Tagged: Houston

A Forgettable Day in Hot, Humid H-Town…

Astros 8, Yankees 1…

It was nothing more than a good ol’ fashioned butt kickin’.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were on the receiving end as they lost the game and the series to the Houston Astros.

It was a dismal performance by starter Luis Severino (5-4).  He was tagged for 9 hits and 6 runs in 5 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven.  The outing inflated his season ERA to 3.52.  He left trailing 5-0 in the sixth, with one out, after George Springer laced a double to center.  He was charged for the run when Springer scored on Carlos Correa’s single against Yankees reliever Tyler Webb.

Credit:  Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

If Friday’s win was a complete team victory, this would have to be classified as a complete team loss.  You know things are bad when the only RBI producer is first baseman Chris Carter.  He had a run-scoring single in the 9th to prevent the shutout.  Aaron Judge continues to hit (2-for-4) but he also had two strikeouts.  Gary Sanchez, following Judge in the batting order, was 2-for-3.  Unfortunately, those guys had no help and the result was an easy win for the Astros.

The Astros got home runs from Marwin Gonzalez (2nd inning, off Severino) and Yuli Gurriel (7th inning, off Domingo German).  Carlos Correa was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s.  He doubled twice and all of his RBI’s came with two outs.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

The Yankees (43-37) fell further behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings with the loss.  They are now 3 games behind the Red Sox, who annihilated the Toronto Blue Jays, 15-1, powered by 8 RBI’s from Mookie Betts.  The Tampa Bay Rays finally lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 7-1, so they remain two games away from the Yankees.  

This was not a fun game and not one that I really care to revisit so let’s move on.  Today is a new day…

2017 All-Star Game Selections…

Aaron Judge was the highest vote getter for the American League All-Star Team with 4,488,702 votes.  He’ll start in the outfield.  He’ll be joined by Starlin Castro and Gary Sanchez, both of whom were selected as reserves.  Luis Severino, freshly off Sunday’s beating, was added to the pitching staff, along with Dellin Betances.  Betances will be making his fourth straight ASG appearance.  Congrats to Aaron, Starlin, Gary, Luis and Dellin!

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Didi Gregorius is on the final fan vote ballot so he has a chance although the time lost on the disabled list will probably work against him.  Nonetheless, he got my vote.  The AL Final Vote ballot is open until Thursday at 4 pm ET.  

The ASG will be played next Tuesday, July 11th, in Miami, FL.  

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Continuing the 4th of July Weekend, the Yankees are home to face the AL East cellar dwellers.  Although the Blue Jays are better than their 37-44 record, they were swept in Boston over the weekend.  They’ll come to the Bronx looking for blood…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (8-4, 3.41 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (6-7, 5.56 ERA)

TUESDAY, 4TH OF JULY

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (2-5, 3.71 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.46 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.05 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees seem to be on a mission to rebuild the Baltimore Orioles bullpen.  After trading Richard Bleier to the O’s in Spring Training, they’ve shipped 25-year-old RHP Matt Wotherspoon to Baltimore for undisclosed international signing bonus pool money.  In 21 games with Double A Trenton and Triple A Scranton, Wotherspoon was 3-1 with 1.85 ERA.  He has struck out 45 batters in 39 innings.  After the trade, the Mountain Top, PA native was assigned to the Triple A Norfolk Tides.

The Yankees have reached agreements with the following international prospects.  The number indicates their ranking on Baseball America’s Top 50 international prospects:

04.  Everson Pereira, OF, Venezuela

11.  Ronny Rojas, SS, Dominican Republic (expected to sign in August when he turns 16)

20.  Roberto Chirinos, SS, Venezuela

28.  Anthony Garcia, OF, Dominican Republic

Anthony Garcia / Credit:  Pinstriped Prospects

Jorge Mateo is tearing up Double A.  In 6 games since his promotion from Class A, Mateo is batting .522/.621/.913 (12-for-23) with 3 triples, a homer, and 10 RBI’s for the Trenton Thunder.  He’s stolen two bags although he has been caught three times.  Sounds like the Yanks former top prospect wants to join the MLB Debut Party in the Bronx.  

The Yankees expect to activate both Adam Warren and CC Sabathia prior to Tuesday’s game.  In all likelihood, Starlin Castro will be activated before the All-Star break.  It will be good to get these guys back in action.  

Happy Monday!  Now that the Bombers are back in the Bronx, let’s get back to winning!  Go Yankees!

The Bullpen Implosion…

Credit:  Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 7, Yankees 6…

It was very disappointing to lose a game because of Dellin Betances, who looked like the new Tyler Clippard, and Aroldis Chapman.  I defended Betances during his arbitration loss last off-season but he pretty much looked like a $3 million (if that) pitcher on Saturday.  Of course, the Yankees didn’t exactly intend to pay $86 million for their ace closer to give up the game-winning hit either.  The two combined to allow four runs in the eighth as the Astros erased a 6-3 deficit.  It was the 15th blown save by the bullpen in 79 games.

After the game, Betances said “The reason we lost is because I had bad command.  I walked three guys.  That’s not going to help.  I have to be able to challenge guys.  For whatever reason, my stuff just hasn’t been as sharp.  I just have to continue to work and I know I’ll find it.”  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It’s been tough this season when one pitcher followed by another continues to go through periods of complete and total ineffectiveness.  

This game should have been about the positive debut of Clint Frazier.  Frazier became the first Yankee in 100 years to debut with a double and a home run.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Jordan Montgomery started the game, pitching very strongly.  He got into trouble in the fifth when Marwin Gonzalez opened with a walk and Yuli Gurriel homered to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.  

The Yankees came right back in the top of the sixth (reminiscent of the day before).  Clint Frazier opened the inning with his first Major League hit, a double to left.  It was touching to watch his mom, Kim, wiping her eyes.  Brett Gardner singled to move Frazier to third.  It ended the day for Astros starter Francis Marte who had really held the Yankees in check to that point.  Facing reliever Will Harris, Jacoby Ellsbury walked and the bases were loaded.  Gary Sanchez singled to right, scoring Frazier (his first run scored…blah, blah, blah).  While Sanchez missed the opportunity for a grand slam, Didi Gregorius did not.  On an 0-1 count, he lifted the Harris pitch just over the right center field wall.  Very rapidly, the 0-2 deficit had turned into a 5-2 lead.  The Yankees subsequently had Ronald Torreyes at third following a single, steal and ground out that advanced him to just 90 feet away.  But in one of the great surprises of the game (not really), Chris Carter struck out to end the inning.  Carter was 0-for-3, with the one strikeout.  

The Astros scored another run in the bottom of the 6th when Carlos Correa homered off Montgomery with one out.  Evan Gattis followed with a double, and Montgomery headed for the showers.  Chad Green, the lone bullpen star, retired the next two batters by strikeout.  I have to compliment Green.  He was done a very fine job in his current role as he has transitioned from being a starter to a long reliever.  

Clint Frazier led off the top of the 7th with his home run, off reliever Tony Sipp, to increase the Yankees’ lead to 6-3.  It was funny how he was met with silence in the Yankees dugout before they erupted with the congratulatory high five’s.  From there, it was up to the Yankees bullpen to finish the job.  Green effectively finished the bottom of the 7th with a double play grounder and strikeout, but then we moved to the forgettable 8th inning.  Dellin Betances, channeling the bad versions of Masahiro Tanaka and Tyler Clippard, entered the game in relief of Green.  It started well enough with a strike out of the talented George Springer, but then Betances walked All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve. With Carlos Correa at bat, Altuve stole second, then third, and scored when Correa ground out to second.   Okay, the Yankees still had a 6-4 lead so there was still hope.  Evan Gattis stepped up and made it 6-5 with a shot to left.  By this point, I was screaming for Manager Joe Girardi to pull Betances but he wasn’t listening.  Betances walked Carlos Beltran on four pitches (Aargh!).  Josh Reddick entered the game as a pinch runner for Beltran and advanced to second when first baseman Chris Carter failed to handle a pick-off attempt.  Reddick stole third.  After walking Marwin Gonzalez, Girardi finally signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  Yuli Gurriel came to the plate for a showdown between Cuban countrymen.  Despite throwing 100 mph pitches, Gurriel won the battle when he doubled on a 3-2 count, scoring Reddick and Gonzalez with the go-ahead runs.  

The Yankees went down weakly in the 9th against Ken Giles when pinch-hitter Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier both pooped…err, popped…out.  Brett Gardner hit a single but rounded for second before changing his mind and was erased as the game’s final out when he tried to get back to first.  The Yankees lose another one-run game, 7-6.  

Credit:  David J Phillip-AP

The Yankees (43-36) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox easily defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-1.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-3, so they are just two games behind the Yanks.  

If the Yankees can’t fix Betances, this free-fall is going to continue.  He is perhaps the most vital man in the pen.  The Blue Jays, getting their asses handed to them in Boston, will be playing like a wounded dog when they come to the Bronx tomorrow.  

Odds & Ends…

With the July 2nd international signing period now open, the Yankees can be players on the international market once again.  Limited for two years following their huge splash from the 2014 -15 signing period spending spree, the Yankees can now spend up to the hard cap of $4.75 for the current signing period.  As expected, the Yankees signed notable international prospects OF Everson Pereira (the fourth ranked prospect on MLB’s list of Top International Prospects), SS Ronny Rojas, and SS Roberto Chirinos. Rojas and Chirinos are ranked 11th and 16th, respectively, by MLB. River Ave Blues reported these anticipated signings in early May.  It’s weird to see players born in this century joining the Yankees.  Welcome to Pinstripes, Everson, Ronny and Roberto! Note:  Rojas technically cannot sign until August 23rd when he turns 16.

To make room on the MLB roster for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar was sent to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He didn’t make any appearances during this short call-up, but it was simply a procedural move as Andujar was still with the team in Chicago before it departed for Houston.  He was activated for a game until the Yankees could make the move to call up Frazier.  Andujar will now return to Scranton to play third every day.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, he’ll be back.

Happy Sunday!  Flush the Saturday debacle and let’s take the series with a win today before the flight to NYC!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Feliz Navidad, in June, for the Yankees…

Credit:  Associated Press

Yankees 13, Astros 4…

I have to admit that I thought Friday night’s game against the Astros was going to be a struggle.  The Yankees did not arrive in Houston until 6 am after playing and the losing the rain-delayed game in Chicago the night before.  They arrived deep in the heart of Texas to play MLB’s best team and were scheduled to face the very tough Lance McCullers, Jr, the son of a former Yankee.  It was noted before the game that McCullers had not given up more than three runs in any of his home starts this year.  Against the Yankees, he was 2-0 with 0.75 ERA since 2016.  Fortunately, the Yankees came together as a team…as they’ve frequently done this year…and came away with the decisive victory.

Early on, it looked like it was going to be another struggle for runs that would potentially come up short.  The Astros scored their first run in the bottom of the inning when George Springer led off with a double against Yankees starter Michael Pineda.  He moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sac fly by All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.

The Yankees picked up a run to tie the game in the third.  Brett Gardner led off with a double when the ball dropped in despite a running dive by Astros right fielder Josh Reddick.  It looked like McCullers might escape when he struck out the next two batters, but Didi Gregorius doubled  down the first base line to score Gardy.

The Yankees had two runners in scoring position in the top of the 4th with no outs.  Unfortunately, both Tyler Wade and Chris Carter struck out.  The inning was over when the runner on third, Austin Romine, attempted to score on a wild pitch.  Nice trick slide though as Romine tried unsuccessfully to evade the tag.

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros led off with two singles.  A throwing error by right fielder Tyler Wade put runners at second and third.  After former Yankee Brian McCann struck out, another former Yankee, Carlos Beltran, hit into a ground out which scored the lead runner.  Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to score a run and the Astros led, 3-1.  With McCullers Jr pitching well, it looked like it would be difficult to make a comeback.  

But the light at the end of tunnel occurred in the sixth inning.  Didi Gregorius opened with a single.  After Chase Headley struck out, Austin Romine walked and the Astros made a pitching change.  They brought in Michael Feliz to replace McCullers Jr.  Ronald Torreyes greeted Feliz with a single to left, scoring Gregorius.  Tyler Wade struck out for the second out, but Chris Carter, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with run-scoring singles to put the Yankees up, 5-3.  A fielding error allowed Gardy to advance to 3rd.  He scored the fifth and final run of the inning when Feliz threw a wild pitch.  6-3, Yankees.  I really hated to see Feliz go but the Astros brought in Reymin Guduan and he secured the final out.  

Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Nevertheless, the 7th brought more Yankee offense.  Chase Headley and Austin Romine opened with singles, and Ronald Torreyes walked to load the bases.  Tyler Wade hit a grounder that erased Headley at home and Chris Carter (wait for it) struck out.  So, with two outs and the bases loaded, Brett Gardner, who largely struggled during the month of June, came to the plate.  On a 3-2 count, Gardy put one over the right center field wall for the grand slam (his 15th homer of the year, and just two away from his career high).  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

With the seven run lead, Michael Pineda’s night was finished.  Much better results than the last time Pineda faced a Texas team.  Pineda (8-4) went 6 innings and allowed 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3.  He didn’t walk anybody and more importantly, he didn’t give up any home runs.  It wasn’t a perfect outing but he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…a fighting chance until the offense got untracked.  

The Astros picked up a meaningless run in the 8th when Josh Reddick opened with a double and advanced to third on a throwing error by Jacoby Ellsbury.  He scored when Jose Altuve grounded out.  Despite a subsequent single allowed, Bryan Mitchell, who had relieved Pineda in the 7th, was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the 9th.  Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade both walked.  Chris Carter struc…I mean…doubled to score Torreyes.  Brett Gardner lofted a sac fly to right to score Wade, his 6th RBI of the game.  Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a groundout, scoring Carter.  The runs gave the Yankees the final margin of victory, 13-4.  Bryan Mitchell set down the Astros in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn his first save of the season.  Great job by Mitchell to protect the bullpen and to keep the Astros down.  

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, in 11 innings, so the Yankees (43-35) remain one game behind in the AL East Standings.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won in extra innings (6-4 over the Baltimore Orioles) so they are still 3 games behind the Yankees.

This was a great team victory.

Ronald Torreyes, the “Tall” One…
Credit:  Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle

Odds & Ends…

All of our hearts are with Yankees outfielder Dustin Fowler as he begins his recovery from knee surgery on Thursday night.  It will be a long, hard road of recovery and rehabilitation.  It’s been reported that he’ll be on crutches for three months before he begins physical therapy.  Everyone is hopeful that he’ll be ready by the time training camp in Tampa opens next February.  I thought it was cool the team had a face-time call with Fowler in Joe Girardi’s office before yesterday’s game.  

In the aftermath of Fowler’s devastating injury, the Yankees made a few expected moves on Friday.  With the placement of Fowler on the 10-Day DL and the demotion of Ronald Herrera to Triple A, the Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell and 3B Miguel Andujar.  For Andujar, he returns as a Major League Vet albeit with just one game under his belt.  But it will be hard for him to match that terrific first impression (3 hits, 4 ribbies).  I hope his defense is ready to play at the MLB level.  I’d like to see him get a few turns at third as an alternative to Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes.  I am glad to see that Mitchell is back.  He is a Major League pitcher that just gets caught in the numbers game.  But he’s always been one of my favorites.  Best of luck…and health…to both men.

Clint Frazier, according to multiple reports, will be called up today for his first trip to the big leagues.  I was surprised when the Yankees recalled Miguel Andujar after previously saying they wanted him to get more reps at third.  Nothing against Andujar and of course he had the greatest possible MLB debt performance, but the Yankees have a greater need in the outfield.  Rob Refsnyder is not the right answer to rotate with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge (keeping those guys fresh).  I’ve heard the most likely candidate to be sent down will be reliever Bryan Mitchell who made an extended appearance in last night’s game in relief of Michael Pineda.  I assume that Andujar is another potential candidate for the trip to Scranton, PA.  He was a convenient call-up for the Yankees following Fowler’s injury because he was still in Chicago.  Frazier will be the 10th Yankee to make his MLB debut this year (counting Fowler’s very brief appearance).  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams, Jr

CC Sabathia pitched a simulated game on Thursday and is expecting to make his next start.  I assume that Luis Cessa will be return to Scranton when Sabathia is activated off the DL.  Still no word about Matt Holliday as tests continue.  This is a bit frightening, to say the least.  I really hope this is not something more serious than we’ve been led to believe.  Tyler Clippard was away from the team on Friday to attend his grandmother’s funeral.  He is expected back today.

Have a great Saturday!  Even better if the Yankees can pull out a second victory against a very tough Astros squad.  Let’s Go Yankees!

A Long, Hard Day Falls Short…

Credit:  USATSI

Brian Cashman on Line 3…

The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time.  Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.

On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history.  For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home.  He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base.  Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.  

I get the logic.  The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time.  There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.  

Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter.  I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’.  Sad but true.  With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman.  Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.  

To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.  

The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar.  I wondered what was up with Fowler.  Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header.  No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday.  Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees.  Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games.  It must be tough to be a Triple A manager.  Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A.  I don’t dispute calling up Fowler.  There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury.  It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler.  More on Fowler later.

Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island.  Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams.  As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects.  I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing.  I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong.  If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders.  Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk?  Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year.  Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…

Busy, busy day.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3…

The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine.  On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall.  I had been worried about Fowler going into this game.  Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York).  The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut.  I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central.  It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.

Credit:  Patrick Gorski-AP

The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move.  Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.  

The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half.  Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field.  Gardner scored on the play.  

In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead.  The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error.  Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.  

The Yankees tied the game in the fourth.  Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury).  But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.  Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox.  Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second.  Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base.  Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2. 

The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple.  He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally.  They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.  

I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.

This was a sickening loss.  The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern.  But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played.  The cost was far too great.  If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them.  With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.

Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1.  If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard.  The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.  

I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today.  He has much work to do.

Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros.  It doesn’t get any easier.

Next Up:  Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)

Astros:  Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)

Astros:  Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)

Astros:  Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line.  The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment.  I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer.  Let him go back to the Mets.

Have a great Friday!  Today has to be better than yesterday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

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??!!…

 

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

I was never a fan of good-byes…

Sadly, the 2013 Major League Baseball Season has come to an end.  Well, at least for the New York Yankees.  It was an eventful final week that saw a farewell to the great Mariano Rivera that was unmatched by any I have seen in recent years or even during my lifetime.  Mo’s final game at Yankee Stadium turned out to be the final game of his professional career as he chose not to pitch during the season-ending series in Houston to preserve his Bronx goodbye as the final exit for a storied and soon to be Hall of Fame career.

I have been a Mariano Rivera fan since the days when he set up John Wetteland in the bullpen.  His 7th and 8th inning appearances before the cardiac appearances by Wetteland were electric.  The ball seemed to come screaming with blazing speed yet Mo seemed so effortless in letting the ball leave his hand.  He made it look easy, and for the length of his career, he proved he was just a little better than everyone else.  Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way.  A couple of key blown saves in critical games, but these were few and far between.  His success rate was far superior to any failures, and in those failures, you knew that Mo had left his all.

Looking back, I certainly have no regrets.  It was an honor and privilege to be a Yankees fan and to witness the career of the latest Yankees legend.  He’ll be someone that my grandchildren will be talking about, and I can say that I saw him pitch from the beginning to the end.  Mo showed how special it was to play for one team, and he is forever embedded into Yankees lore.  Ichiro Suzuki will be immortalized in Cooperstown one day as a Seattle Mariner, but Seattle will never be able to call Ichiro exclusively their own.  They may have had his best years, but he still is playing his final years as a Yankee, not a Mariner.  Fortunately, we never had to see Mo in another uniform or his former catcher, Jorge Posada.

I have been a Yankees fan since 1974 when free agent Jim “Catfish” Hunter, then my favorite pitcher, signed with the Yankees.  I had grown up very intrigued by the Yankees with their great history and tradition.  Those early 70’s were still a tough time for the Yankees organization, but they were about to turn the corner following the acquisition of the team by George Steinbrenner and his partners.  To digress, I always loved the quote “There is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner”.   This quote is attributed to former Yankees minority owner and later Houston Astros owner John McMullen.  The first baseball biography I recall reading when I was little was a book about Lou Gehrig, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.  So, when Catfish made the decision to join the Yankees, it was very easy for me to follow.

During the course of my Yankees fandom, I’ve considered the following players to be my favorite Yankees.  Hunter, Thurman Munson, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Don Mattingly, and Mariano Rivera.  All those years and I can still count my favorite active Yankees on one hand, well until today with Rivera’s retirement.  That doesn’t mean I don’t respect other Yankees over the years, these guys just happened to be my personal favorites at the time they played.

Being someone who appreciates history and tradition, I’ve always felt that Rivera was the perfect man to take Jackie Robinson’s number to retirement for the final time.  Mo proved that he had the character to stand with greatness, and he served the legacy of Jackie Robinson very proudly and understood its significance.  I am glad that the last guy out of baseball with #42 wasn’t some thug just trying to hang on to a lost career, with rumors of a steroid past.  He wears #13.  Okay, sorry, I didn’t mean that, or maybe I did, but you get the point.  Jackie Robinson was a great man who dealt with more adversity than any of us will ever knew.  He did it while turning the other cheek and proving he was the better man.  He did this while carving out a Hall of Fame career on the field.  If there was a man who deserved to have his number retired across baseball, it was Robinson, and if there was a man who deserved to be the final one to walk off the field with it, it was Mo.  The Baseball Gods made sure this one played out like it was supposed to.

Mo, we thank you for simply being you.  You did it your way, and you never strived to be anything other than what you were.  You proved better than most in shaking off the game’s failures and you never gloated in its successes.  You were proud of your teammates and respectful of your opponents.  Baseball needs you, and I hope that this is just the beginning as you move into the next phase of your career.  I am proud, very proud, when I say that I am a Mariano Rivera fan.  He exceeded my wildest expectations and he leaves as the best ever at his position.  He deserves to be a first ballot entry to the Hall of Fame.  Anything less is unacceptable.  He was ours and he proved he belongs to the Hall like no other that I’ve personally witnessed during my lifetime.  Farewell, Mo.  This is not the end, but simply the closing of one chapter and the opening of the next.

 

Mariano Rivera

 

AP Photo (courtesy of LoHud Yankees Blog)

The gaze from under the brim of his cat…

While the focus of this post is Rivera, I would be remiss for not saying thanks to Andy Pettitte.  Time and again, he stopped losing streaks and he was clutch when it mattered most (October).  He never had the brilliant stuff of Felix Hernandez or Roy Halladay, but he was a winner.  His passion showed and he was a champion.  It was tough watching him leave via free agency for those three years in Houston, but I am glad he came back.  Even during his time in Houston, you’d hear stories about how Andy still followed the Yankees.  He is part of the Yankees family and history and always will be.  It was so very fitting that his final game was a complete game win in his hometown of Houston.  A bit ironic that the opponent was named Clemens (Paul Clemens, no relation to Roger).  For the final game of the season, Roger Clemens did make an appearance to wish farewell to Mariano, and he gave Andy a hug.  There has been a lot of mudslinging between the former close friends and regardless of what Roger may have or have not done, I was glad to see the small reconciliation.  Baseball is greater than any one of us, and at the end of the day, Clemens, Pettitte, and Rivera were teammates and they represented the our team.  I fully expect to see all three at future Old Timer’s Day games and I am hopeful that old scars can be healed and that the game itself can move forward.

Back to Andy, he will be a hard act to follow.  When you look at the Yankees pitching staff, there is not one that can match Andy’s heart.  CC Sabathia appears to be on the downside of his career, Hiroki Kuroda could very well head to Japan for his final season or two, Phil Hughes has worn the pinstripes for the last time, Ivan Nova is a roller-coaster and the jury is still out on David Huff.  Next season will be one of transition and it is unfortunate that we’ll no longer have Andy as an anchor to the rotation.  Andy’s ceiling was never as a #1 pitcher.  He came to the major leagues with question marks, but he left as one of its greatest post-season performers.  We were lucky to call Andy one of our own, and I am glad that he was never dealt away in one of those knee-jerk type of trades that we saw during the George Steinbrenner regime.  Sorry, George, I miss you but you gotta admit that some of those trades left a little bit to be desired…

Getting back on track, Andy leaves the game being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest lefty in Yankees’ history, the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford.  The Core Four (Rivera, Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter) did an excellent job in reaching the pinnacle of their positions in franchise history.  Posada may not have matched Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey or Thurman Munson, but he can stand in the same room.  DJ is obviously one of the greatest shortstops in the team’s history (along with Phil Rizzuto).  For a team so stacked in history and tradition, four contemporary players reaching the upper echelon is amazing.  It is the end of a terrific Yankees era, and as much as I hate to see Derek Jeter go out with an injury filled career, I would prefer for him to leave now rather than to come back next year for what most likely will be a year of reduced relevance on the roster.

What does the future hold?…

I really do not know what to expect next year.  At the moment, it is uncertain if Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson will be back.  Joe Girardi is talking about needing time to decide if he wants to come back which is not a good sign in my opinion.  Mark Texeira will be back next year, but he is deteriorating as he ages.  I am not sure that CC can get back to being the dominant pitcher he once was, and the line-up is filled with age and injury-susceptible players.  The farm system at the upper levels is weak, at best.  While many of said that this has been a great year of managing by Joe Girardi, I’d argue that it has not been one of Brian Cashman’s best years.  I do not know how much he has been constrained by ownership, but the 10 wins that the team could have used this season could have been acquired through smart and strategic moves.  The farm system is very lacking at the upper levels and I know that injuries have played a part, but at some point, Cashman has to be held accountable.  Like fine wine, it is harvest season except the Yankees do not have anything to harvest.  They’ll have to overpay and to give up too much young talent to field a championship squad next season.  Unfortunately, neither makes sense even for the Yankees, so it feels as though we are in the midst of an era of transition.  Hopefully, greatness will be waiting on the other side…

–Scott

 

A sad day, indeed…

 

Sadly, the fear is confirmed…

Today brought the news that this is the final season for Andy Pettitte.  I knew we were getting close to the end and of course, a disappointing season does not help.  If the Yankees were a cinch to make the play-offs, this might be a different story.  Winning seems to make those aches and pains hurt a little bit less.  Nevertheless, I am grateful for the time that Andy gave us.  I missed him those three years he was in Houston and of course the prior year of retirement.  But I am glad he came back both times and there’s no doubt that he’s a Yankee for life.

As much as I dislike and disrespect a certain third baseman on the active roster, I forgave Andy for the mistakes in his past.  He came clean (unlike the “Fraud” or Roger Clemens) and he proved to us that his words were truthful and from the heart.  Andy may never get into the Hall of Fame due to the steroid use, but he deserves a place in Memorial Park.  Like Mariano Rivera, I truly enjoyed Andy in pinstripes and knew that he gave us his “all” with every performance, win or lose.

I hope the team is smart enough to give him an invitation to come to spring training as an instructor and of course his presence at Old Timer’s Day is a must.  With Sunday being Mariano Rivera Day, it is so appropriate that the scheduled starting pitcher is Andy.  There would be nothing better than to watch Andy hand the ball to Mo with the appearance of no other Yankee relievers.  Hopefully, the game plays out to that form.  I love that Andy’s final two games are the aforementioned Mo Rivera Day and the final game against his former team, the Houston Astros.  There’s probably not a better away city for Andy to pitch his final game in than his home city.  As George Strait would say, “The Cowboy Rides Away”…

Thanks, Andy.  You gave us very memorable years and we always, without exception, were pleased when you took the ball.  You brought your heart and soul to every game and as a fan, there is nothing more that I could ask for.  Time and again, you stopped losing streaks and you were money in October.  The pickoff move was simply the best.  The guy from Deer Park, Texas proved that he bled pinstripes and you’ll always be remembered as one of the greatest lefties in Yankees history.  There will never be anything that we could give to you that would approach what you gave to us.  We will be forever your fans.

On the other hand…

While I was glad the Yankees emerged victorious against the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants (as a Bay Area resident, I might add), it was disturbing to see Alex Rodriguez eclipse the legendary Lou Gehrig for the all-time record for career grand slams.  Man for man, there is no way that A-Fraud could even stand in the shadow of the Iron Horse.  This is a travesty and in my opinion deserves an asterisk.

I will be glad when the day arrives that A-Fraud is a “former” Yankee.  I never want to see this loser on Yankee Stadium turf ever again when that happens.  Too bad the Yankees can’t trade the Fraud back to Seattle so that they can disassociate themselves from the worst mistake of the post-George Steinbrenner regime.

–Scott