Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)
Yankees win latest series with Boston…
We have often heard it in recent days. On April 20th, the Yankees were 7 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East after Boston’s blazing 17-2 start at the beginning of the year. The Yankees, then 9-9, were getting ready to embark on the most brutal stretch of their schedule, struggling to stay above .500, with multiple series ahead against division leaders and winning teams.
Yet, here we are on May 10th, and the Yankees lead the AL East by one game with the best record in Major League Baseball. I guess I was worried for nothing, thanks to the twenty-five men on the Yankees roster who have contributed to the legendary winning run the team is currently on. Well, make that twenty-four, reliever A.J. Cole has just been along for the ride.
First place, how sweet it is…
It is amazing the last Yankees team to win 17 of 18 games were the 1953 Yankees which included a young Baby Bomber named Mickey Mantle. That’s pretty good company for the 2018 Yankees. I wasn’t alive then but I hear the 1950’s Yankees were pretty good.
The Yankees are spoiling second baseman Gleyber Torres. He’s quickly learning losing is unacceptable in the Bronx, having experienced only one loss in his first seventeen games. The Yankees are supposed to win every day, right?
Last year, it seemed like the Yankees were consistently losing the close games. Yet, this year, no deficit (it seems) has been too much unless we’re playing the lowly Baltimore Orioles. When Red Sox manager Alex Cora brought his closer, Craig Kimbrel, into last night’s game with five outs to go, it did not feel as intimidating as it had in years past. When Brett Gardner laced the triple to recapture the lead for the Yankees, it wasn’t a surprise to me. It felt like this team was going to find a way to victory. The two run homer by Aaron Judge off Kimbrel was icing on the cake. Loved seeing Astros closer Ken Giles blow the recent game against the Yankees, but watching Kimbrel lose was better even if he didn’t slug himself coming off the mound.
This run won’t last forever (will it?) but I am certainly enjoying it while it lasts. Back in early April, I felt we’d have a good litmus test on the Yankees by May 10th. Well, I’d say they aced the exam and have proven they are among the very best in Major League Baseball. Win or lose today, the team’s accomplishments have far exceeded my expectations.
Going into the Boston series, I had hoped the Yankees would win at least two of three so that they’d have at least a share of the AL East when the Red Sox headed for the airport. However, with two wins in the bag, let’s “Get Greedy” and go for the sweep!
I am not going to get too high. It is only mid-May and there’s so much baseball yet to be played before anything is decided. Gleyber Torres, sadly, will one day learn it is indeed possible to lose two or three games (or…yikes!…more) in a row at the MLB level. I am not going to dismiss the Red Sox. They are a very good team that’s not going away. But then again, neither are we. It should be a great summer of baseball ahead.
I did have to check out Boston newspapers today. The Boston Globe featured the Boston Celtics on their Sports page. The Celtics won their Eastern Conference semi-finals matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers and will advance to the Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. I suppose that’s big news in Boston but it is funny how the Red Sox became a secondary thought in the Globe.
Credit to Giancarlo Stanton who had two homers in the first game of the Red Sox series and a two-run double yesterday. The best way to stop boos at Yankee Stadium is to show up in a big way against the dreaded Red Sox. Nice job, Giancarlo. This is what you were hired to do.
And for all of you who wanted to cut Neil Walker, ala Chris Carter style, I think he’s given his answer to you. On a team that has featured a different hero almost every night, Walker has been a key ingredient in many of the rallies. I think there’s a much better chance of Tyler Austin finding his way to Scranton, PA than Walker hitting the unemployment line. Sorry Tyler, it’s not you. Walker has simply appeared so graceful at first base even though he is out of position and now his bat is showing why he was an offensive force for the Pirates and Mets. His veteran leadership meshes well with the team, and I am glad he’s here.
Hopefully CC Sabathia can close out the Red Sox this evening and send them out of town on a three-game losing streak. Since Rick Porcello had to move up his start by a day when Wednesday’s scheduled starter, David Price, returned to Boston for medical tests, Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 5.29 ERA) will take the mound later today for Boston.
The Yankees open a three-game set against the Oakland A’s on Friday night for their last home series before a road trip to Washington, Kansas City, and Dallas/Fort Worth. While it is cool Sonny Gray gets the start in the series opener against his former team, the player I will be watching most is former Yankee Dustin Fowler. The A’s called up Fowler yesterday. I had wondered if he’d make his season debut and first official MLB at-bat against the Yankees, but a pinch-hit appearance yesterday against the Houston Astros gave Fowler the first Major League at-bat that eluded him last year in Chicago when he suffered the devastating knee injury. Pinch-hitting for Mark Canha in the 7th inning (with Houston’s Will Harris on the mound), Fowler lined out to second. So, he’ll come to Yankee Stadium seeking his first Major League hit. While I don’t want the A’s to win (obviously), I hope Fowler gets that hit and draws a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd. He deserves it. A good man who deserves the very best life has to offer. He will always be one of my favorite ex-Yankees.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Gotta admit that it is really fun to be a Yankees fan right now. I know, it’s always fun, but the World seems like a better place when the Greedy Pinstripes are winning.
|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!
Aw shucks, do we really hafta?…
I have to admit the break was very nice. I took full advantage of it and enjoyed every minute. But alas, all good things must end. Time to get back to baseball and hopefully what will be a very productive second half for the Pinstripers.
I am glad the Chicago Cubs laid the Jose Quintana rumors to rest. It was a serious overpay (in my opinion) and I don’t think the cost was worth the top prospects in the organization. So, congratulations to GM Brian Cashman for his restraint. There’s no doubt we need pitching but we’ll just have to find another well, and hopefully a less costly one. The long term view is still the best view in the house. I am sure teams will now move to other rumored trade targets, ramping up the cost for guys like Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole (should they be placed on the market). I’d rather see Chance Adams get a chance at some point rather than his inclusion in a trade for an older, more established pitcher.
|Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports|
With less than three weeks to the trading deadline, Thursday should just be a slight preview of the days ahead as teams jockey for position.
I thought yesterday’s trade for first baseman Garrett Cooper was a chance worth taking. Why not?…the Yankees do not have anything to lose. By trading Tyler Webb, it was an indication that he didn’t fit into their long-term plans. Plus, he tied up a valuable 40-man roster spot which will be a premium in the off-season when the Yankees have to decide whom to protect and whom to potentially expose to the Rule 5 Draft. Every move made today has ramifications on the off-season so I am sure that Cashman is being both near- and far-sighted at the same time. Ji-Man Choi has had a couple of nice home runs but I am not sold on him as a Major League first baseman. If he falters, it is nice to know that Cooper is waiting in the wings. He probably represents an upgrade over Mike Ford (currently on the DL for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).
Stay tuned as I am sure we’re in for a ride.
I honestly did not think Aaron Judge would win the Home Run Derby last Monday. The win didn’t surprise me and I certainly loved watching the incredible show as much as anyone. But there was so much hype about him going into the Derby, I felt the weight of expectations would be too much. Between Judge and Gary Sanchez, I thought Sanchez would be the one to persevere. So, my apologies to Aaron and congratulations on the tremendous win. Now, in one of those bottom of the 9th at-bats when the Yankees are trailing and you represent the tying or winning run, please feel free to mix in a tape measure, Statcast-blowing blast instead of the usual strikeout. I am not trying to be critical of Judge and I am very appreciative of his consistent contributions game by game…but…outside of Clint Frazier’s recent walk-off, the bottom of the 9th at Yankee Stadium has generally meant three outs in recent weeks.
No All-Star Game recap from me, but it was tough to see a “formerly” beloved ex-Yankee hit the home run to win the game and another “probably still” beloved ex-Yankee save the win. Robinson Cano hurts more than Andrew Miller since the added measure (salt in the wound) was that Cano on the team as an injury replacement for current Yankee Starlin Castro. The losses of Cano leaving via free agency and the trade of Miller (not his fault) still sting. If Cano was still a Yankee, we’d probably be talking about the potential future retirement of his number. Now, Gary Sanchez gets the honors and Cano has a career that you primarily only see through box scores unless you live in Seattle.
Next Up: Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, MA…
The Yankees get a very quick and hard test to open the second half. They’ll travel to Boston to play the first place Red Sox for four games in three days. The break, outside of Chris Sale, gave the Sox the opportunity to reset their pitching rotation. With Sale pitching Tuesday’s All-Star Game, he’ll take the mound on Saturday. But we’ll see the top 4 pitchers in Boston’s rotation for this series. So no fifth starters this go-around. The Red Sox are starting to play like everyone expected although they did lose their most recent series when they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently tied with the Yankees for second place in the AL East. If Boston finds a solution for their third base problem and perhaps more arms for the pen, they’ll be a formidable team although at this point, I’d have to say the Houston Astros are the likely winners of the ALCS regardless of who they play.
By catching closer Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star Game, I am hopeful that Gary Sanchez picked up a thing or two to use during his at-bats. I think he was surprised at the movement of Kimbrel’s pitches from the catcher’s point of view. Very weird to see a Yankee catch a Red Sox pitcher.
The Red Sox can be beaten but not by the Yankees team we saw the last couple of weeks. They’ll need to rise to the challenge. I hope that Dellin Betances can right the ship once and for all. The same goes for Masahiro Tanaka. I only hope that we are not forced to use Tyler Clippard in a critical situation.
As expected, the Yankees have sent Starlin Castro to Double-A Trenton on a rehab assignment. They also released Chris Carter after he cleared waivers so there will be no Carter Experiment III.
Have a great Friday! Let’s start the second half off right with a win in Beantown! Let’s Go Yankees!
Hey Santa, you missed me!…
I write this post knowing full well that it could become obsolete very quickly with the trading deadline less than 24 hours away.
Heading into these last few weeks and days, I’ve felt like the kid at Christmas who has no presents to open. All of the other kids are getting the big, expensive, and popular gifts.
I had really hoped the Yankees would somehow be able to pull off a trade for a frontline starter, but that was a pipe dream given the Yankees have repeatedly indicated that the top prospects (Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo and Greg Bird) are off limits. But still, these are the mighty Yankees and I was hoping for a miracle. Now that Cole Hamels resides in Dallas and David Price is headed north of the border, that’s no hope for that true ace.
Earlier today, the Yankees did finally make a deal in acquiring Dustin Ackley of the Seattle Mariners. It’s kind of funny that Ackley is now a Yankee considering the reason he lost his job (second base) in Seattle was due to former Yankee Robinson Cano. But Ackley hasn’t played much at second (maybe one game) since Cano arrived in the Great Northwest. The Yankees are intrigued by his versatility and perhaps he is a poor man’s Martin Prado. There’s always a chance the Yankees could catch lightening in a bottle if Ackley rediscovers the promise he once held. He had a high pedigree being the second player chosen in 2009 (after Stephen Strasburg), but he’s never been able to turn the minor league stats into major league success. I know the Yankees have been interested in Ackley for some time, and he is someone I thought of when Cano did sign in Seattle as a possible replacement. But today, I am not sure what his acquisition means for the long run but I hope that he finds his niche in New York. I am hopeful that the New York media does not bring Ackley’s tag from Seattle “Ack Attack” when he hits a home run.
It was really tough watching Cole Hamels go to the Texas Rangers. But I suppose that I should be happy he didn’t end up in Boston. My preference, if not the Yankees, would have been for Hamels to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A top 3 of Kershaw-Greinke-Hamels would have been very formidable. I was equally if not more upset that David Price went to the Toronto Blue Jays. After acquiring shortstop Troy Tulowitzski this week, they pulled off a reasonable trade for perhaps the best pitcher in the American League. The Yankees may lead the AL East but I am very concerned about their ability to withstand a charge by the Blue Jays. The Yankees have too many questions in the starting rotation, made worse by today’s announcement that Michael Pineda had been placed on the DL. I understand the Yankees’ unwillingness to trade their top prospects and trying to re-sign Price in the off-season would have been a $200 million + proposition. Still, it’ll be disappointing if the Yankees fall just short of making the World Series this year knowing that someone like Hamels, Price or Max Scherzer could have been the difference maker.
There’s still time for the Yankees to acquire a second tier starting pitcher which they desperately need. I would not mind someone like Mike Leake, James Shields, or Jeff Samardzija. Any of the three would be an improvement to the rotation. There have been numerous reports linking San Diego Padres closer Craig Kimbrel to the Yankees. If they can’t acquire a starter, I am very intrigued by the thought of bringing in a premier closer and shifting Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller to the 7th and 8th innings, respectively. Shorten the game. It seems to work very well for the Kansas City Royals.
There’s a very real chance the Yankees do nothing after the Ackley acquisition. It’ll be a disappointment given the competition has been upgraded but the Yankees do have talent on the team as evidenced by their current spot in first place. They’ve certainly exceeded expectations, and maybe now that’s driving higher, unrealistic expectations, at least in the eyes of the fans.
I still laugh when I think of how George Steinbrenner once said no pitcher is worth a million dollars per year (when he re-signed Ron Guidry for $900,000).
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…
Speaking of Troy Tulowitzski, I felt really bad about the way he found out he had been traded (when manager Walt Weiss pulled him off the field during a game). A player of Tulo’s stature deserved much greater respect. I thought the Colorado Rockies were a better organization than that, but apparently not.
Well, the next few hours leading up to 4 pm Eastern tomorrow should be eventful…or not. We’ll see….