Tagged: Joe Girardi

Just Winning Games in Seattle…

Credit:  Elaine Thompson/AP

Yankees 4, Mariners 1…

The Yankees took manager Joe Girardi’s biggest concern (“just winning games”) to heart as they defeated the Seattle Mariners on late night TV.  Of course, it didn’t hurt to have perhaps the best Yankees starting pitcher (Luis Severino) on the mound.  Felix Hernandez is tough but I had the confidence in Sevy to persevere.

Credit:  Elaine Thompson/AP

The first innings of games, lately, always seem to be so tough.  King Felix easily dispatched the first three Yanks to move to the bottom of the first.  Ben Gamel ripped a one-out double to left (why did we get rid of him one day after being named the 2016 International League MVP again?…I know, the glut of outfielders but still, he has been very solid for the M’s).  Robinson Cano hit an infield grounder that caught Gamel off second (out in a rundown…great athleticism by Sevy to start the play).  The deadly Nelson Cruz came up and singled to left to move Cano to second.  Corey Seager’s big brother Kyle was next but Sevy dialed up the heat to 99 mph and punched Seager out to end the threat.  I am so tired starting games in the hole so it was great to see the Yankees escape without allowing any runs despite the two hits.  

The Mariners got their hits against Sevy but pushing them across the plate was a different story.  The M’s threatened in the fourth with the game still in a scoreless tie.  Kyle Seager opened with a double just fair down the third base line (glad he didn’t do that in the first inning).  Danny Valencia followed with a solid single to center to put runners at the corners with no outs.  Sevy was able to retire Mitch Haniger on a pop-up and Jarrod Dyson on a shallow center fly out after falling behind 3-0, before walking Mike Zunino to load the bases.  Fortunately, Jean Segura, in a long at-bat, hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius who flipped the ball to Starlin Castro to force Zunino out at second to end the inning.  

In the 6th inning with one out, Brett Gardner drilled a ‘no doubt about it’ homer right center, his 16th to match Matt Holliday and Todd Frazier, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.  He was fortunate as King Felix was still going strong, recording all outs in the 6th by strikeout.  But on the other side, Sevy was still holding the M’s off the board.

Credit:  Getty Images

Former Yankee James Pazos replaced King Felix in the top of the 8th.  After Jacoby Ellsbury weakly grounded out to Pazos with a broken bat, Chase Headley singled to center on a ball deflected off the tip of Robinson Cano’s glove.  Brett Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice but a fielding error by Jean Segura (he would have easily had the force out at second but was unable to successfully pull the ball out of his glove) allowed Gardy to reach base with Headley safe at second.  Tony Zych replaced Pazos and promptly walked Gary Sanchez on a full count to load the bases.  A single to right by Aaron Judge scored Headley and it was 2-0 Yankees.  Unfortunately, Matt Holliday hit into an inning-ending double play so the Yankees were unable to further cash in with the bases full of Yanks.

Dellin Betances replaced Sevy in the 8th and ran into a little trouble.  After hitting Kyle Seager with a pitch, Danny Valencia singled to right to move Seager to second.  With one out and the tying run at the plate, Mitch Haniger hit into a force out at second (a play challenged by the M’s after Castro bobbled the ball on the exchange but upheld by the umps).  Seager moved to third.  Betances reared back and struck out Jarrod Dyson to leave Seager stranded. 

The Yankees picked up a couple of huge insurance runs in the 9th courtesy of Robinson Cano.  Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier hit one-out singles off M’s reliever Max Povse.  After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to left (sure seemed like the Yankees were always having to work around Ellsbury outs), Chase Headley reached first base on a throwing error by Cano.  Both Gregorius and Frazier scored on the play.  Thanks Robby!  To Cano’s defense, first baseman Danny Valencia gave up too early and didn’t try to reach out to catch Cano’s wide throw from shallow right.

It was off to the 9th and Aroldis Chapman with the Yankees leading 4-0.  Chapman’s control issues continued as he walked the first batter, Mike Zunino.  Zunino was replaced by pinch-runner Guillermo Heredia.  A wild pitch by Chapman moved to Heredia to second.  Chapman struck out Jean Segura and Ben Gamel, with Heredia taking third, before Robinson Cano laced a double to the center field wall bringing Heredia home to score.  Chapman was able to secure the final out when Nelson Cruz flied out to right.  The Yankees win…a much needed victory.

Credit:  Getty Images

Hats off to Luis Severino (6-4) for delivering an ace-like performance against one of the AL’s best starting pitchers.  Although he gave up 8 hits and a walk in 7 innings, he held the M’s scoreless while striking out 6.  King Felix held the Yanks to 3 hits and struck out 9, but one of those hits was the Gardy homer which gave the Yanks the lead they would not relinquish.  I had confidence going into this game with Sevy on the mound and he did not disappoint.

Todd Frazier was 1-for-4 in his first Yankees start with a run scored.  Neither David Robertson nor Tommy Kahnle made an appearance in this game although Chapman was giving me reasons to wish that it was D-Rob on the mound in the 9th.  Joe Girardi must have thought the same thing as he had Robertson up in the pen after Chapman’s wild pitch.

Ben Gamel was hitless in his next four at-bats after the first inning double, striking out three times. Robby Cano, Dontcha Know!, was 3-for-5 with the lone Mariners RBI.

Credit:  Elaine Thompson/AP

The Yankees (49-45) picked up on a game on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings and trail by 3 1/2 games.  The Red Sox lost 8-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yanks are a game behind the idle Tampa Bay Rays (tied in the loss column).  

The Yankees go for their 50th win tonight with CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA) on the mound facing Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA). Sabathia was moved up from Saturday as Masahiro Tanaka was pushed back a day.  The Mariners announced a change for their scheduled starter on Sunday.  Yovani Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will replace Sam Gaviglio in the match-up against Luis Cessa.

Odds & Ends…

I’ve been reading columns that feel the Yankees overpaid to acquire Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.  After watching yesterday’s acquisition of reliever and former Yankee David Phelps by the Seattle Mariners, I am starting to think the Yankees may have underpaid.  For Phelps alone, the Miami Marlins acquired four players.  Three of the players rank in the Mariners list of Top 30 Prospects according to MLB.com.  OF Brayan Hernandez rates the highest at #6.  RHP Brandon Miller is #16 and RHP Pablo Lopez is #22.  The Marlins also acquired RHP Lukas Schiraldi, son of former Major Leaguer Calvin Schiraldi.  Granted, the Yankees have a stronger farm system so #6 on the Mariners’ list does not equal #6 on the Yankees list but this is still a very  good haul by the Marlins.  I know that one scout referred to them as “just guys” but I am also a believer in ‘expect the unexpected’.  Suddenly, losing OF Blake Rutherford, LHP Ian Clarkin, and OF Tito Polo (along with the inconsequential Tyler Clippard) seems like a very small price to pay for a strong third base upgrade and two bullpen power arms.  I guess that we’ll be seeing David Phelps very soon unless the Yankees can avoid giving the Mariners any late inning leads to work with.   

Credit:  Gary Landers/AP

Todd Frazier is now saying that he’ll stay with #29 rather than ask Paul O’Neill if he can use #21.  If I was O’Neill, I’d probably reach out to Frazier and say, “It’s okay, Kid…you’ve worn the number out of respect for me and for my original team (the Reds).  Please take #21 and wear it with pride”.  There’s no doubt Frazier will do the number justice.  


GM Brian Cashman has said that Clint Frazier will be optioned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns in a few weeks.  I know that he’ll be back in September, but it does kind of stink that a douche like Jacoby Ellsbury gets to keep his seat at the grownups’ table while Frazier has to go have a seat with the kids.  I hope that Frazier continues to make this a very hard decision for the Yankees.

Have a great Friday!  Let’s just keep winning games in Seattle.  Go Yankees!

Slightly Off-Target in Downtown Minneapolis…

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Twins 4, Yankees 2…

The Baby Bombers tried but without too much help from the veteran leadership, the Yankees fell to the Twins in Minneapolis.

New first baseman Garrett Cooper finally had his coming out party with three hits (two doubles) and his first Major League RBI.  Clint Frazier, penciled in at #2 in the lineup, contributed two speed-earned doubles.  

The Twins struck first, picking up a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  Kennys Vargas walked and scored when Eddie Rosario lined a double to the center field wall.  They added another run the next inning.  Brian Dozier and Zack Granite both singled, and Joe Mauer walked to load the bases.  In one of the game’s great plays, Miguel Sano hit a fly ball to Aaron Judge in right.  Dozier attempted to score on the fly ball, but was nailed at the plate by an exceptional throw from Judge to catcher Austin Romine.  

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees nearly escaped the inning without any damage, but starter Bryan Mitchell, covering first base, botched a catch from second baseman Starlin Castro which allowed Max Kepler to reach base with Granite scoring the Twins’ second run.

The Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th.  The inning opened with a challenge play that was ruled in Minnesota’s favor.  Didi Gregorius was initially ruled safe at first on an infield hit and headfirst slide, but replay subsequently showed that he was late to the bag as Adalberto Mejia’s foot touched base just before Didi’s hands. With two outs, Garrett Cooper doubled to right center, a smash to the wall.  He scored on Austin Romine’s double over the head of right fielder Max Kepler.  2-1, Twins.

The game was tied in the top of the 7th when Chase Headley doubled to left center between the outfielders.  He scored on Garrett Cooper’s second double of the game, a solid line drive to left.

Then the game fell apart for the Yankees.  In the top of 8th, it looked to have the potential of a big inning that could have given the Yankees the lead.  Clint Frazier hit a double to left, motoring around to second without hesitation.  Twins reliever Taylor Rogers intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday.  It proved to be the right decision by Twins manager Paul Molitor when Holliday hit into a 6-4-3 double play which erased Judge at second.  Frazier moved to third.  After taking a big swing for a strike, Didi Gregorius attempted an awful bunt which just bounced up and down at home plate.  Twins catcher Jason Castro was able to easily throw out Gregorius for the final out.    

In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to stick with Caleb Smith.  Smith had entered the game in the 6th inning in relief of Bryan Mitchell.  For two innings, he was tremendous in retiring 6 batters with 3 strikeouts.  I know it is easy to second guess Girardi after-the-fact, but I felt that Girardi should have brought in one of his veteran relievers for the pressure-packed 8th.  Smith’s brilliant two-inning work would have been a great confidence booster in making his MLB debut so it would have been a good place to pull him, especially with the Twins’ 3-4-5 hitters coming up.  But Girardi elected to stay with the hot hand.  Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano opened the bottom of the 8th with singles off Smith.  Mauer’s hit fell just short of Aaron Judge’s sliding glove and Sano’s seeing-eye single made it to left past a sliding Didi Gregorius.  After striking out Max Kepler, Smith gave up a single to left by pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar which scored Mauer.  Sano moved to third on the play, beating a throw from Austin Romine to Gregorius, and scored when Eddie Rosario doubled, a rolling liner, to right.  The Twins had taken a 4-2 lead which would prove to be the game’s final runs.  To Smith’s credit, with the bases loaded after an intentional walk, retired the next two batters get out of the inning.

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees were unable to muster any offense in the top of the 9th in the rain against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler and went down 1-2-3.  

Credit:  Star Tribune

Doing the little things right could have won this game but it was not meant to be.

The Yankees (47-44) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Sox fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3.  The second place Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games in front of the Yankees and 2 games behind Boston with their 3-2 victory over the Oakland A’s.

Caleb Smith (0-1) took his first loss of the season after his 8-0 start at Triple A.  Bryan Mitchell’s final line wasn’t bad.  5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 run unearned thanks to his own error), 2 BB, and 2 SO.  Aaron Judge’s post All-Star Game slump continued with his 0-for-3 performance which dropped him to 1-for-21 for the second half.  He struck out once.

Odds & Ends…

Michael Pineda’s consultation with Dr Timothy Kremchek for a second opinion has confirmed the need for Tommy John surgery.  Dr Kremchek will perform the surgery today in Cincinnati.  Although I doubt Michael ever pitches for the Yankees again, I wish him much success with the surgery and a speedy recovery.


Greg Bird will also have surgery on his ankle today.  He is expected to be out for six weeks.  While it is projected that he could be back in September, I’d find it highly unlikely given he has missed so much time the past two years.  Even more unlikely if the Yankees swing a trade for someone like Yonder Alonso or Justin Bour.  I hope this surgery puts Bird back on the path to be a contributing member for the Yankees.

Have a great Tuesday!  Time to get back in the win column.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Solution: 15 K’s & Red Thunder…

Credit:  Al Bello-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Brewers 3…

Finally!  A fun and dramatic game.  Clint Frazier was the man of the hour with three hits.  The first hit broke up a no-hitter by Milwaukee starter Brent Suter in the fifth inning.  The second hit brought the Yankees within a run when the ball landed on top of the Stub Hub sign in left for a triple to score two runs.  The third hit was a game-winning walk-off home run to left as the Yankees overcame the Brewers on Saturday afternoon.

The first inning didn’t get started on the right foot.  After Eric Thames looped a double to right field, Travis Shaw was awarded first base in a controversial “hit by pitch”.  The umpire didn’t react until Shaw said something which caused the ump to send Shaw to first base, drawing the ire of Manager Joe Girardi.  Girardi could be overheard saying “He called it, you didn’t call it”.  The TV replays, to me, were inconclusive.  If the ball hit Shaw, it was fabric only but even then, the jersey didn’t move as the ball passed through to the catcher’s mitt.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

Domingo Santana followed with a fly ball just over the right field wall which gave the Brewers an early 3-0 lead.

Credit:  Getty Images

For the Brewers, it would be the end of their offensive show for the day.  Luis Severino made the necessary adjustments (I hope you were watching, Michael Pineda!) and shut the Brewers down for the next six innings.  By the time he departed, he had pitched 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and the 3 runs allowed via the first inning home run.  He walked two, both in the 6th inning, while striking out 10.  It was a no-decision for him but the Yankees do not win this game without Severino’s performance.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

The Yankees had a scoring opportunity in the 2nd inning when Didi Gregorius lofted a fly ball to center.  Four Brewers converged at the same time and the ball fell between them for an error on Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.  But the Yankees were subsequently caught with awful base-running. Chase Headley hit a come-backer to the pitcher and the Brewers had Didi caught between second and third.  Didi didn’t try to extend the rundown and the Brewers were able to tag Didi out and nail Headley off first base for the double play.  If Didi had tried to evade the tag, it would have given Headley the time to get back to first.

The Yankee bats were silent until the fifth inning when Clint Frazier finally collected the Yankees’ first hit off Brent Suter, a two-out single to right.  The Yankees weren’t able to do anything with it but it was a start.

After Luis Severino struck out Eric Thames with a runner in scoring position to end the top of the 7th, the Yankees finally got some runs on the board.  Chase Headley hit a one-out ground rule double to center.  Jacoby Ellsbury singled to move Headley to third.  A failed pick-off attempt at first allowed Headley to score while Ellsbury moved to third.  Clint Frazier hit a fly ball that momentarily looked to be a home run but it bounced off the lower part of the left field wall for a triple which scored Ellsbury.  The Yankees had closed the gap to 3-2.  Ji-Man Choi, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, and Ronald Torreyes were unable to bring Frazier home.

Onto the 8th inning and it was time for the Yankees bullpen which has been an Achilles Heel in recent days.  Dellin Betances took the mound in relief of Severino.  It was a ‘hold your breath’ moment until Betances proved to be the All-Star that he is, allowing everyone to exhale.  He induced Ryan Braun to ground out and then struck out both Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana.  Whew…Welcome back, Dellin!

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-New York Post

The Yankees were unable to generate any offense in the bottom of the 8th.  Moving to the top of the 9th, Aroldis Chapman replaced Betances.  Chapman has struggled with his command in recent games, but not yesterday. Three strikeouts later, it was off the bottom of the 9th with the Yankees still trailing by one run.  The Brewers brought in their strong closer, Corey Knebel, who has been a very pleasant surprise for the Brewers this year.  Knebel has struck out 72 batters in 41 innings while saving 13 games for Milwaukee.  He came into the game having only allowed 5 runs in 41 games.  The only knock against him is a tendency to walk too many batters. The weakness appeared right away as Didi Gregorius walked to open the inning on four straight balls.  Chase Headley went down swinging but Jacoby Ellsbury, like Didi, also walked on four straight balls as Knebel continued to struggle with his control.  So, the Yankees had runners at first and second with one-out when Red Thunder strolled to the plate.  After a ball in the dirt, Knebel grooved a 97 mph four-seam fastball down the middle.  With his blazing bat speed, Frazier quickly blasted a shot into the left field stands for the game-winning three-run home run as the Yankees won the game, 5-3.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman (2-0) was the winner.  The Yankees (45-40) were able to pick up a game on the Boston Red Sox so they are 3.5 games out in the AL East.  The Tampa Bay Rays remain a game behind the Yankees, courtesy of their 1-0 victory over the Red Sox.

Credit:  Julio Cortez-AP

The Yankees conclude the first half today when Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA) takes the mound against Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA).  Hopefully, yesterday’s dramatic win and stellar bullpen work provide the momentum for a new surge by the home team.

Odds & Ends…

The rumor mill is certainly heating up.  Within the last 24 hours, it has been reported the Yankees have heavy interest in first baseman Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins and reliever Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres.  I am always a little suspect of the trade rumors you openly hear about as GM Brian Cashman generally plays his cards close to the vest.  The more likely trades are the ones that you never hear about in advance. I would love to have Hand in the bullpen but the issue is cost.  I’d hate to lose Chance Adams or Miguel Andujar (a couple of the names that have been mentioned). There would be a bit of irony with the Marlins (which includes Manager Don Mattingly) sending Bour to New York to be the Yankees first baseman.  Bour hit his 20th homer of the year yesterday in Miami’s 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants.  There’s no doubt he’d be an upgrade over Ji-Man Choi.

Credit:  Ben Margot-AP

The YES Network’s Michael Kay mentioned an interesting stat during the telecast.  Yesterday was the 17-year anniversary of the Yankees’ double-header sweep over the New York Mets which featured games at both home parks.  Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens were the winning pitchers in the subway double-header.  It’s hard to believe that it has been 17 years as I can clearly remember that day well.  It was a preview of the memorable Fall Classic that would pit the two teams against each other.

Matt Holliday was 2-for-4, both singles, with two runs scored in his rehab assignment for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  The RailRiders won the game, 8-1, over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  Jake Cave was 3-for-3 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s.  Miguel Andujar also chipped in a home run.

Have a great Sunday!  I am looking forward to more Red Thunder! But, please, no Tyler Clippard. Let’s Go Yankees!

Chasing the Victory…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

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

The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

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

After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

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

The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough…somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today’s game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!

Losing the Game of Inches…

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sport

A’s 8, Yankees 7…


I love California but this road trip has been horrific.


The Yankees fought back in this game time and again and took the lead in the 10th, only to lose another game with a rookie pitcher on the mound.  I am not pinning this on Giovanny Gallegos but it’s a testament to the mounting bangs and bruises on this team.


After the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded in the first inning, the A’s took the early lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot by Jed Lowrie.  The A’s took a 3-0 lead in the second when Adam Rosales doubled off Jordan Montgomery, following a walk by Matt Chapman, making his Major League debut, and a ground-rule double by Josh Phegley, scoring both base runners.


The game stayed that way until the sixth.  In the top of the inning, Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded to score two runs.  Chris Carter followed with a single to tie the game at 3.  The A’s replaced starting pitcher Sonny Gray with Sean Dolittle who retired the next two Yankees to get out of the inning.  In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso homered as the A’s re-captured the lead, 4-3.  


The seesaw battle continued in the 7th inning when Gary Sanchez doubled with Starlin Castro on second, scoring Castro with the tying run.  But the A’s answered the run with a run-scoring single by Chad Pinder in the bottom of the inning and the A’s were back up, 5-4.


Chris Carter homered in the top of the 8th to once again tie the game, 5-5.  Like the inning before, the A’s answered the call in the bottom of the inning when Matt Joyce hit a grounder into a force out with the bases loaded and only one out, scoring the lead runner.  6-5, A’s. Tyler Clippard had started the inning but he was ineffective (again) as two of three batters he faced reached base through a single and a walk.  Dellin Betances was on the mound when the A’s scored their run, but he was able to strike out Rajai Davis to prevent any further damage.


The 9th inning saw the Yankees tie the game again when Starlin Castro doubled off A’s closer Santiago Casilla and Gary Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.  Gary Sanchez stole second to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position (replaced by pinch runner Ronald Torreyes as Sanchez came out of the game with a tight groin) with only one out, but Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter could not move the runner.  Didi flied out, and Carter went down swinging on a 3-2 count.  In the bottom of the 9th, the A’s loaded the bases with two outs against Betances but he was able to get out of the inning by striking out Matt Chapman.


The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the 10th when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.  Matt Holliday, entering the game at DH to replace Torreyes, struck out against A’s reliever Liam Hendricks to end the inning.  The Yankees could have used a few insurance runs on this night.  In the bottom of the 10th, Giovanny Gallegos replaced Betances.  He retired the first two batters he faced, but then Rajai Davis singled and Chad Pinder doubled to move Davis to third.  Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Khris Davis ended the game with a single just over Starlin Castro (ball tipped off his glove), scoring Davis and Pinder with the winning runs.  A’s emerged with the 8-7 victory in another lost opportunity for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi summed it up after the game, “It hurts because it’s a matter of a couple inches that you lose that game by and it’s frustrating.”


This was another game that shows how much the Yankees miss closer Aroldis Chapman.  It will be good to get Chapman back this weekend (hopefully on Sunday) so that Betances can get into games earlier and lessen the reliance on other arms.  


Fingers crossed for both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks who also left the game in the 9th with tightness in his Achilles Heel.  After the game, it was disclosed that reliever Adam Warren is battling tightness in his trapezius muscle which accounted for his unavailability.  Hopefully, none of these ailments are serious.  

Didi Gregorius singled in the game to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games.


Fortunately, the Yankees (38-26) did not lose any ground to any AL East team except the Toronto Blue Jays as everyone else lost.  The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays remain 2 games and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively, while the Blue Jays moved up to 6 1/2 games back (bringing  the Baltimore Orioles into a tie for the AL East cellar).  


Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends…

Ronald Herrera, we hardly knew ye.  After taking the loss in his lone Big League appearance on Wednesday night, Herrera has found himself back with the Double A Trenton Thunder.  I thought it was much to ask of Herrera to make the jump from AA to the Majors, and the proof was in the pudding with the pitch he threw Andrelton Simmons.  What works in AA goes for a long home run in the Big Leagues.  The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on the Disabled List, as expected.  To replace Herrera and Sabathia, the Yankees have recalled Luis Cessa and Domingo German.  Sunday’s starter has not yet been determined but Girardi has a pool of Cessa, German and Chad Green to choose from.  Cessa appears to be the favorite to start on Sunday (or on Saturday if Girardi decides to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day).

The Yankees stopped the rehabilitation for Greg Bird yesterday and he’ll see Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad today.  Bird told Trainer Steve Donohue on Thursday morning that the leg was not feeling right and not functioning right.  This is not good news.  The Yankees are already suspect at both infield corners.  Tyler Austin has not exactly set the World on fire at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is currently batting .303 but only has 1 homer and 6 RBI’s in 17 games (66 AB’s).  In my opinion, the best first baseman in the system is Thunder first baseman Mike Ford.  This year, including his time at AAA, Ford, 24, is batting .289/.410/.509 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI’s.  He has played 61 games and has walked 44 times.  He even stole a base…once.  But he has the same disadvantage as Chance Adams and others, he does not have a place on the 40-man roster.  

There was already talk the Yankees needed to upgrade at third.  If the priority becomes first base, does this increase the likelihood that we’ll see Gleyber Torres as soon as next month?  I still think it is too premature for him and his AAA manager is on record saying that he is not ready yet.  I guess this is why GM Brian Cashman is paid to make these decisions.  The added pressure on him is the moves over the next 45 days will go a long way toward determining his future at the end of the year with the expiration of his contract.  


Have a great Friday!  Let’s win one of these close games for a change…

CC and the Backdoor Slider…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 8, Red Sox 0…

Much better!


When CC Sabathia was named the #2 starter at the beginning of the year, I thought it was comical.  Now, he’s probably the ace.  This vintage run of excellent starts by Sabathia has been tremendous and much needed.  I know that he has benefited from his talks with Andy Pettitte about transitioning to an older pitcher but after a few starts to forget earlier this year, I had given him up for dead.  Then, suddenly he has re-emerged as a dominant pitcher.  I am not sure how long this will last, but I’m lovin’ the ride.

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

A night after a disappointing loss, Sabathia (7-2) shut the Red Sox down with eight solid innings.  He held the Sox to 5 hits and struck out 5 in the shutout.  He did not walk anyone.  When he wasn’t pitching great, he was making excellent bare-handed defensive plays, like stopping the Jackie Bradley, Jr chopper in the fifth and throwing the runner out at first with a runner at third.  It was a critical play as Josh Rutledge had opened the inning with a triple.  The runner was eventually left stranded, thanks in very large part to CC’s great play on JBJ.


All of CC’s pitches were working, but it was the deadly slider that left the Sox batters shaking their heads.  It’s an interesting stat that it was the first time CC has shutout an opponent with at least eight innings pitched since September 2012.  


I expected Sabathia to tire in the later innings but he was still cruising in the eighth (retiring the final 12 batters he faced).  Manager Joe Girardi made the right decision to pull CC after eight innings and 95 pitches.  Jonathan Holder finished up in relief.  


I wonder if we can get Pettitte to come to New York to talk to Masahiro Tanaka.  I don’t know but it’s cool to write Pettitte’s name in a blog post again.  He would make a good replacement for pitching coach Larry Rothschild one day.  


As for the offense, it came from a very unlikely source.  The forgotten man and the guy on almost everybody’s list for roster reduction when Greg Bird returns delivered in a big way.  Chris Carter, who entered the game with a .183 batting average, blasted a three-run homer to left-center in the Yankees’ four-run fourth inning that gave the Yankees some breathing room in a game, which up to that point, had been a pitcher’s duel.  The Yankees tacked on three more runs late, including a RBI single from Carter in the eighth.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, with 4 RBI’s.  He raised his batting average by 19 points to .202.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Carter should have had two home runs, but Mookie Betts was aided by a Yankees fan to make a leaping catch to rob Carter in the sixth.  The ball seemingly was over the wall but landed in the fan’s hands and rolled back into Betts’ glove.  Girardi tried to challenge but the umps ruled that he was outside of the 30-second window to appeal.  I’m glad that play didn’t factor into the outcome of the game.


Didi Gregorius got the scoring started in the third with a solo shot off Red Sox starter and AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.  Porcello has not been the same pitcher he was last year (he is now 3-8) but when he started the game strong, I had been concerned that he was finding the success he had enjoyed last year.  Thankfully, it was not meant to be as Carter and Company gave CC an abundance of runs, one night after they fell one short.


With the win, the Yankees (33-23) moved back up to two games ahead of the Red Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles came up with another extra inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to remain 2 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

It is being reported that Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start as scheduled.  I think this is a mistake.  Something is clearly wrong and to allow the pitcher to work out his issues in-game is not a smart move in my opinion.  This seems to be psychological as best I can tell.  I think Tanaka needs to get his head straight first, then work on the pitches.  That’s why I would give him time away from the rotation.  If I owned the Yankees, I’d send Tanaka back home to Japan for a week or two.  Let him regroup, and then have him try to find what he had during spring training.  Chad Green is capable of a spot start or even Adam Warren.  Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell are also available for call-up.  Any of the four are capable of doing better than the recent Tanaka performances.  I’d love a spot start by Chance Adams but I agree that he’s not ready and then there’s the small issue of finding room on the 40-man roster.  

I was going to rip NESN’s Jerry Remy for his comments that Tanaka should not be allowed to have a translator during mound visits, but then he owned up to his mistake and apologized.  

Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com reported yesterday that an anonymous GM has indicated he would give 2018 free agent-to-be Bryce Harper a 15-year deal for $600 million. If that’s the price tag, I have no problem with an outfield of Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks.  

Oddly, the Yankees and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have identical win-loss records at 33-23.  The RailRiders won their 33rd game with a 5-1 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  Gleyber Torres had the go-ahead two-run double in the 7th inning and scored on a wild pitch in the 9th.  Torres was 2-for-4.  Tyler Austin also had a run-scoring double in the 9th.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

I love Yankees prospects but I saw that the St Louis Cardinals have assigned a young outfielder by the name of Matt Fiedler to the State College Spikes (High A).  A 9th round pick in the 2016 Draft, the 22 year old right-handed leftfielder hit .325 with 4 homers and 31 RBI’s last year for Johnson City Cardinals (the 2016 Appalachian League Champions).  I hope the Eagan, MN native continues his upward climb in the Cardinals organization.  I’d buy his jersey if he makes it to the Show.  I haven’t been this excited since, well, Jay Fiedler was a Miami Dolphin although Vernon Fiddler in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Nashville Predators is kinda neat…

Credit:  University of Minnesota

Have a great Thursday!  I don’t want much today…just a Yankees win!

Tanaka and His Extended BP for Rays Hitters…

Credit:  Brian Blanco/Getty Images

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Credit:  Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times

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

Credit:  Getty Images

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

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

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

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