Tagged: Chris Sale

A Gray-fully Pathetic Start…

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

Can I get the Men in Black Neuralyzer, please?…

Aargh! That’s one game that I’d just as soon forget. It looked like a mismatch on paper with Chris Sale versus Sonny Gray and sadly it was. The Yankees were hammered 11-0 and could only muster two hits against Sale and the Red Sox bullpen. No game highlights for this one. Maybe the mercy killing when Aaron Boone finally pulled Gray with one out in the third inning after 68 miserable pitches.

Of course this game was not all on Gray. Despite the seven hits and six runs he allowed, the bullpen was not up to the task  as they would let five more Red Sox runners cross home plate and the Yankees hitters could not buy a hit on Sale. When Giancarlo Stanton singled in the first inning, it was the first and only hit that Sale would give up. By the time he departed after seven innings, he had racked up eleven strikeouts. Gleyber Torres registered the second hit for the Yankees with a meaningless two-out single in the ninth against Sox reliever Hector Velasquez but the Yankees were unable to get any extra base hits on this night. By the time it was done, the Sox had accumulated 17 hits (or 15 more than the Yankees) and Chris Sale had the easy victory over the Yankees.

I hate games that are over before they really start and that’s what happened yesterday. A grand slam in the first inning by Rafael Devers gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead before the Yankees had taken an at-bat.

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

The Red Sox picked up a couple more runs in the second inning and the most positive of Yankees fans (which wouldn’t include me) were screaming that it was still early and lots of time to make up ground. Unfortunately, the Yankees were never in this one.  It’s best to forget the loss and look forward to today when a much more reliable starting pitcher takes the mound for the Yankees. Of course that could be any other pitcher in the Yankees starting rotation not named Sonny Gray but thankfully for us it will be Luis Severino as the Yankees attempt to take the series despite the pitiful loss on Saturday. My goal for this series was to take two of three and it’s still very possible.

I really think we need to come to the realization that Sonny Gray is not cut out for New York.  It happens. Not every pitcher is meant to play on Baseball’s biggest stage. I am sure that he can be a very good pitcher for a team in a more forgiving and less pressurized environment. He has all the makings of a future Pittsburgh Pirates starter, following in the footsteps of former Yankees A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova. Or send him back to Oakland. The A’s are third in the Wild Card standings and have three months to make up seven games on the Seattle Mariners. Maybe they’d like to get their former ace back for the stretch run. I keep waiting for Gray to have his Yankees moment but it never happens.

After the game, he was quoted as saying “I feel like we’re the best team in baseball four out of five days, and then I go out and do that.  It just sucks.” I guess even he acknowledges that Sonny Gray sucks.

I have seen a few suggestions that the Yankees should trade Gray-for-Gray. Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies is another pitcher who might benefit from a change in scenery. The Rockies optioned Gray to Triple A yesterday.  He is 7-7 with a 5.77 ERA for the season, but has ace-like stuff. In 108 innings this season, he has struck out 119 batters (fourth in the NL) and has only allowed 11 homers which is noteworthy considering he pitches in the hitter-friendly high altitude of Coors Field. The Yankees drafted Gray in the tenth round of the 2011 MLB Draft but he did not sign. Nonetheless, he’s a pitcher they’ve scouted and potentially one they could turn around. I’d gladly send Sonny Gray and a prospect to Colorado for Jon Gray.

I’ve been talking up Brandon Drury for weeks and in his return to the lineup, he goes 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. But it wasn’t just him. Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres also struck out three times. An O-fer night was prevalent among most of the hitters.

As if it wasn’t bad enough, the Yankees lost catcher Austin Romine after six innings when he tweaked his left hammy. MRI results came back negative, but it most likely means that Romine will be lost for a few games even if a trip to the disabled list is not in the cards. Kyle Higashioka, 0-for-21 in his MLB career, becomes the starter if Romine misses any time. If the Yankees have to bring up a catcher from the minor leagues, they’ll have to make room on the 40-man roster (with several guys on the 60-day DL, I believe the 40-man currently stands at 39). The most likely and the most expendable option appears to be 34-year-old Wilkin Castillo. Castillo hasn’t appeared in the Major Leagues since 2009 with the Cincinnati Reds. I liked some of the work that 27-year-old Jorge Saez did during Spring Training but he has missed time this year with injury and has only appeared in 15 games for Double-A Trenton, batting .224/.296/.245 (no homers, 3 RBI’s). Currently healthy, his last ribbie happened on April 21st so Saez does not appear to be ready for a promotion. The injuries at catcher certainly reveal the lack of depth at the position, at least in the upper levels of the farm system and why the Yankees went so heavy for catchers in the recent draft. I kind of wish the Yankees had held onto Erik Kratz, who was traded to Milwaukee in May.  Ronald Torreyes has been listed as an emergency catcher in the past. Okay, I wouldn’t trust Toe catching but his bat would certainly be more reliable than others. However, I believe that he is currently on a personal leave of absence at Triple A. Another catching option, Francisco Diaz, delivered a game-winning walk-off RBI single yesterday as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders took down the Pawtucket Red Sox in extra innings. Diaz, 28, is hitting .302/.417/.373, with a homer and 20 RBI’s in 41 games (mostly at the Single and Double A levels). Whichever catching option gets promoted will lose his 40-man roster spot when the need is over which makes it seem like Castillo is the best option.

Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)

The loss dropped the Yankees (53-27) a game behind the Red Sox (56-28) in the AL East, and two games ahead of the Mariners in the Wild Card standings.  The Yankees still have the second best winning percentage in MLB.  The third-place Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros, the team many call the best team in Baseball, and Justin Verlander to reach .500.

After the game, the Yankees optioned Giovanny Gallegos to Triple A. So, they have an open spot on the active roster. You’d think they would fill the position with a pitcher since they previously sacrificed a pitcher to promote Brandon Drury. So, if the Yankees do promote a catcher, it would seem that a position player (Drury?) will have to go the other way. Using a catcher to fill the spot vacated by Gallegos would leave the Yankees with only eleven pitchers which seems very unlikely. Sorry, Brandon, you look like the odd man out even if I’d rather see Neil Walker get DFA’d.

It’s a new day. Today is a good day. A great day for a Yankees win. We got this. Go Yankees!

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Now, That’s More Like It!…

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Julie Jacobson)

Yankees Win and Red Sox Lose…

For only the second time this season, the Yankees won on the same day the Red Sox lost. But, wow, yesterday the Yankees won big and the Red Sox lost in the worst way imaginable. I love it when that happens.

Jordan Montgomery had me worried in the top of the third inning when he loaded the bases with only one out and the score 0-0. With Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte due up next (two hitters that have been feasting on Yankees pitching), I was fearful of a big early lead for the Toronto Blue Jays. Monty struck out Hernandez and got Solarte to pop up to short to end the inning unscathed. For me, that was the huge point of the game.

In the bottom of the inning, a two-run homer by Aaron Judge (his sixth of the year) and the Yankees were off to the races. The Blue Jays finally scored a run in the fifth, but the Yankees answered in a big way when they pushed seven runs across the plate in the bottom of the sixth to break the game open. The lengthy sixth inning ensured that Montgomery (2-0) did not return, but hats off to him for his valiant, gritty effort to put the Yankees in the win column. His final pitching line was 6 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts on 91 pitches.  Not bad for the team’s number five starter (who’s arguably been much better than certain other pitchers in the starting rotation).

The final score was 9-1 and improved the Yankees season record to 10-9.

While the day’s offense was primarily driven by the top of the order trio of Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, and Didi Gregorius (total of five runs and five RBI’s), Miguel Andujar made a statement in the sixth inning when he came to bat with the bases full of Yanks. His double cleared the bases and chased Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman.

Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)

After Friday’s dismal performance and loss by Sonny Gray, it felt great to take such a convincing win. It was a game that showed how devastating the Yankees offense can be, even if Giancarlo Stanton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He did walk and score a run on Andujar’s three-run double during the big sixth inning but the wait for his huge Yankee Stadium breakout continues to be delayed.

If you had told me before the game that the pitchers in relief of Montgomery would be Chasen Shreve and Jonathan Holder, I would have cringed, with an image of pouring gasoline on a fire in my mind. But those two combined for three innings of perfect relief (no walks, hits or runs), while striking out four. Holder was able to reduce his ghastly season ERA to 11.57 with two innings of clean work.

Out in Oakland, California, the Boston Red Sox had Chris Sale on the mound to face the A’s Sean Manaea. The Red Sox, sporting MLB’s best record at 17-2, looked like they had the right ingredients for their 18th win but Manaea had other ideas. After walking the leadoff batter, Manaea settled down and did not allow a hit to the potent Red Sox offense. He was helped along the way when Marcus Semien was charged with an error on a dropped popup in shallow left during the fifth inning that allowed Sandy Leon to reach base. Manaea issued his second walk in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, which brought the dangerous Hanley Ramirez to the plate and the Sox trailing 3-0. Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to short and the A’s were able to end the game with a force out at second. It’s always fun to see Ramirez fail in big spots.  The end result was the first no-hitter of the 2018 season and the third loss of the year for Boston.

Photo Credit: Associated Press (John Hefti)

Manaea, unlike a former teammate that now resides in the Bronx, has raised his game this year. The no-hitter was great, but he had ten strikeouts in the 108-pitch effort. For the season, Manaea is sporting a 1.23 ERA and has only given up more than one run once (when he gave up two runs in five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 10th).

A great win by the Yankees and a wonderful loss by the Red Sox. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Today is Gleyber Torres Day.

Photo Credit: Newsday (Thomas A Ferrara)

The long-awaited arrival of the Yankees best prospect and the fifth-best prospect in baseball happens today. Through fourteen games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Torres is batting .347/.393/.510 with .903 OPS. He has a homer to go with eleven RBI’s. Concerns about the back stiffness early last week are long forgotten. Gleyber seems ready to go and more importantly ready to take his spot among Pinstripes.

Time will tell if Gleyber is up for good or if his stay will be temporary until Brandon Drury is ready to return. But like Miguel Andujar is starting to show, you can make the decision very difficult for the Yankees by proving you belong. The Yankees production at second base this year has been rather underwhelming so the stars are aligned for Gleyber to grab the position. The odd man out, assuming that Tyler Wade isn’t sent down to Triple A to rediscover his Spring Training magic, appears to be Jace Peterson. I wasn’t really sure why the Yankees re-signed Peterson, a player who doesn’t really fit the team for the long run.

At some point soon, the Yankees will be a man short when Tyler Austin begins serving his suspension. Peterson’s a nice luxury since he can play both infield and outfield but he is the least valuable man on the roster. I am hopeful Gleyber, like Andujar, proves he is here to stay.

My guess is Torres goes back to Triple A when Drury is ready but who knows. Things can change quickly and Gleyber has a chance to alter any decisions.

Gleyber will be the starting second baseman for today’s series finale with the Blue Jays and he’ll bat eighth.

I am a little surprised by his choice of numbers (25) given that it is normally reserved for slugging first basemen in recent years. But what the heck, the only Yankees pinstriped jersey I own is Number 25 (thankful for no names) so I am armed and ready to support young Gleyber.

The Yankees are also expected to promote RHP David Hale today which is something of a surprise. It also leads me to believe that Jace Peterson will, in fact, be cut today since the Yankees will need to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Hale in addition to making room for Torres on the active roster. Hale has given up nine runs in 14 2/3 innings this year for the RailRiders but hopefully he’ll have better success in the coming days. Hale’s worst day as a RailRider was his most recent when he gave up 12 hits and 6 runs in a start that lasted only four innings on April 18th. Fail your way to success? I hope so.

Update: As expected, the Yankees did option Tyler Wade to Triple A and designated Jace Peterson for assignment to make room for Torres and Hale.

It’s going to be a fun and exciting day. Welcome, Gleyber! We’ve been waiting for you.

Go Yankees!

The Showdown in Boston…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Adam Glanzman)

Yankees invade Fenway Park…

Without delving too much into last weekend, I’ve had better days. Losing three of four to a team that you are supposed to beat (the Baltimore Orioles) is difficult to accept, especially when the Yankee could have easily won the last loss when they had the bases loaded, no outs, in extra innings with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton coming to bat.

Am I disappointed in Stanton so far? Absolutely. Am I going to fret over him in Pinstripes as a result? Absolutely NOT! Death, taxes, and Giancarlo Stanton going on a home run tear are certainties of life. Things will get better and so will Stanton and Company. When Stanton is on one of his monster tears like last summer, his slow start (the two Opening Day home runs in Toronto excluded) will be long forgotten.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)

While the Yankees have struggled out of the gate (winning only five of ten games), the Boston Red Sox have been on a roll. The last time Boston lost was the season opener in St Petersburg, FL on March 29th. They have yet to lose another game, and lead the AL East by two games over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees trail the Sox by three and a half games.  As many have already said, no division championships were ever won in April. Well, except for maybe a few NBA and NHL teams. For MLB teams, this is far from over. Once the Yankee bats heat up like we know they can, it’s going to be a fun and exciting chase in the American League East. The Red Sox can run but they can’t hide. The target is on their back; not ours.

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I am sure that Red Sox fans are ecstatic over their team’s 8-1 record but you have to keep in mind they did it against the lowly Florida teams. Sorry Jetes, but your team does suck right now (poor Starlin). So does Rob Refsnyder’s team. The Yankees represent the first real test Boston has faced this year. I know, it would be better if the Yankees weren’t scuffling coming into this series, but the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry always seems to bring out the best in everyone. The Red Sox will throw Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello at the Yankees on successive nights.  The Yankees counter with their best…Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and most likely Sonny Gray. Win or lose, this is going to be a great series.  If the Yankees can take at least two of three, they’ll be in great shape. A sweep would be perfect but that might be asking for too much. So, for now, I’d settle for at least two of the games.

Tuesday, April 10th at 7:10 pm ET

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-0, 1.38 ERA)

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (0-0, 0.82 ERA)

Wednesday, April 11th at 7:10 ET

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 2.92 ERA)

Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Thursday, April 12th at 7:10 ET

Yankees:  TBA (expected to be Sonny Gray, 1-0, 3.60 ERA)

Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA)

The Red Sox did suffer a setback prior to the start of the series. It was announced yesterday they have placed shortstop Xander Bogaerts on the 10-day DL with a small fracture in his left ankle. He is expected to be out 10-14 days. To take his place on the roster, the Red Sox recalled infielder Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple A Pawtucket. Lin and Brock Holt are expected to share time at short while Bogaerts is out.

MLB.com finally resolved the 40-man roster dilemma by removing Cody Asche. I never did see any explanations so I honestly do not know if Asche was reported on the 40-man roster in error or if he cleared waivers. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders site was also corrected to show that he is not on the 40-man roster. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why forty-one names were showing on the 40-man roster last weekend. I knew that Asche had to be the key but it was odd no explanations could be found. On the transactions page of MLB.com, the 4/04/18 entry shows that Asche was “optioned” to Triple A which implies that he was on the MLB roster. There are no subsequent transactions involving Asche, who started at third base last night for the RailRiders. I guess whatever the situation is/was, they got it resolved as I knew they would. I just hate it when something does not make sense to me.
The Yankees are expected to get Aaron Hicks back for the getaway game on Thursday before the Yankees leave Boston for Detroit. He will be a welcome addition. Hopefully A-A-Ron can hit the ground running when he returns. We need his bat and defense ASAP.

Today is a new day.  It is time for the Giancarlo Stanton Era to begin in earnest. The Yankees are deep in the heart of enemy territory. All hands on deck. Let’s beat the Red Sox.

Go Yankees!

On Second Thought, He’s Safe!…

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

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:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15 ERA)

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-8, 3.94 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA)

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.85 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

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!

Austin Decides to Buy on Sale…

Credit:  Getty Images

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3…

Tyler Austin apparently did not get the memo that the Yankees are not supposed to score multiple runs off Boston ace Chris Sale.  His three-run dinger gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.  CC Sabathia, fresh off the DL, pitched like an ace and the bullpen duo of David Robertson and Dellin Betances came through in the clutch to help the Yankees hold off the Red Sox for the much-needed win.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

There’s no disputing Chris Sale is a great pitcher.  But for whatever reason, the Yankees have fared well against him this season.  In 4 starts, including Saturday, Sale is 0-2.  He has only lost a total of five games this season.  But in the three preceding games against the Yankees, he had only given up only one homer and three earned runs.  With one swing, Tyler Austin matched that production.

Didi Gregorius got on base first in the top of the 2nd inning with a one-out ground rule double that bounced into the right field stands.  It probably would have been a homer at Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch.  Todd Frazier reached first base when he was hit in the left shin with a 82 mph slider by Sale (Ouch!).  Joe Girardi and Trainer Steve Donohue walked with Frazier down the first base line, but he stayed in the game.  Tyler Austin was the beneficiary of a mistake fastball by Sale and he crushed it out of Fenway Park in left.  The Yankees led, 3-0.

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the 5th inning.  With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk on six pitches.  Rafael Devers, rapidly becoming a Yankee killer at only 20 years of age, rapped a single to right.  Bogaerts raced around to third, sliding in ahead of Aaron Judge’s strong throw.  Sandy Leon grounded out to Ronald Torreyes at second, but Bogaerts scored on the play.  Devers moved to second.  Jackie Bradley, Jr singled to left which brought Devers home ahead of the slightly high and away throw, and it was a one-run game, 3-2.  Sabathia held it there as he was able to get Eduardo Nunez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.

Todd Frazier provided what would prove to be the game-winning run when he blasted a solo shot to left center, just over the Green Monster, in the 6th with two outs and down to two strikes.  It was Frazier’s 21st home run of the season.  He showed no ill effects of the earlier ball to the shin but you have to believe that he’ll be feeling it today.  

Sabathia allowed a lead off double to deep center by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the 6th, but he retired the next three Red Sox hitters to leave Betts stranded at second.  That would be all for Sabathia who finished six innings strong, holding the Sox to four hits and two runs.  He walked a batter and punched out four.  I was expecting the worst from Sabathia and his balky knee but he proved me wrong.  I am glad he did.

Adam Warren was brought into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning.  After Xander Bogaerts struck out, Rafael Devers took Warren deep to center for a home run. The ball hit the left side of the yellow line but caromed into the triangle.  The Yankees challenged the play but it was upheld.  It was a one-run game again, 4-3 Yankees.    Warren struck out Sandy Leon.  The ball got away from Gary Sanchez but he easily threw Leon out at first to complete the strikeout.  The Yankees then made a pitching change. David Robertson came in and got Jackie Bradley, Jr to ground out on one pitch.  Man, every friggin’ day I am grateful for D-Rob.

The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the 8th inning against D-Rob.  Andrew Benintendi struck out swinging but made it to first base on a wild pitch when Gary Sanchez was unable to stop the ball.  It took a wicked bounce so I couldn’t really fault Sanchez on the play.  Hanley Ramirez lined a double to  deep left, but Benintendi, the potential game-tying run, pulled up at third.  D-Rob intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, loading the bases, to pitch to Xander Bogaerts.  Bogaerts went down swinging on three pitches and the inning was over.  Thanks, D-Rob.

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the 9th.  Tyler Austin doubled  between the gap to the center field wall off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree.  He was replaced by the $153 million pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.   After a pickoff attempt nearly got Ellsbury, a sacrifice bunt by Ronald Torreyes moved Ells to third.  Brett Gardner hit a fielder’s choice to third with Ellsbury breaking for home.  Third baseman Rafael Devers’ throw to catcher Sandy Leon easily nailed Ellsbury short of home plate. The Yankees had runners at first and second, following a wild pitch and subsequent walk of Aaron Hicks, for Aaron Judge but he struck out on a foul tip to the mitt to end the threat.

With Aroldis Chapman temporarily removed from the closer’s role by Manager Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances came on in the bottom of the 9th.  Betances struck out the first batter, Rafael Devers, but Sandy Leon reached base on a swinging strikeout when the third strike got away from Gary Sanchez.  Betances was charged with the wild pitch.  But in baseball, there is always a chance for atonement.  Brock Holt, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Leon, made a break for second with Jackie Bradley, Jr. at bat. The throw by Gary Sanchez to Didi Gregorius was perfect to nail the sliding Holt for the second out.  JBJ  flied out to left and it was game over.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

The Yankees (66-56) regained the game on the Red Sox they had lost on Friday night, and trail the Sox by four games in the AL East Standings again.  The Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, so the Angels remain 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings (the Angels and Minnesota Twins are tied for the second WC spot).  The O’s, the third place team in the AL East, slid 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays lost on Saturday.

It was a great game by CC Sabathia (10-5).  The Yankees had their chances to put more runs on the board (leaving a total of eight men on base) but the bullpen held to give Sabathia the win over Chris Sale.  I am really glad that we didn’t see Aroldis Chapman.  While my preference is Betances then Robertson, the reversed order worked and Betances had his 9th save.

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Girardi continues to bat Aaron Judge third in the lineup, but at this point, Judge seems to be living off his first half reputation.  The Yankees would probably be better served moving Didi Gregorius up to third and dropping Judge down in the order.  Judge was hitless in four at-bats, and struck out 3 times to extend his MLB record with strikeouts to 3 consecutive games.  Judge had been tied with Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman who struck out in 35 consecutive games in 1971.  At 36 games regardless of season, Judge has tied the MLB record so if he strikes out again today, he’ll be the all-time consecutive game strikeout leader.  I know, Judge could care less about the strike outs as long as he gets his hits and walks, but I personally would like to see the end of the streak and maybe a clutch hit or two with men in scoring position.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

Perhaps Tyler Austin heard footsteps.  On Friday night, first baseman Greg Bird homered twice in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 10-6 loss to the Durham Bulls.  Yesterday, Bird was 2-for-4, with double and a run scored, in the RailRiders’ 8-4 loss to the Bulls.  I really hope that Bird continues hitting when he returns to the Yankees.  This would be a great boost for the team as they attempt to stave off Wild Card challengers while holding aspirations for the division crown.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-For Times Leader

Prior to yesterday’s game, LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for CC Sabathia.  With Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to return this week in the Detroit Tigers series, Monty returns to Triple A for “softer” innings while the Yankees monitor his pitch count.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Yankees VP of Player Development Gary Denbo is a strong early candidate to become GM for the Miami Marlins once Derek Jeter takes control of the team’s operations.  I am hopeful the Marlins retain manager Don Mattingly, one of my favorite managers.  Well, unless the Yankees decide to part ways with Joe Girardi…

Have a great Sunday!  The Yankees, with ‘OMG, it’s Sonny Gray!’, can take the series today with a win.  Let’s Go Yankees!

There Was Almost Life After Sale…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Red Sox 3, Yankees 2…

The Yankees had victory in their hands but Aroldis Chapman was unable to hold a one-run lead in the 9th and the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in extra innings.  

This was one tough.  I felt very uneasy with Chapman taking the mound.  The Yankees really needed an insurance run in the 8th when Didi Gregorius struck out in the bottom of the 8th with runners at the corners and two outs.  I was concerned that Chapman would not be able to hold a one-run advantage.  Unfortunately, I was right.  Dellin Betances may have righted the ship but Chapman has not.  I don’t know if it’s the World Series “hangover” (too many pitches thrown in an extended season), but…right now…the Yankees have two better closers in Betances and David Robertson.  

It was expected that Chris Sale would be tough and he was.  Entering the game, his season ERA was only 1.15 against the Yankees in two starts.  We could have used that 0.15 of a run.  After Boston had scored the game’s first run in the top of the 5th on a run-scoring single by Jackie Bradley, Jr, the Yankees struck back against Sale when they got their turn at bat.  Chase Headley lined a one-out single to center.  After Ronald Torreyes struck out, Austin Romine tripled to right to score Headley.  Mookie Betts was at the wall but couldn’t make the catch on Romine’s hit.  The game was tied at 1.  It would be the sole run the Yankees would score off Sale.  He went 7 strong innings and only allowed 4 hits and the single run, while walking 2 and striking out 12.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

Still, the Yankees had a chance.  Jordan Montgomery, struck in the head by a line drive during batting practice on Saturday, was excellent.  He kept the Yankees in the game, holding the Red Sox at bay to match Sale’s dominance for 5 1/3 innings.  The Red Sox were able to get only two hits off Monty, and the run in the 5th.  Throwing 84 pitches, Monty did walk 3 batters but struck out 4.  

Credit:  Jason Scenes-EPA

With Sale out of the game, the Yankees finally broke through with a run in the 8th against Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes.  Aaron Hicks worked a one-out walk.  Aaron Judge singled to right, Hicks moved to second.  Another walk, this time to Gary Sanchez, loaded the bases.    Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hicks with the go-ahead run.  The Yankees led, 2-1.  The Red Sox pulled Barnes and replaced him with reliever Robby Scott to face Didi Gregorius.  A single by Didi in this spot would have been huge, but sadly Scott struck out Didi on three pitches.

Enter Aroldis Chapman, goodbye potential win.  With two strikes on Rafael Devers, Chapman unleashed a 103 mph fastball and Devers was ready for it.  Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks could only watch as the ball landed over the wall in left center.  The game was tied.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun

The Yankees could have won the game in the bottom of the 9th.  With Addison Reed pitching, Chase Headley led off with a walk.  Ronald Torreyes laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to second.  Jacoby Ellsbury, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, grounded out to first, but Headley was able to advance to third.  The potential winning run just 90 feet away.  The Sox replaced Reed with closer Craig Kimbrel to face Brett Gardner.  It was a big opportunity for Gardy but but he struck out to end the inning.

Aroldis Chapman was still on the mound when the Yankees took the field in the 10th.  With one out, he hit Jackie Bradley, Jr with a pitch and walked Eduardo Nunez.  Manager Joe Girardi finally had the stones to remove Chapman and replaced him with Tommy Kahnle.  Kahnle walked the first batter he faced (Mookie Betts) to load the bases.  Andrew Benintendi’s single to right scored JBJ with the go-ahead run.  Kahnle was able to retire the next two batters but the damage had been done.  The Sox were up, 3-2.

Craig Kimbrel easily retired the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th, and the Red Sox walked off the field with the game and series win.

It won’t get any easier when the Yankees play in Boston next weekend.  The Red Sox do not fear Chapman, nor should they have any reason to.  “He’s my closer”, Joe Girardi said after the game.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

The Yankees (61-55) fell a season high 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.  They had a chance to make a statement and it didn’t happen.  The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles were unable to make up any ground on the Yankees.  The Rays lost, 4-3, to the Cleveland Indians while the O’s were thumped, 9-3, by the Oakland A’s.  The A’s are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the O’s are trailing by four.  The Yankees hold the Wild Card advantage by 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels (where did they come from?…) and 2 games over Jaime Garcia’s former team (for 6 days), the Minnesota Twins.  

Aaron Hicks made a great diving catch in the first inning to rob Eduardo Nunez of an extra-base hit.  

Aaron Judge had three more strikeouts on Sunday to extend his consecutive game streak to 30.  He trails the record that Adam Dunn set, for non-pitchers, in 2012 with strikeouts in 32 consecutive games.  The Yankees really need Judge to make the necessary adjustments to get out of this funk if they are to have any October aspirations.

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Next Up:  New York Mets at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY (2) and Citi Field, Flushing, NY (2)…

The Yankees play a quick two-game set at home against the Mets before the series resumes at Citi Field for two games beginning on Wednesday.  The series follows some recent bad blood between the two teams over contentious failed trade negotiations leading up to the trading deadline.

Here are the pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Mets:  Rafael Montero (1-8, 6.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.83 ERA)

TUESDAY

Mets:  Jacob DeGrom (13-5, 3.21 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-7, 3.39 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.82 ERA)

Mets:  Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-5, 3.32 ERA)

Mets:  Steven Matz (2-6, 5.54 ERA)

May Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia finally got some runs to work with, and may Luis Severino pitch much, much better than he did last Saturday against the Red Sox.  As for Cessa today, at least he’s facing a pitcher with 8 losses and ERA above six.  

Odds & Ends…

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees returned reliever Giovanny Gallegos to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled LHP Caleb Smith (who had been scheduled to pitch for the RailRiders on Sunday but was scratched with the promotion).  LHP Nestor Cortes made the start for SWB in Smith’s place.  Cortes didn’t get the win but he held the Durham Bulls to one hit and one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings.  With no free passes, he struck out eight.  The RailRiders won the game on a two-run homer by Ji-Man Choi in the top of the 9th.

The Texas Rangers have released infielder Pete Kozma who was on the Yankees’ opening day roster as an injury replacement for Didi Gregorius.  The Rangers had previously sold reliever Ernesto Frieri, who was in spring training with the Yankees, to the Seattle Mariners for $1 earlier in the week.  

The Houston Astros have acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Clippard rebuilt his stock after the trade   from the Yankees to the White Sox.  Although he lost his first appearance for the White Sox, he won his only other decision in 11 appearances and finished with a 1.80 ERA and two saves.  The Astros get a much better pitcher than the Yankees had earlier this year.

Have a great Monday!  A win today would be great!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…

Credit:  Rich Gagnon-Getty Images

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1…

What started out as a nice afternoon game in Boston turned out to be an extended night game as the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox.  Chris Sale, with a career ERA of 1.17 against the Yankees, was outstanding on Saturday which generally does not bode well for our guys.  Fortunately, Luis Severino was up to the task and kept the Yankees in the game, setting the stage for late inning heroics.  

Credit:  Associated Press

The Red Sox scored the first run in the 3rd inning.  With one out, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia both walked to put runners at first and second.  Xander Bogaerts hit an infield roller to third that Chase Headley scooped up, looked to first and then turned around and threw too late to shortstop Ronald Torreyes, covering at third.  Everyone was safe.  Mitch Moreland then lofted a deep fly to left and Betts easily ran home for the game’s first run.  Hanley Ramirez could have done more damage but Severino got him on a line out to Chase Headley to end the threat.  

The Yankees only managed three hits off Chris Sale, which included two doubles, but they were unable to push any runs across the plate.  Sale went into the 8th inning, getting Ronald Torreyes to ground out before Brett Gardner singled to right.  Sale then got Gary Sanchez to go down swinging, but with 118 pitches thrown (and 13 strikeouts), the Sox made the call to closer Craig Kimbrel.  Aaron Judge flied out to right to end the top half of the inning.  

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) to replace Luis Severino.  Tzu-Wei Lin promptly singled to center and I had a sinking feeling of “here we go again”.  It didn’t help when the count rose to 3-0 on the next batter, Mookie Betts, but on a full count, Betts popped out to short.  Lin then got a great jump on a steal attempt and was sliding past second baseman Starlin Castro who stayed with the play and took the throw from Gary Sanchez to catch Lin on the foot before his hands reached second base.  The Red Sox challenged the play but the call on the field was upheld (rightfully so).  So good to have Castro back at second.  Dustin Pedroia lined out and Clippard was able to leave the field with his head held high.  

For his Red Sox career, Craig Kimbrel was 30-for-30 in save opportunities as he took the mound in the 9th.  A good point was made during the FOX TV telecast by A.J. Pierzynski with the four-out save attempt.  Aaron Judge, despite the fly out to end the top of the 8th, extended the at-bat which forced Kimbrel to throw 10 pitches.  It’s not often that he throws that many pitches before having to sit and come back out again.  It would be a foretelling comment as Matt Holliday greeted Kimbrel with a game-tying, save-blowing home run to left center over the Green Monster to open the inning. 

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

Starlin Castro subsequently reached base when first baseman Mitch Moreland was pulled off the base on an errant throw from Xander Bogaerts and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second, just beating the tag by Bogaerts.  But Ellsbury was left stranded when Kimbrel proceeded to strike out the side.  The bottom of the 9th brought in Dellin Betances who seems to have left his control problems behind him.  He easily retired the three batters he faced and the game headed into extra innings.

The Red Sox looked like they were in position for the walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th.  Chasen Shreve had been brought in to replace Betances, and he gave up singles to Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley, Jr to put a runner in scoring position with no outs.  It was a little surprising that Benintendi didn’t try to run for third on JBJ’s hit, but thankfully he did not.  Girardi wasted no time in giving Shreve the hook and brought in Adam Warren.  Warren, proving how much he means to this team, retired the three batters he faced, leaving Benintendi stranded at second.  Had Benintendi been on third, he most likely would have scored the winning run when Tzu-Wei Lin flied out to Aaron Judge for the second out against Warren.  

The 11th inning brought an unusual play that resulted in a game protest by Red Sox manager John Farrell.  Matt Holliday walked to open the inning.  Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a grounder to first, and Mitch Moreland threw the ball to Xander Bogaerts for the force out at second.  But Matt Holliday, as we later found out, mistakenly thought that Moreland had stepped on first to retire Ellsbury (he had not) and turned to dive back toward first base.  Bogaerts threw the ball back to Moreland but it glanced off Ellsbury’s leg since Holliday was in Moreland’s way, leaving Ellsbury safe at first.  Farrell argued unsuccessfully that it should have been called a double play due to interference. Despite the 4 minute, 50 second delay, it didn’t really matter as neither Chase Headley nor Didi Gregorius were able to advance Ellsbury from first.

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

From there it was a battle of the bullpens until the top of the 16th inning with Boston’s Doug Fister pitching.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left  and Chase Headley singled to center to put runners at the corners with no outs.  Didi Gregorius singled to center which scored Ellsbury with the go-ahead run.  Austin Romine followed with a single to center, scoring Headley while Gregorius took second.  Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third.  Gary Sanchez hit a sac fly to left, scoring Gregorius with an insurance run as the Yankees took a 4-1 lead. 

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

Ben Heller (1-0), who had replaced Aroldis Chapman in the 15th inning, retired Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland to win the game for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-Associated Press

It was a very long game (5 hours and 50 minutes) but perseverance paid off as the Yankees eventually pulled out the win.  I can’t say enough about the tremendous performance by Luis Severino.  It was the key to the game, along with the dramatic home run by Matt Holliday in the 9th which gave Craig Kimbrel his first blown save at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform.  Considering today’s double-header, it is amazing to think the Yankees will have played at least 34 innings in 24 hours by the end of the day.  

The Yankees (46-42) remain in third place in the AL East standings but moved 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels again, 6-3, to move 2 1/2 games behind Boston.  

New Yankees first baseman Garrett Cooper had another unsuccessful day at the plate before he was lifted from the game.  He was 0-for-3, with two strikeouts.  Aaron Judge may have been 0-for-6 but I’d still go back to his extended at-bat against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 8th as a key factor for Holliday’s 9th inning home run.

A long hard day but it’s so much better to walk off the field with a win.

Odds & Ends…

Michael Pineda will meet with Dr Timothy Kremchek, an orthopaedic surgeon, in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday for a second opinion.  Dr Kremchek is the medical director for the Cincinnati Reds.  If Tommy John surgery is needed (as expected), the procedure could be performed as early as Tuesday.  

CC Sabathia will start Game 1 of today’s double-header in place of Bryan Mitchell.  In a flurry of roster moves today, the Yankees recalled RHP Domingo German and added LHP Caleb Smith to the 25-man roster.  Relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, both of whom would have been unavailable today after yesterday’s game, were optioned to Triple A.  Michael Pineda was moved to the 60-day DL with his right UCL injury and RHP Bryan Mitchell was added as the “26th man”.  

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees activated Starlin Castro and optioned Tyler Wade to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

I am not sure why it took so long but Manager Joe Girardi has finally said that Tyler Clippard is no longer the “7th inning” guy.  Adam Warren and Chad Green will take over the duties of setting up Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.  Good move.  Warren and Green have both been outstanding in recent weeks while the bullpen overall as struggled.  

Chance Adams had his latest start for the RailRiders yesterday.  While he did limit the Buffalo Bisons to two hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings, he walked four batters.  It is the command issues that are holding Adams back at this point (along with the development of his third pitch) so yesterday was not a positive outcome.  Adams did not factor into the decision as the RailRiders defeated the Bisons, 2-1.  Miguel Andujar was the hitting star.  He was 2-for-3 and provided the eventual margin of victory with a run-scoring single in the 7th inning.

Have a great Sunday!  In honor of the double-header, let’s have twice the fun!  Let’s Go Yankees!