Tagged: Luis Cessa

Recipe for Success: Just Add Hicks to the Mix…

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.  

Odds & Ends…

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!

Toe-Powered Offense Falls Short…

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:

TODAY

Tigers:  Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03 ERA)

TUESDAY

Tigers:  Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 6.18 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.66 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

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!

You Can Call Him MISTER Severino…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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:

THURSDAY

Rays:  Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA)

FRIDAY

Rays:  Undecided

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA)

SATURDAY

Rays:  Blake Snell (0-6, 4.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Caleb Smith (0-1, 8.10 ERA)

SUNDAY

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!

Out with the Old and In with the New, or Vice Versa?…

Credit:  Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

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!

Yankee Doodle Bland-y…

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1…

The 4th of July is a great time for America as it celebrates the birth of our country.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable to provide any fireworks as they fell quietly to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.  

The game marked the return of CC Sabathia. Before the game, Manager Joe Girardi was hoping for 5 or 6 innings from Sabathia.  Unfortunately, it would prove to be something comparable to me hoping for winning PowerBall numbers. In retrospect, maybe CC should have taken a rehab assignment.  

The first inning went well enough as Sabathia retired the first three batters on fly outs to center, although he had Jacoby Ellsbury running hard for several of them.  The 2nd inning saw another three up, three down pass through the Jays lineup.  So far, so good.

Then, the 3rd inning happened.  The first two batters…no problem.  Steve Pearce flied out to left and Kevin Pillar struck out swinging.  Then, with two outs, Darwin Barney walked.  A wild pitch by Sabathia moved Barney to second.  Joey Bats followed with a single to right, scoring Barney.  Russell Martin singled and Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases.  Adam Warren got up in the bullpen to begin warming up.  On a 3-2 count, Sabathia threw Ball 4, high and outside, to Justin Smoak, which scored Bautista.  Kendrys Morales stepped up and lined a single to left through the hole, which scored Martin and Donaldson.  4-0 Blue Jays and it was shower time for Sabathia.  Warren came in to record the final out but the damage was done.  63 pitches by Sabathia (39 in the 3rd inning alone) and he was clearly laboring at the end.  He finished with 3 hits and 4 runs in 2 2/3 innings, walking 3 and striking out just 1.  Sabathia (7-3) saw his season ERA inflate to 3.81.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Yankees’ lone highlight came in the bottom of the 4th when All-Star Aaron Judge crushed a J.A. Happ pitch 456 feet to center, a line drive, for his 28th home run of the year.  The Statcast exit velocity of the ball was measured at 118.4 mph.  One more home run and Judge will match the Yankees rookie season HR record held by Joe DiMaggio. 

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

From there, the Yankees could not muster any further offense against Happ or the Jays bullpen.  Happ, a 20-game winner in 2016, picked up only his 3rd win of the year with six strong innings, holding the Yankees to four hits and the lone run.  The Jays pen held the Yankees hitless for the duration of the game.  It was a nice job by the Yankees bullpen too, most notably the 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief provided by Luis Cessa.  

The Yankees will attempt to take the series today with a win before the Jays leave town.  Tomorrow represents an off day (finally).  In their final series before the All-Star Break, the Yankees will host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games beginning Friday.  

The Yankees (44-38) slid four games behind Boston as the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 11-4.  Boston’s on a roll now with their sixth consecutive victory.   The Tampa Bay Rays are quietly sneaking up on the Yankees for second place as they are now just 1 1/2 games in back of the Pinstripers.  The Rays beat their former manager Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs yesterday, 6-5.  

It would have been great if the Yankees could have won on the birthdays of the United States and late owner George Steinbrenner but it was not meant to be.  We can only hope that the winning magic will return today.  Michael Pineda can make it happen.  

Odds & Ends…

After yesterday’s game, the Yankees dumped Chris Carter again.  It’s time for Carter to seek employment elsewhere.  In his final game for the Yankees, Carter was 0-for-2 and dropped a ball from Didi Gregorius in the 7th that was scored a hit for Joey Bats.  Fortunately for us, the Yankees decided it was time to pull the plug on Chris Carter Experiment II and have promoted first baseman Ji-Man Choi from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his place.  In 55 games for the RailRiders, Choi, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, hit 8 HR’s and 41 RBI’s while batting .286.  Choi is not the answer but at this point, he’s better than the man he replaced.  Choi will be available for today’s game.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

The Yankees’ decision to send Bryan Mitchell to Triple A on Tuesday rather than Luis Cessa was based on the desire for Mitchell to continue working as a starter for potential help in the rotation later in the season if necessary.  

Credit:  J Conrad Williams Jr-Newsday

Logan Morrison, shut up.  The Rays first baseman called out Gary Sanchez on Tuesday when he said the Yankees catcher did not deserve to participate in next week’s Home Run Derby.  In the midst of a career season, Morrison said “I remember when I had 14 home runs (Sanchez currently has 13).  That was a month and a half ago.”  Morrison was not selected for the All-Star Game and is currently one of five listed on the AL Final Vote ballot, along with Didi Gregorius and Mike Moustakas.  Even if Morrison somehow won the Final Vote, I seriously doubt that baseball fans would want to see him over Sanchez in the Home Run Derby.  Morrison can go spend next week in Tampa or Kansas City or wherever he’s from while Sanchez heads for Miami.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I prefer to see this as Winnin’ Wednesday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

A Long, Hard Day Falls Short…

Credit:  USATSI

Brian Cashman on Line 3…

The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time.  Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.

On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history.  For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home.  He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base.  Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.  

I get the logic.  The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time.  There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.  

Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter.  I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’.  Sad but true.  With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman.  Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.  

To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.  

The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar.  I wondered what was up with Fowler.  Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header.  No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday.  Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees.  Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games.  It must be tough to be a Triple A manager.  Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A.  I don’t dispute calling up Fowler.  There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury.  It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler.  More on Fowler later.

Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island.  Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams.  As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects.  I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing.  I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong.  If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders.  Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk?  Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year.  Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…

Busy, busy day.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3…

The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine.  On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall.  I had been worried about Fowler going into this game.  Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York).  The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut.  I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central.  It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.

Credit:  Patrick Gorski-AP

The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move.  Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.  

The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half.  Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field.  Gardner scored on the play.  

In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead.  The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error.  Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.  

The Yankees tied the game in the fourth.  Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury).  But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.  Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox.  Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second.  Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base.  Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2. 

The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple.  He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally.  They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.  

I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.

This was a sickening loss.  The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern.  But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played.  The cost was far too great.  If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them.  With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.

Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1.  If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard.  The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.  

I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today.  He has much work to do.

Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros.  It doesn’t get any easier.

Next Up:  Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)

Astros:  Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)

Astros:  Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)

Astros:  Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line.  The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment.  I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer.  Let him go back to the Mets.

Have a great Friday!  Today has to be better than yesterday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Tyler Clippard, Yankee Killer…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Rangers 8, Yankees 1…

You have to score runs to win so starter Luis Cessa should not be faulted for this one.  Aaron Judge tried too.  He hit his league-leading 26th home run to extend his current hitting streak to 26 games.  For as disappointing as the offense was from everybody else, the Yankees entered the 9th inning just a three-run jack away from tying the game.  

However, Manager Joe Girardi chose to bring in game-killer Tyler Clippard.  Perhaps we should just call him Relyt Drappilc because he is pitching so damn back-ass-wards right now.  If you are feeling generous and want to give the other team the opportunity to score lots of runs, just bring Clippard into a game.   But more rips on Clippard later.

Who is Austin Bibens-Dirkx?  The Yankees never seem to do well against unknown rookies but this dude is a 32-year-old in his sixth major league organization.  He spent 12 years in the minor leagues and was in the independent leagues last year.  When the Rangers pitching staff gets healthy, we’ll probably never hear his name again.  But on Saturday, he owned the Yankees.  Aside from Judge’s solo home run in the sixth, Bibens-Dirkx only allowed four other meaningless hits in seven innings of work.  He’ll be telling his grandkids one day about the time he shut down the high and mighty Yankees on the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium.  

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

Cessa (0-2) was not awful but he did depart the game after five innings (having thrown 86 pitches).  He allowed three runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out eight.  His mistake pitch was a slider thrown to Carlos Gomez in the fourth inning that ended up in the left field stands for two runs, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead.  As YES Network announcer David Cone put it, it was a slider that stopped sliding or a slider that takes a seat (pulled up a chair).  

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

After Judge had brought the Yankees to within two runs with his homer, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos answered with a solo shot of his own in the seventh off Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder.  It was the tenth home run of the season for Chirinos in only 95 at-bats. 

With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Webb entered the game in relief of Holder.  It was Tyler’s Major League debut and he got his first batter (Shin-Soo Choo) to line out to end the inning.  Webb pitched the eighth, retiring the three batters he faced, including one by strikeout, to complete a perfect debut.

Credit:  Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, Girardi opted to turn to Clippard for the ninth and he snuffed any chance for a comeback.  Before he had recorded the third out, Clippard had allowed four more runs on a wild pitch and two doubles.  He allowed a total of four hits in the inning and gave up two walks.  The once-reliable set up artist is now a huge albatross. I am not sure how you can turn him around in games without costly implications.  This is one of the worst stretches that I’ve ever seen.  While he pitched well for the Yankees last year after his acquisition from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trading deadline, his numbers in the Sonoran Desert weren’t that great.  For the 2016 D-Backs, he was 2-3 with 4.30 ERA.  That’s closer to the pitcher that we are seeing today.  I hope Clippard can turn this thing around but at the moment, I am not optimistic.  Clippard’s too valuable (I think?) to cut so hopefully he does work through this funk.  I apologize for being so harsh but the last few weeks with Clippard have not been enjoyable.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Facing the huge deficit, the Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th, with two strikeouts, and the Rangers walked away with the victory.

Fortunately for the Yankees (40-32), the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 6-3, so the teams remain tied atop the AL East Standings.  The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (8-3 to the Baltimore Orioles) so they stayed 2.5 games back.  

Tyler Austin, making his season debut, finished hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts and a grounder into a double play. There was concern in the fifth inning when Pete Kozma, standing off first base, jarred Austin’s left wrist while racing back to first standing up after a line out by Choo.  Austin shook it off and continued the game.  It does raise the question of who is the safety net for Austin should he get hurt.  Chase Headley is currently unable to play due to back spasms and it is best to not over-expose Matt Holliday at the position. 

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have signed their top pick, RHP Clarke Schmidt, to an ‘as-expected’ below-allocation contract.  By signing for $2,184,300 (or $1,274,300 below the allocated value of the 16th overall pick), the Yankees had the money to “overpay” RHP Matt Sauer, RHP Trevor Stephan, OF Canaan Smith, and RHP Dalton Higgins.  With a signing bonus of $2.5 million, second round pick Sauer ended up as the most costly of the signed draft choices.  The Yankees have only one player in the top 20 that remains unsigned…18th pick RHP Garrett Whitlock. 

Credit:  Allen Sharp-Spurs & Feathers

Jacoby Ellsbury made a rehab start yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  He broke up a no-hitter with a double in the fifth inning of SWB’s 8-0 loss to the Pawtucket Red Sox.  He finished 1-for-3.   He’ll start at DH today for SWB before moving over to AA-Trenton when the RailRiders hit the road.  

Today is one of the best days of the year for the Yankees.  It’s Old Timer’s Day.  Pre-Game introductions begin at 11:30 am Eastern.  It is always so fun to hear the name announcements for the Yankees legends as they run (or walk) out onto the field.  Jorge Posada will be making his first Old Timer’s appearance at Yankee Stadium.  Hip, hip, Jorge!  This year’s participants will include Jesse Barfield (no offense, we should have kept Al Leiter), Scott Bradley, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey “Chairman of the Board” Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reginald Martinez “Mr October” Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don “Gooney Bird” Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Sparky Lyle, Kevin Maas, Constantino “Tino” Martinez, Lee “Maz” Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Jeff Nelson, Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill,  Tim “Rock” Raines, Willie Randolph, Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, Mike Torrez (sorry, but I still think of him as a Red Sock), Roy White and Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Have a great Sunday!  It will be a fun day!  Go Yankees!