|Photo Credit: MiLB.com and Scranton/WB RailRiders|
Young Righty Gets First Taste of Major League Camp…
It seemed like such an innocuous and under-the-radar trade in November 2017 when the Yankees traded marginal prospects LHP Caleb Smith and 1B/OF Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for $250,000 in international bonus pool money and young Single A RHP Michael King. Moving Smith and Cooper were clearly designed to clear space on the 40-man roster in advance of that year’s Rule 5 Draft. At the time of the trade, the international bonus pool money appeared to be the objective as the Yankees were making preparations for what would prove to be the failed run at international superstar Shohei Ohtani. King just came along for the ride…or did he?
In 2017, Caleb Smith was dominant for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, riding an unbeaten streak for most of the year. He finished 9-1, with a 2.39 ERA, starting 17 of 18 games played for the RailRiders. He made his Major League debut for the Yankees on July 17, 2017 but the Yankees and Smith lost to the Minnesota Twins, 4-2. He shuttled back and forth between Scranton, PA and the Bronx, finishing 0-1, with 7.71 ERA, in 18 2/3 innings. Despite his Triple A success, Smith, then 26, did not appear to be a top prospect. To his credit, Smith did pitch better for the Marlins last year. He went 5-6 with 4.19 ERA over 16 starts covering 77 1/3 innings before shoulder tightness ended his season. He is expected to be part of the Marlins’ rotation this year.
Garrett Cooper had been acquired by the Yankees in July 2017 in a trade that sent LHP Tyler Webb to the Milwaukee Brewers. Cooper had some nice moments in the Bronx, playing 13 games. He was 14-for-43 (six extra-base hits) with no homers and 6 RBI’s. 2018, in a Marlins uniform, was largely a lost season for Cooper. He injured his wrist early in the season and later re-injured it during a rehab assignment, undergoing surgery in August. He appeared in just 14 games for the Marlins. He’s now healthy and expected to compete for a job with the Marlins this season, likely as a reserve first baseman/outfielder.
After the Yankees lost out on Ohtani, the international bonus pool money was put to good use as the Yankees had a number of highly rated signings including OF Kevin Alcantara, OF Mauro Bonifacio, C Antonio Gomez, C Agustin Ramirez, RHP Denny Larrondo, and RHP Osiel Rodriguez, plus Luis Severino’s little brother, RHP Rafael Severino.
But setting everything aside, the crown jewel of the Yankees-Marlins trade has turned out to be Michael King. King, born in Rochester, New York and a graduate of Bishop Hendricksen High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, was drafted in the 12th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Marlins. At the time, King was the staff ace for Boston College. He signed with the Marlins, foregoing his final year of college eligibility, and was a combined 3-3 with 4.11 ERA over 30 2/3 innings at the lowest three levels of the Marlins’ farm system. He returned to Class A Greensboro in 2017 with much better results, 11-9 with 3.14 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 106 strikeouts, over 149 innings. Still, at the time of the trade to the Yankees, he was largely unheralded and unranked as a prospect.
Last year, he opened eyes in the Yankees farm system. He started the year with High A Tampa, spent time with Double A Trenton, and finished the year with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 24 starts and a relief appearance, King was 11-5 with 1.79 ERA. He struck out 152 batters in 161 1/3 innings with 0.91 WHIP.
Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell, via The New York Post, recently said, “Every time he moved up, he seemed to get better. He wasn’t fazed by the better competition and he knows how to pitch.” Borrell went on to say that he could see King pitching in New York this year if he pitches like last season and does not see the young right-hander regressing.
King, 6’3” and 210 lbs, turns 24 on May 25th. He is currently rated as the Yankees’ fifth-best prospect by Baseball America, behind OF Estevan Florial, RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, OF Everson Pereira, and C Anthony Seigler. His primary pitch is a two-seam fastball that sits in the mid-90’s. The key to his success in the Major Leagues is dependent upon his continued development of secondary pitches.
King will get his first taste of Big League Camp this year when he reports to Tampa as a non-roster invitee for the Yankees. While he is not expected to make the Opening Day Roster (he only made six Triple A starts last year), his goal is simple. Catch the attention of Manager Aaron Boone, Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and the Yankees’ army of analytics. Even though he is not yet on the 40-man roster, there’s no doubt he will be among the first to be considered if/when the Yankees have needs for help in the starting rotation this year. I’ve heard the claims that he’ll never be anything more than a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but if memory serves correctly, that’s what they said about Andy Pettitte when he was first called up. Let Luis Severino and James Paxton be the aces, the strength of the middle to back end of the rotation is what championships are made of. I am thrilled about King and what he potentially means for the Yankees. This could very well be the year of his Major League debut. I have greater belief in King as a starter than a guy like Chance Adams who I feel is better suited for the pen. Mike King is a winner, and carrying that intangible with his tremendous talent, should make Yankee fans very excited. The King of the Hill is going to create great memories in the Bronx in the not-so-distant future.
This was a brilliant trade by GM Brian Cashman. King has proven better than we expected and he’ll continue to open eyes in Tampa in a few weeks. When the Spring games start, be sure to look out for #93.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post|
The 40-Man Chess Match…
Yesterday figured to be a very busy day for the Yankees as MLB teams had to set their 40-man Rosters of Record for Rule 5 eligibility (draft to be held at the conclusion of next month’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL) and it was.
Before the past weekend, the Yankees only had two open spots on the 40-man. Then, a few trades later, the Yankees were able to protect six young prospects from becoming potential ex-Yankees. Granted, any player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft has to stick on a MLB roster for the entire year but it happened as recent as last year when the San Diego Padres held on to Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens (even though the very young Torrens was over-matched at the Major League level).
RHP Nick Rumbelow
RHP Ronald Herrera
LHP Caleb Smith
1B Garrett Cooper
LHP Reiver Sanmartin
LHP J.P. Sears
RHP Juan Then
RHP Michael King
International Bonus Pool Money ($250,000)
ADDED TO THE 40-MAN ROSTER
RHP Domingo Acevedo
RHP Albert Abreu
RHP Jonathan Loaisiga
INF Gleyber Torres
INF Thairo Estrada
OF Billy McKinney
Trade: Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then. I thought this was the best trade. Sears, 21, fits the Yankees mold as a former collegiate player who could be useful in the bullpen. Even though his fastball tops out at 92 mph, he has been something of a strikeout machine. In his final year at The Citadel, he led NCAA Division I with 142 K’s in 95 1/3 innings. Then (not the pitcher), last year, in his first year in the Minors, he struck out 51 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Then (the pitcher), 17, a projected middle of the rotation starter, is the only new prospect to crack MLB’s Top 30 Prospects for the Yankees (his debut is at #28 in front of RHPs Giovanny Gallegos and Trevor Stephan).
Trade: Ronald Herrera to the Texas Rangers for LHP Reiver Sanmartin. Herrera provides the Rangers with an arm that is nearly ready while the Yankees buy some time with a lower level prospect. Sanmartin, 21, is a year younger than Herrera and has compiled a 14-4 record with 2.62 ERA over three minor league seasons.
Trade: Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for Michael King and Shohei Otani Money. The Yankees lose a valuable lefty with Smith’s departure but I figured that his roster spot was the least secure. Cooper did a decent job when called upon last year, but it was inevitable that the Yankees would have to make a decision between Tyler Austin and Cooper despite the latter owning a name that recalls the late great actor Gary Cooper and the movie classic The Pride of the Yankees. The writing was on the wall when Billy McKinney started working out at first base in The Arizona Fall League. This trade is being advertised as Derek Jeter’s first even if he probably didn’t handle any of the negotiations. Marlins VP of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo knows a thing or two about Yankees prospects. Many were calling this trade a huge win for the Marlins but I thought it served a very useful purpose for the Yankees. They cleared two spots on the roster which ensured that Thairo Estrada and Jonathan Loaisiga (“Johnny Lasagna”) could be protected and added a lottery ticket with the 22-year-old King. Maybe King never realizes his dream, but the additional international bonus pool money gives the Yankees a total of $3.5 million to pursue Shohei Otani. If the Yankees are successful in signing Otani, it would be very hard to look at this trade as a failure for the Yankees regardless of how Smith or Cooper eventually perform for the Marlins.
The Yankees should gain better clarity about the availability of Otani later today. The MLBPA extended the posting agreement deadline, which had been scheduled to expire yesterday, by 24 hours. The new deadline is tonight at 8 pm ET. If the parties are able to agree on a new posting agreement, it ensures that Otani will be posted this off-season and will make his much anticipated trip to the United States to choose his next team (or as I prefer, sign with the Yankees).
|Credit: The Japan Times|
The Yankees will need to make additional roster moves should they sign Otani and/or re-sign CC Sabathia but for now, the Yankees are prepared for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. I am fearful of losing LHP Nestor Cortes, RHP Cale Coshow, and/or RHP J.P. Feyereisen, among others, but it speaks to the strength of the Yankees farm system that the potential losses will hurt.
I can’t end this post without mentioning another transaction that occurred yesterday even if it was non-Yankees news. The Toronto Blue Jays waived former Yankees fan favorite Rob Refsnyder and he was claimed by the Cleveland Indians. While I wish Refsnyder well in Cleveland, I kind of wish that he’d go somewhere like San Francisco where the Yankees wouldn’t have to routinely see him. I hold out hope that Refsnyder will achieve the promise he once held but admittedly his flame of potential is growing dimmer.
|Credit: Mark Lomoglio, Icon Sportswire|
Now that the 40-man roster maneuvering has been completed, I fully expect the next week to be very quiet. Perhaps there are more managerial interviews but most likely, we’ll be on the other side of the Thanksgiving Weekend before we see any notable Yankees news.
While I would have loved being able to protect every valuable prospect, I thought the Yankees did a very good job covering the best of the best. Project Next Dynasty continues on its very very bright and positive path. We are now accepting applications for Bandwagon Fans. Go Yankees!
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0…
So much for heading home with any momentum to face the AL-East leading Boston Red Sox. The Yankees offense departed Toronto a day too early as the Yankees were blanked by the AL East cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays. Losing two of three to the division’s worst is not exactly a recipe for October.
Sonny Gray kept the Yankees in the game but he had no help.
|Credit: The Associated Press|
The first inning started with hope for a run. With two outs, Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to right. Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez struck out swinging as the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.
Garrett Cooper doubled in the second inning with two outs but Ronald Torreyes flied out to right on the first pitch he was thrown by Jays starter Marco Estrada. The Blue Jays didn’t miss their chance in the bottom of the inning. Ezequiel Carrera doubled to center with one out. A failed pick off attempt by Sonny Gray allowed Carrera to move to third. Ryan Goins hit a short grounder which Gray scooped and tossed underhanded with his glove to Sanchez, but Carrera slid in under the tag to score the Jays’ first run.
|Credit: Fred Thornhill-The Associated Press|
The third inning brought another two-out double, this time a line drive down the left field line by Aaron Judge. But like the others, he was left stranded when Didi Gregorius flied out. The Jays, unlike the Yankees, didn’t miss their chances. In the bottom of the third, Jose Bautista walked. Russell Martin struck out on a ball that got past Gary Sanchez. Sanchez’s throw beat Martin to first, but Joey Bats had already stolen second on the play. Josh Donaldson singled to left to score Bautista. It was 2-0 Jays.
After the Yankees went quietly in the 4th, the Blue Jays added another run in the bottom of the inning. Steve Pearce opened with a single off Gray. A sacrifice bunt by Ezequiel Carrera moved Pearce to second. After Ryan Goins walked, Kevin Pillar singled to left (a bouncer between Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius) to score Pearce.
The fifth inning started with promise. Garrett Cooper led off with a single to left and Ronald Torreyes walked. But they didn’t advance any further when Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge recorded outs. For Judge, who struck out to end the inning, it was his 27th consecutive game with a strikeout (extending his own franchise record).
|Credit: The Associated Press|
It was more of the same in the 6th. Gary Sanchez walked with one out. He was followed by Todd Frazier who singled to right. Sanchez advanced to second but there he would stay as Jacoby Ellsbury and Garrett Cooper failed to move the runners.
Manager Joe Girardi brought Chasen Shreve in to start the 7th inning. While Shreve’s performance overall was good, he allowed a home run by Jose Bautista, a solo shot to left. The Blue Jays were up 4-0. It was Bautista’s 36th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any active player.
|Credit: Steve Russell-Toronto Star|
The Yankees couldn’t do anything with a Gary Sanchez single in the 8th. For the 9th, the Jays brought in their closer, Roberto Osuna, even though it wasn’t a save opportunity. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk. Following strikeouts by Garrett Cooper and Chase Headley, Brett Gardner walked. Aaron Judge came to the plate with a chance to bring the Yankees within a run but it was not to be as he struck out to end the game.
Sonny Gray (6-7) took the loss. He went six innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs. Only 2 of the runs were earned due to Sonny’s error on the failed pick-off attempt in the 2nd inning. Throwing a total of 103 pitches, he walked 4 batters and struck out 6.
This was a very disappointing loss. My morning started with a Red Sox fan posting the AL East Standings on my FaceBook page and laughing. The Yankees (60-53) fell 4 1/2 games behind the idle Red Sox who watched the Yankees lose while sitting in NYC. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-1, to move back to 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles won too, 7-2 over the Oakland A’s, so they’re 4 games behind New York. The Yankees still have the Wild Card lead (by two games) but this team is not playing like it wants to play in October. It doesn’t get any easier tonight…
Next Up: Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
With Boston’s day off on Thursday, they arrived in New York City a day earlier than the Yankees. So, they’ll be rested and ready for the Bombers tonight. The Red Sox bring an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s game.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups. It’s a bummer that Sonny Gray will miss this series but he’ll be ready next weekend in Boston.
Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 6.35)
Red Sox: Drew Pomeranz (11-4, 3.06 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (9-4, 2.91 ERA)
Red Sox: Chris Sale (14-4, 2.57 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.05 ERA)
Monty, we need you to get back to New York to start on Sunday in place of CC Sabathia. Who’s on the mound for Boston? Um, I’m not sure. Just go out there and throw zeros and we’ll be fine…
Odds & Ends…
Clint Frazier has been placed on the 10-Day DL with his oblique tightness. OF Aaron Hicks was activated off the DL a day earlier than anticipated as a result. I guess this delays the decision of what to do with Red Thunder when Aaron Hicks returns. Hicksie gets to fly from Trenton to Toronto and back to New York City in less than 24 hours. I suppose it could have been worse if the Yankees had been playing in Seattle.
LHP Dietrich Enns, 26, made his Major League debut last night for the Minnesota Twins in their game against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. It didn’t go so well. Despite the Twins’ 7-2 win, Enns was pulled after 2 1/2 innings and 53 pitches. He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (only one earned thanks to his own throwing error). He walked a batter (with the bases loaded in the third) and gave up a home run to Keon Broxton. Enns went to Minnesota with Zack Littell in the deal that brought Jaime Garcia to New York.
|Credit: Tom Lynn-The Associated Press|
Have a great Friday! Yankees-Red Sox. It doesn’t get any better than this. Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images|
Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5…
The bottom of the Yankees lineup powered the team to victory on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays with an assist by the bullpen. Six of the eleven runs were courtesy of the bottom third of the order. Nine runs if you throw in the number 6 hitter (the Toddfather). It was a much needed win as the Boston Red Sox are currently riding an eight-game winning streak (which they will bring to the Bronx on Friday night when they begin a three-game series against the beloved home team).
Masahiro Tanaka only gave up two hits but he was gone after four innings, pulled in the 5th with no outs, having thrown 88 pitches which included five walks and three runs (two earned). So, it was up to the stacked bullpen to power its way to victory.
The Yankees got on the board first with two runs in the top of the 2nd. Gary Sanchez and Todd Frazier led off the inning against Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch with back-to-back home runs. The Jays’ Kevin Pillar made a nearly successful leap to rob Sanchez, but the ball was just beyond his reach. I’ve said it before but I hate solo home runs. It’s not that I hate home runs…I love the runs, but I just prefer men on base when it happens (statement of the obvious). Two home runs…the potential for eight runs…or two. I just prefer to be somewhere in the middle (or more). Oh well, the stats seem to favor the Yankees when they homer in games so I am not complaining.
|Credit: The Associated Press|
The Blue Jays got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd when Steve Pearce walked and advanced to third on Kevin Pillar’s double to left. Nori Aoki hit a grounder to second for an out, but Pearce scored on the play (with Pillar moving to third). It got a little too interesting with the next batter when Darwin Barney hit a grounder to third and the Yankees had Pillar caught in a rundown. But it wasn’t executed cleanly and Pillar almost scored if not for the athleticism of Tanaka who took the throw behind Gary Sanchez to nail the runner at the plate.
|Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports|
The top of the 3rd brought another solo home run, this time a shot to the second deck in right center by Didi Gregorius, as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-1.
|Credit: Steve Russell-Toronto Star|
The Jays answered in the bottom of the inning without a single hit. Raffy Lopez led off and reached base through catcher’s interference on a pitch that would have been the third strike. Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak walked to load the bases. Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Donaldson to make it a one-run game.
It looked like the Yankees were going to break the game open in the 5th when Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to center. The Jays brought in Leonel Campos to replace Tepesch. He was successful in striking out Gary Sanchez, but Todd Frazier followed with a double to right center to score Judge and Gregorius. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to center to score Frazier and it was 6-2 Yankees.
|Credit: Mark Blinch-The Associated Press|
In the bottom of the 5th, the Jays started to chip away. Jose Bautista led off with a home run to left. Masahiro Tanaka walked the next batter (Josh Donaldson) and Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough. He brought in Chad Green who struck out the side to prevent any further damage.
Unfortunately, the 6th inning didn’t go so well for Green. Nori Aoki opened with a single. Darwin Barney hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Aoki, however, Ryan Goins doubled to left center to score Barney. Girardi elected to pull Green and brought in Tommy Kahnle. A wild pitch by Kahnle moved Goins to third. Raffy Lopez walked to put runners at the corners. Josh Donaldson singled to right center, scoring Goins, and it was a one-run game again.
The Yankees finally got separation in the 8th when Todd Frazier led off the inning with a single to left center off Jays reliever Dominic Leone. The Jays pulled Leone for J.P. Howell who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury. Howell was then lifted for Taylor Cole which backfired on the Jays. Garrett Cooper doubled to left with Frazier moving to third. Ronald Torreyes, who has done a stellar job as a fill-in for Starlin Castro, singled to center to score both Frazier and Cooper. Torreyes took second on the throw. The Yankees almost had another run when Chase Headley singled to left center but Toe was gunned down at the plate.
Nevertheless, the Yankees picked up three more runs in the top of the 9th with Cole still on the mound. Didi Gregorius reached base on an infield single, Gary Sanchez singled to center and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second but Gregorius scored on the play. Garrett Cooper doubled to center to bring both Sanchez and Frazier home. The Jays had seen enough of Cole and pulled him for Danny Barnes who retired the last two Yankee batters get out of the inning and let the Jays come to bat for their last licks.
David Robertson and Dellin Betances had pitched scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively. For the 9th to close it out, Girardi brought in Adam Warren. It wasn’t clean but he got the job done. A walk and a single had runners at the corners with two outs, but Warren got Kevin Pillar to fly out to Aaron Judge to end the game. The Yankees win!
It was so great to see the Yankees finally make noise with runners in scoring position. Garrett Cooper led the 17-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night. He had 2 RBI’s and scored a run. It was by far his best game as a Yankee. Jacoby Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes also had 2 RBI’s each. Todd Frazier was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and four runs scored, including his 19th home run of the season. Didi Gregorius was 3-for-5 with an RBI on the solo homer, his 18th, and three runs scored. It was good to see Gary Sanchez homer, also his 18th. He had two hits and scored twice. This was a great team victory to pick up Tanaka. Green (2-0) was the winner.
|Credit: Mark Blinch-The Associated Press|
The Yankees (60-52) remain four games behind the Boston Red Sox. As noted at the top of this post, the Red Sox won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2. Even though the Yankees didn’t gain any ground on the Red Sox, they increased their lead over the Rays by 3 1/2 games. The Baltimore Orioles also lost (5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels) so they fell 5 games behind the Yankees. The Yankees currently hold a 2 1/2 game advantage in the Wild Card standings but I still think the AL East can be won. The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees can pick up a 1/2 game with a win today over the Jays on Getaway Day. The Sox will be waiting for the Yankees in the Bronx for a three-game set starting on Friday night.
Clint Frazier was scheduled to start the game in right field but was a late scratch for oblique tightness. No immediate word on his condition. Aaron Judge was moved from DH to right field, Chase Headley from 1B to DH, and Garrett Cooper inserted into the starting lineup at first. Obviously, Cooper took advantage of the opportunity at Frazier’s expense.
I’ll let others write about the upcoming Players Weekend on August 25th through 27th when players can wear nicknames on the back of alternate uniforms. I know that many Yankee fans are up in arms, but I am indifferent. It is a playful three days and it does not involve desecrating the famed Pinstripes. But Pickles? Really? We’re going to throw Pickles at the Seattle Mariners? Well, at least we can throw The Missile at them later. I know that Sonny Gray has a story behind the name but it is still hard to wrap my head around it.
CC Sabathia’s MRI came back clear so it sounds as though he’ll be back on the mound sooner rather than later. No word if he’ll miss any time. Admittedly, I am skeptical about continuing to throw him out there. The knee surely factored into the two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Tuesday. I am not crazy about testing the knee in live, game scenarios. I’ve enjoyed CC’s Yankees career but the end of this contract is a good farewell point for me. I have no interest in testing the knee in 2018.
I was bummed to see the Mets trade Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians. I thought he would fit well on the Yankees roster as 1B/DH. With a recent inability to get runs across the plate, Bruce would have helped kickstart the offense. Apparently the Yankees were involved in trade talks until the end, but the dealbreaker was money. The Yankees wanted the Mets to pay some of the remaining money owed to Bruce whereas the Indians absorbed the full balance due.
Have a Sunny Day Thursday…or a Sonny Gray Thursday! Let’s Go Yankees!
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!
Twins 4, Yankees 2…
The Baby Bombers tried but without too much help from the veteran leadership, the Yankees fell to the Twins in Minneapolis.
New first baseman Garrett Cooper finally had his coming out party with three hits (two doubles) and his first Major League RBI. Clint Frazier, penciled in at #2 in the lineup, contributed two speed-earned doubles.
The Twins struck first, picking up a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Kennys Vargas walked and scored when Eddie Rosario lined a double to the center field wall. They added another run the next inning. Brian Dozier and Zack Granite both singled, and Joe Mauer walked to load the bases. In one of the game’s great plays, Miguel Sano hit a fly ball to Aaron Judge in right. Dozier attempted to score on the fly ball, but was nailed at the plate by an exceptional throw from Judge to catcher Austin Romine.
|Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP|
The Yankees nearly escaped the inning without any damage, but starter Bryan Mitchell, covering first base, botched a catch from second baseman Starlin Castro which allowed Max Kepler to reach base with Granite scoring the Twins’ second run.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th. The inning opened with a challenge play that was ruled in Minnesota’s favor. Didi Gregorius was initially ruled safe at first on an infield hit and headfirst slide, but replay subsequently showed that he was late to the bag as Adalberto Mejia’s foot touched base just before Didi’s hands. With two outs, Garrett Cooper doubled to right center, a smash to the wall. He scored on Austin Romine’s double over the head of right fielder Max Kepler. 2-1, Twins.
The game was tied in the top of the 7th when Chase Headley doubled to left center between the outfielders. He scored on Garrett Cooper’s second double of the game, a solid line drive to left.
Then the game fell apart for the Yankees. In the top of 8th, it looked to have the potential of a big inning that could have given the Yankees the lead. Clint Frazier hit a double to left, motoring around to second without hesitation. Twins reliever Taylor Rogers intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday. It proved to be the right decision by Twins manager Paul Molitor when Holliday hit into a 6-4-3 double play which erased Judge at second. Frazier moved to third. After taking a big swing for a strike, Didi Gregorius attempted an awful bunt which just bounced up and down at home plate. Twins catcher Jason Castro was able to easily throw out Gregorius for the final out.
In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to stick with Caleb Smith. Smith had entered the game in the 6th inning in relief of Bryan Mitchell. For two innings, he was tremendous in retiring 6 batters with 3 strikeouts. I know it is easy to second guess Girardi after-the-fact, but I felt that Girardi should have brought in one of his veteran relievers for the pressure-packed 8th. Smith’s brilliant two-inning work would have been a great confidence booster in making his MLB debut so it would have been a good place to pull him, especially with the Twins’ 3-4-5 hitters coming up. But Girardi elected to stay with the hot hand. Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano opened the bottom of the 8th with singles off Smith. Mauer’s hit fell just short of Aaron Judge’s sliding glove and Sano’s seeing-eye single made it to left past a sliding Didi Gregorius. After striking out Max Kepler, Smith gave up a single to left by pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar which scored Mauer. Sano moved to third on the play, beating a throw from Austin Romine to Gregorius, and scored when Eddie Rosario doubled, a rolling liner, to right. The Twins had taken a 4-2 lead which would prove to be the game’s final runs. To Smith’s credit, with the bases loaded after an intentional walk, retired the next two batters get out of the inning.
|Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP|
The Yankees were unable to muster any offense in the top of the 9th in the rain against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler and went down 1-2-3.
|Credit: Star Tribune|
Doing the little things right could have won this game but it was not meant to be.
The Yankees (47-44) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. The Sox fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3. The second place Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games in front of the Yankees and 2 games behind Boston with their 3-2 victory over the Oakland A’s.
Caleb Smith (0-1) took his first loss of the season after his 8-0 start at Triple A. Bryan Mitchell’s final line wasn’t bad. 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 run unearned thanks to his own error), 2 BB, and 2 SO. Aaron Judge’s post All-Star Game slump continued with his 0-for-3 performance which dropped him to 1-for-21 for the second half. He struck out once.
Odds & Ends…
Michael Pineda’s consultation with Dr Timothy Kremchek for a second opinion has confirmed the need for Tommy John surgery. Dr Kremchek will perform the surgery today in Cincinnati. Although I doubt Michael ever pitches for the Yankees again, I wish him much success with the surgery and a speedy recovery.
Greg Bird will also have surgery on his ankle today. He is expected to be out for six weeks. While it is projected that he could be back in September, I’d find it highly unlikely given he has missed so much time the past two years. Even more unlikely if the Yankees swing a trade for someone like Yonder Alonso or Justin Bour. I hope this surgery puts Bird back on the path to be a contributing member for the Yankees.
Have a great Tuesday! Time to get back in the win column. Let’s Go Yankees!
Game 1: Yankees 3, Red Sox 0…
Michael Pineda goes on the DL with a season-ending injury so “who ya gonna call”? Apparently the answer is CC Sabathia. In the first game on Sunday, CC gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…six innings of scoreless two-hit ball. He blamed the five walks on rust, but he was otherwise very effective against the potent Red Sox lineup as the Yankees topped the Red Sox.
Credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Sabathia (8-3) walked the first two batters he faced in the game. A force out at second put runners at the corners with one out. But Sabathia was able to induce former Yankee Chris Young to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Red Sox off the board.
The Yankees were finally able to break through with the game’s first runs in the fourth inning against Sox starter Rick Porcello. Didi Gregorius lined a one-out single to right. Clint Frazier hit an infield grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but Bogaerts bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Frazier to reach first as Gregorius took second. Austin Romine singled to left, just past a diving Bogaerts, to load the bases. Ji-Man Choi hit a sharp fly ball to left fielder Andrew Benintendi, which scored Gregorius. Ronald Torreyes got all of a Porcello pitch with the barrel of his bat for a solid single to left, which brought Clint Frazier around to score in a close play at the plate. Brett Gardner took a pitch off the forearm to re-load the bases, but Chase Headley grounded out to first to end the inning. 2-0, Yankees.
Credit: Michael Dwyer-AP
In the top of the 5th, Didi Gregorius lined a fly ball into the right field stands just fair of the Pesky Pole for a two-out solo home run as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-0.
Aaron Judge finally got his first hit of the series in the 7th when he reached first base on an infield grounder against Red Sox reliever Austin Maddox.
In the bottom of the 7th, Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) replaced CC Sabathia. Like Saturday, the first batter he faced (Brock Holt) singled to start the inning. Despite my Clippard-induced uneasiness, he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.
After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the 8th with two men on base, the Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning after Chad Green two-out walks to Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis. Fortunately, Jackie Bradley, Jr went down swinging as Green preserved the shutout.
Manager Joe Girardi brought in Aroldis Chapman for the 9th, his third consecutive appearance in three days. Unlike Friday night, Chapman did his job, despite a two-out single by Dustin Pedroia, to earn his 9th save of the season.
The Yankees (47-42) moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with the win. Pending the outcome of the second game of the double-header, the Yankees also slid back into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays finally lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3.
Game 2: Red Sox 3, Yankees 0…
In the nightcap, the Red Sox reversed Game 1’s score as they shut out the Yankees. It was the first time this season the Yankees have failed to score.
The Yankees have generally fared well against Red Sox starter David Price but not on this night. Price scattered 7 hits over 8 scoreless innings and struck out 8. He did not walk a batter. Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave the Yanks length (he went 7 2/3 innings) but he was unable to match Price’s performance.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Red Sox broke their 24-inning scoreless streak when Christian Vazquez singled and Mookie Betts clobbered a Tanaka pitch over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park for a 2-0 lead.
Garrett Cooper picked his first Major League hit in the 5th inning when he lined a double to the wall in left. He was left stranded but it was good to see him finally have a productive at-bat.
The Red Sox picked up another run in the bottom of the 6th. Mookie Betts led off with a liner that deflected off Masahiro Tanaka’s glove. On the run, Starlin Castro scooped it up and hurriedly threw a low throw to first baseman Garrett Cooper which Cooper was unable to handle. Betts, without hesitation, advanced to second. An error was charged to Castro. After Betts moved to third on a groundout by Andrew Benintendi, Dustin Pedroia hit a hard single into left field, just past Ronald Torreyes at third. Torreyes misread the velocity of the ball, otherwise, he could have moved into proper position to potentially get the runner at home. The run increased the Sox lead to 3-0.
With Gary Sanchez on base in the eighth, Aaron Judge had a chance to make it a one-run game when he launched a high fly to the Bermuda Triangle in center. But Jackie Bradley, Jr made a leaping catch to snag the ball which would have landed in the Sox bullpen. “I thought it had a chance. But I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong centerfielder. Jackie’s been making plays like that for a long time,” Judge said after the game.
|Credit: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images|
The Yankees had a chance in the 9th against closer Craig Kimbrel. Didi Gregorius, 0-for-5 with 5 K’s lifetime against Kimbrel, ripped stand-up double off the left field wall. With two outs, Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Garrett Cooper, walked. It brought Chase Headley to the plate representing the tying run, but sadly, Headley struck out to end the game.
The Yankees (47-43) fell back into third place with the loss, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays are 1/2 game ahead of the Yanks.
HR Derby Hangover: It was not a great series for Aaron Judge. He was 1-for-18 with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Hopefully the Land of 10,000 Lakes helps him get back on track.
Next Up: Minnesota Twins at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN…
The Yankees will see one of their former starters this series when Bartolo Colon takes the mound on Wednesday for his first appearance as a Minnesota Twin. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will be able to meet up with fellow Home Run Derby participant Miguel Sano. Like the Yankees, the Twins (46-45) started the season strong but have tailed off lately.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.
Yankees: Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA)
Twins: Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.43 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.18 ERA)*
Twins: Bartolo Colon (0-0, 0.00 ERA) — He was 2-8 with 8.14 ERA for the NL Braves.
*Cessa is listed as the scheduled starter, but with Caleb Smith on the active roster, I wonder if Smith makes his MLB debut this game.
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78 ERA)
Twins: Jose Berrios (8-3, 3.70 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Red Sox manager John Farrell said Boston will formally file a protest over the lack of an interference call in Saturday night’s 4-1 victory by the Yankees. In the 11th inning, Matt Holliday, forced out at second on an infield grounder to first base by Jacoby Ellsbury, raced back to first thinking that Ellsbury had been forced before the throw to second. His action prevented Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from catching the relay from Xander Bogaerts and Ellsbury was ruled safe at first. Farrell felt that it should have been a double play on interference. The Yankees didn’t score in the inning so the net effect was inconsequential. I am not really sure what purpose the protest serves. It was clearly not an intentional act by Holliday as he thought that he was still in play.
Upon completion of yesterday’s double-header, RHP Domingo German was optioned to Triple A. Bryan Mitchell, who served as the “26th man” for the double-header, was moved onto the 25-man roster and will start tonight’s game.
Have a great Monday! Hopefully the Yankees will be right on target at Target Field. Let’s Go Yankees!