Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2…
The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded. Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded. But you can’t pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.
The tone of the game was set early. Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin. Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center. In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.
Credit: Steve Russell-Toronto Star
The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius. With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run. But that’s all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.
After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first. Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left. It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead. A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.
Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain. It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago. After the game, Sabathia said “It’s just hard to land. It’s hard for me to finish my pitches. It’s just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches. When I can’t do that, I don’t know where the ball is going.” There’s no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he’ll head back to New York for further tests. We’re reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell.
Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance. He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.
The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning. With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked. After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first. Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.
The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th. Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play. Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.
The last great chance came in the 8th. Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi). Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley’s foot, to reach base. Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked. It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded. He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn’t help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations. The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.
The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna. It was another game of lost opportunities. The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn’t really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice). Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times. Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base. It’s tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can’t seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.
Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia’s knee. The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he’s question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back). Sabathia (9-5) took the loss. The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05. I hope that he’s able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.
Credit: Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP
The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts. So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray. He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66. #88, anyone?…
It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game. While I am not overly optimistic that we’ll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training. Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro’s absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.
OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment. He may be activated for this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx. We’ll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room. If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders).
The Blue Jays scratched today’s scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez. Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury. Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.
It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor’s jersey in their dugout for yesterday’s game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians. Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998. The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves. Following Baylor’s passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement: “He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many. His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever. This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”
Credit: Tony Dejak-Associated Press
Have a great Wednesday! One more day to Sonny Gray! Let’s Go Yankees!
Enjoyed An Off Day…
Monday, Monday. I am glad it’s in the books but it was nice having an off-day while the Yankees enjoyed their free time in Toronto. But it’s now Tuesday and back to work.
Last month, I was in favor of a trade for a proven first baseman like Yonder Alonso (then with the Oakland A’s) or Lucas Duda (then with the New York Mets). Alonso’s bat cooled about the time Chase Headley started heating up so Headley probably blocked any potential deal that would have brought Alonso to New York as either part of the Sonny Gray trade or a separate trade. There’s also speculation that the Mets had a similar offer from the Yankees to one they accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda which showed the only way the Mets would work with the Yankees would be in an “overpay” situation.
So, where does that leave us with the latest speculation that Jay Bruce would be a good fit for the Yankees? Primarily an outfielder, he has played 11 games at first base this year making him at least as experienced at the position as Headley. He is left-handed and has mashed 29 homers this year to go with 75 RBI’s. He is batting .260/.324/.528. The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year so he’d be a true rental. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce as he has seemed too much like a feast-or-famine type of hitter. But, like Duda, he might have the swing for Yankee Stadium. So, I’d have to say that I am intrigued by this one to say the least. With so much uncertainty around Matt Holliday and Greg Bird, Bruce would bring a big stick to first base/DH for the rest of the year.
Nevertheless, if the Mets insist an overpay because it’s the Yankees, then it is not worth it. The Yankees are also included in Bruce’s limited no-trade clause but that’s nothing $$$ couldn’t solve. I am skeptical that the Mets would ever give the Yankees a player that could potentially help them make the play-offs and risk losing market share as a result.
I am not sure what I think about rumors the Yankees should pursue Mike Napoli. He is a proven winner. His numbers in his age 35 year are down from last year but he still has some thump in his bat with 22 HR’s albeit with a batting average that is south of the Todd Frazier line. Napoli’s contract carries a 2018 club option that can be bought out for $2.5 million. A costly measure, unless the Texas Rangers pay some or all the freight, to add the potential for a few late season bombs. If only Chris Carter had done what he was paid to do.
I hate to see any more prospects shipped away for a six-week need unless it is for someone that can truly be the difference-maker at this point in the season (a player with the potential to help for an October push). I want to see what Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin can do, and then there’s, hold your breath, Greg Bird at the end of the month. Okay, maybe don’t hold your breath. I suspect that unless Matt Holliday is able to come back after his DL stint to resemble the player we saw in the first half (unlikely), the DH position is going to be very fluid on a day to day basis with player rotation.
More than anything, the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to step up and deliver the promise he showed us last August and September. At the moment, he’s the most maligned Yankee. The key will be how he responds to the criticism. The Yankees are a better team with El Gary in the lineup but he needs to make the defensive plays and wait for his pitches at the plate. The Yankees play 6 of the next 13 games against the Boston Red Sox and will face Chris Sale twice. Between the two Red Sox series, the Yankees play a home and away set against the New York Mets for four games. This is a very crucial two weeks that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual AL East winner.
According to Baseball America, the Los Angeles Dodgers have released former Yankees LOOGY Tommy Layne. The Dodgers also removed former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple A. The Los Angeles Angels signed former Yankees reliever Branden Pinder, who was released earlier this summer by the Bombers. I am sure that Angels GM Billy Eppler is relying upon past information about Pinder to take a chance. I hope it works out for Pinder.
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…
The Toronto Blue Jays may be the AL East cellar dwellers but they always play the Yankees very tough. The Yankees will see old friend Rob Refsnyder who is currently on the Blue Jays active roster as a backup infielder.
The scheduled pitching match-ups are:
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)
Blue Jays: J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA)
Blue Jays: Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)
I am not trying to look ahead but it’s a bummer that we won’t have Sonny Gray for this weekend’s series against Boston at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox have gone out of their way to ensure that Chris Sale gets three starts against the Yankees in the coming weeks.
Farewell to #25…
Former Yankee Don Baylor died Monday at age 68 from cancer. Baylor was American League MVP for the then California Angels in 1979 and he won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins at the end of his 19-year playing career, but I remember his toughness as the Yankees DH from 1983 to 1985, playing along side Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. He was a magnet for baseballs with 267 HBP’s. I wasn’t a fan of the March 1986 trade that sent Baylor to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler. Rest in peace, Mr Baylor…
Have a great Tuesday! Let’s turn a two-game win streak into three! Go Yankees
The Kid from Kalamazoo rides away…
I hate that I’ve been so pessimistic about the Yankees’ chances of making the play-offs this year, but the realization is slowly becoming a reality as time on the 2014 season draws to a close. For whatever reason, this just has never felt like the Yankees’ season. It had more promise than last year yet the team will actually end up with a worse record. As I write this, the Yankees hold a two game lead for second place in the AL East and that’s the most the team can aspire for.
After losing Martin Prado for the season due to an appendectomy, the latest blow is the potential season-ending loss of Jacoby Ellsbury with a hamstring injury.
It’s sad that the final season for future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter will end so quietly. In a way, it carries the same sadness that saw Don Mattingly’s career end with the 1995 play-off loss to the Seattle Mariners (his only post-season appearance in a tremendously successful Yankees career). Granted, DJ has enjoyed far greater post-season success than Mattingly could have ever imagined, but still, for the man coined as Mr. November, it’s sad that we will no longer be able to see his presence grace October.
Ironically, it is Mattingly who will experience the post-season this year as he has his Los Angeles Dodgers in a good position with a play-off spot secured and a 3 ½ game lead in the NL West over the San Francisco Giants.
With Jeter’s desire to one day be a major league owner, I wonder where his post-Yankees career will take him. It’s tough to see Mattingly wear another team’s uniform after he wore pinstripes for the duration of his Yankees career. I can’t imagine seeing Derek wearing another uniform. I was listening to Cal Ripken on the radio this week and his radio career ensures that he’ll forever be known as an Oriole and nothing else. That’s the way it should be, but Jeter’s aspirations for ownership will inevitably lead him elsewhere. I can’t see the Steinbrenner family selling him a substantial piece of the prized Yankees.
Thank you, Lord, for making him a Yankee…
Hats off to Hiroki Kuroda who has been such a great Yankee. I respected him when he was a starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but never really got a sense of his professionalism and the honor he bestows wearing his team’s colors. He has only been a Yankee for three years, but he made a difference and if this is his last year, he will leave a solid legacy. If he does play another year in the majors, I hope that he does return to the Yankees rather than going back to the Dodgers. But for whatever he decides, I will respect his decision because he has earned that right. If he does pitch for the Dodgers next year, or plays in Japan, or simply calls it a career, I will remain a fan.
My choice…they passed the audition…
I really hope the Yankees move quickly to re-sign Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy, and decide to bring back Chris Young. I think all three can play valuable roles for the 2015 season even with the return of Alex Rodriguez or the potential signing of a frontline starter like Jon Lester. The first order of business when the season ends is for the Yankees to re-sign GM Brian Cashman (or move on and name Billy Eppler as his replacement). The GM situation needs to be settled quickly so that the team can focus on its pursuit of improvement for 2015. I clearly want Cashman back, but I’d be happy with Eppler in the role too. I would not want to see the team bring in an outsider for fill the role.
I am anxious to see if Rob Refsnyder can take second base next spring. He may not be Robinson Cano but I think he’d bring excitement to the position.
A plethora of catchers…
The Yankees will need to do something about the glut of catchers this off-season. Francisco Cervelli is a great back-up and a potential starter, but John Ryan Murphy deserves a chance. Austin Romine seems to have become an afterthought and maybe he’d thrive with a change of scenery (not unlike what happened for his brother, Andrew Romine, who was dealt from the Angels organization and is now starting at shortstop for the Detroit Tigers). One of these days, Gary Sanchez will be knocking at the door and he will force his way onto the roster.
We know who replaced Mariano Rivera…
I guess the predictions that reliever Jacob Lindgren would make the majors by the end of the year after he was drafted in June did not come to pass. But there’s no doubt that he’ll be a contender for the bullpen next season. I really have no clue what the Yankees intend to do with David Robertson. If he becomes a free agent, there is a very real possibility that he will become a former Yankee. I am sure the Yankees are intrigued with the possibility of making Dellin Betances the closer after his All-Star breakout season. I think Betances can be a great closer but Robertson has certainly done everything the team expected from him. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I remember hating to see closer John Wetteland leave via free agency which thrust set up man Mariano Rivera into the closer’s role. I think that situation played itself out correctly (statement of the obvious). Time will tell if the team makes the right decision with Robertson.
Wanted: Clutch hits…
One Yankee that has come under a great deal of heat is hitting coach Kevin Long. Long respected at his craft, I wonder if the team’s offensive failures this year will force the Yankees to change coaches. As great as Long is, if the players are not responding to his message, it’s either time to get new players or change coaches. The latter is the cheaper route and it will most likely be the one the team makes. There are no obvious choices for who would make a better hitting coach. I’ve always liked Don Baylor but I don’t know his current situation. I think Bernie Williams would have made a terrific coach if he had chosen that path, but his musical adventure is his passion. Paul O’Neill? Another one of the hard choices for the Yankees to make.
As Derek Jeter rides off to the sunset, many questions and few answers confront the Yankees as they move forward.