Rays 9, Yankees 6…
Despite four home runs, the Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the series finale and their AL East title hopes are clinging on life support. I thought Manager Joe Girardi mismanaged the fateful 5th inning after Sonny Gray had relinquished the lead, bringing in the woefully inconsistent arm of Jonathan Holder when there were many superior options available.
The first sign that Sonny Gray might not have it on Thursday night was Corey Dickerson’s first inning home run to the second deck in right which gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
The Yankees wasted no time in coming back when Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge led off the bottom of the 1st inning with back-to-back home runs. Both players took Rays starter Jacob Faria deep to right into the second deck. It was Judge’s 51st home run of the year. The Yankees had taken the lead, 2-1.
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The Rays had a potential scoring opportunity in the top of the 2nd when Gray walked two batters, Daniel Robertson and Cesar Puello with only one out. There was a brief delay when a Gray pitch hit the dirt and bounced up to hit Gary Sanchez on the collarbone during Robertson’s at-bat. Sanchez was able to shake it off and stay in the game. After Peter Bourjos lined out to right for the second out, Mallex Smith singled to left. The Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo unwisely sent Daniel Robertson home rather than holding him up at third. Brett Gardner’s arm was smarter than the coach as Robertson was easily thrown out at home for the final out.
The Yankees picked up another run in the bottom of the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right past a diving Lucas Duda with one out. While Todd Frazier was batting, a passed ball off the glove of Rays catcher Wilson Ramos allowed Ellsbury to take second. Frazier then singled to left, scoring Ellsbury. A pitch got away from Ramos with Brett Gardner batting and Todd Frazier tried to advance to second but was thrown out. Gardy subsequently walked but Aaron Judge flied out to end the inning. As Michael Kay put it, “A sky high fly”. Nevertheless, the Yankees were up 3-1.
Chih-Wei Hu took over for Jacob Faria on the mound in the bottom of the 4th (Who is on the mound? I don’t know, Hu?). He was quickly introduced to the game when Greg Bird led off with a home run to the first row of the right field seats. Hu retired the next three batters, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 4-1.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
The dreadful 5th inning arrived with Sonny Gray still on the mound for the Yankees. The previous inning had gone so well for Gray. Three outs on six pitches. It was hard to foresee the disaster that awaited him in the 5th. Gray was able to get the first batter, Peter Bourjos, out on a grounder to short. Then the Rays rally began. Mallex Smith singled to right on a fly that dropped in. Corey Dickerson hit a line drive to center for a single with Smith moving to third. A wild pitch from Gray allowed Smith to come home to score. Gary Sanchez tried to throw to Gray covering home but his throw was too far right for Gray to catch as Smith slid safely into home plate. Sanchez was charged a throwing error on the play as it allowed Dickerson to advance two bases to third.
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Evan Longoria struck out for the second out, but Dickerson subsequently scored when a passed ball went through El Gary’s legs. Lucas Duda walked, and it brought Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild out to the mound. It always seems like Larry’s talks fail and this was no exception. The next batter, Wilson Ramos, homered to center just over the wall into Monument Park and the Rays had taken a 5-4 lead.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single to center and it was the end for Sonny Gray. Gray made a couple of throws to first during Daniel Robertson’s at bat to buy time for the bullpen, but I have to admit that I was bewildered by Joe Girardi’s decision to bring in Jonathan Holder even though I’d seen Holder warming up. Holder is a fine prospect and did a decent job for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders but he hasn’t really pitched in many big spots for the Yankees this year. He may eventually become a leading arm in the pen but I would have gone with one of the tried and true in an effort to keep the game close. Holder hit the first batter he faced, Daniel Robertson, with a pitch. Runners at first and second. Cesar Puello singled to center on a ball that dropped in front of Jacoby Ellsbury with Hechavarria coming around to score. Robertson moved to second. Peter Bourjos tripled to left on fly that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall, clearing the bases, and it was 8-4 Rays. Girardi finally pulled Holder and brought in Chasen Shreve who struck out Mallex Smith to end the inning. But the Rays had scored seven runs.
In the bottom of the 5th, with Tommy Hunter taking over for Chih-Wei Hu, Brett Gardner led off with a walk. After Aaron Judge struck out, Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch on the back of his left shoulder. Runners at first and second.
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Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to second and the Rays were able to force Sanchez for the second out, with Gardy moving to third. Starlin Castro hit an infield single to short, beating the throw to first which brought Gardner home to score. Greg Bird, representing the potential tying run, struck out to end the inning but the Yankees had gotten a run back, 8-5.
With Chasen Shreve still on the mound, the Yankees retired the first two Rays in the top of the 6th. But Trevor Plouffe, pinch-hitting for Lucas Duda, homered to left into the second deck, to restore the Rays’ four run lead. Shreve walked Wilson Ramos next and was pulled in favor of Ben Heller. Heller struck out Adeiny Hechavarria to end the inning without any further damage.
The Rays bullpen kept the Yankees offense quiet from there. Aaron Hicks, pinch-hitting for Todd Frazier, did manage to hit a solo home run to right into the bullpen in the bottom of the 9th against Chaz Roe but it was too little, too late. The other Yankees went down quietly, with Aaron Judge flying out to right to end the game.
This was a disappointing loss and I am bewildered why Girardi trusted Holder with the game on the line when the pitcher has done nothing this year at the MLB level to warrant consideration at that point. The Boston Red Sox lost 12-2 to the Houston Astros so the Yankees (89-70) could have picked up a game. Instead, they remain three games out with three to play. The best they can do is tie the Red Sox if they sweep the Blue Jays and the Astros sweep the Red Sox. More than likely, the Red Sox sew up the AL East title either tonight or tomorrow.
I hate losing winnable games. If the 5th inning hadn’t gotten away from the Yankees, they would have/could have won this game. If the Yankees play like this next Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, it’s going to be a very short post-season experience.
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
And so, we’ve reached the final series of the regular season. It seems like we were just playing exhibition games at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. The Blue Jays completed a successful three-game road trip in Boston on Wednesday, winning two of three games. They are also the only team to win a series against the Yankees this month. Hopefully, the wins come our way in the latest and final series before the post-season begins.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Blue Jays: Joe Biagini (3-12, 5.34 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (12-12, 4.94 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (13-8, 3.06 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-3, 4.70 ERA)
Blue Jays: Brett Anderson (2-2, 6.04 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (9-7, 3.96 ERA)
This is most likely Jaime Garcia’s final start for the Yankees. I hope that it’s not the final regular season start for Masahiro Tanaka’s Yankees career. We all know that this is just the conclusion of the great start of Jordan Montgomery’s career in Pinstripes. Looking forward to many successful wins going forward, including the 2017 post-season.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees are planning to activate RHP Adam Warren off the disabled list today. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get in some work this weekend in preparation for the post-season (which, we hope and pray, is much longer than a one-game stay).
Have a great weekend! Let’s get the momentum rolling for October! Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Rays 1…
Pitching like I hope he does next week against the Minnesota Twins, Luis Severino dominated the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday behind home runs from Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. He amassed nine strikeouts to put place his name among the greatest statistical leaders in franchise history.
On paper, the matchup looked like a mismatch in favor of the Yankees. However, Rays starter Matt Andriese kept the game scoreless for the first four innings. Then, Tampa’s Adeiny Hechiavarria led off the top of the 5th with a home run, a high fly into the left field seats, to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
Fortunately, the Yankee bats finally woke up in the bottom of the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started by working a walk off Andriese. Aaron Hicks hit a grounder into right field, on a ball that got past a diving Brad Miller at second, for a single. Ellsbury raced around to third base. After Brett Gardner hit a line drive right at the shortstop for the first out, Aaron Judge doubled to the left field corner to score both Ellsbury and Hicks. The Yankees had taken the lead, 2-1.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
After Severino breezed through the Rays in the top of the 6th, retiring two batters by strikeout, Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left center into the Rays bullpen. The Rays pulled Andriese and brought in reliever Xavier Cedeno. Greg Bird, with his beautiful swing, greeted Cedeno with a homer to right. Chase Headley kept it going with a single to left that squeezed through 3B Evan Longoria and SS Adeiny Hecchavarria. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded back to the pitcher for the out at first, while Headley moved to second. Aaron Hicks ended Cedeno’s short stint when he homered on a high fly into the left field seats. The Rays pulled Cedeno and replaced him with Jose Alvarado. It looked like the Yankees’ big inning, with four runs already across, might continue. Brett Gardner doubled to left, and Aaron Judge walked. However, Alvarado struck out Gary Sanchez on three pitches and got Didi Gregorius to hit into a ground out at short. However, the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.
In the top of the 7th, Chasen Shreve replaced Severino. As the team’s primary lefty in the bullpen, Shreve has been consistently inconsistent for weeks. He walked the first batter he faced, Stephen Souza, Jr. Corey Dickerson hit a grounder to first and the Yankees were able to force Souza out at second. But Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single to right. Shreve was able to strike out Brad Miller, who has been struggling this year. But that would all as Joe Girardi opted to go with Chad Green to face Jesus Sucre. Green retired Sucre on a grounder to short that forced Hechavarria out at second with a flip from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro to end the inning.
Dellin Betances pitched the 8th inning and looked strong. He retired the three men he faced with a total of 13 pitches. No walks, no hits, his 100th strikeout of the season…this is the Dellin that we need for October.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Aroldis Chapman pitched a clean 9th inning, ending the game on a swinging strikeout of Corey Dickerson. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (89-69) moved to twenty games above .500 for the first time this season. Unfortunately, the Boston Red Sox took a step closer to sewing up the AL East Championship with a come-from-behind 10-5 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees remain three games behind the Red Sox with four to play. The Minnesota Twins lost 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians but they clinched the second Wild Card spot when the Los Angeles Angels fell to the Chicago White Sox in extra innings, 6-4. The Twins become the first team to reach the playoffs after losing 100 games in the preceding season.
|Credit: Ron Schwane-AP|
Luis Severino (14-6) now awaits the probable Wild Card game start next week against the Twins in the Bronx. He lowered his season ERA to 2.98. His six innings of work yielded only four hits, a walk and a single run for the Rays. His nine strikeouts allowed him to reach 230 for the season, putting him in a third place tie with CC Sabathia for the most strikeouts in club history. Sabathia reached the mark in 2011. The strikeout leader is Ron Guidry who struck out 248 batters in his magical 1978 season, while Jack Chesbro had 239 K’s in a mind-blowing 454 2/3 innings in 1904.
This was another great team win with multiple hitting stars. The Yankees can become a 90-win team with their next victory. Honestly, that seemed impossible at the start of the season. Without so many key injuries, I have no doubt the Yankees would be leading the AL East right now. But the Yankees are now nearly healthy as they approach the season’s biggest game next week against the Twins. I am not giving up on the AL East until the numbers say it’s over, but at this point, it does seem improbable. This is a much better team than the one that lost the 2015 Wild Card game to Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros.
Odds & Ends…
MLB Owners officially approved the sale of the Miami Marlins to the investment group headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The sale is expected to close within the next few days. I was never a big Jeter fan so I guess I am a little indifferent to the end of his direct association with the Yankees. I am sure that the true Jeter lovers are having a more difficult time but realistically, the Yankees won’t see the Marlins very often. If they meet in the World Series, great! Otherwise, it’ll just be a few games every few years in interleague play. I am not going to lose any sleep about Jeter. He was a great Yankee and he is immortalized in Monument Park. But he’s a Marlin now. I don’t wish him any more luck than I’d wish Brian Sabean in San Francisco or Billy Eppler in Anaheim. They are simply other teams and…they are not the Yankees.
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My favorite Core Four player was Mariano Rivera. No disrespect for Jeter and what he did for the Yankees. But now, he’s just another guy trying to beat the Yankees.
I hate the one-game ‘do or die’ Wild Card format. I prefer at least a three game series that MLB could squeeze in without pushing the World Series to November. I still think the best team may or may not win a three-game series but it’s a thousand times better than the single game elimination. I take this position regardless of whether or not the Yankees win the Wild Card game.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s say goodbye to the Rays in good fashion…with a win! Go Yankees!
I don’t know, the Minnesota Twins might want to consider forfeiting the Wild Card game. Seriously, the Yankees seem to have the Twins number as evidenced by the sweep of the most recent three-game series. I only hope that it continues into October assuming the Twins are successful in holding off the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card spot.
For the first two innings, the game appeared to be a pitching duel between Yankees ace Luis Severino and the ancient Bartolo Colon. A few isolated hits but no serious threats. Then, in the top of the 3rd inning, the Twins came out charging. Kennys Vargas singled on a soft bouncer to short that Didi Gregorius tried to barehand..unsuccessfully…with one out. Jason Castro followed with a single, a line drive to right. Runners at the corners. Brian Dozier drew a walk and the bases were full. Joe Mauer, battling Sevy for 13 pitches, singled to right, scoring Vargas. After a trip to the mound by Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (which never seems to work), Jorge Polanco lashed a single to right just past a running Greg Bird who nearly had the ball, Castro and Dozier scored. The Twins were up, 3-0. Severino evaded further trouble by retiring the next two batters.
All I could think was, “We’re going to let Bartolo Colon beat us? Really?”. Fortunately, the Yankees heard me. Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double to the right field wall, sliding into second just under the outfield throw. After Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Judge hammered a Colon pitch over the wall in right for a two-run home run. It was Judge’s 45th of the year and his 100th RBI. Amazing. This was a guy who was almost beat out of a job by Aaron Hicks in Spring Training.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Gary Sanchez was up next and he delivered his 32nd home run with a shot to center in Monument Park. Drop the accolades for Judge and pick them up for Sanchez. 32 homers…the most ever for a Yankees catcher despite missing nearly a month of the season. More homers than Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada accomplished in one season. Incredible. The game was tied.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Luis Severino did not return for the 4th inning. 3 innings worked, 5 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 3 K’s on 71 pitches. He needed 46 pitches for the 3rd inning alone. A no decision that pushed his season ERA back over three (3.03).
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis-The NY Post
Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Given Shreve’s recent performances, I was feeling a little shell-shocked. But he retired the first batter he faced, Max Kepler, on a swinging strikeout. Eduardo Escobar followed by flying out to left on a ball that took Brett Gardner to the warning track. Whew! So far, so good. Then, he walked Kennys Vargas. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Get that bum out of there! Nobody listened to me, so Shreve was able to pitch to the next batter, Jason Castro, who grounded out to second for the final out. Okay, Shreve, that wasn’t bad. I feel better now…
The bottom of the 4th arrived and, man, so did the rejuvenated September 2017 Yankees. Well, Matt Holliday excluded. He started the inning with a pop out to first in foul territory. Jacoby Ellsbury, playing like a man who is worth $153 million, tripled to left (actually, it probably should have been an error on left fielder Eddie Rosario who didn’t take a good route to the ball and it bounced out of his glove). Todd Frazier walked. Greg Bird doubled to the right field corner with Ellsbury scoring on the play and the Toddfather moving to third. The Yankees had their first lead of the game. Paul Molitor decided to make a pitching change and brought in Tyler Duffey to replace Colon. I was worried that our little rally was going to be short-fused. Silly me. Brett Gardner lined a single to center which scored Frazier. Bird moved to third. Aaron Judge struck out to briefly bring the return of my pessimism, but Gary Sanchez lightened my mood with a single to right, scoring Bird. Didi Gregorius was up next and he crushed a three-run homer to the second deck in right. It was Didi’s 25th home run of the year, giving him the most for a Yankees shortstop in franchise history. After the hit, Didi turned around and apologized to Jason Castro for dropping the bat in front of him. Class act by a very classy guy.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
The Yankees had scored 6 runs and now led 9-3. Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning but I was okay with that.
Chasen Shreve did his job in the top of the 5th with no complaints or inner dialogue from me. In the bottom of the 5th, former Yankees farmhand Nik Turley took over for Tyler Duffey. Matt Holliday, deciding he wanted to join the party, started the Yankees half of the inning with a single to center. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk on four pitches. After a game delay when Todd Frazier hit a young fan with a foul ball, he flied out to center but Holliday tagged and moved to third. With Greg Bird at bat, Turley unleashed a wild pitch that got away from Jason Castro and Holliday came in to score. Ellsbury moved to second. Bird then singled on a grounder to first that the first baseman momentarily lost after stopping the ball to put runners at the corners. It was another hit that probably should have been ruled an error. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch in the back and the bases were loaded. That would be all for Turley and he was replaced by Michael Tonklin. Aaron Judge hit a fly to right, scoring Ellsbury. The Yankees were now up, 11-3. Gary Sanchez singled to left to reload the bases, but Didi Gregorius struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.
Shreve returned with another solid inning in the 6th to help restore some of my confidence in the young Las Vegan left-hander. By the bottom of the 7th, both teams began making multiple substitutions. The Yanks rode the arms of Ben Heller and Domingo German to the finish. Nice job by both but special mention for German. He pitched two scoreless innings with no hits and a meaningless walk in the 9th. He struck out a total of four Twins including Kennys Vargas to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (85-67) increased their lead in the Wild Card standings to seven games over the Twins with 10 games to play. The Twins retained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-5. The Boston Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles with a 9-0 win on Wednesday, so they remain three games in front of the Yankees. The win clinched a post-season berth for the Red Sox.
Chasen Shreve (4-1), by virtue of Severino’s early departure, got the win. Three Yankees had three hits (Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird) and two had three RBI’s (Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius). Sanchez had two ribbies. Judge now has 101 RBIs, becoming the fourth Yankees rookie to reach the 100 RBI mark, joining Tony Lazzeri (1926), Joe DiMaggio (1936), and Hideki Matsui (2003). Judge also became the third rookie in MLB history and eighth player in Yankees history with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks. This was yet another great team victory. Thumbs down, Everyone!
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…
The Yankees enjoy their final day off of the regular season today (barring any rainouts) before embarking on their last road trip with a quick three-game set north of the border starting Friday night. The Blue Jays, picked by many to finish as high as second in the AL East prior to the season, have successfully held off the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, for rights to the AL East Cellar although they’ll need to keep losing to fend off the O’s.
It may be a down year for the Blue Jays but they always seem to play the Yankees very tough. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)
Blue Jays: Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01 ERA)
Marco Estrada, who had been due to become a free agent after the season, signed a one-year contract extension for $13 million this week. So, he’ll be a happy man on Friday night.
I really hope that the Yankees find the perfect combination of excellent pitching from Sonny Gray and run support on Sunday.
Odds & Ends…
The downside to Wednesday’s victory was the injury of a young girl who was hit by the foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the 5th inning. The girl, a toddler, was attending the game with her grandparents. She was apparently struck in the mouth.
After the game, the Yankees released a short statement: “The child who was struck with a batted ball today was given first aid at the ballpark and is receiving medical attention at an area hospital. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, prevents the team from giving more information. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Our prayers and well wishes to the young girl for a full and speedy recovery.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Credit: Abbie Parr-Getty Images
Joe Girardi said after the game that the little girl was “doing OK”. This was a wake up call for the Yankees organization to extend the netting to protect fans.
I do feel bad for the Twins fans. Many of them are fans of the Minnesota Vikings like me. The Vikings took one on the chin last Sunday when they were steamrolled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-9, behind backup QB Case Keenum. So it has not been a great week for sports fans in and around Minneapolis/St Paul, MN. But I certainly do not feel bad enough that I wanted the Twins to escape with a victory. How sweep it is!
Have a great Thursday! It’s a day off…let’s enjoy! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
Yankees 9, Orioles 3…
Jordan Montgomery turned in one of his best performances of the season with six shutout innings to lead the Yankees over Buck Showalter’s Orioles. He was backed by three home runs in the third game of the four-game series with the O’s. Chasen Shreve was unable to get three outs in the ninth, but the Yankees emerged with their third consecutive victory over the Orioles.
The Orioles started a fly ball pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, which is probably not the best of ideas at Yankee Stadium. To his credit, he held the Yankees at bay for 2 2/3 innings. But then, with two outs in the 3rd inning, he walked both Chase Headley and Aaron Judge. Didi Gregorius made him pay for it with a three-run homer to the right field porch.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-Associated Press|
While Jordan Montgomery was cruising, the Yankees struck again in the 4th inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started when he ripped a double to the right field wall. After Todd Frazier walked, Greg Bird hit a home run into the second deck in right (“See ya!”) to make it a 6-0 game. It was the second consecutive game with a homer for Bird. Buck Showalter decided he’d seen enough of Hellickson and brought in Chris Tillman who got the O’s out of the inning.
The Yankees added a run in the 5th inning. Didi Gregorius reached base on a one-out single to second that was deflected by Tillman. Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch on his right knee (Ouch!) which moved Gregorius into scoring position at second. Jacoby Ellsbury’s single, through the fielders at third and shortstop into left field, brought Gregorius home and it was 7-0 Yankees.
Tommy Kahnle took over for Jordan Montgomery in the top of the 7th inning. It started well when Kahnle struck out the first two batters, but then JJ Hardy reached base on an infield single to third, a soft roller. A wild pitch that got past Austin Romine moved Hardy to second. Kahnle had Austin Hays down to two strikes (2-2 count) but lost him with two successive balls to put runners at first and second. Fortunately, Kahnle struck out Joey Rickard to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees added to their lead. Donnie Hart took over Chris Tillman on the mound. Didi Gregorius hit an infield single to third, beating the throw to first, to lead off the inning for the Yanks. Then, with two outs, Todd Frazier homered on a high fly to center, just to the left of Monument Park. The Yankees had a commanding 9-0 lead.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
From there, it was up to the second tier bullpen. Ben Heller replaced Kahnle for the eighth. I was a bit concerned when he walked the first two batters, but then he settled down and retired the next three batters. Chasen Shreve took over in the 9th and was dreadful. JJ Hardy took a one-out walk and Austin Hays followed with a homer to right in front of the Modell’s sign to spoil the shutout. Shreve struck out Joey Rickard but then proceeded to walk the next three batters to load the bases. Joe Girardi finally made the move to replace Shreve and brought in Giovanny Gallegos. With Anthony Santander batting, Gallegos balked which brought Tim Beckham home from third to score. I can’t say that I saw the balk but Joe Girardi didn’t argue the call. Aroldis Chapman was up in the bullpen but Gallegos was able to end the game when he struck out Santander. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (82-66) won their fourth consecutive game but remain three games behind the Red Sox. Boston beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, as both the O’s and Rays fade to oblivion. The Minnesota Twins lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, so the Yankees’ lead in the Wild Card Standings has increased to five games. They remain six games up on the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.
Excellent job by Jordan Montgomery (8-7) in picking up his first win since July. Pitching six scoreless innings, he only allowed 4 scattered hits and 1 walk while striking out six.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
What can you say about Didi Gregorius? He’s been incredible and continued his dominance with a 3-for-4 day, scoring three runs and driving in 3 RBI’s. At the beginning of the season, I would have laughed at the thought of Didi batting in the cleanup position. I am not laughing anymore. He needs one more home run to match Derek Jeter for most HR’s in a season by a Yankees shortstop. Jacoby Ellsbury, continuing his resurgence as a force in the lineup, also had a 3-for-4 day, with one run scored and an RBI. Greg Bird, the Toddfather…it was yet another great team win.
With yesterday’s win, the Yankees assured themselves of their 25th consecutive winning season. It is the longest streak in Yankees history since the Yankees won for 39 consecutive seasons between 1926 and 1964.
The series finale is set for this afternoon at 1:05 pm. The Yankees have made a pitching change for the game. Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA) gets the start while the originally scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, has been moved to Tuesday to pitch against the Minnesota Twins. Jaime Garcia gets the start on Monday versus his former team of six days in July. The moves allow CC to avoid the series in Toronto and the artificial turf of Rogers Centre. The Yanks also avoid sending Luis Severino out to face the Twins, their likely Wild Card opponent if the current standing remain unchanged. Gray will be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA).
Odds & Ends…
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees recalled 3B Miguel Andujar and RHP Jonathan Holder from Triple A. Andujar made it into the game as a pinch-hitter but he grounded out in the 8th inning. The Yankees also placed LHP Caleb Smith on the 10-day DL with a viral infection.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s make it a sweeping success. Go Yankees!
Rangers 11, Yankees 5…
It felt like the Battle of Little Bighorn but unfortunately the Yankees were Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry Regiment. I had hoped the momentum from Thursday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles would carry over to Friday night in Texas. Yeah, right. The Yankees were unable to hold a lead against the Rangers and then were overwhelmed in defeat.
The game started right when the Yankees broke through with multiple runs in the top of the 2nd inning. It can be argued that they should have scored more runs in the inning but still, you’d think a 4-0 lead with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound represented good odds.
|Credit: Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press|
The inning started with Matt Holliday’s single up the middle to center field. Didi Gregorius reached base on a fielder’s choice but a throwing error (flip wide of second) by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor failed to force Holliday at second so two runners on and no outs. Chase Headley lined a single to right and the bases were loaded. Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right just over the head of a leaping Odor and Holliday scored the game’s first run. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch (left front foot) from Rangers starter Martin Perez which brought Gregorius home to score. After a coaching visit to the mound, Perez struck out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Gary Sanchez, in his first game back after the three-game suspension, hit a single to left through the hole at short. Headley and Ellsbury both came home to score, but Todd Frazier was tagged out at third to end the inning. 4-0, Yankees.
|Credit: Associated Press|
In the bottom of the 2nd, Masahiro Tanaka fell behind lead-off hitter Nomar Mazara on a 3-1 count. Mazara found the pitch he wanted and sent it high into the second deck in right. Tanaka was able to retire the next three hitters, the last two by strikeout.
On to the 3rd. Starlin Castro reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Joey Gallo when the ball glanced off his glove into left field. Matt Holliday hit into a double play which was unfortunate because Didi Gregorius followed with his 21st home run (a high fly to right). The solo home run is a new career high for Didi. The Yankees were up, 5-1.
From there, the Rangers started to chip away. In the bottom of the 3rd, Robinson Chirinos hit a one-out single to center past a diving Didi Gregorius. Delino DeShields doubled down the left field line into the corner, scoring Chirinos. After Shin-Soo Choo lined out to center for the second out, with DeShields moving to third, Elvis Andrus doubled down the left field line, a high hop over Todd Frazier’s glove, to score DeShields. A wild pitch advanced Andrus to third, but Tanaka was able to strike out Nomar Mazara to end the inning. Yankees still led, 5-3.
The Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 4th inning but Starlin Castro popped out to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right to waste a huge opportunity.
After the Yankees went down quietly in the top of the 5th, the Rangers struck hard. Rougned Odor got it started with a single to right. Robinson Chirinos doubled down the left line, scoring Odor from first. It was a one-run game. Delino DeShields singled to left, moving Chirinos to third. With Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, a wild pitch by Masahiro Tanaka (low pitch that got under El Gary’s glove) freed Chirinos to come home and score the tying run. Choo doubled to left on a high fly that Brett Gardner almost caught but he “heard” the wall. DeShields moved to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough of Tanaka and made the switch to bring in Tommy Kahnle. Elvis Andrus greeted Kahnle with a single to right, scoring both DeShields and Chirinos. Starlin Castro tried diving for the ball but came up just short. The Rangers had taken a 7-5 lead. Kahnle induced Nomar Mazara to hit into a double play, but a single to center by Carlos Gomez ended his latest appearance. Chasen Shreve came in and struck out Joey Gallo to finally end the painful inning.
While the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Martin Perez and the Texas bullpen, the Rangers struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the game away. It was the kill shot to Custer’s head. With Caleb Smith taking over for Shreve, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left. While Elvis Andrus was batting, Smith threw a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt past Gary Sanchez and Choo advanced to second. Andrus subsequently walked. Nomar Mazara’s hard single to the right field wall loaded the bases, bringing an end to Smith’s stay. Ben Heller entered the game in relief of Smith and the Rangers inserted pinch-runner Jared Hoying at first for Mazara. Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Choo. With Joey Gallo batting, Heller threw the second wild pitch of the inning (smh) and Andrus moved to third, beating the throw from Gary Sanchez. Gallo’s single to right scored Andrus. Hoying moved to second. Heller got the second out of the inning when he struck out Mike Napoli. However, Rougned Odor’s bases-clearing triple to right increased the Rangers’ lead to 11-5. Heller’s subsequent walk of Robinson Chirinos ended his unsuccessful appearance. Bryan Mitchell came in to finally end the inning, but the bloody massacre had been completed.
The Yankees went down meekly from there, including three strikeouts in the top of the 9th, sending the Rangers into celebration on the field.
|Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports|
This was a very ugly loss. It had started to feel that Masahiro Tanaka was back on track after his struggles earlier in the season but this game reopened doubts. It was the kind of game that makes one hope that Tanaka opts out of his contract at the end of the year. But of course the bullpen did him no favors, nor did the team’s hitters. Michael Kay made a good observation about why Joe Girardi would go with second tier relievers when the game was still tight. I wondered the same thing when they brought in Caleb Smith who was followed by Ben Heller when Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson were rested and ready in the pen.
Sadly, the Boston Red Sox throttled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games. The Yankees (75-65) maintained their 4 1/2 game edge over the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s were the latest victim of the Cleveland Indian’s winning streak which now stands at 16 games (MLB’s longest streak since 2002). The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5, to move within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.
Odds & Ends…
As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees’ series with the Tampa Bay Rays this week (Monday through Wednesday) will be played at Citi Field in Queens instead of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL. There had been speculation that the games would be played in Chicago but it makes sense to use the Mets’ turf since the Rays are currently in Boston and most of he players are traveling with their families due to the impending storm in Florida. Lucas Duda at home in Citi Field…has a certain ring of deja vu to it.
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
Austin Romine’s original two-game suspension for the Motor City Brawl has been reduced to one game (last night). I am glad the suspensions are behind us. Erik Kratz, thanks for riding the bench and please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders evened their play-off series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at one with a 4-2 victory last night. Chance Adams was the winner. He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He walked too many (four) but struck out five. The hitting stars were Miguel Andujar (3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI) and Mason Williams (2-for-4 with three runs scored). Game 3 is tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Brady Lail (6-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for the RailRiders.
The Double A Trenton Thunder pulled off a rare feat when Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener combined for a no-hitter to beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Game 3 of their play-off series. The Thunder lead the Eastern Division Championship Series, 2 games to 1.
Have a great Saturday! I’m hoping y’all get a win down deepinaharta Texas! Go Yankees!
Yankees 9, Red Sox 2…
The most critical play of the game might have been when the Yankees challenged the call in the bottom of the 6th. The bases were loaded and two outs for Gary Sanchez. He hit a hard smash to third. Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers dove to stop the ball and got up, throwing the ball to first. The ref signaled out and it appeared the inning was over. But hold on, the Yankees challenged the play and replay showed that Sanchez had reached first just ahead of the ball. The call was overturned and the inning continued. Six runs later and the Yankees had placed a dagger in Boston’s heart.
The Yankees had runners at third in the first two innings but nothing to show for it. Luis Severino was dominating the Red Sox but the Yankees were getting their chances against Boston starter Chris Sale. Finally, to open the bottom of the 3rd, Chase Headley sent a Sale pitch into the left field stands (just over the wall).
In the bottom of the 4th, the long ball continued to be the only weapon. Matt Holliday, after battling off a few pitches, blasted a solo shot to the deepest part of the park in center and was followed by Todd Frazier’s homer to left (a few rows back). The Yankees had taken a 3-0 lead.
When Chris Sale was pulled with one out and runner at first in the top of the 5th inning, he was laboring and had thrown 109 pitches. It’s amazing that as dominant as Sale has been this year against the Yankees, he failed to win a game in four tries.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-Getty Images|
The Sox finally got on the board in the top of the 6th. Eduardo Nunez made it to first with one out when Todd Frazier failed to handle a grounder to third and the ball rolled into left field. Following the second out by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts hit a grounder to third but Frazier’s low throw bounced past first baseman Chase Headley. Frazier’s second error of the inning. The runners moved up to second and third. Nunez came home to score when a low Sevy pitch got past Gary Sanchez to the backstop. 3-1, Yankees. Boston was unable to bring Betts home from third when Mitch Moreland struck out swinging. It would be Luis Severino’s final pitch but what a game for the young right-hander! Two hits, one run (but none earned), no walks and nine strikeouts. Chris Sale may very well win the AL Cy Young Award (I know, Corey Kluber will have something to say about that) but on this day, Luis Severino was better.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
With Boston’s Joe Kelly on the mound, Matt Holliday opened the bottom of the 6th by working a walk. Kelly struck out Todd Frazier and was replaced by Robby Scott. Jacoby Ellsbury greeted Scott with a single lined to right. Brett Gardner walked and the bases were full of Yanks. The Sox made another pitching move and brought in former New York Met Addison Reed. Reed struck out Chase Headley for the second out. Gary Sanchez was next. During the at-bat, Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis was barking about balls and strikes from the Boston dugout when he felt several calls were missed. He got an early departure from the game for his troubles. Sanchez hit the ball to third and it appeared that he was out at first for the final out. The play was incredibly close but I was uncertain. While Yankee players were signaling safe in the dugout, the Yankees challenged the play and the call was overturned when it showed El Gary’s foot touching first base just ahead of the throw. The safe call validated Holliday’s run. It was 4-1 Yankees.
Starlin Castro kept the inning going with a hard liner to right. The ball went to the wall for a double and all three baserunners scored. Minutes earlier, the game had been a tight pitching duel and now the Yankees had a six-run lead. It brought Aaron Judge to the plate. Boom! No doubt about it as the ball sailed 469 feet into the left field seats at an exit velocity of 115.1 mph.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
From there, it was about riding the bullpen to victory. Despite the eight-run lead, it was a slightly bumpy ride. Tommy Kahnle was first. He pitched the top of the 7th in relief of Severino after Manager Joe Girardi decided against bringing Sevy back out after the long bottom of the 6th. Kahnle looked rusty as he walked the first batter, Dustin Pedroia. Deven Marrero was brought in to pinch-run for Pedroia. Rafael Devers singled to left which moved Marrero to second and no outs. Fortunately, Kahnle struck out the next two batters and got the final out when Jackie Bradley, Jr popped out to third in foul territory.
Chasen Shreve took over in the 8th. Given his recent struggles, I felt far from secure. But he proved me wrong by retiring the three batters he faced (two by strikeout). For the 9th, Girardi brought in Giovanny Gallegos. I know that the Yankees had a big lead, but I probably would have gone with Aroldis Chapman for no other reason than to get him some work. Oh well, they pay Girardi to make the decisions. Sam Travis was up first and he singled to left, just past Todd Frazier at third. A wild pitch (high throw from Gallegos) moved Travis to second. Gallegos was looking a bit like a rookie but then he struck out Deven Marrero. A groundout by Rafael Devers moved Travis to third. Blake Swihart came in, pinch-hitting for Hanley Ramirez, and drew a walk. Sandy Leon’s single to left scored Travis. Swihart moved to second. Gallegos, with Aroldis Chapman warming up, finally got Jackie Bradley, Jr to swing at the third strike to end the game. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees (73-63) moved to within 3 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the win in the final head-to-head match-up between the two teams. The Yankees took the season series, 11 games to 8. This was a huge series. If the results had been in reverse, the Yankees could have potentially been looking up in the Wild Card Standings and holding a distant view of the top of the AL East. Instead, they are still within striking distance for the division crown and continue to hold the edge in the Wild Card. The Yankees maintained their 3 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s fought back against the Toronto Blue Jays to win 5-4 in 12 innings. The Minnesota Twins lost (5-4 to the Kansas City Royals) so the Yankees increased their Wild Card lead to two games.
Luis Severino (12-6) was outstanding. The guy welcomes the challenge of continually facing the top aces in the game. Sevy became the youngest Yankees pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season by age 23 since Al Downing did it back in 1964 with 217 strikeouts.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-Getty Images|
It was good to see Aaron Judge hit his 38th home run. Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers had hit his 36th earlier in the day. The rookies might not reach Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49 (set in 1987) but they’re certainly giving it a try.
Credit to Gary Sanchez for his effort to get to first base in the 6th inning. I was listening to sports announcers earlier in the day who were complaining about Robinson Cano’s “60% effort”, at times, when running to first base. Sanchez showed that hustle can make a difference.
Next Up: Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland…
After playing a Sunday night game in New York, the Yankees turn right around and play an afternoon game in Baltimore. It probably feels like a night-day double-header. No rest for the wicked…or in this case, no rest for the good guys.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (13-8, 3.94 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA)
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.85 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (8-9, 3.36 ERA)
Orioles: Jeremy Hellickson (2-3, 6.55 ERA)
I was glad to see the Yankees replace Jaime Garcia with Jordan Montgomery. Not that Monty pitched much better than Garcia last time out (the actual line was worse) but I trust Monty more with the chips on the line. Hopefully the Yankees can take this series to hold off the recent charge by the Orioles.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have placed OF Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain. After missing time earlier this summer with a right oblique strain, maybe Hicks should invest in a new personal trainer. Hopefully this is not the end for Hicks’ 2017 season. LHP Caleb Smith was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take A-A-Ron’s roster spot.
Have a great Monday! It’s Labor Day but let’s hope it is not too much labor to carve out the O’s. Go Yankees!
Indians 6, Yankees 2…
In a potential play-off barometer, the Yankees showed they are not quite ready to compete with the big boys. The Tribe used four home runs to turn back the Yankees on Monday night.
This was destined to be a low scoring game for the Yankees with AL Cy Young contender Corey Kluber on the mound. The hope was that Luis Severino would be able to make him pitch-for-pitch. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The top six hitters in the Yankees lineup went combined 0-for-22 with seven strikeouts and Aaron Judge wasn’t even in the lineup.
After Luis Severino cruised through the game’s first two hitters, Jose Ramirez took him deep to right center for a quick 1-0 lead. Sevy had tried to challenge Ramirez on a full count and lost.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 3rd when Chase Headley led off with a homer to right. “There it goes…see ya!” (courtesy of Michael Kay).
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Gary Sanchez showed off his powerful arm in the top of the 4th. After Jose Ramirez walked and stole second. A subsequent Sevy pitch got away from Sanchez. Ramirez broke for third. Sanchez grabbed the ball and fired it to third. Todd Frazier cleanly applied the tag as the runner was sliding into the base for the out. Sevy walked the next two batters before striking out Carlos Santana to end in the inning, but if Sanchez hadn’t made that play on Ramirez, it could have been much worse.
Todd Frazier put the Yankees ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the 5th. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left with two outs, a high fly which bounced on the warning track to the wall. Frazier’s single past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor into left field scored Ellsbury. Frazier took second on the throw but he was left stranded when Brett Gardner struck out.
In the top of the 6th, Jose Ramirez clubbed his second home run of the night off Severino, a solo shot deep into the second deck in right field. The game was tied again.
The Indians got the separation they needed in the 7th inning. With one out, Carlos Santana took Sevy deep to the second deck in right to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
The next batter, Bradley Zimmer, singled to center. Sevy struck out Yan Gomes for the second out, but that would be all for the Yankees’ ace. Joe Girardi made the call to the bullpen and brought in Adam Warren. With Giovanny Urshela at the plate, Zimmer stole second and got up and raced to third when Starlin Castro failed to catch the throw from Gary Sanchez for an error. A wild pitch by Warren got past Sanchez and allowed Zimmer to run home for the Tribe’s fourth run. Urshela ended up grounding out after watching The Zimmer Show on the bases.
Meanwhile, the Yankees couldn’t muster anything against the dominant Corey Kluber.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
In the top of the 8th, the Indians added to their lead when Austin Jackson belted a solo homer to left. The Yankees challenged the call when replay showed the ball hit the hands of a fan in the first row and bounced back onto the field but the HR decision was upheld. 5-2, Indians.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
Chasen Shreve replaced Warren in the top of the 9th. Like Warren, Shreve has looked very hittable in his last few outings and the trend continued. After striking out Jay Bruce, Shreve walked Carlos Santana. Big mistake. Bradley Zimmer hit a liner to the center field wall for a double to score Santana. Zimmer later reached third on a wild pitch but he was unable to score this time. The Indians didn’t need the run with the four-run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th.
Indians closer Cody Allen came on in relief of Corey Kluber and set the Yankees down in order, striking out Starlin Castro to end the game.
The Yankees (70-60) lost ground in the AL East with the loss. The Boston Red Sox held off the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-5, so the Yankees are now 3 1/2 games out of first. The Baltimore Orioles won their fifth consecutive game, 7-6 over the Seattle Mariners, to move within 4 1/2 games of the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays, 12-0 victors over the Kansas City Royals, are 5 1/2 games behind New York. The Minnesota Twins had the night off so they were able to shave a half-game off the Wild Card Standings and trail the Yankees by 3 games.
I can’t say that I am very excited about the prospect of pitching Jaime Garcia tonight against Cleveland in a must-win situation. No, it’s not the end of the world if the Yankees lose but I’d feel so much better about the team’s chances if Jordan Montgomery was the starter (despite the innings cap). I hope I’m wrong and that Garcia delivers his best performance in Pinstripes.
Severino (11-6) looked very strong early, but the three home runs were too much for him. He finished with 6 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and four runs (three earned) with 108 pitches thrown. He walked three and struck out nine. With Corey Kluber holding the Yankees to three hits and two runs over eight innings, Sevy didn’t have a chance.
Odds & Ends…
Manager Joe Girardi has announced that right fielder Aaron Judge will take a seat for several games in an attempt to help the young slugger break out of his slump. It always makes me think of Mark Grace’s infamous slumpbuster quote about finding the most hideous looking member of the opposite sex and taking one for the team. Hopefully Judge doesn’t have to go to those extremes to find his first half swing.
|Credit: Phil Long-Associated Press|
Another candidate for the “have a seat” approach is Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees need an effective Chapman in September. If that means some time away from the team to clear his head, so be it. I think Chapman’s problems are more mental than physical. He did have a MRI on Sunday but the results came back clear. I want to see him reclaim his closer’s job so whatever it takes to get him back to elite status.
Have a great Tuesday! It’s a wonderful day for a win! Go Yankees!