Tagged: Gary Sanchez

Sevy and the Blazing Fast Goose Eggs…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Yankees 3, Royals 0…

Luis Severino continued the recent albeit short trend of stellar pitching performances by Yankee starters.  Masahiro Tanaka excluded, the rotation has pitched to win the last four games.  Severino was tremendous, pitching eight innings.  He was still clicking the radar gun at 99 mph in the 8th.  By completing eight, Severino was able to pass the baton to Dellin Betances for the one inning save without relying on any of the tired arms in the pen. 

Severino (3-2) was incredible in the scoreless outing with a season high 114 pitches.  He allowed only one extra base hit (a double by Brandon Moss in the 5th inning) and did not allow any runners past second base.  Sevy only allowed four hits and walked one while striking out seven.  He lowered his season ERA to 3.11.

Jason Hammel kept the Yankees in check most of the night but the Pinstripers didn’t need much.  Didi Gregorius hit a solo homer in the third inning to give the Yanks an early 1-0 lead.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

In the 6th inning, the Yankees picked up another run through great-base running effort by Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez singled to open the inning and then stole second.  Thanks to a throwing error by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Sanchez alertly raced on to third.  Matt Holliday brought him home with a sac fly.

The Yankees picked up their final run when Gregorius led off the 7th inning with a double.  A ground out by Chris Carter moved Gregorius to third, which brought Brett Gardner to the plate.  With two strikes, Gardner was the beneficiary of a called ball on a pitch by Royals reliever Matt Strahm that seemingly landed well within the strike zone.  It should have been the third strike for the second out of the inning but with the next pitch, Gardner singled to center to drive in the run.

Betances struck out the side in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the season, lowering his season ERA to 0.57.

The Yankees (27-17) moved 2 1/2 games up on the Baltimore Orioles.  Baltimore lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins and their fine rookie pitcher Jose Berrios.  The Boston Red Sox remained 3 1/2 games back with their 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

I want one of those guys…

Last night, Chris Sale of the Red Sox attempted to become the MLB pitcher in the Modern Era to record at least 10 strikeouts in nine straight games.  He failed but he is still the fifth pitcher since 1900 to reach 100 strikeouts in his first 10 starts.  It probably wasn’t one of his better games, but Sale still kept the game within reach for the Red Sox until their offense exploded for 7 runs in the 7th inning of their game against the Texas Rangers.  Sale finished the night with 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Christopher Evans

Sale has such a presence when he is on the mound.  I can’t think of any potential trade targets that can match Sale as a frontline ace.  I remain hopeful that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me, but I think most of us know who the available trade suspects are.  

Gleyber Torres Watch (with a little Tyler Austin thrown in)…

It was another night at third base yesterday for Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Columbus Clippers, 5-0. 

Watching the RailRiders this closely shows me one thing.  Clint Frazier is on fire.  He hit his eighth home run (and 28th RBI) in the first inning of the RailRiders’ game against the Columbus Clippers on Wednesday.  He also had a two-run shot on Tuesday during Gleyber’s first game at the AAA Level.  But enough about ridiculously hot outfielders and how the Yankees like to keep them down while parading the $153 Million Man in center field at Yankee Stadium on a nightly basis.  Note:  To Jacoby Ellsbury’s defense, he was injured during last night’s game against the Royals when he collided into the outfield wall after making a catch.  He suffered a neck sprain and a concussion, and has been placed on the 7-Day DL.  I wish him no ill will and hope that he returns to the health sooner than later.  It does kind of make me wish that the padding on the outfield walls was a little more player-friendly.  Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to the Bronx to replace Ellsbury.  On performance alone, Frazier would have been the best option, but Refsnyder is already on the 40-Man Roster which was the difference-maker.  

Credit:  Andy Grosh/MiLB.com

Torres was a wee bit cooler than Frazier.  With an ‘O-fer’ night (0-for-3), he wasn’t really doing much with the bat but he did walk twice, stole a base, and avoided striking out.  All things considered, it was another game in the education and development of the Yankees premier prospect as he climbs the ladder for the eventual call to the Bronx.  

I thought Mike Ford did a good job for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the short time since his call-up.  In nine games, he hit 4 homers and 10 RBI’s, batting .306/.432/.750.  But he was returned to AA-Trenton yesterday when Ji-Man Choi was activated from the 7-Day DL for the RailRiders.  

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell

Maybe I should have re-named this section the Minor League Report.

As promised, here’s a little Tyler Austin…


Finally…

The Yankees conclude their four-game set against the Kansas City Royals this afternoon at 1:05 pm Eastern.  The Royals have announced a change in starters for the game as Miguel Almonte, called up on Tuesday from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A), will replace Nathan Karns who was placed on the DL with forearm stiffness. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 6 starts for the Naturals. For Almonte, the start at Yankee Stadium will be a treat.  “That was my favorite team growing up”, Almonte said yesterday through an interpreter.  No worries, Miguel, they are our favorite team too.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill for the Yankees in an outing that will probably have me watching the game between my fingers.  I really hope that he has rediscovered the touch and can continue the streak of solid pitching performances.  Otherwise, the fans in the outfield bleachers should receive hazard duty pay.
Have a great Thursday!  Why settle for two when you can take three??!!…

 

Tanaka and His Extended BP for Rays Hitters…

Credit:  Brian Blanco/Getty Images

No hole is too deep to climb out of…except when Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound.  I am seriously concerned about Tanaka after his latest disaster.  In Fantasy Baseball, I’ve seen many owners dumping Tanaka from their rosters for no return.  I am not suggesting that the Yankees cut him and I am hopeful that he rediscovers his touch. But as the New York papers are screaming, Tanaka is in full-blown crisis mode.  You have to admit that this is very disconcerting.  For a rotation that had many questions coming into the season, none of the questions were directed at the team’s ace who is, right now, the rotation’s weakest link.

I am not sure what has to be done.  They’ve tried different arm angles and placement on the the pitching rubber, but Tanaka’s pitches are still getting hammered.  Kevin Kernan of The New York Post had the best line, “that just meant he had a different view of baseballs zooming out of the ballpark”.  

 

In Saturday’s 9-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Tanaka lasted only three innings.  Rays hitters got nine hits and six runs off Tanaka, including three home runs.  Tanaka (5-3) also walked three batters in the loss, which elevated his season ERA to 6.56.  In his last two games combined, Tanaka has given up seven home runs in 4 2/3 innings…and fourteen friggin’ runs.

At the beginning of the year, the fear was that Tanaka would opt out of his contract at the end of year.  Now, the fear is that he won’t.  My first thought at the latest stinker was the partially torn UCL in his elbow, but the Yankees insist he is healthy. Of course, their recent “surprise” about Aroldis Chapman either tells you that the players are not always being honest with the team or the team is withholding information.  If Tanaka is healthy, then this scares the h**l out of me.

At this point, I am probably in favor of skipping Tanaka in the next run through the rotation to give him extra time to right the ship.  There’s no doubt he lost his splitter and slider on one of these  recent road trips and can’t remember where he left them.   

As for the game, the Yankees did get home runs from Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  Nevertheless, this was a game we’d just as soon forget.  Both pitching coach Larry Rothschild and manager Joe Girardi were tossed in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.  Girardi even covered home plate with sand and the ump (Scott Barry) refused to clean it.  Gary Sanchez  finally took it upon himself to wipe home plate.  Speaking of Sanchez, he didn’t play on Friday night due to a stiff neck so I’ll take Rob Thomson off the hook for not using Sanchez as a pinch hitter in the loss.  I just hope the foul tip Sanchez took off the mask yesterday doesn’t worsen his health concerns. 

Credit:  Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times

Rays starter Matt Andriese was tossed in the sixth inning for plunking Aaron Judge with a pitch.  Tommy Layne had hit the Rays’ Corey Dickerson in the back with a pitch the prior inning.  Dickerson had hit two home runs in the game.  The tired lines of ‘the ball got away’ were used but I still don’t appreciate the potential harm to our young slugger.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (24-16) fell a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East standings with the loss.  The Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-5.  As losers of three in a row and seven of their last ten, the Yankees are on a faster track to be the 80-win team they were forecasted to be at the start of the season rather than a division contender.  Good hitting beats poor pitching every time.  Hopefully, the Yankees re-discover the Cinderella slipper sooner rather than later.

Tyler Austin made his 2017 debut with the AA-Trenton Thunder (rather than High-A Tampa) on Saturday.  He went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored.  He was also hit by pitch in the Thunder’s 5-2 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  

The Yankees conclude their three-game set in Florida with the Rays today.  CC Sabathia will be on the mound versus the Rays’ Chris Archer.  I am really hopeful that we get the most recent version of Sabathia (6 2/3 innings of scoreless pitching) and not the Masahiro Tanaka-version that we saw in the preceding weeks.

Have a wonderful Sunday!  Let’s have some fun today…finally!

Sabathia and his 20th Career Victory against the Royals…

Credit:  Brian Davidson/Getty Images

After giving up 22 runs in his previous four starts, CC Sabathia had his best game since his season opening start.  He pitched 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to help the Yankees defeat the Kansas City Royals, 7-1.  He only gave up five hits and two walks while striking out four.  The effort dropped his season ERA from 5.77 to 4.93.  He did get into a little trouble in the seventh inning when the Royals loaded the bases with two outs.  Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia, and Tyler Clippard was able to get the last out by swinging strikeout to preserve the scoreless outing for Sabathia.  

This is one of those games where everyone who played contributed in some way with a run, hit, or RBI.  The biggest hit was clearly the three-run homer by Gary Sanchez in the third inning.  It set the tone early and the Yankees were in control throughout.  Chris Carter finally did the one thing he is paid to do with a two-run dinger in the fourth, his second of the year.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, making it easily his best game as a Yankee.  Chase Headley deserves kudos for his amazing catch of the first pitch hit to start the game.  

Credit:  John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

The Royals scored their only run in the ninth inning against Jonathan Holder on a fielder’s choice force-out with the bases loaded.  Things could have gotten hairy from there, but Holder got Alcides Escobar to pop up to Didi Gregorius to end the threat and the game.  

I have to say that the outing by Sabathia was bittersweet.  It buys the left-hander more time in the rotation, potentially setting us up for disappointment when we need him the most.  It’s one of those things that I hope I am wrong and CC shows he is capable of putting up more quality starts than not.  But one must recognize this wasn’t the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles or Boston Red Sox facing Sabathia.  The Royals are the worst hitting team in the American League at .226/.289/.355.  

For his career, Sabathia is 20-11 against the Royals in 38 starts, with a 3.11 ERA.  I am glad that he likes to pitch in Kansas City, where he is 13-5.  Now, I am hoping that Michael Pineda and Jordan Montgomery enjoy Kauffman Stadium as much as Sabathia has.  

The Yankees (23-13) remain a half-game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The Orioles beat the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night in slugfest, 13-11.  It took two homers by Chris Davis in extra innings for the O’s to win.  Former Yankee Justin Wilson blew a save opportunity for the Tigers in the ninth, while former Yankee Richard Bleier took the win for the O’s.  Sadly, the Boston Red Sox also won, defeating the St Louis Cardinals, 6-3.  The Sox are four games back.

I was surprised to see the Arizona Diamondbacks have released former Orioles lefty Brian Matusz.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago he was a highly touted pitcher for the O’s but struggled as a starter.  He eventually found some success in the pen.  I always liked him and wanted to see him fulfill his promise (albeit not against the Yankees) but it was not meant to be.  Matusz is only 30 but I don’t see anything in his numbers to warrant consideration as a reclamation project.  It’s sad to see.  I am sure that someone will take a flyer but I don’t think the Yankees should.

Speaking of former Yankees, Robinson Cano has been placed on the disabled list for the first time since 2006 when he was still with the Yankees.  He injured his right quadriceps last week and had been expected to return yesterday.  The Seattle Mariners opted to place Cano on the 10-Day DL retroactive to May 13th.  While Cano had a great season in 2016 and was off to a good start in 2017, he is 34 and the risk of injury continues to increase.  Proof the Yankees were smart not to pay Cano $240 million for ten years (as much as I would have liked to have seen the player wear pinstripes throughout his career with an eventual Robinson Cano Day that he’ll never see at Yankee Stadium).  I do wish Cano a quick return to good health and that he is able to return to the Mariners lineup on May 23rd.

Credit:  MLB.com

Congratulations to Mike Ford.  The first base prospect was recently promoted from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and he had a big game yesterday to help defeat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 7-2.  Ford was 2-for-3 with a two run shot off Henry Owens, a pitcher the Yankees are familiar with at the big league level.  Tyler Webb took the win in relief of Bryan Mitchell with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless work and six K’s.  Webb, returned to the Yankees this spring after being taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft, should get a shot in the Yankees bullpen sometime this year if a spot on the 40-man roster opens up.  

Meanwhile in AA, Gleyber Torres hit a tie-breaking game-winning two run homer in the eighth inning yesterday as the Thunder beat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 4-2.  Just another day at the office for the supremely talented infielder.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s another royally wonderful day for Yankees fans!

Not Ready for Prime Time…

The latest Yahoo Sports MLB Power Rankings that pushed the New York Yankees to #1 were a bit premature.  These Yankees are not quite up to par with the high flying Houston Astros (who were ranked #3).  Two games does not a season make, but the Yankees haven’t exactly shown they can hang with the Astros so far in this series.  

The Astros seem to have every answer and it appears that both Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have found themselves on the right side of the equation.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Right now, the two best teams in Baseball are the Astros and the Washington Nationals (even with their bullpen problems).  

The Yankees have two games to right the ship.  They can prove that they can play with the Astros, just not with pitchers named Keuchel or McCullers.  Today’s game has been postponed due to inclement weather so the Yankees will play a double-header tomorrow for the joint Derek Jeter’s and Mother’s Day.  It’s single-admission entry so only Sunday’s ticketholders have seats for the Derek Jeter ceremonies.  Saturday’s ticketholders will be able to exchange their tickets for future games. The Bronx weather forecast calls for a 60% chance for rain tomorrow which falls to 20% by evening.  The first game is expected to start at 2:05 pm.  Hopefully we’ll be listening to Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York by the end of the day.  

Yesterday’s game was not pretty.  Brian McCann set the tone early with his three run homer off Jordan Montgomery in the fourth inning.  The ball traveled just inside right-field foul pole into an area that McCann has frequently deposited pitches.  As a guy we once cheered for, McCann is becoming a thorn.  He caught the pitch that nailed Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate to end Thursday’s game, then he launched the deciding blast yesterday. Lance McCullers, Jr showed why he is one of the great young talents in the game.  It was eery when the TV telecast showed a comparison of his dad pitching for the Yankees and then the younger McCullers.  They are very similar with their pitching motions and release.  Young Lance went six innings, holding the Yanks to four hits and no runs.  He showed excellent control with no walks, and struck out seven Bombers (although Gary Sanchez was the most frequent contributor to those K’s).  

The Yankees scored a run in the ninth inning on a two-out RBI single by Didi Gregorius, but it was too little, too late.  Ronald Torreyes struck out to end the game.

I felt bad for Jordan Montgomery.  Remove the McCann homer, and he didn’t pitch that badly.  He did register 7 strikeouts, but the final line in six innings was not pretty.  8 hits and 4 runs saw the elevation of Montgomery’s season ERA from 3.81 to 4.19.  As for the bullpen, Jonathan Holder and Tyler Clippard continue to show that the arms in front of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman are very strong.  Aroldis Chapman, on the other hand, is cause for concern.  Chapman only lasted two-thirds of an inning in the ninth when he allowed three hits, including a two-out RBI single to Josh Reddick.  With shades of his poor performance in Cincinnati earlier in the week, Chapman couldn’t finish the inning after he gave up a single to Jose Altuve.  Giovanny Gallegos, making his Major League debut, had to be called on to retire the Astros (he induced Yankee killer Carlos Correa into a fly out to center).  Hopefully this is just a temporary funk for Chapman and he is not seriously injured.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Despite the loss (their third in a row), the Yankees (21-12) remain a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East as the O’s fell to the Kansas City, 3-2.  The Boston Red Sox tried unsuccessfully to rally against the Tampa Bay Rays and lost 5-4, so there was no movement at the top of the division standings.

Chance Adams is getting closer to New York.  You can feel the rumble.  On Friday, the Yankees promoted the 22-year old right-hander from AA-Trenton to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  In six games for the Thunder, Adams was 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA.  In 35 innings, he has only given up 23 hits, 6 runs (4 earned), 2 HR’s, and 15 walks.  He has also sent 32 batters muttering to themselves as they walked back to the dugout after strikeouts.  There’s no doubt we’ll soon be taking a chance on Adams in the Big Apple in the not-so-distant future if he keeps pitching like this.  Given that he’s dominated every level, there’s little doubt that AAA is his next victim.

Credit:  MiLB.com

The word is that Tyler Austin will begin playing rehab games soon.  So, when he is ready, the Yankees have decisions to make.  They can send Austin to AAA or they can bring him to the Bronx.  If he arrives at 161st and River and starts making solid contributions, Chris Carter is going to become obsolete.  I do not see a need for Carter once both Austin and Greg Bird are healthy.  If Carter was at least demonstrating some of the power that led to 41 home runs last year, it would be one thing but he’s not.  He’s a one-dimensional player that isn’t exactly tearing it up in his one dimension.  I think Carter needs regular at-bats to get into a groove but the Yankees are not going to afford him that opportunity (nor should they).  The team would be best served by flipping Carter to another team for some spare parts.

Have a great Saturday!  Stay dry and keep your fun and excitement at an all-time high!

Guilty of Playing Favorites…

There have been better Yankees than Derek Jeter.  Yes, I said it…

I know I should not say any disparaging words about Jeter but for as many fans as he had during his playing days, he was just not one of my favorites.  Sorry guys and more importantly, gals.  I liked the player and enjoyed his time, but probably more so in the earlier part of his career.  When everyone was wearing #2 jerseys, I was just not feeling it.  Throughout the last Yankees dynasty, my favorite player was Mariano Rivera.  So, basically from the time he started until he walked off the field for the final time, Mo was my favorite Yankee.  Well, I guess I should say that he didn’t technically become my favorite until 1996 when he zinging bullets in front of closer John Wetteland.  Up to 1995, my favorite was Donnie Baseball.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed watching Jeter’s final days and the memorable last game at Yankee Stadium.  I’ll watch on Sunday with interest as the Yankees retire #2 to Monument Park.  I’ll be thankful for his time in pinstripes, and he’ll not be forgotten.  He just wasn’t one of my favorites, that’s all.  Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte…loved those guys when they wore pinstripes.  I can’t put a finger on it but I’ve never  felt the same way about Jeter.  For all his faults, I even loved Darryl Strawberry.  His home run swing is still one of my all-time favorites.  Maybe this is why it is easier for me to accept the fact that Jeter might be part of the ownership and management team for the Miami Marlins.  At that point, he’ll just be another dude.  No different than Brian Sabean, Dick Tidrow and Dave Righetti in San Francisco except that he’ll have an ownership stake in his team.  I am sure that Jeter will pull for the Yankees as long as they are not playing the Marlins but you know if they do meet, Jeter will be pulling out every stop to beat Baseball’s most storied franchise.  

I was glad when Jeter was finally out of the way and we were able to upgrade, first defensively and later offensively, with Didi Gregorius.  It was time for change.  I am sure the day will come when I’ll be glad to see Didi’s replacement. Unfortunately, all of us are adversely afflicted with aging.  Well, except for maybe Betty White.

I am not trying to offend anyone.  It’s simply a case that all of us are entitled to our own opinions.

I’ve been aware of Jeter since he was an 18-year-old from Kalamazoo, Michigan, picked 6th overall in the 1992 MLB Draft.  It was a great long successful career.  But there is nothing in the Yankees Fan Rule Book that says he had to be one of my favorites.  I always thought the crowds Jeter would draw at baseball games were somewhat humorous.  Women swooned in his presence and maybe a few guys.  He now lives a life in a mansion in Florida and is married to one of the most beautiful women in the world.  He obviously has excess cash to spend as part of the ownership group seeking to purchase the Marlins.  He lives in a world that I’ll never know or understand.  Pardon me, but I’d rather cheer for Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez on Sunday.  Enjoy your day, Derek.  Lou Gehrig had it wrong.  You’re the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

Since I seem to be on a negative roll today, I’ll go ahead and include Carlos Beltran.  Despite Beltran’s interest in returning to the Yankees in the off-season, I am thankful that he opted to grab the one-year, $16 million deal from the Houston Astros.  Beltran did a fine job as a Yankee and he was arguably our best hitter the first part of last year, but I strongly prefer Aaron Judge in right field (the obvious no-brainer) and Matt Holliday at DH.  I have absolutely no issue with the Yankees for not engaging Beltran in talks during his free agency period last November-December.  His present team might be one of our biggest roadblocks to October but I had/have no interest in a reunion tour with Beltran.

The Yankees fell to the Houston Astros 3-2 last night in the first game of a four game set.  This series is one of the major tests to determine if the Yankees are for real.  I knew, looking at the pitching matchup, this was going to be the hardest one with Yankee killer Dallas Keuchel on the mound.  In picking up his sixth win of the year, Keuchel dominated the Yankees as he always does.  In 50 2/3 innings, he has only allowed seven Yankees to cross home plate.  CC Sabathia would let teams do that every game if Joe Girardi allowed him to go deeper into games.  For the game, Keuchel went six innings.  He only gave up 5 hits and allowed an unearned run.  He walked one and struck out nine.  As tough as Keuchel was, the Yankees had their chances.

It didn’t help that the Astros jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning before many people had even gotten to their seats.  The first hit of the game was a double by Josh Reddick that fell between Didi Gregorius and Jacoby Ellsbury.  It was a play that Ellsbury should have called but didn’t, leading Didi to attempt a failed catch with his back turned.  With two outs, Carlos Correa homered to center, scoring Reddick.  The Yankees were never able to recover.

I certainly do not place any blame with Michael Pineda.  He did his job.  He gave up three runs over 6 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and a walk.  He struck out seven.  

With the bases loaded in the fifth and two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury was credited with an RBI on catcher’s interference (his bat hit Brian McCann’s glove).  It was the 28th catcher’s inference that Ellsbury has accumulated over his career, trailing Pete Rose by one.  Gary Sanchez grounded out to end the threat, leaving the bases loaded (one of the game’s missed opportunities).

The Yankees couldn’t get anything going against Chris Devenski, who replaced Keuchel in the seventh inning.  Devenski has been one of Baseball’s best setup men so far this young season.  But opportunity presented itself in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Yankees trailing 3-1.  With two outs, the Yankees had runners at second (Ellsbury) and third (Aaron Hicks) against Astros closer Ken Giles.  Gary Sanchez hit a single to left, scoring Hicks.  Third base coach Joe Espada also sent Ellsbury, but a perfect strike from left fielder Jake Marisnick to Brian McCann nailed Ells at the plate to end the game.

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees fell to 21-11, allowing the Baltimore Orioles to re-take sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game (the O’s were off).  On the bright side, we won’t be seeing Keuchel again this series.  Tonight’s matchup will be tough as young Lance McCullers, Jr has performed well so far this year (2-1, 3.40 ERA).  The Yankees counter with Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA).  

Have a great Friday!  Time to show the Astros that we are for real!

Pink and Pinstripes…NOT a Good Look!…

I’ll say it right now.  I am NOT on board with the special Derek Jeter’s Day hats to be worn by the Yankees on Sunday.  With no disrespect to the former Yankees captain or the countless mothers that will be in attendance for the joint Jeter-Mother’s Day game, the color pink does not have a place with the famed pinstripes.  Behind the pink hat is just someone trying to make a buck.  If all proceeds are given to a meaningful charity, then maybe I could buy into the dreadful hat.  Otherwise, it looks like a poorly thought out marketing scheme.

The DL epidemic seems to be impacting elite closers.  Depending upon who you ask, Baseball’s third and fourth best closers are now on the Disabled List.  Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles is out for 45-60 days following a visit with Dr Neal ElAttrache (the surgeon who recently performed Tommy John surgery on James Kaprielian).  For Britton’s sake, he received better news than Kaprielian did as surgery is not necessary for his left arm (throwing arm) strain.  However, he’ll be out until after the All-Star Break.  Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have placed their new high-priced closer, and former Yankee, Mark Melancon, on the DL with a “mild right pronator strain”.    Here’s wishing and hoping for good health for the premier closers, the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

I realize that some Yankees fans will be moving into “World Series or Bust” mode any day now (if they haven’t already) but I still need more time before I am going to proclaim the Yankees as the team of the year.  I  want to see how the young Baby Bombers perform this weekend against Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and the high flying Houston Astros.  If the Yankees are still making noise at the top of the AL East when the calendar flips to June, then maybe I’ll start to get on-board.  It’s a long season and it’s still early.  There’s no doubt we’ll experience a few bumps in the road.  It will be how the team responds to those downturns that will determine the eventual course for this season.

CC Sabathia was awful for one inning last night but that’s all it took to shut down the Yankees’ six game winning streak in the 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  Ten men came to the plate against Sabathia in the second inning.  Six singles and a walk later and the Reds had erased a 2-0 Yanks advantage by pushing five runs across the plate.  Sabathia (2-2) went 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and the 5 runs.  He walked 2 and struck out 2, while pushing his ERA to 5.77.  Right now, at least, Sabathia is the weak link in an otherwise strong Yankees rotation.  But as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link so this is certainly a concern.  

Credit:  John Minchillo/AP

The Yankees had a chance to win at the end.  With any game, that’s all I can ask.  After Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday walked with one out in the 9th inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with the chance to erase the Reds’ two-run lead.  Sanchez had already homered in his first at-bat of the game, a ball that travelled 448 feet to center.  But he lined a shot to Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who threw to second, catching Hicks off base, for the game-ending double play.

Didi Gregorius is starting to heat up which is a good sign.  He went 3-for-4 with a first inning home run.

The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 5-4 in extra innings last night, so the Yankees (21-10) fell out of first place in the AL East by a half-game.  The Boston Red Sox lost which is always a fun thing to see.  I’d take joy in that even if they were the worst team in baseball.  

All things considered it was a good (albeit short) road trip as the Yanks took four of five.  With an off day today (Sleep, I love you!), the Yankees prepare for a long four game set against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium beginning Thursday.  The series concludes on Sunday with Derek Jeter Night and the aforementioned pink caps.  

The former Yankees coming to the Bronx are Astros catcher Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran.  Lance McCullers, Jr, one of the Astros starting pitchers, is the son of a former Yankee.  His father pitched for the Yankees from 1989 to 1990 (three years before Lance Jr was born).  

The probable pitching matchups for the Astros series are as follows:

THURSDAY

HOU:  Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.88 ERA)

NYY:  Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA)

FRIDAY

HOU:  Lance McCullers, Jr (2-1, 3.40 ERA)

NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA)

SATURDAY

HOU:  Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.64 ERA)

NYY:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.40 ERA)

SUNDAY

HOU:  Charlie Morton (4-2, 3.63 ERA)

NYY:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-1, 4.36 ERA)

Speaking of former Yankees, the Detroit Tigers have named Justin Wilson as their closer, replacing Francisco Rodriguez.  The lefty, who brought pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York, is currently carrying a 1.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.  Regardless of how Cessa and Green ever perform, it sure would have been nice to have Wilson in this year’s bullpen.  But then again, Andrew Miller would have looked good too.  Oh well, onward and upward!

Have a great Wednesday!  

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, no, it’s Gardyman!…

Credit:  David Banks/USA TODAY Sports

It is frustrating when the Yankees lose games they should have won so there was satisfaction with Friday afternoon’s stunning victory over the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, thanks to a ninth inning two-out, two-strike three-run home run by Brett Gardner.  The Yankees had their chances early in the game, but seemed to self-sabotage every attempt to push runs across the plate.  

The Yankees were fortunate that Cubs closer Wade Davis was unavailable after pitching in the three preceding games for the Northsiders.  Davis is currently 2-0 with an 0.00 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.  He has 15 strikeouts and has only given up four hits and walks.  His WHIP is a paltry 0.60.  I’ve read a few Chicago articles that think the Cubs upgraded the closing position with the addition of Wade Davis (a bit of a slam against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman).  But with Davis unavailable, the Cubs were forced to turn to former closer, Hector Rondon, who had been displaced last July when Chapman arrived.  

Honestly, it didn’t feel like Gardner was going to emerge from the day victorious.  After he reached two strikes, he fouled off a couple of Rondon pitches to stay alive.  It felt like Rondon just needed to put one in the outside corner to earn his first save of the season.  Instead, he left the pitch in the exact spot that he shouldn’t have…low and inside.  That’s all Gardner needed to deposit the pitch in the outfield bleachers.  

The Gardner home run put the game in the hands of former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman.  It wasn’t pretty when the first batter, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, reached second base as a result of a Chase Headley error.  With the game-tying run on second and no outs, Chapman retired the next three batters which included a swinging third strike by Cubs powerful second baseman Javier Baez to end the game.

Hats off to Michael Pineda.  I know that he gave up two home runs, but he could’ve folded like a cheap suit as he has in years past.  He held the Cubs to only two runs on the solo homers and only three hits overall in six innings of work.  He struck out six and walked only one.  It was a quality start and there’s no way the Yankees could have staged the improbable comeback if not for Pineda’s efforts.  

The win moved the Yankees to 18-9.  They precariously remain in sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles.  The Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 despite starting pitcher Wade Miley being hit by successive line drives 12 pitches into the game that forced his departure.  

Aroldis Chapman received his World Series ring prior to the start of the game.  It was good to see him receive recognition for his contributions for helping to bring the first World Series championship to Chicago for the Cubs in 108 years.  People tend to remember the game-tying home run that a weary Chapman gave up in Game 7 but the Cubs would not have been in the World Series if not for #54.  

Credit:  Tannen Maury/EPA

Adam Warren also received his World Series ring as a member of the 2016 Cubs, but he chose a private ceremony (he wanted the spotlight on the Yankees closer since Chapman was part of the post-season team that won the World Series plus he didn’t feel right wearing Yankees gear with a Cubs ring…’Attaboy, Adam!).  

It was also a fun day for former Cubs shortstop/second baseman Starlin Castro.  He received a standing ovation as the Cubs played his walk-up music when he came up to bat for the first time.  There’s no doubt it was an emotional day for Castro who remains appreciative of the Cubs for giving him his first opportunity in Major League Baseball.  

Credit:  Getty Images

Gary Sanchez was activated before the game and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.  Kyle Higashioka was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/WilkesBarre after failing to record in a hit in 18 at-bats.  I had really been hoping that he could have gotten that first one out of the way before heading back to Eastern Pennsylvania.  

Have a great Saturday!  Sounds like it may be a cold, windy night in Chicago.  Hopefully it will be a memorable evening for the Baby Bombers in the Windy City.