|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports|
Losing to Boston is ALWAYS unacceptable…
It was just a meaningless Spring game but I hate, really despise, losing to the Boston Red Sox. The game proves nothing regarding the American League East or the nineteen games the two teams will play in the regular season. Yet, I do not enjoy watching the Red Sox walking off the field in celebration under any circumstances. TGP’s Daniel Burch, who has been in fine prediction mode lately, feels that the Yankees will win the AL East by four games over the Red Sox. I hope he’s right. I would love nothing better than the Red Sox Nation in full anxiety and dread at the end of the season despite their flashy new toy (J.D. Martinez).
On Friday, the Red Sux (oops, sorry for the typo) blanked the Yankees, 5-0, behind starter Brian Johnson. Johnson, 27, a lefty, pitched 4 2/3 innings and held the Yankees, which featured Aaron Judge batting leadoff for the “Stripers” (Boone’s word, not mine), to only two hits while striking out five. After the game, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced that Johnson had made the Opening Day Roster and will be in the starting rotation. Johnson has been solid all Spring (and is out of options) but beating the Yankees convincingly certainly helps one’s case.
The scare of the game occurred when Johnson hit Brandon Drury with a pitch in the fifth inning. The ball came in high and inside, striking the Yankees third baseman above the left elbow. He seemed to shake it off and took first base. But after Neil Walker ripped a ground rule double to left, moving Drury to third, he departed the game for a pinch runner after realizing the arm was swelling. Test results after the game proved negative so hopefully Drury will be back within a few days and will not miss Opening Day.
|Photo Credit: The New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Later in the day, Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants showed how quickly you can lose one of your star players. MadBum took a liner off the hand which broke the fifth metacarpal of his pitching hand and will miss 4-6 weeks. It reinforced how lucky the Yankees were in not losing Drury for an extended period. No time frame for Drury was given but for now he’s day-to-day. This morning, Drury said that he is feeling better but will take a rest day. His plan, assuming all goes well, is to resume baseball activities tomorrow. His intent is to be ready for Opening Day.
The Yankees play split squad games today against the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves and the scheduled third base starters are Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade, respectively. Drury had been scheduled for the Blue Jays game but the Yankees pulled Andujar out of Minor League camp to make the start.
The Yankees continued reducing the roster yesterday in the ‘March to 25’. Luis Cessa, who has certainly lost my support (as if that matters to Aaron Boone), was optioned to Triple A and left-handed reliever Wade LeBlanc was provided his release. With the elimination of competition for a bullpen role, Chasen Shreve responded by giving up a two-run homer yesterday to Boston’s Sam Travis and allowed three total runs while on the mound for one inning of work even if one of those runs was charged to Tanaka. Shreve’s fault; not Tanaka which proves the fallacy of ERA. Hopefully Shreve rises to the occasion for the regular season and matches the performance of his stellar bullpen mates and doesn’t become the pitching staff’s weakest link. LeBlanc wasn’t unemployed for long as he was picked up by the Seattle Mariners today, signing a Major League contract. The M’s lost former Yankee David Phelps earlier this week when it was announced that he’d need Tommy John surgery.
In the latest roster move, the Yankees optioned Domingo German to Triple A which probably means RHP Jonathan Holder has made the Opening Day roster as the 13th man. I hope so. I am pulling for Holder to emerge as a key weapon in the pen. With David Robertson due to hit to free agent market after the season (which I absolutely hate to see), young guys like Holder will need to step up. D-Rob presents a dilemma. Do you trade him at the deadline or do you let him walk away at the end of the year for nothing? If the Yankees are in the heart of a pennant race (which we expect them to be), D-Rob is critical for mission success in October. But conversely, he could bring in quality prospects as a rental for another contending team in need of relief help in July. If other young arms like Holder prove that they can be this year’s Chad Green, Robertson might be expendable (which tortures me to write). I do not envy GM Brian Cashman for the decisions ahead.
Congratulations to Miguel Andujar! An-DU-jar received the James P Dawson award for the best rookie in camp this year. When the calendar flips to October this season, there’s no doubt that the 2018 Yankees will have been powered, in part, by the young Andujar. In other words, I fully expect him to make a significant contribution for the team this year even if he doesn’t get to travel to Toronto next week for the start of the regular season.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
There are some ex-Yankees that I continue to pull for and RHP Bryan Mitchell is no exception. However, it was very painful to watch last night’s exhibition game between the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. Joey Gallo hammered two home runs off Mitchell, who gave up seven runs over four innings. Mitchell was saved from the loss when the Padres erased the seven-run deficit by scoring nine runs. Not pretty for the former Yankee but he is still expected to be part of the starting rotation for the Padres this year. Hopefully the regular season will be much kinder to him. It was weird watching Chase Headley in Padres gear (and sporting a beard like Mitchell) with his familiar batting swing but there’s no doubt I prefer Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar at third for the Yankees. Sorry Chase, I appreciate your contributions to Pinstripes but I am glad you are in the land of Sunny and 74 degrees.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images North America (Patrick Smith)|
After today, the Yankees have only two Spring games left. Today’s split-squad game against the Blue Jays represents the final game at Steinbrenner Field. Tomorrow, the Yankees travel to Port Charlotte to face the Tampa Bay Rays. On Monday, they go to Atlanta to face the Braves at SunTrust Park and the Spring schedule will be done. The roster of 25 will make their way to Ontario for Thursday afternoon’s opener against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The road to the World Series begins now. We got this.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)|
Jim Leyritz is reporting it so it must be true…
The cold Gerrit Cole rumors began reheating last night. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, “Yankees, Pirates renewing Gerrit Cole discussions according to source”. I am not sure how or why Jim Leyritz is always ‘in the know’ (he was among the first to report the Yankees had consummated the trade for Giancarlo Stanton), but he posted the following tweet earlier this morning: “Feinsand is right on. Cole deal had been agreed on in principle at winter meetings. Just a matter of pieces. Cole side wants to get this done before New Year. Happy New Year Yankees Fans.”
|Credit: Julie Jacobson, AP|
So, regardless of whether you like this deal or not, it sounds like Gerrit Cole will soon be joining the New York Yankees. In other words, Chasen Shreve, it’s time to think about a new number.
The Cole rumors are the polar opposite of the fan reaction leading up to last summer’s acquisition of Sonny Gray. I had injury concerns about Gray but most fans, including myself, were in support of the trade for Gray despite the high cost. I personally like the idea of adding Cole, who may arguably be only the fourth best starter in the Yankees rotation. I think he would be energized by playing in front of New York fans at Yankee Stadium and the rock star status the Yankees hold with road games. I know that Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is known as the Pitching Whisperer, but I’d really like to see what Larry Rothschild could do with Cole. The dude has premium stuff so Larry has much to work with. It’s not like we’d be bringing Jaime Garcia back to the Bronx. But many Yankees fans I know hate the idea of bringing Cole into the highly competitive AL East, particularly given his propensity to give up homers last season. Maybe it’s a big “if”, but if the Yankees could get Cole pitching closer to his ace potential, the Yankees starting pitching rotation would be one of the AL’s best.
Many fans are upset that we’ll potentially lose outfielder Clint Frazier and a top pitching prospect like Chance Adams. All things considered, I’d probably prefer to give up Adams over Justus Sheffield or Albert Abreu. But at the end of the day, I trust GM Brian Cashman and his team to make the right decisions. Cashman is rarely fleeced in a deal and I don’t think he’ll overpay in this situation. You keep hearing that the Pirates want Gleyber Torres but that’s not happening.
I don’t like Frazier-Adams for Cole alone. I think the Pirates would also need to include 2B/3B Josh Harrison for that high of a cost. Frazier-Adams for Cole-Harrison is a potential win/win for both sides in my opinion.
|Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images|
If anything, I am a little sick that Clint Frazier has been made a redundant player because of the presence of Jacoby Ellsbury on the Yankees roster. In an ideal world, the Yankees would clear out Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to open room for the younger guys. The Yankees apparently tried to engage the San Francisco Giants in trade talks for Ellsbury but the Giants prefer other outfield options. Given the spacious outfield at AT&T Park, I think either Ellsbury or Gardner would be a good fit for the Giants. Plus, the Giants train in Scottsdale, Arizona which is close to Ellsbury’s home (an enticement to get him to waive his no-trade clause). I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to ship out Ellsbury despite the cash and prospects that will need to be included. Ellsbury and his contract hurt the Yankees in so many ways.
The Cole Rumors continue to be the one that will not die. Last night’s flurry of reports after days of nothing seem to indicate something could happen soon. Either way, I’d like to see the Yankees pull the trigger or move on. And under no circumstances should they be forced to overpay. There are other strong options without having to hand our list of top ten prospects to another team.
If New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon is irate about the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, I wonder how he’ll feel if the Yankees upgrade their starting rotation too? Fred, it sucks to be you.
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.
|Credit: Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports|
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.
|Credit: Abbie Parr-Getty Images|
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.
|Credit: Abbie Parr-Getty Images|
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.
|Credit: Getty Images|
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!