Given it was the opening weekend for the NFL, I guess it was appropriate for the Yankees to win using a football score. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both homered twice to power the Yankees to the series-clinching win over the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees didn’t waste any time getting on the board. With two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez hit a long home run to left center, a solo shot that traveled 412 feet, off Rangers starter A.J. Griffin for the early 1-0 lead. It was El Gary’s 29th homer of the year.
Credit: Larry W Smith-EPA
The Rangers got the run back in the bottom of the 2nd when catcher Robinson Chirinos took Jordan Montgomery deep with a solo shot of his own to the right field bleachers.
Brett Gardner led off the top of the 3rd with a single to left past a diving Joey Gallo. After Chase Headley flied out to center for the first out, Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch on the back of his shoulder to put runners at first and second. A double to the wall in right by Didi Gregorius scored Gardner with the go-ahead run, while Sanchez moved to third. Starlin Castro reached base when he hit into a fielder’s choice at third. Third baseman Joey Gallo made the decision to try and tag Sanchez who started toward home but turned back. Sanchez beat Gallo back to third so all runners were safe. Aaron Judge followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Sanchez. It was 3-1 Yankees.
With A.J. Griffin still on the mound for the Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the 4th. Austin Romine lined a single to left, moving Ellsbury to second. That was all for Griffin as the Rangers brought in reliever Nick Martinez. Brett Gardner greeted Martinez with a triple to the center field wall which scored Ellsbury and Romine. Chase Headley’s single to center through the drawn-in infield scored Gardy. Gary Sanchez doubled down the left field line, advancing Headley to third. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Headley. Sanchez moved to third. Starlin Castro hit into a double play at short, with the Rangers recording the outs at second and first but Sanchez scored. Aaron Judge was next up to take swings against the Yankees-friendly Martinez. He blasted a solo home run to center, his 40th of the year. It was 9-1 Yankees and the end of Martinez’s enjoyable stay. Texas brought in reliever Yohander Mendez to replace Martinez and he retired Greg Bird on a pop out in foul territory to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 4th, Jordan Montgomery walked the first two batters he faced (Robinson Chirinos and Joey Gallo). After striking out Rougned Odor, Montgomery gave up a run-scoring double to left over the head of Brett Gardner by Ryan Rua. Gallo moved to third. Monty was removed at that point, failing to get the additional two outs he needed to qualify for the win. Chad Green came in and surrendered a sacrifice fly to center by Delino DeShields which scored Gallo to make it 9-3. Green then struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning, leaving Rua stranded at third.
The Yankees added to their lead in the 5th. Doubles to right by both Jacoby Ellsbury and Austin Romine had runners at second and third. After Brett Gardner grounded out to first, Chase Headley hit a grounder to third but the ball bounced off Joey Gallo’s glove. Shortstop Elvis Andrus got to the ball but he became distracted with Jacoby Ellsbury at third and had no play. The bases were loaded. Gary Sanchez flied out to right field in foul territory for the second out. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring both Ellsbury and Romine, but he was caught off first base by the throw from the outfield for the final out. The Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.
Credit the Texas Rangers for refusing to roll over. They led off the bottom of the 5th with a double to center by Elvis Andrus. Mike Napoli’s single to left scored Andrus to make it 11-4. Green retired the next three batters to move the game to the top of the 6th.
After Starlin Castro grounded out to start the 6th, Aaron Judge blasted a long home run to left center that traveled 463 feet for his second HR of the game and 41st of the year. 12-4, Yankees.
Credit: Larry W Smith-EPA
Gary Sanchez led off the top of the 8th with his second long home run of the game. The shot to center off Rangers pitcher Tyson Ross, which fell two feet short of Judge’s last blast, was El Gary’s 30th of the year and it increased the Yankee lead to 13-4.
Dellin Betances took over for Tommy Kahnle to start the bottom of the 8th. Kahnle had relieved Green with two outs in the bottom of the 6th and had kept the Rangers off the board. Betances was not so lucky. He started off right by striking out Drew Robinson but then proceeded to walk Ryan Rua and Delino Deshields. Shin-Soo Choo took advantage of Dellin’s control problems by hitting a two-run double to right center to make it 13-6. It must have served as a wakeup call for Betances as he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
On to the 9th. Tyson Ross was still on the mound for the Rangers and he walked Jacoby Ellsbury to get things started. Austin Romine singled to left, with Ellsbury moving to second. Tyler Wade singled to center to score Ellsbury. 14-6, Yankees, with Romine moving to third. Up to the plate strolled Erik Kratz, pinch-hitting for Gary Sanchez and making his first official at-bat for the Yankees. His double to deep left center scored both Romine and Wade to make it a 16-6 game. Welcome to the Pinstripes, Mr Kratz! That hit may have earned you a free, all-expenses paid trip to New York City.
The bottom the 9th brought out Caleb Smith to relieve Betances. Smith retired the first two hitters on pop outs, but then he walked Brett Nicholas, who had the only Rangers hit in Saturday’s game against Luis Severino. Drew Robinson hit a long fly ball to deep left that fell in against the wall to score Nicholas to make it 16-7. Smith recovered and struck out Ryan Rua to end the game. The Yankees win!
Credit: Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images
The Yankees (77-65) pulled back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox with the win. Boston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1. The Baltimore Orioles trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games after falling to the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. It was Cleveland’s 18th consecutive win. The Rays trail the Yankees by 7 games. The Yankees also increased their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to 3 1/2 games. The Twins were defeated 11-3 by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. The Los Angeles Angels are a game behind the Twins following their 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Chad Green (4-0) picked up the win in relief of Jordan Montgomery.
Aaron Judge is only the second rookie in MLB history with at least 40 home runs. Mark McGwire holds the record with 49 in 1987. Judge also set the MLB record for most walks by a rookie when he walked for the 107th time in the 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius tied a career high with four hits, and same with Gary Sanchez in scoring four runs. The Yankees had 18 hits in total, ten of which were for extra bases.
Next Up: Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field, Flushing Meadow (Queens), New York…
First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by Hurricane Irma. It must be very tough for the Rays to be on the road while friends and family are dealing with the impact of the hurricane in Florida. It’s unfortunate that the Rays are unable to play this series on their home turf and we wish them and their families the very best as they deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
For the games on the field, here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA)
Rays: Jake Odorizzi (8-7, 4.58 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-9, 3.22 ERA)
Rays: Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.88 ERA)
Rays: Chris Archer (9-9, 4.00 ERA)
Wednesday’s game looks to be a bit of a mismatch so hopefully the Yankees can take at least the first two games.
Odds & Ends...
Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders! They won their best-of-five International League Division Series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) with a 1-0 victory on Sunday. Nestor Cortes got the win with seven strong innings. He held the IronPigs to five hits and no runs. He walked a batter and struck out eight. Nick Rumbelow worked out of trouble in the 9th after two singles to record the save. He struck out Dylan Cozens to end the game and preserve the shutout win. The RailRiders scored their only run in the 7th inning on a home run by Mike Ford.
The RailRiders will advance to the best-of-five Governor’s Cup Finals to play the Durham Bulls (Rays). The series begins Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.
The Yankees activated 1B Garrett Cooper from the DL and optioned him to the RailRiders. He had been on a rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder. The Yankees are also expected to activate OF Clint Frazier sometime this week. He has also been on a rehab assignment with Trenton. The Thunder will begin play in the Eastern League Championship Series on Tuesday.
Have a great Monday! The Yanks may still be on the road but they are back in NYC! Go Yankees!
Red Sox 4, Yankees 1…
For Friday’s starters, the Yankees previously sent three of their top prospects to the Oakland A’s for their ace while the Boston Red Sox picked up their’s off the scrap heap. Nothing against Doug Fister but there’s no way he should look like Corey Kluber or Chris Sale on the mound. However, for yesterday’s game, the listless Yankees made him appear to be one of the game’s aces as the Red Sox easily got past the Yankees.
|Credit: Corey Perrine-Getty Images|
When the Yankees scored first, on Aaron Judge’s first RBI against the Red Sox since April, it looked like it might be the start of something good with Sonny Gray on the mound. But after that point, the Yankees didn’t have to worry about their problem with runners in scoring position because they couldn’t get any.
After Gray breezed through the Red Sox in the top of the first, the Yankees got to business in the bottom of the inning. Brett Gardner led off with a double to deep center, bouncing on the warning track and off the wall. Aaron Judge followed him with another double to the wall in left center to score Gardy with the game’s first run. Sadly, at that moment, the Yankees forgot that it was only Doug Fister on the mound. The next three hitters grounded out and the Yankees had seen their last RISP when Judge was left standing at second.
The Red Sox erased the Yankees’ lead in the top of the 3rd. After striking out Sandy Leon, Gray walked Brock Holt. Eduardo Nunez made him pay for it with a two-run shot to left. Brett Gardner could only watch as the ball sail into the stands. From there, the Red Sox tacked on a couple of unnecessary insurance runs in the form of solo home runs.
Andrew Benintendi, doing to the Yankees what I can only wish Aaron Judge would do to the Red Sox, pounded a Gray pitch into the right field stands (nearly into the Judge’s Chambers) in the top of the 5th.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Hanley Ramirez, having a down year against any team not called the Yankees, drilled a shot to right center in the top of the 7th.
I’d like to find a positive in the game but unfortunately I can’t. Both Gray and Fister went seven innings with 98 pitches. Gray only gave up one more hit than Fister (five to four) but the three home runs were the difference maker. We needed Gray to have his finest moment in Pinstripes but instead it was the Red Sox partying on the field after the game.
|Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports|
Aroldis Chapman pitched the eighth inning. He gave a hit (a single to Mookie Betts) but recorded all three outs by strikeout. Velocity didn’t seem to be a problem with Chapman hitting nearly 105 mph on a pitch that Dustin Pedroia fouled off. Adam Warren also pitched an inning of one-hit, scoreless relief.
I’m sorry, there was one positive in the game. Bernie Williams did a great job of playing the National Anthem on his guitar during pre-game ceremonies. I will always appreciate #51.
This was a very winnable game. Instead, the Yankees (71-63) are back to 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Baltimore Orioles won, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 in extra innings, so they are just 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. New York maintained its one game lead in the Wild Card standings thanks to the Minnesota Twins’ 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals, but there are seven AL teams within striking distance (3 1/2 games or less).
The Yankees need to take care of business. If they go down fighting, it’s one thing. When they go down meekly, it is unacceptable.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees made the first of their September call-ups with names you’d expect to see: DH Matt Holliday, C Erik Kratz (acquired solely to back up Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine while they serve their staggered suspensions), RHP Bryan Mitchell, LHP Jordan Montgomery, and RHP Ben Heller. To make room for Kratz on the 40-man roster, the Yankees moved RHP Luis Cessa (ribcage injury) to the 60-day DL. I am glad to see that the Kratz move didn’t result in a “forced” DFA. I didn’t see an easy candidate to dump. There will be other names to follow but the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will begin play in the International League play-offs next week so it may be a few weeks before we see guys like Miguel Andujar or Jake Cave.
I thought CC Sabathia getting upset about Eduardo Nunez’s bunt in the first inning of Thursday’s game was a little over-reactionary (why not exploit an opponent’s weakness?). But Hall of Famer Jim Rice’s comments about CC’s weight were, in my opinion, out of line.
Tyler Clippard must think he won the lottery. A couple of months ago, he was pitching like the worst reliever in baseball for the Yankees. Now, he finds himself with a vital role in the bullpen for a team poised to make a World Series run with starting pitchers led by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel.
|Credit: Christian Petersen-Getty Images|
Have a great Saturday! Here’s hoping that Masa washes those dirty Sox. Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Red Sox 2…
There was too much drama in the 9th inning but the Yankees persevered to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series in the Bronx.
CC Sabathia, reinforcing his reputation this year as the Yankees’ stopper, got the win in a strong performance. The first inning started a little rocky, but Sabathia made his pitches and avoided putting the Yankees in the early hole like they had with the Cleveland Indians the last couple of games. After easily retiring lead-off hitter Rajai Davis, Eduardo Nunez, in a move that would draw CC’s ire, bunted toward the pitcher. Sabathia retrieved the ball but his throw to first base pulled Greg Bird off the bag. Two subsequent walks and the bases were loaded. Sabathia struck out the next two batters to avoid what could have been a very big inning for the Red Sox.
|Credit: Craig Ruttle-Associated Press|
There were a few challenges in the game. The first one occurred in the top of the 2nd. Rajai Davis was at the plate with a runner on first and two outs. He was awarded base on a hit by pitch, but replay showed that the ball hit the end of the bat and not the player. So, Davis, who had taken first with his acting performance, had to return to the plate. He proceeded to strike out to end the inning.
Top of the 3rd and more challenges. Eduardo Nunez led off the inning for the Red Sox with a single up the middle. Next up was Andrew Benintendi who hit a liner to left field. Nunez went around to third, and Benintendi slid into second at the same time as the throw. The call on the field was safe but the Yankees challenged it and Benintendi was ruled out upon review (in a very close call).
|Credit: Rich Schultz-Getty Images|
Mookie Betts walked to put runners at the corners. Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder to short that appeared to be turned for a double play, but it was Boston’s turn to challenge. Betts, sliding into second, was ruled safe ahead of the throw from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro, so Bogaerts was the only out and Nunez scored on the play. 1-0, Red Sox. Betts subsequently stole third and the Sox had runners at the corners when Rafael Devers walked, but Sabathia, continuing his bend but not break outing, induced Hanley Ramirez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd to tie the game. Brett Gardner led off with a single to left, but he was erased when Aaron Hicks hit into a double play. So, the bases were empty when Gary Sanchez came to the plate. El Gary hit a high fly off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez that carried into the right field stands. It was Gary’s 28th home run of the season and his 12th in August.
|Credit: Craig Ruttle-Associated Press|
Sanchez always takes heat for the passed balls and wild pitches that get past him, but his arm is a thing of beauty. In the top of the 5th, with Andrew Benintendi on first and Mookie Betts at the plate, Benintendi broke for second on a called third strike on Betts and El Gary’s throw to Starlin Castro was easily in time to nail the sliding runner for the strike-em out, throw-em out double play.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees took the lead. With one out, singles by Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks put runners at the corners. Gary Sanchez hit a high fly to shallow right that looked like it would be the second out but Eduardo Nunez went too far and couldn’t reach back to make the catch over his shoulder so the ball fell in. Sanchez was awarded a single in what appeared to be an error. No matter, Gardy scored on the play and it was 2-1 Yankees. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases for Aaron Judge with two outs but he weakly popped out for a missed opportunity.
While Sabathia was holding the Red Sox in check, the Yankees broke through with more runs in the bottom of the 6th. Chase Headley started the inning with a double off the center field wall. Greg Bird, who can be a huge asset down the stretch, ripped a Rodriguez pitch deep into the right-center field stands for a two-run home run. After Todd Frazier singled to left, the Sox pulled Eduardo Rodriguez and replaced him with Fernando Abad. Abad struck out Brett Gardner, but Aaron Hicks reached first with an infield hit. Gary Sanchez lined out for the second out, however, Didi Gregorius singled up the middle to center field to score Headley. The Yankees had taken a 5-1 lead. The Sox replaced Abad with Heath Hembree who got the final out when Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short, forcing Didi out at second.
David Robertson took the mound to start the 7th inning so it closed the book on CC Sabathia. It was a very gutty performance by Sabathia. He could have easily broken and allowed the Red Sox to take advantage of their scoring opportunities but he held the door. DRob easily set down the Red Sox for three quick outs to send the game to the bottom of the 7th. The Yankees had an opportunity for a big inning but they were only able to score a single run. Aaron Judge started things by working a walk on four pitches. Chase Headley singled to center, a fly that dropped in, with Judge moving to third. Greg Bird singled to left on a grounder through second and short to score Judge. The Yankees were up 6-1. Todd Frazier subsequently walked to load the bases with no outs. The Sox went to the pen and brought in Robby Scott. Sadly, Brett Gardner hit a liner at Eduardo Nunez and his throw to Xander Bogaerts beat Bird sliding back into second for the double play. The Yankees challenged the play (replay did appear to show Bird’s hand reaching second base just ahead of Bogaerts’ foot) but the umps felt otherwise and stood by the call on the field. Aaron Hicks followed by striking out for a huge missed opportunity. I know that I didn’t feel comfortable with a five-run lead at that point against the dangerous Red Sox lineup.
Robertson evaded trouble in the top of the 8th when the first two batters reached base, the second on his own fielding error. Fortunately, he retired the next three batters to end the inning unscathed. Moments like that make me appreciate that Big Papi retired last year.
Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer easily set down the Yankees in the bottom of the 8th to send the game into the 9th inning. Dellin Betances replaced DRob and then proceeded to scare the h**l out of me. After Chris Young walked, Betances hit the next two batters (Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt) to load the bases with no outs. He finally got the first out when Eduardo Nunez struck out swinging. But a walk to Andrew Benintendi scored Young. The Red Sox had two chances with the potential tying run at the plate and two hitters very capable of hitting the long ball. Mookie Betts was first and he popped up for the second out. Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, was next. Moreland has done some damage against the Yankees this year, but Betances got him to fly out to left for the final out. Whew, game over! Yankees win!
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
The Yankees (71-62) moved to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the victory. They maintained a one-game lead in the Wild Card standings over the red-hot Minnesota Twins. The Baltimore Orioles finally lost, 11-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays, so they fell 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
CC Sabathia (11-5) got the much-deserved win. He walked too many (five) but he held the Sox to four hits and one run despite what seemed like multiple run-scoring opportunities. He struck out six. I was so fearful that Dellin Betances was going to blow the big lead in the top of the 9th but credit to him for his recovery to get the outs when he needed them. My preference, not shared by Joe Girardi, is to keep Betances in a setup role and use David Robertson as the closer until Aroldis Chapman can right the ship.
I like what I am seeing out of Greg Bird. He is clearly showing signs of being the tremendous hitter he exhibited in spring training before injuring his foot. He was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s. Gary Sanchez was great with his home run and 2 RBI’s but it’s a little bittersweet given the impending suspension.
The Judge’s Chambers featured a true Judge with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in attendance.
|Credit: Craig Ruttle-Associated Press|
Hopefully the Yankees can continue their success against the Red Sox tonight when Sonny Gray takes the hill in perhaps his most significant Yankees start yet. He’ll be opposed by journeyman Doug Fister.
Odds & Ends…
While we continue to await word on the suspension appeals for Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine (it is my understanding that Gary’s appeal will be heard today), it sounds as though the Yankees will be able to stagger the suspensions so that the team is not without at least one member of its top catching tandem. It’s disappointing that Kyle Higashioka remains on the DL since it will most likely result in the loss of a 40-man roster spot for another player in order to create room for a back-up catcher. It was looking like career minor leaguer Eddy Rodriguez might get the call, but the Yankees acquired veteran catcher Erik Kratz yesterday from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. The Yankees will soon make a roster move to add Kratz. Kratz is 37 and has logged 225 MLB games since 2010 for various teams. By comparison, the 31-year-old Rodriguez has only played 2 MLB games (for San Diego in 2012). Any way you look at it, there’s going to be a noticeable drop-off from the team of Sanchez and Romine to whomever fills the interim backup role.
Prior to last night’s game, the Yankees recalled RHP Giovanny Gallegos. He takes the roster spot vacated when LHP Caleb Smith was optioned to Triple A after Wednesday’s double-header loss to the Cleveland Indians. DH Matt Holliday is expected to be activated soon.
Former Yankees Assistant GM and now Angels GM Billy Eppler is getting aggressive in helping his team track down the Yankees and the Twins in the Wild Card chase. Eppler made a bold move yesterday to acquire OF Justin Upton from the Detroit Tigers. Upton is batting .279 with 28 HRs and 94 RBIs. Solid move for the Halos. They gave up young pitching prospect RHP Grayson Long. To make room for Upton, the Angels placed much-traveled Cameron Maybin on waivers. He was subsequently acquired by the Houston Astros. Later in the day, the Angels acquired 2B Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves and the Astros, in a move that could solidify their chances for the World Series, picked up pitcher Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers.
There has been much talk about Shohei Otani this week with GM Brian Cashman’s trip to Japan, but it is too premature for me to read anything into it. The Yankees do not have an advantage over other clubs should Otani decide to come to the United States other than they’d have more dollars to spend on some future contract that would have absolutely no bearing on the dollars that will be present for Otani’s first contract. It’s a level playing field for the most part in terms of the international bonus pool money, with the slight increases for those teams like the Yankees that have added money through trades. Still, the cap on those dollars can be reached by any number of teams. I’ll get excited if there are signs that Otani is actually considering the Yankees, but until then, it’s a pipe dream.
Have a great Friday! Hopefully the Yankees won’t have to “labor” too hard for victories this weekend! Go Yankees!