Tagged: Dodgers

Chasing Victory With Success…

Credit:  Andrew Schwartz-New York Daily News

Yankees 2, Indians 1…

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

Credit:  Phil Long-AP

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

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

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

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

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

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

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

Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer

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

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

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

Credit:  Getty Images

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

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

Credit:  Phil Long-AP

Odds & Ends…

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

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

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

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

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

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

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Back to Baseball in the Bronx…

Serious Competition for the Arms Race…

The sprint to the trading deadline begins in earnest this week as teams jockey for position over the next couple of months.  The trading deadline is Monday, July 31st at 4:00 pm Eastern.

I fully expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be major players.  Losing their ace and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball hurts.  It does not appear that the back injury that kept Clayton Kershaw out of action for two months last year is as bad this year, but he will miss time.  Current speculation is that he’ll be out 4-6 weeks. The Los Angeles Times was already calling for Yu Darvish by Monday morning (or someone of similar ability…Sonny Gray?).  The Times used the analogy that the Chicago Cubs had to trade elite prospect Gleyber Torres last season to bring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago.  They go on to say that the Cubs would not have won the World Series if not for the trade, adding “it was a reminder that victory goes to the bold”.  I think Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and the Dodgers will be very bold in their attempt to bolster starting pitching, particularly considering that Brandon McCarthy has gone back on the DL too.

Credit:  Jon SooHoo

I do not want to give up any top prospects beyond the recent loss of outfielder Blake Rutherford.  This is tough because I would love to see Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray run out onto the field at Yankee Stadium wearing pinstripes.  But you can’t make a deal like that without parting with top pitching talent, such as Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield.  It would make more sense to trade for a lower profile pitcher and make room on the 40-man roster soon for Adams to make his MLB debut.  But even that move comes with cost.  Adams has another year before he’ll be Rule 5 eligible so creating room on the 40-man roster for Adams costs a potential spot for a quality prospect that must be protected this year.  It doesn’t really matter if Adams is Major League-ready but that’s something only time will tell. Given the Yankees have shown they do not believe Adams is ready, it seems more likely we’ll see more roll-outs of Caleb Smith (or Luis Cessa) or eventually another one of the current 40-man roster arms like Dietrich Enns (below) or Ronald Herrera before we ever get a sniff of Adams at the MLB level.

Credit:  Sean McKeag-Times Leader  

By most accounts, the desire of the Houston Astros to acquire another starter has lessened with the activation off the DL of Collin McHugh and soon, Dallas Keuchel.  The Milwaukee Brewers remain hot for a starting pitcher as do a few other teams.  The Minnesota Twins finally completed their delayed acquisition of Atlanta starter (and former Cardinal) Jaime Garcia, while the Kansas City Royals grabbed Trevor Cahill from the San Diego Padres.  There are arms to be had and based on the prices paid by the Twins and the Royals, it is possible to get help without sacrificing the farm.  

GM Brian Cashman and crew have a very tough week ahead of them.  They have hard decisions to make and they’ll have to stand before Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner with their recommendations.  The AL East can be won, despite the presence of Chris Sale in Boston, so the decisions over the next week will go a long way toward deciding who is playing October baseball.  

Glad D-Rob’s back home…

It has been a few years since David Robertson performed in a set-up role for the Yankees, but I had forgotten how he likes to run off the field at the conclusion of an inning.  It is so great to see that again.  He is one of a kind and a direct link to the great Mariano Rivera.  I’ve been excited to have Tommy Kahnle back in the organization after being such a great admirer of his when he was a Yankees prospect, but there is something special about D-Rob and I am glad that he is back in pinstripes.  It would have been very difficult to watch him pitch for a team like the Boston Red Sox.  So, even if I haven’t said it too much on this blog site, I am very happy that D-Rob is a Yankee once again.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Next Up:  Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The Yankees face the Reds for their second and final series this season.  The teams split a two-game series in Cincinnati back in early May.  The Reds represent a reunion for a few Yankees.  Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were once prominent Reds, and Didi Gregorius was a prospect in the organization (originally signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 2007).

Credit:  Al Behrman-AP

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the two-game series:

TUESDAY

Reds:  Luis Castillo (1-3, 3.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-5, 4.09 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Reds:  Homer Bailey (2-4, 8.56 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (6-4, 3.21 ERA)

Even without playing, the Yankees were able to gain a half game on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox replaced the Yankees at Safeco Field in Seattle and were shutout by James Paxton and the Mariners, 4-0.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles) so it was a great day off.  The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by 2 games and increased their lead over the Rays by 1 1/2 games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s show Todd Frazier how to rock Yankees Stadium.  Go Yankees!

Credit:  Daniel Popper-NY Daily News

A Win is a Win…

Credit:  Nuccio DiNuzzo-Chicago Tribune

Yankees 6, White Sox 5…

Moral of the story…never take anything for granted.  The Yankees took a comfortable five run lead into the bottom of the 9th inning but it was an edge of your seat, nail-biter at the end.  A three-run homer and a run-scoring double made it interesting but the Yankees were able to hold on for the win over the Chicago White Sox.

There were a few stars in this game, but credit first has to go to starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery who has proven to be the stopper in the absence of CC Sabathia.  Montgomery  (6-4) held the White Sox to one run on five hits over seven innings while striking out eight.  He issued just one free pass.  Montgomery gave up his only run in the second inning when speculated trade target Todd Frazier opened with a solo shot to left center.  From there, Monty kept the White Sox off the board while the Yankees built what appeared to be a comfortable lead.

Credit:  AP

A fielding error by Frazier in the fourth allowed Gary Sanchez to reach base.  Aaron Judge, who had opened the inning with a walk, moved to third.  Tyler Austin lofted a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge, tying the game.  Jacoby Ellsbury, fresh off the DL, singled to move Sanchez into scoring position.  Chase Headley singled, scoring Sanchez.  Following a walk by Austin Romine to load the bases, Ronald Torreyes hit into a double-play but Ellsbury was able to score before the White Sox completed the final out, catching Headley between second and third, to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.  

With one out in the sixth, Tyler Austin gave the Yankees what they were missing from first base with a line drive homer to left or as Michael Kay called it, “a bullet”.  Ellsbury reached base on a fielding error by White Sox starting pitcher David Holmberg and Headley followed with a double to move Ells to third.  The White Sox made a pitching change and Austin Romine greeted reliever Juan Minaya with a sac fly to center, scoring Ellsbury.  A passed ball moved Headley to third.  Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder that should have been the final out, but an error by first baseman Matt Davidson, the third White Sox error of the game, allowed Torreyes to reach first while Headley scored, making it 6-1 Yankees.

The Yankees got into some trouble in the 8th when Jonathan Holder replaced Montgomery to start the inning.  He struck out the first batter but a single by former Yankee Melky Cabrera and a walk to Jose Abreu put Cabrera in scoring position.  Avisail Garcia hit into a force out that erased Abreu at second, moving Cabrera to third.  Holder was pulled and replaced by Dellin Betances who subsequently walked Frazier to load the bases.  In what would prove to be one of the plays of the game, Betances struck out Davidson to end the threat.  

Unable to tack on any further insurance runs, the Yankees took the 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th.  Chasen Shreve was brought in to pitch in relief of Betances and secured the first out on  a grounder by Yolmer Sanchez. But Kevan Smith and Adam Engel followed with singles to put runners at first and second.  Tim Anderson punched a fly ball over the center field wall to pull the White Sox within two runs, 6-4.  A frustrated Shreve was pulled for Aroldis Chapman but the White Sox kept the rally going with a single by Melky Cabrera.  Fellow Cuban Jose Abreu doubled off Chapman, scoring Cabrera, and it was 6-5 Yankees.  Fortunately, Chapman got Avisail Garcia on a ground out and Todd Frazier flied out to left to secure the save.  

A little too close for comfort but the final result was a much-needed win.  The Yankees (41-33) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-1, earlier in the evening.  The Tampa Bay Rays were idle and slipped to 3 games back.

The game wasn’t without its bad news.  Second baseman Starlin Castro left the game in the third inning after straining his right hamstring while trying to run out a grounder.  He was replaced by Rob Refsnyder.  Castro will have a MRI today while the Yankees decide whether or not to place him on the DL.  The initial word is the Yankees will call up infield prospect Tyler Wade.  Wade has 5 HR’s and 25 RBI’s for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  His slash line is .313/.390/.444.  In 71 games, he led the RailRiders with 13 errors but has stolen 24 bags.  Wade, expected to be the utility-man of the future, will now get his first taste of the Bigs.  He’ll back up Ronald Torreyes at second until Castro is able to resume play.  

Credit:  Jon Durr-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees were busy Monday on the transactions wire.  They placed Aaron Hicks, as expected, on the 10-Day DL with a right oblique strain.  Jacoby Ellsbury, who had been expected to continue his rehab with Double A Trenton was instead activated to replace Hicks.  Healthy, there’s no question I prefer Hicks over Ellsbury, but since that’s not an option, I am hopeful the Yankees can get something…anything…out of first base for production.  If so, it will help offset the loss of Hicks.  The Yankees also sent LHP Tyler Webb and OF Mason Williams to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I was sorry to see Webb go after just two Major League appearances, but hopefully, he’ll be back.  RHP Ronald Herrera and IB/OF Rob Refsnyder were recalled to replace Webb and Williams.  Refsnyder will provide corner outfield relief and help at first base if necessary.  Herrera had been scheduled to start last night’s game for the RailRiders so he represents a rotation insurance arm.

Matt Holliday was unavailable for the second straight day with his condition as a result of the allergic reaction suffered in Oakland.  He had some medical tests ran yesterday but hopefully everything comes back good.  The Yankees can ill afford to lose his productive bat for any extended period of time.

I do not want to detract from the great rookie season Aaron Judge is having, but Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger is amazing.  He had his sixth multi-homer game on Sunday and now has 24 homers on the year.  With a delayed start (he wasn’t promoted to the Dodgers until April 25th), he has the most home runs of any NL rookie in the first half since the All-Star Game debuted in 1933.  The Dodgers have been steamrolling their opponents since he arrived.  At his current pace, the son of a former Yankees utility player may catch and surpass Judge for most home runs in MLB.  Bellinger and the Dodgers certainly have the mojo working right now.

Credit:  Chris Carlson-AP

Have a great Tuesday!  Hopefully it’s a two-for Tuesday as the Yankees attempt to secure their second win against the White Sox.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Wanted: Good News For A Change…

Credit:  MLB.com

A Collective Groan in the Yankees Universe…

On the tail of a six-game losing streak, how can things go from bad to worse?  Losing top prospect Gleyber Torres to Tommy John surgery certainly qualifies.  Thought to have only a hyperextended elbow, consultation with Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad revealed that Torres has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.  Many were expecting the July call-up of Torres to the Major Leagues as a potential replacement for third baseman Chase Headley.  Now, Torres will undergo surgery, with eyes for Spring Training 2018.  Ouch, this one hurts. Well, him more than me but still, losing both the top pitching and the top hitting prospects to Tommy John surgery in the same year is difficult.  I suppose the news would have been much worse if Torres had injured his throwing arm (longer recuperation and rehabilitation period).  So, we should be grateful that this was not worse than it was.  Good things never happen with headfirst slides.

Like the ascension of Chance Adams to top pitching prospect status, Clint Frazier becomes the de facto top prospect in the organization pending Gleyber’s successful return to good health.  As I try to comprehend this depressing news, I didn’t really think that Torres was ready for the Big Leagues yet.  I had already viewed his timetable as next Spring.  With immediate projections that he’ll be ready for Spring Training, nothing really changes except he’ll lose valuable time learning the nuances of third base over the course of the next few months.  Manager Joe Girardi is already on record saying that if there is an infield need at second/short on the MLB roster, Tyler Wade would be the guy.  

Where do we go from here?  With first base surfacing as the greatest need, this probably enhances the chances for Chase Headley to remain as the third base starter (regardless of the consequences) unless the Yankees swing a less expensive deal for a guy like Howie Kendrick of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Without Major League ready third basemen in the Minor Leagues and greater needs at first base and left-handed relief in the bullpen, there’s probably not much that can be done to upgrade third base at this point without costing an arm and leg (a few arms and legs, in fact).  Even the guy the Yankees traded to the San Diego Padres for Headley (Yangervis Solarte) would be a better option today in a side-by-side comparison. 

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees are competing against the Houston Astros in the pitching market and for third base, they face stiff competition from the Boston Red Sox who appear ready to flush the Pablo Sandoval disaster.  I believe this makes the possibility of Mike Moustakas calling Fenway Park “home” the more likely outcome.  This year’s July Trading Deadline figures to be a very expensive one for the many teams looking to upgrade. 

The Yankees elevated 3B Miguel Andujar to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Torres.  He was 1-for-4 last night in the RailRiders’ 6-1 victory over the Syracuse Chiefs.  He also scored two runs.  The heroes of the game were Dustin Fowler, who had a two-run home run, and Brady Lail, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only the one run and four hits, for the win.  Andujar is probably the best true third baseman right now but he’s not close to taking his game to the next level yet.

In case you were sleeping last night…

Despite the day off, the Yankees are back in sole possession of first place in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, to fall a 1/2 game off the pace.  Having played three more games than the Yankees, the Red Sox are two games behind in the loss column.  The third place Tampa Bay Rays slid to 4 games back, thanks to their loss to the Cincinnati Reds, 7-3.   The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles sit 5 games back entering play today.  The Jays beat the Texas Rangers, 7-6, while the Orioles were de-feathered by the Cleveland Indians, 12-0.  

Preview of Upcoming Angels-Yankees Series:

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the series with the Los Angeles Angels which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium:

Tuesday, June 20th

Angels:  Parker Bridwell (1-0, 2.79 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.71 ERA)

Wednesday, June 21st

Angels:  Ricky Nolasco (2-8, 5.01 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.78 ERA)

Thursday, June 22nd

Angels:  Jesse Chavez (5-7, 4.85 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-2, 2.99 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Yankees RHP Matt Marsh, 25, has been suspended for 50 games for a second violation of Baseball’s Minor League Drug Policy.  Marsh, a relief pitcher, has appeared in 15 games for High-A Tampa and AA-Trenton.  He is 3-2 with 2.49 ERA, and has held batters to .190 batting average while striking out 28 in 21 2/3 innings.  He did not allow a run in 7 innings pitched for Tampa.  Marsh was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2014.

Credit:  Josh Lefkowitz-Getty Images

Move over, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers is now the hottest young home run hitter in baseball.  Bellinger hit two more homers last night against Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets and now has 21 in 51 games.  It is the fifth multi-homer game for Bellinger.  He is just the fourth player 21 years or younger with 20 homers by the All-Star Break (joining Eddie Matthews, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera).  Do the Dodgers miss injured first baseman Adrian Gonzalez?  I think not…

Credit:  Harry How-Getty Images

Have a great Tuesday!  It’s time to put the losing streak in the rearview mirror!

No Fight in this “Dog”…

Credit:  Tony Avelar-Associated Press

A’s 5, Yankees 2…

A funny thing happened on our way to a fun and exciting season.  We got our butts kicked by the American League’s worst team. The season-high losing streak has now reached five games (three in a row to the lowly A’s) as the agony on the West Coast continues.  

After the return of the “batting practice” pitcher (Masahiro Tanaka), the Yankees thrust a Triple A pitcher into the role of stopper later today.  It’s going to be a very long flight back to New York for the Yankees if they can’t at least salvage the final game of the four game series.

Masahiro Tanaka’s performance yesterday showed me that I really hope that he opts out of his contract at the end of the year.  But unfortunately, the worse he pitches, the more foolish he’d walk away from guaranteed money that he’d be unable to top on the open market.  Tanaka is no ace and I am becoming very pessimistic about his chances to reclaim any resemblance of a top of the rotation guy.

Tanaka did strike out 10 batters, when the A’s weren’t sending the pitches out of the park (three home runs in the first four innings).  In fact, Tanaka is the only pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out at least ten while allowing three homers in four innings or less.  It’s not exactly a record that I’d be proud of.

After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the first inning despite a runner in scoring position, the A’s Matt Joyce hopped on the first pitch thrown by Tanaka and homered to right-center.  Tanaka struck out the next 3 batters to end the first (giving the false illusion that the homer was an aberration).  

The next inning, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead when they scored two runs on three successive singles and a sac fly against A’s starter Jesse Hahn.  But it was temporary.  In the bottom of the 2nd, Ryon Healy blasted a shot to left center to tie the game.  Like the inning before, Tanaka subsequently recorded all three outs by strikeout, leaving runners at first and second through a double and a walk which followed the homer.  Tanaka faced the minimum of three batters in the third (one by strikeout), but Ryon Healy opened the fourth with his second home run of the game.  The A’s had the lead for good, 3-2.  It was another inning of all three outs recorded by strikeout, but sadly they were mixed in with four singles that produced two more runs.  5-2, A’s.

Credit:  Getty Images

Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA) didn’t come back for the fifth inning, and he was replaced by Domingo German who finished up the game (protecting the other tired arms in the bullpen).  German did an admirable job with four scoreless innings (6 strikeouts of his own) but the Yankees offense was silent for the remainder of the game.  Swinging strikeouts in the 9th by Chris Carter, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine ended the game (leaving Ronald Torreyes, who had singled and taken second on defensive indifference, stranded).  

The Boston Red Sox missed out on an opportunity to tie the Yankees (38-28) for the AL East lead and they remain one game back thanks to their 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros.  The Red Sox seem to be having their own Tanaka-like problems with last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello (3-9, 5.05 ERA).  The Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles both won so they are 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively.  

Luis Cessa will be on the mound for the Yankees later today, making his season debut.  The Yankees bullpen will be at its strongest for the first time in a long time with the expected activation of closer Aroldis Chapman.  I am hopeful that the return of Tyler Clippard to the 7th inning allows him to be more effective with the pressurized latter innings under the control of Dellin Betances and Chapman.  

Odds & Ends…

Since his elevation to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 28th, first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, son of former Yankees pitcher Clay Bellinger, has been on a home-run tear.  He already has four multi-homer games, and his 19th home run yesterday matched Gary Sanchez’s MLB record for most home runs in a player’s first 49 games.  The Dodger Days for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, currently on the DL with a degenerative disc in his lower back, appear to be numbered.

Credit:  Jeff Roberson-Associated Press

The Yankees received a scare yesterday when top prospect Gleyber Torres was pulled from the game with an injury suffered on a headfirst slide at home plate.  He has been diagnosed with a hyperextended elbow.  X-rays performed after the game were negative.  He’ll undergo further medical evaluation before returning to Scranton.  Hopefully all is well except for a few days of rest.

I hadn’t really seen a list yet, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this weekend that the Yankees must place the following players on the 40-man roster between now and November 20th or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft:  Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Tyler Wade, Zack Littell, Thairo Estrada, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Ian Clarkin, Billy McKinney and J.P. Feyereisen.  It would seem that the abundance of talented prospects requiring protection will be a factor in the days leading up the trading deadline next month.  

Happy Father’s Day to all dads in the Yankees Universe!  I hope it’s a tremendous day for you, complete with a Yankees victory!  Enjoy!

Hal’s $3 Million Investment for Home Runs…

Credit:  Joe Sargent/Getty Images

What a difference a day makes!  

Chris “All he does is hit home runs”¹ Carter made my Saturday a fun day after Friday night’s loss.  Michael Pineda, like CC Sabathia the day before, did not have his best stuff and only lasted five innings.  I had felt prior to the game that Pineda needed to be at his best with talented young right-hander Jameson Taillon on the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but fortunately, the Yankees were able to get to Taillon (thanks Starlin!).  The game was tied at 5 in the eighth when Chris Carter came to the plate to pinch hit for Dellin Betances.  The inning had looked like it would be over quickly when the first two Yankee batters flied out (if Bird’s fly could have gone just a few more feet…).  But an error by Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier allowed catcher Austin Romine to reach base and shortstop Ronald Torreyes followed with a single.  Carter is paid to do one thing and against Pirates reliever Felipe Rivero, he did it.  His beautiful swing was met with “it is high, it is far, it is gone!”.  The Yankees had taken a commanding 8-5 lead.

The Yankees would score a couple more times that inning, thanks in large part to another error by the Pirates, but the signature moment was the ninth inning even though the game was already out of reach for the Pirates.  In what is becoming a typical day at the office, Aaron Judge got all of an Antonio Bastardo pitch to send the ball screaming 116 mph for a ‘no doubt about it’ home run.  When all was said and done, the ball had traveled 457 feet.  It is starting to feel like not a question of ‘if’ Judge can hit a ball 500 feet, but ‘when’.  Five batters, including Matt Holliday, have hit longer home runs this year (a total of five feet separates the leaders) but it’s only a matter of time before Judge takes charge of the Statcast leaderboard.  

Credit:  Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Yankees won the game, 11-5 .  They head into today’s game with a chance to take the series against an old friend, Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova.  Jordan Montgomery, wearing Nova’s old jersey number, will take the mound for the Yankees.  

Despite the win, the Yankees failed to gain any ground on the Baltimore Orioles (12-4) who took another game from the Boston Red Sox.  So, the Yankees remain 1 1/2 games out of first with an 11-6 record.  I get the feeling that the Red Sox (10-8) will be playing like a wounded dog when the Yankees get to Fenway Park on Tuesday.  

I was glad to see manager Joe Girardi put Aaron Hicks in Saturday’s lineup.  He acknowledged that he needs to find ways to put Hicks’ hot bat into the game.  But really, left field is the only viable solution.  The $153 million man is actually producing in center (he’s still dead to me despite the .323 batting average) and Aaron Judge is becoming a marquee event in right.  Despite Chris Carter’s home run, I still think first base should stay exclusively with Greg Bird.  I know that he’s only hitting .111 after another 0-for-4 performance, but he seems to be hitting the ball well even if they are going for outs.  It is only a matter of time before the balls start falling in (or leaving the park).  I think he’s close to catching fire.  

I always keep an eye on former Yankees to see how they are doing.  I guess it is a Jay Buhner/Fred McGriff disorder, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for former Yankees prospect Rob Segedin.  Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deal that originally brought Ronald Torreyes to New York, the third baseman recently got another call up to the Dodgers when they placed former Yankees pitcher Rich Hill on the DL.  Two days later, Segedin was on the DL himself with a strained right big toe.  The taste of the Major Leagues can be so elusive for many and it certainly is for the 28-year-old former Yankees third round draft pick.

Credit:  David Crane/Southern California News Group

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s hope this is another Fun Day!  

 ¹A nod to Buddy Ryan’s infamous quote “All he does is catch touchdowns” in reference to Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.  

Trying To Temper The Enthusiasm…

Credit:  Andy Martin/USA TODAY Sports

With the better-than-expected start to the season, it’s easy to get caught up with the thinking that the Yankees could actually win the American League East.  Sadly, I still do not believe that will be the case.  I think the Boston Red Sox remain the heavy favorite to win the division.  While the Yankees may be playing great without Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox are starting to gather some steam even though Jackie Bradley, Jr. and arguably their best player, Mookie Betts, are currently on the DL.  Add Betts to the stellar starting rotation, and the Red Sox will be a very formidable force throughout the summer.  We’ll have some bumps and bruises with the younger starters as time goes by, and there’s no certainty that Michael Pineda has finally turned the corner.  My only reservation with the Red Sox is that they do not seem to have the same heart they did with David Ortiz in the lineup.  Hanley Ramirez is a great baseball player but he’s no Big Papi.  

Nevertheless, I do feel the strong start has positioned the Yankees to make a run at a Wild Card spot, especially with the horrific start of the perennial playoff contending Toronto Blue Jays. 

While the Yankees are currently chasing Baltimore, the Orioles lost their lock-down closer Zach Britton for at least ten days with a left sore forearm (his throwing arm).  Britton is obviously an elite closer so this severely weakens the O’s pen.  Although it’s possible that Britton will be back before the O’s get to New York late next week, they do go into a head-to-head showdown with the Red Sox starting Friday night for a three-game set in their weakened state.

It is amazing to think that the Yankees have played this well without Gregorius and Sanchez.  If they can continue to get solid pitching from the starting rotation, the return of Gregorius and Sanchez in a few weeks should be a great lift.  It’ll almost be like getting All-Star caliber players at the trading deadline with the only difference being the Yankees do not have to give up any premier prospects (or any prospects, for that matter, other than the probable DFA of Pete Kozma). 

The Yankees announced they’ve traded reliever Johnny Barbato to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash.  Those types of deals usually turn out to be cash.  Barbato was optioned to AAA by the Pirates.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees didn’t get more out of Barbato considering they gave up dependable reliever Shawn Kelley to get him.  The Pirates always seem to get high mileage out of Yankee rejects.  Barbato will probably be their ace closer within a couple of years.  

I apologize in advance for going off topic (non-Yankees talk) but I have been very interested in watching Cody Bellinger, a first baseman in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  Bellinger, son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger, is the Dodgers top prospect and the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez.  On Sunday, Bellinger was responsible for all three runs in Oklahoma City’s 3-2 win over the Memphis Redbirds.  Bellinger scored a run after walking in the fourth; tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth; and singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh.  For the season, the 21-year-old Bellinger is batting .372 (16-for-43) with 4 doubles, 3 homers, and 12 RBI’s.  Meanwhile, for the Big League Dodgers, the 34-year-old Gonzalez is hitting .250 with no homers and 4 RBI’s.  If Bellinger keeps it up, there could soon be a changing of the guard at first base in Dodger Stadium.  Looks like the Dodgers could be back to the days of bringing up an All-Star to the Majors every year.  If Bellinger does not get the call, top pitching prospect Julio Urias most certainly will.  

Credit:  Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Speaking of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (in an attempt to keep this Yankees-oriented), it’s kind of cool that their stadium, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, is located at 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.  Too bad there was no room to build the stadium across the street and down a little for 7 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.

In other non-Yankees news (or is it?), Bryan Harper stepped to the plate on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, with the Washington Nationals trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 and Philly closer Joaquin Benoit on the mound.  With two runners on base, Harper homered to center to win the game, 6-4.  It was his second home run of the game and it gave him 5 RBI’s for the day.  Preview of coming attractions at Yankee Stadium?  Time will tell, as it often does.  Hal, what’s a half-billion in the grand scheme of things?  It’s just money…

Welcome back, Matt Holliday!  After sitting out two games against his former team, the St Louis Cardinals, this past weekend, Matt Holliday returned on Monday to absolutely crush a baseball which allowed the Yankees to jump ahead of the Chicago White Sox with an early 3-0 lead.  The ball traveled 459 feet, with exit velocity of 113.9 MPH, and according to Statcast was the second longest homer of the year (two feet behind a Carlos Gomez blast). 

Aaron Judge also homered in the fourth inning with one on and two outs.

Jordan Montgomery impressed once again.  You gotta love his calm demeanor on the mound (unflappable).  His deceptive arm angle is a thing of beauty with the over the top motion.  Montgomery gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work, with two walks and two strikeouts.  The runs didn’t come until the seventh inning when Montgomery was tiring (a three run bomb by Yolmer Sanchez that ended Montgomery’s night).  Regardless of the end, Montgomery was better the second time around (as I thought he would be).  He’s an exciting part of the rotation and is quickly earning his pinstripes for the long haul.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Adam Warren did what he does best.  After Montgomery’s exit, he bridged the gap to the ninth inning.  Although he finally allowed a run, he did his job and turned the game over to Aroldis Chapman with one out and a runner on base.  Although Chapman did allow a single to the first hitter, pushing the lead runner to third, he needed just two pitches to earn his fourth save.  The next batter, Tyler Saladino, hit into a game-ending double play.

The Yankees won 7-4, and have now won eight consecutive games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Nine would be just fine!