Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post
Rangers 8, Yankees 1…
You have to score runs to win so starter Luis Cessa should not be faulted for this one. Aaron Judge tried too. He hit his league-leading 26th home run to extend his current hitting streak to 26 games. For as disappointing as the offense was from everybody else, the Yankees entered the 9th inning just a three-run jack away from tying the game.
However, Manager Joe Girardi chose to bring in game-killer Tyler Clippard. Perhaps we should just call him Relyt Drappilc because he is pitching so damn back-ass-wards right now. If you are feeling generous and want to give the other team the opportunity to score lots of runs, just bring Clippard into a game. But more rips on Clippard later.
Who is Austin Bibens-Dirkx? The Yankees never seem to do well against unknown rookies but this dude is a 32-year-old in his sixth major league organization. He spent 12 years in the minor leagues and was in the independent leagues last year. When the Rangers pitching staff gets healthy, we’ll probably never hear his name again. But on Saturday, he owned the Yankees. Aside from Judge’s solo home run in the sixth, Bibens-Dirkx only allowed four other meaningless hits in seven innings of work. He’ll be telling his grandkids one day about the time he shut down the high and mighty Yankees on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium.
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Cessa (0-2) was not awful but he did depart the game after five innings (having thrown 86 pitches). He allowed three runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out eight. His mistake pitch was a slider thrown to Carlos Gomez in the fourth inning that ended up in the left field stands for two runs, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead. As YES Network announcer David Cone put it, it was a slider that stopped sliding or a slider that takes a seat (pulled up a chair).
Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
After Judge had brought the Yankees to within two runs with his homer, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos answered with a solo shot of his own in the seventh off Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder. It was the tenth home run of the season for Chirinos in only 95 at-bats.
With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Webb entered the game in relief of Holder. It was Tyler’s Major League debut and he got his first batter (Shin-Soo Choo) to line out to end the inning. Webb pitched the eighth, retiring the three batters he faced, including one by strikeout, to complete a perfect debut.
Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Sadly, Girardi opted to turn to Clippard for the ninth and he snuffed any chance for a comeback. Before he had recorded the third out, Clippard had allowed four more runs on a wild pitch and two doubles. He allowed a total of four hits in the inning and gave up two walks. The once-reliable set up artist is now a huge albatross. I am not sure how you can turn him around in games without costly implications. This is one of the worst stretches that I’ve ever seen. While he pitched well for the Yankees last year after his acquisition from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trading deadline, his numbers in the Sonoran Desert weren’t that great. For the 2016 D-Backs, he was 2-3 with 4.30 ERA. That’s closer to the pitcher that we are seeing today. I hope Clippard can turn this thing around but at the moment, I am not optimistic. Clippard’s too valuable (I think?) to cut so hopefully he does work through this funk. I apologize for being so harsh but the last few weeks with Clippard have not been enjoyable.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
Facing the huge deficit, the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, with two strikeouts, and the Rangers walked away with the victory.
Fortunately for the Yankees (40-32), the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 6-3, so the teams remain tied atop the AL East Standings. The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (8-3 to the Baltimore Orioles) so they stayed 2.5 games back.
Tyler Austin, making his season debut, finished hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts and a grounder into a double play. There was concern in the fifth inning when Pete Kozma, standing off first base, jarred Austin’s left wrist while racing back to first standing up after a line out by Choo. Austin shook it off and continued the game. It does raise the question of who is the safety net for Austin should he get hurt. Chase Headley is currently unable to play due to back spasms and it is best to not over-expose Matt Holliday at the position.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have signed their top pick, RHP Clarke Schmidt, to an ‘as-expected’ below-allocation contract. By signing for $2,184,300 (or $1,274,300 below the allocated value of the 16th overall pick), the Yankees had the money to “overpay” RHP Matt Sauer, RHP Trevor Stephan, OF Canaan Smith, and RHP Dalton Higgins. With a signing bonus of $2.5 million, second round pick Sauer ended up as the most costly of the signed draft choices. The Yankees have only one player in the top 20 that remains unsigned…18th pick RHP Garrett Whitlock.
Credit: Allen Sharp-Spurs & Feathers
Jacoby Ellsbury made a rehab start yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He broke up a no-hitter with a double in the fifth inning of SWB’s 8-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox. He finished 1-for-3. He’ll start at DH today for SWB before moving over to AA-Trenton when the RailRiders hit the road.
Today is one of the best days of the year for the Yankees. It’s Old Timer’s Day. Pre-Game introductions begin at 11:30 am Eastern. It is always so fun to hear the name announcements for the Yankees legends as they run (or walk) out onto the field. Jorge Posada will be making his first Old Timer’s appearance at Yankee Stadium. Hip, hip, Jorge! This year’s participants will include Jesse Barfield (no offense, we should have kept Al Leiter), Scott Bradley, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey “Chairman of the Board” Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reginald Martinez “Mr October” Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don “Gooney Bird” Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparky Lyle, Kevin Maas, Constantino “Tino” Martinez, Lee “Maz” Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Jeff Nelson, Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill, Tim “Rock” Raines, Willie Randolph, Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez (sorry, but I still think of him as a Red Sock), Roy White and Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
Have a great Sunday! It will be a fun day! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Sean M Haffey-Getty Images|
Yankees 5, Angels 3…
One of the greatest highlights of this game were the chants of “MVP!” for Aaron Judge from the Anaheim crowd. It was incredible to get that type of response from the park that Mike Trout calls home. Judge is certainly deserving of the accolades but it is not something that you’d expect on enemy turf.
When Kole Calhoun, the second batter in the bottom of the first inning, homered with no one on, I had fears that Masahiro Tanaka was going to get rocked once again. But fortunately, the old Tanaka re-emerged and kept the Angels off the board until the 7th inning.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The Yankees built up a 3-1 lead through the top of the 7th. Following a couple of two-out walks of Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro in the third inning, Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Holliday and tying the game at 1. The Yankees took the lead in the 5th, thanks again to another two-out hit from Gregorius. After Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro singled, Gregorius singled to center which scored Judge. In the 7th, Judge singled and moved to second on a groundout by Matt Holliday. Castro followed with a ground out to the pitcher, bringing Gregorius up again with two outs. The Los Angeles Angels took no chances and intentionally walked Didi to put the bat in the hands of Chase Headley (ugh!). Despite my lack of excitement about Headley, he delivered with a single, scoring Judge. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases, but Austin Romine hit a grounder for the final out of the inning.
Tanaka pitched well enough to win but it was not to be. In the bottom of the 7th, after Andrelton Simmons had flied out, Eric Young, Jr reached base as a result of a fielding error by Chase Headley (his 11th of the season, one more than he had last year in 140 games at third). The next batter, Martin Maldonado, struck out but Young advanced to second on a steal. Former Washington National Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, scoring Young. Aaron Judge mistakenly threw the ball home on an overthrow which allowed Espinosa to take second. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Tanaka (hand clap for #19) and brought in Tyler Clippard. Clippard promptly gave up a double to Cameron Maybin, scoring Espinosa for a run charged to Tanaka and the game was tied at 3. He struck out Kole Calhoun for the final out, and the game moved to the 8th inning.
After Brett Gardner flied out, Aaron Hicks doubled to left. The Angels made a pitching change to bring in their interim closer, Bud Norris. On a 2-0 count, Judge showed the Anaheim crowd the magic that we’ve been experiencing in the Bronx with a home run to right center, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead and the eventual margin of victory.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
With two outs and a runner at first thanks to a walk in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi took no chances and brought in Dellin Betances to get the final out of the inning. It was a much cleaner than the last time Betances entered an inning with two outs (when he loaded the bases and threw 17 pitches to record the necessary out). This time, it was three pitches and a fly out.
In the 9th, Betances was on his game as he struck out the side. Yankees win, 5-3.
This was a great game for the California Central Valley native Judge. He finished 2-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, while increasing his batting average to .347, in front of family, friends and James Kaprielian. Yankees fans are everywhere and they certainly made themselves known on this night with the “MVP!” chants.
Gregorius was 4-for-4 with the 2 RBI’s.
It may be a down year for the Angels, but they’ve always played well against the Yankees so this was a satisfying victory. It would have been nice for Tanaka to pick up the win, but still, it had to be a confidence-booster for him. His final line was 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO. I hope to see more of this and less of the Tanaka starts we saw over the past month. Clippard, responsible for costing Tanaka the victory, took the win, thanks to Judge’s timely homer.
The Yankees (38-23) maintained their four-game lead over the Boston Red Sox. The Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, in extra innings. The Tampa Bay Rays (who had the night off) remained in third, but dropped to 6 1/2 games back. The Baltimore Orioles lost again (10-7 to the Chicago White Sox), sliding to 7 1/2 games behind the leaders. The O’s are now just a half game from falling into the AL East Cellar.
Odds & Ends…
I hate to say that I am disappointed with the MLB Draft because Yankees scouts know a heck of lot more than I do, but I was not enthused with the first round selection (16th pick) of right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt had Tommy John surgery earlier this Spring and will be unavailable to pitch until sometime in late 2018. I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the pick of Andrew Brackman a number of years ago. Taking a chance on an injured but high ceiling pitcher who never rose to the level of his potential and is subsequently out of baseball. I hope this is not the same situation with Schmidt. I thought first baseman Evan White or lefty pitcher D.L. Hall would have been great picks at that spot, or even lefty David Peterson (who was later picked by the Mets).
Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting, had these words for Schmidt (who is from the University of South Carolina like Jordan Montgomery): “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus. He has command, he has makeup. We really like his delivery. He’s got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff. And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.” A few of the pitchers taken in the first round sound better suited for relief work so I suppose if you have a chance for a top of the rotation guy, you take it. I hope this one works out.
In the second round (with the 54th pick), the Yankees chose a high school pitcher (Matt Sauer). I like this pick, perhaps more so than Schmidt. Sauer is right-handed and just 18 years old, he is already 6’4”. He a product of an appropriately named Righetti High School (CA) even if the school is named for a guy named Ernest Righetti and not former Yankees closer Dave “Rags” Righetti. Oppenheimer offered these words about Sauer: “Sauer is a projectable high school right-hander who is athletic, with a ‘now’ fastball and a plus slider. He really has a good way about his aggressiveness and makeup on the mound. We see a chance there for a starter with power stuff.”
|Credit: The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)|
Welcome to the Yankees Family, Clarke and Matt!
Have a great Tuesday! It should be a fun day as the Yankees try to keep this winning streak alive and MLB Draft continues with rounds 3 through 10.