Tagged: Ji-Man Choi

Thunder & Lightning Capture Series Win…

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Yankees 6, Mariners 4…

I hate solo home runs.  I should qualify it by saying I do not dislike home runs…I just prefer to see men on base when it happens.  After the Yankees clubbed three home runs (of the solo variety), the Mariners were able to rally past the Yanks against starter Caleb Smith before the Yankees rebounded to take the win, courtesy of Red Thunder (Clint Frazier) and the blazing heat of the bullpen. 

Caleb Smith was solid…for three innings.  Early, he was backed by homers.  Brett Gardner led off the game with his 17th homer of the season off Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (breaking his tie with Matt Holliday to take sole possession of second place for team homers behind Aaron Judge).  The hit was #1,040 of Gardner’s career, breaking a tie for 39th place on the all-time franchise list with Tino Martinez.  Next within Gardner’s sights is #38 Yanks hit leader, Charlie Keller, with 1,053 hits.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

In the second inning, Didi Gregorius launched a line drive homer to right center as the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0.   Gregorius led off the 4th inning with another shot to the right field stands for his second home run of the game.  It was Didi’s first multi-homer game in his young career.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Staked to a 3-0 lead, Smith couldn’t hold it in the 4th inning.  After breezing through the first three innings allowing only a meaningless second inning double, the Baseball Gods turned against Smith.  Danny Valencia got the party started with a single to right.  Robinson Cano followed with a liner to right, moving Valencia to second.  Smith had Nelson Cruz in a 3-2 count but lost him with Ball 4 to load the bases.  For a moment, it looked like Smith might escape the 4th inning unscathed.  He struck out Kyle Seager and got Mitch Haniger to fly out in right field foul territory.  But Ben Gamel, thoroughly enjoying this series against his former team, singled to score Valencia and Cano.  The Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead.  Guillermo Heredia followed with a double to left which scored Cruz and Gamel as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead.  End of game for Caleb Smith.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

A round of ovation for Chad Green.  While the entire bullpen was magnificent, Green was outstanding.  He struck out Carlos Ruiz to end the 4th, and pitched two more innings without allowing a hit and struck out 3.  He has thrived in his current role and this performance was critical as it set the stage for the Yankees’ comeback in the top of the 6th inning.  With one out in the top of the 6th, both Chase Headley and Todd Frazier walked against reliever and former Yankee James Pazos.  Ronald Torreyes, pinch-hitting for second baseman Tyler Wade, singled to right  to load the bases.  Brett Gardner followed with a single to left, scoring Headley with the tying run.  The Mariners pulled Pazos and replaced him with Tony Zych.  Clint Frazier greeted Zych with a double to left, scoring both Frazier and Torreyes as the Yanks moved ahead, 6-4.  Zych intentionally walked Aaron Judge, much to the dismay of the Yankee fans in attendance at Safeco Field, but it proved the right decision for the M’s since Gary Sanchez popped out and Matt Holliday grounded into the final out.

From there, it was up to the rest of the bullpen.  Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched clean 7th and 8th innings, respectively, pushing the game to the final inning and last licks for the Mariners.

The Yankees had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the 9th.  Matt Holliday walked with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.  After Didi Gregorius flied out the second out, Chase Headley hit a liner into the right field corner.  Ellsbury came flying around the bases but the relay from right fielder Mitch Haniger to second baseman Robinson Cano to catcher Carlos Ruiz was on target and just ahead of the sliding Ellsbury for the final out.

The bottom of the 9th brought Aroldis Chapman and a little holding of the breath to see what type of command he would have.  Nelson Cruz, the first batter, reached with a hit that ricocheted off Chapman and retrieved too late by Didi Gregorius to get Cruz at first.  The M’s replaced Cruz with pinch-runner Taylor Motter, who sports a similar “Johnny Damon Caveman“ look like Ben Gamel, to get some speed on the base paths.  Fortunately, Chapman caught him off first and it was an easy rundown by Chase Headley for the first out.  It proved to be invaluable as the next hitter, Kyle Seager, doubled to center.  A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Seager to move to third.  The game would have looked much different had the Yankees not gotten Motter out.  He most likely would have scored with Seager representing the tying run just 90 feet away.  As it was, the tying run was still at the plate.  Mitch Haniger had first crack but he popped out to Ronald Torreyes.  Last chance came up in the form of new Yankee-killer Ben Gamel.  But with Chapman’s blazing heat inching up the velocity chart, Gamel went down swinging.  Game over.  Yankees win.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Stephen Brashear-Getty Images

Unlike Saturday when the Yankees failed to gain any ground following losses by the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday was the opposite.  With the win, the Yankees (51-46) took sole possession of second place in the AL East and moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Rays slipped a full game behind the Yankees (two games in the loss column).  Both the Red Sox and Rays lost one-run games on Sunday.  The Red Sox were defeated by the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, while the Rays lost a tough 6-5 game to the Texas Rangers.

Todd Frazier finally got a hit and scored a run so hopefully he’s starting to come around.  His Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday will feature a game against his original team, the Cincinnati Reds.  So it should give Frazier added incentive when he makes his first home appearance in front of family, friends, and newfound Frazier fans in the Yankees Universe.

Hopefully Gary Sanchez’s bat is waiting for him too.

Headed Home to NYC…

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees made a rare intra-division trade on Sunday to send infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The return is an underwhelming 25-year-old first base prospect who has failed to advance past Double A, Ryan McBroom.  Here’s hoping to much better success in the Yankees organization.  Welcome, Ryan!

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And so, the Yankees story for Refsnyder ends with no fanfare.  It is rather sad as most of us at one time wanted Ref to succeed as the second baseman for the Yankees.  He never succeeded with his limited opportunities…either due to his own inability or the lack of chances or a combination of both.  So long, Ref and best of luck as you continue your (hopeful) MLB career in Toronto.

Also, in other transaction news, the Yankees announced they have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The competition for quality starters figures to be very intense as we enter the final week before the trading deadline.  With news that Clayton Kershaw was pulled early from a start on Sunday due to lower back tightness (and a possible trip to the DL), the Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be very aggressive in their pursuit of another top starter.  The Texas Rangers figure to capture a King’s Ransom for two months of service from impending free agent Yu Darvish.  The Yankees starting rotation looks very vulnerable right now with Caleb Smith’s inability to get out of the fourth inning on Sunday and Masahiro Tanaka’s disappointing showing on Saturday.  This week should be very interesting but probably a bit disappointing for Yankees fans if the team desires to retain its top prospects (which they should).  

The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday with a walk-off run-scoring double by Brandon Moss.  The pitcher?  Tyler Clippard, facing his first batter wearing a White Sox uniform, with runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the 9th.  Man, I sure do not miss Clippard…

Credit:  Getty Images

Have a great Monday!  The Yankees get to sleep in while the rest of us trudge off to work.  Oh well, make it a wonderful day!  Go Yankees!

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50 Ways To Lose A Game…

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6…

I am not sure who to blame this one on.  Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end.  In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error.  Jose Bautista led off the game with a single.  After Russell Martin flied out to center,  Justin Smoak singled.  An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.  


The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner.  Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning.  Jose Bautista walked to open the inning.  After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right.  3-0, Blue Jays.  Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.  


Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0.  The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day.  3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s.  If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees valiantly fought back.  Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning.  The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio.  In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate.  Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man!  Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.  


The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning.  With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center.  Game tied.  Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.  


On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…



Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs.  Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that.  No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time.  He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases.  He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run.  Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees did not have another rally in them.  The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs.  A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day.  Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss.  Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1.  The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007.  Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year.  Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work.  I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Some losses just make me mad.  This was one of them.  It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton.  It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.


The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral.  Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2.  The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.  

Next Up:  Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Brewers:  Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)

SATURDAY

Brewers:  Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)

SUNDAY

Brewers:  Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)

Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby.  With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic:  Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B.  Venezuela:  Engelbert Ascanio, C.  Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.  There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher.  The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd.  Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.  

Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball.  Nice job, Baby Bombers!

AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):

Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO


AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)

Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO


High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)

Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO


The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season.  I am okay with this move.  Make way for younger, talented arms.


Have a great Thursday!  I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Yankee Doodle Bland-y…

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1…

The 4th of July is a great time for America as it celebrates the birth of our country.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable to provide any fireworks as they fell quietly to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.  

The game marked the return of CC Sabathia. Before the game, Manager Joe Girardi was hoping for 5 or 6 innings from Sabathia.  Unfortunately, it would prove to be something comparable to me hoping for winning PowerBall numbers. In retrospect, maybe CC should have taken a rehab assignment.  

The first inning went well enough as Sabathia retired the first three batters on fly outs to center, although he had Jacoby Ellsbury running hard for several of them.  The 2nd inning saw another three up, three down pass through the Jays lineup.  So far, so good.

Then, the 3rd inning happened.  The first two batters…no problem.  Steve Pearce flied out to left and Kevin Pillar struck out swinging.  Then, with two outs, Darwin Barney walked.  A wild pitch by Sabathia moved Barney to second.  Joey Bats followed with a single to right, scoring Barney.  Russell Martin singled and Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases.  Adam Warren got up in the bullpen to begin warming up.  On a 3-2 count, Sabathia threw Ball 4, high and outside, to Justin Smoak, which scored Bautista.  Kendrys Morales stepped up and lined a single to left through the hole, which scored Martin and Donaldson.  4-0 Blue Jays and it was shower time for Sabathia.  Warren came in to record the final out but the damage was done.  63 pitches by Sabathia (39 in the 3rd inning alone) and he was clearly laboring at the end.  He finished with 3 hits and 4 runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking 3 and striking out just 1.  Sabathia (7-3) saw his season ERA inflate to 3.81.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Yankees’ lone highlight came in the bottom of the 4th when All-Star Aaron Judge crushed a J.A. Happ pitch 456 feet to center, a line drive, for his 28th home run of the year.  The Statcast exit velocity of the ball was measured at 118.4 mph.  One more home run and Judge will match the Yankees rookie season HR record held by Joe DiMaggio. 

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

From there, the Yankees could not muster any further offense against Happ or the Jays bullpen.  Happ, a 20-game winner in 2016, picked up only his 3rd win of the year with six strong innings, holding the Yankees to four hits and the lone run.  The Jays pen held the Yankees hitless for the duration of the game.  It was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen too, most notably the 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief provided by Luis Cessa.  

The Yankees will attempt to take the series today with a win before the Jays leave town.  Tomorrow represents an off day (finally).  In their final series before the All-Star Break, the Yankees will host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games beginning Friday.  

The Yankees (44-38) slid four games behind Boston as the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 11-4.  Boston’s on a roll now with their sixth consecutive victory.   The Tampa Bay Rays are quietly sneaking up on the Yankees for second place as they are now just 1 1/2 games in back of the Pinstripers.  The Rays beat their former manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs yesterday, 6-5.  

It would have been great if the Yankees could have won on the birthdays of the United States and late owner George Steinbrenner but it was not meant to be.  We can only hope that the winning magic will return today.  Michael Pineda can make it happen.  

Odds & Ends…

After yesterday’s game, the Yankees dumped Chris Carter again.  It’s time for Carter to seek employment elsewhere.  In his final game for the Yankees, Carter was 0-for-2 and dropped a ball from Didi Gregorius in the 7th that was scored a hit for Joey Bats.  Fortunately for us, the Yankees decided it was time to pull the plug on Chris Carter Experiment II and have promoted first baseman Ji-Man Choi from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his place.  In 55 games for the RailRiders, Choi, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, hit 8 HR’s and 41 RBI’s while batting .286.  Choi is not the answer but at this point, he’s better than the man he replaced.  Choi will be available for today’s game.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

The Yankees’ decision to send Bryan Mitchell to Triple A on Tuesday rather than Luis Cessa was based on the desire for Mitchell to continue working as a starter for potential help in the rotation later in the season if necessary.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

Logan Morrison, shut up.  The Rays first baseman called out Gary Sanchez on Tuesday when he said the Yankees catcher did not deserve to participate in next week’s Home Run Derby.  In the midst of a career season, Morrison said “I remember when I had 14 home runs (Sanchez currently has 13).  That was a month and a half ago.”  Morrison was not selected for the All-Star Game and is currently one of five listed on the AL Final Vote ballot, along with Didi Gregorius and Mike Moustakas.  Even if Morrison somehow won the Final Vote, I seriously doubt that baseball fans would want to see him over Sanchez in the Home Run Derby.  Morrison can go spend next week in Tampa or Kansas City or wherever he’s from while Sanchez heads for Miami.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I prefer to see this as Winnin’ Wednesday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

O Say Can You CC…

I have to admit that I wasn’t a believer.  I did not think that CC Sabathia could make the transformation from a young dominant power pitcher to a crafty veteran at the top end of a starting rotation.  Weight issues, age, injuries, alcoholism…whatever the cause…I didn’t think he could do it.  He has proved me wrong.  

After Saturday’s 3-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals, Sabathia leads the team with a 2-0 mark, compiling a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.  While the most dominant single game belongs to Michael Pineda, Sabathia has been the most dominant overall.  

I had gotten to the point where I thought of Sabathia as a five inning starter.  Yet, here he was on the mound on April 15, 2017 at 36 years of age, throwing 7 1/3 innings, allowing only three hits and one run with just one walk.  He punched out six.  THAT was not the Sabathia that we had come to expect in recent years.  

I am so glad that he has been able to make the transformation.  I don’t know if it is the time he has spent with Yankees legend Andy Pettitte but we tend to hear Pettitte’s name come up a lot in interviews with not only Sabathia but other pitchers when they talk about success.  Pettitte’s annual visits to training camp for a few days always seem to have such a tremendous impact.  I think Pettitte is an assistant on a high school coaching staff these days, but I would love for his return to New York as an eventual successor to Larry Rothschild.  

At the beginning of the year, I felt it was obvious this would be Sabathia’s final year in Pinstripes.  With the youth movement in full bloom, I didn’t see a future for Sabathia or a veteran’s salary in Team Hal’s budget for 2018.  If Sabathia expects to make his 2017 salary ($25 million) next year, I still think it’s unlikely he returns.  He’ll have to take a pay cut to stay and perhaps he will.  But for now, I am just enjoying the ride.  I love watching Sabathia’s accomplishments this year, and I know that he is a huge influence on the younger pitchers.  If Sabathia, Pineda and Severino can continue pitching like their most recent starts, this is definitely a team that can outperform expectations in 2017.  Of course, Greg Bird does need to start mixing in a hit or two.

I was reading an interview with Jordan Montgomery this morning.  Or should I call him “Gumby”?  I had to laugh when I saw him refer to the famous Serendipity 3 on 60th Street as “some dessert place”.  Give him time.  He’ll figure the City out.   If he keeps pitching like we know he can, he’ll be here for a very long time.  

With the inability of Matt Holliday to play on Saturday due to lower back stiffness, I hope this is not a sign of things to come.  His final years with the Cardinals, while he was still playing in the field, came with significant DL stints. I had hoped the ‘DH-only’ role would help preserve his health.  Hopefully, this is just an aberration and he’ll back with bat in hand shortly.  The loss of Holliday did show the significance of having Chris Carter on the roster as Carter provided what proved to be the winning run in Saturday’s game with a run-scoring single in the sixth inning.  

As for Greg Bird, he needs to figure this out soon.  His 1-for-26 start is dreadful.  I remain hopeful that he’ll work through the challenge and will start to hit like he did in Spring Training.  He is too much of a professional hitter for the current sample to be representative of his ability going forward. No offense to Chris Carter, but I strongly prefer Bird at first in any scenario.  I wish that Tyler Austin was closer to returning but he’s not an option for now and there’s no one else in the organization that would be superior to the current duo of Bird and Carter.  Rob Refsnyder is only hitting .192 in AAA and Ji-Man Choi is not on the 40-man roster.  Choi is batting .280 but he has only 2 RBI’s and no home runs.  

I hate to be politically-incorrect, but the words of former Arizona Diamondback Mark Grace resonate in my ears when I think of Bird’s slump.  “A slumpbuster is if a team’s in a slump, or if you personally are in a slump, you gotta find the fatest, gnarliest, grossest chick and you just gotta lay the wood to her. And when you do that, you’re just gonna have instant success. And it could also be called jumping on a grenade for the team.”  Bird, just do it…take one for the team.

Have a great Sunday!  Hopefully, it will be a sweeping success for the Yankees!