Tagged: CC Sabathia

Using 2 Hits to Maximum Advantage…

Credit:  Al Bello/Getty Images

Yankees 3, A’s 2…

The Yankees didn’t get much offense on Saturday, but thanks to the rejuvenated CC Sabathia (5-2), they didn’t need it.

In the first inning, they scratched out a run through a walk, hit by pitch, wild pitch, and sacrifice fly (by Starlin Castro).  By the time Oakland’s Ryon Healy doubled in the sixth inning to tie the score, the Yankees were still searching for their first hit against A’s starter Jharel Cotton.

CC was pitching great but I did have a heart attack in the top of the sixth with two outs when Trevor Plouffe sharply hit a fly to right.  Starlin Castro, on the run, appeared to catch the ball but it bounced out of his glove.  Alertly, a running Aaron Judge was in the right spot at the right time and made the catch to end the inning.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

Cotton, who entered the game with a 5.68 ERA, pitched liked an ace.  Despite a walk to Brett Gardner in the third (subsequently erased when he tried to steal second), Cotton was cruising from the second inning through the fifth, with three up-three down each frame.  It was more of the same to start the sixth as Cotton recorded two quick outs on fly balls.  

Then, the walk raised its ugly head for Cotton again when he gave Gary Sanchez a free pass.  Matt Holliday came to the plate, with two outs and no team hits showing on the scoreboard.  After a first pitch ball (low and inside), Holliday got a hold of Cotton’s second offering and launched a blast to left-center.  “High fly ball, left field…going back Davis.  Track, wall, SEE YA!” (courtesy of Michael Kay of the YES Network).  

After giving up a single to the next batter (Castro), Cotton was done even though he had allowed the only two hits the Yankees would get in this game.  Cotton pitched his heart out in his 13th major league game and recorded a career high 107 pitches, but like Masahiro Tanaka found out the other night, Baseball can be a cruel sport.  

CC tired in the seventh when, with one out, he gave up a homer to Josh Phegley, to bring the score to 3-2 Yanks, and a double by Adam Rosales.  Time to turn to the Yankees bullpen which had ignited an A’s rally the night before.  Fortunately, Adam Warren got Matt Joyce on a groundout and left Rosales stranded at third when he struck out Mark Canha.

The eighth inning brought Tyler Clippard into the game.  With the disaster of the night before fresh on everyone’s mind, Clippard struck out the first batter, Jed Lowrie.  Lowrie, who seems to rise to the occasion against the Yanks, was subsequently ejected for arguing strikes.  At that point, the Friday night version of Clippard reappeared.  A walk to Khris Davis and a double by Ryon Healy put runners at second and third with just one out.  Exit Clippard, and enter Dellin Betances.  Ball, called strike, foul, called strike…inning over.  Hey Randy Levine, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Credit:  Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

In the ninth inning, it was three up and three down for Betances, with a swinging strikeout by Matt Joyce to end the game.  

Cut to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”…ah, I love that song on winning days.

With the win, the Yankees (28-18) held their two-game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox beat the Seattle Mariners again.  The scary part is that the complete game shut-out was by a rookie pitcher, Brian Johnson, making his first career start at Fenway Park.  Johnson was optioned back to AAA after the game but he’s making the way for the return of David Price who will be activated from the DL this week.  The Baltimore Orioles lost their sixth game in a row to slide 3 1/2 games back.

Player Updates…

Tyler Austin was elevated to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday with his rehab assignment.  On Saturday, he contributed a run-scoring single to help the RailRiders defeat the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-1.  Gleyber Torres was 1-for-5 with a double, driving in a run.  

Greg Bird departs for Tampa today.  He’ll most likely take a few at-bats in extended spring training at the Yankees’ minor-league complex on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning his rehab assignment.  He spoke of muscle soreness yesterday (typical soreness after not using certain muscles) but otherwise everything seems to be moving forward with his progress.

Also progressing is closer Aroldis Chapman who must have received favorable news from the doctor on Saturday as he was able to make 25 throws from 60 feet.  He’ll continue with playing catch on Sunday as he begins his preparation for hopefully a mid-June return.  

Speaking of Chapman, I am hopeful that he’ll be activated during the Yankees road trip to California when the Yankees travel to Oakland on June 15th.  I really want to see a rematch between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis.  Davis had the game-tying home run off Chapman in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. I want to see Chapman punch out Davis to win a game as retribution.  Hey, I am not a vindicate person…just competitive.

Credit:  MLB.com

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s win again while Chase Headley continues to sit…

Flying to New York on a Positive Note…

All is right in the world again…  

Yankees win and the Orioles do not.  Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst.  Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees.  He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.  

The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base.  If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch!  He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win.  In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.  He had six strikeouts.  The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.

Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits.  Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.  

The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.  

The Tyler Austin Watch…  

In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats.  The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder.  He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO). 

In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa.  If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end.  Or how it should end.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…  

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…

The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders.  In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs.  He batted .273 and stole 5 bags.    The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx.  Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third. 

Credit:  Matt Rourke/AP

I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams.  Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.  He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs.  He has walked three batters while striking out eleven.  Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.

Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…  

The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series.  The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.  

TODAY:

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

TUESDAY:

Royals:  Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)

WEDNESDAY:

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)

THURSDAY:

Royals:  Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)

Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation.  He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider.  Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game.  The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness.  If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in.  I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…

 

Have a great Monday!  Let’s make it two in a row!   

Sabathia and his 20th Career Victory against the Royals…

Credit:  Brian Davidson/Getty Images

After giving up 22 runs in his previous four starts, CC Sabathia had his best game since his season opening start.  He pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to help the Yankees defeat the Kansas City Royals, 7-1.  He only gave up five hits and two walks while striking out four.  The effort dropped his season ERA from 5.77 to 4.93.  He did get into a little trouble in the seventh inning when the Royals loaded the bases with two outs.  Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia, and Tyler Clippard was able to get the last out by swinging strikeout to preserve the scoreless outing for Sabathia.  

This is one of those games where everyone who played contributed in some way with a run, hit, or RBI.  The biggest hit was clearly the three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the third inning.  It set the tone early and the Yankees were in control throughout.  Chris Carter finally did the one thing he is paid to do with a two-run dinger in the fourth, his second of the year.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, making it easily his best game as a Yankee.  Chase Headley deserves kudos for his amazing catch of the first pitch hit to start the game.  

Credit:  John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

The Royals scored their only run in the ninth inning against Jonathan Holder on a fielder’s choice force-out with the bases loaded.  Things could have gotten hairy from there, but Holder got Alcides Escobar to pop up to Didi Gregorius to end the threat and the game.  

I have to say that the outing by Sabathia was bittersweet.  It buys the left-hander more time in the rotation, potentially setting us up for disappointment when we need him the most.  It’s one of those things that I hope I am wrong and CC shows he is capable of putting up more quality starts than not.  But one must recognize this wasn’t the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles or Boston Red Sox facing Sabathia.  The Royals are the worst hitting team in the American League at .226/.289/.355.  

For his career, Sabathia is 20-11 against the Royals in 38 starts, with a 3.11 ERA.  I am glad that he likes to pitch in Kansas City, where he is 13-5.  Now, I am hoping that Michael Pineda and Jordan Montgomery enjoy Kauffman Stadium as much as Sabathia has.  

The Yankees (23-13) remain a half-game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night in slugfest, 13-11.  It took two homers by Chris Davis in extra innings for the O’s to win.  Former Yankee Justin Wilson blew a save opportunity for the Tigers in the ninth, while former Yankee Richard Bleier took the win for the O’s.  Sadly, the Boston Red Sox also won, defeating the St Louis Cardinals, 6-3.  The Sox are four games back.

I was surprised to see the Arizona Diamondbacks have released former Orioles lefty Brian Matusz.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago he was a highly touted pitcher for the O’s but struggled as a starter.  He eventually found some success in the pen.  I always liked him and wanted to see him fulfill his promise (albeit not against the Yankees) but it was not meant to be.  Matusz is only 30 but I don’t see anything in his numbers to warrant consideration as a reclamation project.  It’s sad to see.  I am sure that someone will take a flyer but I don’t think the Yankees should.

Speaking of former Yankees, Robinson Cano has been placed on the disabled list for the first time since 2006 when he was still with the Yankees.  He injured his right quadriceps last week and had been expected to return yesterday.  The Seattle Mariners opted to place Cano on the 10-Day DL retroactive to May 13th.  While Cano had a great season in 2016 and was off to a good start in 2017, he is 34 and the risk of injury continues to increase.  Proof the Yankees were smart not to pay Cano $240 million for ten years (as much as I would have liked to have seen the player wear pinstripes throughout his career with an eventual Robinson Cano Day that he’ll never see at Yankee Stadium).  I do wish Cano a quick return to good health and that he is able to return to the Mariners lineup on May 23rd.

Credit:  MLB.com

Congratulations to Mike Ford.  The first base prospect was recently promoted from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and he had a big game yesterday to help defeat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 7-2.  Ford was 2-for-3 with a two run shot off Henry Owens, a pitcher the Yankees are familiar with at the big league level.  Tyler Webb took the win in relief of Bryan Mitchell with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless work and six K’s.  Webb, returned to the Yankees this spring after being taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft, should get a shot in the Yankees bullpen sometime this year if a spot on the 40-man roster opens up.  

Meanwhile in AA, Gleyber Torres hit a tie-breaking game-winning two run homer in the eighth inning yesterday as the Thunder beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 4-2.  Just another day at the office for the supremely talented infielder.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s another royally wonderful day for Yankees fans!

The Cole Hard Truth…

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees are in first place in the American League East so it might be a bit premature to scream, “the sky is falling”, but frankly, the starting rotation scares the h**l out of me and not in a good way.

The last five starts look like this:

In terms of numbers, the results are just as ugly:

1 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 8 runs/earned runs, 1 BB, 3 K’s, 4 home runs

2 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs/earned runs, 3 BB, 2 K’s

6 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs/earned runs, 1 BB, 7 K’s, one home run

6 2/3 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs/earned runs, 1 BB, 7 K’s, one home run

6 innings, 7 hits, 5 runs/earned runs, 2 BB, 2 K’s

So, for 22 2/3 innings of work, Yankee starters have given up 23 runs.  If you want to heavily tax a bullpen, I give you the New York Yankees starting rotation.  It’s no wonder that we started to see some cracks in the armor this past week.  Michael Pineda has probably been the most consistent pitcher.  He’s the only one that threw a so-called “quality” start and that’s a scary thought.  

I saw one tweet that said the Yankees need to trade for Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer before the trading deadline.  As much as I like Chris Archer, I don’t think the Tampa Bay Rays would trade him within the division without a serious overpay.  That’s why Cole remains high on my priority list.  The Pirates are currently in last place in the NL Central and going nowhere fast.  Cole is presently 1-4 but has a better ERA than any Yankees starter (3.06).  In 50 innings, he has only given up 43 hits, 17 earned runs, 7 HR’s, and 10 walks.  He has struck out 47 batters.  Cole, 26, is currently paid $3.75 million with two years of arbitration eligibility remaining.  I don’t care that he’ll be a free agent in 2020.  This is an opportunity to kick the tires, so long as it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (in other words, Gleyber Torres).  Outside of Torres, no one is untouchable and the Yankees should put together a package that works for both sides.  

Credit:  Ross D Franklin/Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox keep scuffling but knowing that they can throw out Chris Sale every five days keeps them a prime threat.  The Yankees need one of those kind of guys.  I know, aces are not grown on trees but GM Brian Cashman is a creative guy.  He can make some magic to bring help for the rotation.  I thought CC Sabathia was the weak link in the rotation but there are no guarantees in any spot.  Every time a pitcher posts an ugly line, the comment is always how the pitches weren’t working.  When do we hold the pitcher, and not the pitches, accountable?  The Yankees need an anchor in the rotation.  With the promise of the young offense, intermixed with the veteran influence, a decent starting rotation could carry this team to October.  Chance Adams, would you hurry up and get your butt to the Bronx?…

Credit:  Patrick Teale

Today finds the Yankees in the City of Fountains.  They begin a three game set in Kansas City before making their way to their home away home in Tampa.  The scheduled pitching matchups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (2-2, 5.77 ERA)

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-4, 5.97 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (3-2, 3.27 ERA)

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-1, 1.01 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 4.19 ERA)

Royals:  Danny Duffy (2-3, 3.38 ERA)

These games are winnable regardless of the great start that Jason Vargas has gotten off to.  We just need to concentrate on one pitch at a time.  Objective:  To miss bats and or least only allow balls to be hit to positional players in proper fielding position without touching the ground.  C’mon, how hard can that be?…

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s have a royal good time!

Past Performance Does Not Equal Future Results…

Credit:  Associated Press

CC Sabathia.  What to do…

There’s no doubt we would not have celebrated a World Series championship in 2009 if not for the efforts of one Carsten Charles Sabathia, Jr.  For the first three years of his contract with the Yankees, he was the epitome of an Ace.  I would never want to dismiss the contributions he has made to the Yankees organization or the value he has held as a leading voice in the clubhouse.

The times they are a-changin (with a hat tip to Bob Dylan).  Sabathia is now 36 and is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was.  He’ll be 37 in a couple of months, and despite his long talks with Andy Pettitte, he has not successfully made the transition to an older pitcher.  I was fooled for the first couple of starts this year, but we’ve seen the real Sabathia over the last few starts…and it hasn’t been pretty.  

At age 32 and before, CC could be counted on for double-digit wins every year.  From age 33 forward, last year’s 9 wins has been the season high.  Betting whether or not Sabathia passes last season’s win total is not a bet I would make even if I was using your money.  Pro Sports can be illogical at times when certain players start because of high contracts or past performance even though there are younger, more talented players waiting in the wings.  Years ago, a friend told me that baseball players should be paid a flat base salary and then commissions for production.  Applying that to different positions and players is much easier said than done, but the core logic that players should be paid for today’s production (not yesterday) makes so much sense to me.  We’re in the final year of Sabathia’s contract with $25 million remaining.  Does Sabathia deserve a spot in the rotation simply because he is the team’s highest paid player?  If he is not producing, then no.  Why pay money to lose when you can win?

In looking at the Yankees rotation, if they made a trade for a frontline starting pitcher, who do you pull?  At this point, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino are locked in.  The latter two have shown signs of being a part of the next championship run.  Jordan Montgomery has been a very pleasant surprise who will continue to get better.  So, realistically, the loser would have to be Sabathia.  I don’t know that I’d pull Sabathia for Chad Green or Luis Cessa, but Chance Adams is charging fast for the Major Leagues.  He may not be ready now, but his time is rapidly approaching.  If the Yankees go out and trade for someone like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, I’d gladly part with Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and others to bring the talented young pitcher to the Bronx.  For Sabathia, I’d pull out a Michael Kay line, “See ya!”.  

There’s no way that Sabathia is pulling on the pinstripes in 2018.  We are approaching the point where every start could be his last in the Bronx.  If he continues to thwart winning streaks, then it is time to cut our losses.  Swallow the remainder of the $25 mil and move on.  

Thanks for the memories, CC.  We’ll save you a place for Old Timer’s Day…

Credit:  Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

I have mixed feelings about Aaron Judge’s appearance on the May 15th cover of Sports Illustrated.  I grew up at a time where it was a curse to appear on the cover.  So, I still have those thoughts in the back of my head even if bad things never happen.  I have been quite pleased with Judge’s season so far and he gives New York a potential superstar.  But admittedly, I liked it better when Judge was able to out-produce expectations.  With heightened expectations, can he sustain the production?  That will be one of the keys for the rest of the season.  We’ll inevitably hit a stretch where he can’t (hit).  The ebbs and flows of Baseball ensures that everyone stays humble.  So, for now, congrats Aaron, but please hit a  homer on May 16th (Yankees are off on the 15th) so that I know the SI Cover is not a jinx.

I’d like to send out thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, whom the Yankees faced on April 22nd in an 11-5 victory over the Pirates.  He underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer earlier this week.  Hopefully it was caught early and he’ll make a full and complete recovery.  Taillon is one of the game’s promising young talents and I look for many future years of his participation.  All the best to Jameson on his road to a winning recovery.  Here is a tweet that he sent out after the surgery:

I think all Baseball fans support Taillon.  Well written words by the tall young right-hander.  Here’s looking forward to the day that he is able to take the mound at PNC Park again.

Have a great Thursday!  Let’s hose the ‘Stros!  

Pink and Pinstripes…NOT a Good Look!…

I’ll say it right now.  I am NOT on board with the special Derek Jeter’s Day hats to be worn by the Yankees on Sunday.  With no disrespect to the former Yankees captain or the countless mothers that will be in attendance for the joint Jeter-Mother’s Day game, the color pink does not have a place with the famed pinstripes.  Behind the pink hat is just someone trying to make a buck.  If all proceeds are given to a meaningful charity, then maybe I could buy into the dreadful hat.  Otherwise, it looks like a poorly thought out marketing scheme.

The DL epidemic seems to be impacting elite closers.  Depending upon who you ask, Baseball’s third and fourth best closers are now on the Disabled List.  Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles is out for 45-60 days following a visit with Dr Neal ElAttrache (the surgeon who recently performed Tommy John surgery on James Kaprielian).  For Britton’s sake, he received better news than Kaprielian did as surgery is not necessary for his left arm (throwing arm) strain.  However, he’ll be out until after the All-Star Break.  Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have placed their new high-priced closer, and former Yankee, Mark Melancon, on the DL with a “mild right pronator strain”.    Here’s wishing and hoping for good health for the premier closers, the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

I realize that some Yankees fans will be moving into “World Series or Bust” mode any day now (if they haven’t already) but I still need more time before I am going to proclaim the Yankees as the team of the year.  I  want to see how the young Baby Bombers perform this weekend against Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and the high flying Houston Astros.  If the Yankees are still making noise at the top of the AL East when the calendar flips to June, then maybe I’ll start to get on-board.  It’s a long season and it’s still early.  There’s no doubt we’ll experience a few bumps in the road.  It will be how the team responds to those downturns that will determine the eventual course for this season.

CC Sabathia was awful for one inning last night but that’s all it took to shut down the Yankees’ six game winning streak in the 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  Ten men came to the plate against Sabathia in the second inning.  Six singles and a walk later and the Reds had erased a 2-0 Yanks advantage by pushing five runs across the plate.  Sabathia (2-2) went 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and the 5 runs.  He walked 2 and struck out 2, while pushing his ERA to 5.77.  Right now, at least, Sabathia is the weak link in an otherwise strong Yankees rotation.  But as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link so this is certainly a concern.  

Credit:  John Minchillo/AP

The Yankees had a chance to win at the end.  With any game, that’s all I can ask.  After Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday walked with one out in the 9th inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with the chance to erase the Reds’ two-run lead.  Sanchez had already homered in his first at-bat of the game, a ball that travelled 448 feet to center.  But he lined a shot to Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who threw to second, catching Hicks off base, for the game-ending double play.

Didi Gregorius is starting to heat up which is a good sign.  He went 3-for-4 with a first inning home run.

The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 5-4 in extra innings last night, so the Yankees (21-10) fell out of first place in the AL East by a half-game.  The Boston Red Sox lost which is always a fun thing to see.  I’d take joy in that even if they were the worst team in baseball.  

All things considered it was a good (albeit short) road trip as the Yanks took four of five.  With an off day today (Sleep, I love you!), the Yankees prepare for a long four game set against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium beginning Thursday.  The series concludes on Sunday with Derek Jeter Night and the aforementioned pink caps.  

The former Yankees coming to the Bronx are Astros catcher Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran.  Lance McCullers, Jr, one of the Astros starting pitchers, is the son of a former Yankee.  His father pitched for the Yankees from 1989 to 1990 (three years before Lance Jr was born).  

The probable pitching matchups for the Astros series are as follows:

THURSDAY

HOU:  Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.88 ERA)

NYY:  Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA)

FRIDAY

HOU:  Lance McCullers, Jr (2-1, 3.40 ERA)

NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA)

SATURDAY

HOU:  Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.64 ERA)

NYY:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.40 ERA)

SUNDAY

HOU:  Charlie Morton (4-2, 3.63 ERA)

NYY:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-1, 4.36 ERA)

Speaking of former Yankees, the Detroit Tigers have named Justin Wilson as their closer, replacing Francisco Rodriguez.  The lefty, who brought pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York, is currently carrying a 1.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.  Regardless of how Cessa and Green ever perform, it sure would have been nice to have Wilson in this year’s bullpen.  But then again, Andrew Miller would have looked good too.  Oh well, onward and upward!

Have a great Wednesday!  

There’s Time For Sleep in November…

Sleep?  Who needs stinkin’ Sleep!  The Yankees arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 5:08 a.m. yesterday following their 18-inning marathon win over the Chicago Cubs and by the end of the day, they had their sixth consecutive victory with the 10-4 pounding of the Reds.  The Yankees treated their former top prospect Rookie Davis, banished to Ohio in the Aroldis Chapman trade, like, well, a rookie.  Run-scoring singles by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius put three runs on the board in the first inning and the sleepless Yanks were in charge early.

It was another okay, but not great, pitching performance by Masahiro Tanaka.  He definitely went the ‘bend but not break’ route in picking up his fifth win of the year.  The Reds had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning, trailing the Yankees by three.  But a pop out and a double play ended the threat.  It was probably the game-defining moment.

Credit:  John Minchillo/AP

In the seventh inning with former Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen on the mound, three Yankees were hit by pitches.  It wasn’t intentional but that’s a lot for one inning.  The last one, a pitch that hit Chase Headley on the bone just below his knee (ouch!) with the bases loaded, scored a run.  Ronald Torreyes, after being knocked down by a high, inside pitch from the wild Storen, singled to put the Yankees up 7-2.  The second runner, Gary Sanchez, was easily thrown out at the plate, for the final out.   

In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Tanaka running on fumes after reaching the 100-pitch mark, he walked Zach Cozart and then gave up a no doubt-about-it home run to Reds slugger Joey Votto.  With his 112th pitch, Tanaka somehow got Adam Duvall on a swinging strikeout to end the inning.  As Tanaka walked off the mound, he was clearly upset about the Votto home run but his night was done with the Yankees leading 7-4.

The eighth inning featured another long home run to right by Brett Gardner, scoring two runs, and a solo shot by Matt Holliday, playing his second straight game at first base.  

From there, it was up to the depleted Yankees bullpen.  With most of the relievers unavailable, the Yankees went with Tyler Clippard for the eighth.  Clippard was his usual self with a quiet inning that saw three up and three down.  I have to admit that I got a sick feeling to my stomach when I saw lefty Tommy Layne warming up for the ninth inning.  A six-run lead should make one feel fairly secure, but if any Yankee could blow a large lead, it’s Layne.  It didn’t help when the first batter reached on an infield single.  The next batter hit into a ground out but the Yanks were unable to turn a double play, capturing only the lead runner.  That brought the speedy Billy Hamilton to the plate.  Layne fell behind in the count very quickly with three successive balls.  I started to have chills, knowing the heart of the Reds order was coming up.  After a couple of well-placed strikes, Hamilton hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius.  This time, the Yankees were successful in turning the double play and it was game over.  Yankees win, 10-4.

The Yankees (21-9) maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s withstood a late challenge to beat their former catcher Matt Wieters and the Washington Nationals 6-4.  The O’s have won five in a row as they seemingly match the Yankees step-for-step on a nightly basis.  The Boston Red Sox had the night off.

Prior to yesterday’s game, there had been speculation the Yankees might send down Sunday night heroes Chasen Shreve and/or Jonathan Holder to bring up fresh arms.  But in the end, it was Rob Refsnyder who got the ticket to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  In his place, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chad Green.  

For the Reds, the loss cost them first place in the NL Central as they were overtaken by the St Louis Cardinals.  

The Yankees face a more challenging pitcher today in Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.22 ERA).  For the Yanks, CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA), who hasn’t instilled confidence in anyone except opposing hitters in recent starts, takes the mound.  I expect to see a much stronger Reds team today so hopefully the Yankees offense can rise up to the challenge.  It will be good to see a rested Aaron Judge back in the lineup.  

Tomorrow is a day off so the Yankees will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Have  a great Tuesday!  Let’s grab a W and head back to New York!