|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.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Next Stop, Toronto Pearson International Airport…
We should begin seeing some whittling down of bodies at Steinbrenner Field soon so it got me thinking about the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. March 29th, and a date with the Toronto Blue Jays, is only three weeks away so the regular season will be upon us before we know it.
Count me among those who do not place much stock in Miguel Andujar’s slew of home runs against mostly Double-A pitching. I think Andujar will make a contribution this year, perhaps a significant one, but I do not feel that he’ll head to Toronto with the team after they play their final Spring game in Atlanta against the Braves. My guess is that he spends more time with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to work on his defensive game.
Here is my projection for the Opening Day Roster (with starting position players in italics).
Rest of the Pen
Aaron Judge, RF
Brett Gardner, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
The guess is Judge will be exclusively a right-fielder and DH, with Stanton primarily filling the DH role but covering both outfield corner positions dependent upon the ballpark. When (not if) Ellsbury gets hurt (assuming that he recovers from the right oblique strain in time for Opening Day), Clint Frazier gets the first look as his replacement with Billy McKinney next in line.
I don’t know what happens with Tyler Austin. The way the Yankees keep trying to replace him leads me to believe that he is not in the long-term vision. I could very well be wrong about the backup first base job. Perhaps Austin does win it and Lind opts out of his minor league contract in a couple of weeks. But it’s hard to overlook Lind’s history of success at the Major League level so I won’t.
It remains my belief we’ll see Gleyber Torres as the starting second baseman during the season, maybe as early as the first of May. Assuming he doesn’t go to Baltimore in a mammoth mid-season trade for Manny Machado, I think Andujar will see extended time in the Majors for the Pinstripers too. Admittedly, if he keeps up his torrid hitting over the next couple of weeks as MLB starters are stretched out in preparation for the season, he could force his way onto the Opening Day Roster. If that happens, Lind (or Austin) could be the odd man out, with Drury and Romine serving as the less-than-desirable first base backups in addition to their other duties.
The first reliever on the Scranton Shuttle will be right-hander Ben Heller, followed closely by fellow righty Giovanny Gallegos. For emergency starter, I’d prefer to go with Domingo German over Luis Cessa but the team seems to love Cessa in spot starts despite the lackluster results.
The toughest call is the batting order but my choices from second to fifth would be Judge, Bird, Stanton, and Sanchez, respectively. Regardless of how this shakes out under Aaron Boone, I feel sorry for American League pitchers.
There’s still plenty of time for roster surprises but I think injuries would play the primary role in any deviations, in my humble opinion (which of course could be seriously flawed).
As the saying goes, time will tell as it often does…
If you haven’t already done so, you should check out Bryan Hoch’s new book, The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty. The book is available through multiple outlets including Amazon.com (where I bought my copy).
“Did Andujar hit another home run?”…
There’s no doubt it is fun to watch Miguel Andujar hit home runs in nearly every at bat (so it seems). But…c’mon, it is Spring Training. I put as much stock in Andujar’s home runs as I do the fact that neither Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton have gone yard. It is very early and the hurlers are still working on their pitches and not necessarily using strategy or attacking hitters like they would in the regular season. Plus, many of the Spring pitchers are guys who will never see a MLB roster in 2018 (if ever). In other words, keep expectations in check. When it is show time, you know Judge, Stanton and Sanchez will be leading the homer parade.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Since many are starting to project Opening Day lineups, I’ll toss in my own.
2B-Tyler Wade (although I could buy into Danny Espinosa for the short term)
These are safe choices but decisions I fully expect Manager Aaron Boone to roll with on March 29th. If Gleyber Torres shows that he is ready by the end of the month, then I think he breaks camp with the Yankees as the starting second baseman. Otherwise, he’ll begin the season in Triple A to fine tune his game. I’ve become convinced that service time will not factor into the decision. The Yankees want to field the team that gives them the best chance for success from the very first game of the season. When Gleyber is ready, he is the man at the second. For me, he’s the most exciting talent at the position since Dontcha Know Robinson Cano.
Photo Credit: Newsday (Thomas A Ferrara)
I feel confident, at this point, that the Opening Day roster will feature 25 guys currently in camp with the Yankees. In other words, I do not see any further trade activity or free agent signings before the start of the regular season. The Yankees have a huge advantage over the Boston Red Sox in terms of in-season flexibility. Boston is maxed out on payroll and they have a weak farm system. There will be no major acquisitions by the Red Sox at the trading deadline. The Yankees, on the other hand, have the ability to make huge moves dependent upon need, with salary room and cupboards overflowing with prospects. The Yankees have the talent, today, to hang with the Red Sox, if not potentially creating separation in the AL East Standings. Identifying mid-season weaknesses and seeking impact upgrades should allow the Yankees to explode past the Red Sox if all goes according to plan (which, of course, it never does). Nevertheless with all things considered, I’ll take my chances with the Yankees against the Beantown Bunch.
If I was Orioles GM Dan Duquette, I’d be on the phone to Brian Cashman. “Say Brian, I’ve been watching that Andujar kid. You still interested in Manny?”. I know that Orioles owner Peter Angelos hates the Yankees but a chance to grab a young third baseman with a lethal bat and perhaps a top pitching prospect, among others, for a guy that will wear the Orioles uniform for the final time on Sunday, September 30, 2018 against the Houston Astros at Camden Yards (barring a trade by the deadline).
While I think the Yankees will spend to sign (or if they successfully trade for him, re-sign) Manny Machado, I do not expect a big splash in the 2018-19 free agent market. I’ve seen some suggest that the Yankees will sign both Machado and Bryce Harper. That’s not happening. The Yankees have a large chunk of the roster comprised of pre-arbitration guys who are still making minimum wage or barely over. This list includes (in alphabetical order):
You could cut this list down to just Greg Bird, Chad Green, Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. That’s six players who will see significant increases in their pay over the coming years as they enter into arbitration. This is on top of the current arbitration players like Didi Gregorius who will command top dollars on the open market in the not-so-distant future. If Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner has taught us anything, he is not going to be frivolous with money. I can’t see committing Giancarlo Stanton-like money (or more) to outside free agents when the Yankees will have to pay their own young stars one day. I am more excited about the prospect of Estevan Florial eventually becoming the starting center fielder than the possibility of spending a half-billion dollars to bring Bryce Harper to the Bronx. Don’t get me wrong…I love Harper…but I think he is an excess luxury for a team with so many young talented hitters. I would rather see the dollars invested in upgrading the starting pitching and retaining our young superstars.
I don’t envy Aaron Boone for the decision he’ll have to make at third base. As a Vikings fan, I am watching their off-season with interest as the team does not have a quarterback signed beyond the young unproven Kyle Sloter. The big question is whether the Vikings will try to re-sign Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum, or attempt to go after a big fish like Kirk Cousins. While I’d like Cousins on my team, I recognize the team needs to re-sign its own young stars. This is not unlike the Yankees. Yesterday, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, talking about the QB situation, said that the team has to make the right call for its next QB. Otherwise, it could cost him his job. I don’t think the third base competition between Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar will cost Boonie his job, but Sports is big business. The financial considerations have to make as much sense as the ability of the players. So, my philosophy for free agency is the same in the MLB as it is in the NFL, “take care of your own”. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be new guys or that we shouldn’t get rid of guys who are simply filling a roster space. I just want to see the ‘tried and true’ players get their due.
Photo Credit: MLB.com
One final note: I would like to see more Domingo German and less Luis Cessa, please.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
Yankees 4, Mets 2…
A day after a disappointing one-run loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees bullpen backed homers by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez to give the Yankees the victory over the New York Mets in the opener of their four-game series.
Normally, I hate solo home runs. Stronger preference (obviously) for round-trippers with men on base, but in this game, three solo shots were enough to power the Yankees to the win despite two home runs by the Mets (also of the solo variety).
The Mets scored their runs in the third inning against Yankees starter Luis Cessa. The Grandy Man, Curtis Granderson, showing how much he misses the right field porch, parked one there down the right field line. One out later, Yoenis Cespedes sent one that bounced off the right field wall for a homer, just missed by Aaron Judge, and the Mets led 2-0.
The Yankees had a chance for a big inning in the 4th against Mets starter Rafael Montero. Aaron Hicks singled to center, a soft liner, with one out. Aaron Judge followed with a walk on four pitches. A wild pitch by Montero advanced the runners to second and third, but it didn’t really matter as the next batter, Didi Gregorius, walked on a full count to load the bases. Gary Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Hicks (who came in just ahead of the tag), but that’s all the Yankees would get as Chase Headley flied out to right. The Mets still led, 2-1.
While pitching to Rene Rivera to open the 5th, Luis Cessa apparently felt discomfort in his back which brought Manager Joe Girardi to the mound. Cessa convinced Girardi to let him stay. He was able to retire Rivera on a ground out, but the next batter, Juan Lagares, singled to center, a roller up the middle. After making his second trip to the mound, Girardi pulled Cessa and replaced him with Chad Green. After the game, Girardi said the medical staff does not believe the injury, a right rhomboid muscle issue, is serious, however, Cessa will undergo an MRI this morning.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-The Associated Press|
Back to the game, Lagares attempted to steal second but was erased on Gary Sanchez’s brilliant throw to shortstop Tyler Wade. Green then struck out Curtis Granderson to get out of the inning.
Aaron Judge, showing signs of breaking out of his recent extended slump, homered to open the 6th inning to tie the game at two. The ball landed near the Modell’s sign in right. It was Judge’s 36th of the season.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-The Associated Press|
Outstanding pitching performance by Chad Green who continued to shut the Mets down through the seventh inning. He kept the Mets off the board for 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief, walking one batter and striking out four.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post|
David Robertson continued the bullpen mastery in the 8th when he struck out the side, with the only flaw a two-out walk to Asdrubal Cabrera.
Aaron Hicks, leading off the bottom of the 8th inning, broke the tie when he belted a pitch from Mets reliever Hansel Robles deep into the right center stands.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
After Robles struck out Aaron Judge, the Mets brought in lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to retire Didi Gregorius on a ground out, and then made another switch to bring in righty Erik Goeddel to face Gary Sanchez. As Julia Roberts said in the movie Pretty Woman, “Big mistake”. A blast to right center by Sanchez, near where Judge had parked his shot, and it was 4-2 Yankees. Unlike Sunday night, the Yankees had their insurance run although they wouldn’t need it.
Dellin Betances entered the game in the 9th due to Aroldis Chapman’s unavailability (he had thrown 26 pitches over nearly two innings of work during Sunday’s loss). Betances, unlike Chapman, got the job done. He allowed a two-out single to Mets rookie Dominic Smith when Tyler Wade, at short, was unable to make an accurate throw after a bare-handed grab. Smith moved to second on defensive indifference but was left stranded when Betances struck out Amed Rosario to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (62-55) were able to pick up a game they had lost over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox with the victory. The Red Sox, despite two home runs by Sunday night’s hero…Rafael Devers, fell to the Cleveland Indians, 7-3, at Fenway Park. So, the Yankees are back to 4 1/2 games behind the Sox. The Baltimore Orioles took sole possession of third place in the AL East with their 11-3 victory over the sliding Seattle Mariners. They are four games behind the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays, dropping to fourth, lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1. The Rays trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games and are just a game away from the AL East cellar.
I have to admit that it took me a minute to get Mike Axisa’s tweet during the game about the great pitching performances of Luis Cessa and Chad Green. One of the night’s best tweets…
Aaron Judge extended his consecutive game streak with a strikeout (excluding pitchers) to 31 games. He now trails Adam Dunn’s record by only one game. But to Judge’s defense, he did hit his 40th career home run. Gary Sanchez’s shot was also his 40th career HR.
David Robertson (6-2) was the beneficiary of the home run by Aaron Hicks as he took the victory. The save was the seventh of the season for Dellin Betances.
To make yesterday’s start, RHP Luis Cessa was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with LHP Caleb Smith, called up this past weekend, going the other way without tossing a pitch.
I know that Aroldis Chapman’s pitch on Sunday to Rafael Devers came in hot (103 mph) and Devers’ swing was as perfect as it could be to make the home run the product of the hitter and not the pitcher, but count me among those who feel that Chapman is still not right. It’s going to take a few shutdown performances (Kenley Jansen-style) before I am going to believe that Chapman is the man for the 9th. I like Chapman a lot and I was excited when the Yankees re-signed him, but at this moment in time, I feel that David Robertson and Dellin Betances represent stronger closing options. That opinion dissipates when The Missile can show me he is once again the man for the job. That’s on him…not on me.
|Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports|
Have a great Tuesday! Last day at Yankee Stadium before the road trip. Let’s rock the house! Go Yankees!
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
Rays 5, Yankees 3…
Ronald Torreyes tried but nobody else in the offensive lineup was cooperative as the Yankees lost the fourth and final game of the series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Yankee hitters were 1-for-11 in scoring opportunities so this one goes down as a game of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’.
On a day when it was announced the Yankees had acquired left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, one of the other lefties in the rotation…Jordan Montgomery…failed to get out of the third inning. Like Saturday, the Rays took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Montgomery struck out Peter Bourjos, walked Steven Souza, Jr, and struck out Evan Longoria. Lucas Duda singled to left as Souza, Jr took second. Trevor Plouffe followed with a single up the middle, scoring Souza, Jr with the game’s first run.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
The Yankees grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second. Chase Headley walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Rays starter Jacob Faria. After Todd Frazier struck out, Ronald Torreyes hit a homer over the left field wall…2-1, Yankees.
Peter Bourjos led off the third inning with a double to the left field wall. After Steven Souza, Jr struck out, Evan Longoria reached on an infield chopper as the speedy Bourjos took third. Lucas Duda walked to load the bases with only one out. For a moment, it looked like Monty might be able to work out of the jam. He struck out Trevor Plouffe and had Corey Dickerson a strike away from ending the inning. But Dickerson hit a 1-2 pitch into center field, scoring Bourjos and Longoria with the tying and go-ahead runs. Wilson Ramos followed with a single to center, scoring Duda, and it was 4-2 Rays. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough, and pulled Montgomery, who had thrown 71 pitches despite an inability to get out of the 3rd inning, in favor of Luis Cessa. Cessa threw a wild pitch which allowed Dickerson to take third as Ramos moved to second, but he was able to strike out Tim Beckham to get out of the inning.
The Yankees made it a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th. With two outs, Todd Frazier walked on four straight balls and scored when Ronald Torreyes doubled to the left field corner. Frazier slid in under the throw from the outfield to score while Torreyes moved to third but Toe was left stranded when Austin Romine grounded out.
The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the 8th against Yankees reliever Chad Green. Mallex Smith, pinch-hitting for Tim Beckham, led off the 8th with an infield single. Smith stole second, easily sliding in under the tag. With two outs, Steven Souza, Jr doubled off the left center wall to bring Smith home for the Rays’ fifth and final run.
The Yankees had numerous scoring opportunities in this game, but none bigger than the bottom of the 9th. After Gary Sanchez struck out against Rays closer Alex Colome, Brett Gardner singled to left. A wild pitch moved Gardy to second and Clint Frazier reached first when Colome threw four straight pitches outside of the strike zone. With the tying run at first and one out, the Yankees had the heart of the lineup representing the winning run at the plate. Aaron Judge had the first opportunity but got under a pitch and popped out to Trevor Plouffe in foul territory. It came down to Matt Holliday for the Yankees’ last chance. He weakly grounded out to Evan Longoria who easily threw Holliday out at first.
The Yankees could have won this game, leaving a total of 22 men on base, but it was not meant to be. The bullpen did a very good job after Montgomery’s early exit. The combination of Luis Cessa, Chasen Shreve and Chad Green pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing only 3 hits and the 8th inning run given up by Green. They walked 6 batters but struck out 11. Shreve and Green worked out of a bases loaded threat in the top of the 7th inning. The trio gave the Yankees the chance to win so that’s all you can ask.
Fortunately, the Boston Red Sox also lost on Sunday, by the same 5-3 score to the Kansas City Royals, so the Yankees (56-47) maintained their half game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East. The Rays picked up a game so they are 3 1/2 back after losing three of four to the Yankees over the weekend.
Austin Romine left the game after getting hit by a pitch in the 6th inning. It was a tough game for him. He was struck in the throat by a bounced foul ball earlier in the game, and was hit in the head by Steven Souza, Jr’s bat on a follow-through of his swing. Although he stayed in the game to run after getting hit, he was replaced at catcher by Gary Sanchez the next inning. The cameras showed a bruised welt on Romine’s hand but x-rays proved negative. Manager Joe Girardi does not expect any DL time for Romine, and of course Romine’s attitude was the usual ‘just cram the hand in the glove and go’.
Credit: Getty Images
Clint Frazier had quite a second inning. Right before Romine got the ball to the throat, Frazier caught a fly ball in front of Brett Gardner who had tried to call Frazier off. The next batter, Adeiny Hechavarria, hit a ball to the left field wall and Frazier timed his leap and catch perfectly to take away an extra base hit. Bad play-good play, but fortunately both were for outs.
Next Up: Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees entertain the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series at the Stadium beginning today. By game time, the Trading Deadline will have come and gone. It’s time to focus on winning the AL East. Newcomer Jaime Garcia, having pitched last Friday in Oakland for the Twins, will be unavailable to pitch until Thursday, thereby missing the Detroit series.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Tigers: Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03 ERA)
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 6.18 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.66 ERA)
Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann (6-8, 5.69 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-9, 5.09 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees optioned lefty starter Caleb Smith to Triple A and recalled lefty reliever Chasen Shreve. After the game, they optioned RHP Luis Cessa to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (presumably to make room for LHP Jaime Garcia).
I had thought Tigers reliever Justin Wilson would be the next ex-Yankee traded this month in what has been a flurry of transactions involving former Pinstripers. I was wrong. Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox made their latest veteran dump when they sent OF Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals. This is Melky’s second tour with the Royals where he spent the 2011 season. But Wilson wasn’t far behind as word spread that he was on his way to Wrigley Field by the end of the day.
Congratulations to third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers for becoming a member of the 3,000 Hit Club. Beltre reached the milestone on Sunday with a double off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wade Miley. Beltre is currently in his 20th MLB season and is the first player born in the Dominican Republic to reach 3,000 hits.
Credit: Tom Fox-The Dallas Morning News
As of this writing, I don’t know what to think about the Sonny Gray rumors. On Saturday, it sounded like the Yankees were making significant progress with the Oakland A’s but then yesterday, nothing (implying a potential impasse). With the clock clicking down, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. While I remain optimistic the Yankees will get Gray, there is a good possibility that Jaime Garcia is the Yankees’ last acquisition before the deadline. Although the Yankees are rumored to be looking at Yu Darvish as a backup plan, I think that is far less likely to happen. I’m hoping we’ll be looking at Sonny skies before game time today but prepared to move on with the arms and bats currently on the roster.
Have a great Monday! It’s should be a wild ride up to 4 pm Eastern today but afterwards, let’s start a new winning streak. Go Yankees!
Yankees 9, Reds 5…
All seems to be right in the Yankees Universe once again. After Manager Joe Girardi voiced that “he’s thrown the best all year for us…call him what you want”, Luis Severino went out and threw another ace-style performance at the Cincinnati Reds as the Yankees swept the two-game series.
Jordan Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Tuesday and settled for a two-hit, one-run performance over 6 2/3 innings. It was as if Severino said, “that’s great, but I can do better”. Sevy (7-4) pitched 7 innings for the win, allowing only 3 hits and 2 runs (none earned). He walked a couple of batters and struck out 9. For the man who couldn’t win a start in 2016, he is this year’s MVP in the starting rotation.
Then there’s Didi Gregorius who is hitting everything thrown within 50 miles of him. Derek Jeter who? Okay, I jest on that part so as to not offend the DJ fans and his legacy but Didi is simply playing in a higher league right now.
Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post
The game started out to be a pitching duel between Severino and Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey. They traded 0’s for a couple of innings until the Yankees broke through with a run in the bottom of the 3rd. The Toddfather (Todd Frazier, as if it needs an explanation) got the inning started with a single. But he was quickly erased when the $153 million pinch-runner, starting in center due to a day off for Aaron Judge in right, hit into a double play. Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner took matters into their own bats and both singled to put runners at first and second. The other Frazier (Red Thunder) singled to right to score Torreyes. The Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.
In the 5th inning, after the $153 million man flied out for the second out of the inning, Ronald Torreyes, Brett Gardner, and Clint Frazier repeated the third inning formula. Single, single, single with run scored. Like the 3rd inning, Gary Sanchez got the final out leaving Gardner stranded. It was 2-0 Yankees.
Finally in the 6th inning, the Yankees looked elsewhere than Torreyes, Gardy and Red Thunder for runs as Didi Gregorius reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Peraza, subbing for the injured Zack Cozart, and advanced to second. Chase Headley singed to center to bring home Didi. 3-0, Yankees. After Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a force attempt throwing error to second base by first baseman Joey Votto to load the bases. Frazier was originally called out at second, but the Yankees rightfully challenged the play and it was overturned when it clearly showed that Jose Peraza’s foot was off base when he took the throw from Votto. Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to short and was thrown out at first but Headley scored on the play as the Yankees increased their lead to 4-0.
The Reds picked up a couple of runs against Severino in the top of the 7th. Scott Schebler reached base on a fielding error by Didi Gregorius. Eugenio Suarez made the Yankees pay for it with a double to left, scoring Schebler. A wild pitch by Sevy advanced Suarez to third. Tucker Barnhart grounded out to first, but Suarez scored. 4-2, Yankees.
The Yankees broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th. Clint Frazier walked and scored when Gary Sanchez doubled to left. Sanchez advanced to third on the throw. Matt Holliday singled to left to score Sanchez. It was 6-2 Yankees and the end of the line for Homer Bailey. Reliever Tony Cingrani entered the game and was met with a Didi Gregorius home run to right (that’s been happening to quite a few pitchers lately). Two more runs and it was 8-2. After Chase Headley lined out, the Toddfather finally crashed the party with his first Yankee home run, a solo shot to left. It was 9-2 Yankees and it seemed like it would be a coast to victory.
Credit: Elsa-Getty Images
Enter Luis Cessa. The first out was easy…a ground out by Billy Hamilton. The second batter, Scooter Gennett, should have been an out but Gennett reached first after swinging at the third strike, a ball that got past Gary Sanchez due to a wild pitch on Cessa. Cessa then proceeded to walk Joey Votto which brought up Adam Duvall. During the at-bat, I was thinking that Cessa had better be careful with the dangerous Duvall at the plate. Boom, a three-run shot to right and the Reds had closed the gap to 9-5. Fortunately, after a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Cessa retired the next two batters to get out of the inning. I am not sure that I could have been that patient with Cessa. If I was manager, he probably would have been grabbing his bus seat for the trip to Scranton, PA by the end of the game.
Girardi made the wise choice to go with David Robertson in the 9th. 1-2-3, game over. Man, I love having D-Rob back in the fold. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (53-46) did not make up any ground in the AL East despite the win. The Boston Red Sox, behind Chris Sale and rookie third baseman Rafael Devers who homered in his first MLB at-bat, beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-0. The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1. So, the Yankees remain one game behind the Red Sox and a game and a half ahead of the Rays who departed for the Bronx following their game in Baltimore.
The $153 Million Man was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and was the only starting position player without a hit. What was it that Joe Girardi said? He was to take advantage of his opportunities? Ouch…
Next Up: Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
The Yankees get back into AL East play this evening at Yankee Stadium. The third-place Tampa Bays come to town ready to make some noise. It is the Yankees’ mission to ensure that they leave disappointed.
|Credit: Will Vragovic-Tampa Bay Times|
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Rays: Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA)
Rays: Blake Snell (0-6, 4.86 ERA)
Yankees: Caleb Smith (0-1, 8.10 ERA)
Rays: Jacob Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Chance Adams pitched yesterday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 5-4 win over the Norfolk Tides. He did not get the decision but went 7 innings, giving up only three hits and two runs. He had two walks to go with seven strikeouts. His season ERA stands at 2.39. The RailRiders won the game, thanks to a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning by Mike Ford off former Yankees pitcher Matt Wotherspoon. The Tides got a run off winner Ben Heller in the bottom of the 10th.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Twins 3…
On Tuesday, the Yankees faced baseball’s oldest player and a former Yank. With a 2-8 record and 8.14 ERA for the Atlanta Braves, Bartolo Colon looked to be a feast for the young Baby Bombers. But after he shut down the Yankees in the first inning like a young ace, I had fears that Colon was going to be a master, for one night, against the Yankees. Fortunately, he wore down quickly and the Yankees got to him in the fifth inning to rally for the victory over the Minnesota Twins.
|Credit: Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports|
Admittedly, it was a little hard to focus on the game as rumors were swirling about the Yankees potential acquisition of Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox. The trade became official after the game but more on that later.
I like Yankees starter Luis Cessa and he’s done well at Triple A. But for whatever reason, it just has not translated at the Major League level for him…yet. It felt like it was going to be a long night when Colon breezed through the top of the Yankees batting order in the first inning including a strike out of Aaron Judge. Cessa, on the other hand, struggled out of the gate. He walked the first two batters and hit Miguel Sano with a pitch to load the bases with only one out. After getting Max Kepler to pop out, Cessa walked Robbie Grossman to give the Twins the early 1-0 lead. Fortunately, Cessa struck out Eddie Rosario to prevent any further damage. One run on no hits…not exactly how you want to start a game.
|Credit: Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Cessa walked the first batter of the second inning but settled down to retire the next three batters. With the Yankee offense still unable to get anything going against Colon, the Twins added to their lead in the third when Miguel Sano homered to center (a solo shot into the bullpen).
The Yankees finally got on the board in the top of the 4th. Aaron Judge opened the inning with a single to left. Didi Gregorius hit an infield grounder to third that was deflected off Colon for a single. Clint Frazier hit into a force out that erased Gregorius at second but Judge advanced to third. Chase Headley singled to center, past a diving Brian Dozier, to bring home Judge and it was 2-1 Twins.
The Twins got the run right back in the bottom of the inning. Jason Castro hit a one-out double to the right field wall and Brian Dozier hit a fly ball that nearly went out of the park, bouncing off the upper part of the scoreboard area on the right field fence, as the Twins regained the two-run advantage, 3-1. Cessa was able to retire Zack Granite on a ground out, but the Yankees brought in Chasen Shreve to secure the final out, a ground out by Joe Mauer.
The 4th inning had showed the Yankees were finally starting to make progress against the ancient Colon but the 5th inning showed why Colon is no longer an Atlanta Brave. Ronald Torreyes singled to left center and moved to third on a ground rule double by Brett Gardner, a fly ball that bounced just inside of the left foul line before falling into the left field stands on the foul side. Gary Sanchez then doubled to left, scoring both Torreyes and Gardner. The game was tied at 3. Twins manager Paul Molitor had seen enough and pulled Colon in favor of reliever Ryan Pressly. But the results were no different. Aaron Judge singled to center to score Sanchez and after Matt Holliday struck out, Didi Gregorius blasted a two-run homer to right. The Yankees had their first lead of the series, 6-3.
|Credit: Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports|
The Twins came right back in the bottom of the 5th and it looked like they might get some runs back. Miguel Sano doubled to left and Max Kepler singled to right, moving Sano to third. Fortunately, Chasen Shreve struck out the next two batters and induced Jorge Polanco into an infield popout to leave Sano stranded at third.
The Yankees loaded the bases again in the 6th inning but Matt Holliday hit a grounder for the final out leaving the bases full. From there it was up to the Yankees bullpen. Adam Warren was great. He pitched two innings of hitless ball in the 6th and 7th, striking out 2. From there, it was a high wire act with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Robbie Grossman doubled off Betances to open the bottom of the 8th. After striking out Eddie Rosario, Betances hit pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar with a pitch. He struck out Jason Castro but walked the dangerous Brian Dozier to load the bases. Zack Granite hit a hard fly ball to right looked to be trouble for a second but it fell short of the wall into Aaron Judge’s glove for the final out. A few groans from the Target Field crowd…
Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th but it was not easy. He walked Joe Mauer on a full count to start the inning. A wild pitch moved Mauer to second and eliminated the possibility of a double play. Miguel Sano grounded out, Ronald Torreyes to Garrett Cooper, moving Mauer to third. Fortunately, Chapman retired the next two batters for his 10th save as the Yankees evened the series at a game apiece.
|Credit: Getty Images|
The Yankees (48-44) remained in third place in the AL East with the win as both the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays won. The Red Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-4, in 15 innings and the Rays beat the Oakland A’s, 4-3. The Yankees are 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a 1 1/2 games behind the Rays.
Throughout the game, I was keeping an eye on the Los Angeles Dodgers game in Chicago against White Sox. Todd Frazier had been held out of the game, and neither David Robertson nor Tommy Kahnle pitched despite Chicago’s use of multiple pitchers in the 1-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. The White Sox game ended before Aroldis Chapman shut down the Twins. Interestingly, Tyler Clippard, one of the rumored players going to the White Sox (which turned out to be true), was warming with Aroldis Chapman in the top of the 9th inning and might have come into the game had the Yankees been able to add to their lead.
The Yankees conclude the series in Minneapolis this afternoon.
The Yankees Are Officially Buyers…
What is old is new again! The question whether the Yankees would be buyers or sellers or hold pat was answered after the game when the rumored deal with the White Sox became official. In exchange for New Jersey native Todd Frazier and former Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees sent their #4 prospect, outfielder Blake Rutherford, LHP Ian Clarkin, OF Tito Polo and reliever Tyler Clippard to Chicago.
|Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images|
I am sad to see Rutherford go but all things considered, it is a position of depth and there is still a possibility the Yankees could make a run at Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent so Rutherford was a bit redundant (particularly given the breakout performance of Double-A outfielder Estevan Florial). I’ve always liked Ian Clarkin and had hoped that he would eventually find his way to the Bronx after injuries prevented the lefty pitcher from advancing more quickly. Polo is an unranked prospect that the Yankees acquired from the Pirates in the trade that sent Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh. I am obviously not disappointed to see Clippard go, especially since Robertson and Kahnle represent significant bullpen upgrades.
I remember being so disappointed when the Yankees lost Tommy Kahnle to the Colorado Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft and he stuck with the Rockies for the entire year. I was very aware of him when the Rockies traded him to the White Sox last November. He was a good reliever in Denver and has been even better for the White Sox.
|Credit: Paul Sancya/AP|
I hated to see David Robertson leave via free agency. I remember when there was the potential that the Yankees could sign both Andrew Miller and David Robertson but inevitably they chose to sign Miller and take the compensation pick (SS Kyle Holder) to let the highly regarded Robertson sign elsewhere. During his first year with the White Sox, he was placed on waivers after the trading deadline and the Yankees put in the winning claim. There was no activity in trade talks but I remember the momentary excitement about Robertson’s possible return.
Todd Frazier has the ability to play first base in addition to third but time will tell whether Manager Joe Girardi uses Frazier or Chase Headley at first. Given that Frazier is clearly a rental, I suspect that he’ll be the regular first baseman but that is Girardi’s decision to make.
With Clippard off the roster, the Yankees still have to make two moves today. My immediate thought would be the demotions of Ji-Man Choi and Luis Cessa to Triple A. But Garrett Cooper could be the odd man out if the Yankees feel he would be better served by starting every day for the RailRiders.
Also, it will be interesting to see if Clint Frazier gives up #30 to Robertson. I personally think he should. He had no prior attachments to the number. As for Todd Frazier, he wears Paul O’Neill’s number which has not been retired. I wonder if he is forced to choose a new number or if the Yankees finally allow the number to be worn again. All things considered, it is just a two month rental so it probably makes more sense to keep #21 in moth balls.
Welcome (or welcome back) to the Yankees, Todd, David and Tommy!
Odds & Ends…
To make room on the active roster for RHP Luis Cessa who started Tuesday’s game, the Yankees optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell, Monday’s starter, to Triple A. Poor Mitchell, he’s probably getting tired of the Bronx-to-Scranton Shuttle.
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins placed former Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes on the 60-day disabled list. I guess I really haven’t been following Hughes’ career in the Twin Cities, but I did not realize that he’s been battling Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). As defined by Wikipedia, TOS is a condition in which there is a compression of the nerves, arteries or veins in the passageway from the lower neck to the armpit. He had part of a rib removed through surgery last year and is experiencing recurring symptoms which could lead to the removal of the remainder of the rib to alleviate pressure. I sincerely hope that Hughes is able to get medical treatment he needs and is able to make a complete recovery.
Have a great Wednesday! A wonderful day to grab a victory and hop a plane for the Great Northwest! Let’s Go Yankees!