Tagged: Dellin Betances

The Toddfather and the Triple Play…

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Yankees 4, Reds 2…

Todd Frazier’s Yankee Stadium debut will be hard to forget.  I am not talking about the 500 or 600 people that traveled up to the game from Tom’s River, New Jersey.  With the bases loaded and no outs in the second inning, Frazier came to bat and promptly hit into an inning-ending triple play.  Fortunately, the Yankees squeezed one run out of it but not exactly a stellar debut.  Nevertheless, thanks to a magnificent Jordan Montgomery and 2 later RBI’s from  the third out of the triple play (Didi Gregorius), the Yankees prevailed over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

The second inning started so nicely for the Yankees.  Matt Holliday, Didi Gregorius, and Chase Headley all singled to load the bases with no outs against Reds starter Luis Castillo.  It set the stage for Todd Frazier’s Yankee Stadium debut.  I was thinking Grand Slam.  How beautiful that would have been.  But it was not meant to be as Frazier hit a grounder to shortstop Jose Peraza on a 3-1 hitter’s count.  After erasing Headley and Frazier, the Reds had Didi hung up between second and third.  He had broken for third base and then had second thoughts and ended up running out of the base path for the third and final out but not before Holliday had crossed the plate with the game’s first run.

The Yankees picked up another run in the 4th inning.  Aaron Judge singled to right off Castillo and worked his way to third base courtesy of a Matt Holliday broken bat groundout and then balk by the pitcher.  Didi Gregorius scored Judge with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Another run came the next inning when Todd Frazier, shaking off the triple play, led off with a single to left.  Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice which eliminated Frazier at second.  Austin Romine, a high school teammate of Colorado’s great third baseman Nolan Arenado, doubled to the right field corner with Wade motoring around to score the Yankees’ third run. The Yankees loaded the bases after Romine’s double but were unable to cash in when Matt Holliday grounded out to end the inning.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Jordan Montgomery was amazing.  He had a no-hitter going until the top of the 6th inning when Scott Schebler led off with a double to the wall in right center.  Schebler ended up scoring when he moved to third on a fly out and came home on a ground out.  Monty pitched into the 7th inning and had two outs before he was pulled after giving up a single to Adam Duvall.  Tommy Kahnle came on to secure the final out.  Montgomery settled for a two-hitter over 6 2/3 innings, allowing the single run and walking a batter, while striking out 6.  We’ve been watching Monty “grow up” this season before our very eyes and it has been fun.  He does not pitch like a rookie and is showing that he can be an arm to rely upon down the stretch.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

With the Yankees holding the slim 3-1 lead, things got a little too interesting in the 8th.  Dellin Betances, showing that his struggles are not behind him, got into trouble.  He walked the first batter, Devin Mesoraco, to immediately start in the hole.  After striking out Scott Schebler, he walked Jose Peraza.  Zack Cozart pinch-hit for Arismendy Alcantara and hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice, forcing Peraza out at second.  Mesoraco moved to third, with Cozart at first.  Billy Hamilton doubled to right, scoring Mesoraco and moving Cozart to third.  Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough and pulled Betances in favor of Adam Warren.  Meanwhile, the Reds replaced Cozart after he aggravated a quad injury running to third base with pinch-runner Robert Stephenson, a starting pitcher (the Reds were down to catchers on their bench).  Fortunately, Stephenson, representing the tying run, was left stranded at third when Warren struck out Eugenio Suarez.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees added a much-needed insurance run when Didi Gregorius homered to right center, a solo shot.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-The New York Post

The Yankees took a 4-2 lead into the 9th inning for closer Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman, unlike Betances, had no command issues as he easily dispatched the three Reds he faced for his 12th save of the season.  Yankees win!

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees (52-46) moved to within a game of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings with the victory.  The Red Sox lost another game in Seattle, this time a 6-5 loss in 13 innings (after the Mariners rallied in the bottom of the 13th trailing the Red Sox, 5-4).  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-4, to remain 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

Ironically, although he has no official RBI as a Yankee, Todd Frazier has driven in two runs with a double play and now a triple play during his brief Yankees career.  Hopefully, he’ll start mixing in a few official ribbies.

Credit:  Anthony J Causi-The New York Post

After the game, Joe Girardi said that it was his intent to avoid using David Robertson in the game.  He continues to have confidence in Dellin Betances, as do we, but there’s no question that he needs to work his way out of this funk sooner rather than later.

Sonny Gray Watch…

Okay, I admit it.  I am ‘all in’ on the Sonny Gray rumors.  He was probably the most scouted major league player during last night’s match-up between Gray’s current (soon to be former) team, the Oakland A’s and the AL East’s very own Toronto Blue Jays.  I have to admit that I was channel flipping between games.  It was actually a ‘two-fer’ watch with Yonder Alonzo starting at first base.  

Credit:  Mark Blinch-AP

I am still expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to pull a desperation move but hopefully they are more focused on Yu Darvish assuming the Texas Rangers can be persuaded to sell.

Gray’s outing against the Blue Jays didn’t go so well.  Although he didn’t allow any earned runs, the Jays scored four runs against him courtesy of his own throwing error which extended the second inning in the A’s 4-1 loss.  His final line:  6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO.  He took the loss, dropping to 6-5 while his ERA was lowered to 3.43.  

A number of teams were present to scout Gray at Rogers Centre in addition to the Yankees.  They included the Cubs, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates, Indians, and Royals.  Although they were not present, the Houston Astros remain a frontrunner to acquire Gray according to A’s beat writer Susan Slusser.  

Here’s hoping that GM Brian Cashman is able to ensure that Gray’s next start will be in pinstripes.

Odds & Ends…

Ex-Yankee relievers seem to be in high demand.  Last week, we saw David Phelps traded from the Miami Marlins to the Seattle Mariners and saw him over the weekend.  Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox, having already divested themselves of former (and now current) Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, shipped ex-Yankee reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Swarzak had just picked up his first save on Monday after Tyler Clippard failed to close the previous game.  I guess it is a curse to effectively close a game for the White Sox this year but I am not complaining.  Justin Wilson is probably the next former Yankee reliever on the auction block.  

Speaking of ex-Yankees, the Boston Red Sox felt they needed one.  They acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez overnight from the San Francisco Giants for a couple of minor league pitchers.  Thwarted in their attempt to acquire Todd Frazier from the Chicago White Sox, they had recently called up top prospect Rafael Devers to man third base.  The Red Sox press release referred to Nunez as a utility player so he’ll presumably provide insurance for the 20-year-old Devers if the Red Sox opt to continue with plans with the youngster at the hot corner or possibly platoon with him.

Triple A outfielder Jake Cave has been named the International League’s Player of the Week for the week ending July 23rd.  Cave was 15-for-26 (.577) with 2 homers and 8 RBI’s. His on-base percentage was .607 and his slugging percentage was .885.  He hit safely in all seven games played, with multiple hits in all but two of the games.  Since his promotion from Double A, Cave has the most hits (47) of any player in the International League over that period of time.  I know that the 24-year-old Cave is desperately seeking a MLB opportunity.  If he can’t get it with the Yankees, I hope that he is included in a deadline deal that will allow him to make his MLB debt.  He’s earned it.

Have a great Wednesday!  One more with the Reds and then bring us the Rays!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Walking Away From Victory…

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…

The Yankees paid $86 million for Aroldis Chapman to blow last night’s game.  The bad with the good.  I’ve been concerned about Chapman for a few weeks now, actually dating back before he went on the DL.  His struggles with command have largely flown under the radar given the horrific stretches encountered by both Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances.  I thought maybe Chapman’s contract might look bad toward the end but not in the first year.  For the same money, the Yankees could have signed Kenley Jansen in the off-season.  Jansen earned his 22nd save last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is 4-0 with 0.93 ERA.  Chapman has 8 saves and 3.92 ERA.  Granted, Chapman could have used some defensive help in the 9th so to his defense, it was not entirely his fault.  I think Chapman will be alright and a force in the second half.  

The game was a struggle for Jordan Montgomery, laboring every inning he pitched.  Even if he did give up 6 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings worked, it could have been much worse.  So credit to him for not rolling over.  The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the first two innings but failed to get them home.  They finally broke through in third inning after the Yankees had taken a 1-0 lead.  With Xander Bogaerts at first (single), Hanley Ramirez hammered a Montgomery fastball over the Green Monster in center to give the Sox a 2-1 lead.

The Red Sox picked up a third run in the 4th inning.  Sam Travis opened with a walk off Montgomery.  Christian Vasquez ripped a single to left, runners at first and second.  Deven Marrero hit an infield grounder to Didi Gregorius who fired the ball to Ronald Torreyes at second in an attempt to get the force out but Torreyes took his eyes off the ball and it glanced off his glove for an error to load the bases.  Montgomery was able to retire Mookie Betts on a pop up but Dustin Pedroia singled to left to score Travis, 3-1 Sox.  A subsequent double play with the bases still loaded prevented any further damage.

In the top of the 5th, the Yankees led off with a double by Chase Headley.  Brett Gardner lined a one-out single to right to score Headley.  Gary Sanchez, the Sanchino, followed with his 14th home run of the year, a high fly ball that sailed out of Fenway Park in left, and the Yankees had taken a 4-3 lead.  

Credit:  CJ Gunther-EPA

The Yankees bullpen took over in the bottom of the 5th.  Chad Green was spectacular, working two innings with no hits and 5 strikeouts.  Adam Warren despite giving up two singles in the 7th, kept the Sox off the board.  Dellin Betances hit Mitch Moreland with a pitch in the 8th but otherwise was great with three strikeouts.  

The Yankees were unable to add any insurance runs against Sox starter Drew Pomeranz and the Red Sox bullpen (who held the Yanks hitless for the final 3 innings) so it was off to the bottom of the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman. 

I hate to re-live this inning but here we go.  Mookie Betts reached first on an infield single to deep short.  Dustin Pedroia followed with a grounder to short.  The throw from Didi Gregorius to Ronald Torreyes at second was too high and Torreyes had to jump to catch the ball, taking his feet off the bag.  Betts safe at second, Pedroia at first.  A double steal moved the runners to second and third.  Xander Bogaerts hit an infield grounder to Torreyes and he was unable to handle it for his second error of the game.  Betts scored the tying run.  The Yankees intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases.  Chapman then struggled to find the strike zone with Andrew Benintendi and walked him on a 3-1 count, bringing home Pedroia with the winning run.  Defeat with no balls out of the infield…a disappointing loss.

Credit:  Stuart Cahill-Boston Herald

The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1, in 10 innings to take sole possession of 2nd place in the AL as the Yankees (45-42) dropped to third.  The Yankees are 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a game behind the Rays.  

Oh, By The Way…

The news for the second half is certainly not starting off on the right foot.  With Michael Pineda’s diagnosis of a flexor muscle strain and a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, there’s a strong possibility for Tommy John surgery.  He’ll seek a second opinion but this is not good news.  Considering this is his “walk” year, I wonder if he’ll go the way of Nathan Evoldi who was released and later signed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  With Bryan Mitchell scheduled to start Game 1 of Sunday’s double-header and Luis Cessa next week in Minneapolis, the rotation is looking very shaky.  I am sure that the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates are salivating over the potential price tag they can assign to Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole. My fear is that the desperation forces the Yankees to part with Chance Adams in addition to other high-ranking prospects to acquire an established starter.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox will be throwing Chris Sale and two former AL Cy Young Award winners at us this weekend.


I had my doubts that Pineda would be back next year but this probably seals it for his departure.  


Scouts from other teams seem to think that Chance Adams is Major League ready but according to the Yankees, he still needs to work on his command and his third pitch.  That’s more involved than a start or two so it’s anybody’s guess when we’ll see Adams in the Bronx.  I think he’s potentially more effective than Luis Cessa but they didn’t ask me.  Maybe it is Caleb Smith that gets the next call.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-Times Leader`

Oh yeah, and Greg Bird has inflammation in the Os Trigonum of his right ankle and surgery is a strong possibility (if so, 6-8 weeks recovery).  


The roster moves made in advance of yesterday’s game with the Red Sox were the activation of DH Matt Holliday and the purchase of 1B Garrett Cooper’s contract from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Making room were the placement of Michael Pineda on the disabled list and the demotion of Rob Refsnyder to SWB.  Cooper was thrown to the wolves immediately as he made his Major League debut last night in Boston.  Yeah, Garrett, Yankee games can be intense.  Welcome to the Pinstripes!

Cooper started last night’s game although he was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts in his MLB debut.


Odds & Ends…


It is interesting that the Yankees played the fewest games (86) in the first half of any team according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.  The team is scheduled to play 52 games in the next 55 days and of course they have 3 games in the next 2 days.  With no days off, they play games on the road in Minneapolis and Seattle before they get a break (which of course will be consumed by a cross-country flight to return home from the Pacific Northwest).  No rest for the weary…


Have a great Saturday!  I’ll be out on my Harley so hopefully the Yankees bring home a victory against the great Chris Sale.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Solution: 15 K’s & Red Thunder…

Credit:  Al Bello-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Brewers 3…

Finally!  A fun and dramatic game.  Clint Frazier was the man of the hour with three hits.  The first hit broke up a no-hitter by Milwaukee starter Brent Suter in the fifth inning.  The second hit brought the Yankees within a run when the ball landed on top of the Stub Hub sign in left for a triple to score two runs.  The third hit was a game-winning walk-off home run to left as the Yankees overcame the Brewers on Saturday afternoon.

The first inning didn’t get started on the right foot.  After Eric Thames looped a double to right field, Travis Shaw was awarded first base in a controversial “hit by pitch”.  The umpire didn’t react until Shaw said something which caused the ump to send Shaw to first base, drawing the ire of Manager Joe Girardi.  Girardi could be overheard saying “He called it, you didn’t call it”.  The TV replays, to me, were inconclusive.  If the ball hit Shaw, it was fabric only but even then, the jersey didn’t move as the ball passed through to the catcher’s mitt.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

Domingo Santana followed with a fly ball just over the right field wall which gave the Brewers an early 3-0 lead.

Credit:  Getty Images

For the Brewers, it would be the end of their offensive show for the day.  Luis Severino made the necessary adjustments (I hope you were watching, Michael Pineda!) and shut the Brewers down for the next six innings.  By the time he departed, he had pitched 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and the 3 runs allowed via the first inning home run.  He walked two, both in the 6th inning, while striking out 10.  It was a no-decision for him but the Yankees do not win this game without Severino’s performance.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

The Yankees had a scoring opportunity in the 2nd inning when Didi Gregorius lofted a fly ball to center.  Four Brewers converged at the same time and the ball fell between them for an error on Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.  But the Yankees were subsequently caught with awful base-running. Chase Headley hit a come-backer to the pitcher and the Brewers had Didi caught between second and third.  Didi didn’t try to extend the rundown and the Brewers were able to tag Didi out and nail Headley off first base for the double play.  If Didi had tried to evade the tag, it would have given Headley the time to get back to first.

The Yankee bats were silent until the fifth inning when Clint Frazier finally collected the Yankees’ first hit off Brent Suter, a two-out single to right.  The Yankees weren’t able to do anything with it but it was a start.

After Luis Severino struck out Eric Thames with a runner in scoring position to end the top of the 7th, the Yankees finally got some runs on the board.  Chase Headley hit a one-out ground rule double to center.  Jacoby Ellsbury singled to move Headley to third.  A failed pick-off attempt at first allowed Headley to score while Ellsbury moved to third.  Clint Frazier hit a fly ball that momentarily looked to be a home run but it bounced off the lower part of the left field wall for a triple which scored Ellsbury.  The Yankees had closed the gap to 3-2.  Ji-Man Choi, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, and Ronald Torreyes were unable to bring Frazier home.

Onto the 8th inning and it was time for the Yankees bullpen which has been an Achilles Heel in recent days.  Dellin Betances took the mound in relief of Severino.  It was a ‘hold your breath’ moment until Betances proved to be the All-Star that he is, allowing everyone to exhale.  He induced Ryan Braun to ground out and then struck out both Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana.  Whew…Welcome back, Dellin!

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-New York Post

The Yankees were unable to generate any offense in the bottom of the 8th.  Moving to the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman replaced Betances.  Chapman has struggled with his command in recent games, but not yesterday. Three strikeouts later, it was off the bottom of the 9th with the Yankees still trailing by one run.  The Brewers brought in their strong closer, Corey Knebel, who has been a very pleasant surprise for the Brewers this year.  Knebel has struck out 72 batters in 41 innings while saving 13 games for Milwaukee.  He came into the game having only allowed 5 runs in 41 games.  The only knock against him is a tendency to walk too many batters. The weakness appeared right away as Didi Gregorius walked to open the inning on four straight balls.  Chase Headley went down swinging but Jacoby Ellsbury, like Didi, also walked on four straight balls as Knebel continued to struggle with his control.  So, the Yankees had runners at first and second with one-out when Red Thunder strolled to the plate.  After a ball in the dirt, Knebel grooved a 97 mph four-seam fastball down the middle.  With his blazing bat speed, Frazier quickly blasted a shot into the left field stands for the game-winning three-run home run as the Yankees won the game, 5-3.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman (2-0) was the winner.  The Yankees (45-40) were able to pick up a game on the Boston Red Sox so they are 3.5 games out in the AL East.  The Tampa Bay Rays remain a game behind the Yankees, courtesy of their 1-0 victory over the Red Sox.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

The Yankees conclude the first half today when Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA) takes the mound against Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA).  Hopefully, yesterday’s dramatic win and stellar bullpen work provide the momentum for a new surge by the home team.

Odds & Ends…

The rumor mill is certainly heating up.  Within the last 24 hours, it has been reported the Yankees have heavy interest in first baseman Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins and reliever Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres.  I am always a little suspect of the trade rumors you openly hear about as GM Brian Cashman generally plays his cards close to the vest.  The more likely trades are the ones that you never hear about in advance. I would love to have Hand in the bullpen but the issue is cost.  I’d hate to lose Chance Adams or Miguel Andujar (a couple of the names that have been mentioned). There would be a bit of irony with the Marlins (which includes Manager Don Mattingly) sending Bour to New York to be the Yankees first baseman.  Bour hit his 20th homer of the year yesterday in Miami’s 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants.  There’s no doubt he’d be an upgrade over Ji-Man Choi.

Credit:  Ben Margot-AP

The YES Network’s Michael Kay mentioned an interesting stat during the telecast.  Yesterday was the 17-year anniversary of the Yankees’ double-header sweep over the New York Mets which featured games at both home parks.  Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens were the winning pitchers in the subway double-header.  It’s hard to believe that it has been 17 years as I can clearly remember that day well.  It was a preview of the memorable Fall Classic that would pit the two teams against each other.

Matt Holliday was 2-for-4, both singles, with two runs scored in his rehab assignment for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  The RailRiders won the game, 8-1, over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  Jake Cave was 3-for-3 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s.  Miguel Andujar also chipped in a home run.

Have a great Sunday!  I am looking forward to more Red Thunder! But, please, no Tyler Clippard. Let’s Go Yankees!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

To Buy or Not to Buy…

The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away.  At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we’ll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers.  If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter.  However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the ‘sell high’ category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer.  If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right…we’re stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner.  Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others.  There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  I don’t think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667).  They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats.  Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts.  Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts.  Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they’ve been missing since Zack Greinke left.  As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill.  The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.

Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me.  He’d easily fit into Bruce Bochy’s lineup and give them the left-fielder that they’ve literally been waiting years for.  

I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season.  My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline.  But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we’ll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared.  It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does.  Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced.  But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run.  The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East.  The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.

Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16.  The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best.  Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances.  Clearly, this group has the potential…and the history…to be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The July schedule, simply put, is tough.  After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox.  It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th.  Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night.  The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today.  After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break.  The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano.  This year he’ll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand.  Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M’s, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks’ heels.  July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers.  August doesn’t get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap.  In other words, the schedule is a bitch.  

The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later.  They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners.  Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year’s end will be a challenge.

I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.  

Will Today be a Holliday?…

All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today.  Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return.  Many people afflicted by EBV don’t even know they have it since they do not feel sick.  I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday.  The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup.  Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team’s biggest black hole.  I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year.  Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room.  We’ll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions.  In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz’s former club, the Buffalo Bisons.  Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.


Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB.  It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption.  The one dude who I hope isn’t outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter.  I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires.  Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.

Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder.  Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees.  Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.


Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline.  Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles).  But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx.  The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5’8″ but he is one of the best arms in the AL East.  This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA.  He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings.  The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe. 

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius.  Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner.  I tried.  I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi.  There’s no doubt he’s an All-Star.  On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.  

Didi with his Mom

Have a great Friday!  Let’s kick this weekend off right with a win!  Let’s Go Yankees! 

50 Ways To Lose A Game…

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6…

I am not sure who to blame this one on.  Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end.  In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error.  Jose Bautista led off the game with a single.  After Russell Martin flied out to center,  Justin Smoak singled.  An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.  


The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner.  Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning.  Jose Bautista walked to open the inning.  After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right.  3-0, Blue Jays.  Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.  


Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0.  The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day.  3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s.  If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees valiantly fought back.  Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning.  The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio.  In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate.  Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man!  Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.  


The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning.  With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center.  Game tied.  Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.  


On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…



Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs.  Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that.  No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time.  He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases.  He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run.  Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees did not have another rally in them.  The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs.  A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day.  Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss.  Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1.  The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007.  Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year.  Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work.  I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Some losses just make me mad.  This was one of them.  It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton.  It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.


The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral.  Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2.  The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.  

Next Up:  Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Brewers:  Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)

SATURDAY

Brewers:  Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)

SUNDAY

Brewers:  Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)

Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby.  With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic:  Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B.  Venezuela:  Engelbert Ascanio, C.  Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.  There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher.  The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd.  Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.  

Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball.  Nice job, Baby Bombers!

AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):

Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO


AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)

Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO


High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)

Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO


The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season.  I am okay with this move.  Make way for younger, talented arms.


Have a great Thursday!  I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Chasing the Victory…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough…somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today’s game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!

A Forgettable Day in Hot, Humid H-Town…

Astros 8, Yankees 1…

It was nothing more than a good ol’ fashioned butt kickin’.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were on the receiving end as they lost the game and the series to the Houston Astros.

It was a dismal performance by starter Luis Severino (5-4).  He was tagged for 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven.  The outing inflated his season ERA to 3.52.  He left trailing 5-0 in the sixth, with one out, after George Springer laced a double to center.  He was charged for the run when Springer scored on Carlos Correa’s single against Yankees reliever Tyler Webb.

Credit:  Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

If Friday’s win was a complete team victory, this would have to be classified as a complete team loss.  You know things are bad when the only RBI producer is first baseman Chris Carter.  He had a run-scoring single in the 9th to prevent the shutout.  Aaron Judge continues to hit (2-for-4) but he also had two strikeouts.  Gary Sanchez, following Judge in the batting order, was 2-for-3.  Unfortunately, those guys had no help and the result was an easy win for the Astros.

The Astros got home runs from Marwin Gonzalez (2nd inning, off Severino) and Yuli Gurriel (7th inning, off Domingo German).  Carlos Correa was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s.  He doubled twice and all of his RBI’s came with two outs.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

The Yankees (43-37) fell further behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings with the loss.  They are now 3 games behind the Red Sox, who annihilated the Toronto Blue Jays, 15-1, powered by 8 RBI’s from Mookie Betts.  The Tampa Bay Rays finally lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 7-1, so they remain two games away from the Yankees.  

This was not a fun game and not one that I really care to revisit so let’s move on.  Today is a new day…

2017 All-Star Game Selections…

Aaron Judge was the highest vote getter for the American League All-Star Team with 4,488,702 votes.  He’ll start in the outfield.  He’ll be joined by Starlin Castro and Gary Sanchez, both of whom were selected as reserves.  Luis Severino, freshly off Sunday’s beating, was added to the pitching staff, along with Dellin Betances.  Betances will be making his fourth straight ASG appearance.  Congrats to Aaron, Starlin, Gary, Luis and Dellin!

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Didi Gregorius is on the final fan vote ballot so he has a chance although the time lost on the disabled list will probably work against him.  Nonetheless, he got my vote.  The AL Final Vote ballot is open until Thursday at 4 pm ET.  

The ASG will be played next Tuesday, July 11th, in Miami, FL.  

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Continuing the 4th of July Weekend, the Yankees are home to face the AL East cellar dwellers.  Although the Blue Jays are better than their 37-44 record, they were swept in Boston over the weekend.  They’ll come to the Bronx looking for blood…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (8-4, 3.41 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (6-7, 5.56 ERA)

TUESDAY, 4TH OF JULY

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (2-5, 3.71 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.46 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.05 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees seem to be on a mission to rebuild the Baltimore Orioles bullpen.  After trading Richard Bleier to the O’s in Spring Training, they’ve shipped 25-year-old RHP Matt Wotherspoon to Baltimore for undisclosed international signing bonus pool money.  In 21 games with Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton, Wotherspoon was 3-1 with 1.85 ERA.  He has struck out 45 batters in 39 innings.  After the trade, the Mountain Top, PA native was assigned to the Triple A Norfolk Tides.

The Yankees have reached agreements with the following international prospects.  The number indicates their ranking on Baseball America’s Top 50 international prospects:

04.  Everson Pereira, OF, Venezuela

11.  Ronny Rojas, SS, Dominican Republic (expected to sign in August when he turns 16)

20.  Roberto Chirinos, SS, Venezuela

28.  Anthony Garcia, OF, Dominican Republic

Anthony Garcia / Credit:  Pinstriped Prospects

Jorge Mateo is tearing up Double A.  In 6 games since his promotion from Class A, Mateo is batting .522/.621/.913 (12-for-23) with 3 triples, a homer, and 10 RBI’s for the Trenton Thunder.  He’s stolen two bags although he has been caught three times.  Sounds like the Yanks former top prospect wants to join the MLB Debut Party in the Bronx.  

The Yankees expect to activate both Adam Warren and CC Sabathia prior to Tuesday’s game.  In all likelihood, Starlin Castro will be activated before the All-Star break.  It will be good to get these guys back in action.  

Happy Monday!  Now that the Bombers are back in the Bronx, let’s get back to winning!  Go Yankees!