Tagged: Dellin Betances

Can We Just Take A Mulligan?…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Angels 10, Yankees 5…


The win on Wednesday was just a tease.  Losing teams find ways to lose and unfortunately the Yankees gave another game away last night.  Unless they can turn this around, the Yankees are showing that the early season was just a mirage. You can’t blame Aaron Judge.  He’s trying.  He hit his 25th home run of the season and has hit safely in 24 consecutive games (the longest Yankee streak of the year).  But pitching, which has alternated between very good and very bad, is sitting in the latter category at the moment albeit with an occasional solid performance like Jordan Montgomery the other night.


Bronx Pinstripes had a great tweet last night.  “What a disaster.  At least we have Tanaka tomorrow.  …Oh wait.”  My line of thinking exactly…


The game started well enough.  Despite Cameron Maybin’s lead-off home run to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead, the Yankees quickly answered in the bottom of the first when Angels starter Jesse Chavez walked Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday with two outs.  Starlin Castro followed with a run-scoring single to tie the game.


In the bottom of the 2nd inning, it looked like this was going to be our night.  Chris Carter doubled and Ronald Torreyes reached base on an infield hit, pushing Carter to third.  Brett Gardner grounded into a force-out at second but Carter scored on the play.  Aaron Hicks singled, putting runners at the corner, bringing up Aaron Judge.  With a three-run shot to center, the Yankees were up, 5-1.  I didn’t really expect those to be the final runs scored by the Yankees.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Angels started chipping away in the third when both Albert Pujols and Yunel Escobar had run-scoring singles with two outs.  5-3, Yankees.  Luis Severino settled down after that for a few innings of solid work, but gave up another run in the 6th when Escobar opened the inning with a double and scored on a single by Luis Valbuena.  Valbuena, a third baseman, is a guy I thought the Yankees should have pursued in the off-season when he was a free agent.


Still, I had hope that the Yankees could lock down the Angels, score a couple of insurance runs and win the game.  Then, the 7th inning happened.  Cliff Pennington opened the inning with a single.  From there, the game unraveled.  Cameron Maybin hit a ground ball to Starlin Castro that should have been turned for a double play but Castro’s fielding error allowed Maybin to reach base, with Pennington moving to third.  So, instead of two outs and no one on, the Angels had runners at the corners with no outs.  End of game for Luis Severino.  Chasen Shreve entered the game and was greeted by a sac fly from Kole Calhoun which tied the score at 5.  Exit Shreve, enter Dellin Betances.  Maybin stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gary Sanchez.  Albert Pujols said ‘I’ll take your gifts…thank you very much’ and lined a single to right, scoring Maybin for the lead.  Betances walked Escobar, followed by a wild pitch moving the runners to second and third.  With two outs, Andrelton Simmons doubled to give the Angels two more runs, 8-5.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

I was not ready to admit defeat and was pulling for an amazing comeback like the Yankees did earlier in the season against the Baltimore Orioles.  Yeah, right.  The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 7th and the Angels were ready for more in the 8th.  Domingo German took the mound, replacing Betances, and retired the first batter on a strikeout.  Unfortunately, this was followed by Cliff Pennington’s double and a wild pitch that moved him to third.  Cameron Maybin walked.  A failed pick-off attempt at first by German, the third Yankees error of the game, allowed Pennington to score with Maybin moving to third.  Kole Calhoun graciously accepted the latest gift, and hit a sac fly to push the score to 10-5.  


The Yankees could only muster a single from Chris Carter in the 9th, and he was left stranded at second when Ronald Torreyes grounded out.


This was a very disappointing loss.  I am not sure how you can lose two of three in your home park against the Mike Trout-less Angels.  Giving away free runs on multiple errors and wild pitches are not the signs of a successful team.  With the loss, the Yankees (39-31) fell back into a first-place tie with the idle Boston Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays, who also had the night off, moved to within 2 1/2 games of the leaders.  


Yes, I am mad about this loss.  And it scares the hell out of me that we’ll be throwing Tanaka out tonight against Yu Darvish.  It doesn’t get any easier…

Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium…

The Texas Rangers make their first trip to NYC for a three-game series starting tonight.  Pete Kozma, who started the year with the Yankees when Didi Gregorius was on the DL, is currently a back-up infielder for the Rangers.  Ernesto Frieri, who previously opted out of his Yankees minor league contract, is in the Texas bullpen.

FRIDAY

Rangers:  Yu Darvish (6-5, 3.35 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA)

SATURDAY

Rangers:  Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-0, 4.25 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-1, 7.36 ERA)

SUNDAY

Rangers:  Nick Martinez (2-3, 4.33 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.56 ERA)

Y’all enjoy the games now, y’hear!

Hopefully, we’ll see the team that throttled the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles a couple of weeks ago.  I miss that team…

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Tyler Webb from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I am very excited to see Tyler finally make it to the Show.  I’ve been following his career for a few years and I’ve liked the pitcher.  I was worried in the off-season when he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  As a mature lefty reliever (he’ll turn 27 in less than a month), I thought he had the potential to stick with the Pirates.  Despite a solid Spring performance, he was returned to the Yankees in a numbers game (fortunately for us).  In 21 games for SWB, Webb is 3-1 with 3.24 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  He has struck out 47 batters in 33 1/3 innings while allowing 33 hits and 12 runs.  He has only given up 3 walks and home runs.  They may not be elite numbers but I feel Webb has earned his shot. I am glad that he is here even if it’s only temporary.  Rob Refsnyder was sent to SWB to make room for Webb.  

Credit:  Chris O’Meara-AP

Greg Bird has been given a cortisone shot in his ankle and the hope is that he’ll soon be able to resume his rehab.  I find it highly unlikely that this will be the solution that gets Bird back on the field.  It seems to me that the problem with the ankle is more serious than we’ve been led to believe.  The cortisone shot just masks the pain, it doesn’t fix the problem.   There is daily speculation who the Yankees should look at on the trade market.  Lately, Yonder Alonso has been receiving the most attention.  I like Alonso and do feel that he’d be an upgrade over Chris Carter or Tyler Austin.  I have no problems with Matt Holliday at first other than I want to keep the guy healthy.  DH is the better avenue to accomplish that goal.  The Atlanta Braves did a wonderful job in trading for the under-utilized Matt Adams, previously of the St Louis Cardinals.  Adams has done nothing but hit since he became a Brave and has sparked speculation that injured first baseman Freddie Freeman may be moved to third when he returns.  I want GM Brian Cashman to make one of those under-the-radar but highly productive moves.  I know, easier said than done.

I think Aaron Judge should accept the invitation to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby.  I know that some players mess up their swings but like Manager Joe Girardi, I don’t think it would adversely impact Judge’s swing.  I like the idea of his exposure to the other great sluggers of the game.  It’s all part of his maturation as a Major League superstar.  The Yankees have renewed popularity this year because of guys like Judge and Gary Sanchez.  The All-Star Game is a great format to represent the pride and tradition of the Yankees.  

This is not baseball related but as an owner of a black cat, I found this one quite humorous…and true!

Have a great Friday!  Let’s not start a new losing streak today, please.

How do you spell “R-E-L-I-E-F”? No clue…

 

Credit:  Ben Margot-Associated Press

A’s 7, Yankees 6…

I am not gonna lie.  This has been a tough week with games that don’t start until after 10 pm EDT and a series of losses that could have been wins if not for bullpen breakdowns.  Aroldis Chapman is within our sights yet he seems so far away as the bullpen provides loss after loss. Sunday cannot get here quick enough.

This was another game that saw the Yankees fight back after falling behind early.  The A’s jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning but the Yankees answered with a three-run homer by Aaron Judge in the top of the 3rd, his 23rd HR of the year.  

Credit:  John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

They picked up single runs in the 5th through 7th innings, including a solo shot by Chris Carter in the 6th, to take a 6-4 lead.  

In the bottom of the 7th, with Chasen Shreve on the mound, the A’s picked up a run on a sac fly by Chad Pinder.  Jonathan Holder replaced Shreve for the 8th, but a walk, double and intentional walk, which loaded the bases, set the stage for A’s rookie third baseman Matt Chapman to deliver the game-winning hit with a two-run single.

A’s closer Santiago Casilla struck out three of the four batters he faced to seal the 7-6 victory for Oakland.  

Aside from the disastrous second inning, Luis Severino pitched well. He went six innings, allowing four hits, runs, and walks.  He struck out six.  He banged his knee against a locker prior to the game but didn’t attribute it as a cause for his early struggles.  Jonathan Holder (1-1) took the loss with a pitch that was supposed to be in the dirt but was left where Chapman could emerge as the victor with the winning hit. 

With a starting lineup that included Rob Refsnyder, Mason Williams, Austin Romine, and Ronald Torreyes, I was concerned about this game from the start.  Nothing against those guys, but the players who sat (Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) are heavy artillery.  Hopefully everyone is feeling a little healthier and/or rested today.  

The 8th inning has been a major problem area with Dellin Betances as the designated ninth inning guy.  It will be nice to have Betances back to provide the late setup coverage when Chapman returns.  For all the bullpen failures, Betances has stood alone as the bright spot.  Note to Yankees Prez Randy Levine, Betances is worth more than $3 million.  Pay him, you blithering idiot.

While the Yankees (38-27) were losing to the American League’s worst team, the Boston Red Sox were beating its best (2-1 victory over the Houston Astros).  So, the Red Sox have pulled to within one game of the Yankees in the AL East standings.  All the other AL East teams lost.  The Yankees have now lost four in a row, a new season high, after snapping their six-game winning streak in Anaheim.  

Odds & Ends…

Prior to Friday’s game, the Yankees made a few roster moves.  The injuries to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks forced their hand.  With both players day to day, a trip to the DL doesn’t make sense for either guy.  So, roster help had to come from other areas.  Adam Warren, dealing with a sore trapezius muscle, was moved to the DL and Giovanny Gallegos was returned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Kyle Higashioka was recalled to back up Austin Romine while Sanchez is dealing with his tight groin muscle, and Mason Williams was elevated to provide the Yankees an additional outfielder to help offset the temporary loss of Hicks.  Necessary moves, but ones that weakened an already strained bullpen. 

Speaking of Aroldis Chapman, the results of his final rehab tune-out at AA-Trenton were less than ideal.  Chapman started the Thunder’s game on Friday against the Erie SeaWolves.  He threw 20 pitches (his pitch limit).  While he struck out two in pitching 2/3rd’s of an inning, he walked two and threw two wild pitches which allowed the SeaWolves to score a run.  The Thunder eventually won the game, 4-2.  After the game, Chapman, through an interpreter, said, “I felt good out there.  I know my command wasn’t 100%, but I felt really good.  The good thing is I know I am going to come back strong.”  I hope so as the Yankees need a strong and healthy Chapman now more than ever.

Credit:  Greg Slaboda-The Trentonian

It does not sound good for first baseman Greg Bird.  He met with the Yankees team physician and had a CT scan and MRI for his knee and ankle on Friday.  He’ll meet with Dr Bob Anderson in North Carolina for a second opinion.  It’s starting to look as though this will be another lost year for Bird.  

Yesterday saw a nice Triple A debut for starting pitcher Domingo Acevedo.  He pitched 7 innings of three-hit ball in the RailRiders’ 8-1 win over the Buffalo Bisons.  He gave up only one run, and struck out four.  Walks were high (five) but it was a great start for Acevedo.  Gleyber Torres was 3-for-4 in the game with a run scored.  

Have a great Saturday!  Please let today be the start of a new winning streak.  Go Yankees!

Losing the Game of Inches…

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sport

A’s 8, Yankees 7…


I love California but this road trip has been horrific.


The Yankees fought back in this game time and again and took the lead in the 10th, only to lose another game with a rookie pitcher on the mound.  I am not pinning this on Giovanny Gallegos but it’s a testament to the mounting bangs and bruises on this team.


After the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded in the first inning, the A’s took the early lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot by Jed Lowrie.  The A’s took a 3-0 lead in the second when Adam Rosales doubled off Jordan Montgomery, following a walk by Matt Chapman, making his Major League debut, and a ground-rule double by Josh Phegley, scoring both base runners.


The game stayed that way until the sixth.  In the top of the inning, Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded to score two runs.  Chris Carter followed with a single to tie the game at 3.  The A’s replaced starting pitcher Sonny Gray with Sean Dolittle who retired the next two Yankees to get out of the inning.  In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso homered as the A’s re-captured the lead, 4-3.  


The seesaw battle continued in the 7th inning when Gary Sanchez doubled with Starlin Castro on second, scoring Castro with the tying run.  But the A’s answered the run with a run-scoring single by Chad Pinder in the bottom of the inning and the A’s were back up, 5-4.


Chris Carter homered in the top of the 8th to once again tie the game, 5-5.  Like the inning before, the A’s answered the call in the bottom of the inning when Matt Joyce hit a grounder into a force out with the bases loaded and only one out, scoring the lead runner.  6-5, A’s. Tyler Clippard had started the inning but he was ineffective (again) as two of three batters he faced reached base through a single and a walk.  Dellin Betances was on the mound when the A’s scored their run, but he was able to strike out Rajai Davis to prevent any further damage.


The 9th inning saw the Yankees tie the game again when Starlin Castro doubled off A’s closer Santiago Casilla and Gary Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.  Gary Sanchez stole second to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position (replaced by pinch runner Ronald Torreyes as Sanchez came out of the game with a tight groin) with only one out, but Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter could not move the runner.  Didi flied out, and Carter went down swinging on a 3-2 count.  In the bottom of the 9th, the A’s loaded the bases with two outs against Betances but he was able to get out of the inning by striking out Matt Chapman.


The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the 10th when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.  Matt Holliday, entering the game at DH to replace Torreyes, struck out against A’s reliever Liam Hendricks to end the inning.  The Yankees could have used a few insurance runs on this night.  In the bottom of the 10th, Giovanny Gallegos replaced Betances.  He retired the first two batters he faced, but then Rajai Davis singled and Chad Pinder doubled to move Davis to third.  Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Khris Davis ended the game with a single just over Starlin Castro (ball tipped off his glove), scoring Davis and Pinder with the winning runs.  A’s emerged with the 8-7 victory in another lost opportunity for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi summed it up after the game, “It hurts because it’s a matter of a couple inches that you lose that game by and it’s frustrating.”


This was another game that shows how much the Yankees miss closer Aroldis Chapman.  It will be good to get Chapman back this weekend (hopefully on Sunday) so that Betances can get into games earlier and lessen the reliance on other arms.  


Fingers crossed for both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks who also left the game in the 9th with tightness in his Achilles Heel.  After the game, it was disclosed that reliever Adam Warren is battling tightness in his trapezius muscle which accounted for his unavailability.  Hopefully, none of these ailments are serious.  

Didi Gregorius singled in the game to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games.


Fortunately, the Yankees (38-26) did not lose any ground to any AL East team except the Toronto Blue Jays as everyone else lost.  The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays remain 2 games and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively, while the Blue Jays moved up to 6 1/2 games back (bringing  the Baltimore Orioles into a tie for the AL East cellar).  


Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends…

Ronald Herrera, we hardly knew ye.  After taking the loss in his lone Big League appearance on Wednesday night, Herrera has found himself back with the Double A Trenton Thunder.  I thought it was much to ask of Herrera to make the jump from AA to the Majors, and the proof was in the pudding with the pitch he threw Andrelton Simmons.  What works in AA goes for a long home run in the Big Leagues.  The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on the Disabled List, as expected.  To replace Herrera and Sabathia, the Yankees have recalled Luis Cessa and Domingo German.  Sunday’s starter has not yet been determined but Girardi has a pool of Cessa, German and Chad Green to choose from.  Cessa appears to be the favorite to start on Sunday (or on Saturday if Girardi decides to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day).

The Yankees stopped the rehabilitation for Greg Bird yesterday and he’ll see Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad today.  Bird told Trainer Steve Donohue on Thursday morning that the leg was not feeling right and not functioning right.  This is not good news.  The Yankees are already suspect at both infield corners.  Tyler Austin has not exactly set the World on fire at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is currently batting .303 but only has 1 homer and 6 RBI’s in 17 games (66 AB’s).  In my opinion, the best first baseman in the system is Thunder first baseman Mike Ford.  This year, including his time at AAA, Ford, 24, is batting .289/.410/.509 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI’s.  He has played 61 games and has walked 44 times.  He even stole a base…once.  But he has the same disadvantage as Chance Adams and others, he does not have a place on the 40-man roster.  

There was already talk the Yankees needed to upgrade at third.  If the priority becomes first base, does this increase the likelihood that we’ll see Gleyber Torres as soon as next month?  I still think it is too premature for him and his AAA manager is on record saying that he is not ready yet.  I guess this is why GM Brian Cashman is paid to make these decisions.  The added pressure on him is the moves over the next 45 days will go a long way toward determining his future at the end of the year with the expiration of his contract.  


Have a great Friday!  Let’s win one of these close games for a change…

Telling It To The Judge…

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.  

For Gary, the Price is Right!…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 9, Red Sox 1…

Admittedly, I was glad that it was David Price on the mound Thursday and not Chris Sale.  For an ace, I’ve never been worried when Price is pitching against the Yankees as they generally seem to come up big against him.  Thursday was no exception.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

As John Sterling says, “Gary is scary”.  A night after Chris Carter almost hit two home runs, Gary accomplished the feat for his second multi-homer game in a week.  They had meat in them as both occurred with runners on base (solo homers seem don’t carry the same bang for the buck in a statement of the obvious).  Like Wednesday’s game, the Yankees scored first with Brett Gardner’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the 2nd.  Then, like Chris Carter the day before, Gary Sanchez got a hold of David Price’s pitch with Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday on base and deposited it over the left-center wall to give the Yankees a nice cushion.  Sanchez went deep again in the 5th, with a blast to center off Price, scoring Starlin Castro.  Gary was 2-for-4 with 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  

Gary has hit Price well in his brief career.  He is 4-for-7 with four home runs.  As Gary starts to heat up, it is scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of when it is hitting all cylinders.  Even when they are not, it seems like someone is coming up big (unless your name is Chase Headley).  

It was also an impressive night for Aaron Judge, even without any homers.  He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored, pushing his season batting average to .330.  His single in the sixth inning off Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad was the hardest hit ball of the year according to Statcast.  With exit velocity of 119.8 mph, Judge pushed two of his own prior efforts to second and third on the Exit Velocity leaderboard.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Brett Gardner took the lead in the Bald Brothers Battle with his 13th home run of the season, a fly to center in the 8th when the game was no longer in doubt.  I was really hoping that Matt Holliday would be able to match Gardner two batters later, but he was hit by a pitch, taking the bat out of his hands prematurely.  

I have to mention the great running catch by Ronald Torreyes in the 9th.  As a defensive substitution for Didi Gregorius after Austin Romine had pinch hit for Didi, Torreyes ran toward the left field foul area after Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp fly.  Sliding past the foul line, Torreyes made the catch to record the first out.  Plays like this show the 2017 Yankees are a team that likes to have fun.  You could see the appreciation from his teammates as Torreyes walked back on field.  

Just when you thought Chris Carter was finally starting to hit, he was 0-for-4 as his batting average slipped below .200 again (.195).  He was the only starter not to reach base through a hit or a walk.  Chase Headley committed his 10th error of the season, matching his season total last year.  

Lost among the stellar night by Sanchez was a tremendous start by Michael Pineda (7-3).  After the disaster in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Pineda was on top of his game against the Sox.  He held Red Sox batters to only four hits over seven innings, and only allowed one unearned run.  He walked two and struck out eight in the dominating performance.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The quartet of Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have really been fun to watch with the most recent run through the rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka, not so much…

As for the bullpen, I thought Adam Warren and Giovanny Gallegos did good jobs.  Warren pitched a clean 8th inning, recording one strikeout.  Gallegos came on in the 9th, and easily got the first two batters out.  Manager Joe Girardi then made a pitching change to bring Dellin Betances into the game.  Betances clearly had rust, having not pitched for about five days.  He walked Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez subsequently took 2nd on defensive indifference.  Dellin struck out the next batter, Jackie Bradley, Jr, but the ball got away from Gary Sanchez for a wild pitch, and JBJ made it safely to first with Ramirez taking third.  Like Ramirez, JBJ then took 2nd on defensive indifference.  Josh Rutledge followed with a walk to load the bases.  I have to say that I was getting a bit concerned, even with a 9-1 lead.  Fortunately, Dellin ended the game with the next batter, Pablo Sandoval, on a called third strike.  For what should have been a short one-out stint, Betances ended up throwing 17 pitches.  Hopefully, the work proves beneficial for the upcoming Baltimore series.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg

Coming into the Boston series, the Red Sox could have taken the AL East lead with a sweep.  But thanks to two Yankees victories following the opening game loss, New York (34-23) increased its lead to 3 games.  The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Washington Nationals, 6-1, dropping 3 1/2 games back.

I never thought that we’d hold Boston to only one run in two games, but it’s been a very fun couple of nights.  I am hoping for a similar result in the upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

Greg Bird should be back soon.  He is saying that he is as close to 100% as he has been since spring training.  On Thursday, he moved up from High-A Tampa to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on rehab assignment.  He was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks in SWB’s 3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley.  I liked his comments when asked how will he know when he’s ready:  “Some magical sign. Lightning will strike my bat”.  He was kidding, of course, but if he starts hitting like he did in Spring Training, it’s going to be a very fun summer.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins tonight.  

FRIDAY

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (6-4, 2.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67 ERA)

SATURDAY

Orioles:  Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90 ERA)

SUNDAY

Orioles:  Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka, Yikes!  (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Have a great Friday!  As always, Go Yankees!

Using 2 Hits to Maximum Advantage…

Credit:  Al Bello/Getty Images

Yankees 3, A’s 2…

The Yankees didn’t get much offense on Saturday, but thanks to the rejuvenated CC Sabathia (5-2), they didn’t need it.

In the first inning, they scratched out a run through a walk, hit by pitch, wild pitch, and sacrifice fly (by Starlin Castro).  By the time Oakland’s Ryon Healy doubled in the sixth inning to tie the score, the Yankees were still searching for their first hit against A’s starter Jharel Cotton.

CC was pitching great but I did have a heart attack in the top of the sixth with two outs when Trevor Plouffe sharply hit a fly to right.  Starlin Castro, on the run, appeared to catch the ball but it bounced out of his glove.  Alertly, a running Aaron Judge was in the right spot at the right time and made the catch to end the inning.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

Cotton, who entered the game with a 5.68 ERA, pitched liked an ace.  Despite a walk to Brett Gardner in the third (subsequently erased when he tried to steal second), Cotton was cruising from the second inning through the fifth, with three up-three down each frame.  It was more of the same to start the sixth as Cotton recorded two quick outs on fly balls.  

Then, the walk raised its ugly head for Cotton again when he gave Gary Sanchez a free pass.  Matt Holliday came to the plate, with two outs and no team hits showing on the scoreboard.  After a first pitch ball (low and inside), Holliday got a hold of Cotton’s second offering and launched a blast to left-center.  “High fly ball, left field…going back Davis.  Track, wall, SEE YA!” (courtesy of Michael Kay of the YES Network).  

After giving up a single to the next batter (Castro), Cotton was done even though he had allowed the only two hits the Yankees would get in this game.  Cotton pitched his heart out in his 13th major league game and recorded a career high 107 pitches, but like Masahiro Tanaka found out the other night, Baseball can be a cruel sport.  

CC tired in the seventh when, with one out, he gave up a homer to Josh Phegley, to bring the score to 3-2 Yanks, and a double by Adam Rosales.  Time to turn to the Yankees bullpen which had ignited an A’s rally the night before.  Fortunately, Adam Warren got Matt Joyce on a groundout and left Rosales stranded at third when he struck out Mark Canha.

The eighth inning brought Tyler Clippard into the game.  With the disaster of the night before fresh on everyone’s mind, Clippard struck out the first batter, Jed Lowrie.  Lowrie, who seems to rise to the occasion against the Yanks, was subsequently ejected for arguing strikes.  At that point, the Friday night version of Clippard reappeared.  A walk to Khris Davis and a double by Ryon Healy put runners at second and third with just one out.  Exit Clippard, and enter Dellin Betances.  Ball, called strike, foul, called strike…inning over.  Hey Randy Levine, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Credit:  Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

In the ninth inning, it was three up and three down for Betances, with a swinging strikeout by Matt Joyce to end the game.  

Cut to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”…ah, I love that song on winning days.

With the win, the Yankees (28-18) held their two-game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox beat the Seattle Mariners again.  The scary part is that the complete game shut-out was by a rookie pitcher, Brian Johnson, making his first career start at Fenway Park.  Johnson was optioned back to AAA after the game but he’s making the way for the return of David Price who will be activated from the DL this week.  The Baltimore Orioles lost their sixth game in a row to slide 3 1/2 games back.

Player Updates…

Tyler Austin was elevated to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday with his rehab assignment.  On Saturday, he contributed a run-scoring single to help the RailRiders defeat the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-1.  Gleyber Torres was 1-for-5 with a double, driving in a run.  

Greg Bird departs for Tampa today.  He’ll most likely take a few at-bats in extended spring training at the Yankees’ minor-league complex on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning his rehab assignment.  He spoke of muscle soreness yesterday (typical soreness after not using certain muscles) but otherwise everything seems to be moving forward with his progress.

Also progressing is closer Aroldis Chapman who must have received favorable news from the doctor on Saturday as he was able to make 25 throws from 60 feet.  He’ll continue with playing catch on Sunday as he begins his preparation for hopefully a mid-June return.  

Speaking of Chapman, I am hopeful that he’ll be activated during the Yankees road trip to California when the Yankees travel to Oakland on June 15th.  I really want to see a rematch between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis.  Davis had the game-tying home run off Chapman in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. I want to see Chapman punch out Davis to win a game as retribution.  Hey, I am not a vindictive person…just competitive.

Credit:  MLB.com

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s win again while Chase Headley continues to sit…

Flying to New York on a Positive Note…

All is right in the world again…  

Yankees win and the Orioles do not.  Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst.  Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees.  He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.  

The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base.  If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch!  He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win.  In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.  He had six strikeouts.  The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.

Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits.  Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.  

The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.  

The Tyler Austin Watch…  

In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats.  The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder.  He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO). 

In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa.  If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end.  Or how it should end.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…  

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…

The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders.  In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs.  He batted .273 and stole 5 bags.    The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx.  Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third. 

Credit:  Matt Rourke/AP

I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams.  Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.  He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs.  He has walked three batters while striking out eleven.  Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.

Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…  

The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series.  The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.  

TODAY:

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

TUESDAY:

Royals:  Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)

WEDNESDAY:

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)

THURSDAY:

Royals:  Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)

Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation.  He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider.  Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game.  The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness.  If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in.  I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…

 

Have a great Monday!  Let’s make it two in a row!