Photo Credit: AP (Julio Cortez)
Boston wins third consecutive AL East Championship in the Bronx…
I am not going to lie…I am pissed. We allowed the Boston Red Sox to celebrate on Yankee Stadium soil and that should have never happened. The Yankees won two of three games from the 2018 AL East Champions, and I can’t find any joy because they mailed in the third game after winning the first two to give the Red Sox the win they needed to claim the division championship. I was happy they pinned the 49th loss of the season on Boston after Wednesday’s win (to prevent any chance of the Sox matching the win total of the 1998 Yankees), but they really could have swept this series and forced Boston to ship the champagne to their next destination.
Everybody is so quick to talk about how awful the Red Sox bullpen is but in last night’s bullpen matchup, Boston had the difference-maker in Steven Wright with three innings of scoreless relief. The Yankees helped eject Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez out of the game in the fourth inning after he had thrown 100 pitches. Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree relieved Rodriguez and was greeted by Giancarlo Stanton’s grand slam which temporarily gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead, but from there, the Yankees could only get two more hits and were unable to put any further runs on the board against Wright, Ryan Brasier, and Craig Kimbrel. Meanwhile, the Sox teed off on Chad Green, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. I can’t really blame Green or Betances. They are the guys I probably would have brought in during those situations, but I think it was very foolish to bring in a rusty Aroldis Chapman with the Yankees trailing by only two runs. The three-run homer by Mookie Betts off Chapman in the eighth inning pretty much iced the game for the Red Sox and prepared the champagne bottles for uncorking.
I disagreed with manager Aaron Boone’s decision to bring in Justus Sheffield during Wednesday night’s game too. Sure, Top Sheff evaded a self-created bases-loaded jam to end the game, but the Yankees were playing MLB’s winningest baseball team and the psychology of the game and beating Boston is important. If you bring anybody in when you are leading by nine runs, it should have been Chapman and not Sheffield. I would have eased Chapman back into the fold before placing him into a high leverage situation. I was not surprised that Betts clubbed the homer off Chappy. Just like Aaron Judge is currently only producing hard outs and missing the mistake pitches, it takes time to get back up to speed. Baseball is not a forgiving sport.
Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media (Andrew Mills)
I am still supportive of Aaron Boone despite my frustrations with his decisions over the last few days so I know I am just venting. I would have played last night’s game to win which means that Chapman would not have made an appearance, nor would have any of the rookies currently on the staff. After Betances, I would have lived or died with Zach Britton to the end.
What really made yesterday so disappointing was the other primary Wild Card contender, the Oakland A’s, crushed their opponent. GM Billy Eppler’s Los Angeles Angels must have felt they were playing the Los Angeles Rams after the A’s decisive 21-3 thrashing. The Yankees hold a slim 1 ½ game lead on the A’s after yesterday’s results, but the scary part is the Yankees now face a losing team that they seemingly cannot beat (the Baltimore Orioles), the high-flying Tampa Bay Rays, and a rematch with the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the final ten games of the regular season. I am not saying they have it easy, but the A’s play weaker opponents. Three games in Oakland against the disappointing Minnesota Twins, three games in Seattle against the fading Mariners, and three games in Anaheim against the team they just drubbed by 18 runs in yesterday’s game. In my opinion, it is Advantage A’s.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Thearon W Henderson)
A ‘one and done’ Wild Card game in Oakland. From my perspective, that’s where the Yankees stand right now with the way things are unfolding in the American League. Well, at least CC Sabathia can catch up with friends and family in the area before he heads home to clean out his locker at Yankee Stadium for perhaps the final time.
As always, I hope the team proves me wrong. But as I’ve said before, that’s on them, not me. I want the Yankees to win but I am just not feeling it right now. I am not convinced the Yankees can beat the A’s and I am certainly not convinced the team can beat the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians or Boston Red Sox should they advance. They certainly have the talent, but for a team that has been average at best for an extended period, they can’t just flip a switch to turn it on. The Yankees need to make the next ten games count and carry momentum into the Wild Card game. Otherwise, we’ll be watching the final season of Game of Thrones before the Yankees have another chance for the crown.
Hopefully the team can return to its winning ways tonight against Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles. This series represents perhaps the final time that we’ll see the former Yankees manager in the O’s dugout. For as much as I’ve disliked Buck at times during his post-Yankees career, I am a little saddened about the way the 2018 season has treated him. To reach 50 wins, Buck’s team needs to win six of its final ten games. That’s a tall order for the 108-loss team, but then again, they have three games against a team they’ve fared well against. You know that Buck would like nothing better than to beat the Yankees for his farewell song.
As the saying goes, sometimes the best trade is the one that you don’t make. Last off-season, everybody was clamoring for the Yankees to acquire Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers. Fulmer had a disastrous 2018 season. He was 3-12 with 4.69 ERA in 132 1/3 innings. He gave up 128 hits and career-high 19 home runs. Done for the season, Fulmer was diagnosed with meniscus damage in his right knee on Monday and underwent surgery yesterday. He is still a young, controllable pitcher but unless the Yankees can get him at a severe discount, it would not be worth the investment. If the Yankees had paid Detroit’s asking price last winter, we’d have nothing to show for it today. Fulmer is expected to be ready for Spring Training but Detroit’s best move would be to wait for Fulmer to rebuild his trade value before considering any offers.
It’s up to CC Sabathia (7-7, 3.80 ERA) to get the Baltimore series off to the right start tonight. He’ll be opposed by former Yankees prospect Yefry Ramirez (1-6, 5.50 ERA). This is a winnable game. Boone, make the right decisions. Gary Sanchez, hold the door…hold the door! Luke Voit, just keep on doing what you are doing, chest hair and all. Let’s do this.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Patrick McDermott)|
Yanks Use Unlikely Heroes to Thwart the O’s…
When the lineup was posted prior to the game, Luke Voit’s name at first base was about as exciting as getting teeth pulled despite Greg Bird’s struggles with the bat. After the game was over, Voit had ensured he could be the beneficiary of more playing time at Bird’s expense. His two home runs were huge. The first tied the game in the early stages and the latter provided the necessary insurance for the win. The muscled kid from St Louis came up big for the Pinstripes with 4 RBI’s in the 7-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Zach Britton picked up his first save for the Yankees, his fifth of the year. He was treated rudely by former teammate Chris Davis who blasted a solo home run in the bottom of the tenth, but thanks to Voit’s two-run shot after the Yankees had taken a one-run lead in the top of the tenth, Britton withstood the Davis home run trot to preserve the win. Things might have looked differently had Britton not gotten Trey Mancini, the batter before Davis, to hit into a double play. Whatever it takes, it was a win and the Yankees finally have a winning season record against the O’s at 7-6.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Orioles got on the board first. After the Yankees had threatened in the top of the first inning (but failed), the O’s grabbed the early lead with a two-run single by Chris Davis in the bottom of the inning off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Davis entered the game batting .163 on the season but apparently Yankees pitching didn’t get the memo.
Orioles starter Alex Cobb, who has enjoyed a resurgent second half following a 2-12 record leading up to the All-Star Game, was tough on the Yankees lineup. After escaping the first inning scoring opportunity, he blanked the Yankees over the next two innings, allowing just a couple of meaningless walks. It looked like he was going to have his way in the top of the fourth inning when he struck out Miguel Andujar to start the frame. Neil Walker singled to center, but Gleyber Torres flied out to right for the second out. Up to the plate strolled Luke Voit who had hit into a double play in the second inning for his first at-bat. Voit crushed the Cobb offering over the wall in left center to tie the game at two. It looked weird to see Chasen Shreve’s #45 circling the bases.
CC Sabathia got the Yankees through six innings with the game knotted at two. The ball was turned over to David Robertson for the seventh but unfortunately he ran into a bit of bad luck. The first hitter, John Andreoli (a recent cast-off from the Seattle Mariners), reached base on a fielding error by interim shortstop Gleyber Torres (the ball rolled up his arm off his wrist and dropped into shallow left field). Torres was in pain but stayed in the game. D-Rob was able to retire the next two hitters but then Jonathan Villar, the former Milwaukee Brewer, took Robertson deep to left center, giving the O’s a 4-2 lead. I hate to say it, but I don’t really see the Yankees re-signing D-Rob, one of my favorite Yankees over the years, after the season.
The Yankees answered in the top of the eighth. With only one out, they loaded the bases against two Orioles relievers. The third O’s pitcher of the inning, Mychal Givens, came in to face Gleyber Torres and was greeted with a two-run single to right. The O’s had a play at the plate for the second runner, Miguel Andujar, on a strong throw by Adam Jones, but the ball came loose on the collision at home. Papa was safe and the game was tied again. The Yanks re-loaded the bases after Luke Voit had struck out for the second out, but Ronald Torreyes left the runners stranded with a pop out to first.
Dellin Betances, sporting yellow shoes, pitched the bottom of the eighth. He got into a little trouble with a couple of singles but was able to get out of the inning with a couple of swinging strikeouts.
The Yankees had a chance in the ninth when Brett Gardner opened the inning with a single, but after Giancarlo Stanton flied out, Aaron Hicks hit the ball directly into Chris Davis’ glove, standing on first base, for an inning-ending double play. Three up and three down for Chad Green in the bottom of the ninth, and it was off to extra innings we went.
With former Yankees prospect Cody Carroll pitching, Neil Walker homered to right center with one out to give the Yankees their first lead of the game. Neil, please accept my apology for any disparaging words I may have used about you earlier in the season. Gleyber Torres followed with a walk. He stole second and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the O’s catcher. Luke Voit, who obviously enjoyed the fourth inning home run, decided to re-live the experience with another two-run blast, this time to right center.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Patrick Semansky)|
The Yankees took the three-run lead into the bottom of the tenth, bringing in former Orioles closer Zach Britton to finish off his ex-teammates. Adam Jones singled to right to open the inning for the Orioles, but Trey Mancini, in the midst of a down year for him, grounded into a double play. So Chris Davis came to the plate with the bases empty and two outs. His homer to center, traveling 430 feet, cut the Yanks’ lead to two. Fortunately, Tim Beckham grounded out to first to end the game. It was a struggle but the Yankees persevered to pull out the victory. Britton walked off the Orioles mound with another save in his illustrious Camden Yards career, but the first in opposing gear.
The win, the Yankees’ 80th of the year, helped them to cut the gap to 8 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox dropped a 10-3 game to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees are just the second team in MLB to reach 80 wins, but of course the Red Sox became the first to 90 earlier this week. The Yankees hold a four-game lead on the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card standings and eight games over Adam Warren and the Seattle Mariners.
Nice job by CC Sabathia, fresh off the 10-day DL, to give the Yankees some length after the first inning difficulties. He mixed in a couple of eight-pitch innings. He may not have gotten the decision but he put his team in position for the win. As they say, wins are a worthless statistic to prove a pitcher’s worth. The Yankees would not have won this game without CC’s strong performance.
Gary Sanchez began a rehab assignment in Florida (Gulf Coast League) today so it sounds like we’ll be getting one of the wounded soldiers back soon. Sanchez will move up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after today’s game before rejoins the team, hopefully next week. I really hope that El Gary brings some of the hustle I’ve seen with the rehab workout videos. We could really use the pre-2018 version of Sanchez for the regular season’s final month.
The Yankees and the Orioles play two today. RHP Luis Cessa has been called up as the 26th man for the day/night double-header. The first game, at 1:00 pm ET, features J.A. Happ (14-6, 3.84 ERA) against Jimmy Yacabonis (0-1, 6.75 ERA). Luke Voit hit his last Triple A homer, prior to his call-up, against Yacabonis. Sure enough, on the lineup just posted for today’s game, Voit is playing first base. The second game, 7:05 pm ET, will pit the beleaguered Sonny Gray (9-8, 5.34 ERA) against Andrew Cashner (4-11, 4.84 ERA). Despite his record, Cashner always seems to pitch well against the Yankees. If Gray wants to pitch any meaningful games for the Yankees down the stretch, he needs to show up tonight. No pressure. Somehow I suspect he’ll fail miserably to maintain his grip on the Sonny Gray Sucks! tag line. Sonny, dammit, prove me wrong.
Hopefully last night’s win provides some momentum for the Yankees against the pesky O’s. Why win just one game, when you can take two? Let’s do this. Go Yankees!
Photo Credit: Miami Herald (David Santiago)
Yankees Survive the Marlins in Extra Innings…
Beat the teams you are supposed to beat. It does get frustrating when the Yankees struggle against Major League Baseball’s worst teams. I thought it was game over twice last night when the Miami Marlins loaded the bases with no outs in the bottoms of the ninth and eleventh innings against Chad Green and A.J. Cole, respectively. Somehow, the Yankees miraculously survived both innings and finally punched across the winning run in the top of the twelfth, thanks to a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by everybody’s Rookie of the Year, Miguel Andujar.
Photo Credit: AP (Lynne Sladky)
I guess it does not really matter how you win so long as you do win.
On a night the Boston Red Sox were losing…again…it was nice to pick up a game in the standings. With the 2-1 win over the Marlins, the Yankees now trail Boston by eight games (seven in the loss column) in the AL East. The Sox dropped their second straight game to the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians, 6-3. It was Boston’s third consecutive loss overall. Bummer, I feel so sad when that happens. Um, not really.
I’ve always felt that as long as you are within six games on September 1st, you have a chance to win the division. Mathematically, you can obviously be further out and still take the division crown but I’ve seen many six game leads erased over the years, the number has stuck in my head as the benchmark to ensure that you trail by no more than six when the calendar page rips to the ninth month of the year. Now, I don’t really expect the Red Sox to crater despite their current losing streak but it is fun to see the Yankees cut into their large lead. Boston’s losing pitcher last night was Nathan Eovaldi. Nasty Nate hasn’t pitched a quality start for the Red Sox since they beat the Yankees on August 4th. For all those Yankee fans who wanted Eovaldi over J.A. Happ, be glad that your dreams did not come true.
I am worried about Aroldis Chapman. Brought in to close out last night’s win, he was unable to find the strike zone, walking the leadoff hitter in the twelfth inning. After six pitches, he signaled for the dugout and the decision was made to pull him due to his troublesome left knee. While Chapman has been trying to play through the knee tendonitis, this is the worst it has been so far. The Yankees plan further tests today to determine if something else is going on.
Photo Credit: AP (Lynne Sladky)
Either way, it does not look good for the Yankees closer. David Robertson has missed a few games with minor soreness in the shoulder, so, to me, Zach Britton looks like the best option to close. I wouldn’t want to mess with Dellin Betances. He is much better in a setup role. Chad Green hasn’t been as reliable this year as he was in 2017. Britton, if he is right, is the best man for the job. He knows and understands the pressure of the ninth inning and he has proven in the past he is among the league’s elite. I know he’s had his share of struggles in Pinstripes, but he would be my first option to replace Chapman if Chappy is forced to miss any time. Work and knowing his role would help Britton elevate his game to previous levels of dominance.
Tommy Kahnle picked up his first save of the season in relief of Chapman but he is not a closing option for an extended period of time. The Yankees have been concerned about his drop in velocity and he is fortunate that the team he faced last night was the Marlins and not a stronger team like the Oakland A’s, a team we will see in early September. Khris Davis or Matt Olson would feast on Kahnle’s offerings.
As expected, Didi Gregorius landed on the disabled list prior to yesterday’s game due to his injured heel. Hopefully, he’ll only miss the minimum amount of time (ten days). It’s fortunate the Yankees have a true shortstop in Gleyber Torres to slide him over to cover for Didi and hand the second base job to a proven second baseman in Neil Walker. It hurts to lose Didi but on paper, he is an easier guy to replace than Aaron Judge. I guess it is good and bad with Walker at second, considering that it opens more potential playing time for Shane Robinson in right field. Yuck!
It hurts me to look at the list of Yankees that have hit the disabled list this year. You could nearly field a playoff contender with the DL guys alone. Baseball is about opportunity. When one goes down, another has to step up. Credit to those Yankees who have performed when asked. Hopefully the team can withstand the latest run of injuries to put the team in good position for the final weeks of the season and when some of the injured guys like Judge and Gary Sanchez can rejoin the active roster.
I am really surprised GM Brian Cashman has done nothing about right field. There’s no question I am not a fan of Shane Robinson. I know the Yankees are trying to navigate the treacherous waters beneath the luxury tax threshold, but there are too many other better outfield options available for the Yankees. I would have preferred the Yankees recalled Tyler Wade yesterday instead of first baseman Luke Voit. Manager Aaron Boone wanted Voit’s bat since they are playing a couple of games in a National League park, but despite whatever hitting success Voit has enjoyed at Triple A, it has yet to translate to the MLB level. Wade is capable of playing some corner outfield. Or make a spot on the 40-man roster for first baseman Ryan McBroom. McBroom is also capable of playing in the outfield and has had a very good year between Double and Triple A. I certainly like McBroom or Wade over Robinson.
Tyler Austin’s dad, Chris, has taken much heat for his tweets which basically trashed Greg Bird while promoting his son’s success with the Minnesota Twins. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Chris. My father passed away when I was a small child. Man, I wish I had a dad that loved me as passionately as Chris does Tyler. It’s wonderful that Tyler is enjoying success with the Twins. He deserves it. It is unfortunate Greg Bird took the unfair criticism but Bird has it within his power to change the results. If Tyler had been the first baseman the Yankees kept and Bird was the guy traded to Minneapolis, I am sure Yankee fans would not have minded Chris’s tweets promoting his son over Bird. Tyler, for the record, was embarrassed by his father’s tweets and asked him to take them down. He apologized for his father’s actions and expressed the intent to reach out to Bird. I think the whole situation was overblown. I didn’t take offense when I first saw Chris’s tweet and figured it was his right as a father. In retrospect, it probably should not have come at Greg Bird’s expense but again Bird can change the results. I hope Tyler prospers and thrives as a member of the Twins and Greg Bird goes on to have a very good Yankees career.
I really hope that Giancarlo Stanton can get his 300th career home run tonight at Marlins Park in Miami. It seems so appropriate for the long-time Marlin to snag the milestone homer in what was once his home ballpark. Hitting number 300 at Camden Yards in Baltimore does not have the same honor or prestige for the Marlins’ all-time leading home run hitter. The positive reaction the crowd gave Stanton last night was very moving as was his gesture that they had his heart. A sweet, tender moment with the Marlins fans. Now, crush their hearts with a long, dramatic home run for #300.
Photo Credit: AP (Lynne Sladky)
The Washington Nationals were busy yesterday. They traded a Daniel Burch-favorite, second baseman Daniel Murphy, to the Chicago Cubs and let first baseman Matt Adams go on waivers to the St Louis Cardinals. Outfielder Bryce Harper was apparently claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers but the Nats pulled him back off revocable waivers ensuring that he’ll end the season with Washington in what could be his final days as a Nat. As much as I would like for Bryce to play for the Yankees next year, I think the Philadelphia Phillies are the most likely destination for the free agent-to-be. With slightly more than a week left before the waiver trading deadline, teams will probably start making moves like we saw yesterday. Hopefully Brian Cashman can snag some help to offset the rash of injuries. Aside from the return to health for the key guys on the DL, the biggest September move might be the promotion of Justus Sheffield to serve in the Yankees bullpen. Regardless of how he gets to the Bronx, I am anxious to see the Yankees best pitching prospect finally get his opportunity. Top Sheff, it’s nearly your time.
Today is a good day for a win and a great day for a Stanton home run. Let’s Go Yankees! Please feel free to shave another game off Boston’s lead. We certainly do not mind.
Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
Yankees take Braves Series with a win…
It may not have been a no-hitter like Dave “Rags” Righetti’s no-no in 1983 but I’ll take it. It didn’t look like it would be CC Sabathia’s day when the Braves loaded the bases in the first inning, but, as they say, ‘all’s well that ends well’. Sabathia escaped the first inning jam without giving up a run and he pitched six strong innings, limiting the Braves to a couple of runs in the fifth and sixth innings, for the 6-2 win.
Credit to Sabathia for the adjustments he has made to become an effective older pitcher. I’ll admit that I had my doubts and I thought he was done just a couple of years ago. Thanks CC for proving me wrong. For all the other issues in the starting rotation, there’s no telling where the Yankees would be without Sabathia. CC improved to 6-3 and maintained his season ERA at 3.02.
Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
I always like games where the Yankees score first and this was one of those games. Didi Gregorious ripped a one-out liner to left inside the foul line for a double in the second inning. After Gleyber Torres struck out for the second out, Greg Bird singled to right, bringing Didi home for the first run.
The Yankees got more runs in the third inning. Neil Walker led off the bottom of the inning with a single to right. Following outs by Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks drew a walk from Braves starter Julio Teheran. Walker and Hicks came around to score when Giancarlo Stanton blasted a shot to the right field porch to put the Yankees ahead, 4-0. Maybe it’s just me but it sure seems like Giancarlo is starting to crank it up for one of his annual monster tears.
Kyle Higashioka continued his dislike for anything but round-trippers with a solo shot in the fourth inning, his third consecutive home run to start his Major League career (matching the Yankees record set by Alfonso Soriano).
Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Gleyber Torres exited the game in the top of the 5th inning when the Yankees moved Neil Walker from third to second and inserted Brandon Drury at third. Later we learned Torres was pulled due to the hip flexor issue that had limited him to replacement duties on Tuesday. After the game, Gleyber was placed on the 10-day DL when the MRI results revealed a mild strain. Hopefully Gleyber will only serve the minimum time on the DL and will be back after the All-Star break.
The fifth inning started right for CC Sabathia when he struck out Dansby Swanson, but then he issued a free pass to Ender Inciarte in a 10-pitch at-bat. Ozzie Albies single to center to put runners at the corners. Danny Santana grounded out to second but Inciarte scored on the play for the Braves’ first run. CC was able to escape any further damage by getting Nick Markakis to line out to center.
The Braves got another run in the sixth inning when Johan Camargo deposited a Sabathia pitch into the left field seats. Charlie Culberson, the former LA Dodger who always seems to come up with the big hit, followed Camargo’s homer with a double to left. Manager Aaron Boone stayed with Sabathia who was able to exit the inning by inducing Dansby Swanson to ground out to second.
The seventh inning brought the rested Chad Green into the game, and although the Braves made noise, they had no runs to show for it when all was said and done. Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies both singled to lead off the inning, with Inciarte moving to second. Representing the tying run, both Danny Santana and Nick Markakis hit deep flies off Green to cause momentary alarm but neither was deep enough to do any damage. Subsequently, a double steal advanced the runners to second and third. Kurt Suzuki had a chance to be the hero for the visiting Braves, but he lined out to right on a 2-0 pitch from Green to end the threat.
Aaron Judge gave the Yankees an insurance run in the eighth when he hit his 24th home run of the season with a blast to right off Braves reliever Luiz Gohara. Hey, Gohara, that ball go far-ah! Well, not too far but it was still deep enough to set off the siren. Don’t worry about it, Mr Gohara, Judge has a tendency to do that to a lot of pitchers. The Judge homer made it 6-2, Yankees.
Jonathan Holder, another rested arm, entered the game in the ninth in relief of Dellin Betances who had pitched a scoreless, one-hit inning (double by Charlie Culberson) in the eighth with a couple of strike outs. Holder, like Betances, allowed a hit (a single by Ozzie Albies who subsequently advanced to second on defensive indifference), but the runner could not advance beyond second as Holder closed out the game for the Yankees’ win.
In retrospect, the Yankees could have easily swept this series but taking two of three from the NL East leaders is still a noteworthy accomplishment. I was glad they prevented the Braves from becoming the second NL team to reach 50 wins. The Yankees (56-28) stayed a game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the disappointing Washington Nationals with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday behind a much-improved Eduardo Rodriguez. The Sox are only a win away from becoming MLB’s first 60-game winner.
The Yankees have a much-needed day off today as they prepare for a weekend series in Toronto, Ontario against the Blue Jays. All eyes will be on Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when he takes the mound against the Yankees on Saturday. With trade speculation connecting Happ to the Yankees, he has an opportunity to show his potential future teammates what he can do. I guess it’s one of those situations where I want him to pitch really well but still take the loss. There’s a part of me that is quietly hoping GM Brian Cashman is able to pry Jacob deGrom from the New York Mets, but the realist in me knows that is very unlikely. Happ may not be in deGrom’s class, but he’d still represent an experienced improvement for the rotation. He would not shy away from the challenge of taking down the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox.
Neil Walker becomes the starter at second base while Gleyber Torres is sidelined. Brandon Drury, who served as the regular starting second baseman for the 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks, is also an option. I am hopeful that some regular playing time will help bring around Walker’s bat to minimize the pain of Gleyber’s loss. Ronald Torreyes is currently on the temporary inactive list with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so he is not expected to be an option to replace Torres on the active roster. Tyler Wade seems most likely, but we’ll see. The Yankees have options given the terrific depth at Triple A.
A happy belated birthday to Yankees broadcaster John Sterling who celebrated his 80th birthday on the 4th of July (a birthday he shared with the Boss). George Steinbrenner would have been 88 yesterday. Michael Kay paid tribute to Sterling with his home run call for Giancarlo Stanton’s third inning homer using Sterling’s “Giancarlo, non si puo stoparlo” tag line.
Masahiro Tanaka made a rehab start for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Buffalo Bisons on Wednesday. It didn’t start off very good. The first batter singled and the second, Richard Urena, took Tanaka yard for a two-run homer. But Tanaka recovered nicely, retiring fourteen in a row at one point. He finished with five innings of three-hit ball, giving up only the two first inning runs, and struck out four. He didn’t walk anybody, and did not factor into the decision. The RailRiders won the game, 4-2, thanks to a four-run seventh inning that included a double, scoring two runs, by likely call-up candidate Tyler Wade.
Enjoy the day off. I am sure that with the 4th of July celebrations, we could all use some rest. Tomorrow is a new day, and the Yankees will be back in action north of the border and on a TV near you.
|Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)|
Yankees Roll Past Red Sox, 8-1…
The title of the post is courtesy of Greg Bird’s words after the game as he finally contributed to the Yankees offense in a big way. His two home runs helped power the Yankees past Boston in the first game of the three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Gleyber Torres set the tone early when he stretched a double into a triple leading off the second inning. Thanks to a drawn-in infield, Miguel Andujar’s bloop fly fell in between four Red Sox defenders in shallow center, scoring Torres with the game’s first run. It may not have been pretty but whatever it takes. Advantage, Yanks.
The fourth inning proved to be fruitful for the Yankees against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez entered the game with a 9-2 record, tied for the team lead for wins with Rick Porcello and David Price. Down 0-2, Giancarlo Stanton worked a walk off Rodriguez to open the fourth. Didi Gregorius followed with a deep fly to right center which one-hopped off the warning track up against the wall for a double to put runners at second and third with no outs. Gleyber Torres hit a fly to Andrew Benintendi in left which allowed Stanton to tag and score. Next, the Yankees got back-to-back home runs from Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird to increase their lead to 5-0. I thought it was funny how Paul O’Neill of the YES Network was describing how Bird’s swing was slow to come around as Bird’s ball flew over the left field wall. A quick correction in words made by O’Neill. Nice audible, Paulie!
|Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac|
The Red Sox finally got their first (and only) run off CC Sabathia in the fifth inning. The dangerous Mookie Betts hit a two-out double to left center and scored when Andrew Benintendi followed with a double to the right field wall. Benintendi stole third but was stranded on the second inning-ending fly out of the night with runners in scoring position by J.D. Martinez. It was a really nice job by Sabathia and later Chad Green to contain the red hot Martinez who finished 0-for-4. If Martinez had gotten a couple of huge hits, the game would have looked very differently.
It was a great start for CC Sabathia who took the team into the seventh inning rather than his usual five. Sabathia enters his 38th month of July tomorrow but he didn’t show any signs of age on this night. After recording the first two outs of the seventh, Jackie Bradley Jr was hit by a pitch to bring the always lethal Mookie Betts to the plate. It probably would have been a good spot for Aaron Boone to make a pitching change, but he stayed with the crafty veteran. CC, showing some athleticism, took a grounder from Betts on his 97th pitch to flip it to Greg Bird for the final out. Time for the showers for Sabathia but it was a job well done. Seven solid innings, six hits, the lone fifth inning run, a walk and five strikeouts. You could not have asked for a better performance.
In the bottom of the seventh, with Red Sox reliever Justin Haley in for Rodriguez, the Yankees picked up a couple more runs on Aaron Judge’s home run to right after Aaron Hicks had singled. It had been a battle of Fresno State alumnus but Judge was the better Bulldog this time around (as expected of course).
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (Andrew Mills)|
The Yankees scored their final run in the bottom of the eighth inning with Haley still on the mound for the Sox. It might have been more but Miguel Andujar was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double before Greg Bird came to the plate. With the bases empty, Bird blasted a homer to right for his second dinger of the game. 8-1, Yankees.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
Chad Green had pitched a clean eighth inning for the Yankees, but I am always sweating bullets when the unreliable Chasen Shreve enters a game. Despite a seven-run lead, it was not easy watching Shreve take the mound for the ninth. He retired the three batters he faced, including the last two by strikeout to end the game so there was no cause for alarm. I guess that’s why they pay Aaron Boone to make these decisions and not me.
With the win, the Yankees (53-26) are back in a first-place tie with the Red Sox. It is amazing how the two teams have battled neck-and-neck for the past month with no more than a two-game separation. No MLB teams have better winning percentages than the Yankees (.671) and Red Sox (.663). The Tampa Bay Rays, fourteen games out in the AL East, would only be 4 1/2 games out if they played in the AL Central.
It was nice to see Brandon Drury in the Yankees dugout even if he didn’t get to play on Friday night.There’s no doubt we’ll see him sometime this weekend. It’s funny how Greg Bird answered Drury’s arrival with two home runs. Felt kind of like the effect Clint Frazier has on Aaron Hicks when Red Thunder pulls on the pinstripes. Still, I expect Drury to play a big role in the march to October and hope he’s up with the big league club for the long haul.
Great credit goes to the rookies (Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar) for this game. Neither player is intimidated by playing in Baseball’s biggest rivalry on its largest stage. I can’t imagine playing with that type of pressure at such a young age. But time and again, they come up with the plays to ignite the Yankees offense. I was one who wanted the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier in the off-season and if that had happened, the Yankees might be trailing the Red Sox in the standings. Frazier is only batting .219/.305/.373 with 8 homers and 29 RBI’s, while Andujar is delivering .283/.309/.521 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI’s. The Toddfather has 15 extra base hits, Andujar has 39. Wow. A big disparity in numbers…and age.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (Andrew Mills)|
Friday night was a very good night for all things-Yankees as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders took down the top Red Sox affiliate, Pawtucket, 7-4, behind the arm of Chance Adams who yielded only one run over five innings for the win.
The Yankees send Sonny Gray to the mound today to face Chris Sale. Of the three games this weekend, this is the one that I have the least confidence for despite the Yankees history of success against Sale. I’d probably feel better if it was anyone other than Gray on the mound. Well, not anyone, I’d hate to see Luis Cessa in this spot. Maybe Gray can surprise me like Shreve did last night. I hope so.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
Stanton hits 22nd Career Homer at Citi Field…
I should be leading off by saying how instrumental Brett Gardner’s home run off Mets ace Jacob deGrom was to the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mets or the brilliant job Masahiro Tanaka did after giving up the lead off right field upper deck homer to Brandon Nimmo, but watching Giancarlo Stanton go yard, even if it was just a tack-on run, was a game highlight for me.
We know Stanton will eventually get hot and start hitting home runs seemingly every day. Maybe this is the start. His homer was the 22nd of his career at Citi Field. In 109 career games against the Mets, Stanton has 36 home runs and 82 RBIs. It is the most career homers he has against any opponent. The next closest opponent is the team the Yankees face for a two-game series starting Tuesday (the Washington Nationals). Stanton has 34 career homers against the Nats. Then, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that has lost its best starting pitcher (Chris Archer, injury-DL) and best reliever (Alex Colome, trade to Mariners). It is easy to see how this could be the start of a very hot summer for Giancarlo.
Brett Gardner, the veteran easily written off by most Yankees fans at the start of the year, provided the hit that powered the victory. With Jacob deGrom pitching like he always does against the Yankees (dominating) and a deadlocked game at 1-1 in the eighth inning, Gardy’s two-run homer off deGrom gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. On a team filled with big sluggers, Gardner is the unlikely hero but there he is leading by example time and again.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
As for deGrom, I couldn’t help but imagine how he’d look in Pinstripes. Honestly, I do not think the Mets would ever trade their ace to the Yankees but realistically it does make sense. The Mets could garner a boatload of top prospects from their NYC rivals which would help restore some luster in Queens, even if it meant watching deGrom win a World Series championship, or two or three…, with the Yankees.
Credit to Masahiro Tanaka for shaking off the Nimmo dinger to start the game. He got the obligatory home run out of the way early. I am worried that he left the game with hamstring tightness, but before he departed, he did not allow another hit to the Mets and recorded eight strikeouts before his early departure after completing five innings. Not to be confused with Shohei Ohtani at bat, Tanaka reached base in the top of the sixth inning, thanks to an uncharacteristic fielding error by Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Tanaka worked his way to third with a single by Gleyber Torres and a walk by Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge’s fly to right brought Tanaka running home to score the run to tie the game, but something did seem wrong with his body language as there was no excitement in his face as he walked back to the Yankees dugout. He left the game with what was described as hamstring tightness and will undergo further tests today. Hopefully this is nothing serious. Naturally, the apparent injury brought back memories of Chien-Ming Wang who was never the same after suffering a foot injury in a National League park. I have never been against the lack of a DH in the NL except for the risk to AL pitchers who do not regularly come to the plate with bat in hand. It puts them at an obvious disadvantage and opens the possibility of unnecessary injury.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
The Yankees bullpen also gets kudos for keeping the Mets off the board to set the stage for the late game heroics by Gardy and Giancarlo. Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman combined for four innings of three-hit, scoreless relief. Green gave up two hits but struck out two, including an inning-ending strikeout of Devin Mesoraco, to stifle a potential Mets rally. Courtesy of Gardy’s homer to follow the next inning, Green (4-0) picked up the vulture win. For Chapman, it was his 16th save of the season. The Mets had the tying run at the plate when Chappy hit a batter and another reached on an infield hit, but he induced a fly out by slugger Jay Bruce to end the game. Trainer Steve Donahue visited Chapman while he was on the mound but he stayed in the game. He has apparently been dealing with tendonitis in his left knee, although Aaron Boone said after the game it was “no big deal”. I hope not. Chapman, for all his sweatiness, has been fantastic this year. Quietly, I have enjoyed the performances of Betances lately. In his most recent games, Aaron Boone hasn’t tried to squeeze more than an inning out of Betances and it has yielded very good results. So credit to Boonie for making good use of the pen. The Mets, for as miserable as they’ve been at times this year, have the bats to get back into a game in a hurry.
The Yankees (41-18) leaped over the Boston Red Sox (43-21) in the AL East by a half-game with the victory. Chris Sale pitched masterfully against his former club, the Chicago White Sox, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox used Dylan Covey and their bullpen to shutout Boston, 1-0. It was the third consecutive loss for Sale. Too bad, so sad. Um, not really.
If the Yankees have to pull a spot starter out of the minor leagues, I fully expect Jonathan Loaisiga to get the call. The 23-year-old righty is 6-0 with 2.30 ERA this year with High A-Tampa and Double A-Trenton. The only concern is that he has yet to pitch at the Triple A level. He has a spot on the 40-man roster which gives him an “arm” up on the guys who are not. Justus Sheffield certainly threw his name into the hat with yesterday’s outstanding performance. He only gave up one hit and two runs (none earned) in six innings of work to help power the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to a 4-3 win over the Louisville Bats in front of a packed house at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Top Sheff did walk three batters and threw a wild pitch but he struck out eight to pick up his first Triple A win this year. There’s no doubt Sheffield will make his Major League debut this year. It is just a matter of whether it will be sooner or later.
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller|
Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Capitals for their championships in the NBA and NHL, respectively. Championships are old hat for the Warriors but it was exciting to see the Capitals win their first, especially for their great player and captain, Alex Ovechkin. Somehow it didn’t seem right for the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win a championship in their inaugural year so I was happy to see the Caps emerge as the Stanley Cup Champions. Plus the Golden Knights had knocked my team (the San Jose Sharks) out of the playoffs so it was sweet revenge.
Today is a new day but a good day to continue the Mets losing streak. Go Domingo German and, as always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Gail Burton)|
Yanks Win Series with second win in a row over the Birds…
I was going to lead off this post with Miguel Andujar but I had to start off by saying I am very happy that Gleyber Torres was not hurt when he was hit by a pitch on his right wrist during the sixth inning of yesterday’s 8-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles. It hurt to watch so I can only imagine what it felt like to be the recipient. It could have been much, much worse. Fortunately, there was no serious damage and Torres was able to continue playing. I half expect to see Neil Walker playing second base today to give Torres a breather.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Sorry Miguel. Yes, Giancarlo Stanton homered but it was Andujar who gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish with his two-run shot in the second inning. He finished the game 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s. His other hit was a run-scoring double in the eighth inning. All he does is hit damn extra base hits. He leads the team with 18 doubles (5 more than Aaron Judge) and is the co-leader with two triples. Love it. I am still a fan of Brandon Drury but there’s no question Andujar has been a big part of the Yankees’ 2018 success.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)|
Stanton’s dinger was huge given Masahiro Tanaka’s propensity for giving up homers. Tanaka ended up getting taken yard three times but fortunately they were all of the solo variety. Still, even empty base home runs are very annoying. Thankfully the Yankees offense performed well enough to repel those runs. Tanaka (7-2) picked up the win despite the less than ideal pitching line. 5 1/3 innings, 97 pitches, 8 hits, 4 runs, and a walk. He did strike out 7 batters. One of the runs charged to Tanaka was a run-scoring double given up by reliever Jonathan Holder in the bottom of the sixth. For as uneven as Tanaka has pitched this year, he has the same record as Houston’s Justin Verlander despite the ‘slightly’ worse ERA (4.79 to 1.24).
After the game, Tanaka said, “I feel like I need to do a better job on the home runs.” Ya think? Is a homer-less game by Tanaka too much to ask for? I prefer to only see guys with an interlocking N-Y on their helmets belt ones out of the park, thank you very much.
I expected Greg Bird to do some damage against his high school teammate Kevin Gausman but for whatever reason, Gausman always seems to win those battles. Bird did get a hit yesterday but Gausman was already in the showers by then. One of these days. I want to see Bird take his buddy deep for bragging rights. It’s only right and something I am sure that Bird’s hairless cat would want.
Overall it was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen. Yes, Holder gave up the hit that made it a two-run game and David Robertson was nicked for a run in the ninth, but they sandwiched great performances by Chad Green and Dellin Betances. No harm, no foul.
It was a sloppy game for the Orioles with three errors in the sixth inning. It’s unfortunate the Yankees were only able to score two runs in that frame. Not that they really needed any more in this game but the O’s did close the gap in the bottom of the inning before the Yankees pulled away in the eighth. It seems like it is only a matter of time until Orioles manager Buck Showalter gets his walking papers. It is shaping up to be a poor finish for the career of the former Yankees manager.
The other game stars for the Yankees were Brett Gardner (two doubles and a run scored), Didi Gregorius (a pair of singles, an RBI and two runs scored), and Aaron Hicks (3-for-4 day, 2 RBI’s and a couple of runs scored). Hopefully this is the start of a better month for Sir Didi. After his All-World performance in April, May was a month to forget. Once Gary Sanchez and Didi starting hitting, this offense is going to be unstoppable.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)|
The game was delayed for an hour and forty-four minutes due to the threat of rain. Seemed odd that they’d pull out the tarp when it was not actually raining. But whatever. They got the game in, and the Yankees won their fourth consecutive game. There’s a high chance of rain this afternoon so there will probably be more delays before the Yankees can head for Detroit, Michigan. Hopefully it doesn’t mean spending the night at BWI, particularly considering they have to play two games tomorrow in the Motor City. The Yankees will miss long-rumored trade target Michael Fulmer. Fulmer, off to a disappointing start (2-4, 4.60 ERA, 1.368 WHIP), pitches today against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sadly, the Boston Red Sox won their 40th game of the season yesterday against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros. It wasn’t Verlander’s fault. The Red Sox just worked the simple formula. Keep it close and get into the Astros bullpen. Once there, good things happen for opposing teams. The Red Sox (40-19) continue to lead the Yankees (37-17) by a half-game in the AL East.
Justus Sheffield was hammered for six runs in five innings yesterday during Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 8-0 loss to the Indianapolis Indians. I guess he was “Bottom” Sheff for the day. Four hits, including a homer, and three walks did in the young left-hander. Brandon Drury, to his credit, singled to increase his on-base streak to 25 games. The sorely missed Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-4 on an otherwise forgettable offensive (literally and figuratively) day for the RailRiders.
By the way, congratulations to Gleyber Torres for his recognition as May American League Rookie of the Month. His slash line for the month was .317/.374/.659 with nine home runs and 24 RBI’s. He delivered 26 hits, 13 runs scored and drew six walks. The month included Gleyber’s four-game homer streak as the 21 year old continues to draw out the names of Yankees legends like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle with his hitting prowess. Not saying he is those guys but his accomplishments echo reminders of those names. That’s pretty damn good company.
|Photo Credit: The Sporting News|
Weather-permitting, let’s get a win today. I’ll be at Coors Field watching the Los Angeles Dodgers go for the sweep against the Colorado Rockies. Hopefully the Pinstripers can do the same.