|Credit: Jason Miller-Getty Images|
American League Division Series, Game 1
Indians 4, Yankees 0…
While Bauer was making mincemeat out of the Yankee bats, the Indians got to Sonny Gray early. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Jay Bruce got the party started for the Indians with a double off the left field wall against Yankees starter Sonny Gray. Carlos Santana followed with a single to center to put runners at the corners. Lonnie Chisenhall was hit by a pitch on his upper arm to load the bases. Gray was able to limit the damage when Roberto Perez hit into a double play at short, but Bruce came home on the play for Cleveland’s first run. Giovanny Urshela flied out to right so Gray escaped a huge jam with minimal damage. Unfortunately, the way Bauer was pitching, the one run deficit felt like the Grand Canyon.
The Indians struck again in the bottom of the 4th. Edwin Encarnacion started the inning with a walk. Jay Bruce, a rumored trade target for the Yankees prior to the trading deadline, came back to haunt his near-employer when he blasted a shot into the right field stands. The Indians had increased their lead to 3-0.
|Credit: Phil Masturzo-Akron Beacon Journal/TNS|
Gray walked two of the next three batters to end his night. Adam Warren entered the game and gave up a single to center to load the bases with only one out, but he then struck out the dangerous Francisco Lindor and got Jason Kipnis to fly out to center to escape without any further damage.
|Credit: Jason Miller-Getty Images|
Meanwhile, with Trevor Bauer still pitching a no-hitter against the Yankees, the Indians got another run in the next inning. Jose Ramirez started it for the Tribe with a single up the middle on a ball that just got by a diving Didi Gregorius. While Edwin Encarnacion was at bat, a wild pitch, a ball in the dirt that Gary Sanchez dropped in front of him, advanced Ramirez to second. Encarnacion flied out to left in foul territory for the first out, and Manager Joe Girardi made the call to the bullpen, bringing in Jaime Garcia to replace Warren. With Jay Bruce batting, another wild pitch, another ball in the dirt that hit Sanchez in the chest and bounced away, allowed Ramirez to take third. Bruce took advantage of the wild pitches to loft a fly to center, scoring Ramirez on the sacrifice. 4-0, Indians.
In the top of the 6th inning, Chase Headley struck out and the Yankees were still searching for their first hit. Aaron Hicks ended the potential no-no when he doubled to left off the wall. Bauer received a very nice ovation from the crowd. The Yankees couldn’t do anything with Hicks at second but at least they had finally gotten their first hit on the board.
The Yankees added another hit in the 7th. After Bauer had retired the first two batters, Starlin Castro singled on a grounder to right field. The Indians dipped into their bullpen, bringing former Yankees reliever Andrew Miller into the game to face Greg Bird. The fear when you trade great players is that they’ll one day come back to bite you. Miller was no different with his strikeout of Bird to end the inning.
Despite two strikeouts by Miller in the top of the 8th, the Yankees had two baserunners, courtesy of walks. With Aaron Judge coming to the plate representing an ability to make it a one-run game, Cleveland called on its closer, Cody Allen. Allen proceeded to strike out Judge in the huge spot to end the inning.
In perhaps the lone bright spot for the Yankees, Dellin Betances pitched the bottom of the 8th inning and struck out the side on eleven pitches. It’s a good sign to see Dellin pitching so well even if the odds are against the Yankees in this series.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post|
The Yankees had no answer for Allen in the top of the 9th despite Starlin Castro’s second hit of the night (and only the third Yankee hit of the game), a single to right with two outs. Allen struck out Greg Bird on three pitches to end the game and hand the overwhelming advantage in the series to the Tribe.
|Credit: Getty Images|
The Houston Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox, 8-2, to take the first game of their series. As noted above, it was a night to forget for Chris Sale. When the Astros acquired Justin Verlander in August, it was clearly a move designed for October. He didn’t disappoint, holding the Red Sox to two runs over six innings. No disrespect for Sonny Gray (or Yu Darvish of the Dodgers), but I thought Verlander was the most significant pitching acquisition of the summer.
|Credit: Karen Warren-Houston Chronicle|
All of the playoff teams will be in action today with the first game (Red Sox-Astros) starting at 2:05 pm ET. I hate to go against the Yankees but I think today’s winners will be the home teams (Indians, Astros, Dodgers and Nationals). I would love for the Yankees to prove me wrong.
Have a great Friday! Let’s steal a win from Kluber. 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!
Enjoyed An Off Day…
Monday, Monday. I am glad it’s in the books but it was nice having an off-day while the Yankees enjoyed their free time in Toronto. But it’s now Tuesday and back to work.
Last month, I was in favor of a trade for a proven first baseman like Yonder Alonso (then with the Oakland A’s) or Lucas Duda (then with the New York Mets). Alonso’s bat cooled about the time Chase Headley started heating up so Headley probably blocked any potential deal that would have brought Alonso to New York as either part of the Sonny Gray trade or a separate trade. There’s also speculation that the Mets had a similar offer from the Yankees to one they accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda which showed the only way the Mets would work with the Yankees would be in an “overpay” situation.
So, where does that leave us with the latest speculation that Jay Bruce would be a good fit for the Yankees? Primarily an outfielder, he has played 11 games at first base this year making him at least as experienced at the position as Headley. He is left-handed and has mashed 29 homers this year to go with 75 RBI’s. He is batting .260/.324/.528. The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year so he’d be a true rental. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce as he has seemed too much like a feast-or-famine type of hitter. But, like Duda, he might have the swing for Yankee Stadium. So, I’d have to say that I am intrigued by this one to say the least. With so much uncertainty around Matt Holliday and Greg Bird, Bruce would bring a big stick to first base/DH for the rest of the year.
Nevertheless, if the Mets insist an overpay because it’s the Yankees, then it is not worth it. The Yankees are also included in Bruce’s limited no-trade clause but that’s nothing $$$ couldn’t solve. I am skeptical that the Mets would ever give the Yankees a player that could potentially help them make the play-offs and risk losing market share as a result.
I am not sure what I think about rumors the Yankees should pursue Mike Napoli. He is a proven winner. His numbers in his age 35 year are down from last year but he still has some thump in his bat with 22 HR’s albeit with a batting average that is south of the Todd Frazier line. Napoli’s contract carries a 2018 club option that can be bought out for $2.5 million. A costly measure, unless the Texas Rangers pay some or all the freight, to add the potential for a few late season bombs. If only Chris Carter had done what he was paid to do.
I hate to see any more prospects shipped away for a six-week need unless it is for someone that can truly be the difference-maker at this point in the season (a player with the potential to help for an October push). I want to see what Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin can do, and then there’s, hold your breath, Greg Bird at the end of the month. Okay, maybe don’t hold your breath. I suspect that unless Matt Holliday is able to come back after his DL stint to resemble the player we saw in the first half (unlikely), the DH position is going to be very fluid on a day to day basis with player rotation.
More than anything, the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to step up and deliver the promise he showed us last August and September. At the moment, he’s the most maligned Yankee. The key will be how he responds to the criticism. The Yankees are a better team with El Gary in the lineup but he needs to make the defensive plays and wait for his pitches at the plate. The Yankees play 6 of the next 13 games against the Boston Red Sox and will face Chris Sale twice. Between the two Red Sox series, the Yankees play a home and away set against the New York Mets for four games. This is a very crucial two weeks that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual AL East winner.
According to Baseball America, the Los Angeles Dodgers have released former Yankees LOOGY Tommy Layne. The Dodgers also removed former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple A. The Los Angeles Angels signed former Yankees reliever Branden Pinder, who was released earlier this summer by the Bombers. I am sure that Angels GM Billy Eppler is relying upon past information about Pinder to take a chance. I hope it works out for Pinder.
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…
The Toronto Blue Jays may be the AL East cellar dwellers but they always play the Yankees very tough. The Yankees will see old friend Rob Refsnyder who is currently on the Blue Jays active roster as a backup infielder.
The scheduled pitching match-ups are:
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)
Blue Jays: J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA)
Blue Jays: Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)
I am not trying to look ahead but it’s a bummer that we won’t have Sonny Gray for this weekend’s series against Boston at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox have gone out of their way to ensure that Chris Sale gets three starts against the Yankees in the coming weeks.
Farewell to #25…
Former Yankee Don Baylor died Monday at age 68 from cancer. Baylor was American League MVP for the then California Angels in 1979 and he won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins at the end of his 19-year playing career, but I remember his toughness as the Yankees DH from 1983 to 1985, playing along side Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. He was a magnet for baseballs with 267 HBP’s. I wasn’t a fan of the March 1986 trade that sent Baylor to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler. Rest in peace, Mr Baylor…
Have a great Tuesday! Let’s turn a two-game win streak into three! Go Yankees