Tagged: Chris Sale

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!

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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!

Sevy and the Blazing Fast Goose Eggs…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Yankees 3, Royals 0…

Luis Severino continued the recent albeit short trend of stellar pitching performances by Yankee starters.  Masahiro Tanaka excluded, the rotation has pitched to win the last four games.  Severino was tremendous, pitching eight innings.  He was still clicking the radar gun at 99 mph in the 8th.  By completing eight, Severino was able to pass the baton to Dellin Betances for the one inning save without relying on any of the tired arms in the pen. 

Severino (3-2) was incredible in the scoreless outing with a season high 114 pitches.  He allowed only one extra base hit (a double by Brandon Moss in the 5th inning) and did not allow any runners past second base.  Sevy only allowed four hits and walked one while striking out seven.  He lowered his season ERA to 3.11.

Jason Hammel kept the Yankees in check most of the night but the Pinstripers didn’t need much.  Didi Gregorius hit a solo homer in the third inning to give the Yanks an early 1-0 lead.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

In the 6th inning, the Yankees picked up another run through great-base running effort by Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez singled to open the inning and then stole second.  Thanks to a throwing error by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Sanchez alertly raced on to third.  Matt Holliday brought him home with a sac fly.

The Yankees picked up their final run when Gregorius led off the 7th inning with a double.  A ground out by Chris Carter moved Gregorius to third, which brought Brett Gardner to the plate.  With two strikes, Gardner was the beneficiary of a called ball on a pitch by Royals reliever Matt Strahm that seemingly landed well within the strike zone.  It should have been the third strike for the second out of the inning but with the next pitch, Gardner singled to center to drive in the run.

Betances struck out the side in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the season, lowering his season ERA to 0.57.

The Yankees (27-17) moved 2 1/2 games up on the Baltimore Orioles.  Baltimore lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins and their fine rookie pitcher Jose Berrios.  The Boston Red Sox remained 3 1/2 games back with their 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

I want one of those guys…

Last night, Chris Sale of the Red Sox attempted to become the MLB pitcher in the Modern Era to record at least 10 strikeouts in nine straight games.  He failed but he is still the fifth pitcher since 1900 to reach 100 strikeouts in his first 10 starts.  It probably wasn’t one of his better games, but Sale still kept the game within reach for the Red Sox until their offense exploded for 7 runs in the 7th inning of their game against the Texas Rangers.  Sale finished the night with 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Christopher Evans

Sale has such a presence when he is on the mound.  I can’t think of any potential trade targets that can match Sale as a frontline ace.  I remain hopeful that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me, but I think most of us know who the available trade suspects are.  

Gleyber Torres Watch (with a little Tyler Austin thrown in)…

It was another night at third base yesterday for Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Columbus Clippers, 5-0. 

Watching the RailRiders this closely shows me one thing.  Clint Frazier is on fire.  He hit his eighth home run (and 28th RBI) in the first inning of the RailRiders’ game against the Columbus Clippers on Wednesday.  He also had a two-run shot on Tuesday during Gleyber’s first game at the AAA Level.  But enough about ridiculously hot outfielders and how the Yankees like to keep them down while parading the $153 Million Man in center field at Yankee Stadium on a nightly basis.  Note:  To Jacoby Ellsbury’s defense, he was injured during last night’s game against the Royals when he collided into the outfield wall after making a catch.  He suffered a neck sprain and a concussion, and has been placed on the 7-Day DL.  I wish him no ill will and hope that he returns to the health sooner than later.  It does kind of make me wish that the padding on the outfield walls was a little more player-friendly.  Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to the Bronx to replace Ellsbury.  On performance alone, Frazier would have been the best option, but Refsnyder is already on the 40-Man Roster which was the difference-maker.  

Credit:  Andy Grosh/MiLB.com

Torres was a wee bit cooler than Frazier.  With an ‘O-fer’ night (0-for-3), he wasn’t really doing much with the bat but he did walk twice, stole a base, and avoided striking out.  All things considered, it was another game in the education and development of the Yankees premier prospect as he climbs the ladder for the eventual call to the Bronx.  

I thought Mike Ford did a good job for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the short time since his call-up.  In nine games, he hit 4 homers and 10 RBI’s, batting .306/.432/.750.  But he was returned to AA-Trenton yesterday when Ji-Man Choi was activated from the 7-Day DL for the RailRiders.  

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell

Maybe I should have re-named this section the Minor League Report.

As promised, here’s a little Tyler Austin…


Finally…

The Yankees conclude their four-game set against the Kansas City Royals this afternoon at 1:05 pm Eastern.  The Royals have announced a change in starters for the game as Miguel Almonte, called up on Tuesday from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A), will replace Nathan Karns who was placed on the DL with forearm stiffness. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 6 starts for the Naturals. For Almonte, the start at Yankee Stadium will be a treat.  “That was my favorite team growing up”, Almonte said yesterday through an interpreter.  No worries, Miguel, they are our favorite team too.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill for the Yankees in an outing that will probably have me watching the game between my fingers.  I really hope that he has rediscovered the touch and can continue the streak of solid pitching performances.  Otherwise, the fans in the outfield bleachers should receive hazard duty pay.
Have a great Thursday!  Why settle for two when you can take three??!!…

 

Hopefully, The Weekend Won’t Be For The Birds…

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Well, I should qualify that by saying I hope it is for the Bird (as in Greg)…just not for the Birds of Baltimore.  

The Yankees head back to the Bronx for a weekend series against the AL East front-running  Orioles.  The series begins tonight at 7:05 pm ET with CC Sabathia  (2-1, 2.70 ERA) scheduled to take the mound versus the O’s Kevin Gausman (1-2, 7.50 ERA).  In Gausman’s last start on Sunday against the Red Sox, he gave up back-to-back home runs in the first inning to Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez as the O’s fell to Boston 6-2.  

The Yankees are playing much better than they did when the O’s took 2 of 3 earlier this month.  When the Yankees salvaged the final game of the series with a 7-3 victory on April 9th, it was the start of an eight-game winning streak.  They left Baltimore with a 2-4 record, and now stand at 13-7 as they prepare for the rematch.  The Yankees currently trail the Orioles by just one game.   

The X Factor is the return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who returns tonight after missing the first 20 games of the season.  Didi performed his rehab assignment at High A Tampa, where he hit .290 with a homer and 13 ribbies.  Credit is owed to interim starting shortstop Ronald Torreyes.  My preference had been to promote prospect Tyler Wade as I didn’t feel Torreyes (or “Toe”) was up to the task.  He proved me wrr, wrrr…not exactly right.  The little guy came up big in clutch situations, and played admirably in the field.  Toe now moves to the critical super-sub role with the ability to cover for Gregorius, Starlin Castro or Chase Headley.  At this point, if you told me that he could play catcher too, I wouldn’t argue.  There’s a reason that Brian Cashman is paid to the general manager and Joe Girardi is paid to be the manager, while I write for free on this blog site.  

Now the question is what becomes of backup shortstop Pete Kozma.  Is he simply optioned to AAA (retaining his spot on the 40-man roster) or designated for assignment?  Personally, for me, the emergency backup shortstop is Wade so I’d shake Kozma’s hand for helping out and then hand him his walking papers.  

Catcher Gary Sanchez is also very close to returning.  He’ll begin his rehab assignment next Tuesday for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Like Torreyes, catcher Austin Romine has done a terrific job filling in for Sanchez.  Obviously, he’ll never be the bat nor the arm of Sanchez, but he held his own at the position.  

This has been a crazy year for guys going on the disabled list.  The San Francisco Giants losing ace Madison Bumgarner for two months due to a dirt bike accident is probably the craziest.  But it seems like no team has been immune from the DL plague.  Soon, the Yankees will be back at full strength for a team that is already playing better than expected.  There is reason for great optimism at 161st and River.  

The pitching match-ups for the rest of the weekend are:

SATURDAY                                      

Balt:  Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 5.95 ERA)   

NYY:  Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.86 ERA)    

SUNDAY

Balt:  Wade Miley (1-1, 2.08 ERA)

NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 3.78 ERA)

I am very glad that we won’t be facing a Chris Sale-like pitcher in this series.  So far this season, the best pitcher for the Orioles has been Dylan Bundy.  The Yankees will miss Bundy (3-1, 1.65 ERA) this go-around.  You have to like the Yankees’ chances in this series, particularly considering they are at home.  Welcome back, Didi!  It will be great to see #18 on the field again.  

Credit:  MLB.com

Yesterday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred disputed the reports that the group led by Yankees Legend Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had won the exclusive rights to purchase the Miami Marlins.  Per Manfred, there are still two groups involved in the running but that resolution should be reached within a matter of days.  So, hold your horses, Jeter may not be trading in his pinstripes just yet.  It would be cool if the Steinbrenner Family would sell Jeter part of the Yankees, but that’s not going to happen.  For Jeter’s sake, I hope his group’s bid is successful.  Ownership is his dream and the best case scenario without the Yankees in play is a National League club to avoid frequent competition.  


What did last night’s game against the Boston Red Sox look like?…

What can you say about Masahiro Tanaka’s masterful performance against the Red Sox?  It was an absolute masterpiece as Tanaka out-pitched Boston ace Chris Sale for the the 3-0 victory.  Tanaka went the distance, allowing only three hits and no walks, while striking out three.  It was Tanaka’s best start of the year and one of his greatest in pinstripes.  Sale, who came into the game with a career 1.17 ERA against the Yankees, allowed three runs (two earned) in the loss for the Red Sox.  

For the majority of the game, the Yankees held a slim 1-0 lead, thanks to a sac fly by Matt Holliday in the fourth inning.  Finally, they knocked Sale out of the game in the ninth inning after he allowed singles to the first three batters, including a run-scoring hit by Holliday to pick up his second RBI of the game.  Reliever Heath Embree gave up a hit to the first batter he faced (Starlin Castro), scoring Chase Headley, with the run charged to Sale.    

Chris Carter, carrying the rep of a one-dimensional home run hitter, played very solid defense at first base even if he couldn’t get his bat going against Sale.  

This was one of the more enjoyable victories over the Red Sox in recent memory.  Hats off to Tanaka, and congratulations to the team for the two-game sweep.  

Have a wonderful Friday!  It’s time to cook some Birds!  

The Calm Before The Storm…

“Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.”

—Arthur Ashe

The Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox both won Thursday, so the Yankees find themselves a 1/2 game behind the O’s this morning.  All three teams have ten wins, although the Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox have four, five and six losses, respectively.  Surprisingly, the Tampa Bay Rays have nine wins albeit with eight losses.  The biggest surprise is the cellar dwelling Toronto Blue Jays at 3-12.  It’s still very early with 147 games yet to be played for the Yankees but crucial games are on the horizon.

The AL East is the only division in baseball with at least four teams over .500 although just one game separates every team in the AL Central with just a single win needed to put the bottom of the division at .500.  Again it’s early, but the AL East is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball at this point.

The next week will be a challenge for the new and improved Yankees.  When they complete the current three game set in Pittsburgh, they’ll head to Boston for three games beginning on Tuesday.  They are certain to face Red Sox ace Chris Sale who pitched yesterday and gave a performance that justified Boston’s decision to give up their best hitting and pitching prospects over the winter.  Although he didn’t figure in the extra inning decision, he went eight innings, allowing no runs and four hits.  Walking only one batter, he struck out thirteen.  Unfortunately, he’s in prime shape for his next start.  

After the Boston series, the Yankees return home to face the Baltimore Orioles.  Not to look too far ahead, but these series are followed by the Toronto Blue Jays, the World Champion Chicago Cubs, and arguably baseball’s hottest team, the Houston Astros.

Next week’s schedule represents the most difficult stretch the young Yankees have faced this year so it will be interesting to see how they respond.  The Red Sox and Orioles begin a three game series tonight so on the bright side, they can beat each other up before the Yankees face them.  

I am hopeful that Greg Bird’s bat starts coming around before the team gets to Boston.  Aaron Judge has the “wow” factor with his behemoth home runs in games (and batting practice) but Bird remains the team’s best hitter (potentially) even if the stats don’t show it yet.  I remain convinced he’ll soon be raising eyebrows with his hitting prowess but it would be nice if his offensive show could begin sooner rather than later.  Maybe it’s waiting for him at Fenway Park.

Based on stats, Chase Headley is arguably the current best hitter with a .396 batting average.  He’s off to a great start and admittedly, I didn’t see this coming.  We’ll see if it is sustainable, but for now, he’s a vital part of the lineup.  I wish I felt as good about Jacoby Ellsbury.  Even though he is hitting .302, has stolen four bases and has been Joe Girardi’s clean up hitter of choice in recent games, he just doesn’t do it for me.  Too often, and this is a very generalized statement without digging into the actual stats, it seems like he is underperforming in critical situations.  I really have to wonder if an outfield of Aaron Hicks-Brett Gardner-Aaron Judge is better than Gardner-Ellsbury-Judge.  The way Hicks is hitting right now, it is.  Gardner is hitting worse than Ellsbury but this probably gets into a debate about who do you trust more.  

Being in Pittsburgh tonight means that Matt Holliday’s bat takes a seat on the bench with no DH.  This probably puts even more pressure to get Hicks into the lineup, especially with the pitchers taking at-bat’s.  Both Gardy and Bird need to start mixing in a few hits.  

Have a wonderful Friday!  Let’s make this two in a row tonight!