Tagged: Cleveland

Masa & The Game of Errors…

Credit:  Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 10, Mariners 1…

Okay, the ugliness was isolated to the first inning, for the most part, but the Yankees came out on the right side and coasted to the easy victory over the Seattle Mariners.  I would love to have one of these kind of games against the Boston Red Sox but we’re never so lucky.

The top of the first inning didn’t start out very well as it took Masahiro Tanaka a few batters before he could find his groove.  After Jean Segura lined out directly to Aaron Judge in right to start the game, Yonder Alonso singled to left and advanced to second when left fielder Aaron Hicks was unable to field the ball cleanly.  Error on Hicks.  Robinson Cano, making his first start in the series after sitting out two games with hamstring tightness, singled to left in front of Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury (“you get it”…“no, no, after you”).  Alonso moved to third.  Nelson Cruz was next and he smacked a double to the left field wall, scoring Alonso.  Cano advanced to third.  Fortunately, from there, Tanaka found his pitches.  He struck out Kyle Seager and then got out of the inning with only one run scored when Mitch Haniger flied out to right center.  It could have been much worse but Tanaka was able to  limit the damage.  

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

In the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka was rewarded for his effort.  Aaron Hicks led off against Mariners starter Andrew Albers and popped out to short.  Starlin Castro followed with a double over the head of right fielder Mitch Haniger.  The Baseball Gods decided to smile upon the home team at this point.  Gary Sanchez singled to left and Ben Gamel ran up on the ball and missed it with his glove.  By the time center fielder Guillermo Heredia had retrieved the ball and threw it to the infield, Castro had scored and Sanchez was standing on second.  The game was tied.  After Aaron Judge walked, Didi Gregorius hit a fly to shallow left.  With the trio of Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Jean Segura converging, no one called for the ball and it fell in.  The error was charged to Segura and the bases were loaded.  For the Mariners, the nightmare continued.  Chase Headley hit a grounder to third that Kyle Seager bobbled and dropped.  Sanchez scored and Headley was safe at first.  The bases were still loaded.  Todd Frazier struck out for the second out.  It brought Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate.  Ells lined a double to left.  Ben Gamel retrieved the ball and threw it into Jean Segura at short who dropped the ball and momentarily lost sight of it.  Judge and Gregorius scored.  Headley, seeing the opportunity when Segura dropped the ball, broke for home.  Segura’s throw bounced past the catcher as Headley scored and Ellsbury took third.  Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to third and then beat out the throw from Seager.  Ellsbury scored and it was 6-1 Yankees.  Aaron Hicks, who had started the inning with a pop out, flied out to center to end the inning.  Alas, all good things must end.  The Mariners were charged a total of five errors in the inning.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Manager Joe Girardi’s day was over before the Mariners starter was out of the game.  With one out and Jean Segura at first in the top of the 3rd, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to first baseman Chase Headley who threw to Didi Gregorius at second for the force out.  However, the Yankees were unable to turn the inning-ending double play when Segura ran out of the base path and obstructed the view of Gregorius to first which caused an errant throw.  Girardi came flying out, demanding an explanation and got tossed for his inquisitive approach.  He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field.  Fortunately, Tanaka struck out Nelson Cruz to avoid any damage, but Girardi got to watch the rest of the game on TV like the rest of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be at Yankee Stadium.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees added to their lead.  Ronald Torreyes, singled to center for his second hit of the game with two outs.  Aaron Hicks lined a single to right, moving Toe to second.  Starlin Castro singled with a blooper to center to score Toe and the Yankees were up 7-1.  

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Todd Frazier committed the game’s seventh error, and the second by the Yankees, to open the top of the 6th when he was unable to field a grounder hit by Nelson Cruz.  Tanaka struck out the next two batters and got Ben Gamel to ground out to first to leave Cruz stranded at first.  No harm, no foul.  

In the bottom of the 6th with Andrew Albers still pitching for the Mariners, Starlin Castro led off with a soft line drive to center.  After Gary Sanchez walked, the Mariners made a pitching change to bring in reliever Dan Altavilla.  A wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third.  Aaron Judge walked to load the bases.  After Didi Gregorius struck out, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to center.  Castro scored but Gary Sanchez was caught between second and third on the throw back into the infield and the Mariners were able to complete the double play.  However, the run counted and it was 8-1 Yankees.

After Masahiro Tanaka cruised through the Mariners in a three-up, three-down top of the 7th, the Yankees made more noise in the bottom of the inning.  Todd Frazier led off with a walk and moved to second when Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a roller to right.  Ronald Torreyes, with his third hit of the game, lined a single to left and the bases were loaded.  After Aaron Hicks popped out (infield fly rule invoked), Greg Bird pinch-hit for Starlin Castro.  Bird singled to right between the two infield defenders, scoring both Frazier and Ellsbury.  The Yankees now led 10-1.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Caleb Smith took over for Tanaka in the 8th and retired the six batters he faced over the final two innings.  Danny Valencia, the game’s final batter, took Smith deep with Aaron Judge’s back nearly to the wall, but the ball landed in Judge’s glove for the final out.  Game over.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (70-59) were able to pick up another game on Boston as the Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1.  The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by only 2 1/2 games.  Oh, if only the Yankees could have scored more runs Friday night.  The O’s finally reached .500 with their sweep of the Red Sox and continue to trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games.  The Tampa Bay Rays won in extra innings over the St Louis Cardinals, 3-2, so they remain 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees.  No change in the Wild Card Standings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, behind three homers by Byron Buxton to remain 3 1/2 games behind New York.  

I was worried going into this game given Masahiro Tanaka’s weird split of pitching much better at night than during daytime games.  But after the bumpy start, he settled down and gave the Yankees an ace-like performance.  Tanaka (10-10) went seven strong innings, holding the Mariners to the one run on six hits.  He walked one batter but more importantly did not give up any homers.  He struck out ten.  Nice job by Caleb Smith in saving the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians.  

Starlin Castro was 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.  Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-4, with a single RBI and a run scored.  The Yankee offense finished with 15 hits but surprisingly no home runs.  No matter, it was a very solid win and good momentum for the week ahead.

Next Up:  Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The Yankees begin a very difficult week that starts with the Indians and ends with the Boston Red Sox.  Every game is important at this stage of the season.  The Indians come into this series a little banged up.  They have a total of nine players on the DL, including LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Danny Salazar, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Michael Brantley and 2B Jason Kipnis.  The Indians have a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

MONDAY 

Indians:  Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)

TUESDAY

Indians:  Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Indians:  Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82 ERA)

This will be a tough series.  Admittedly, I wish Jordan Montgomery was here with the big league club and pitching on Tuesday night. Jaime Garcia does not inspire much confidence and certainly not when he’s facing a very tough Trevor Bauer.  I hope Caleb Smith is prepared to pitch that day.  

Have a great Monday!  I know that Corey Kluber will be tough but let’s make it three-in-a-row!  Go Yankees!

Advertisements

The Ace, The Judge & The Split…

Credit:  Associated Press

Yankees 8, Indians 1…

For three games, it was the Cleveland Indians rolling out an ace.  Although Sunday’s game looked to be another pitching duel, the Yankees’ ace persevered and prospered as the Yankee bats woke up to power the Bombers to a series split.  The outburst of late runs were capped by Aaron Judge’s 35th home run of the season.  

Luis Severino started strong with two strikeouts to open the game, but then Michael Brantley got a hold of one and put it over the center field wall just beyond Jacoby Ellsbury’s reach.  Ells probably could have made a spectacular catch with a better timed leap but it was not meant to be and the Indians had the early 1-0 lead.  Sevy struck out Jose Ramirez to finish striking out the side, and recorded the first five outs of the game by strikeout.  

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

With Sevy and Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco locked into a pitcher’s duel, the Yankees had a potential scoring opportunity in the top of the 5th when Todd Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury both singled.  Ronald Torreyes grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out which erased Ellsbury at second but Frazier moved to third on the play.  The speed of Torreyes prevented a double play.  Frazier was left stranded, like so many Yankee base runners before him, when Austin Romine struck out.  But it may not have been for naught as it showed signs that Carrasco was weakening.

With the pump primed in the 5th, the Yankees finally broke through against Carraso in the 6th inning.  Brett Gardner led off with a single to center.  Clint Frazier doubled to left, moving Gardy to third.  After Didi Gregorius popped out to third, Carrasco intentionally walked Aaron Judge after two balls below the strike zone to load the bases.  Chase Headley tied the game at one with a deep sacrifice fly to center which scored Gardner.  Todd Frazier walked on a full count to re-load the bases.  The $153 million man stepped to the plate and tripled to the base of the center field wall when Abraham Almonte lost sight of the ball, clearing the bases. It spelled the end of Carrasco’s day and Bryan Shaw was brought into the game.  Shaw was met with a single to left by Ronald Torreyes, which scored Ellsbury, and the Yankees had a 5-1 lead.

Credit:  Getty Images

With Mike Clevinger pitching the top of the 7th and one out, Clint Frazier walked on four pitches.  Didi Gregorius singled to center (a fly ball that fell in) as Frazier raced around to third.  Aaron Judge, who lost the MLB Home Run Lead over the weekend to Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, hit a line drive homer to center to score three more runs.

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

In the bottom of the 7th, Luis Severino got the first two outs before giving up only his second hit of the game, a single up the middle to center by Edwin Encarnacion.  Manager Joe Girardi used it as an opportunity to pull Sevy and replaced him with Tommy Kahnle who recorded the out to end the inning. It was a brilliant performance by Severino (9-4). For 6 2/3 innings of work, he only allowed two hits and the one run off the first inning home run.  He walked a batter and struck out nine while lowering his season ERA to 2.91.

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

From there, the Yankee bullpen kept the two-hitter intact.  Both Adam Warren and Chasen Shreve pitched an inning of hitless relief to give the Yankees the win and a split of the four game series.  

The Yankees (59-51) stayed 3 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the win.  The Sox, winners of six consecutive games, beat the Chicago White Sox, 6-3, on Sunday.  The Tampa Bay Rays stayed 2.5 games behind the Yankees with a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Baltimore Orioles were also winners, 12-3 over the Detroit Tigers, so they remain 4.5 games in back of the Pinstripers.

Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes had two hits in the 12-hit Yankees attack.  Didi Gregorius was 3-for-5, raising his season batting average to .308.  With his home run, Aaron Judge became the 11th rookie to hit 35 homers in MLB history, although he did strike out three times in the game.  

After the game, Indians manager Terry Francona, one of my favorite managers, said “We got the one run early on Brant’s home run.  And the way Severino was pitching, we might have to make that hold up.  That’s as impressive of stuff as you’re going to see.  The fastball, everybody sees that, but he’s gaining confidence in an offspeed.  That’s a tough day at the plate.  That’s a tough guy to face.”  Nice job, Sevy!  Very nice job!

Odds & Ends…

After Sunday’s game, Manager Joe Girardi made his rotation decision when the Yankees optioned lefty Jordan Montgomery to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre which gave the fifth starter’s role to Jaime Garcia.  If the pitchers were auditioning over the weekend, Monty would have won in the head-to-head matchup with Garcia.  But the decision was based on experience, track record, and inevitably a potential innings limit on Montgomery.  It will probably be tough for Monty to go down to Triple A but he’ll be back in a few weeks when the rosters expand.  And of course he’ll be a prime candidate for the rotation entering 2018.  I think he’ll be a great influence on other young arms in Scranton, most notably Chance Adams.  

Credit:  Andrew Schwartz-NY Daily News

Speaking of Chance Adams, he picked up a win yesterday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 7-5 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Adams went six innings for the win, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs.  He struck out 5 and allowed one home run (a solo shot by Matt Dominguez in the 6th inning).  I was glad to see that he walked only one batter.  Both Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin were 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored, while Miguel Andujar and Billy McKinney both had two-run homers.  Ji-Man Choi added a solo shot.  With the victory, the RailRiders swept the weekend series with the Red Sox.  

The Seattle Mariners acquired a Yankees rumored July trade target on Sunday when they traded minor league outfielder Boog Powell to the Oakland A’s for first baseman Yonder Alonso.  It’s probably the play of third baseman-turned-first baseman Chase Headley since the All-Star Break that prevented Alonso from donning the pinstripes.  Now Alonso gets to rub shoulders with Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel in the Mariners drive for a Wild Card spot. 

It was sad to wake up today to news that former Philadelphia Phillies catcher Darren Daulton has passed away after a four-year struggle with brain cancer.  Daulton, 55, was one of baseball’s toughest catchers during his time, and although he was a long-time Phillie, he won the World Series in his final season with the then-Florida Marlins in 1997 (as a trading deadline rental).  

Have a great Monday!  It may be a day off the Yankees as they make their way to Canada, but for us, it probably means back to work day.  Make the most of it.  Go Yankees!

Chasing Victory With Success…

Credit:  Andrew Schwartz-New York Daily News

Yankees 2, Indians 1…

Chase Headley was the unlikely hero on Saturday to help power the Yankees over the Indians.  With Jordan Montgomery and the bullpen holding the Indians in check after a top of the wall home run by Carlos Santana in the 2nd inning, Headley broke the 1-1 tie with his solo shot off former Yankee Zach McAllister in the top of the 8th.  He may have only been 1-for-4 in the game, but the placement of the single hit could not have been better.

Credit:  Phil Long-AP

For the first time in what seems like a long time, the Yankees scored the first run of the game.  Brett Gardner led off with a walk.  After Chase Headley struck out (What?  The bum!  Throw him out of the game!  Oh well, may as well keep him around to see if he can do something later on…), Aaron Judge singled to left, moving Gardy to second.  Didi Gregorius cranked a fly ball that hit the wall just below the yellow line in center, scoring Gardy.  So close (thisclose) to a three-run bomb…the Yanks had to settle for the single run as neither Gary Sanchez nor Jacoby Ellsbury could bring Judge home from third.

The Indian tied the game in the bottom of the 2nd when Carlos Santana hit a fly ball off the top of the wall in left center.  There was momentary confusion over whether it was a double or a home run (even Santana stopped at second), but the third base umpire called it a home run.  Replay showed it hit the yellow line (maybe just a couple inches higher than Didi’s double in the first)…the Yankees did not challenge.  

From there, it became a pitching duel between Jordan Montgomery and Cleveland’s Danny Salazar although the Yankees blinked first when Manager Joe Girardi pulled Monty after five innings and 65 pitches.  The luxury of a powerful, rested bullpen.  

The Yankees had a chance to get some runs in the top of the 6th inning when Didi Gregorius hit a one-out double to left.  Gary Sanchez walked on four pitches, but Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play ($153 million doesn’t go as far as it used to).  David Robertson took over for Monty in the bottom of the inning and was able to get out of it with no runs despite a couple of hits, including a lead off single by Francisco Lindor that went over Aaron Judge’s head.  I do have to give credit to the $153 million man for a great catch that prevented another hit.  

In Salazar’s final inning, the 7th, he mowed down the Yankees, striking out the side.  His final line was Corey Kluber-worthy…four hits, a lone run, a trio of walks, and a dozen strikeouts.  

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

Fortunately, with Salazar having thrown 112 pitches, the Indians brought in Zach McAllister to start the 8th.  Brett Gardner was the first batter but he struck out.  Chase Headley strolled to the plate and gave the Yankees the 2-1 lead with his sixth homer of the year, a high fly ball to the third or fourth row of the stands in right center.  

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

After David Robertson had pitched two scoreless innings, Dellin Betances shut down the Indians in the 8th, including two by strikeout.  From there, it was up to Aroldis Chapman.  As the YES Network announcers pointed out, the last time Chapman had appeared on the mound at Progressive Field was the 7th game of the World Series when he gave up the game-tying home run to Rajai Davis but was the eventual winner for the Chicago Cubs.  Michael Brantley led off with a single to right, but that was all the Indians could do against Chapman this time as the Yankees finally took a game in the series.  Credit Brett Gardner for a great leaping catch to record the first out and preventing a walk-off homer by Jose Ramirez.  Ronald Torreyes also flashed the leather with a brilliant diving catch to rob Edwin Encarnacion.

The Boston Red Sox were winners (4-1 over the Chicago White Sox), so the Yankees (58-51) did not make any ground on the Sox.  They remain 3 games back.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-0, pushing them 2 1/2 games behind the Yanks.  The Baltimore Orioles are still 4 1/2 games back of the Yankees after their 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Despite only five innings, it was a solid effort by Jordan Montgomery who is fighting for his rotation spot.  He held the Indians to three hits, one run, and struck out seven.  He did not walk any batters as he was very effective at getting the Indians to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone.  

Credit:  Getty Images

All three relievers used by the Indians had Yankee connections.  Of course, we’ve already mentioned Zach McAllister who was the losing pitcher.  McAllister was traded to the Indians in 2010 for the long-forgotten Austin Kearns.  Tyler Olson pitched for the Yankees in 2016 after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade that originally brought Ronald Torreyes to the Yankees for third baseman Rob Segedin (both Olson and Torreyes were subsequently designated for assignment and claimed by other teams although Toe eventually worked his way back after a brief stay with the Angels organization).  The final Indians reliever was Nick Goody, who was designated for assignment last off-season and subsequently dealt to the Tribe to clear space for the free agent signing of Aroldis Chapman.  The Yankees acquired righty Yoiber Marquina, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, in the Goody trade.

After an ugly defensive performance on Thursday, this was an exemplary defensive effort by the Yankees.  The key to the game was the defense…with a little help from Headley’s bat.  

Credit:  Phil Long-AP

Odds & Ends…

It sounds like Matt Holliday is head for the DL.  As great as he was in the first half, he has been a liability in the second half.  The latest ailment is the result of tweaking his back with a swing on  Friday night, but it provides a good excuse to get Holliday off the active roster as he was struggling mightily up to that point. 

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

As expected, the Yankees have, in fact, placed Holliday on the DL.  1B Garrett Cooper has been recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I thought maybe we’d see Aaron Hicks or Tyler Austin but neither one is quite ready yet (both on rehab assignments).

It’s not what Yankee fans want to hear, but with their latest win over the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers (78-32) are on pace for 115 wins.  They’ve won 43 of their last 50 games, something no other team has done since 1912. Assuming they get Clayton Kershaw back before the post-season, their starting rotation of Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood and Rich Hill has the potential of being a very dominant group.  This probably represents the first real threat to the Yankees record of 125 total wins in 1998 since the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in  the 2001 regular season but succumbed to the Yankees in the ALCS to finish with 120 total wins.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Have a great Sunday!  Hopefully the Yankees can finally figure out Indians starting pitching today with Luis Severino pitching for the series split.  Go Yankees!

Rusty Garcia & The Lonesome Bats…

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Indians 7, Yankees 2…

The title of this post sounds like a Tex-Mex country band.  Unfortunately, it’s the description of the Friday night Yankees who dropped their fourth straight game.


It was not a great debut for Jaime Garcia.  After the game, Manager Joe Girardi said that Garcia was up in the zone.  “He didn’t throw as many strikes with his fastball as he usually does.  This is a guy that’s pitched for three different teams in three different starts and been all over the country.  He looked rusty to me.”  It wasn’t just you, Joe, he looked rusty to us too.


The Indians scored two runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning to take the lead they would not relinquish.  Carlos Santana walked with two outs.  Former Yankee Austin Jackson doubled to the left field corner, and the relay throw from Clint Frazier to Didi Gregorius to Gary Sanchez was not in time as Santana slid head first with his hand reaching home plate ahead of the tag.  Ajax took third on the play and scored a subsequent passed ball on Gary Sanchez.


The next inning, the Indians added to their lead.  Brandon Guyer hit a lead-off single to left.  Michael Brantley singled to right.  As Guyer was running to third, the throw from Aaron Judge hit the runner and bounced up into the seats.  Guyer easily scored while Brantley took second.  A ground out moved Brantley to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Edwin Encarnacion.


The Yankees had probably their biggest opportunity in the 5th inning.  After Indians starter Trevor Bauer threw a pitch up and in to Todd Frazier (which provoked Frazier to say a few works after he spun to avoid getting hit), Frazier blasted a one-out solo home run to right center (his 18th of the year).  Ronald Torreyes singled to the right field corner.  He thought about going for two but wisely held up at first.  Brett Gardner singled to left field as Torreyes moved to third.  Clint Frazier hit a sharp grounder to Indians third baseman Giovanny Urshela who made a highlight reel play when he threw across the runner to catcher Roberto Perez to nail Torreyes at the plate. With Gardner and Frazier on base, Aaron Judge patiently took a walk to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez, representing the potential go-ahead run, had a sloppy at-bat, chasing a few pitches out of the strike zone, and went down swinging to leave the bases full.

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

The Indian came right back and added another run in the bottom of the 5th.  Brandon Guyer walked and stole second.  Michael Brantley singled to left, scoring Guyer.  A wild pitch and a subsequent ground out moved Brantley to third.  Girardi pulled Garcia and brought in Chad Green.  A wild pitch by Green allowed Brantley to score and it was 6-1 Indians.

Credit:  David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle pitched the 8th inning in relief of Green.  Jose Ramirez punched a double into left field in front of Clint Frazier, and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a double off the top of the wall in left, scoring Ramirez.  Kahnle settled down to retire the next three batters, but it was too little, too late for a team struggling to score runs.

The Yankees unsuccessfully tried one last rally in the top of the 9th against Indians reliever Bryan Shaw.  Chase Headley led off with a single to center but Todd Frazier grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.  Ronald Torreyes hit a soft infield single to short, and moved to second on defensive indifference.  Brett Gardner singled to center which scored Torreyes.  7-2, Indians.  But that would be all as Clint Frazier hit a grounder to third, erasing Gardner at second with the force out.

The Yankees (57-51) fell 3 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox, winners of four in a row, beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-2, in 11 innings.  Bummer.  No seriously, that is who was on the mound when the Sox scored the winning run (Aaron Bummer).  Can’t blame Tyler Clippard…he gave the White Sox two scoreless innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 2-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers so they remain 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles fell 5-2 to the Detroit Tigers so they are still 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

This was another disappointing loss.  There was so much optimism on Monday but five days later, it’s hard not to have a ‘glass is half empty’ point of view.  I hate to single out any one player since this loss was a team effort, but Matt Holliday’s bat is a liability.  He had another ‘0-fer’ performance (hitless in four at-bats with a strikeout).  As good as he has been in the clubhouse, I think this is his one and only year in Pinstripes.  While I had previously felt that Clint Frazier should stay on the MLB roster when Aaron Hicks returns, his play of late (4 for his last 27 at-bats) has me wondering if a couple of weeks back at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre until the roster expands on September 1st might be the right move.  Gary Sanchez definitely needs to clean up his play.  

Credit:  David Maxwell-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

The last time he was in New York to pitch, Yu Darvish was a Texas Ranger going against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees.  Last night, he returned to NYC but this time was a Los Angeles Dodger, making his NL debut, at Citi Field against Jacob DeGrom and the Mets.  Darvish fared much better against DeGrom than he did against Masahiro Tanaka.  He had a couple of Mets on base in the first inning, but settled down to go 7 strong innings, shutting out the Mets on 3 hits.  He walked only one batter while striking out 10.  He picked up the win in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory over the Mets.  I’d say that Darvish had a much better debut than Sonny Gray, but then again, Darvish has baseball’s best team (most wins) behind him.  

Credit:  Elsa Garrison-Getty Images

According to Elias Sports, Jaime Garcia performed a MLB rarity on Friday night.  He is the first pitcher since Gus Weyhing in 1895 to have three consecutive starts in the same season with three different teams within the span of 20 days.


On July 21st, Jaime Garcia was the winning pitcher for the Atlanta Braves when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 12-3.  Garcia pitched 7 innings and allowed 7 hits and 3 runs.  On July 28th, he was the winning pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in their 6-3 victory over the Oakland A’s.  He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 3 runs.  The Yankees probably wish that he had held the Indians to only 3 runs, but then again, they would have still lost the game.  

Congrats to Tyler Austin!  His dramatic two-run home run yesterday in the bottom of the 9th inning powered the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to a 3-1 walk-off win over the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Jake Cave singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, the longest active streak in the International League and the season high for the RailRiders.


Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was a pre-game guest in the Yankees clubhouse prior to yesterday’s game.  He also watched batting practice.  I am sure that went over well with the Yankees fans who are die-hard Giants fan (not me, sorry).  

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers has cleared waivers.  No thank you.  Like the pitcher, don’t like the contract.


Have a great Saturday!  Time to get back into the win column.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Gray’s “Errorable” Yankees Debut…

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Indians 5, Yankees 1…

Actually, Sonny Gray pitched very well.  Sadly, he had no support from Yankees team offense or defense.  Todd Frazier made his Yankee Stadium debut by hitting into a triple play, but Gray topped him, admittedly through no fault of his own, as three first inning defensive errors led to an early 2-0 Indians lead as the Tribe sailed to the easy victory.  

Credit:  Getty Images
Facing one of the AL’s best pitchers in Corey Kluber, there was no margin for error.  Unfortunately, the first inning looked like Keystone Cops.  Bradley Zimmer hit a grounder to first that should have been the first out, but Chase Headley was unable to field it cleanly which allowed Zimmer to reach base.  Francisco Lindor grounded out with Zimmer moving to second.  Michael Brantley hit a grounder to Tyler Wade that should have been the second out, but the ball got away from Wade and Brantley was safe at first.  Zimmer to third.  Jose Ramirez hit a liner to right that Clint Frazier stopped cleanly but then he must have been throwing to the fans in the first or second row of the third base stands as the threw sailed over the head of third baseman Ronald Torreyes into the camera well for the third error, which allowed both Zimmer and Brantley to score.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could barely touch Kluber, mustering just three hits off the Indians’ ace.  Clint Frazier picked up the Yankees first hit in the fourth inning with a double to right.  He made it to third on a subsequent fly out, but like any Yankee on third base these days, he was left stranded.
The Indians picked up a couple of insurance runs in the sixth.  With two outs, Carlos Santana walked on four straight balls.  Brandon Guyer lined a single to right, moving Santana to second.  Yan Gomes doubled off the left field wall, scoring both Santana and Guyer.  It was 4-0 Indians.  Gray got the final out of the 6th, but it was the end of his debut.  His final line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO.  If he continues to pitch like that, he’ll pick up his share of wins for the Yankees.
Credit:  Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees finally scored their one and only run in the top of the 7th when Gary Sanchez blasted a home run to center.  Unfortunately, it would be the last hit off Kluber who went the distance.  With Chasen Shreve pitching in the bottom of the 7th, Francisco Lindor answered El Gary’s home run with a shot of his own over the left field wall.  From there, the Yankees went quietly.  Kluber picked up his ninth victory of the season.  He struck out 11 Yankees, the 9th time in his last 10 games he has struck out 10 or more batters.  Gray (6-6) took the loss.  The only other Yankee to get a hit, besides Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez, was Ronald Torreyes who singled in the 5th inning.
Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer
The Yankees (57-50) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  Boston beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-5.  The Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees with a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros.  The Detroit Tigers stopped the Baltimore Orioles’ winning streak, 7-5, so the O’s remain 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner was hitless in four at-bats to snap his 14-game hitting streak.  It had been the longest current streak in MLB.  He also struck out twice.
Manager Joe Girardi took heat for benching Aaron Judge, Todd Frazier and Matt Holliday but I had no issue with the rest days for those guys.  They haven’t been hitting and it was unlikely they would have had any better results against Kluber.  Hopefully, the rest day helps them today when they return to the lineup.  Jaime Garcia could use the run support (and defense) that Sonny Gray failed to get.  On the bright side, the Yankees won’t see Kluber again this series.
Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer
Odds & Ends…

According to MLB.com, OF Dustin Fowler ranks as the Oakland A’s third best top prospect, while SS/OF Jorge Mateo is #5 and RHP James Kaprielian is #11.  Fowler will be given every opportunity to break camp next Spring with the A’s as their starting center fielder. I guess we are going to be “Ben Gameled” quite often in the future.  

Credit:  John Shea

Speaking of top prospects, 2B Nick Solak is now in the Top 10 for the Yankees (according to MLB.com) and seems to be shooting through the system.  He was called up to the Double A Trenton Thunder a couple of days ago from the High A Tampa Yankees.  For Tampa, the 22 year old Solak hit .301/.397/.460 with 10 HR’s and 44 RBI’s.  He also had 17 doubles and 13 steals.  Solak was the Yankees’ 2nd round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.   

Credit:  Mark LoMoglio

The Yankees should be getting some help soon.  Aaron Hicks is currently on rehab assignment at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is 2-for-6 in two games, with an extra base hit and a run scored.  Greg Bird is traveling with the team and slowly beginning baseball activities.  There’s hope that he can return by early September.  Starlin Castro will soon begin a running program as he recovers from the hamstring strain that landed him on the DL.

Have a great Friday!  Here’s hoping for better results with Jaime Garcia’s Yankees debut.  Go Yankees!

Where do we go from here?…

Glass is starting to look half empty…

I remember back at the start of the year when there was about one dominant cycle through the starting rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka.  At the time, I was very optimistic about the team’s chances, particularly if the new acquisitions like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran hit like they always had.  But fast forward to July, the team is playing .500 baseball and as Michael Kay said on a recent YES network broadcast, Hiroki Kuroda is “the last man standing”.  One moment, Masahiro Tanaka was the pride of the Yankees…most wins for an AL starter, an All-Star selection, league leader in ERA, front-runner for Rookie of the Year, but then the next moment, after a couple of non-quality starts, it’s learned that he has a slight tear an elbow ligament that will sideline him for six weeks.  While it is encouraging that surgery is not recommended at this time, the threat of potential Tommy John surgery is real if the rehab is not successful.

Masahiro Tanaka Masahiro Tanaka joins teammates to listen as Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees speaks at a media availability after announcing that the 2014 season will be his last before retiring at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 19, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Mike Carlson/Getty Images North America

With Kuroda standing as the lone original starter, the rest of the spots are starting to feel like last year’s attempts to fill first base with journeymen to replace Mark Teixeira.  Of the replacement starters, David Phelps has had the most consistency.  Others like Chase Whitley may have had greater success at times but they’ve also had the more horrific starts.  The pressure the patchwork rotation has placed on the bullpen has been immense.

The trade for Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy, on the fast track for 20 losses, doesn’t improve the starting rotation but he does give them much needed innings.  The only spots in the rotation right now that provide any source of confidence are Kuroda and Phelps.  Shane Greene is the latest minor league hopeful.  Maybe he will prosper at the major league level, maybe he won’t.  It’s a tough situation when there are so many holes in the rotation.  The latest acquisition, Jeff Francis from the Oakland A’s, has not been a quality starter since his days in Colorado many years ago.  Francis appears earmarked for long relief so it is still anybody’s guess who fills the fifth spot in the rotation.  Today is Saturday and I do not know who will start for the Yankees on Sunday.  Perhaps Chase Whitley gets plugged in or they recall Bruce Billings, but neither option is overly appealing on a day, the last day before the All-Star break, that should have featured Tanaka.

I would have liked to have seen the Yankees acquire Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs before the Oakland A’s did but it’s obvious the Yankees do not have the upper level prospect and major league ready talent to make that type of deal.

I have mixed feelings about whether the Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline.  If I felt they had a great chance for October success, then I’d be all in for sacrificing some promising talent for a run.  But I am not sure there is a move that can be made which would propel the Yankees past the Toronto Blue Jays and/or Baltimore Orioles.  Perhaps it would be better for the team to sell and pick up some younger talent for a recharge next year.

There are not any available starters in the Yankees’ price range (in terms of trade-able talent, not dollars) which make sense.  I keep hearing Cliff Lee’s name mentioned but the stars have never aligned to bring him to New York in the past and he openly spurned the Yankees when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Even if he did finally come to New York, he would not be a long-term solution.  Ian Kennedy, a former Yankee, is another name bounced around but his stuff just isn’t tailored for Yankee Stadium.  A return of A.J. Burnett?  No, thank you.

The cost of a lackluster season…

I am starting to get the sense that this will be Brian Cashman’s last year as general manager.  Maybe it is time for a change.  I’ve been watching the San Diego situation with interest as I am hopeful that Billy Eppler does not become the Padres’ new general manager.  For in-house talent to replace Cashman, Eppler is at the top of the list.  I would prefer replacing Cashman with someone who knows the inner workings of the Yankees organization and not someone from the outside who would have to go through a transition period.

AP

The All-Star break comes at a good time.  The.500 Yankees need some time to reassess where they are and regroup.  It also wouldn’t hurt to capture some good luck before they embark on the second half of the season.

The prodigal son returns home…

I am not a Cleveland Cavaliers or Miami Heat fan, but I have to say that I was pleased with LeBron James’ decision to return to his home.  The way that he rejected Cleveland with “The Decision” in 2010 to sign with the Heat was awful and he deserved the backlash that came with it.  But he has shown that he’s a better man today with his words for why he wants to return to his Northern Ohio roots.  Of today’s NBA superstars, LeBron has always been one of my favorites and I wish him the best in bringing a championship to the City by the Lake.  The Cavs should be a fun team to watch next season, particularly if they can acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Kyrie Irving must think that he won the jackpot with his new contract and the addition of the best player in the NBA.

Now that LeBron has decided where he’ll play next season, Carmelo Anthony should follow suit fairly soon.  Still hoping for a return to the New York Knicks…

–Scott

 

Yet another man down…

I wonder if Mike Mussina can still pitch…

It’s still early in May but the Yankees have only two remaining starters in the pitching rotation from the Opening Day roster.  With the placement of CC Sabathia (knee) on the DL, the two Japanese starters, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, are the only remaining starters with Ivan Nova (elbow/Tommy John surgery) and Michael Pineda (back) already on the DL.  This means the remainder of the rotation after Kuroda and Tanaka, are David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and perhaps Chase Whitley or Alfredo Aceves.  That’s not exactly a rotation that strikes fear in the heart of opposing batters.

The Yankees are so very fortunate that they won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes in the off-season.  I’d hate to think where this rotation would be without Tanaka.  Or the team for that matter.

The Yankees will need to do something to address the starting rotation.  Nova is gone for the year, and Sabathia is still showing difficulty in adjusting to the latter stages of his pitching career.  I am really not sure what to expect when Pineda comes back and Kuroda has not shown consistent dominance since early last year.

But with the July trading deadline still over two months away, there are simply no quality options available.  Well, at least not at more reasonable prices.  Hopefully, someone among the Phelps, Nuno, Whitley et al group step up to show that they belong in The Show.  The Yankees need a new starter next year to replace Kuroda, who, more than likely, will retire or return to play in Japan.  Rather than vastly overpay for an upcoming free agent, it would be preferable for a young starter in the organization to step up and take his spot (obviously).

Passing the torch…

With Stephen Drew still available and the June draft upcoming, the rumors are picking up again that Drew would be a great fit for the Yankees.  I do not disagree.  No disrespect for Derek Jeter but he simply is not the player he was once.  He will not ride to the sunset like Mariano Rivera at the top of his game.  It’s unfortunate, but age has a funny way of doing that to the best of us.  I have felt that Drew would be a very solid addition since spring training and better than adding Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson.  I know it would cost a draft pick, but the Yankees should pull the trigger now and sign Drew rather than wait until the competition is much stronger once Drew no longer has compensation tied to his signing following the player draft.

Brendan Ryan is a great fielder at shortstop but this team needs quality, clutch bats and Drew would be perhaps the best option for production among the middle infielders if signed.

The quarterback who wears gloves picked the right city…

As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I bought into the hype of Johnny Manziel.  After experiencing life as a fan of Donnie Baseball, it was appealing to think of my favorite football team being led by Johnny Football.  When the Vikings were on the clock at #8 and Manziel was still available, I was hopeful, along with many other Vikings fans apparently, that the team would call his team.  But instead, the Vikings swapped places with the Cleveland Browns at #9, and took a defensive player (Anthony Barr).  While I recognize the team needed defensive help, particularly the linebackers and defensive backfield, but the team needs a true leader.  I had been hopeful Christian Ponder would be the guy but it has never worked out.  Perhaps offensive coordinator Norv Turner can pull something out of Ponder but in many ways it is too late.  Matt Cassell will be the starter in 2014 barring injury, so it was a given the Vikings would take a QB in the draft.

After failing to trade up to #22 (the Philadelphia Eagles accepted a better offer from the Cleveland Browns who then took Johnny Football), the Vikings traded back up into the first round (last pick at #32) with the Seattle Seahawks and grabbed the guy who was number one on many top QB lists, Teddy Bridgewater.  So, while I was disappointed the Vikings didn’t get Manziel, it is certainly not difficult to be excited about the potential of Bridgewater.  He’ll have great weapons with Adrian Peterson, Cordarelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings and others.  Ponder now becomes an afterthought, unless he is somehow able to find his way back into the starter’s role before Bridgewater takes the position for good.

Happy Mother’s Day!

–Scott