It is being reported that former Yankee Oscar Gamble, 68, has passed away. If true, this is a very sad loss. I thoroughly enjoyed Gamble as a Yankee and, no, it was not because of the ‘fro. He was a very good ball player, in my opinion. He hit 200 home runs over the course of his 17-year career that included stops with the Cubs, Phillies, Indians, White Sox, Padres and Rangers in addition to the Yankees. He finished his career with the White Sox in 1985, and was a .265 lifetime hitter. Certainly not Hall of Fame numbers, but you could always count on Oscar for a homer when you needed it. I loved watching his left-handed swing in the old Yankee Stadium.
During the winter prior to the 1981 season, I met Gamble in Montgomery, Alabama. He gave me his autograph and I vividly remember our conversation about the upcoming season. He was excited to play with the big free agent that the Yankees had just signed (David Mark Winfield). He came across to me as an incredibly humble and kind man. I was a nobody yet he took the time with me. It’s a meeting that I’ll never forget, and I am very saddened to hear the news of his passing.
Photo Credit: NY Daily News (Martin)
It was also sad to see the news about the passing of former Padres and Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers yesterday. During his time in San Diego, he was a frequent trading partner for Yankees GM Brian Cashman and he spent some time in the Yankees front office (2010 season) after his departure from the Padres before getting his next gig in Arizona. Most recently, he had been a special advisor for the Cincinnati Reds. Towers had been diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer in 2016. The survival rate for this form of cancer is very low so Towers must have known his time was limited. Still, it was a shock to the Baseball world. As they say, Cancer Sucks! Towers was a great force in Major League Baseball and his loss is significant. May he rest in peace…
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Ross D Franklin)
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there have been too many deaths already this year.
On to ‘less grim’ topics…I’d say positive but that doesn’t really seem to apply.
The Yankees lost a potential upgrade for backup catcher when free agent catcher Alex Avila signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Although there were no indications the Yankees were ever connected to Avila, many Yankees fans called for the signing of Avila as an upgrade for the offensively-challenged Austin Romine. Instead, Avila will represent the offensive side of a platoon with defensive-specialist Jeff Mathis in the Sonoran Desert. The D-Backs had a void at catcher when last year’s starter, Chris Iannetta, recently signed a free agent contract with his original team, the Colorado Rockies. Arizona also has Chris Hermann and former Yankee John Ryan Murphy in the catching mix.
The Yankees added a veteran infielder this week when they signed second baseman/shortstop Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract with a training camp invitation. This was one of those signing that brought a “meh” from me. I didn’t like the way Espinosa expressed his displeasure with the Washington Nationals in December 2016 when the team acquired outfielder Adam Eaton, pushing the young and talented Trea Turner from center field to shortstop, and Espinosa to the bench. The Nats ended up trading Espinosa to the Los Angeles Angels, one of three teams he played for in 2017.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
Espinosa is a poor hitter. Although he did have 24 home runs in 2016, his batting line was close to the Mendoza Line (.209/.306/.378). He had 174 strikeouts in 516 at-bats (601 plate appearances). In 2017, his line was worse in 295 plate appearances. He had 6 home runs, batting .173/.245/.278. He was released by all three teams he played for in 2017 (Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Rays). The final release came a few weeks before the season was over.
If Espinosa breaks camp as the starting second baseman, it will mean that Plans A and B went horribly wrong. Alright, that might be a bit too strong. I still expect Gleyber Torres to take the position after spending the first few weeks in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But I strongly prefer the tandem of Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes as the interim solution over Espinosa. I suppose if Wade fails miserably in Tampa over the next couple of months, it is possible that Espinosa partners with Torreyes to cover second until Torres is ready. But Espinosa’s selfish behavior at the end of his time in Washington really soured me on the player.
While it looks like the Yankees will go to training camp with rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar as the front-runners for second and third base, respectively, I still expect the Yankees to sign a veteran third baseman. It may not be a starting type, but it will be someone who can act as a safety net for Andujar. Oh boy, here comes Yunel Escobar. Regardless of who the Yankees sign, they will sign somebody. They’ve added second base bodies (Jace Peterson and the aforementioned Danny Espinosa) so I have no doubts they’ll do the same for third base. Admittedly, my hope for Todd Frazier’s return is starting to fade.
Gladly Accepting Jeter Rejects…
I haven’t seen his exact title yet, but it appears that the Yankees have added former Miami Marlins VP of Player Development Marc Delpiano to their Scouting department. Delpiano was fired by Derek Jeter (well, Jetes made the outgoing President David Samson deliver the news) when he took over the team. Delpiano’s position was replaced when the Marlins added former Yankees executive Gary Denbo. Delpiano is a highly respective baseball executive who drew much praise when he was hired by the Marlins a few years ago. He has experience working for both Neal Huntington and Theo Epstein. Good hire by GM Brian Cashman. Welcome to the Yankees family, Marc!
Despite the deathly slow off-season (no pun intended), training camp is almost upon us. We’ll soon have the opportunity to see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton putting on daily home run displays instead of wearing tuxedos…
Photo Credit: Marquee NY (Chris Lavado)
Yanks fail to make the cut…
I have to admit that I was feeling a bit disappointed when it was announced that the New York Yankees did not make Shohei Otani’s weekend cut. The Yankees had been viewed, by the industry, as the favorites to sign the two-way Japanese superstar. But as word leaked in recent days that perhaps Otani preferred a smaller West Coast market and one without a current Japanese superstar, it started to seem as though the likelihood of Otani wearing pinstripes was slipping away.
GM Brian Cashman confirmed it last evening when the Yankees, the Red Sox and other prominent East Coast teams were axed without the benefit of a face-to-face meeting. It’s unfortunate but the process has clearly shown that Otani is not driven by money. If he was, he would have waited two years before coming to the United States when he would be free to test the open market. Instead, he’s willing to leave millions on the table to take a minimum compensation deal. While I think Otani would have been a great fit with the Baby Bombers, the last thing you want on your team is a guy who doesn’t want to be there. So, I bid Otani farewell and wish him luck as he embarks on his MLB career.
In many ways, it’s probably best for the Yankees to be eliminated early in the process. It frees them up to explore other options and hopefully it leads to re-signing team leader CC Sabathia. If the Yankees had stayed in the negotiations process with Otani, their primary focus would not have been on finding other ways to improve the team as we head into the most crucial week of the MLB offseason (next week with the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida). They could have been distracted during this critical time, only to find out later that Otani didn’t really want to play in New York City or on the East Coast.
A few weeks back, The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch wrote a piece about the potential pitfalls with an Otani signing and the challenges that would await a team trying to accommodate his wishes to pitch and bat. As we await the official announcement of the new Yankees manager, a guy who has never coached or managed, it’s probably best for him that he wasn’t placed into the difficult position of having to accommodate the wishes of an individual over the good of the team.
So, all things considered, after feeling some initial disappointment, I am glad that Shohei Otani will not be coming to the Bronx. He has the right to choose where he wants to play. I want to see 25 men who want to be New York Yankees.
Giancarlo and the City by the Bay…
If Giancarlo Stanton’s choices are down to the San Francisco Giants and the St Louis Cardinals, it is my belief that he’ll choose San Francisco. Given that he grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I guess that’s sort of like growing up in the Bronx to become a Red Sock. But still, with no offense a great organization with a steep history in baseball tradition, I think it would be better to play in San Francisco than St Louis. Of course, there are cons with playing there. One of my favorite quotes is ‘the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco’, a witticism credited to Mark Twain. If you’ve been to San Francisco in August, you’ll know what I mean.
I kept expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to enter the fray for Stanton, but they, like the Yankees, are trying to reduce payroll to reset the luxury tax penalties. So, unless the Dodgers can eliminate a few bloated contracts (such as Adrian Gonzalez), Stanton will not be bleeding Dodger Blue.
It’s very possible that the Stanton trade could be consummated this week. I feel sorry for Miami Marlins COO Derek Jeter. For budgetary reasons, he’s being forced to break out what may be Baseball’s best outfield and perhaps setting the team back at least five years from being a legitimate contender. Jeter is finding that it is not so easy sitting on the other side of the table.
Yankee Stadium, Home of My Favorite Team…
Yes, of course it is. I wouldn’t be a Yankees blog writer covering the Yankees if they weren’t my favorite team. But I am talking about another team. As a native Iowan, I have been a fan of the football program at the University of Iowa for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the Hawkeyes even if they have historically disappointed me most every year.
The Hawkeyes are coming to Yankee Stadium.
It was announced this weekend that the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) will play Boston College (7-5) in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 27th. My favorite team playing against Boston at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, I think that’s something I can easily support and have significant experience with even if the Hawkeyes have never played a bowl game in New York before.
But back to Baseball and more importantly, Go Yankees!
American League Division Series, Game 4
Yankees 7, Indians 3…
Riding the arm of Luis Severino, who atoned for his Wild Card Game disaster, the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Indians to send the series back to Cleveland, Ohio for the series finale and the right to advance to the American League Championship Series.
This game featured the legendary Mariano Rivera on the mound. Mo tossed the honorary first pitch, looking as great as ever. It was a sign of good things to come.
Once the game started, it was three up and three down for Luis Severino, showing no signs of the jitters that brought about his collapse against the Minnesota Twins in his previous start.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
When Jay Bruce led off the top of the 2nd inning with a line drive single to right over the outstretched glove of Starlin Castro, Twitter bemoaned the break-up of Sevy’s “perfect game”. But no fear, Sevy retired the next three hitters, including the last two by strikeout, to ensure that Bruce got nothing more than a conversation with Greg Bird at first base for his effort.
The breaks started going the Yankees’ way in the bottom of the 2nd. Trevor Bauer, pitching on short rest (he started Game 1 last Thursday), has been dominant against the Yankees this year. But on Monday, those famed dancers, Mystique and Aura, came out in full force. Greg Bird started things off by grounding out at second. That didn’t start right, let’s try this again. Starlin Castro hit a hard grounder to third that third baseman Giovanny Urshela knocked down but it rolled away and Castro was safe at first. Chase Headley struck out for the second out, and it looked like Castro might suffer the same fate as Jay Bruce had in the top of the inning. With Todd Frazier batting, a Bauer pitch popped out of the glove of catcher Roberto Perez for a passed ball, allowing Castro to move to second. Todd Frazier, who had expressed prior to the game how much he enjoys playing in the post-season with the Yankees, doubled to to the left field corner to score Castro with the game’s first run. The Toddfather! Aaron Hicks kept it going with a single to the gap in center, scoring Frazier. 2-0, Yankees. Brett Gardner followed suit with a roller up the middle into center field, moving Hicks to third. A steal by Gardner put both runners in scoring position for Aaron Judge. Judge hit a fly to left that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall for a bases-clearing double. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-0.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
After an intentional walk of Didi Gregorius, Tribe manager Terry Francona decided to move to Plan B and pulled Bauer in favor of reliever Joe Smith. Smith got Gary Sanchez to pop out to first in foul territory for the final out, but it had been a very big inning for the Yankees with four unearned runs.
Severino easily breezed through the Indians lineup in the top of the 3rd to bring the Yankees to bat once again. Reliever Mike Clevinger took over for Joe Smith and walked Greg Bird to start the Yankees’ half of the inning. Starlin Castro doubled to center off the wall to advance Bird to third. After Chase Headley struck out (not a great game for the Headster), Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. Aaron Hicks grounded into a force out to first baseman Carlos Santana who quickly threw home to retire Bird for the second out. Brett Gardner followed with a grounder to third, but the normally reliable Giovanny Urshela, after a slight hesitation, threw the ball high to first which pulled Santana off the bag for his second error of the game. Gardy safe at first. It allowed Starlin Castro to score on the play. Another call to the bullpen brought in Danny Salazar who struck out Aaron Judge to get the Indians out of the inning. The Yankees had a five-run lead and things were feeling very good in the Bronx.
The top of the 4th seemed to be going Severino’s way when he recorded two quick outs but then he walked Jay Bruce. Carlos Santana made Sevy pay for it with a two-run homer to center into Monument Park to cut the lead to 5-2. A coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, which often prove to be unsuccessful, worked this time as Sevy was able to retire Michael Brantley on a line out to center.
The Indians closed the gap to two runs in the top of the 5th when Roberto Perez hit a one-out home run into the right field seats, making it 5-3. Despite the home runs, Severino had seven strikeouts up to that point.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees added an insurance run. Todd Frazier led off with a slow roller back toward the pitcher. Danny Salazar’s throw to first hit the ground and sailed past the first baseman, allowing Frazier to race to second. A ground out to first by Aaron Hicks moved Frazier to third. Francona came out and signaled for his lefty, Tyler Olson, to replace Salazar to face Brett Gardner. Gardy hit a fly to shallow center that didn’t look like it would be deep enough, but Frazier challenged the arm of center fielder Jason Kipnis (normally the team’s second baseman) and won, scoring on the sacrifice.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Another pitching change, this time bringing in Bryan Shaw, saw another strikeout of Aaron Judge to end the inning.
Gary Sanchez padded the lead with his one-out home run to right, barely missing the second deck, in the bottom of the 6th. The Sanchino! The four-run lead gave the team much needed breathing room.
|Credit: Getty Images|
With Sevy still going strong, the Yankees had an opportunity for more runs in the bottom of the 7th. The Indians inserted their closer Cody Allen a little early (the benefit of having the very versatile Andrew Miller on the roster). Things didn’t go Allen’s way when Aaron Hicks reached second base, thanks to a one-out fielding error by first baseman Carlos Santana (hard grounder bounced off his glove into right field). Brett Gardner singled to right, moving Hicksie to third. Gardy took second on the high throw in from the outfield. But they would not advance any further when Aaron Judge struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out to short to leave the runners stranded.
Dellin Betances took over for Severino in the top of the 8th and unfortunately things did not go well for the tall right-hander. He walked Yan Gomes (after nearly taking his head off with one errant pitch), bringing pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the mound. Like it usually happens when Rothschild visits, it didn’t work. The inconsistent Betances walked Francisco Lindor on four straight pitches which ended his latest appearance. It was very disappointing to see Betances continue his struggles with control, which makes him very unreliable moving forward.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Tommy Kahnle came into the game, and did the job Betances was once so good at…he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout.
Josh Tomlin took over for Cody Allen in the bottom of the 8th and easily discharged the Yankees to push the game to the 9th. Tommy Kahnle returned to the mound to face Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kahnle rose to the challenge and struck out the side with Chisenhall missing on his swing for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Nice job by Luis Severino who finished with nine strikeouts in seven innings of work. Four hits, three runs (on the two homers), and one walk. It wasn’t perfect but he held the Indians down while the Yankees took advantage of the three Cleveland errors to score six of their seven runs. Granted, Cleveland’s lineup is not the same without Edwin Encarnacion but they are more than capable of erasing leads quickly. Sevy did not allow it to happen. Dellin Betances tried but Tommy Kahnle saved him from himself.
Chase Headley’s performance (0-for-4 with three strikeouts) has me wondering if it might not be time for Matt Holliday’s name to be penciled in at DH. Aaron Judge’s first hit of the series was a big one with the two RBI’s in the second inning, while Gary Sanchez’s homer seemed to help suck the life out of the Tribe.
The series now moves to the decisive Game 5 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Prior to yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi announced that CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA) would be the starter, not Sonny Gray. Sabathia returns to the site where it all began for him so many years ago. Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA) will be seeking redemption in front of his home fans after giving up six runs in his last start. The Yankees have a huge challenge before them, but the pay off is a road trip to Houston, Texas for the ALCS. Win or lose, this has been a great year for the Yankees. The team has heart and they do not quit.
|Credit: Amanda Rabinowitz-WKSU|
The Houston Astros overcame the Boston Red Sox, 5-4, to win their ALDS, three games to one. There was some satisfaction when former Yankee Carlos Beltran provided what would prove to be the winning run when he delivered an RBI double in the top of the 9th. Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers had an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the 9th but it was not enough as the Astros overcame both Chris Sale (in relief) and Craig Kimbrel for the win.
Odds & Ends…
I figured there would be defections from the Yankees organization to join Derek Jeter in Miami but I didn’t think they would happen so quickly. George A King III of the New York Post reported yesterday, via Twitter, that it was Gary Denbo’s last day with the Yankees. The former VP of Player Development will become the director of player development and scouting for the Marlins. A self-avowed non-fan of Derek Jeter, I am starting to actually dislike the guy. This was certainly one of the risks when Jeter’s group won the bid for the Marlins and Denbo’s defection may not be the last. If for whatever reason the Yankees do not ink GM Brian Cashman and/or Manager Joe Girardi to new deals, the Yankees front office could have have substantially different look in 2018. I thought it was very poor taste for Denbo to leave prior to the conclusion of the post-season but then again, if he didn’t want to be here, good riddance.
Former Yankee pitching prospect Rookie Davis underwent hip surgery on his right hip to repair the labrum and remove a bone spur. It is a significant procedure and Davis will not be ready by the time training camp opens next spring. Davis was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, along with Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham and Tony Renda, in the 2015 trade that brought Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees. Only Davis and Jagielo remain in the Reds organization. Cotham retired in March and Renda was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July. We send best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Davis.
Have a great Tuesday! We have a day to enjoy and get ready for Game 5! Thumbs down! Let’s do this. Go Yankees!
American League Division Series, Game 3
Yankees 1, Indians 0…
The Yankees rode the arms of Masahiro Tanaka and Aroldis Chapman, the glove of Aaron Judge and the bat of Greg Bird to to their first win in the ALDS. It was a very exciting game and one that cannot underestimate the value of Gary Sanchez’s defense behind the plate.
After a postseason that was seen a bevy of starting pitching blowups in both leagues, this was a classic pitcher’s duel. Going against Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, a “quiet” 18-game winner during the season, I figured that getting runs would be difficult.
The Indians threatened first. With one out in the top of the 4th, the Indians got their second hit of the game when Jason Kipnis lined a shot into right field for a triple. Aaron Judge, running hard, tried to reach the ball but it bounced off the palm of his glove. It looked like the Indians might score the game’s first run but Tanaka struck out both Jose Ramirez and Jay Bruce, very dangerous sluggers, to retire the Indians (much to the delight of the very loud Yankee Stadium crowd).
As great as Tanaka was pitching, the Yankees were unable to register their first hit against Carrasco until the bottom of the 4th when Didi Gregorius singled to center. He didn’t go anywhere but at least the Yankees had eliminated the goose egg under the hits column.
Roberto Perez opened the top of the 6th inning for the Tribe with a single to left. Giovanny Urshela lined out to right for the first out to bring superstar Francisco Lindor to the plate. Lindor smoked a Tanaka splitter high to right field and it looked like the Indians might have the first runs of the game. Hold your horses! Aaron Judge perfectly timed his leap and with his glove stretched high from his 6’7″ frame, he caught Lindor’s ball from landing in the first rows of the right field seats. It was a brilliant game-saving catch. If you can’t beat them with your bat, beat them with your glove.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
The Yankees mounted their first genuine scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th. The inning started when Aaron Hicks reached first base on a slow grounder to third off the end of his bat. Unfortunately, Brett Gardner hit a grounder to short which the Indians turned for a double play. Aaron Judge was next and he walked on five pitches. Gary Sanchez followed with a single to center. Didi Gregorius, like Judge, also walked on five pitches from Carrasco. Bases loaded for Starlin Castro. Tribe manager Terry Francona made the call to the bullpen and brought in the great Andrew Miller. Miller retired Castro on a pop up to shallow left, leaving the bases full of Yanks. Ugh…
While Tanaka was continuing to breeze through the Indians’ lineup, Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th against Miller with a massive home run into the second deck (almost into the third deck) of right field. Remind me again why we (which includes me) wanted Yonder Alonso, Justin Bour, Lucas Duda or Jay Bruce for first base before the trading deadline. Bird is showing that he was the best first base “acquisition” of the second half. The Yankees were up, 1-0.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
Todd Frazier followed Bird, however, he flied out to left. Francona made another call to the pen, this time for one-time Yankee Tyler Olson. Olson struck out both Chase Headley and Aaron Hicks to end the inning, making me wonder why the Yankees cut Olson in 2016. Olson had come to the Yankees in the January 2016 trade that also brought Ronald Torreyes from the Los Angeles Dodgers for third baseman Rob Segedin. The Yankees ended up cutting both players, although we know that Torreyes eventually found his way back home. Nice job by Olson although I was hoping for a much worse result for him.
David Robertson took over for Tanaka in the top of the 8th. He got Austin Jackson to fly out to right for the first out, but then he walked Michael Brantley on a full count. Manager Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances so he pulled D-Rob and replaced him with Aroldis Chapman. Chapman did his job, racking up two strikeouts on eight pitches.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
In the bottom of the 8th, with Olson still pitching for the Indians, Brett Gardner led off with a fly to center that dropped barely in front of the glove of center fielder Jason Kipnis for a double. The Indians brought in former Los Angeles Angels reliever Joe Smith who struck out Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. After Didi Gregorius was intentionally walked, Starlin Castro hit into a fielder’s choice at third to retire Gardy on the force out. I would have preferred an insurance run or two in that spot but it was not to be.
Onto the top of the 9th, and time for a showdown between Chapman and the Indians, facing the top of the order. Chapman struck out Francisco Lindor for the first out. Then things got very tense. Jason Kipnis singled up the middle to center field, followed by a very sharp grounder to third by Jose Ramirez. Todd Frazier made a great stop but the ball came out of his glove on the transfer from his knees. Runners at first and second with only one out. Chapman, firing at 100 mph+, dug deep and struck out Jay Bruce for the critical second out. One man stood between Chapman and victory and it was Carlos Santana, more than capable of sending one out for the tying run. Chapman won the battle when Santana got under a 102 mph Chapman fastball and lifted a fly to left center into the glove of Aaron Hicks for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Getty Images|
It was a nail-biter at the end but the Yankees persevered to live another day. I honestly didn’t think that Greg Bird’s solo home run would hold up as the margin of victory but to my pleasant surprise, it did. Clearly, if Aaron Judge hadn’t made that great catch in the 6th inning, there would be champagne stains on the floor in the visitor’s clubhouse.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was booed heavily by the home crowd during the pre-game introductions. I blamed Girardi for the Game 2 loss as much as anyone, but I thought it was unfair to treat Girardi so poorly. Regardless of his faults, he is the current manager of the Yankees and his job is win games for us. The last thing he needed was our non-support. Not one of the better moments at Yankee Stadium.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Gary Sanchez, who has taken much heat for his defense and league-leading passed balls, did an excellent job catching this game.
For today’s game, the Cleveland Indians have announced that Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer, pitching on short rest, will get the nod. He’ll be opposed by Luis Severino who made the less-than-stellar extremely short start in the Wild Card game. Hopefully, Sevy will have the answer for his nerves tonight when he steps out on the main stage. His job is to get this series back to Cleveland and into the hands of Sonny Gray.
Odds & Ends…
I enjoy reading Nick Cafardo’s Sunday Baseball Notes in the Boston Globe even if it does have a slight Red Sox taint to it. Cafardo is a very good baseball writer. But one entry this weekend was disturbing. I know that there’s a strong possibility and very likely that new Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter will draw upon past relationships as he builds his new organization in Miami. Already, names like Gary Denbo and even GM Brian Cashman have been mentioned. Cafardo threw out a few more names of potential possibilities…Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Ugh, I really hope that this does not happen. While I may never have been a great fan of Jeter, he’s hitting on some names that I hold very dear within the Yankees history. I didn’t dislike Jeter when he was a Yankee (I appreciated his time in Pinstripes), but he wasn’t one of my favorites. The other names would be a little harder to accept (for me). It is tough enough watching Don Mattingly in a Marlins cap…
Credit: Getty Images
Have a great Monday! Let’s even this series! Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Rays 1…
Pitching like I hope he does next week against the Minnesota Twins, Luis Severino dominated the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday behind home runs from Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. He amassed nine strikeouts to put place his name among the greatest statistical leaders in franchise history.
On paper, the matchup looked like a mismatch in favor of the Yankees. However, Rays starter Matt Andriese kept the game scoreless for the first four innings. Then, Tampa’s Adeiny Hechiavarria led off the top of the 5th with a home run, a high fly into the left field seats, to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
Fortunately, the Yankee bats finally woke up in the bottom of the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started by working a walk off Andriese. Aaron Hicks hit a grounder into right field, on a ball that got past a diving Brad Miller at second, for a single. Ellsbury raced around to third base. After Brett Gardner hit a line drive right at the shortstop for the first out, Aaron Judge doubled to the left field corner to score both Ellsbury and Hicks. The Yankees had taken the lead, 2-1.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
After Severino breezed through the Rays in the top of the 6th, retiring two batters by strikeout, Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left center into the Rays bullpen. The Rays pulled Andriese and brought in reliever Xavier Cedeno. Greg Bird, with his beautiful swing, greeted Cedeno with a homer to right. Chase Headley kept it going with a single to left that squeezed through 3B Evan Longoria and SS Adeiny Hecchavarria. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded back to the pitcher for the out at first, while Headley moved to second. Aaron Hicks ended Cedeno’s short stint when he homered on a high fly into the left field seats. The Rays pulled Cedeno and replaced him with Jose Alvarado. It looked like the Yankees’ big inning, with four runs already across, might continue. Brett Gardner doubled to left, and Aaron Judge walked. However, Alvarado struck out Gary Sanchez on three pitches and got Didi Gregorius to hit into a ground out at short. However, the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.
In the top of the 7th, Chasen Shreve replaced Severino. As the team’s primary lefty in the bullpen, Shreve has been consistently inconsistent for weeks. He walked the first batter he faced, Stephen Souza, Jr. Corey Dickerson hit a grounder to first and the Yankees were able to force Souza out at second. But Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single to right. Shreve was able to strike out Brad Miller, who has been struggling this year. But that would all as Joe Girardi opted to go with Chad Green to face Jesus Sucre. Green retired Sucre on a grounder to short that forced Hechavarria out at second with a flip from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro to end the inning.
Dellin Betances pitched the 8th inning and looked strong. He retired the three men he faced with a total of 13 pitches. No walks, no hits, his 100th strikeout of the season…this is the Dellin that we need for October.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Aroldis Chapman pitched a clean 9th inning, ending the game on a swinging strikeout of Corey Dickerson. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (89-69) moved to twenty games above .500 for the first time this season. Unfortunately, the Boston Red Sox took a step closer to sewing up the AL East Championship with a come-from-behind 10-5 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees remain three games behind the Red Sox with four to play. The Minnesota Twins lost 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians but they clinched the second Wild Card spot when the Los Angeles Angels fell to the Chicago White Sox in extra innings, 6-4. The Twins become the first team to reach the playoffs after losing 100 games in the preceding season.
|Credit: Ron Schwane-AP|
Luis Severino (14-6) now awaits the probable Wild Card game start next week against the Twins in the Bronx. He lowered his season ERA to 2.98. His six innings of work yielded only four hits, a walk and a single run for the Rays. His nine strikeouts allowed him to reach 230 for the season, putting him in a third place tie with CC Sabathia for the most strikeouts in club history. Sabathia reached the mark in 2011. The strikeout leader is Ron Guidry who struck out 248 batters in his magical 1978 season, while Jack Chesbro had 239 K’s in a mind-blowing 454 2/3 innings in 1904.
This was another great team win with multiple hitting stars. The Yankees can become a 90-win team with their next victory. Honestly, that seemed impossible at the start of the season. Without so many key injuries, I have no doubt the Yankees would be leading the AL East right now. But the Yankees are now nearly healthy as they approach the season’s biggest game next week against the Twins. I am not giving up on the AL East until the numbers say it’s over, but at this point, it does seem improbable. This is a much better team than the one that lost the 2015 Wild Card game to Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros.
Odds & Ends…
MLB Owners officially approved the sale of the Miami Marlins to the investment group headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The sale is expected to close within the next few days. I was never a big Jeter fan so I guess I am a little indifferent to the end of his direct association with the Yankees. I am sure that the true Jeter lovers are having a more difficult time but realistically, the Yankees won’t see the Marlins very often. If they meet in the World Series, great! Otherwise, it’ll just be a few games every few years in interleague play. I am not going to lose any sleep about Jeter. He was a great Yankee and he is immortalized in Monument Park. But he’s a Marlin now. I don’t wish him any more luck than I’d wish Brian Sabean in San Francisco or Billy Eppler in Anaheim. They are simply other teams and…they are not the Yankees.
|Credit: Getty Images|
My favorite Core Four player was Mariano Rivera. No disrespect for Jeter and what he did for the Yankees. But now, he’s just another guy trying to beat the Yankees.
I hate the one-game ‘do or die’ Wild Card format. I prefer at least a three game series that MLB could squeeze in without pushing the World Series to November. I still think the best team may or may not win a three-game series but it’s a thousand times better than the single game elimination. I take this position regardless of whether or not the Yankees win the Wild Card game.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s say goodbye to the Rays in good fashion…with a win! Go Yankees!
Credit: Bill Kostroun
Orioles 6, Yankees 4…
The Yankees apparently forgot that it was Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound yesterday. Jimenez entered the game with a 5-10 record and 6.75 ERA. It’s pretty much representative of who the pitcher has been the last few years. On Sunday, he may as well have been Chris Sale…5 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 10 strikeouts. He was certainly a better version of Sonny Gray on this day.
For as much as Sonny Gray has given the Yankees so far, they could have picked up an average starter for much less (somebody better than Jaime Garcia) to give them three wins since the July trading deadline and kept Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian in pinstripes. I know, that’s a bit harsh, and Gray is an upper echelon rotation starter but in the small sampling size with the Yankees, the results have been underwhelming. Granted, he doesn’t get run support with his losses but I was hoping for better results. The Red Sox, meanwhile, will ride the arm of a pitcher (Doug Fister) they picked up off the scrap heap to go with Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz. Fister has four wins for the Red Sox since the end of July. I’d take Gray over Fister any day of the week (obviously), but it is disappointing that more wins have not materialized.
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
Baltimore got on the board first in the top of the 2nd inning. Chris Davis hit a one-out fly to left for a double. Clint Frazier misjudged his leap and was unable to make the catch. Seth Smith hit a grounder to third and was thrown out at first, but Davis moved to third on the play. Todd Frazier almost tagged Davis out but opted to go for the sure out at first. After Mark Trumbo walked, Austin Hays singled up in the middle, past a diving Didi Gregorius, into center field, scoring Davis.
The Yankees got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius led off with a homer just over the wall in right center to tie the game at one. It was Didi’s 24th home run, which tied the Yankees mark for most home runs by a shortstop set by Derek Jeter in 1999.
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
The Orioles quickly took the lead again in the top of the 3rd. Manny Machado hit a one-out single to right, breaking an 0-for-19 slump. With two outs, Trey Mancini doubled down the left field line to the corner to score Machado. Baltimore had taken a 2-1 lead.
The 4th inning was the one that got away from Sonny Gray. He walked Seth Smith to start the inning. He retired the next two hitters and was a strike away from getting out of the inning with Caleb Joseph at the plate. Unfortunately, Joseph singled to left, between Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius, to keep the inning alive. Tim Beckham, proving to be one of the best trading deadline pickups, homered into the bleachers in left to give the O’s all the runs they would need. 5-1, Baltimore.
|Credit: Anthony Grupposo-USA TODAY Sports|
Gray got Manny Machado to hit a liner to right for the final out (great diving play by Aaron Judge) but he would not return.
Bryan Mitchell took over for Gray in the top of the 5th inning. Jonathan Schoop led off with a single to left and Trey Mancini singled to center past a diving Didi Gregorius. The O’s had runners at the corners and no outs. After Chris Davis struck out, Seth Smith hit a grounder between first and second. With a throw from Starlin Castro to Didi Gregorius, they forced Mancini out at second but Schoop scored on the play. The O’s had increased their lead to 6-1.
In the bottom of the 6th, Mychal Givens took over for Jimenez who had thrown 100 pitches through five innings. Gary Sanchez drew a one-out walk and with two outs, Starlin Castro hit a soft grounder toward third and beat the throw from Givens which pulled Chris Davis off the base. Runners at first and second. Matt Holliday drilled a line drive to left for a double which scored both Sanchez and Castro. 6-3, O’s. Buck Showalter pulled Givens and brought in former Yankee Richard Bleier to face Greg Bird. Bird had homered off Bleier in Friday night’s win and he had a chance to make it a game once again. Sadly, Bleier won the battle this time when Bird grounded out to first to end the inning.
Baltimore reliever Brad Brach took over in relief of Darren O’Day to start the bottom of the 8th inning. Aaron Judge doubled to left with a fly ball off the base of the wall to lead things off. Gary Sanchez struck out on three pitches for the first out. Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to short, but Tim Beckham’s throwing error (pulled Chris Davis off the bag) allowed Didi to reach first safely. Judge moved to third on the play. Starlin Castro hit a fly to right field and it was deep enough to score Judge on the sacrifice. The Yankees had cut the Orioles lead to 6-4. Matt Holliday walked to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate. Showalter pulled Brach and brought in closer Zach Britton. The Yankees replaced Holliday at first with Tyler Wade and sent Chase Headley in to pinch hit for Greg Bird. Unfortunately, Headley grounded out to short to end the rally.
The Yankees made one last valiant effort in the bottom of the 9th. Todd Frazier struck out for the first out, but Jacoby Ellsbury looped a double down the left field line to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position. Brett Gardner grounded out to first for the second out but Ellsbury advanced to third. Aaron Judge was intentionally walked to pit Britton against Gary Sanchez. Sanchez, representing the potential tying run, failed to deliver when he went down swinging for the final out. Bummer, the Yankees had clearly proven they were the better team in this series and they had their chances. If Sonny Gray could have avoided the disastrous 4th inning…I know, if “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts…
The Yankees (82-67) did not lose any ground to the Red Sox despite the loss. Boston dropped a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays. So, the Yankees remain three games behind the Red Sox. The Minnesota Twins clobbered the Toronto Blue Jays, 13-7, so they moved back to four games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings.
Next Up: Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
The Twins come into this series very motivated. Since they only trail the Yankees by four games for the top Wild Card slot (home-field advantage), they can make up serious ground on the Yankees with a sweep. If the Twins beat Jaime Garcia, they’ll be able to sit back and laugh “our plan worked to perfection!”. Steal a couple of prospects from the Yankees and give them a starter who is unable to produce in the clutch.
Twins: Ervin Santana (15-7, 3.35 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.50 ERA)
Twins: Jose Berrios (12-7, 3.84 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)
Twins: Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.80 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA)
The Yankees are not exactly leading with their best foot, but I understand the need to keep CC Sabathia’s knee off the artificial turf for the next series in Toronto.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have recalled another RailRider. The latest to get the invitation to join the big league club is RHP Domingo German.
Have a great Monday! Time for the Pinstripers to make a statement about their October chances. Let’s Go Yankees!
Red Sox 9, Yankees 6…
I am sick of games with lost opportunities. When the Yankees scored 4 runs in the top of the 7th but subsequently had the bases loaded with only one out, I had such a sickening feeling when both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez failed to bring home any more runs. Unfortunately, that feeling was correct as the Red Sox raged back against the Yankees bullpen to take the win.
That’s right, Joe Girardi, Aroldis Chapman is your closer. Keep rolling him out there and watch your playoff aspirations fade. Maybe something is not wrong physically with Chapman but there’s something wrong between the ears. I know that he didn’t give up the lead, Tommy Kahnle did, but the runs the Red Sox scored off him put the dagger in the heart. I personally think Chapman needs time away to get himself right. The team is better off with David Robertson and Dellin Betances closing out games.
What makes this loss worse is today’s game features probable Cy Young winner Chris Sale. It doesn’t get any easier, especially with CC Sabathia and his balky knee on the mound. The Yankees are facing a series loss and falling 6 games behind Boston unless they can somehow find a way to pull out a win today.
While the Yankees seemed to be leaving runners stranded every inning (total of 14 men left on base), the Red Sox scored first in the second inning in the rain off starter Jordan Montgomery. Xander Bogaerts hit a two-out double to left and Rafael Devers homered to opposite field, over the Green Monster, to give the Sox the early 2-0 lead.
Christian Vazquez led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo shot, a high fly out of the park in left.
Working against the Red Sox bullpen, the Yankees finally broke the ice in the 6th. Chase Headley lined a one-out single to right. Todd Frazier hit his 20th home run of the year, a shot to left center and it was a one-run game. The Yankees subsequently proceeded to load the bases with two outs, but Aaron Judge grounded out to snuff a potentially huge inning.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
Gary Sanchez led off the next inning with his 23rd homer, a fly to left center near the light tower and the game was tied. The Yankees proceeded to load the bases on two walks and a single (not in that order) to load the bases for Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes, unlike Judge, didn’t fail. He hit a line-drive single to left off the scoreboard to score both Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley. The Yankees had taken the lead, 5-3. After Austin Romine struck out, Brett Gardner walked to load the bases. Red Sox reliever Robby Scott then hit Aaron Hicks with a pitch to bring Todd Frazier home from third. 6-3 Yankees and the bases were still juiced. Aaron Judge had the first crack, but he went down swinging. Last chance fell to Gary Sanchez who had led off the inning with a homer, but this time he lined out to first. The Yankees had the lead but I didn’t feel good. I felt the score should have been 8 or 9 to 3 at that point.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
The Red Sox rallied against the Yankees bullpen. Chad Green had pitched an effective 6th inning after relieving Jordan Montgomery, but the bottom of the 7th didn’t go so well. Green got the first batter, Rafael Devers, to pop out to Didi Gregorius. Christian Vazquez then hit a line drive to left that Gregorius just missed. Jackie Bradley Jr was up next, but Green couldn’t throw strikes and the Sox had runners at first and second. Exit Green, enter Tommy Kahnle. Exit lead. Eduardo Nunez reached base on an infield hit to load the bases. A sacrifice fly to center by Mookie Betts scored Vazquez. Andrew Benintendi singled to right, scoring JBJ. Hanley Ramirez walked to re-load the bases. Mitch Moreland singled to score two more runs and the Red Sox had a lead they would not relinquish, 7-6.
|Credit: Michael Dwyer-Associated Press|
After the Yankees were unable to do anything offensively in the top of the 8th, Girardi brought Aroldis Chapman in to pitch the bottom of the inning. Sorry Chapman, you suck. 20 year-old Rafael Devers, finding his new bitch in Chapman, singled to right. Christian Vazquez was up next and he reached base when Chapman couldn’t find the strike zone. With JBJ at the plate, the Sox executed a double-steal with Devers and Vazquez taking third and second, respectively. JBJ hit a single up the middle and the Sox had two more runs on the board. 9-6, Sox. A throwing error by Hicks on the single allowed JBJ to reach second, but Chapman finally settled down and retired the next 3 batters. Too little, too late.
|Credit: New York Daily News (back page)|
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the 9th to give the Sox the agonizing win. This was a very disappointing loss (as if you couldn’t tell from the tone of my words).
The Yankees (65-56) fell five games behind the Red Sox with the loss. The Yankees retained the lead in the Wild Card Standings, 3 1/2 games up, but the second place team, the Los Angeles Angels were caught by the Minnesota Twins for a tie with the second WC spot. The Angels suffered a devastating loss when Manny Machado hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Baltimore Orioles a 9-7 win over the Angels. The O’s have sole possession of third place in the AL East, 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees, thanks to losses by both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. The O’s are just 2 games out of the 2nd WC. The Twins, probably wishing they had kept Jaime Garcia, beat the Arizona D-Backs, 10-3.
Odds & Ends…
Congratulations to Derek Jeter and his wife Hannah on the birth of their daughter, Bella Raine Jeter. Little BRJ was born on Thursday and she anxiously awaits her father’s takeover of the Miami Marlins. I am sure that she’s already looking forward to life on South Beach.
The Boston Red Sox have opted to pitch Rick Porcello on Sunday against the Yankees’ Sonny Gray. Porcello, last year’s AL Cy Young Winner, is 7-14 with 4.59 ERA. Porcello is 0-3 against the Yankees this year in 19 innings with 3.79 ERA.
Mets OF Curtis Granderson, fresh off his grand slam against the Yankees in the final game of this week’s Subway Series, has found himself on MLB’s best team. From the outhouse to the penthouse. The Grandy Man was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the familiar player to be named later or cash considerations. Interestingly enough, the Dodgers are currently in the city where Grandy got his start as they are playing a weekend series in Detroit. Credit the Dodgers for continuing to find ways to improve the team despite 86 wins on August 19th.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Have a great Saturday! Seems like a good day to beat the Red Sox! Let’s Go Yankees!