Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
Yankees take Braves Series with a win…
It may not have been a no-hitter like Dave “Rags” Righetti’s no-no in 1983 but I’ll take it. It didn’t look like it would be CC Sabathia’s day when the Braves loaded the bases in the first inning, but, as they say, ‘all’s well that ends well’. Sabathia escaped the first inning jam without giving up a run and he pitched six strong innings, limiting the Braves to a couple of runs in the fifth and sixth innings, for the 6-2 win.
Credit to Sabathia for the adjustments he has made to become an effective older pitcher. I’ll admit that I had my doubts and I thought he was done just a couple of years ago. Thanks CC for proving me wrong. For all the other issues in the starting rotation, there’s no telling where the Yankees would be without Sabathia. CC improved to 6-3 and maintained his season ERA at 3.02.
Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
I always like games where the Yankees score first and this was one of those games. Didi Gregorious ripped a one-out liner to left inside the foul line for a double in the second inning. After Gleyber Torres struck out for the second out, Greg Bird singled to right, bringing Didi home for the first run.
The Yankees got more runs in the third inning. Neil Walker led off the bottom of the inning with a single to right. Following outs by Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks drew a walk from Braves starter Julio Teheran. Walker and Hicks came around to score when Giancarlo Stanton blasted a shot to the right field porch to put the Yankees ahead, 4-0. Maybe it’s just me but it sure seems like Giancarlo is starting to crank it up for one of his annual monster tears.
Kyle Higashioka continued his dislike for anything but round-trippers with a solo shot in the fourth inning, his third consecutive home run to start his Major League career (matching the Yankees record set by Alfonso Soriano).
Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Gleyber Torres exited the game in the top of the 5th inning when the Yankees moved Neil Walker from third to second and inserted Brandon Drury at third. Later we learned Torres was pulled due to the hip flexor issue that had limited him to replacement duties on Tuesday. After the game, Gleyber was placed on the 10-day DL when the MRI results revealed a mild strain. Hopefully Gleyber will only serve the minimum time on the DL and will be back after the All-Star break.
The fifth inning started right for CC Sabathia when he struck out Dansby Swanson, but then he issued a free pass to Ender Inciarte in a 10-pitch at-bat. Ozzie Albies single to center to put runners at the corners. Danny Santana grounded out to second but Inciarte scored on the play for the Braves’ first run. CC was able to escape any further damage by getting Nick Markakis to line out to center.
The Braves got another run in the sixth inning when Johan Camargo deposited a Sabathia pitch into the left field seats. Charlie Culberson, the former LA Dodger who always seems to come up with the big hit, followed Camargo’s homer with a double to left. Manager Aaron Boone stayed with Sabathia who was able to exit the inning by inducing Dansby Swanson to ground out to second.
The seventh inning brought the rested Chad Green into the game, and although the Braves made noise, they had no runs to show for it when all was said and done. Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies both singled to lead off the inning, with Inciarte moving to second. Representing the tying run, both Danny Santana and Nick Markakis hit deep flies off Green to cause momentary alarm but neither was deep enough to do any damage. Subsequently, a double steal advanced the runners to second and third. Kurt Suzuki had a chance to be the hero for the visiting Braves, but he lined out to right on a 2-0 pitch from Green to end the threat.
Aaron Judge gave the Yankees an insurance run in the eighth when he hit his 24th home run of the season with a blast to right off Braves reliever Luiz Gohara. Hey, Gohara, that ball go far-ah! Well, not too far but it was still deep enough to set off the siren. Don’t worry about it, Mr Gohara, Judge has a tendency to do that to a lot of pitchers. The Judge homer made it 6-2, Yankees.
Jonathan Holder, another rested arm, entered the game in the ninth in relief of Dellin Betances who had pitched a scoreless, one-hit inning (double by Charlie Culberson) in the eighth with a couple of strike outs. Holder, like Betances, allowed a hit (a single by Ozzie Albies who subsequently advanced to second on defensive indifference), but the runner could not advance beyond second as Holder closed out the game for the Yankees’ win.
In retrospect, the Yankees could have easily swept this series but taking two of three from the NL East leaders is still a noteworthy accomplishment. I was glad they prevented the Braves from becoming the second NL team to reach 50 wins. The Yankees (56-28) stayed a game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings. The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the disappointing Washington Nationals with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday behind a much-improved Eduardo Rodriguez. The Sox are only a win away from becoming MLB’s first 60-game winner.
The Yankees have a much-needed day off today as they prepare for a weekend series in Toronto, Ontario against the Blue Jays. All eyes will be on Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when he takes the mound against the Yankees on Saturday. With trade speculation connecting Happ to the Yankees, he has an opportunity to show his potential future teammates what he can do. I guess it’s one of those situations where I want him to pitch really well but still take the loss. There’s a part of me that is quietly hoping GM Brian Cashman is able to pry Jacob deGrom from the New York Mets, but the realist in me knows that is very unlikely. Happ may not be in deGrom’s class, but he’d still represent an experienced improvement for the rotation. He would not shy away from the challenge of taking down the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox.
Neil Walker becomes the starter at second base while Gleyber Torres is sidelined. Brandon Drury, who served as the regular starting second baseman for the 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks, is also an option. I am hopeful that some regular playing time will help bring around Walker’s bat to minimize the pain of Gleyber’s loss. Ronald Torreyes is currently on the temporary inactive list with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so he is not expected to be an option to replace Torres on the active roster. Tyler Wade seems most likely, but we’ll see. The Yankees have options given the terrific depth at Triple A.
A happy belated birthday to Yankees broadcaster John Sterling who celebrated his 80th birthday on the 4th of July (a birthday he shared with the Boss). George Steinbrenner would have been 88 yesterday. Michael Kay paid tribute to Sterling with his home run call for Giancarlo Stanton’s third inning homer using Sterling’s “Giancarlo, non si puo stoparlo” tag line.
Masahiro Tanaka made a rehab start for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders against the Buffalo Bisons on Wednesday. It didn’t start off very good. The first batter singled and the second, Richard Urena, took Tanaka yard for a two-run homer. But Tanaka recovered nicely, retiring fourteen in a row at one point. He finished with five innings of three-hit ball, giving up only the two first inning runs, and struck out four. He didn’t walk anybody, and did not factor into the decision. The RailRiders won the game, 4-2, thanks to a four-run seventh inning that included a double, scoring two runs, by likely call-up candidate Tyler Wade.
Enjoy the day off. I am sure that with the 4th of July celebrations, we could all use some rest. Tomorrow is a new day, and the Yankees will be back in action north of the border and on a TV near you.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Winslow Townson)
Ty, Ty, Tyler Again…
On a wing and a prayer. Unfortunately, that’s life with Greg Bird as your first baseman.
The Yankees Universe collectively groaned a sigh of disappointment when Bird was pulled before the start of an exhibition game with the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista, FL at the Walt Disney Resort yesterday with an apparent foot injury. He underwent an MRI and a CT scan yesterday afternoon and it was determined that he had right foot inflammation. It is in the same general area where he had ankle surgery last summer to remove excessive bone growth. The reason for the inflammation is not currently known.
Bird will see noted New York Orthopaedic Surgeon Martin J. O’Malley in the Upper East Side on Monday to determine the cause of the inflammation.
Every year, it seems like it is something with the talented but fragile first baseman. He missed the entire 2016 season following shoulder surgery. Then last year, the foot injury at the end of training camp led to the eventual ankle surgery in July which limited him to 48 games although he did have a memorable post-season.
If Bird is forced to the disabled list, Tyler Austin appears to be the beneficiary. GM Brian Cashman has indicated that the Yankees will use in-house options. Neil Walker has been mentioned as a possibility, but it’s hard to envision the second baseman as the regular first baseman. Backup or platoon maybe. Brandon Drury played first base in the minors but he is firmly planted as the third baseman. The Yankees always seem to be looking for alternatives to Austin (for whatever reason), so it is not a given that Austin will make the roster if Bird cannot.
When Austin was forced to move from DH to first base to replace Bird for the game against the Braves, the Yankees pulled first baseman Ryan McBroom out of the minor league camp for DH duties. McBroom, the return when the Yankees traded Rob Refsnyder last year, responded with a home run and a run-scoring single (the latter hit produced two runs but the second one was courtesy of a throwing error). McBroom will be 26 in a couple of weeks but he has never played above Double A. Another option surfaced on Saturday when the Seattle Mariners returned Rule 5 draftee Mike Ford to the Yankees. He was assigned to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Ford batted .259 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 54 at-bats for the Mariners this Spring, but regular first baseman Ryon Healy returned from hand surgery sooner than expected and Daniel Vogelbach won the backup job as the team’s hottest hitter in camp. So Ford didn’t do a bad job for the M’s…it was just a numbers game. Between Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, Ford batted .270/.404/.471 with .875 OPS to go with 20 home runs and 86 RBIs. The guess is that Austin gets the job if Bird is not ready, but Ford looms as a potential option.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Chris Carlson)|
I really like Greg Bird as a player and his swing is a thing of beauty. But the succession of injuries is taxing to say the least. I will continue to hope for the best and I am trying to be optimistic that the latest inflammation is not a sign of much deeper problems. Let’s hope that Bird receives positive news from Dr O’Malley tomorrow and the foot inflammation is solved with treatment and rest.
With Ford’s return, the Yankees have recaptured two of the four players taken in last December’s Rule 5 Draft. Anyelo Gomez was previously returned to the Yankees by the Braves. The Baltimore Orioles designated Jose Mesa, Jr for assignment on March 21st when they signed free agent Alex Cobb. If Joe Table, Jr clears waivers, he’ll be offered back to the Yankees. Nestor Cortes, Jr remains in Orioles camp and is the scheduled starter in today’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
|Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun|
I’ve seen a lot of negative reaction from the Yankees fan base over the decision to give RHP Jonathan Holder the final spot on the Opening Day roster over Domingo German. I don’t get it. With the RailRiders, German can continue to start and will be stretched out if/when the Yankees need an emergency or extra starter. I’d prefer that to German sitting in the bullpen waiting for opportunities. Some fans seem to think the Opening Day roster is etched in stone. If we’ve learned anything, the final spots on the roster are very fluid with movement aboard the Scranton Shuttle.
Baseball is tough. It’s hard to believe that closer Greg Holland has been unable to find a job. He had 41 saves in 2017 for the Colorado Rockies. He turned down an off-season offer from the Rockies and their money went to new closer Wade Davis. I keep hearing that teams continue to stay away from Holland due to his asking price. At what point does Holland say ‘uncle’ and accept an offer simply to play? Same with Mark Reynolds who hit 30 home runs last season for the Rockies. I feel bad for the guys who can still play the game at its highest level but can’t find a job. The next few days will be even tougher as teams make the necessary cuts to reach their 25-man rosters. You wonder if it is the end of the line for older players like Jayson Werth, Jose Bautista and Matt Holliday. Scott Kazmir, part of the salary dump that sent outfielder Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers, was released by the Braves yesterday. He had exited the game against the Yankees with left arm fatigue (after reportedly having thrown 90-100 pitches in a bullpen session last Wednesday). Despite on the hook for $16 million, the Braves opted to part ways with the left-hander who missed the 2017 season with injuries. Now, Kazmir is one of many on the unemployment line (although I am fairly confident the $16 million will help him pay bills while he looks for a new job).
Today is the final day in Florida for the Yankees. After today’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, the Yankees will head for Atlanta, GA to play the Braves at SunTrust Park on Monday. Then, MLB camp is done. The Gang of 25 will head to Toronto and the Aaron Boone Era will officially begin with Opening Day on Thursday against the AL East rival Blue Jays. It’s almost time.
To borrow words from the great John Sterling, let’s give the team a “Stanton ovation”! It’s going to be a very exciting season. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)|
The Battle of New York…
I am always the first to say that Spring games mean absolutely nothing but I have to admit it was fun beat the New York Mets on Saturday by 7 runs for the second time this year. The Yankees won 10-3 at Steinbrenner Field after beating the Mets 11-4 last Wednesday in Port St Lucie, FL.
Rumor has it the new guy, Giancarlo Stanton, can hit bombs. We were finally treated to the first Pinstriped home run by the big guy and man, did it feel good to see that one go out. It made me realize how much I like watching Aaron Judge and Stanton hit back-to-back, considering I have been an advocate for breaking them up with Greg Bird. It was exciting to see Judge reach base and then both guys celebrating at home plate after Stanton completed his home run trot, which included the faux football hand-off by third base coach Phil Nevin as Stanton rounded the base. John Sterling’s call of the home run was “a Stantonian blast”. Unclear if that’s just a temporary Spring call or if it will be the tagline for the season.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Another great moment in Saturday’s game was the first Spring appearance of David Robertson, who had recently been felled by food poisoning. Luis Cessa started the game and reaffirmed my concerns about his stature as the rotation’s sixth man when he got into trouble in the second inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases with only one out. Enter D-Rob. Six pitches…two strikeouts…inning over. I really hope the Yankees do not allow Robertson to leave at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent. The guy was made to be a Yankee and it was hard enough to watch his years away in Chicago. Now that we have him back, I don’t want to lose him again.
There was a scare in the top of the 6th inning when Tyler Wade rolled his wrist while attempting to dive for an infield grounder by Jose Reyes. Wade left the game and although he iced the hand, no further tests were planned. It sounds as though Wade will be back out on the field by Monday. The current leader for Opening Day second baseman, it would have been tough to lose Wade for any extended period of time. I am glad he is okay. It was certainly a scary moment.
The game also featured a bit of miscommunication. Dellin Betances pitched the fourth inning and then went to the clubhouse. No one told Adam Warren that he was scheduled to pitch the fifth, so it became a scramble after the Yankees completed batting in the bottom of the fourth. There was some apparent confusion in the dugout, and Warren quickly got up in the bullpen. After a brief delay, Betances came back out to face one batter, giving up a single, before departing for good. Aaron Boone held his usual 5th inning in-game conversation with the YES Network broadcasters but clearly did not want to talk about the incident. “We had some issues there. We’ll just leave it at that.” Some on social media were crucifying Boone for the miscommunication but I’d rather see Boone make mistakes in Spring training and learn from them before the season starts.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)|
A fair amount of drama for a “meaningless” Saturday afternoon game.
The Yankees had a couple more cuts yesterday when flame-throwing RHP Domingo Acevedo was optioned to Double-A Trenton and RHP Brian Keller was reassigned to minor league camp.
The Minnesota Twins may have lost the Wild Card game to the Yankees last season, but they will be a stronger team when they take the field this year. Although top starting pitcher Ervin Santana will miss the start of the season after surgery on his finger last month, the Twins previously added Jake Odorizzi in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and yesterday they signed free-agent Lance Lynn (an innings-eater and a very good pickup) to a one-year, $12 million contract. The Lynn signing triggered today’s release of Anibal Sanchez (Lynn was clearly an upgrade, in a total statement of the obvious). I would have loved to have seen the Yankees sign Lynn. The Twins have also added former Rays first baseman Logan Morrison, who slugged 38 home runs in 2017, to be their primary DH. I haven’t really been keeping up with the Twins, but they are quietly getting stronger. They also added Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed to their bullpen. I’ve never been a big fan of Rodney but Reed was a great signing.
With Lynn signing for much less than anticipated, I can’t help but wonder what it would take to sign free agent righty Alex Cobb in this environment of falling prices. You can never have enough starting pitching. I know that he’d never do it, but it would be cool if Jake Arrieta came to the Yankees with an offer to play for a pillow contract so that he can test the free agent market again next year. He does know and trust the Yankees closer. I know, I am just dreaming but whatever it takes to bring the 28th World Championship to the Bronx.
Lefty Joe Mantiply, 27, who spent last season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and was in camp with the Cincinnati Reds this year as a non-roster invitee underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on Friday. We wish Joe the very best as he begins his journey on the road to recovery and hopefully fulfilling his dream of one day making it back to the Major Leagues (he pitched briefly for the Detroit Tigers in 2016).
|Photo Credit: Cheryl Pursell|
I am bummed that today’s game against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, FL will not be televised. For the Yankees making the trip, be sure to say hello to our old friend, Starlin Castro.
The 2018 New York Yankees Coaching Staff (allegedly)…
The Yankees have yet to officially announce Manager Aaron Boone’s coaching staff but the names are taking hold.
Here’s what we know:
Bench Coach: Josh Bard
Pitching Coach: Larry Rothschild
Third Base Coach: Phil Nevin
First Base Coach: Reggie Willits
Infield Coach: Carlos Mendoza
Hitting Coach: Marcus Thames
Assistant Hitting Coach: P.J. Pilittere
Bullpen Coach: Mike Harkey
Bard is a first-time bench coach and was a former teammate with Aaron Boone in Cleveland. Last year, he was the bullpen coach for the World Series-losing Los Angeles Dodgers. Bard, 39, played for five teams between 2002 and 2011. He accumulated 586 plate appearances, with 39 home runs, 220 RBIs, and .254 batting average. His most notable accomplishment came in 2006 as a member of the Boston Red Sox when he opened the season with ten passed balls in his first five games, including three passed balls in his first appearance, with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound. Bard was born in Ithaca, New York, but he grew up in Elizabeth, Colorado (just outside of Denver). After retirement, he joined the Dodgers as a special assistant before his appointment as the bullpen coach in 2016 for manager Dave Roberts.
Larry needs no introduction to Yankees fans as he has been the team’s pitching coach since the 2011 season when he replaced the fired Dave Eiland. Eiland, ironically, will be back in New York this year as the new pitching coach for the Mets. Rothschild, 63, was the original manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Rays) when they entered the American League, and, a native Chicagoan, he was a long-time pitching coach for the Cubs.
Nevin is remembered as the first pick of the 1992 MLB Draft, the year that Derek Jeter slid to the Yankees at the sixth position. Remembered primarily as the third baseman for the San Diego Padres, Nevin, 47, played for seven teams over 12 MLB seasons. In 1,217 games, Nevin hit 208 home runs and 743 RBIs to go with a .270 batting average. After his playing career, Nevin held a few minor league managerial positions before becoming the third base coach for the San Francisco Giants for the 2017 season. Although he was fired after the season (along with long-time pitching coach Dave Righetti), Nevin was rumored to become the Giants bench coach had the Yankees hired current bench coach Hensley Meulens as their manager. Nevin attend high school (El Dorado High School in Placentia, California) with Aaron Boone’s brother Bret and is a long-time friend of the Boone family. Nevin presently makes his home in Poway, California, near San Diego.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Darryl Webb)|
Willits was an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels during the course of his MLB playing career from 2006 to 2011. Willits, 36, was named after Yankees great Reggie Jackson. The Oklahoman joined the Yankees organization in 2015 as a minor league outfield and base-running coordinator. This will be his first MLB coaching job. Willits did not hit any home runs during his MLB career (1,014 plate appearances) but he’ll certainly have the opportunity to see MANY guys round first base on their home run trots this year.
|Photo Credit: The Oklahoman (Chris Landsberger)|
Mendoza, 43, was primarily a minor league outfielder. He made it to the Show with the New York Mets in 1997 and the Colorado Rockies in 2000 (total of 28 games). The Venezuelan native has coached or managed in the Yankees minor league system since 2009. As the new infield coach for the Yankees, he’ll be in uniform in the dugout during games.
Last year, Thames served as the assistant hitting coach under Alan Cockrell on Joe Girardi’s staff. This year, he becomes the hitting coach for the new manager. Thames, 40, came up in the Yankees organization, and the outfielder played for four MLB teams, primarily the Detroit Tigers, from 2002 to 2011. The Yankees traded Thames to the Texas Rangers in the 2003 deal that brought Ruben Sierra to New York. Thames, originally from Mississippi, played in 640 games, batting .246 with 115 home runs and 301 RBIs. He became the Yankees Assistant Hitting Coach for the 2016 season when Cockrell was elevated to Hitting Coach to replace Jeff Pentland. Thames will never forget his first MLB at-bat when he jumped on the first pitch from Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 10, 2002 for a home run.
Pilittere, 36, was a former minor league catcher who has spent his entire career in the Yankees organization. He was selected in the 13th round of the 2004 MLB Draft, and advanced as high as Triple A when his playing career ended in 2011. 2017 will be Pilittere’s seventh year coaching in the Yankees organization. The Buffalo, New York native (and die-hard Bills fan) served as hitting coach for then-manager Al Pedrique last year with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Pilittere has strong relationships with current Yankees like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird.
Asked about his promotion to Assistant Hitting Coach for the big league club, Pilittere told the Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, PA), “The thing that doesn’t change is it’s still about players, and players still want to get better. The good ones and the best ones and the ones on our roster want to get better until the day that the uniform is taken away from them, and I think that is what creates a championship atmosphere and I think that’s what we want to promote around the clubhouse. I know that’s what we want to promote — is always looking to do better and always doing what it takes to help the team. The only thing that I think that slightly might change a little bit is that it still is developing guys at the big-league level and getting the most out of our players, but that only thing that does change is at the end of the day it’s about getting the win a 7 o’clock. It’s, ‘What can we do to win ball games. What can we do to have a championship season in 2018?’”
|P.J. Pilittere, holding camera on left|
Harkey, 51, is expected to return as the Yankees bullpen coach. Harkey, a native of California, is a former MLB pitcher who played for five teams from 1988 through 1997. Over eight years, Harkey pitched in 131 games, including 104 starts. He was 36-36 with 4.49 ERA and 216 strikeouts. He served as the Yankees bullpen coach from 2008 until 2013 when he was hired as the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After his dismissal by the D-Backs at the end of the 2015 season, he returned to the Yankees as their bullpen coach the following season.
|Mike Harkey, right (as if the guy on the left is unrecognizable)|
Aaron Boone has done a good job bringing diversity to his coaching staff. I would have preferred a veteran bench coach but there’s plenty of experience to be offered by guys like Larry Rothschild and Phil Nevin. Despite the lack of experience as a bench coach, Josh Bard seems to be a manager-in-training and will most likely be leading another team against the Yankees at some point in the not-so-distant future if he proves successful in his current role.
It’s sad to see the old faces depart. Former bench coach Rob Thomson will serve the same role for first-time manager Gabe Kapler with the Philadelphia Phillies. Third base coach Joe Espada replaced new Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora as the bench coach for the World Champion Houston Astros. Guys like Tony Pena and Alan Cockrell served the Yankees well, and I wish them the best with their coaching careers. Nevertheless, I am excited about the potential of the new coaching staff that Boone has assembled. They’ve been charged with bringing the Yankees, a team that came within a game of reaching the World Series, their 28th World Series championship (and more). No pressure. So, welcome to the Yankees Family, Newcomers and welcome back, Holdovers! We’re happy and excited to see you in Pinstripes in 2018!
It’s been funny following the suggestions for the home run call that Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling will use for Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t recall who made the suggestion, but I really like “Giancarlo dropped the Mike”. There have been some great suggestions, but it will be interesting to hear what Sterling actually uses when Stanton goes yard for the first-time as a Yankee. I am sure that he’ll come up with something that none of us have heard before.
|Photo Credit: YES Network (E.H. Wallop)|
We only have two more weekends beyond this one until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa. Players and coaches have already begun their migration to the Sunshine State. Soon, very soon…
Yankees 5, Mets 3…
…Ya gotta love John Sterling and his home run calls. Aaron Judge hits a home run and it’s almost bigger news than the game itself. His blast, which traveled into the third deck of the left center stands, traveled 457 feet at a velocity of 117 mph to help power the Yankees to the win over the New York Mets. It was funny to watch the Mets outfielders stand without moving as they watched the ball fly over.
I didn’t like the first inning when the Yankees failed to take advantage of a scoring opportunity and the Mets did not. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single lined to right. He stole second (the throw bouncing off Ellsbury as he slid), and later advanced to third on Aaron Judge’s ground out back to the pitcher. Robert Gsellman looked at Ellsbury but didn’t hold him long enough before throwing Judge out. Unfortunately, the Yankees could not bring Ells home. In the bottom of the inning, the Mets didn’t waste their opportunity. Juan Lagares opened with a double down the third base line all the way to the corner off Yankees starter Jaime Garcia. After moving to third on a ground out, he scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets had the early 1-0 lead.
The second inning was weird but the Yankees came away with the game-tying run. With the Mets rotating third baseman Travis d’Arnaud and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera in frequent positional switches, Chase Headley drew a one-out walk against Mets starter Robert Gsellman. A wild pitch by Gsellman into the dirt through catcher Rene Rivera’s legs allowed Headley to move to second, followed by a passed ball on Rivera that advanced him to third. Rivera’s look back at Gsellman was a classic “WTF?”. Garrett Cooper grounded out to third on a diving stop by Asdrubal Cabrera but Headley scored on the play. The Yankees had tied the game.
Aaron Judge led off the 4th inning with his towering blast. It was one of those “wow” moments. The home run was Judge’s 37th of the year. The Yankees had taken their first lead of the game, 2-1.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
In the bottom of the 5th, Rene Rivera hit a two-out solo homer over the wall in left center to tie the game. It seemed so wrong that his homer counted as much as Judge’s did.
The Yankees took their second lead of the game in the 6th inning. Aaron Judge singled on a liner to left with one out. Successive walks to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez loaded the bases and ended the day for Robert Gsellman. Reliever Paul Sewald was brought into the game and Chase Headley greeted him with a sacrifice fly to center which scored Judge. 3-2, Yankees.
In the bottom of the inning, the Mets came right back to tie the game again. Asdrubal Cabrera opened the inning with a single to left. He subsequently tried to steal second on a ball that got away from Gary Sanchez, but it was a bad idea to test El Gary’s arm. Out at second. Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk from Jaime Garcia and Michael Conforto doubled to left…a roller to the wall, advancing Cespedes to third. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia and brought Tommy Kahnle into the game. Travis d’Arnaud lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cespedes but Kahnle was able to limit the damage to only the one run. Game was tied again at 3.
Ronald Torreyes led off the 7th inning with a double to the left field corner. What can you say about Toe? He is constantly coming up with key, unsung hits in critical moments. A sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Kahnle, pushed Toe to third. Successive walks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks by Paul Sewald loaded the bases. Admittedly, the fourth ball to Hicks looked like the third strike but oh well, I’ll take it. Aaron Judge had first crack at the potential scoring opportunity but he popped out to the catcher. Didi Gregorius was next and he didn’t miss his opportunity. He rapped a double with authority to the right field corner, scoring both Toe and Ellsbury.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
From there, the Yankees rode the bullpen arms of Adam Warren and David Robertson to victory. The Mets were given four outs in the bottom of the 9th when a third strike on Amed Rosario rolled under Gary Sanchez’s glove to the backstop, allowing Rosario to reach first. Robertson was charged with the wild pitch, but Sanchez should have had his glove down. Robertson shook it off and did what he does best. He closed the game out for his 14th save on a called strikeout of Rene Rivera who had represented the potential tying run. I continue to be thankful every day that DRob is a Yankee again.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
The Yankees (64-55) were unable to pick up any ground on the Boston Red Sox. The Sox were trailing the St Louis Cardinals, 4-2, in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway Park, but Xander Bogaerts homered and Mookie Betts hit a two-run double to give the Red Sox the 5-4 walk-off win. So, the Yankees remain 4 1/2 games behind the Sox. The Sox are off today so the Yankees will either gain or lose a 1/2 game depending upon the outcome of the Yankees-Mets series finale. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles lost. The Rays dropped a 3-2 contest to the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s were beaten 7-6 by Yonder Alonso and the Seattle Mariners. So, they trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 and 6 games, respectively.
Despite the monster home run, Aaron Judge set the MLB record for consecutive games with a strikeout for non-pitchers with a swinging strikeout in the top of the 9th. He has now struck out in 32 successive games.
Although he was on the mound when the Mets tied the game in the 6th, Tommy Kahnle (2-3) was the beneficiary of the two-run double by Didi Gregorius in the 7th to take the win. Excellent job by Adam Warren who pitched two innings of scoreless one-hit ball with 3 strikeouts. I am sure that the Chicago Cubs look at Warren and wonder where that guy was at the start of last season.
Mets starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who hadn’t played third since high school, was forced to play the position when both Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes were scratched before the game due to ribcage injuries. d’Arnaud and Cabrera, the second baseman, made a total of 22 positional switches during the course of the game. Cabrera would frequently move to third for right-handed hitters. It was a smart play by Mets manager Terry Collins as he limited the fielding chances for d’Arnaud. Cabrera took all of the grounders to third and d’Arnaud only had to deal with a popup.
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
Odds & Ends…
Credit to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com for the words of Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner at the MLB Owners Meeting in Chicago:
- If we don’t make the play-offs, it’s a failure. Any year, any year. That’s just the mindset for us.
- It was a great first two and a half months. It’s been tough the last two months for the most part. But I think they’re coming out of it and the pitching additions we made at the Deadline are already helping, and we’re going to have a strong last five, six weeks.
- The changes we did at the last Trade Deadline a year ago clearly [were] a difficult decision. But I made it, it was mine, and we got a lot of good players from it and we still stayed in contention until the last couple weeks. But we’ve been fortunate. The young guys we kept talking about for three, four years finally got to the point where they could contribute at the big league level. Other guys — [international] signings like Estevan Florial — have been good. So we’ve got a very good player development system right now, and we’re competing. That’s always a very good sign. And it’s always tough to give up some of the top [prospects], but I wasn’t going to do it for a rental. If you do it, you do it for a young guy that’s under control for a year or two.
- We can still go into the free-agent market. We’ll just have to see who’s ready [in the Minor League system] and who’s not and how the team looks at X [payroll] number.
Credit: Nam Y Huh-Associated Press
Greg Bird began his rehab assignment last night with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. After the RailRiders completed the rain suspended game from the night before (which they lost 9-4 to the Gwinnett Braves), Bird was penciled into the lineup at first base for the regularly scheduled Wednesday game. He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the first four innings of the RailRiders’ 4-1 loss to the Braves. Chance Adams, 9-4, was the losing pitcher.
CC Sabathia will be activated off the DL on Saturday according to Sweeny Murti of WFAN. He’s scheduled to make the start against the Boston Red Sox. I wish I felt more optimistic about this news than I do.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s sweep the Subway Series with a win! Go Yankees!
I am not sure who to blame this one on. Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end. In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error. Jose Bautista led off the game with a single. After Russell Martin flied out to center, Justin Smoak singled. An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.
The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner. Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning. Jose Bautista walked to open the inning. After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right. 3-0, Blue Jays. Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.
Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0. The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day. 3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s. If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees valiantly fought back. Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning. The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio. In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate. Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man! Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases. With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.
The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning. With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center. Game tied. Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.
On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…
Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs. Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that. No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time. He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases. He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run. Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.
Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
The Yankees did not have another rally in them. The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs. A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day. Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss. Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1. The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007. Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year. Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work. I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
Some losses just make me mad. This was one of them. It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton. It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.
The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral. Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2. The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.
Next Up: Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium
The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break. The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Brewers: Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)
Brewers: Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)
Brewers: Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)
Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby. With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic: Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B. Venezuela: Engelbert Ascanio, C. Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic. There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher. The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd. Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.
Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball. Nice job, Baby Bombers!
AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):
Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO
AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)
Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO
High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)
Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO
The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season. I am okay with this move. Make way for younger, talented arms.
Have a great Thursday! I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss. Tomorrow is a new day. Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
Yankees 9, Red Sox 1…
Admittedly, I was glad that it was David Price on the mound Thursday and not Chris Sale. For an ace, I’ve never been worried when Price is pitching against the Yankees as they generally seem to come up big against him. Thursday was no exception.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As John Sterling says, “Gary is scary”. A night after Chris Carter almost hit two home runs, Gary accomplished the feat for his second multi-homer game in a week. They had meat in them as both occurred with runners on base (solo homers seem don’t carry the same bang for the buck in a statement of the obvious). Like Wednesday’s game, the Yankees scored first with Brett Gardner’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the 2nd. Then, like Chris Carter the day before, Gary Sanchez got a hold of David Price’s pitch with Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday on base and deposited it over the left-center wall to give the Yankees a nice cushion. Sanchez went deep again in the 5th, with a blast to center off Price, scoring Starlin Castro. Gary was 2-for-4 with 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.
Gary has hit Price well in his brief career. He is 4-for-7 with four home runs. As Gary starts to heat up, it is scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of when it is hitting all cylinders. Even when they are not, it seems like someone is coming up big (unless your name is Chase Headley).
It was also an impressive night for Aaron Judge, even without any homers. He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored, pushing his season batting average to .330. His single in the sixth inning off Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad was the hardest hit ball of the year according to Statcast. With exit velocity of 119.8 mph, Judge pushed two of his own prior efforts to second and third on the Exit Velocity leaderboard.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Brett Gardner took the lead in the Bald Brothers Battle with his 13th home run of the season, a fly to center in the 8th when the game was no longer in doubt. I was really hoping that Matt Holliday would be able to match Gardner two batters later, but he was hit by a pitch, taking the bat out of his hands prematurely.
I have to mention the great running catch by Ronald Torreyes in the 9th. As a defensive substitution for Didi Gregorius after Austin Romine had pinch hit for Didi, Torreyes ran toward the left field foul area after Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp fly. Sliding past the foul line, Torreyes made the catch to record the first out. Plays like this show the 2017 Yankees are a team that likes to have fun. You could see the appreciation from his teammates as Torreyes walked back on field.
Just when you thought Chris Carter was finally starting to hit, he was 0-for-4 as his batting average slipped below .200 again (.195). He was the only starter not to reach base through a hit or a walk. Chase Headley committed his 10th error of the season, matching his season total last year.
Lost among the stellar night by Sanchez was a tremendous start by Michael Pineda (7-3). After the disaster in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Pineda was on top of his game against the Sox. He held Red Sox batters to only four hits over seven innings, and only allowed one unearned run. He walked two and struck out eight in the dominating performance.
|Credit: Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The quartet of Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have really been fun to watch with the most recent run through the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka, not so much…
As for the bullpen, I thought Adam Warren and Giovanny Gallegos did good jobs. Warren pitched a clean 8th inning, recording one strikeout. Gallegos came on in the 9th, and easily got the first two batters out. Manager Joe Girardi then made a pitching change to bring Dellin Betances into the game. Betances clearly had rust, having not pitched for about five days. He walked Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez subsequently took 2nd on defensive indifference. Dellin struck out the next batter, Jackie Bradley, Jr, but the ball got away from Gary Sanchez for a wild pitch, and JBJ made it safely to first with Ramirez taking third. Like Ramirez, JBJ then took 2nd on defensive indifference. Josh Rutledge followed with a walk to load the bases. I have to say that I was getting a bit concerned, even with a 9-1 lead. Fortunately, Dellin ended the game with the next batter, Pablo Sandoval, on a called third strike. For what should have been a short one-out stint, Betances ended up throwing 17 pitches. Hopefully, the work proves beneficial for the upcoming Baltimore series.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg|
Coming into the Boston series, the Red Sox could have taken the AL East lead with a sweep. But thanks to two Yankees victories following the opening game loss, New York (34-23) increased its lead to 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Washington Nationals, 6-1, dropping 3 1/2 games back.
I never thought that we’d hold Boston to only one run in two games, but it’s been a very fun couple of nights. I am hoping for a similar result in the upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Odds & Ends…
Greg Bird should be back soon. He is saying that he is as close to 100% as he has been since spring training. On Thursday, he moved up from High-A Tampa to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on rehab assignment. He was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks in SWB’s 3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley. I liked his comments when asked how will he know when he’s ready: “Some magical sign. Lightning will strike my bat”. He was kidding, of course, but if he starts hitting like he did in Spring Training, it’s going to be a very fun summer.
Here are the pitching match-ups for the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins tonight.
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (6-4, 2.93 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67 ERA)
Orioles: Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90 ERA)
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.86 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka, Yikes! (5-6, 6.55 ERA)
Have a great Friday! As always, Go Yankees!