Tagged: Joe Girardi

The Road from the Bronx to Cleveland…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

American League Wild Card Game

Yankees 8, Twins 4…

Eventually, the Minnesota Twins will find the answer for their struggles in the Bronx but this will not be one of those years.  Admittedly, I was not feeling too good after Luis Severino had given up three runs on two homers in the opening inning and the Twins were threatening for more with only one out.  But exit Severino and enter the stellar Yankees bullpen, plus a few timely home runs, and the Yankees found themselves with a date with the Indians in Cleveland for the American League Division Series.  

For Luis Severino, it was a game to forget.  Whether it was his youth and/or his lack of post-season experience, he was overwhelmed and unable to find any of his pitches.  He needs to have another talk with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, this time about life in October.  It was a learning experience for the youngster and I am sure that he’ll be stronger for it as we move forward.  

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

The Twins quickly took the lead when Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run that landed in the first row of the left field stands, bouncing off a fan’s hands and back onto the field.  Still, I thought that it was something that Sevy could overcome.  He got the next batter, Joe Mauer, to pop up which Todd Frazier caught in foul territory for the first out.  But then Sevy was unable to put away Jorge Polanco and walked him.  Eddie Rosario hit a line drive to right that carried out, and it was 3-0 Twins.  Manager Joe Girardi picked up the phone to get the bullpen ready.  Eduardo Escobar singled to left center, and Max Kepler followed with a double to right, moving Escobar to third. Unfortunately, it was evident, by then, that Severino was not going to overcome the jitters. Girardi made the call to the bullpen and brought in Chad Green.  Using Girardi’s words, it’s not what you want.  But the decision to go to Green paid off with two huge strikeouts of Byron Buxton and Jason Castro to hold the game to a three-run deficit.  There’s no question that the Twins could have easily escalated it to five runs or more.  Holding the Twins to only three runs was tremendous, and the set the stage for the events to follow.

The game was billed as a battle of Dominican Republic pitchers.  Ervin Santana, the Twins ace, was born about 70 miles away from Severino’s hometown.  Santana, carrying an 0-5 record in six starts at Yankee Stadium, had been asked how many wins he had at Yankee Stadium earlier this week and he responded that Tuesday would be one.  Tuesday has passed and he’s still looking for that first win.  

Handed a three-run lead, Santana walked Brett Gardner to start the bottom of the first inning.  Aaron Judge  battled Santana before finally hitting a single to center to put runners at the corners.  Gary Sanchez popped up to the catcher for the first out.  It brought Didi Gregorius to the plate.  Didi has been nothing short of spectacular this season and he came through in a big way.  On a full count, he got a hold of a Santana pitch to deposit it into the right field seats.  Suddenly, with a swing of the bat, the game was tied.  

After Chad Green easily retired the Twins in the top of the 2nd including two by strikeout, Brett Gardner hit a two-out solo homer into the second deck of the right field stands in the bottom of the inning to give the Yankees their first lead, 4-3.  

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

However, with Green still pitching, the Twins charged right back in the top of the 3rd.  Perhaps overstaying his welcome, the Twins loaded the bases when Jorge Polanco led off with a single to right and Green walked two of the next three hitters to load the bases with only one out.  Despite two starters in the bullpen, Girardi pulled Green and brought in David Robertson.  Byron Buxton grounded into a force out at second but Polanco scored on the play when the Yankees were unable to turn the double play to re-tie the game.  D-Rob struck out Jason Castro to end the inning and prevent any further damage. That was a huge spot for D-Rob and he came up big holding the Twins to only one run when they could have easily scored more.

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

In the bottom of the 3rd, Ervin Santana was gone, replaced by young Twins starter Jose Berrios.  Gary Sanchez led off the inning with a double to the left field wall.  When Berrios struck out the next two batters, it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning without Sanchez coming home to score.  Greg Bird had other ideas as he lined a single to right bringing Sanchez around for the go-ahead run.  5-4, Yankees.  Aaron Hicks singled on a soft grounder to third to put runners at the corners, but the Yankees couldn’t capitalize when Jacoby Ellsbury, starting at DH over Chase Headley and Matt Holliday, popped out to third to end the inning.

The Twins made a defensive substitution in the bottom of the 4th inning.  Byron Buxton, who had hit the wall to catch a Todd Frazier fly in the 2nd inning, was removed due to lingering effects of back tightness and replaced by New York native Zack Granite.  With the Twins’ best player, Miguel Sano, off the playoff roster dealing with his prior shin injury, losing Buxton, their next best great player was tough for the Twins.  Nothing against Granite, but he’s not the player Buxton is.  I hope that Buxton is okay and you never want to see a player leave through injury.  But that one hurt the Twins (no pun intended).  Todd Frazier struck out for the first out but Brett Gardner followed with a single to left on a fly dropped in front of the left fielder. Aaron Judge stepped up (literally and figuratively) and hit one of his shorter home runs to left.  I was unsure for a moment if it was a home run but the ball had indeed hit above the fence line before bouncing back on the field.  Judge, showing the most emotion I’ve seen from him as he rounded first base, circled the bases to give the Yankees a 7-4 lead.  

David Robertson was still pitching in the 6th inning, making one of his longest appearances.  Zack Granite led off with a single to right on a ball that got under Starlin Castro’s glove.  D-Rob struck out Jason Castro and Robbie Grossman for two outs, but that final out would prove elusive.  With Brian Dozier at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Granite to easily move to second.  Dozier subsequently walked to bring the tying run to the plate.   Girardi signaled for the bullpen and brought in Tommy Kahnle to replace D-Rob. Joe Mauer hit a long fly to left and for a moment I couldn’t tell if it was in or out when the TV crew switched cameras as the ball was falling.  Fortunately, Brett Gardner made the catch on the warning track for the final out.   Another huge spot with success for the Yankees.

Kahnle easily retired the Twins in the 7th inning.  In the bottom of the inning with Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger on the mound, Aaron Judge got things started by taking a walk.  I thought it was an excellent at-bat for Judge as he avoided chasing any pitches.  Gary Sanchez hit a ball through the hole on the left side into the outfield.  Judge advanced to third.  The throw from the outfield sailed over the third baseman’s head (they probably could have nailed Judge at third had the throw been accurate) so Sanchez was able to move to second.  With no outs and two runners in scoring position, the Twins elected to intentionally walk Didi Gregorius.  Great strategy to open up the potential for the double play or a force out at home, but it left no margin for error.  Starlin Castro had the first crack at the potential scoring opportunity but he flied out to right.  With Greg Bird up next, the Twins brought in reliever Taylor Rogers, a lefty, for an all-Denver, Colorado battle (Bird is from Aurora, CO while Rogers hails from Littleton, CO).  Rogers won the battle when he struck out Bird for the second out.  The Twins made another call to the bullpen and brought in Alan Busenitz to face former Twin Aaron Hicks.  Busenitz couldn’t throw strikes and walked A-A-Ron on four pitches to bring Judge home.  The Yankees had increased their lead to 8-4.  Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to leave the bases full, but the Yankees added an important insurance run.

Tommy Kahnle came back out for the 8th inning and retired the Twins in order. The Twins nearly had a base runner with one out but Zack Granite ran over first base without touching the bag on a grounder to first.  Bird tossed the ball to Kahnle who dropped the ball but Starlin Castro alertly picked up the ball to tag Granite out before he could get back. I didn’t expect to see Dellin Betances given his struggles in September so I was very glad to see Kahnle continuing to pitch very strongly to get the game into the 9th inning and into the hands of Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman gave up a two-out single to Joe Mauer but the inning was never in doubt as Chapman easily shut down the Twins, striking out Jorge Polanco to end the game.  The Yankees win!  

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

I am still not a fan of the single-game elimination but the Yankees persevered and head for Cleveland to face the Indians for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.  Now I can say that I am very joyous about the Yankees being in the post-season. It is so hard to be excited about a potential ‘one and done’ situation and I was very uneasy coming into the game.  It didn’t help when Luis Severino had nothing and gave the Twins the strong early lead.  You’d think that the Law of Averages would eventually tilt in Minnesota’s favor given the Yankees long-standing history of dominance over the Twins.  I was very pleased that Tuesday was not their night.  They’ll eventually get a key victory in the Bronx but it won’t be this year.  

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

Congratulations to the New York Yankees for moving to the next round!  I have very proud of this team and their accomplishments this year.  They may not win the next round but the Yankees have shown the world their future is bright.  This team has the potential to surprise but if not, there’s no doubt this will be a stronger team when they take the field next season.  

Game Notes…

Chasen Shreve threw out the first pitch.  The Las Vegas native symbolized representation for his home city after this week’s senseless tragedy that claimed 58 lives and injured more than 500 people. There was a moment of silence observed for the victims.   

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Earlier this season, Chase Headley took one near the family jewels.  The same fate was bestowed upon Gary Sanchez when a foul ball hit the catcher where the sun doesn’t shine causing Sanchez to roll on the ground in pain while David Robertson was still on the mound.  Ouch!  Fortunately, he was able to continue. That was a painful experience to watch.  It would not have been fun to be the recipient.  

Have a great Wednesday!  We have a day to enjoy and then the work begins on Thursday.  Go Yankees!

Advertisements

Mr McGwire, I Believe You Have My Seat…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Getty Images

Yankees 11, Royals 3…

Welcome to the Aaron Judge Show!  Number 99 entered the game trailing Mark McGwire’s MLB Rookie Home Run Record of 49 by one homer. He departed the game, two homers later, as the new record holder. All Rise for the Judge!

Oh yeah, they played a game too…

The Yankees got on the board first. After CC Sabathia retired the Royals in order in the top of the 1st inning, Brett Gardner led off the Yankees’ half with a single that dropped in right center field. After Aaron Judge flied out to center (a warning track fly that drew awes from the crowd), Gary Sanchez doubled to deep right into the corner with Gardner holding up at third. Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to first for the second out, but Gardy scored on the play. Sanchez moved to third. Unfortunately, he was left stranded when Matt Holliday struck out. Yankees were up, 1-0.

As Sabathia made his way through the Royals lineup in vintage 2009 fashion, the Yankees struck again in a big way in the bottom of the 3rd. Royals starter Jake Junis gave Brett Gardner a free pass on five pitches with one out. Aaron Judge came to the plate and demolished a Junis pitch into the right field stands to increase the Yankees’ lead to 3-0. The home run was Judge’s 49th of the year, tying the MLB Rookie Record held by Mark McGwire (set in 1987).  

While Sabathia was holding the Royals scoreless, the Yankees got on the board again in the bottom of the 6th. Didi Gregorius hit a one-out single to left on a short hop to left fielder Melky Cabrera. He came around to score on a double to the left field wall by Matt Holliday. Didi didn’t have to stand on second base very long as Greg Bird followed with a home run to the second deck in right. The Yankees had increased their lead to 6-0.  

As great as Sabathia was pitching (three hits over six scoreless innings), I thought bringing him out for the 7th inning might be pushing our luck. Eric Hosmer led off with a single to left just over the glove of Didi Gregorius. Salvador Perez made it a 6-2 game with a home run to left. I thought surely Joe Girardi would make a move at that point but he didn’t. With CC’s 80th pitch, the bat of Mike Moustakas said “big mistake”, homering to right to cut the deficit to three runs. 

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Finally, Girardi made the move and ended Sabathia’s day. As great as CC can be at times, he is no longer more than a 5-6 inning guy. I know, it’s easy to second guess but I just don’t trust Sabathia past the 6th inning anymore. Plus, with the plethora of arms in the pen, it’s not really necessary.  Chad Green entered the game. He walked the first batter he faced, Jorge Bonifacio. Alcides Escobar hit a fielder’s choice to short, forcing Bonifacio out at second. Escobar was too quick for the Yankees to turn the double play. Green struck out Paulo Orlando for the second out and was finally able to end the inning when he got Whit Merrifield to ground out to second in an 8-pitch at-bat. It was a tough inning for Yankees pitching but fortunately the Yankees were able to hold the Royals after the back-to-back homers.

With Trevor Cahill on the mound, Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with a single that dropped into center field. Brett Gardner momentarily dampened spirits when he hit into a double play at second. Very close play at first as it looked like Gardy may have beat the throw, but the Yankees did not challenge. But no fear, Aaron Judge stepped up and broke the tie with McGwire for the MLB Rookie HR Record when he blasted Cahill’s offering into the left field seats for his 50th home run. Gary Sanchez wasted no time, jumping all over Cahill’s first pitch, to deposit another ball, a bullet, into the left field seats for consecutive home runs. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases on a single and two walks, but Todd Frazier grounded into a force out at third to end the inning. Still, the Yankees had increased their lead to 8-3.

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

With no offense to Dellin Betances, I love having David Robertson in the 8th inning to set up Aroldis Chapman. He came in and struck out the side to push the game to the bottom of the 8th. I get fired up watching D-Rob pitch and the way he runs off the field when the inning is over. I enjoyed him replacing Mariano Rivera as the team’s closer a few years back and I enjoy him now in whatever role he can be afforded as long as he’s on the field pitching.  

In the bottom of the 8th, Ronald Torreyes hit a one-out double to right, a ball that dropped in between a crowd of Royals. A throwing error by the right fielder, Jorge Bonifacio (ball got past Alcides Escobar at second), allowed Toe to advance to third. Last time, Brett Gardner hit into a double play to erase Toe. This time, Gardy doubled down the right field line to make it a 9-3 game. Aaron Judge walked (I wouldn’t have thrown him anything to hit either) and he left the game to an ovation when he was replaced at first base by pinch-runner Clint Frazier. Gary Sanchez singled to left on a line drive to load the bases and there was still only one out. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Gardy, to keep the bases full of Yanks. Matt Holliday lofted a fly ball to right, deep enough to score Clint Frazier on the sacrifice. Greg Bird finally brought the inning to a close when he popped out to third, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.

Actually, this probably would have been a great spot to bring in Dellin Betances but Girardi opted to go with Tommy Kahnle. A good choice but I’d really like to see Betances continuing work out of his funk and an 8-run lead would have been good placement for him. Kahnle walked a batter but it was otherwise a quiet inning as the Royals went down without advancing the runner. The Yankees win!

The Royals can probably have t-shirts made up that say “I went to NYC for one day and all I got was a butt-kicking”. I am sure that all things considered, they wish they had ended this series back in May. The loss most likely ended any aspirations the Royals held for the second Wild Card slot.  

The Yankees (87-69) picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox although it is probably too little, too.  The Toronto Blue Jays, fresh off a series win over the Yankees last weekend, defeated Boston, 6-4 yesterday.  The Yankees trail the Sox by four games with six to play.  The Yankees lead the Wild Card standings by five games.  

It was a great start by CC Sabathia despite the Perez-Moustakas freight train he ran into by overstaying his welcome. With the win (his 236th career victory), Sabathia improved his season record to 13-5. 

Credit:  Robert Sabo

The bullpen trio of Green, Robertson and Kahnle held the Royals hitless (and scoreless) for nine outs while compiling six strikeouts. A job well done! 

I don’t know about you, but I am kinda thinking this Judge guy has a chance to be something special. Seriously, this has to be one of the greatest Rookie seasons that I’ve ever experienced. Obviously, my view is a little Pinstriped tainted but Judge has put his name among the All-Time Greats. With an organization as deep in tradition and history as the Yankees, that’s very, very hard to do.

Thumbs down, Guys! This was a wonderful win!

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The march toward the conclusion of the regular season and the Wild Card game that awaits the Yankees will continue tonight with the division foe Rays coming to town. There was a time when the Rays were battling the Yankees for the Wild Card but at this point, the Rays are just playing out the string to get a jump start on their October vacation plans. They can certainly play the role of spoiler as the Yankees attempt to drive to home field advantage for next week’s Wild Card game.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Rays:  Blake Snell (4-6, 4.01 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Rays:  Matt Andriese (5-4, 4.44 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03 ERA)

THURSDAY

Rays:  Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (10-11, 3.31 ERA)

This should be Severino’s final tune-up before the Wild Card game.  Hopefully he’s more effective than he was last time out. 

Is Alex Cobb a preview of coming attractions? He’s a free agent this off-season and his name has been linked to the Yankees as a possibility.  

Odds & Ends…

Given the surprising success of the Yankees this year, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Yankees do not re-sign both Manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman. 

Cashman has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the Yankees and setting them up for success for years to come. But with no offense to Cashman, he isn’t the sole reason for the success.  Other people, including Damon Oppenheimer, Jean Afterman, Gary Denbo and others have played significant roles. Is it time for a new GM? Alex Anthopoulos has been my personal favorite for the job, but I wish I had realized how great Mike Hazen was. The former Red Sox GM has transformed the Arizona Diamondbacks into a team that could catapult themselves over the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series. Who’s the next Mike Hazen-in-waiting? I have mixed feelings about Cashman. I have long respected the guy but I wonder if it is time for new blood. With the loss of the late Gene Michael’s voice in the organization, Cashman is one of the last links to the old regime led by George Steinbrenner. I don’t know the answer to this question and I certainly won’t be disappointed if Hal Steinbrenner signs Cashman to a new long-term deal. Inevitably, I trust young Steinbrenner to do the right thing…whatever that may be.  

Girardi is not as easy for me. I’ve never been a big Girardi guy but it’s not like I feel he is the wrong man for the job. There’s no doubt that I’d prefer someone like Terry Francona and my personal homer pick, Don Mattingly. But Francona won’t be leaving Cleveland anytime soon and Mattingly is currently unavailable (as he awaits the arrival of his new boss in Miami, Derek Jeter). Nothing against Al Pedrique or Tony Pena, but I don’t really think either guy would be an improvement over Girardi. For the lack of better available candidates, I am probably for re-signing Girardi to a new 3 to 5 year contract.  

Have a great Tuesday! Let’s have our way with the Rays. Go Yankees!

Monty & The Power of Three…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Yankees 9, Orioles 3…

Jordan Montgomery turned in one of his best performances of the season with six shutout innings to lead the Yankees over Buck Showalter’s Orioles. He was backed by three home runs in the third game of the four-game series with the O’s. Chasen Shreve was unable to get three outs in the ninth, but the Yankees emerged with their third consecutive victory over the Orioles.

The Orioles started a fly ball pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, which is probably not the best of ideas at Yankee Stadium. To his credit, he held the Yankees at bay for 2 2/3 innings.  But then, with two outs in the 3rd inning, he walked both Chase Headley and Aaron Judge. Didi Gregorius made him pay for it with a three-run homer to the right field porch.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-Associated Press

While Jordan Montgomery was cruising, the Yankees struck again in the 4th inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started when he ripped a double to the right field wall. After Todd Frazier walked, Greg Bird hit a home run into the second deck in right (“See ya!”) to make it a 6-0 game. It was the second consecutive game with a homer for Bird. Buck Showalter decided he’d seen enough of Hellickson and brought in Chris Tillman who got the O’s out of the inning.

The Yankees added a run in the 5th inning. Didi Gregorius reached base on a one-out single to second that was deflected by Tillman.  Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch on his right knee (Ouch!) which moved Gregorius into scoring position at second.  Jacoby Ellsbury’s single, through the fielders at third and shortstop into left field, brought Gregorius home and it was 7-0 Yankees.  

Tommy Kahnle took over for Jordan Montgomery in the top of the 7th inning.  It started well when Kahnle struck out the first two batters, but then JJ Hardy reached base on an infield single to third, a soft roller.  A wild pitch that got past Austin Romine moved Hardy to second.  Kahnle had Austin Hays down to two strikes (2-2 count) but lost him with two successive balls to put runners at first and second.  Fortunately, Kahnle struck out Joey Rickard to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees added to their lead.  Donnie Hart took over Chris Tillman on the mound.  Didi Gregorius hit an infield single to third, beating the throw to first, to lead off the inning for the Yanks.  Then, with two outs, Todd Frazier homered on a high fly to center, just to the left of Monument Park.  The Yankees had a commanding 9-0 lead.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

From there, it was up to the second tier bullpen.  Ben Heller replaced Kahnle for the eighth.  I was a bit concerned when he walked the first two batters, but then he settled down and retired the next three batters.  Chasen Shreve took over in the 9th and was dreadful.  JJ Hardy took a one-out walk and Austin Hays followed with a homer to right in front of the Modell’s sign to spoil the shutout.  Shreve struck out Joey Rickard but then proceeded to walk the next three batters to load the bases.  Joe Girardi finally made the move to replace Shreve and brought in Giovanny Gallegos.  With Anthony Santander batting, Gallegos balked which brought Tim Beckham home from third to score.  I can’t say that I saw the balk but Joe Girardi didn’t argue the call. Aroldis Chapman was up in the bullpen but Gallegos was able to end the game when he struck out Santander.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (82-66) won their fourth consecutive game but remain three games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, as both the O’s and Rays fade to oblivion.  The Minnesota Twins lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, so the Yankees’ lead in the Wild Card Standings has increased to five games.  They remain six games up on the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.  

Excellent job by Jordan Montgomery (8-7) in picking up his first win since July.  Pitching six scoreless innings, he only allowed 4 scattered hits and 1 walk while striking out six.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

What can you say about Didi Gregorius?  He’s been incredible and continued his dominance with a 3-for-4 day, scoring three runs and driving in 3 RBI’s.  At the beginning of the season, I would have laughed at the thought of Didi batting in the cleanup position.  I am not laughing anymore. He needs one more home run to match Derek Jeter for most HR’s in a season by a Yankees shortstop.  Jacoby Ellsbury, continuing his resurgence as a force in the lineup, also had a 3-for-4 day, with one run scored and an RBI.  Greg Bird, the Toddfather…it was yet another great team win.

With yesterday’s win, the Yankees assured themselves of their 25th consecutive winning season.  It is the longest streak in Yankees history since the Yankees won for 39 consecutive seasons between 1926 and 1964.

The series finale is set for this afternoon at 1:05 pm.  The Yankees have made a pitching change for the game.  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA) gets the start while the originally scheduled starter, CC Sabathia, has been moved to Tuesday to pitch against the Minnesota Twins.  Jaime Garcia gets the start on Monday versus his former team of six days in July.  The moves allow CC to avoid the series in Toronto and the artificial turf of Rogers Centre.  The Yanks also avoid sending Luis Severino out to face the Twins, their likely Wild Card opponent if the current standing remain unchanged.  Gray will be opposed by Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA).

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees recalled 3B Miguel Andujar and RHP Jonathan Holder from Triple A.  Andujar made it into the game as a pinch-hitter but he grounded out in the 8th inning.  The Yankees also placed LHP Caleb Smith on the 10-day DL with a viral infection.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s make it a sweeping success.  Go Yankees!

Winning Gregoriusly…

Credit:  Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Didi Gregorius was the man on the field and with the bat on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Baltimore Orioles for the second consecutive day.  His brilliant defensive play and 4 RBI’s helped Joe Girardi achieve his 900th  career victory as Yankees manager.  Of course, it didn’t hurt having the great Luis Severino on the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 1st inning.  Brett Gardner led off with a double to center.  Gary Sanchez lined a one-out single to left, moving Gardy to third.  A sacrifice fly to right by Didi Gregorius scored the speedy Gardner and the Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.

The Orioles got to Luis Severino in the top of the 2nd for really the only weakness in Sevy’s start.  Chris Davis took a two-out walk, and Wellington Castillo followed with a shot to the right field porch to put the O’s in front, 2-1.

Chase Headley, starting at third base when Todd Frazier was scratched due to back stiffness, reached base to start the bottom of the 2nd with a bunt toward third.  After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to center, Matt Holliday lined a single to left, moving Headley to second.  Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that was mishandled by Chris Davis (ball went through his legs into right field), allowing Bird to reach base.  Headley scored and Holliday advanced to third.  The game was tied at 2.  The Yankees were unable to bring Holliday home when O’s starter Gabriel Ynoa struck out both Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the 5th, Aaron Judge walked with one out.  Buck Showalter went to the pen, replacing Ynoa with reliever Miguel Castro.  With Gary Sanchez at bat, Judge stole second with a headfirst slide.  El Gary subsequently grounded out with a short bouncer at the plate, but Didi Gregorius didn’t miss the opportunity with a home run to right center to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a walk.  Brett Gardner hit a grounder between first and second but the O’s were unable to force Bird or get a double play when second baseman Jonathan Schoop misplayed the ball (bounced off his glove). The runners were safe at first and second. Showalter pulled Castro and brought in Mychal Givens.  Givens walked Judge to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez hit a single to right, a fly ball that dropped in front of Mark Trumbo.  Bird scored.  Not that I am complaining but I thought it was a lazy defensive effort by Trumbo.  Oh well, the Yankees had increased their lead to 5-2.  Showalter went to the pen again, this time bringing in former Yankees reliever Richard Bleier.  Didi Gregorius hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, a fly to center, scoring Gardner who slid into home just under the great outfield throw.  After Starlin Castro lined out to short, Chase Headley singled to right, scoring Judge.  The throw in from the outfield easily tagged Sanchez out at third for the final out, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 7-2.

Luis Severino was cruising.  He pitched as strongly in the 8th inning as he had earlier in the game, and he finished his day with three up, three down.  

Greg Bird added a run in the bottom of the 8th when he hit his 4th home run of the year, a solo shot to right into the second deck off Bleier.  It was good to see Bird get good results even if the run was unnecessary at that point.  Hopefully he’s on the path to showing us the hitter he was in Spring Training.  If he gets hot, the Yankees offense will be very hard to stop.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

David Robertson took over for Severino in the top of the 9th.  He started off by walking Manny Machado.  A wild pitch allowed Machado to move to second.  D-Rob was able to retire Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini, but another wild pitch moved Machado to third.  But there he would stay as Mark Trumbo flied out to left to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (81-66) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox and still trail by three games.  It looked like the Yanks might move to within two games when the Tampa Bay Rays had a 5-2 lead in the top of the 9th with closer Alex Colome on the mound, but the Sox scored 3 runs to tie it and eventually won 13-6 in 15 innings.  Although he was not the loser, it was a former Yankee on the mound (Chase Whitley) when Red Sox offense blew the flood gates open.  The Yankees did increase their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to four games.  The Twins lost a close 4-3 game to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yanks have a six-game advantage over the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.

Luis Severino is clearly the guy I want on the mound if the Yankees must settle for the Wild Card.  He pitched eight strong innings, allowing only three hits and the two runs on the 2nd inning homer.  He walked one and struck out seven.  As strong as he was pitching, he could have easily finished with a complete game.  But at 95 pitches and a six-run lead, it was better to let D-Rob close it out.  Sevy (13-6) lowered his season ERA to 2.93 with the performance.  Nice job, Sevy!

Didi Gregorius was clearly the hitting star with the home run and 4 RBI’s, but Chase Headley was 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored.  He did record an out on one of those hits when he tried, unsuccessfully, to stretch a single to a double.  Gary Sanchez chipped in two hits and a RBI.  Even though he didn’t get a hit, Aaron Judge was still in the mix with two runs scored courtesy of the walks he took.  Greg Bird, Brett Gardner and others…this was a great team win!

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Odds & Ends…

Sadly, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost the Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls.  The Rays’ top farm team took the championship with a Game Four victory to win the series, three games to one.  The RailRiders tried to claw back into the game but fell short, losing 6-4.  Brady Lail was the starter and loser.  

Now that the RailRiders’ season is over, I wonder if we’ll see the addition of guys like Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar to the MLB roster.  I really do not expect to see Chance Adams since the Yankees have no pressure to add him to the 40-man roster this year.  Cave, on the other hand, must be protected or he’ll most likely be lost in the Rule 5 Draft.  Erik Kratz, I know you’re batting 1.000 (2-for-2) but I think your taxi is here waiting for you.  I hope you enjoyed the show.

Credit:  Jason Farmer, Staff Photographer/Times-Tribune

It was great season for the Yankees farm teams even if the top two clubs were unable to deliver championships.  They are gaining the knowledge and experience that will help them deliver World Series championships for the big league team.  The bigger picture.  

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s take the series with a win today.  Go Yankees!

Turbulence at 10,000 Feet but Landing is Perfect…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 3, Rays 2…


The only way to play drama-free baseball with the Yankees bullpen is to insert Chad Green.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Joe Girardi made a few pitching moves that left a couple of Yankee pitchers with ruffled feathers but in the end, the Yankees came away with the game and series win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  It doesn’t matter how we get the “W” as long as we successfully get the “W”.


The Yankees jumped on Rays starter Chris Archer first.  Starlin Castro led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single to center.  He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who singled to right, putting runners at first and third.  Todd Frazier’s single to left center past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria scored Castro while Ellsbury took second.  After Clint Frazier struck out, Austin Romine walked to load the bases.  Brett Gardner singled through the hole to left, driving in both Ellsbury and the Toddfather.  The Yankees led, 3-0.  Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second so the Yanks were unable to push any further runs across.  Sadly, it would be the last runs the Yankees would see on the day.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 3rd but Archer struck out Clint Frazier to escape the jam.

While I was wishing that the Yankees had anyone on the mound not named  Jaime Garcia, the Rays got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run to right field.  It was Kiermaier’s second home run in as many days. But that’s the hazard of having Garcia pitch, you know the opponent is going to score runs.  The job is to score more than he allows.   


To the Yankees’ credit, they made Chris Archer work.  While they only got the three 2nd inning runs off him, Archer was gone after surrendering a lead-off double to Gary Sanchez in the top of the 5th.  Four innings of work with 92 pitches thrown.  Sonny Gray’s complete game on Tuesday was only 2 more pitches than Archer threw with four more innings.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t do more damage against Archer in light of their extended at-bats.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Jaime Garcia got the hook in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a two-out single to Lucas Duda.  With Evan Longoria coming to bat, Joe Girardi didn’t want to take any chances.  Chad Green came in and got the final out. I was actually amazed that Garcia made it into the 5th inning without allowing more than one run. He didn’t last long enough to qualify for a win but I can assure you that I did not shed a tear as he was walking off the mound.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

As for Chad Green, he’s a freakin’ rock star.  I didn’t want the guy to make the opening day roster yet he’s been Mr Lights Out for the bullpen.  He showed off his magic when he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th.  I can see why  Joe Girardi gets the urge to leave Green in the game, but I was thankful that he only worked 1 1/3 innings despite his stellar work.  I’d rather have Green available on Thursday or Friday as opposed to waiting until Saturday at the earliest.  Need to keep this guy ready for frequent work.


Tommy Kahnle took over in the 7th.  It provoked Rays manager Kevin Cash to start making moves.  First up, Mallex Smith pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos and reached on a single to left field.  Corey Dickerson, pinch-hitting for Jesus Sucre, hit into a double play, first to second.  It was a good thing because Brad Miller followed, pinch-hitting for Danny Espinosa,  and singled to left.  If the Yankees had not been able to erase Smith at second, it is very possible that he could have scored on Miller’s hit.  Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left to end the drama, but Kahnle did his job.  It wasn’t as pretty as Green’s performance but the end result was the same…no runs for the Rays.


The Yankees had a great opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning.  Starlin Castro singled to left, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the right field line and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Clint Frazier had first crack but he popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison in foul territory. Next up was Austin Romine but he struck out to end the inning.  A huge missed opportunity to get at least a run or two more.


On to the 8th and it was Dellin’s turn.  Lucas Duda, potentially facing his last at-bat in his former ball park for this series, flied out to center in front of the warning track.  I was worried about him and it would not have surprised me to see the man on the field with the most career HR’s at Citi Field to have parked one.  It was not to be but it didn’t stop Evan Longoria, Yankee-killer, from hitting a single up the middle in the next at-bat. Betances always makes me think of former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and his reliever Don Stanhouse, whom Weaver referred to as “Full Pack” in reference to the number of cigarettes he would smoke during Stanhouse’s appearances. Betances does that to me even if I don’t smoke.  Dellin struck out Logan Morrison for the second out, but Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances. He made the call to the pen to bring in Aroldis Chapman an inning early.  Of course, Chapman walked his first batter (Stephen Souza, Jr) to move Longoria into scoring position at second base.  Adeiny Hechavarria, the latest Yankee-killer, singled to shallow center field, scoring Longoria. Hechavarria and Chapman played together in the Cuban Leagues ten years ago so there’s history between the two.  Souza moved to third to put runners at the corners.  Chapman finally struck out Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Mallex Smith, on a foul tip, but the Rays had closed the gap to 3-2. Those potential insurance runs in the 8th inning sure would have been nice.  


The Yankees blew another huge opportunity for runs in the 9th.  With Brad Boxberger pitching for the Rays, Brett Gardner led off with a single up the middle. With Chase Headley at bat, Gardy appeared to steal second base but he was sent back to first when it was ruled that Headley’s bat had hit the catcher’s arm for interference. Headley then singled to right, advancing Gardy to third.  Gardy probably would have scored had the steal been successful.  From there, the offense stalled.  Gary Sanchez struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius flied out to left (not deep enough to score Gardy).  Headley stole second but it didn’t really matter when Starlin Castro popped out to center to end the inning.  Ugh!


Chapman had me on the edge in the bottom of the 9th.  He walked the first batter, Curt Casali, a career .197 hitter.  WTF??!!  Fortunately, from there, Chapman struck out Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier.  Lucas Duda was able to make it to the plate for one final Citi Field “home” appearance with a chance to send the ball out of the park for a walk-off win.  But the Missile rose to the occasion and struck out Duda for the final out.  The Yankees win!


The Yankees (79-66) moved back to three games behind Boston with the win.  The Red Sox fell to the Oakland A’s, 7-3. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, so they recaptured third place from the Tampa Bay Rays.  The O’s trail the Yanks by 7 1/2 games entering play today. The Minnesota Twins held off the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in extra innings to remain three games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.  


Jaime Garcia was apparently very upset with Joe Girardi about the early hook but I could care less what Garcia thinks.  His Yankees career will be over soon. There’s no way he is a member of the 2018 Yankees.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-New York Post

Chad Green (5-0) picked up Garcia’s win with his stellar relief effort.  Aroldis Chapman captured his 18th save despite the high wire act.  


I was very grateful that those late missed scoring opportunities didn’t come back to bite the Yankees.  As we saw, they very possibly could have.  The Yankees will need to play better at home in the upcoming series if they want to continue to win.


Next Up:  Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

Having completed the short stay in Queens, the Yankees return to home sweet home to face the fading Baltimore Orioles for a long four-game set. The O’s generally play the Yankees very tough so they’ll be looking to play the role of spoiler for this series.  If there is anything I’ve learned over the years it is to never underestimate Orioles manager Buck Showalter.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Orioles:  Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82)

FRIDAY

Orioles:  Jeremy Hellickson (2-4, 6.54 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA)

SATURDAY

Orioles:  Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)

SUNDAY

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA)

October is coming.  Live it, feel it.  Now is the time for the Yankees to make a charge!

Odds & Ends…

Game 2 of the International League Governor’s Cup Finals goes to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  The RailRiders beat the Durham Bulls, 4-0, behind stellar pitching from Domingo German (7 innings, one hit, no runs, three walks and eight K’s) and two relievers.  The Bulls featured an inning of relief from former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.  Nasty Nate pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Bulls, giving up two hits and striking out one.  The series is tied.  Game 3 will be tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Chance Adams will be on the mound for the RailRiders, while the Rays top prospect, Brent Honeywell, will pitch for the Bulls.


The news wasn’t so good in Trenton, NJ where the Thunder dropped Game 2 of their Eastern League Championship series to the Altoona Curve by a score of 4-2.  The losing pitcher was Justus Sheffield who had been part of a no-hitter during his previous outing.  The series now shifts to Altoona, PA this evening with the Curve needing to win just one game for the best-of-five championship. Will Carter (3-1, 3.26 ERA) gets the start for the Thunder.


Have a great Thursday!  Not asking for much today…just a win!  Go Yankees!

Battle of Little Bighorn II, Texas-Style…

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

Rangers 11, Yankees 5…

It felt like the Battle of Little Bighorn but unfortunately the Yankees were Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry Regiment. I had hoped the momentum from Thursday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles would carry over to Friday night in Texas.  Yeah, right.  The Yankees were unable to hold a lead against the Rangers and then were overwhelmed in defeat.

The game started right when the Yankees broke through with multiple runs in the top of the 2nd inning.  It can be argued that they should have scored more runs in the inning but still, you’d think a 4-0 lead with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound represented good odds.  

Credit:  Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press

The inning started with Matt Holliday’s single up the middle to center field.  Didi Gregorius reached base on a fielder’s choice but a throwing error (flip wide of second) by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor failed to force Holliday at second so two runners on and no outs.  Chase Headley lined a single to right and the bases were loaded.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right just over the head of a leaping Odor and Holliday scored the game’s first run.  Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch (left front foot) from Rangers starter Martin Perez which brought Gregorius home to score.  After a coaching visit to the mound, Perez struck out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge.  Gary Sanchez, in his first game back after the three-game suspension, hit a single to left through the hole at short.  Headley and Ellsbury both came home to score, but Todd Frazier was tagged out at third to end the inning.  4-0, Yankees.  

Credit:  Associated Press

In the bottom of the 2nd, Masahiro Tanaka fell behind lead-off hitter Nomar Mazara on a 3-1 count. Mazara found the pitch he wanted and sent it high into the second deck in right.  Tanaka was able to retire the next three hitters, the last two by strikeout.  

On to the 3rd.  Starlin Castro reached base on a fielding error by third baseman Joey Gallo when the ball glanced off his glove into left field.  Matt Holliday hit into a double play which was unfortunate because Didi Gregorius followed with his 21st home run (a high fly to right).  The solo home run is a new career high for Didi.  The Yankees were up, 5-1.  

From there, the Rangers started to chip away.  In the bottom of the 3rd, Robinson Chirinos hit a one-out single to center past a diving Didi Gregorius.  Delino DeShields doubled down the left field line into the corner, scoring Chirinos.  After Shin-Soo Choo lined out to center for the second out, with DeShields moving to third, Elvis Andrus doubled down the left field line, a high hop over Todd Frazier’s glove, to score DeShields.  A wild pitch advanced Andrus to third, but Tanaka was able to strike out Nomar Mazara to end the inning.  Yankees still led, 5-3. 

The Yankees had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 4th inning but Starlin Castro popped out to second baseman Rougned Odor in shallow right to waste a huge opportunity.  

After the Yankees went down quietly in the top of the 5th, the Rangers struck hard.  Rougned Odor got it started with a single to right.  Robinson Chirinos doubled down the left line, scoring Odor from first.  It was a one-run game.  Delino DeShields singled to left, moving Chirinos to third.  With Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, a wild pitch by Masahiro Tanaka (low pitch that got under El Gary’s glove) freed Chirinos to come home and score the tying run.  Choo doubled  to left on a high fly that Brett Gardner almost caught but he “heard” the wall. DeShields moved to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough of Tanaka and made the switch to bring in Tommy Kahnle.  Elvis Andrus greeted Kahnle with a single to right, scoring both DeShields and Chirinos.  Starlin Castro tried diving for the ball but came up just short.  The Rangers had taken a 7-5 lead.  Kahnle induced Nomar Mazara to hit into a double play, but a single to center by Carlos Gomez ended his latest appearance.  Chasen Shreve came in and struck out Joey Gallo to finally end the painful inning.

While the Yankees were unable to get anything going offensively against Martin Perez and the Texas bullpen, the Rangers struck again in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the game away.  It was the kill shot to Custer’s head.  With Caleb Smith taking over for Shreve, Shin-Soo Choo singled to left.  While Elvis Andrus was batting, Smith threw a wild pitch that bounced in the dirt past Gary Sanchez and Choo advanced to second.  Andrus subsequently walked.  Nomar Mazara’s hard single to  the right field wall loaded the bases, bringing an end to Smith’s stay.  Ben Heller entered the game in relief of Smith and the Rangers inserted pinch-runner Jared Hoying at first for Mazara.  Carlos Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Choo.  With Joey Gallo batting, Heller threw the second wild pitch of the inning (smh) and Andrus moved to third, beating the throw from Gary Sanchez.  Gallo’s single to right scored Andrus.  Hoying moved to second.  Heller got the second out of the inning when he struck out Mike Napoli. However, Rougned Odor’s bases-clearing triple to right increased the Rangers’ lead to 11-5.  Heller’s subsequent walk of Robinson Chirinos ended his unsuccessful appearance.  Bryan Mitchell came in to finally end the inning, but the bloody massacre had been completed.  

The Yankees went down meekly from there, including three strikeouts in the top of the 9th, sending the Rangers into celebration on the field.  

Credit:  Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

This was a very ugly loss.  It had started to feel that Masahiro Tanaka was back on track after his struggles earlier in the season but this game reopened doubts.   It was the kind of game that makes one hope that Tanaka opts out of his contract at the end of the year.  But of course the bullpen did him no favors, nor did the team’s hitters.  Michael Kay made a good observation about why Joe Girardi would go with second tier relievers when the game was still tight.  I wondered the same thing when they brought in Caleb Smith who was followed by Ben Heller when Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and David Robertson were rested and ready in the pen.  

Sadly, the Boston Red Sox throttled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to increase their lead in the AL East to 4 1/2 games.  The Yankees (75-65) maintained their 4 1/2 game edge over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s were the latest victim of the Cleveland Indian’s winning streak which now stands at 16 games (MLB’s longest streak since 2002).  The Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-5, to move within 1 1/2 games of the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.   

Odds & Ends…

As a result of Hurricane Irma, the Yankees’ series with the Tampa Bay Rays this week (Monday through Wednesday) will be played at Citi Field in Queens instead of Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL.  There had been speculation that the games would be played in Chicago but it makes sense to use the Mets’ turf since the Rays are currently in Boston and most of he players are traveling with their families due to the impending storm in Florida. Lucas Duda at home in Citi Field…has a certain ring of deja vu to it.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Austin Romine’s original two-game suspension for the Motor City Brawl has been reduced to one game (last night).  I am glad the suspensions are behind us. Erik Kratz, thanks for riding the bench and please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders evened their play-off series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at one with a 4-2 victory last night.  Chance Adams was the winner.  He pitched five innings, allowing five hits and two runs.  He walked too many (four) but struck out five.  The hitting stars were Miguel Andujar (3-for-5 with two doubles and a RBI) and Mason Williams (2-for-4 with three runs scored).  Game 3 is tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA.  Brady Lail (6-5, 5.17 ERA) gets the start for the RailRiders.

The Double A Trenton Thunder pulled off a rare feat when Justus Sheffield and Taylor Widener combined for a no-hitter to beat the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in Game 3 of their play-off series.  The Thunder lead the Eastern Division Championship Series, 2 games to 1.

Have a great Saturday!  I’m hoping y’all get a win down deepinaharta Texas! Go Yankees!

Yanks Get Klubered by the Indians…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Indians 6, Yankees 2…

In a potential play-off barometer, the Yankees showed they are not quite ready to compete with the big boys.  The Tribe used four home runs to turn back the Yankees on Monday night.

This was destined to be a low scoring game for the Yankees with AL Cy Young contender Corey Kluber on the mound.  The hope was that Luis Severino would be able to make him pitch-for-pitch.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.  The top six hitters in the Yankees lineup went combined 0-for-22 with seven strikeouts and Aaron Judge wasn’t even in the lineup.  

After Luis Severino cruised through the game’s first two hitters, Jose Ramirez took him deep to right center for a quick 1-0 lead. Sevy had tried to challenge Ramirez on a full count and lost.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 3rd when Chase Headley led off with a homer to right. “There it goes…see ya!” (courtesy of Michael Kay).

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Gary Sanchez showed off his powerful arm in the top of the 4th.  After Jose Ramirez walked and stole second.  A subsequent Sevy pitch got away from Sanchez.  Ramirez broke for third.  Sanchez grabbed the ball and fired it to third.  Todd Frazier cleanly applied the tag as the runner was sliding into the base for the out.  Sevy walked the next two batters before striking out Carlos Santana to end in the inning, but if Sanchez hadn’t made that play on Ramirez, it could have been much worse.

Todd Frazier put the Yankees ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the 5th.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left with two outs, a high fly which bounced on the warning track to the wall.  Frazier’s single past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor into  left field scored Ellsbury.  Frazier took second on the throw but he was left stranded when Brett Gardner struck out.

In the top of the 6th, Jose Ramirez clubbed his second home run of the night off Severino, a solo shot deep into the second deck in right field.  The game was tied again.

The Indians got the separation they needed in the 7th inning.  With one out, Carlos Santana took Sevy deep to the second deck in right to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

The next batter, Bradley Zimmer, singled to center.  Sevy struck out Yan Gomes for the second out, but that would be all for the Yankees’ ace.  Joe Girardi made the call to the bullpen and brought in Adam Warren.  With Giovanny Urshela at the plate, Zimmer stole second and got up and raced to third when Starlin Castro failed to catch the throw from Gary Sanchez for an error.  A wild pitch by Warren got past Sanchez and allowed Zimmer to run home for the Tribe’s fourth run.  Urshela ended up grounding out after watching The Zimmer Show on the bases. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees couldn’t muster anything against the dominant Corey Kluber.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In the top of the 8th, the Indians added to their lead when Austin Jackson belted a solo homer to left.  The Yankees challenged the call when replay showed the ball hit the hands of a fan in the first row and bounced back onto the field but the HR decision was upheld.  5-2, Indians.

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Chasen Shreve replaced Warren in the top of the 9th.  Like Warren, Shreve has looked very hittable in his last few outings and the trend continued.  After striking out Jay Bruce, Shreve walked Carlos Santana.  Big mistake.  Bradley Zimmer hit a liner to the center field wall for a double to score Santana.  Zimmer later reached third on a wild pitch but he was unable to score this time.  The Indians didn’t need the run with the four-run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th.

Indians closer Cody Allen came on in relief of Corey Kluber and set the Yankees down in order, striking out Starlin Castro to end the game.

The Yankees (70-60) lost ground in the AL East with the loss.  The Boston Red Sox held off the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-5, so the Yankees are now 3 1/2 games out of first.  The Baltimore Orioles won their fifth consecutive game, 7-6 over the Seattle Mariners, to move within 4 1/2 games of the Yankees.  The Tampa Bay Rays, 12-0 victors over the Kansas City Royals, are 5 1/2 games behind New York.  The Minnesota Twins had the night off so they were able to shave a half-game off the Wild Card Standings and trail the Yankees by 3 games.

I can’t say that I am very excited about the prospect of pitching Jaime Garcia tonight against Cleveland in a must-win situation.  No, it’s not the end of the world if the Yankees lose but I’d feel so much better about the team’s chances if Jordan Montgomery was the starter (despite the innings cap).  I hope I’m wrong and that Garcia delivers his best performance in Pinstripes. 

Severino (11-6) looked very strong early, but the three home runs were too much for him.  He finished with 6 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and four runs (three earned) with 108 pitches thrown.  He walked three and struck out nine.  With Corey Kluber holding the Yankees to three hits and two runs over eight innings, Sevy didn’t have a chance.

Odds & Ends…

Manager Joe Girardi has announced that right fielder Aaron Judge will take a seat for several games in an attempt to help the young slugger break out of his slump.  It always makes me think of Mark Grace’s infamous slumpbuster quote about finding the most hideous looking member of the opposite sex and taking one for the team.  Hopefully Judge doesn’t have to go to those extremes to find his first half swing.

Credit:  Phil Long-Associated Press

Another candidate for the “have a seat” approach is Aroldis Chapman.  The Yankees need an effective Chapman in September.  If that means some time away from the team to clear his head, so be it.  I think Chapman’s problems are more mental than physical.  He did have a MRI on Sunday but the results came back clear.  I want to see him reclaim his closer’s job so whatever it takes to get him back to elite status.

Have a great Tuesday!  It’s a wonderful day for a win!  Go Yankees!