challenged the play but it was upheld. It was a one-run game again, 4-3 Yankees. Warren struck out Sandy Leon. The ball got away from Gary Sanchez but he easily threw Leon out at first to complete the strikeout. The Yankees then made a pitching change. David Robertson came in and got Jackie Bradley, Jr to ground out on one pitch. Man, every friggin’ day I am grateful for D-Rob.
The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the 8th inning against D-Rob. Andrew Benintendi struck out swinging but made it to first base on a wild pitch when Gary Sanchez was unable to stop the ball. It took a wicked bounce so I couldn’t really fault Sanchez on the play. Hanley Ramirez lined a double to deep left, but Benintendi, the potential game-tying run, pulled up at third. D-Rob intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, loading the bases, to pitch to Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts went down swinging on three pitches and the inning was over. Thanks, D-Rob.
|Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the 9th. Tyler Austin doubled between the gap to the center field wall off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree. He was replaced by the $153 million pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. After a pickoff attempt nearly got Ellsbury, a sacrifice bunt by Ronald Torreyes moved Ells to third. Brett Gardner hit a fielder’s choice to third with Ellsbury breaking for home. Third baseman Rafael Devers’ throw to catcher Sandy Leon easily nailed Ellsbury short of home plate. The Yankees had runners at first and second, following a wild pitch and subsequent walk of Aaron Hicks, for Aaron Judge but he struck out on a foul tip to the mitt to end the threat.
With Aroldis Chapman temporarily removed from the closer’s role by Manager Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances came on in the bottom of the 9th. Betances struck out the first batter, Rafael Devers, but Sandy Leon reached base on a swinging strikeout when the third strike got away from Gary Sanchez. Betances was charged with the wild pitch. But in baseball, there is always a chance for atonement. Brock Holt, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Leon, made a break for second with Jackie Bradley, Jr. at bat. The throw by Gary Sanchez to Didi Gregorius was perfect to nail the sliding Holt for the second out. JBJ flied out to left and it was game over. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
The Yankees (66-56) regained the game on the Red Sox they had lost on Friday night, and trail the Sox by four games in the AL East Standings again. The Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, so the Angels remain 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings (the Angels and Minnesota Twins are tied for the second WC spot). The O’s, the third place team in the AL East, slid 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays lost on Saturday.
It was a great game by CC Sabathia (10-5). The Yankees had their chances to put more runs on the board (leaving a total of eight men on base) but the bullpen held to give Sabathia the win over Chris Sale. I am really glad that we didn’t see Aroldis Chapman. While my preference is Betances then Robertson, the reversed order worked and Betances had his 9th save.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
Girardi continues to bat Aaron Judge third in the lineup, but at this point, Judge seems to be living off his first half reputation. The Yankees would probably be better served moving Didi Gregorius up to third and dropping Judge down in the order. Judge was hitless in four at-bats, and struck out 3 times to extend his MLB record with strikeouts to 3 consecutive games. Judge had been tied with Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman who struck out in 35 consecutive games in 1971. At 36 games regardless of season, Judge has tied the MLB record so if he strikes out again today, he’ll be the all-time consecutive game strikeout leader. I know, Judge could care less about the strike outs as long as he gets his hits and walks, but I personally would like to see the end of the streak and maybe a clutch hit or two with men in scoring position.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
Odds & Ends…
Perhaps Tyler Austin heard footsteps. On Friday night, first baseman Greg Bird homered twice in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 10-6 loss to the Durham Bulls. Yesterday, Bird was 2-for-4, with double and a run scored, in the RailRiders’ 8-4 loss to the Bulls. I really hope that Bird continues hitting when he returns to the Yankees. This would be a great boost for the team as they attempt to stave off Wild Card challengers while holding aspirations for the division crown.
|Credit: Fred Adams-For Times Leader|
Prior to yesterday’s game, LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for CC Sabathia. With Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to return this week in the Detroit Tigers series, Monty returns to Triple A for “softer” innings while the Yankees monitor his pitch count.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Yankees VP of Player Development Gary Denbo is a strong early candidate to become GM for the Miami Marlins once Derek Jeter takes control of the team’s operations. I am hopeful the Marlins retain manager Don Mattingly, one of my favorite managers. Well, unless the Yankees decide to part ways with Joe Girardi…
Have a great Sunday! The Yankees, with ‘OMG, it’s Sonny Gray!’, can take the series today with a win. Let’s Go Yankees!