Tagged: Jordan Montgomery

Monty & The Awful 2nd Inning…

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Twins 6, Yankees 1…

The new guys did not help as the Yankees got clobbered in losing the series to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.  I liked the tweet by Mike Axisa of CBS Sports-MLB:  “Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle for a starting pitcher”.  Funny but also a bit truthful.  I realize that Jordan Montgomery bounced back after the disastrous 2nd inning to give the Yankees an otherwise strong six innings but those 6 runs in the 2nd proved to be insurmountable.  In the game of win or lose, Monty (6-5) sucked.  


The toughest part about the 6-run 2nd was that all of the runs were scored with two outs.  With runners at second and third, Zack Granite, a native New Yorker who was 2-for-22 in his MLB career to that point, singled up the middle to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.  The dangerous Brian Dozier walked on a 3-2 count, pushing Granite to second.  A Larry Rothschild visit to the mound later, Eduardo Escobar hit a single to center field which scored Granite and moved Dozier to second.  Miguel Sano stepped up and decided to play a game of Home Run Derby with a blast to center off an 0-2 rolling curveball from Jordan Montgomery.  It was 6-0 Twins before the new guys, who had just shown up due to a flight delay, could shake hands with all of their new Yankees teammates.

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees had their biggest chance to get back into the game in the 7th inning.  With Twins starter Jose Berrios still on the mound, Clint Frazier started the inning with a single to center.  Garrett Cooper hit a liner to left for the first out.  He was followed by Austin Romine who was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch.  Clint Frazier to second.  Todd Frazier then entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ronald Torreyes but went down swinging for the second out.  Gardner singled to left center to score Clint Frazier and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder, Robbie Grossman (who mishandled the ball before firing it to third).  Romine moved to third.  The Twins pulled Berrios and brought in reliever Taylor Duffey to face Jacoby Ellsbury.  A single by Ellsbury could have brought the Yankees within striking distance but he struck out with the bat resting on his shoulder with a fastball down the middle to end the inning.  It was the second time the Yankees left the bases full with no runs as Ronald Torreyes had grounded out with bases full of Yanks in the top of the 2nd before the onslaught of runs by the Twins.  


Tommy Kahnle made his Yankees debut in the 8th in relief of Chad Green.  He gave a preview of coming attractions by retiring the three batters he faced including two by strikeout. His pitches were hitting up to 100 mph.  I liked Kahnle’s quote after the game, “I always dreamed once they (the Yankees) drafted me I would pitch for them in the big leagues.  That day has come”.  As a fan of Kahnle’s who was very disappointed when he was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Colorado Rockies and has remained keenly aware of the pitcher, I share his sentiments.  Despite the loss, it was very good to see Kahnle in a Yankees uniform.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the 9th but he is expected to be fine for today’s game in Seattle.

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Yankees (48-45) need to forget this series and start with a clean slate today against the Mariners.  The time is now to make a move after weeks of sliding backwards. The Yankees lost ground to the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays,  5-1, so the Yankees are now 4 1/2 games behind the leaders.  They remain 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays who lost to the Oakland A’s, 7-2.


Next Up:  Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA…


The Yankees get a chance to catch up with Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel for four games in the Pacific Northwest.  

Here are the scheduled pitching matchups:


THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40 ERA)

Mariners:  Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA)


FRIDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.33 ERA)

Mariners:  Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA)


SATURDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA)

Mariners:  Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.35 ERA)


SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.61 ERA)

Mariners:  Sam Gaviglio (3-5, 4.62 ERA)


I feel fairly confident about Thursday, even with King Felix on the mound, and Saturday, but as for Friday and Sunday…not so much.


Here’s hoping the new guys bring some much needed magic and mojo back to our favorite team.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, the Yankees made a flurry of roster moves yesterday to make room for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle.  Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple A and Ji-Man Choi was designated for assignment.  Rob Refsnyder, on the 40-man roster, was also DFA’d as the Yankees needed to create the room on the 40-man roster even though Tyler Clippard vacated his spot with the trade to the White Sox.  I can’t say that I am overly excited about Luis Cessa remaining on the active roster.  Given a choice between Cessa and Caleb Smith, I’d prefer to see Smith get the next start in place of Michael Pineda.  Frazier took Tyler Clippard’s old number (29), Robertson reclaimed his own old number (30) with Clint Frazier switching to double-Mickey Mantle (77), and Kahnle’s number with the White Sox was waiting for him thanks to the recent dismissal of Chris Carter (48).  

Speaking of poor starts, the Yankees are surely looking for rotation help after Jordan Montgomery’s string of sub-par starts.  But being “careful buyers” probably means that the Yankees will not be players for guys like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole.  Now is the time for GM Brian Cashman to earn the dollars for his next contract.  


This is a hypothetical question considering that Aaron Hicks is not healthy, but if you have five outfielders (Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier), is Jacoby Ellsbury the sixth or seventh best outfielder?  Just wondering…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi has said that Todd Frazier will be the team’s regular third baseman.  Chase Headley will move to first and platoon with Garrett Cooper.  If Frazier has a strong finish to the season, I’d have to believe it is more likely the team will attempt to re-sign him over Matt Holliday.  Frazier intends to talk to YES Network broadcaster Paul O’Neill about possibly switching his number from #29 to #21 before the team returns to the Bronx.  Frazier has always worn #21 because of O’Neill.  I think it would be appropriate and would not boo the move assuming that he gets O’Neill’s blessing.

Former Yankee Chris Carter has signed with the Oakland A’s, a team he played for from 2010 to 2012.  He’ll report to the A’s Triple A club, the Nashville Sounds.  I can still remember when the Sounds were a Double A team for the Yankees and Buck Showalter was a first baseman/outfielder for them.  

We’ll probably be seeing another former Yankee soon (in the wrong uniform) as the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners have been identified as strong possibilities for David Phelps of the Miami Marlins.  The Red Sox are also still looking at Miami’s Martin Prado, currently on the 10-Day DL, as well as Eduardo Nunez of the San Francisco Giants.  

Have a great Thursday!  Sevy can make it a truly awesome day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Walking Away From Victory…

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…

The Yankees paid $86 million for Aroldis Chapman to blow last night’s game.  The bad with the good.  I’ve been concerned about Chapman for a few weeks now, actually dating back before he went on the DL.  His struggles with command have largely flown under the radar given the horrific stretches encountered by both Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances.  I thought maybe Chapman’s contract might look bad toward the end but not in the first year.  For the same money, the Yankees could have signed Kenley Jansen in the off-season.  Jansen earned his 22nd save last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is 4-0 with 0.93 ERA.  Chapman has 8 saves and 3.92 ERA.  Granted, Chapman could have used some defensive help in the 9th so to his defense, it was not entirely his fault.  I think Chapman will be alright and a force in the second half.  

The game was a struggle for Jordan Montgomery, laboring every inning he pitched.  Even if he did give up 6 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings worked, it could have been much worse.  So credit to him for not rolling over.  The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the first two innings but failed to get them home.  They finally broke through in third inning after the Yankees had taken a 1-0 lead.  With Xander Bogaerts at first (single), Hanley Ramirez hammered a Montgomery fastball over the Green Monster in center to give the Sox a 2-1 lead.

The Red Sox picked up a third run in the 4th inning.  Sam Travis opened with a walk off Montgomery.  Christian Vasquez ripped a single to left, runners at first and second.  Deven Marrero hit an infield grounder to Didi Gregorius who fired the ball to Ronald Torreyes at second in an attempt to get the force out but Torreyes took his eyes off the ball and it glanced off his glove for an error to load the bases.  Montgomery was able to retire Mookie Betts on a pop up but Dustin Pedroia singled to left to score Travis, 3-1 Sox.  A subsequent double play with the bases still loaded prevented any further damage.

In the top of the 5th, the Yankees led off with a double by Chase Headley.  Brett Gardner lined a one-out single to right to score Headley.  Gary Sanchez, the Sanchino, followed with his 14th home run of the year, a high fly ball that sailed out of Fenway Park in left, and the Yankees had taken a 4-3 lead.  

Credit:  CJ Gunther-EPA

The Yankees bullpen took over in the bottom of the 5th.  Chad Green was spectacular, working two innings with no hits and 5 strikeouts.  Adam Warren despite giving up two singles in the 7th, kept the Sox off the board.  Dellin Betances hit Mitch Moreland with a pitch in the 8th but otherwise was great with three strikeouts.  

The Yankees were unable to add any insurance runs against Sox starter Drew Pomeranz and the Red Sox bullpen (who held the Yanks hitless for the final 3 innings) so it was off to the bottom of the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman. 

I hate to re-live this inning but here we go.  Mookie Betts reached first on an infield single to deep short.  Dustin Pedroia followed with a grounder to short.  The throw from Didi Gregorius to Ronald Torreyes at second was too high and Torreyes had to jump to catch the ball, taking his feet off the bag.  Betts safe at second, Pedroia at first.  A double steal moved the runners to second and third.  Xander Bogaerts hit an infield grounder to Torreyes and he was unable to handle it for his second error of the game.  Betts scored the tying run.  The Yankees intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases.  Chapman then struggled to find the strike zone with Andrew Benintendi and walked him on a 3-1 count, bringing home Pedroia with the winning run.  Defeat with no balls out of the infield…a disappointing loss.

Credit:  Stuart Cahill-Boston Herald

The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1, in 10 innings to take sole possession of 2nd place in the AL as the Yankees (45-42) dropped to third.  The Yankees are 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a game behind the Rays.  

Oh, By The Way…

The news for the second half is certainly not starting off on the right foot.  With Michael Pineda’s diagnosis of a flexor muscle strain and a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, there’s a strong possibility for Tommy John surgery.  He’ll seek a second opinion but this is not good news.  Considering this is his “walk” year, I wonder if he’ll go the way of Nathan Evoldi who was released and later signed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  With Bryan Mitchell scheduled to start Game 1 of Sunday’s double-header and Luis Cessa next week in Minneapolis, the rotation is looking very shaky.  I am sure that the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates are salivating over the potential price tag they can assign to Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole. My fear is that the desperation forces the Yankees to part with Chance Adams in addition to other high-ranking prospects to acquire an established starter.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox will be throwing Chris Sale and two former AL Cy Young Award winners at us this weekend.


I had my doubts that Pineda would be back next year but this probably seals it for his departure.  


Scouts from other teams seem to think that Chance Adams is Major League ready but according to the Yankees, he still needs to work on his command and his third pitch.  That’s more involved than a start or two so it’s anybody’s guess when we’ll see Adams in the Bronx.  I think he’s potentially more effective than Luis Cessa but they didn’t ask me.  Maybe it is Caleb Smith that gets the next call.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-Times Leader`

Oh yeah, and Greg Bird has inflammation in the Os Trigonum of his right ankle and surgery is a strong possibility (if so, 6-8 weeks recovery).  


The roster moves made in advance of yesterday’s game with the Red Sox were the activation of DH Matt Holliday and the purchase of 1B Garrett Cooper’s contract from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Making room were the placement of Michael Pineda on the disabled list and the demotion of Rob Refsnyder to SWB.  Cooper was thrown to the wolves immediately as he made his Major League debut last night in Boston.  Yeah, Garrett, Yankee games can be intense.  Welcome to the Pinstripes!

Cooper started last night’s game although he was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts in his MLB debut.


Odds & Ends…


It is interesting that the Yankees played the fewest games (86) in the first half of any team according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.  The team is scheduled to play 52 games in the next 55 days and of course they have 3 games in the next 2 days.  With no days off, they play games on the road in Minneapolis and Seattle before they get a break (which of course will be consumed by a cross-country flight to return home from the Pacific Northwest).  No rest for the weary…


Have a great Saturday!  I’ll be out on my Harley so hopefully the Yankees bring home a victory against the great Chris Sale.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Warning: Highly Flammable…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Brewers 9, Yankees 4…

In a game that should have been about young Aaron Judge shattering a mark long held by the great Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Tyler Clippard  torched a chance at yet another win as the Yankees fell to the Milwaukee Brewers.

We have gone from hoping the starters can successfully get the game to the bullpen to “OMG Joe, don’t take ‘the starter’ (insert name) out!”.  

But first, Aaron Judge.  With his 30th home run of the season, Judge broke the Yankees season record for most home runs by a rookie which has been held by Joe DiMaggio since 1936.  The homer, a shot to center off Brewers reliever Josh Hader, traveled 432 feet.  Judge has reached base in 37 consecutive games that he started, the only blemish being a recent unsuccessful pinch hit appearance.  He is also only one of three Yankees to ever have 30 home runs by the All-Star Break (joining Roger Maris who had 33 in his historic 1961 season and Alex Rodriguez who had 30 in 2007).  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

As for the game, it was a bend and mostly not break performance for Jordan Montgomery.  He worked out of a potential run scoring opportunity for the Brewers when they had two on with no outs in the second inning and got out of the inning by striking out Keon Broxton with a runner at third.  

With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Didi Gregorius lined a sharp fly ball to right but right fielder Domingo Santana made a slight turn in the wrong direction that caused him to miss Didi’s ball as it glanced off his glove for an error.  Didi ended up at third on the play.  Clint Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly and it was 1-0 Yankees.

The Brewers finally got to Montgomery in the 4th inning when Ryan Braun opened with a double and Jesus Aguilar homered to right as the Brewers took the 2-1 lead.  The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning when Didi Gregorius reached first base on another fielding error and Ji-Man Choi, providing something that we have rarely seen from the team’s first basemen…production, homered in the rain to right.  “Track, Wall, See Ya!” courtesy of Michael Kay. The Yankees had re-taken the lead with the second deck towering blast, 3-2.  

The rain started coming down in buckets and the game moved into a delay.  When play resumed in the top of the 5th, Montgomery got into trouble again when Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar hit consecutive one-out singles.  I am sure the rain delay factored into his performance.  Tyler Webb was brought in to replace Monty and he induced Domingo Santana to hit into an inning-ending double play.  For the game, Monty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and the two-run homer.  He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 4 in the eventual no-decision.  In the bottom of the inning, Judge led off with his historic home run.  4-2, Yankees.

Webb was back out on the mound in the top of the 6th.  He walked Ryan Braun on a 3-2 count and former Red Sock Travis Shaw followed with a double to push Braun to third.  Then, in a move that brought a groan from me, Manager Joe Girardi pulled Webb and brought in the flammable Tyler Clippard.  A wild pitch allowed Braun to score and Shaw to move to third.  Jesus Aguilar lofted a fly to center that scored Shaw and the game was tied.  

The Yankees were unable to do anything in the bottom of the 6th as Josh Hader and the Brewers struck out the side.  

With another groan when I saw Clippard back out on the mound for the 7th, any optimism I had was quickly evaporating.  With one out, Clippard walked Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana.  A fly out by Ryan Braun moved the runners to second and third.  Clippard issued an intentional pass to Travis Shaw and the bases were loaded for the only reliever who is worse than Dellin Betances right now.  Jesus Aguilar, loving every minute of Yankee Stadium, took advantage of the opportunity and destroyed the Clippard offering for a grand slam with a blast to center (his second homer of the night).  I know that Girardi was trying to avoid using Chad Green or Adam Warren, but Clippard should have never been the guy on the mound at that point in the game.  When I fire up the grill, I don’t use lighter fluid, I just throw pics of Clippard on the charcoal and flames erupt.

Girardi pulled Clippard at that point, but his replacement, Chasen Shreve, had the Clippard-Betances Syndrome and gave up another run with the first two men he faced.  A double by Hernan Perez and a single by Manny Pina (who?) which scored Perez.  The Brewers had the 9-4 lead and coasted to the four-hit victory.  Clippard (1-5) took the loss with his fifth blown game.  

The Yankees (44-40) are on the fast track for third place in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, to pad their lead by 4.5 games.  But even with the loss, the Rays are just a game behind the Yankees.

Brett Gardner had four walks in the game but wasn’t able to do anything with the free passes.  He was caught stealing third in the 3rd inning.  Clint Frazier, in addition to the sac fly RBI, had a triple in the 8th with one out, but was left stranded.

I remember back in the good old days when the Yankees bullpen meant a complete shutdown of the opposition’s offense.  I miss those days…  

Credit:  MLB.com

Odds & Ends…

When an “unnamed Yankees insider” speaks, it always sounds exactly like the words are coming out of the mouth of Yankees Idiot…sorry I mean…President, Randy Levine.  The “insider” told The New York Daily News, speaking about Greg Bird, that “You have to wonder what’s with this guy.  You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here, he’d want to be part of this.  Apparently not.”  I may be frustrated that Bird  has been unable to get back on the field with his ankle injury but I do not blame the player.  If he feels that he is not 100% and would be a liability on the field, I will not fault him for trying to find pain relief and good health before he returns.  Bird responded “I want to play.  I’ve always wanted to play since I can remember.  I love baseball.  For me, I’m doing everything I can to come back.  I love it and I want to be playing with these guys.  I would hope people see it”.  I see it and wish that Levine would shut the h*ll up…

Bird will consult with Dr Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle surgeon, on Monday.  So, we should have clarity on whether or not he’s lost for the season soon.  This is shaping up to be two consecutive lost years for the young slugger. 

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are now expected to rejoin the Yankees when they open the second half next week in Boston.  Holliday is going to start a rehab assignment today.  Castro bowed out of the All-Star Game and in a move that was a little bittersweet (for me) to take, Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners was named as his replacement.  Nothing against Cano as I still think he’s a good player, but it’s a reminder of the sting I felt when he left in free agency.  

In a surprise move today, the Yankees have optioned Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa to Triple-A and have recalled relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder.  I can only assume that the moves were made to strengthen the Yankees bullpen in light of Clippard’s meltdown.  Montgomery will be back after the All-Star break.

Have a great Saturday!  A new day and a new opportunity to win a game.  Let’s Go Yankees!

The Bullpen Implosion…

Credit:  Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 7, Yankees 6…

It was very disappointing to lose a game because of Dellin Betances, who looked like the new Tyler Clippard, and Aroldis Chapman.  I defended Betances during his arbitration loss last off-season but he pretty much looked like a $3 million (if that) pitcher on Saturday.  Of course, the Yankees didn’t exactly intend to pay $86 million for their ace closer to give up the game-winning hit either.  The two combined to allow four runs in the eighth as the Astros erased a 6-3 deficit.  It was the 15th blown save by the bullpen in 79 games.

After the game, Betances said “The reason we lost is because I had bad command.  I walked three guys.  That’s not going to help.  I have to be able to challenge guys.  For whatever reason, my stuff just hasn’t been as sharp.  I just have to continue to work and I know I’ll find it.”  Hopefully sooner rather than later.  It’s been tough this season when one pitcher followed by another continues to go through periods of complete and total ineffectiveness.  

This game should have been about the positive debut of Clint Frazier.  Frazier became the first Yankee in 100 years to debut with a double and a home run.  

Credit:  Bob Levey-Getty Images

Jordan Montgomery started the game, pitching very strongly.  He got into trouble in the fifth when Marwin Gonzalez opened with a walk and Yuli Gurriel homered to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.  

The Yankees came right back in the top of the sixth (reminiscent of the day before).  Clint Frazier opened the inning with his first Major League hit, a double to left.  It was touching to watch his mom, Kim, wiping her eyes.  Brett Gardner singled to move Frazier to third.  It ended the day for Astros starter Francis Marte who had really held the Yankees in check to that point.  Facing reliever Will Harris, Jacoby Ellsbury walked and the bases were loaded.  Gary Sanchez singled to right, scoring Frazier (his first run scored…blah, blah, blah).  While Sanchez missed the opportunity for a grand slam, Didi Gregorius did not.  On an 0-1 count, he lifted the Harris pitch just over the right center field wall.  Very rapidly, the 0-2 deficit had turned into a 5-2 lead.  The Yankees subsequently had Ronald Torreyes at third following a single, steal and ground out that advanced him to just 90 feet away.  But in one of the great surprises of the game (not really), Chris Carter struck out to end the inning.  Carter was 0-for-3, with the one strikeout.  

The Astros scored another run in the bottom of the 6th when Carlos Correa homered off Montgomery with one out.  Evan Gattis followed with a double, and Montgomery headed for the showers.  Chad Green, the lone bullpen star, retired the next two batters by strikeout.  I have to compliment Green.  He was done a very fine job in his current role as he has transitioned from being a starter to a long reliever.  

Clint Frazier led off the top of the 7th with his home run, off reliever Tony Sipp, to increase the Yankees’ lead to 6-3.  It was funny how he was met with silence in the Yankees dugout before they erupted with the congratulatory high five’s.  From there, it was up to the Yankees bullpen to finish the job.  Green effectively finished the bottom of the 7th with a double play grounder and strikeout, but then we moved to the forgettable 8th inning.  Dellin Betances, channeling the bad versions of Masahiro Tanaka and Tyler Clippard, entered the game in relief of Green.  It started well enough with a strike out of the talented George Springer, but then Betances walked All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve. With Carlos Correa at bat, Altuve stole second, then third, and scored when Correa ground out to second.   Okay, the Yankees still had a 6-4 lead so there was still hope.  Evan Gattis stepped up and made it 6-5 with a shot to left.  By this point, I was screaming for Manager Joe Girardi to pull Betances but he wasn’t listening.  Betances walked Carlos Beltran on four pitches (Aargh!).  Josh Reddick entered the game as a pinch runner for Beltran and advanced to second when first baseman Chris Carter failed to handle a pick-off attempt.  Reddick stole third.  After walking Marwin Gonzalez, Girardi finally signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  Yuli Gurriel came to the plate for a showdown between Cuban countrymen.  Despite throwing 100 mph pitches, Gurriel won the battle when he doubled on a 3-2 count, scoring Reddick and Gonzalez with the go-ahead runs.  

The Yankees went down weakly in the 9th against Ken Giles when pinch-hitter Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier both pooped…err, popped…out.  Brett Gardner hit a single but rounded for second before changing his mind and was erased as the game’s final out when he tried to get back to first.  The Yankees lose another one-run game, 7-6.  

Credit:  David J Phillip-AP

The Yankees (43-36) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox easily defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-1.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-3, so they are just two games behind the Yanks.  

If the Yankees can’t fix Betances, this free-fall is going to continue.  He is perhaps the most vital man in the pen.  The Blue Jays, getting their asses handed to them in Boston, will be playing like a wounded dog when they come to the Bronx tomorrow.  

Odds & Ends…

With the July 2nd international signing period now open, the Yankees can be players on the international market once again.  Limited for two years following their huge splash from the 2014 -15 signing period spending spree, the Yankees can now spend up to the hard cap of $4.75 for the current signing period.  As expected, the Yankees signed notable international prospects OF Everson Pereira (the fourth ranked prospect on MLB’s list of Top International Prospects), SS Ronny Rojas, and SS Roberto Chirinos. Rojas and Chirinos are ranked 11th and 16th, respectively, by MLB. River Ave Blues reported these anticipated signings in early May.  It’s weird to see players born in this century joining the Yankees.  Welcome to Pinstripes, Everson, Ronny and Roberto! Note:  Rojas technically cannot sign until August 23rd when he turns 16.

To make room on the MLB roster for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar was sent to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He didn’t make any appearances during this short call-up, but it was simply a procedural move as Andujar was still with the team in Chicago before it departed for Houston.  He was activated for a game until the Yankees could make the move to call up Frazier.  Andujar will now return to Scranton to play third every day.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, he’ll be back.

Happy Sunday!  Flush the Saturday debacle and let’s take the series with a win today before the flight to NYC!  Let’s Go Yankees!

A Win is a Win…

Credit:  Nuccio DiNuzzo-Chicago Tribune

Yankees 6, White Sox 5…

Moral of the story…never take anything for granted.  The Yankees took a comfortable five run lead into the bottom of the 9th inning but it was an edge of your seat, nail-biter at the end.  A three-run homer and a run-scoring double made it interesting but the Yankees were able to hold on for the win over the Chicago White Sox.

There were a few stars in this game, but credit first has to go to starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery who has proven to be the stopper in the absence of CC Sabathia.  Montgomery  (6-4) held the White Sox to one run on five hits over seven innings while striking out eight.  He issued just one free pass.  Montgomery gave up his only run in the second inning when speculated trade target Todd Frazier opened with a solo shot to left center.  From there, Monty kept the White Sox off the board while the Yankees built what appeared to be a comfortable lead.

Credit:  AP

A fielding error by Frazier in the fourth allowed Gary Sanchez to reach base.  Aaron Judge, who had opened the inning with a walk, moved to third.  Tyler Austin lofted a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge, tying the game.  Jacoby Ellsbury, fresh off the DL, singled to move Sanchez into scoring position.  Chase Headley singled, scoring Sanchez.  Following a walk by Austin Romine to load the bases, Ronald Torreyes hit into a double-play but Ellsbury was able to score before the White Sox completed the final out, catching Headley between second and third, to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.  

With one out in the sixth, Tyler Austin gave the Yankees what they were missing from first base with a line drive homer to left or as Michael Kay called it, “a bullet”.  Ellsbury reached base on a fielding error by White Sox starting pitcher David Holmberg and Headley followed with a double to move Ells to third.  The White Sox made a pitching change and Austin Romine greeted reliever Juan Minaya with a sac fly to center, scoring Ellsbury.  A passed ball moved Headley to third.  Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder that should have been the final out, but an error by first baseman Matt Davidson, the third White Sox error of the game, allowed Torreyes to reach first while Headley scored, making it 6-1 Yankees.

The Yankees got into some trouble in the 8th when Jonathan Holder replaced Montgomery to start the inning.  He struck out the first batter but a single by former Yankee Melky Cabrera and a walk to Jose Abreu put Cabrera in scoring position.  Avisail Garcia hit into a force out that erased Abreu at second, moving Cabrera to third.  Holder was pulled and replaced by Dellin Betances who subsequently walked Frazier to load the bases.  In what would prove to be one of the plays of the game, Betances struck out Davidson to end the threat.  

Unable to tack on any further insurance runs, the Yankees took the 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th.  Chasen Shreve was brought in to pitch in relief of Betances and secured the first out on  a grounder by Yolmer Sanchez. But Kevan Smith and Adam Engel followed with singles to put runners at first and second.  Tim Anderson punched a fly ball over the center field wall to pull the White Sox within two runs, 6-4.  A frustrated Shreve was pulled for Aroldis Chapman but the White Sox kept the rally going with a single by Melky Cabrera.  Fellow Cuban Jose Abreu doubled off Chapman, scoring Cabrera, and it was 6-5 Yankees.  Fortunately, Chapman got Avisail Garcia on a ground out and Todd Frazier flied out to left to secure the save.  

A little too close for comfort but the final result was a much-needed win.  The Yankees (41-33) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-1, earlier in the evening.  The Tampa Bay Rays were idle and slipped to 3 games back.

The game wasn’t without its bad news.  Second baseman Starlin Castro left the game in the third inning after straining his right hamstring while trying to run out a grounder.  He was replaced by Rob Refsnyder.  Castro will have a MRI today while the Yankees decide whether or not to place him on the DL.  The initial word is the Yankees will call up infield prospect Tyler Wade.  Wade has 5 HR’s and 25 RBI’s for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  His slash line is .313/.390/.444.  In 71 games, he led the RailRiders with 13 errors but has stolen 24 bags.  Wade, expected to be the utility-man of the future, will now get his first taste of the Bigs.  He’ll back up Ronald Torreyes at second until Castro is able to resume play.  

Credit:  Jon Durr-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees were busy Monday on the transactions wire.  They placed Aaron Hicks, as expected, on the 10-Day DL with a right oblique strain.  Jacoby Ellsbury, who had been expected to continue his rehab with Double A Trenton was instead activated to replace Hicks.  Healthy, there’s no question I prefer Hicks over Ellsbury, but since that’s not an option, I am hopeful the Yankees can get something…anything…out of first base for production.  If so, it will help offset the loss of Hicks.  The Yankees also sent LHP Tyler Webb and OF Mason Williams to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  I was sorry to see Webb go after just two Major League appearances, but hopefully, he’ll be back.  RHP Ronald Herrera and IB/OF Rob Refsnyder were recalled to replace Webb and Williams.  Refsnyder will provide corner outfield relief and help at first base if necessary.  Herrera had been scheduled to start last night’s game for the RailRiders so he represents a rotation insurance arm.

Matt Holliday was unavailable for the second straight day with his condition as a result of the allergic reaction suffered in Oakland.  He had some medical tests ran yesterday but hopefully everything comes back good.  The Yankees can ill afford to lose his productive bat for any extended period of time.

I do not want to detract from the great rookie season Aaron Judge is having, but Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger is amazing.  He had his sixth multi-homer game on Sunday and now has 24 homers on the year.  With a delayed start (he wasn’t promoted to the Dodgers until April 25th), he has the most home runs of any NL rookie in the first half since the All-Star Game debuted in 1933.  The Dodgers have been steamrolling their opponents since he arrived.  At his current pace, the son of a former Yankees utility player may catch and surpass Judge for most home runs in MLB.  Bellinger and the Dodgers certainly have the mojo working right now.

Credit:  Chris Carlson-AP

Have a great Tuesday!  Hopefully it’s a two-for Tuesday as the Yankees attempt to secure their second win against the White Sox.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Hello Win Column, I’ve Missed You!…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Angels 4…

OMG, we scored more runs than the other team!  What do we do now????  

Seriously, it’s so good to experience the winning feeling again.  Whew!  It has been far too long. Congratulations to us! High fives all around. The game had its moments but in the end, it was a 103 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman blazing into Austin Romine’s mitt for a swinging third strike that brought joy back to the Bronx.  

The Yankees jumped out to the early lead when Didi Gregorius homered following a single by Gary Sanchez in the second inning.  The Angels tied the score in the fourth.  Didi’s buddy from Curacao, Andrelton Simmons, singled and advanced to second on a balk.  Angels catcher Martin Maldonado then hit a ball over the left field wall.  Game tied at 2.  With someone like Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, you’d feel the floodgates were about to open for the opponent.  But on this night, Jordan Montgomery was on the mound and he continues to instill confidence with each outing.  For whatever reason, that dude looked slimmer on the mound than usual.  I guess Pinstripes are thinning but I digress.

Matt Holliday’s solo shot in the fifth gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead which the Yankees took into the sixth.  Montgomery (5-4) retired the first two batters he faced but then Simmons singled again.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Montgomery and inserted Chad Green who promptly struck out Maldonado to end the inning.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees picked up 3 more runs on a two-run double by Austin Romine and a run-scoring single by Aaron Hicks.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

In the seventh, I had an uneasy feeling when Green walked C.J. Cron on four straight pitches.  A ball to the next batter, Danny Espinosa, brought pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the dugout steps but Green found his groove and registered a strikeout.  He retired the next two batters on groundouts and really emerged as one of the stars of this game.  The Yankees picked up a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning when Matt Holliday doubled and scored on Starlin Castro’s single.  Chase Headley singled to score Castro, pushing the score to 8-2.

Dellin Betances pitched a clean eighth inning, punching out the first two batters he faced and getting the third on a groundout to short.

All was going great…until Tyler Clippard got up in the bullpen.  I get the logic of trying to give Clippard a clean inning to work with and much better do it with a 6 run lead but, right now, if there is a pitcher that could butcher a large lead, it’s Clippard.  Sure enough, Girardi brought him in to start the 9th.  Simmons doubled and there was a strong sense of ‘here we go again’.  Maldonado stepped up and hit his second home run of the night which Aarons Judge and Hicks could only watch sail over the right field wall to bring the Angels within four runs.  Mercifully, Girardi pulled Clippard and signaled for Aroldis Chapman.  The walkup music for Chapman drowned the boos for Clippard as he sadly walked off the field.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-AP

Admittedly, I was still a bit concerned with Chapman.  This was only his second appearance since returning from the DL and he had not pitched since Sunday.  I had visions of his control problems from his last minor league rehab stint, but my concerns were unfounded.  He was the Chapman of old and he came out throwing extreme heat.  By the time he was facing his third and final batter, Eric Young Jr, he was throwing pitches that registered on the Statcast leaderboard. His final pitch, at 102.9 mph, was the fastest in the Majors this year.

Credit:  MLB.com

Yankees win.  The Yankees win!  All is right in the world again.

The Yankees (39-30) recaptured first place in the AL East, by 1/2 game, with the victory as the Boston Red Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals, 6-4.  Thank you to Salvador Perez for his 8th inning grand slam.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cincinnati Reds, 8-3.  They are 3 games back.  The Toronto Blue Jays also won so they, along with the Baltimore Orioles, are 5 games behind.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees will either be tied or a full game up upon conclusion of tonight’s series finale with the Angels.  

 

The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth…

I realize that this blog is not for movie news, but hey, they don’t pay me so I’ll take the liberty of the departure.  Director Jay Russell, best known for 2004’s Ladder 49 starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta, has been tabbed to direct a planned feature film called The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.  The movie will be based on Jonathan Eig’s biography Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig.  



For those of you who have not read the book, here is the description per the book’s publisher:

“The definitive account of the life and tragic death of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig was a baseball legend–the Iron Horse, the stoic New York Yankee who was the greatest first baseman in history, a man whose consecutive-games streak was ended by a horrible disease that now bears his name.  But as this definitive new biography makes clear, Gehrig’s life was more complicated–and, perhaps, even more heroic–than anyone really knew.

Drawing on new interviews and more than two hundred pages of previously unpublished letters to and from Gehrig, Luckiest Man gives us an intimate portrait of a man who became an American hero: his life as a shy and awkward youth growing up in New York City, his unlikely friendship with Babe Ruth (a friendship that allegedly ended over rumors that Ruth had an affair with Gehrig’s wife), and his stellar career with the Yankees, where his consecutive-games streak stood for more than half a century.  What was not previously known, however, is that symptoms of Gehrig’s affliction began appearing in 1938, earlier than is commonly acknowledged.  Later, aware that he was dying, Gehrig exhibited a perseverance that was truly inspiring; he lived the last two years of his short life with the same grace and dignity with which he gave his now-famous “luckiest man” speech.

Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man shows us one of the greatest baseball players of all time as we’ve never seen him before.”

The planned movie already has a script written by Dan Kay.  Branded Entertainment’s Michael Uslan and David Uslan head a producing team that includes Kingsway Productions’ Robert Molloy and Conglomerate Media’s Armando Gutierrez.  

Molloy is the grandson of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  “As my late grandfather always believed, Lou Gehrig was a great role model for the world.  There is triumph even in tragedy and it’s only in the face of great odds that true human heroes are born and inspire us all.”

Barrie Osborne, an executive producer for the film, said, “What I love most about the project is the fact that audiences need to know nothing about sports, baseball, the Yankees, or even the legend of Lou Gehrig in order to be moved by this emotionally uplifting story.”

“Lou Gehrig is an iconic character, not just in baseball, but as a true American hero, a man who faced his intense, personal battles with quiet bravery,” said Russell.  “While Gehrig’s story has previously been told in the beloved Pride of the Yankees (1942), this will be a new depiction with a more contemporary style and approach.”

As a lifelong Lou Gehrig fan, I am very excited to hear this news.  I have always considered Gehrig to be the greatest Yankee and it’s wonderful that they are bringing his story to the big screen.  We know Gehrig’s accomplishments on the baseball field.  This is an opportunity to know and understand the depth of the man behind the legend.  I can’t wait…


Odds & Ends…


A Jacoby Ellsbury sighting has been reported. Ellsbury took batting practice and ran the bases on Wednesday.  GM Brian Cashman said before yesterday’s game that the most important thing is to see how Ellsbury responds to the next three to six days.  As long as Aaron Hicks is healthy, I am completely fine with Ellsbury taking all the time he needs.  But realistically, the Yankees are probably stronger with Hicks rotating through the outfield to provide relief for all of the outfielders and not just center.  But if the Yankees could find a way to trade Ellsbury for a bucket of bolts, I’m all in.  Just be sure that he takes Chris Carter and Tyler Clippard with him.

Congrats to Gleyber Torres for his successful Tommy John surgery yesterday.  Gleyber posted “Surgery went as planned now time to recover and get back on the field.  I can’t wait for next season thank you all for support” on Twitter last evening.  Gleyber, we can’t wait for you to get back on the field either.  Happy Recovery!

Credit:  Gleyber Torres-Twitter

Have a great Thursday!  I like this new thing called winning.  Can we do it again today?…

Losing the Game of Inches…

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sport

A’s 8, Yankees 7…


I love California but this road trip has been horrific.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images

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


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


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

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


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


Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends…

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

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

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


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