Meanwhile, the Rumor Mill runs rampant…
As 2018 winds down to a close, all is quiet in the Yankees Universe except for Yankee Twitter and the endless possibilities expressed, again and again, by Yankee fans. The Yankees still have holes to fill in the bullpen and no confirmed plan at this moment in time to use anybody other than Tyler Wade and Gleyber Torres at shortstop to cover for Didi Gregorius. It does not appear these answers will be provided in 2018 and must wait until the calendar year changes.
Although Manny Machado has indicated he will not make his long-awaited decision until after the first of the year, I don’t think anybody knows what that really means. I think some Yankee fans and industry experts think we’ll have his choice on New Year’s Day or worst case, the next day. I honestly do not think this will be resolved that quickly. To account for some of the inevitable back and forth between teams (if that hasn’t already happened), I’ll predict we have Manny’s decision by Tuesday, January 8th. I think the first week of January will be trying to elicit the best possible offers from the interested teams. As much as I want the Yankees to sign Machado, it remains my belief he’ll take more money to play in the City of Brotherly Love or the Windy City. I heard Larry Bowa on MLB Network yesterday talking about how the Phillies can overcome Machado’s childhood fascination with the Yankees by adding a few more zeroes to the check. If this goes into an all-out bidding war, I have no doubt the Yankees will come in third to the Phillies and White Sox. At that point, Manny has to decide what is best for him and his family.
Manny Machado and wife, Yainee Alonso
The sooner Manny decides, the sooner we can move on to Plan B. I am ready to close the door, one way or the other. I am mentally prepared. If we have to settle for Freddy Galvis at shortstop, so be it. Let’s move on. At this point, pitching remains the team’s most critical need.
MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi is reporting the Los Angeles Angels are interested in David Robertson. Despite D-Rob’s expressed interest in playing close to his Rhode Island home, Morosi notes that Robertson would have the opportunity to close for the Angels and of course he knows Angels GM Billy Eppler well from their time together with the Yankees. It makes sense to me. I’d rather see D-Rob go to Anaheim versus pitching at Fenway Park for the Red Sox. I personally love Southern California so, in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer. I think it would be fun to play on the same team with Mike Trout. Eppler is trying to squeeze a few more wins out of his team with the recent signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. He needs to protect those investments by getting a reliable reliever to close out games. Robertson will be a much cheaper option than guys like Zach Britton and Craig Kimbrel and he’d fit well under new manager Brad Ausmus. Not that I am wishing D-Rob to the Angels. I’d still like to see him come back to the Bronx, but if that doesn’t happen, Anaheim is a preferred destination over division rivals.
Angels GM Billy Eppler
Gumby had a birthday yesterday. Jordan Montgomery turned 26 as he continues to work his way back from last summer’s Tommy John surgery. No doubt we’ll see the former Gamecock somewhere around the time Didi Gregorius returns (or maybe a little later in the season if Didi is somehow ready to go by June or July). Not expecting much out of Montgomery next season but I am looking forward to seeing him in Pinstripes again. Happy Belated Birthday, Jordan!
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)
Searching for things to watch on TV last night, I settled on the original version of A Star Is Born (1937) starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Of course, it made me think of the 1937 Yankees. They won the ninth World Series in franchise history that year, finishing 102-52 to win the AL Pennant by 13 games over the Detroit Tigers. They defeated the New York Giants in five games to claim the World Series championship. What a year for Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig! The 34-year-old Gehrig, within two years from being forced from the game due to ALS, had 37 home runs and 158 RBIs. He batted .351/.473/.643 and had an OPS of 1.116. He took 127 walks to only 49 strikeouts. 22 year-old Joe DiMaggio had staggering numbers for such a young player. 46 homers, 167 RBIs, .346/.412/.673 and 1.085 OPS. He took fewer walks than Gehrig (64), but only struck out 37 times. Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri at second, Frankie Crosetti at short, Red Rolfe at third and a pitching staff anchored by Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. Collectively, Gomez and Ruffing won 41 games as both pitchers reached the 20-win mark. Gomez threw six shutouts in 34 starts, pitching 278 1/3 innings, allowing only 72 earned runs for 2.33 ERA. Total Yankees domination. I love it! I know I left out some other great Yankees for the 1937 team but it must have been grand watching the Yankees annihilate their opponents year by year in the late 1930’s.
Moving back into current times, I felt kind of bad for Tyler Austin yesterday. When the Twins elected not to retain Logan Morrison after one year and Twins great Joe Mauer decided to retire, it appeared that Austin had a clear path to playing time for Minnesota next season. Then, the Twins acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Tampa Bay Rays and yesterday they inked former Seattle Mariners slugger and DH Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal with an option. Austin’s path to playing time appears to be blocked once again like it was with the Yankees. I was surprised Cruz went with Minnesota. I had really expected him to end up with the Houston Astros. He would have been a deadly bat in that lineup. I guess it’s better for the Yankees he went with Minnesota but of course he adds a weapon if the Twins can get a Wild Card rematch with the Yankees to avenge their loss in 2017. Cruz may be 38 but he has that David Ortiz knack for smashing huge home runs at the best times (or worst times, depending upon your perspective). I guess Ronald Torreyes will have plenty of opportunities for his Toe Night Show at Target Field next season.
I was reading one blog the other day that talked about trades the Yankees wish they could undo. The blogger listed the Brandon Drury trade as his first choice. I know that trade didn’t work out, but I don’t look at it as one I’d undo. I really liked Drury’s acquisition at the time of the trade. I liked the player and the potential that I thought he could bring to the team. A solid defender with some pop. I know it cost the Yankees several really good prospects (second baseman Nick Solak, currently rated as the eleventh best prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays by MLB.com and pitcher Taylor Widener, who ranks as second best prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks) but I can’t say I’d undo the trade. It was a risk worth taking. It didn’t work out. Drury had the undisclosed migraines and never really performed for the Yankees before losing his job to Miguel Andujar and subsequently getting traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the J.A. Happ deal. I thought then and I still feel that when healthy and given the opportunity, Drury is going to help a team. Not sure the Blue Jays are that team since 2019 should bring the emergence of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr to the Show at some point during the season to place a stranglehold on third base for years to come but Drury will make good on his promise one day. Look, I’d love to have Widener back but I wouldn’t undo the Drury trade even with the benefit of hindsight. You have to take those types of chances to get better and I’d never want to see GM Brian Cashman get “gun shy” and start holding onto prospects longer than he should. Some trades work, some trades don’t. That’s how it goes.
Not that I am trying to wish the new year to get here any faster, but I am looking forward to getting to next Wednesday so that the Hot Stove League can resume activity. The days of nothingness are long and boring on the baseball front. I am anxious and excited for pitchers and catchers to report to Tampa, FL on February 13th but there is still so much work to be done. We need to ensure that Aaron Boone, in 2019, knows what it must have felt like to be Joe McCarthy in 1937. No pressure, Cash. Talk to your boss and get it done.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Yankees Legend would have turned 87 today…
Mickey Mantle was born October 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, a town with a population of 437 (according to 2010 census) in Northeast OK. He died August 13, 1995 in Dallas, Texas at the age of 63. Mickey was taken from us too soon but he’ll never be forgotten. I remember following the news of his liver cancer and other ailments, subsequent transplant, and finally his death, and even attended his funeral in Dallas. My earliest memories of Mantle were late in his career so I didn’t get to see the great Yankees Legend at his best but you didn’t have to be there to know that he was one of the finest Yankees in the history of the organization. He had his faults, but that’s true of us all. Mantle, the baseball player, was one of the greatest to ever play the game.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
A funny thing happened to the Los Angeles Dodgers on their way to the World Series. I’ll have to give Game 6 of the NLCS to the Milwaukee Brewers and especially their fans for getting inside the heads of the Dodgers and Manny Machado. Many on Social Media were referring to the fans as the Milwaukee Booers and there’s no doubt it played a huge role. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers rebound today for their final chance to win a trip to Boston, Massachusetts to play the Red Sox starting Tuesday night. If the Dodgers lose, I am finished with baseball for 2018 as I have no interest in Brewers/Red Sox even if there are a few former Yankees involved.
I was surprised to see Joe Girardi remove his name from consideration for the Cincinnati Reds managerial vacancy. Girardi apparently had been a frontrunner for the job, in competition with former Detroit Tigers manager, current Los Angeles Angels special assistant and one-time Yankees prospect Brad Ausmus and David Bell, currently VP/Player Development for the San Francisco Giants. I wonder if Girardi has a preference for the American League or if he wants to hold out for a Chicago job should one of the jobs open within the next year or so. Girardi is apparently still under consideration for the job with the Texas Rangers. With no offense to Cincinnatians, I know that I’d prefer to call Dallas/Fort Worth home but that’s me. For now, Girardi will continue his work with The MLB Network. Regardless of what he does, I suspect he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from.
I know the Yankees don’t need a superstar at every position. Erik Kratz is proving that you can be one game away from the World Series with a marginal catcher. But the more I think about it, why wouldn’t you want to drop Bryce Harper in the Yankees lineup between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton? I know, money. But I am confident money is not an issue for the Yankees organization. Sure, I believe you don’t need to spend $200 million to win a World Series, but I also believe in putting the best players on the field. TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen made a great correlation earlier this year about how success = money for those who think Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t want to spend money. I don’t just want to beat the Boston Red Sox next year, I want to crush them. Having Judge-Harper-Stanton in the heart of the Yankees order, with so many great bats elsewhere in the lineup would truly be the modern Murderer’s Row. Harper can’t pitch, it’s true, but I fully expect the Yankees to bring in reinforcements to help Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in the starting rotation regardless of any run for Harper.
The Yankees are apparently going to buy back controlling interest in the YES Network according to reports. The Yankees sold 80% of the network, retaining 20%, in separate deals completed in 2014 to 21st Century Fox. The YES Network, at the time, was valued at $3.8 billion. If the Yankees have the money to buy back the YES Network, they have the money to sign Bryce Harper. Another superstar for YES Network subscribers? Makes sense to me. Remember, Success = Money.
|Photo Credit: New York Daily News Illustration|
If the Yankees were headed for the World Series, non-Yankee fans would be in an uproar about how they are the best team money can buy, yet nobody is saying a word about the nearly $240 million payroll-bloated Red Sox.
After a lost season for Yankees prospect Thairo Estrada (he was shot in the hip during a robbery attempt in Venezuela in late January, missed Spring Training, and then was lost for the season in June due to the hip and a back injury), it’s good to see his participation in the Arizona Fall League. The numbers aren’t there (4-for-25, with no extra base hits and a lone RBI) but at least he’s back on the playing field. Here’s hoping 2019 will be much more productive for the talented shortstop. He still has the bullet lodged in his hip but hopefully he is back stronger than ever next year.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Didi Gregorius. As most of us know, he had successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday morning in Manhattan. At this point, we don’t know when we’ll see Sir Didi again as some reports say he may be out until August, but I wish him much success and a quick return to good health with his post-surgery rehabilitation. I really hope the Yankees move to lock up Didi long-term and don’t allow the surgery, and subsequent lost time, as a reason to non-tender the player. I’d prefer to see the Yankees find shortstop alternatives to hold them over until Didi’s return, keeping Gleyber Torres at second, rather than moving Torres back to his natural shortstop position and bringing in a name second baseman like Joe Panik or D.J. LeMahieu. I love having Didi Gregorius as this team’s shortstop and I don’t want that to change anytime soon. Get well, Didi!
I am anxious to get the playoffs and World Series over so that we can begin the Hot Stove League season. I am excited to see what presents Santa Cashman has in store for us this year. Fans of the Red Sox, Brewers and Dodgers may think differently, but I am ready to begin building the 2019 New York Yankees and starting their run for the Championship. Pinstripes for you, Pinstripes for everyone. Climb aboard the 2019 Victory Train!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Omar Rawlings)|
For a meaningless game, Saturday’s game featured huge milestones…
Congratulations to the 2018 New York Yankees for their achievement of 100 victories. It is something they have not done since the championship year of 2009 and it is not something that many teams do each year. It usually means that you win the division but the Boston Red Sox were just a little better this time around.
The Yankees also busted the MLB record yesterday for Team Home Runs. When Gleyber Torres hit his two-run shot in the 4th inning off Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, it gave the Yankees one more than the previous record of 264 set by the Seattle Mariners. Giancarlo Stanton added the 266th of the year with his 38th dinger in the 7th inning. For Stanton, he also had two RBI’s to give him 100 for his new team, matching the team’s win total when the Yankees closed out the 8-5 victory. But I have to give a big…
RED SOX SUCK!
…for their fan who threw Stanton’s home run ball back onto the field and hit Giancarlo as he rounded second.
Miguel Andujar set the new Yankees’ rookie record for doubles with two yesterday to increase his season total to 46, eclipsing the old mark of 44 set by Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio back in 1936.That’s special company when you can rub shoulders with Yankee legends. If Shohei Ohtani wins the AL Rookie of the Year, it won’t detract from the brilliant season Andujar has enjoyed. He deserves the hardware as much as Ohtani, but all things considered, I’d rather have a World Series trophy. Andujar has a chance, Ohtani does not.
In taking the first two games of the three-game series with the Red Sox, the Yankees have prevented Boston from reaching 110 victories which I personally appreciated. Today’s game is probably about as meaningless as a spring training game, but it is a day the Yankees can enjoy and get ready for Wednesday’s Wild Card Game in the Bronx against the Oakland A’s.
I look back to Boston’s sweep of the Yankees in early August as the defining moment for the AL East. It gave the Sox the momentum and the separation they needed from the Yankees to propel them to the AL East championship. If the Yankees could have at least split that series, I think the race to the finish would have been much tighter.
Within the last couple of weeks, I had my doubts if the Yankees would be able to hold the lead in the Wild Card standings and thought they could potentially lose home field advantage for the game to the hard charging Oakland A’s. I apologize for the ‘glass is half empty’ approach. Thankfully, the Yankees have picked up some momentum over the last week and grabbed the pole position earlier this week. The A’s did pick up their 97th win of the year yesterday against the Los Angeles Angels, 5-2, which boggles my mind. They are truly a team that came out of nowhere but are loaded with lethal bats and a deadly bullpen. The A’s have a chance to avenge the famous Derek Jeter “Flip Play” which erased the A’s Jeremy Giambi in the 2001 ALDS.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I like the 2018 Yankees and their chances but I’ll temper any excitement until the conclusion of Wednesday’s game. Anybody can win one game. Heck, the Baltimore Orioles, even with 115 losses, could beat the Boston Red Sox in one game. I know, the stakes are much higher in the post-season and guys elevate their game, but in the span of nine innings, anything can happen. If the Yankees can beat the A’s, then I feel they have a great shot moving forward. It will mean a quick return to Boston for the next round if it happens.
I honestly do not know which pitcher I’d go with to start Wednesday’s game. I like the job J.A. Happ has done since he joined the Yankees. I look at his last game against the Red Sox when he gave up four runs as really just a bad pitch to Steve Pearce who didn’t miss it for a grand slam. I am sure that Aaron Boone would have pitched that inning differently in the playoffs and Happ would not have faced Pearce. On recent performance, I’d have to go with Happ, but I can’t discount the argument David Cone made on yesterday’s FOX telecast of the game, “Severino is your Ferrari”, “you can’t keep your Ferrari in the garage”. Sevy has been the ace for the last couple of years and despite his stretch of struggles this summer, he’s still the leader of the staff. So, I’d probably go with Sevy but I can’t really argue against Happ if Boone decides to go that direction. I thought Masahiro Tanaka might the one rounding into form for the one-game ‘do or die’ playoff but his last start showed me that we don’t need his propensity for allowing home runs in a game against a team filled with sluggers like the A’s. Khris Davis hit his 48th of the year yesterday, proving that if you throw him a mistake, the ball will go very, very far. I’d prefer not seeing Tanaka face guys like Davis, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Stephen Piscotty. So, in my mind, Tanaka is not an option when your season is on the line. Nevertheless, the Wild Card game is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation so any signs of trouble for the starter should be a quick signal to the pen.
I was a little disappointed with the forgettable performance of Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder yesterday. This has been a breakout year for Holder who has been relied upon as one of the bullpen’s key performers. Holder was given the ninth to finish off the game, in relief of Sonny Gray who had done a fine job for a couple of innings. The Yankees had a comfortable 8-3 lead, but Tzu-Wei Lin walloped Holder’s first pitch for a ground rule double to left. Brock Holt followed with a homer to right to close the gap with the Yankees to three runs. Sam Travis was next and he singled to center. With Aroldis Chapman warming in the pen, Holder finally got the first out when he struck out the past-his-prime Brandon Phillips. Chapman had to come in and close out the game, picking up his 32nd save in a game that should not have been a save situation. Hopefully this was just an isolated poor outing for Holder. The Yankees need him for middle relief in October if the team advances beyond the Wild Card. Chapman did walk a batter to bring the tying run to the plate, but I am glad to see the Cuban Missile is rounding back into form. He is still not where he needs to be, but I like the insurance card (Zach Britton). A combo of a healthy Chapman and an elite closer like Britton is a solid recipe for success.
Credit to the Yankees for their accomplishments this year. To win 100 games for a team that seemed to struggle for extended periods this year shows that they are a very talented group when healthy. In looking at the National League, it’s not easy to make the playoffs, let alone win 100 games. There are two dead heats entering the last day of the season with ties atop the NL Central and NL West. The NL Central co-leaders, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, have the most wins in the NL at 94. For the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies, today’s games could either mean winning the division or heading to Los Angeles for a tie-breaker game tomorrow. The loser of the tie-breaker would then head to Milwaukee or Chicago depending upon who loses the NL Central. The Brewers and Cubs would play a potential tie-breaker Monday in Chicago. Very complicated. I am glad the Yankees don’t enter the final regular season game with so much uncertainty and potentially chaotic travel schedule over the next couple of days.
Buck Showalter probably manages his last game today. His team has lost three consecutive games and stands at 46-115. They’re facing the Houston Astros at Camden Yards so today they’ll probably see Houston’s backups and minor leaguers. Hopefully it means one final victory for Buck before he goes. His managerial record is 1550-1517-1 for a .505 winning percentage. In my mind, he helped prepare the 90’s Yankees for its run of success even if he never saw the fruits of his labor. Farewell, Buck. I hope this is not the end of the road, but just the closure of another chapter before a new one begins. Maybe the Angelos Family surprises me and decides to keep Buck around but I seriously doubt it.
Also, farewell to David Wright of the New York Mets. I don’t care for the Mets but I recognize Wright was a special player and it’s too bad his final years were filled with injuries. He is one of the game’s better ambassadors and I am hopeful he stays in the game for his post-playing career. Major League Baseball needs more guys like David Wright.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the Yankees were just assembling in Tampa in Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers in camp, awaiting the arrival of the position players including new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton.This has been a very fast year. Although the bullpen management has driven me nuts at times, I think Aaron Boone has done a good job as the team’s manager. So many of those bullpen decisions are driven by Brian Cashman’s analytics team so it’s hard to place all of the blame on Boonie. I like the calming effect his personality has on the clubhouse, not too much unlike former Yankees manager Joe Torre. I know that many Yankees fans have anointed the team’s former manager as Saint Girardi, forgetting his faults. But entering Wednesday’s game, win or lose, I am glad Aaron Boone is the manager of the New York Yankees.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
A loss on Wednesday does not end the hopes of this team. They’ll be back, stronger than ever, in 2019, and I think they’ll overtake the Boston Red Sox next year. The Sox benefited from career years from multiple players but I don’t think they’ll catch lightning in a bottle again next year. The Yankees can have a say in ending Boston’s highly successful season with a win on October 3rd. A perfect ending and a beautiful beginning for the Yankees if they can survive the Wild Card game and defeat the Red Sox. The Yankees, right now, can beat anybody. That’s not a boast, but a fact. Let’s prove it on the field.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Gail Burton)|
Yanks Win Series with second win in a row over the Birds…
I was going to lead off this post with Miguel Andujar but I had to start off by saying I am very happy that Gleyber Torres was not hurt when he was hit by a pitch on his right wrist during the sixth inning of yesterday’s 8-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles. It hurt to watch so I can only imagine what it felt like to be the recipient. It could have been much, much worse. Fortunately, there was no serious damage and Torres was able to continue playing. I half expect to see Neil Walker playing second base today to give Torres a breather.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Sorry Miguel. Yes, Giancarlo Stanton homered but it was Andujar who gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish with his two-run shot in the second inning. He finished the game 2-for-4 with 3 RBI’s. His other hit was a run-scoring double in the eighth inning. All he does is hit damn extra base hits. He leads the team with 18 doubles (5 more than Aaron Judge) and is the co-leader with two triples. Love it. I am still a fan of Brandon Drury but there’s no question Andujar has been a big part of the Yankees’ 2018 success.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)|
Stanton’s dinger was huge given Masahiro Tanaka’s propensity for giving up homers. Tanaka ended up getting taken yard three times but fortunately they were all of the solo variety. Still, even empty base home runs are very annoying. Thankfully the Yankees offense performed well enough to repel those runs. Tanaka (7-2) picked up the win despite the less than ideal pitching line. 5 1/3 innings, 97 pitches, 8 hits, 4 runs, and a walk. He did strike out 7 batters. One of the runs charged to Tanaka was a run-scoring double given up by reliever Jonathan Holder in the bottom of the sixth. For as uneven as Tanaka has pitched this year, he has the same record as Houston’s Justin Verlander despite the ‘slightly’ worse ERA (4.79 to 1.24).
After the game, Tanaka said, “I feel like I need to do a better job on the home runs.” Ya think? Is a homer-less game by Tanaka too much to ask for? I prefer to only see guys with an interlocking N-Y on their helmets belt ones out of the park, thank you very much.
I expected Greg Bird to do some damage against his high school teammate Kevin Gausman but for whatever reason, Gausman always seems to win those battles. Bird did get a hit yesterday but Gausman was already in the showers by then. One of these days. I want to see Bird take his buddy deep for bragging rights. It’s only right and something I am sure that Bird’s hairless cat would want.
Overall it was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen. Yes, Holder gave up the hit that made it a two-run game and David Robertson was nicked for a run in the ninth, but they sandwiched great performances by Chad Green and Dellin Betances. No harm, no foul.
It was a sloppy game for the Orioles with three errors in the sixth inning. It’s unfortunate the Yankees were only able to score two runs in that frame. Not that they really needed any more in this game but the O’s did close the gap in the bottom of the inning before the Yankees pulled away in the eighth. It seems like it is only a matter of time until Orioles manager Buck Showalter gets his walking papers. It is shaping up to be a poor finish for the career of the former Yankees manager.
The other game stars for the Yankees were Brett Gardner (two doubles and a run scored), Didi Gregorius (a pair of singles, an RBI and two runs scored), and Aaron Hicks (3-for-4 day, 2 RBI’s and a couple of runs scored). Hopefully this is the start of a better month for Sir Didi. After his All-World performance in April, May was a month to forget. Once Gary Sanchez and Didi starting hitting, this offense is going to be unstoppable.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)|
The game was delayed for an hour and forty-four minutes due to the threat of rain. Seemed odd that they’d pull out the tarp when it was not actually raining. But whatever. They got the game in, and the Yankees won their fourth consecutive game. There’s a high chance of rain this afternoon so there will probably be more delays before the Yankees can head for Detroit, Michigan. Hopefully it doesn’t mean spending the night at BWI, particularly considering they have to play two games tomorrow in the Motor City. The Yankees will miss long-rumored trade target Michael Fulmer. Fulmer, off to a disappointing start (2-4, 4.60 ERA, 1.368 WHIP), pitches today against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sadly, the Boston Red Sox won their 40th game of the season yesterday against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros. It wasn’t Verlander’s fault. The Red Sox just worked the simple formula. Keep it close and get into the Astros bullpen. Once there, good things happen for opposing teams. The Red Sox (40-19) continue to lead the Yankees (37-17) by a half-game in the AL East.
Justus Sheffield was hammered for six runs in five innings yesterday during Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 8-0 loss to the Indianapolis Indians. I guess he was “Bottom” Sheff for the day. Four hits, including a homer, and three walks did in the young left-hander. Brandon Drury, to his credit, singled to increase his on-base streak to 25 games. The sorely missed Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-4 on an otherwise forgettable offensive (literally and figuratively) day for the RailRiders.
By the way, congratulations to Gleyber Torres for his recognition as May American League Rookie of the Month. His slash line for the month was .317/.374/.659 with nine home runs and 24 RBI’s. He delivered 26 hits, 13 runs scored and drew six walks. The month included Gleyber’s four-game homer streak as the 21 year old continues to draw out the names of Yankees legends like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle with his hitting prowess. Not saying he is those guys but his accomplishments echo reminders of those names. That’s pretty damn good company.
|Photo Credit: The Sporting News|
Weather-permitting, let’s get a win today. I’ll be at Coors Field watching the Los Angeles Dodgers go for the sweep against the Colorado Rockies. Hopefully the Pinstripers can do the same.
|Credit: Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP|
Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1…
The title is sarcastic (if you didn’t notice). I am very disappointed with Masahiro Tanaka and the blow out loss to the AL East Cellar Dwellers. Trailing the Red Sox by four games with only nine games to play makes it a near impossibility to catch Boston unless they go into a tailspin like the Los Angeles Dodgers recently did. I seriously doubt that will happen for the Red Sox as they keep winning.
The Yankees had been playing so well, winning 15 of 20 games since August 31st. For a year that the Yankees have exceeded all expectations, Tanaka’s overall performance is the reason the Yankees are talking Wild Card and not AL East title. If he had pitched like his previous three years, we’d be talking about how many games the Red Sox are behind. It bothers me that we can hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, we can sweep the most recent series with the Twins, and yet, the Twins have a chance for one game to send the Yankees packing for the winter. If the Yankees play like they did yesterday, there will be no expanded playoffs for the Pinstripes.
Aaron Judge is the only player that came ready to play. His solo home run in the first inning, a monster 469 foot blast to left center off the facing of the second deck, gave the Yankees an early lead but it was the last run the Yankees would score. It was Judge’s 46th home run of the season, matching Joe DiMaggio’s career high.
|Credit: Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP|
The Blue Jays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the 1st against Tanaka. Teoscar Hernandez led off with a single to left center. Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder’s choice at third but Todd Frazier’s throw to Starlin Castro, which should have been an easy force out at second, got past Castro for an error as Hernandez raced around to third. Runners at the corners. Jose Bautista hit a soft grounder to third and was thrown out at first but Hernandez scored. Game tied, 1-1.
In the top of the 3rd, Todd Frazier doubled to right on a ball that went to the wall, sliding into second just under the throw from Jose Bautista. Clint Frazier popped out to the shortstop for the first out. Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right on a great running catch by Bautista, who then threw the ball in to second baseman Ryan Goins. With the Toddfather standing on second, Goins used the old hidden ball trick with a fake throw. Frazier momentarily lifted his foot off second to turn around and Goins nabbed him for the out to complete the double play. It was that type of game…
|Credit: Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP|
In the bottom of the 3rd, Teoscar Hernandez got to Tanaka again, this time a solo shot to left to give the Blue Jays the 2-1 lead. Bottom of the 4th, it was Russell Martin’s turn. His two-run shot, a liner just over the left field wall off Tanaka after Joey Bats had walked to start the inning, put the Blue Jays, 4-1.
The Yankees’ third and final hit came in the top of the 6th when Aaron Judge led off with a double to deep left center that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall. But the silent Yankee bats left him stranded behind the pitching of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, the recipient of a $13 million contract extension a few days earlier.
In the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays put the game away against Tanaka. Jose Bautista walked to start the inning. Kevin Pillar singled to center as Joey Bats moved to second. Tanaka struck out Russell Martin and Miguel Montero so it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning, but then he walked Kendrys Morales, pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney, on four consecutive balls out of the strike zone to load the bases. Tanaka had two strikes on the ‘Hidden Ball’ Master, Ryan Goins, but the third pitch, a slider, left the park in right for a grand slam. 8-1 Blue Jays, and, finally, the end of the night for Tanaka.
|Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports|
The only remaining runner that the Yankees could muster was when Aaron Judge walked in the 8th. The Blue Jays easily coasted to victory and most likely handed the Boston Red Sox the AL East Championship.
I apologize to those of you who are Tanaka fans but he sucked. His win-loss record now stands at 12-12 and his season ERA has increased to 4.94. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and three home runs in 5 2/3 innings. He disappeared at a time when the Yankees needed him the most. Dude, please opt out at the end of the year if this is truly the pitcher you are now.
|Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images|
The Yankees (85-68), as mentioned, fell four games behind the Red Sox. Boston beat Sal Romano, who grew up as a Yankees fan, and the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4. The Minnesota Twins have won two straight since they were swept by the Yankees so they have reduced their Wild Card deficit from 7 games to 5 1/2 in two days. The Los Angeles Angels are in a downward spiral, losers of five in a row, so they trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games, along with the Texas Rangers.
I don’t mind when the Yankees battle hard and lose, but Friday night was not one of those games. Outside of Aaron Judge, it was a complete team letdown. If I didn’t know better, it looked like the Toronto Blue Jays were the playoff team, not the Yankees. We expect and demand better play today.
Odds & Ends…
Today’s pitching matchup will feature Sonny Gray (9-11) versus Joe Biagini (3-11). A change was announced for Sunday. Jaime Garcia (5-9) now gets the start. He’ll oppose New York native Marcus Stroman (12-8).
Todd Frazier was able to talk to the father of the little girl struck by the foul ball during Wednesday’s game. The little girl is still in the hospital and as one relative indicated, it will be a long process. Frazier was told by the girl’s father that “she’s doing okay”. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the little girl as she continues to recover.
After last night’s game, an unauthorized man apparently gained access to the Yankees clubhouse in an attempt to steal some towels and a batting helmet. He was chased away by Todd Frazier, Tyler Wade, and others. The man was subsequently detained by stadium security but it’s scary that someone could have penetrated the crowded clubhouse that easily.
Have a great Saturday! Hopefully this a much better baseball day for all of us. Go Yankees!
I don’t know, the Minnesota Twins might want to consider forfeiting the Wild Card game. Seriously, the Yankees seem to have the Twins number as evidenced by the sweep of the most recent three-game series. I only hope that it continues into October assuming the Twins are successful in holding off the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card spot.
For the first two innings, the game appeared to be a pitching duel between Yankees ace Luis Severino and the ancient Bartolo Colon. A few isolated hits but no serious threats. Then, in the top of the 3rd inning, the Twins came out charging. Kennys Vargas singled on a soft bouncer to short that Didi Gregorius tried to barehand..unsuccessfully…with one out. Jason Castro followed with a single, a line drive to right. Runners at the corners. Brian Dozier drew a walk and the bases were full. Joe Mauer, battling Sevy for 13 pitches, singled to right, scoring Vargas. After a trip to the mound by Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (which never seems to work), Jorge Polanco lashed a single to right just past a running Greg Bird who nearly had the ball, Castro and Dozier scored. The Twins were up, 3-0. Severino evaded further trouble by retiring the next two batters.
All I could think was, “We’re going to let Bartolo Colon beat us? Really?”. Fortunately, the Yankees heard me. Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double to the right field wall, sliding into second just under the outfield throw. After Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Judge hammered a Colon pitch over the wall in right for a two-run home run. It was Judge’s 45th of the year and his 100th RBI. Amazing. This was a guy who was almost beat out of a job by Aaron Hicks in Spring Training.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Gary Sanchez was up next and he delivered his 32nd home run with a shot to center in Monument Park. Drop the accolades for Judge and pick them up for Sanchez. 32 homers…the most ever for a Yankees catcher despite missing nearly a month of the season. More homers than Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada accomplished in one season. Incredible. The game was tied.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Luis Severino did not return for the 4th inning. 3 innings worked, 5 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 3 K’s on 71 pitches. He needed 46 pitches for the 3rd inning alone. A no decision that pushed his season ERA back over three (3.03).
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis-The NY Post
Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Given Shreve’s recent performances, I was feeling a little shell-shocked. But he retired the first batter he faced, Max Kepler, on a swinging strikeout. Eduardo Escobar followed by flying out to left on a ball that took Brett Gardner to the warning track. Whew! So far, so good. Then, he walked Kennys Vargas. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Get that bum out of there! Nobody listened to me, so Shreve was able to pitch to the next batter, Jason Castro, who grounded out to second for the final out. Okay, Shreve, that wasn’t bad. I feel better now…
The bottom of the 4th arrived and, man, so did the rejuvenated September 2017 Yankees. Well, Matt Holliday excluded. He started the inning with a pop out to first in foul territory. Jacoby Ellsbury, playing like a man who is worth $153 million, tripled to left (actually, it probably should have been an error on left fielder Eddie Rosario who didn’t take a good route to the ball and it bounced out of his glove). Todd Frazier walked. Greg Bird doubled to the right field corner with Ellsbury scoring on the play and the Toddfather moving to third. The Yankees had their first lead of the game. Paul Molitor decided to make a pitching change and brought in Tyler Duffey to replace Colon. I was worried that our little rally was going to be short-fused. Silly me. Brett Gardner lined a single to center which scored Frazier. Bird moved to third. Aaron Judge struck out to briefly bring the return of my pessimism, but Gary Sanchez lightened my mood with a single to right, scoring Bird. Didi Gregorius was up next and he crushed a three-run homer to the second deck in right. It was Didi’s 25th home run of the year, giving him the most for a Yankees shortstop in franchise history. After the hit, Didi turned around and apologized to Jason Castro for dropping the bat in front of him. Class act by a very classy guy.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
The Yankees had scored 6 runs and now led 9-3. Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning but I was okay with that.
Chasen Shreve did his job in the top of the 5th with no complaints or inner dialogue from me. In the bottom of the 5th, former Yankees farmhand Nik Turley took over for Tyler Duffey. Matt Holliday, deciding he wanted to join the party, started the Yankees half of the inning with a single to center. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk on four pitches. After a game delay when Todd Frazier hit a young fan with a foul ball, he flied out to center but Holliday tagged and moved to third. With Greg Bird at bat, Turley unleashed a wild pitch that got away from Jason Castro and Holliday came in to score. Ellsbury moved to second. Bird then singled on a grounder to first that the first baseman momentarily lost after stopping the ball to put runners at the corners. It was another hit that probably should have been ruled an error. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch in the back and the bases were loaded. That would be all for Turley and he was replaced by Michael Tonklin. Aaron Judge hit a fly to right, scoring Ellsbury. The Yankees were now up, 11-3. Gary Sanchez singled to left to reload the bases, but Didi Gregorius struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.
Shreve returned with another solid inning in the 6th to help restore some of my confidence in the young Las Vegan left-hander. By the bottom of the 7th, both teams began making multiple substitutions. The Yanks rode the arms of Ben Heller and Domingo German to the finish. Nice job by both but special mention for German. He pitched two scoreless innings with no hits and a meaningless walk in the 9th. He struck out a total of four Twins including Kennys Vargas to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (85-67) increased their lead in the Wild Card standings to seven games over the Twins with 10 games to play. The Twins retained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-5. The Boston Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles with a 9-0 win on Wednesday, so they remain three games in front of the Yankees. The win clinched a post-season berth for the Red Sox.
Chasen Shreve (4-1), by virtue of Severino’s early departure, got the win. Three Yankees had three hits (Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird) and two had three RBI’s (Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius). Sanchez had two ribbies. Judge now has 101 RBIs, becoming the fourth Yankees rookie to reach the 100 RBI mark, joining Tony Lazzeri (1926), Joe DiMaggio (1936), and Hideki Matsui (2003). Judge also became the third rookie in MLB history and eighth player in Yankees history with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks. This was yet another great team victory. Thumbs down, Everyone!
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…
The Yankees enjoy their final day off of the regular season today (barring any rainouts) before embarking on their last road trip with a quick three-game set north of the border starting Friday night. The Blue Jays, picked by many to finish as high as second in the AL East prior to the season, have successfully held off the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, for rights to the AL East Cellar although they’ll need to keep losing to fend off the O’s.
It may be a down year for the Blue Jays but they always seem to play the Yankees very tough. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)
Blue Jays: Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01 ERA)
Marco Estrada, who had been due to become a free agent after the season, signed a one-year contract extension for $13 million this week. So, he’ll be a happy man on Friday night.
I really hope that the Yankees find the perfect combination of excellent pitching from Sonny Gray and run support on Sunday.
Odds & Ends…
The downside to Wednesday’s victory was the injury of a young girl who was hit by the foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the 5th inning. The girl, a toddler, was attending the game with her grandparents. She was apparently struck in the mouth.
After the game, the Yankees released a short statement: “The child who was struck with a batted ball today was given first aid at the ballpark and is receiving medical attention at an area hospital. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, prevents the team from giving more information. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Our prayers and well wishes to the young girl for a full and speedy recovery.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Credit: Abbie Parr-Getty Images
Joe Girardi said after the game that the little girl was “doing OK”. This was a wake up call for the Yankees organization to extend the netting to protect fans.
I do feel bad for the Twins fans. Many of them are fans of the Minnesota Vikings like me. The Vikings took one on the chin last Sunday when they were steamrolled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-9, behind backup QB Case Keenum. So it has not been a great week for sports fans in and around Minneapolis/St Paul, MN. But I certainly do not feel bad enough that I wanted the Twins to escape with a victory. How sweep it is!
Have a great Thursday! It’s a day off…let’s enjoy! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Brewers 9, Yankees 4…
In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.
We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.
But first, Aaron Judge. With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936. The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet. Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance. He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery. He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error. Didi ended up at third on the play. Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.
The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead. The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right. “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.
The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay. When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles. I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance. Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play. For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision. In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run. 4-2, Yankees.
Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th. He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third. Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard. A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third. Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.
The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.
With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating. With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third. Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now. Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night). I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game. When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.
Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced. A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez. The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory. Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.
The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games. But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes. He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning. Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.
I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense. I miss those days…
Odds & Ends…
When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot…sorry I mean…President, Randy Levine. The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy. You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this. Apparently not.” I may be frustrated that Bird has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player. If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns. Bird responded “I want to play. I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember. I love baseball. For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back. I love it and I want to be playing with these guys. I would hope people see it”. I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…
Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday. So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon. This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger.
|Credit: Seth Wenig-AP|
Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston. Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today. Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement. Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.
In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard’s meltdown. Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.
Have a great Saturday! A new day and a new opportunity to win a game. Let’s Go Yankees!