Tagged: Chase Utley

Dodging Their Way to Game Seven…

Credit:  LA Times – Robert Gauthier

2017 World Series 

Dodgers 3, Astros 1

Series tied, 3-3

The Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, okay I am not quite that old…the Los Angeles Dodgers…forced the first World Series Game 7 in Dodger Stadium history with their win over the Houston Astros in Game 6 on Tuesday night. We’re a week into this World Series and we now stand in the month that Derek Jeter made famous. Who will be the latest November hero?  We’ll find out later today.

The game was expected to be a pitching duel with veteran ace Justin Verlander pitching for the Astros against the resurgent Rich Hill for the Dodger Blue. Unlike the slugfest the broke out between Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw match-up, Verlander-Hill did not disappoint.  

Credit:  LA Times – Robert Gauthier

The Dodgers started the game by having former Dodgers greats Tommy Lasorda and Orel Hershiser, champions in 1988, throw out the first pitches. Hershiser is regularly seen by Dodgers fans on SportsNet LA but it was wonderful to see Lasorda on Dodger Stadium turf again. It’s always good to see the legendary Lasorda whenever he makes an appearance. I didn’t love the guy back during those World Series against the Yankees in the late 70’s, but he grew on me over time and I appreciate his role in Dodgers history.

Credit:  Los Angeles Daily News:  John McCoy/SCNG

Once the game began, it was a scoreless affair until George Springer’s solo shot to right into the front row seats with two outs in the top of the 3rd broke the ice. On a team with multiple offensive stars, Springer and teammate Alex Bregman have really stood out for the Astros. If the Astros ultimately win this World Series, there’s no doubt that one or both of these guys will be in the thick of the action.

 

Credit:  LA Times – Wally Skalij

Bregman followed Springer’s homer with a sharply hit ball to short that Corey Seager booted but Seager was able to recover quickly with his throw just beating Bregman to the bag for the final out.

While Verlander was cruising through the early innings, allowing only a meaningless single by Yasiel Puig in the second inning, the Astros finally got to Hill in the top of the fifth. Brian McCann led off the inning with a single to deep right which Yasiel Puig cut off in the corner. Marwin Gonzalez was next and he doubled down the left field line into the corner, moving the huffing and puffing McCann to third. After Hill struck out Josh Reddick and Verlander, Springer was intentionally walked to load the bases. 

Credit:  LA Times – Robert Gauthier

Much to Hill’s disappointment, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made the call to the bullpen and brought in reliever Brandon Morrow who had imploded during his previous outing in Houston. The day of rest helped for the former Blue Jay. He was able to get Alex Bregman to ground out to short, through the runner’s legs, on the second pitch of the at-bat to end the inning with the bases overflowing with Astros.

The Astros threatened again in the top of the 6th, while Verlander was still pitching a one-hitter at that point. With two outs, Yuli Gurriel singled to center off Morrow. Dave Roberts then made a double switch, bringing in former Pirates closer Tony Watson to replace Morrow and second baseman Chase Utley to replace Logan Forsythe. Watson promptly hit Brian McCann with a pitch in the back of the right arm that I am sure was not part of the plan. Runners at first and second. Fortunately, Marwin Gonzales hit a liner to second, with Chase Utley jumping up for the catch, for the final out. Another missed scoring opportunity for the Astros (bummer for them, for me…not so much). 

In the bottom of the 6th, Austin Barnes led off with a single to left. Chase Utley, batting in the pitcher’s spot thanks to the double switch, was hit by a pitch on his right foot with a bouncer in the dirt. Chris Taylor, who probably makes Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto lose sleep everytime he revisits that trade in his head, came up big…again…when he doubled to right, scoring Barnes and advancing Utley to third. The game was tied.  

Credit:  LA Times – Wally Skalij

Corey Seager hit a high fly to right that died in front of the wall but it was deep enough to score Utley on the sacrifice. Verlander was able to get Justin Turner to foul out on the first base side and he struck out Cody Bellinger, but the Dodgers had taken their first lead of the game, 2-1.

The Astros made noise again for the third consecutive inning in the top of the 7th. After Tony Watson walked the lead off hitter, Josh Reddick, Dave Roberts took the ball from him and brought in Kenta Maeda to face Evan Gattis, pinch-hitting for Justin Verlander. Gattis hit into a fielder’s choice at short that erased Reddick at second but the Dodgers were unable to turn a double play. Gattis clearly reached first base before the throw but the Dodgers challenged and lost the play at second when they argued unsuccessfully that Reddick had purposely tried to take out Chase Utley (on the appropriately named Chase Utley rule). Mets fans were probably snickering as they recalled the time in the 2015 NLDS when Utley  slid into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada rather than the base, breaking Tejada’s leg and sending the shortstop’s career on a downward trajectory. Not snickering because of Tejada but because Utley was the victim of an aggressive play. 

Credit:  Pasadena Star-News:  Keith Birmingham/SCNG

George Springer hit a grounder to short but the ball got by Corey Seager and rolled into left field. Gattis moved to second and was replaced by pinch-runner Derek Fisher. Alex Bregman flied out to center, with Fisher tagging and moving to third. It brought Jose Altuve to the plate. Altuve hit a hard grounder to third, but Justin Turner made a great play in throwing the ball to first for the out to end the inning.

Joc Pederson added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th when he took reliever Joe Musgrove deep with a solo blast to left. There was some initial doubt if he had hit the ball far enough but it carried over the wall much to the excitement of Pederson and his teammates.  

 

Credit:  LA Times – Robert Gauthier

From there, the Dodgers not to take any chances and brought in ace closer Kenley Jansen for the top of the 8th to get the six-out save. He easily retired the three batters he faced to send the game to the bottom of the inning. The Dodgers had a chance for more runs when they had two on with two outs for Cody Bellinger, but Clay’s son struck out swinging in an extended 9-pitch at bat against Francisco Liriano (who was making his first appearance in the World Series).

Kenley Jansen came back out for the top of the 9th (obviously). Marwin Gonzalez had the first chance to get the Astros back into the game. He popped out to first baseman Bellinger in shallow right. Next up, Josh Reddick. He struck out, swinging and missing the last two pitches. One last man stood between the Dodgers and victory…former Yankees slugger Carlos Beltran. Jansen threw a 94 mph Cutter with the count at 0-2 in favor of the pitcher. Beltran took a big swing  at the high pitch and missed. 

Credit:  Houston Chronicle:  Michael Ciaglo

Game over. Dodgers win!

Credit:  LA Times – Gina Ferazzi

Dodgers Legend and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax was in attendance as a spectator, looking like he could be the Game 7 starter if necessary.  Of course, it’s Los Angeles so there were more than few celebrities in the house, such as former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

 

Credit:  Houston Chronicle:  Karen Warren

I have no clue who is going to win the World Series, but it comes down to one game. Winner take all. The matchup will feature Lance McCullers, Jr on the mound for the Astros. He’ll face Yu Darvish. If the game was to be the played in Houston, you’d have to like the Astros chances. But we are not at Minute Maid Park anymore. Darvish will have the support of the partisan crowd and Chavez Ravine will be rocking tonight. It should be another World Series classic.

Credit:  Pasadena Star-News:  Keith Birmingham/SCNG

Editor’s Note:  This writer is pro-Dodgers (if you didn’t notice already).

Odds & Ends…

It was sad to read the words of Ken Rosenthal’s interview with former Yankees manager Joe Girardi on yesterday’s The Athletic. I refuse to pay a subscription fee to Rosenthal but fortunately the article was available in full. Girardi clearly sounded like a guy who wanted to be a part of the next great Yankees era. I was glad to read that Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner left the door open for Girardi’s eventual return to the organization in some capacity if he so chooses. I personally doubt Girardi returns, but I thought he handled his first interview since the dismissal with style and grace.

Credit:  Getty Images

As expected, Gabe Kapler was named manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. So the Yankees are the only team without a manager. Unless there is a secret deal already in place (probably), today brings an unsigned general manager too as Brian Cashman’s deal expired last night. I think it’s a given that Cashman will return but I’ll be anxious to get his new contract behind us so that the Yankees can truly begin their off-season strategy and preparation to bring us their 28th World Championship.

Have a great Wednesday! This is it…the final day of Major League Baseball for 2017. Let’s Go Dodgers, but more importantly, Let’s Go Yankees!

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Fixing what ails them…

 

Turning the page…

After getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles, it was a relief to see the team head to Minneapolis for a four-game set against the Minnesota Twins.  I didn’t expect the Yankees to sweep the Twins, but I had hoped for at least 2 or 3 wins in the Twin City.  Fortunately, the Yankees did better, taking all four games from the Twins.

Most believe the Yankees have held it together with smoke and mirrors this season, but I am hardly one to disagree.  The Yanks have gotten good production from guys who other teams were glad to vacate.  Today’s hero was Vernon Wells, and clearly the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Angels were glad to move him on when they did.

Lyle Overbay is a good guy but he’s not exactly going to suddenly emerge with his best season ever.  I think those days are far behind him.  With no return of Mark Teixeira this year, the Yankees need to find a stronger first base solution.  Unfortunately, I think there are too many holes to fill and I’d certainly hate to see the Yankees give up quality prospects in trades that will probably still result in no October success for the Yankees.  As always, I am hopeful the team proves me wrong, but clearly, the odds are against them.

Boo-yeah!  Great accomplishments…

Congratulations to Joe Girardi, CC Sabathia and Max Scherzer.  For Girardi, he won his 600th game earlier this week.  Not bad for a guy who lasted only one season as the manager for the then Florida Marlins.  CC achieved success through his 200th win, and Max Scherzer, an opponent’s “ace” gets kudos for starting the season 13-0.  When a staff is led by the great Justin Verlander, you certainly do not expect anyone to challenge his tag as the staff ace.  But with Verlander’s struggles this year and Scherzer’s legendary start, Verlander is no better than #2 on the Detroit Tigers’ staff this year.  As for CC, it just doesn’t seem that long ago he was a promising rookie pitching for the Cleveland Indians.  Hard to believe that he’s already at 200 wins.  Still, it’s a great accomplishment and I hope that we’ll soon be seeing CC win his 250th game in pinstripes.

Chasing the rumors…

When you hear of possible deadline trades, I have to admit that it’s sad to hear Chase Utley’s name mentioned.  He’s been a great Phillie although a bit injury-plagued in recent years.  Still, I identify the guy with the Phillies and it would be good to see him play in the City of Brotherly Love for the remainder of his career.  Michael Young is another name mentioned and given that he made his name in Arlington, Texas, I’d rather see him moved if the Phillies do anything.

I am fairly certain the Yankees will move Joba Chamberlain by the deadline.  It would also not surprise me to see Phil Hughes go considering that Michael Pineda should finally be able to make his Yankees pitching debut soon.

The Yankees need to do what it takes to re-sign Robinson Cano…

Ugh, I really dislike the possible return of Alex Rodriguez.  Maybe there’s still something in the bat, but I am not a fan and I’d prefer to see Alex as the starting third baseman for some team in Siberia.  With Yankee GM Brian Cashman’s recent outburst against A-Rod and Yankee President Randy Levine’s back-pedaling, I am clearly on Team Cashman regarding A-Rod.

I am also convinced that this is the final season in pinstripes for free agent-to be Curtis Granderson.  His final season has been a disappointment given his extended stays on the DL.  Same goes for Andy Pettitte.  I think if the team finishes third or lower in the AL East, Andy will no longer have the fire to compete.  It’s the thrill of playing October baseball that drives Andy at this point so an unsuccessful season will probably prove to him that it’s time.

Say, Mo, isn’t that your spot in Monument Park?…

Speaking of impending departures, I loved the gift the Minnesota Twins gave to Mariano Rivera.  The Chair of Broken Dreams.  A rocking chair constructed of broken bats.  How great was that?  Mariano is a living legend, and I am so thankful that I got to watch him pitch for the duration of his Yankees career.  This is a guy who could still be a very effective closer in 2014 despite his age, so clearly, he’s going out on top regardless of what the team does.

Ask me how much I wish that I still lived in Minneapolis so that I could have experienced the past four games?…

Better them than us…

I thought it was a bad decision for the Texas Rangers to sign Manny Ramirez.  Yes, I’ve always admired Man-Ram’s ability to hit, but it’s the baggage that goes with the guy that is too much.  I guess he is usually on his best behavior during his first year so maybe the Rangers are on to something.  But this should be a very short-term relationship.  If I were Nolan Ryan, I would not want Manny as part of my strategy for 2014.

Jamie Foxx for President…

I saw White House Down today and thought it was very good.  Quite predictable, but still, as an action flick, it had all of the right ingredients.  Felt a little like Die Hard in the White House but hey, there have been a lot worse movies!

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July!  Enjoy the fireworks!

–Scott

 

Live from New York, Play Ball!…


CC Sabathia versus Justin
Verlander


Larry W. Smith/EPA


Because the Tigers hope rookie Justin Verlander will pitch for years, they're cutting back on his work.

Tony Dejak/AP


Finally, Opening Day is upon
us!  It has been a long and at times
disappointing off-season.  Optimism
returned in Spring Training as there were a few success stories and
surprises.  The pitching match-up for the
Yankees against the Detroit Tigers is perfect as I expect banner years by both
pitchers.  They both will most likely be
finalists for the Cy Young Award at the end of the year if all goes right.

For Opening Day, here are the 2011 New York
Yankees:

 

Manager

Joe Girardi

 

Coaches

Kevin Long, Batting Coach

Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach

Mick Kelleher, First Base Coach

Rob Thomson, Third Base Coach

Tony Pena, Bench Coach

Mike Harkey, Bullpen Coach

Roman Rodriguez, Bullpen Catcher

 

Starters

1B – Mark Teixeira

2B – Robinson Cano

SS – Derek Jeter

3B – Alex Rodriguez

C – Russell Martin

RF – Nick Swisher

CF – Curtis Granderson

LF – Brett Gardner

DH – Jorge Posada

 

Bench Strength

Bench – 1B/3B – Eric Chavez

Bench – 2B/SS/3B – Eduardo Nunez

Bench – OF – Andruw Jones

Bench – C – Gustavo Molina

 

Starting
Rotation

1SP – CC Sabathia

2SP – A.J. Burnett

3SP – Phil Hughes

4SP – Ivan Nova

5SP – Freddy Garcia

 

Bullpen

Closer – Mariano Rivera

Setup – Rafael Soriano

RP – Joba Chamberlain

RP – David Robertson

RP – Boone Logan

RP – Bartolo Colon

RP – Luis Ayala

 

Several of the spots are held by injury replacements
(Molina for backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, and Ayala for reliever Pedro
Feliciano
) so they’ll go down to the minors when the regulars return.  I am sure that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo
Colon
will be on short leashes, and it’s very possible that one of their spots
could be taken by Kevin Millwood should either one falter.

 

I am very pleased to see Eric Chavez on the
roster.  It was a foregone conclusion
that he’d make the team after the spring he had, but going into camp, there
were certainly plenty of questions about his health and durability.  I am sure that Jason Giambi has probably been
on the phone to his good buddy to let him know the inner workings of the
Yankees organization and the city of New York. 

 

Congratulations to Manny Banuelos for winning the
James P. Dawson Award as the team’s outstanding rookie in camp.  I am definitely looking forward to his
arrival in the Bronx, even if it is still a few years down the road.

 

Even though there were no major additions in the
off-season, I do like this year’s team. 
The hiring of pitching coach Larry Rothschild was huge, and I think he’ll
be able to get into A.J. Burnett‘s head and rebuild the pitcher’s
confidence.  I expect continued
progression from Phil Hughes, and if Ivan Nova continues to build upon his
outstanding spring, I think the Yankees rotation will be quite strong. 

 

What can you say about the bullpen?  They will definitely shorten games for the
starters.

 

As for the regulars, I expect Derek Jeter to
rebound from last year and put up his usual DJ-like numbers.  Robinson Cano will continue his progression
of one of the game’s elite, and Alex Rodriguez looks charged and ready for a
fantastic season.  I am expecting more
consistency and better timely hitting from Curtis Granderson this year, and if
Brett Gardner stays healthy, the outfield should be significantly
improved. 

 

The health of Russell Martin is a concern,
particularly since neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine was able to prove
they are ready for the major leagues.  If
the Yankees have to start Posada at catcher, it will definitely be a sign of
trouble ahead. 

 

In my mind, the positives will outweigh the
negatives, and the Yankees will be in the hunt at the end. 

 

Nevertheless, with all things considered, I do
think the league champions, as it stands right now, will be the Boston Red Sox
and the San Francisco Giants.  A World
Series matchup would put the Sox over the Giants for the championship.  This is not what I want, but rather, on
paper, it is the most logical conclusion. 
Much can happen between now and October, and I certainly expect the
Yankees to acquire a #3 starter (or better) for the starting rotation by the
July trading deadline.  I did like the
Philadelphia Phillies, but I think the loss of Chase Utley to injury and Jayson
Werth
to free agency will be too much to overcome.  Pitching staff to pitching staff, I like the
Giants rotation better than the Phillies.

 

Win or lose, this should be a tremendous baseball
season for all of us!  Go ahead, throw
the first pitch…

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Your Mission, Should You Chose to Accept It…

Here we go…

 

 The New York Yankees

 

Getty Images

 

The World Series hits the home stretch with a return to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night.  Perhaps this is the way it was meant to be.  A championship in front of the home crowd instead of a slew of Phillie Phanatics…

 

 

 

 

It was a gamble to pitch A.J. Burnett on short rest.  CC Sabathia was one thing, but A.J. has proven this season that he is not CC.  A.J. relies too much on the perfection of his pitches, so when he’s off, he is really off…

 

 

 

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

 

The result was a hole that the Yankees couldn’t dig out of, although to their defense, they tried.  I really thought they had a chance in the 9th inning of Game 5 until Derek Jeter hit into the double play. 

 

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images 

 

 

In the end, the two home runs by Chase Utley were simply too  much.  So, the Phillies emerged with the 8-6 victory to cut the Yankees’ Series lead to 3 games to 2.

 

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images 

 

The Yankees are gambling in Game 6 with Andy Pettitte on short rest.   With Andy, you are most likely not going to get a stellar performance.  It will either be an average performance with no more than 3 or 4 runs to keep the Yankees in the game, OR it will be a disaster like Game 6 of the 2001 World Series when Andy lost to the D-Backs, 15-2.  I was at the game, and accidentally dropped a beer in disgust (sorry to those of you who were around me!). 

 

 

81442113, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

Getty Images 

 

The Yankees need to go into the game with Plan A and Plan B.  Plan B should be to have Chad Gaudin ready to go in case Pettitte doesn’t have it.   I’d hate to be three or four innings in and down 7-0.  If it’s obvious that Andy doesn’t have it, manager Joe Girardi should be quick to make a change.  This is where a solid pitching acquisition at the trading deadline would have been huge.  Not that I think the Rays would have been agreeable to trading within the division, but having a Scott Kazmir at this point would probably be much preferable to pitching Andy on short rest.  Nevertheless, this is the hand that we have been dealt so it is up to the Yankees to make the most of it.

 

 

 

 

If Ryan Howard comes around, this Series is going to get ugly in a hurry.  They’ve got to continue to keep him off the bases, and they need to figure out how to stop Chutley.  They also need to keep the game close until they can get into the Phillies bullpen which is clearly a weakness.  This has been the season of walk-off’s for the Yankees so it’s time to finish the season with one…

 

 

 

Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

 

Before the series is over, I do want to say that baseball is not the same without Harry Kalas.  The long-time Phillies announcer passed away earlier this season, and he is missed.  It is very unfortunate that he was unable to experience the back-to-back World Series for the Phillies.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

 

“Swing … and a long drive, and this ball is … outta here! Home run <insert player’s name here>.” 

 

I have been a fan of the University of Iowa since I was, as the saying goes, “knee-high to a grasshopper”.  Kalas was a 1959 graduate.  So, win or lose (hopefully lose!), this one’s for Harry…

 

 

 

We are ALL tied!…

I knew it!…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

I was afraid that Cliff Lee would dominate the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.  He has always pitched very well against the Yanks, and he won the very first game in the new Yankee Stadium in April while a member of the Cleveland Indians.

 

Associated Press

 

Lee’s performance was masterful and he deserves all accolades for a job well done.  Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Chase Utley as your second baseman.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

The Phillies’ 6-1 victory took away home field advantage from the Yankees and leveled and the playing field.

I was stunned at the trading deadline when the Phillies acquired Lee from the Indians.  Everybody had been talking about Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Phillies quietly dropped an ace into their starting rotation.  I had wanted the Yankees to upgrade the #5 pitching slot.  They did acquire the San Diego Padres’ Chad Gaudin but I’d hardly call that a major move.  Even the Los Angeles Angels were able to acquire a stud for their rotation with the acquisition of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Scott Kazmir.  The Philles had signed free agent Pedro Martinez a few days earlier.  Pedro was another pitcher that I felt the Yankees should have pursued, but they were never a player.  I can so clearly remember hoping that the moves wouldn’t come back to haunt the Yankees.  Well, it is now October, and the moves are staring us straight in the face…

 

Cat-CatStaringFirstToBlinkLoses.jpg Cat - Cat Staring, First To Blink Loses image by Fredcat

 

Fortunately, Game 2 was a reversal of fortune.  Early on, it was a great pitching duel between the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett and the Phillies’ Pedro Martinez.  It had the “feel” of an old Yankees-Red Sox game.  Hmmm, I wonder what my friend Julia is doing these days?  Probably watching Celtic basketball.  Nevertheless, Burnett was stellar, while Pedro gave up homers to Mark Teixeira and later Hideki Matsui.

 

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

 

The Yankees added a run in the 7th inning before a botched call by the umpires cost the Yanks the possibility for more runs.  With one out (why the heck was Derek Jeter bunting with two strikes???!!!), Johnny Damon hit a liner at Ryan Howard.  The runner at first (Jorge Posada) had broken for second and would have made it safely on an errant throw.  However, the ump called it a double play when Posada was tagged since they ruled Damon had lined out to Howard.  Subsequently, replays showed that the ball had one-hopped into Howard’s glove so the runners should have been safe at first and second.  I hate it when the umpires are in position to decide a game…

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

Burnett was pulled after 7 magnificent innings.  Manager Joe Girardi wasted no time in going with legendary closer Mariano Rivera.  I thought it was a bit premature, but after a few bumps and bruises but no runs, the Yankees had emerged with a 3-1 victory.  The win tied the Series at one game apiece.

The Series now heads for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday.  Andy Pettitte versus last year’s post-season ace Cole Hamels.

 

 

For the record, sitting Nick Swisher was an excellent move even if Swish didn’t agree.  His bat could be likened to the Artic Front.  He was replaced by Jerry Hairston, Jr.

I am glad that George Steinbrenner has been able to watch the games at Yankee Stadium.  Given the decline in his health, you never know if this will be his final World Series appearance.  I hope not…

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

“It’s great to see Pedro Martinez on the stage again” – ESPN Analyst Chris Berman

 

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I don’t disagree, but I am still glad that he didn’t get the win…

In the post game press conference, Pedro said, “If I played for the Yankees, I’d be the King”.  The comment was made in response to the boos he received as he walked off the field, but he’s probably right…