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Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1…
What a difference a day makes! Put Sonny Gray on the mound, give him a few runs and all is better in the world as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays and secured a post-season berth.
On paper, Sonny Gray versus Joe Biagini seems like a mismatch. But early, Biagini was the better pitcher. Biagini breezed through the first three innings facing only the minimum number of batters (thanks to a double play in the second inning which eliminated the only Yankee baserunner). Meanwhile, Gray had a runner in scoring position in the first inning (which he escaped) and then allowed a third inning home run to Teoscar Hernandez which gave the Blue Jays the early 1-0 lead. Hernandez absolutely crushed the ball high into the center field stands. It was his second home run against Yankees in as many days.
The Yankees finally broke through against Biagini in the fifth inning. Chase Headley led off the inning with a walk. While Jacoby Ellsbury was batting, Headley successfully stole second. Ells subsequently struck out, but Starlin Castro followed by taking the second walk of the inning. Greg Bird, with a beautiful swing, homered to right center. As John Sterling said, “Bye-bye, Birdie! In the right field seats…the Birdman of New York…and the Yankees promptly take the 3-1 lead”.
Gray was cruising until the sixth inning when he had trouble throwing strikes and had two men on base with free passes with only one out. Kevin Pillar lined a sharp fly to left center on a ball that looked like it might have a chance to drop in but a great running catch by Brett Gardner prevented the potential extra base hit. Gray retired the next batter, Ryan Goins, on a ground out to get out of the inning.
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For Gray, his day was done. Chad Green came in for the bottom of the seventh, and did what he does best. Three up, three down…two by strikeout. C-Green will certainly help the Yankees see green (the money) in October.
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Todd Frazier added an insurance run in the top of the eighth when he hit a solo home run over the center field wall. 4-1, Yankees. David Robertson took over in the bottom of the eighth and repeated Green’s performance…three batters, two strikeouts. Wash, rinse, repeat…it works for me.
On to the top of the ninth and the Yankees weren’t done. Gary Sanchez led off the inning with a double off the center field wall. Kevin Pillar went to the wall and got his glove on the ball but surprisingly, for Pillar given his strong defense, wasn’t able to make the catch. Gary Sanchez hesitated as if he thought the ball was either caught or out of the park but then ran safely to second after realizing it was in play. Moral of the story, always hustle. Chase Headley reached on a one-out walk, but he was erased when Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Headley at second. But Sanchez was able to move to third. So, runners at the corners and two outs for Starlin Castro. Castro hit a slow infield grounder that got past the pitcher. Third baseman Josh Donaldson charged the ball but couldn’t make the transfer. Runners safe as Sanchez crossed the plate for the Yankees’ final run.
Aroldis Chapman took over in the bottom of the 9th. He didn’t have the strikeouts of his two predecessors, but he still retired the three batters he faced in the non-save situation for the win. It was appropriate the final out was recorded by former Yankee Robert Refsnyder, pinch-hitting for Ryan Goins, when he hit a grounder to first with Greg Bird stepping on the bag to end the game. The Yankees win!
Credit: Fred Thornill-AP
The Yankees (86-68) were business-like on the field with hugs and high-fives after the game, but pandemonium broke loose in the clubhouse as the Yankees celebrated their first post-season appearance since 2015.
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Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Despite the win, they were unable to make up any ground on the Red Sox and remain four games behind in the AL East. Boston defeated the hapless Cincinnati Reds, 5-0, in a game that featured an inning of relief by Reds reliever Luke Farrell, son of Red Sox manager John Farrell. It would have been poetic justice for the younger Farrell to beat his pop but it was not meant to be. The Yankees also remain 5 1/2 games up on the Minnesota Twins for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. The Twins haven’t secured their WC spot yet but they continue to win and presently hold a commanding 4 1/2 game edge over the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Angels.
Sonny Gray (10-11) showed what Masahiro Tanaka did not. When the stakes are high, raise the level of your play. Gray may not have had his best stuff on Saturday but he held the Blue Jays to four hits and one run in six innings. He walked three, but that was primarily the two he walked in the sixth when he was tiring. He struck out four.
Excellent job by the Bullpen. Three innings, no hits, no runs, four strikeouts. The Bullpen is the October difference-maker. If the Yankees can only get Dellin Betances right, you have to like the team’s late inning chances against the game’s best teams.
Odds & Ends…
Magic Numbers: The Yankees magic number to clinch home-field advantage for the Wild Card game is three (any combination of Yankees wins or Twins losses). The more impossible reach (AL East Championship) stands at five games (any combination of Red Sox wins or Yankees losses). With eight games remaining, the Red Sox do not play a team with a winning record until they entertain the Houston Astros at Fenway Park starting Thursday for the final series of the season. Even then, it’s possible that the Astros won’t have anything left to play for if the Cleveland Indians secure home field advantage for the play-offs. In other words, I don’t see the Red Sox losing anytime soon.
It does seem weird to have a champagne (and beer) celebration for the right to play one game that may or may not be won by the best team. I know, it’s better to have some chance than no chance. I personally do not buy into the Yankees’ dominance of the Twins as reason for optimism. Too much can happen with a single game and a bad start by the likely starter, Luis Severino, can send the Bombers home for the winter. My excitement will come if the Yankees can win that single game to advance to the expanded play-offs against the division winners.
Luis Severino was struck by a batted ball before yesterday’s game. He was in the outfield playing catch during pre-game warmups when he was hit in the shoulder. The ball was believed to have been hit by Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile. Sevy dropped to the stadium turf but was able to get up to resume playing catch after being checked out by head athletic trainer Steve Donohue. Fortunately, it was his non-throwing shoulder but it’s still scary to see your ace go down.
Have a great Sunday! Hopefully this is a winning final road game of the regular season kind of day. Go Yankees!
I don’t know, the Minnesota Twins might want to consider forfeiting the Wild Card game. Seriously, the Yankees seem to have the Twins number as evidenced by the sweep of the most recent three-game series. I only hope that it continues into October assuming the Twins are successful in holding off the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card spot.
For the first two innings, the game appeared to be a pitching duel between Yankees ace Luis Severino and the ancient Bartolo Colon. A few isolated hits but no serious threats. Then, in the top of the 3rd inning, the Twins came out charging. Kennys Vargas singled on a soft bouncer to short that Didi Gregorius tried to barehand..unsuccessfully…with one out. Jason Castro followed with a single, a line drive to right. Runners at the corners. Brian Dozier drew a walk and the bases were full. Joe Mauer, battling Sevy for 13 pitches, singled to right, scoring Vargas. After a trip to the mound by Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (which never seems to work), Jorge Polanco lashed a single to right just past a running Greg Bird who nearly had the ball, Castro and Dozier scored. The Twins were up, 3-0. Severino evaded further trouble by retiring the next two batters.
All I could think was, “We’re going to let Bartolo Colon beat us? Really?”. Fortunately, the Yankees heard me. Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double to the right field wall, sliding into second just under the outfield throw. After Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Judge hammered a Colon pitch over the wall in right for a two-run home run. It was Judge’s 45th of the year and his 100th RBI. Amazing. This was a guy who was almost beat out of a job by Aaron Hicks in Spring Training.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Gary Sanchez was up next and he delivered his 32nd home run with a shot to center in Monument Park. Drop the accolades for Judge and pick them up for Sanchez. 32 homers…the most ever for a Yankees catcher despite missing nearly a month of the season. More homers than Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada accomplished in one season. Incredible. The game was tied.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Luis Severino did not return for the 4th inning. 3 innings worked, 5 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 3 K’s on 71 pitches. He needed 46 pitches for the 3rd inning alone. A no decision that pushed his season ERA back over three (3.03).
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis-The NY Post
Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Given Shreve’s recent performances, I was feeling a little shell-shocked. But he retired the first batter he faced, Max Kepler, on a swinging strikeout. Eduardo Escobar followed by flying out to left on a ball that took Brett Gardner to the warning track. Whew! So far, so good. Then, he walked Kennys Vargas. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Get that bum out of there! Nobody listened to me, so Shreve was able to pitch to the next batter, Jason Castro, who grounded out to second for the final out. Okay, Shreve, that wasn’t bad. I feel better now…
The bottom of the 4th arrived and, man, so did the rejuvenated September 2017 Yankees. Well, Matt Holliday excluded. He started the inning with a pop out to first in foul territory. Jacoby Ellsbury, playing like a man who is worth $153 million, tripled to left (actually, it probably should have been an error on left fielder Eddie Rosario who didn’t take a good route to the ball and it bounced out of his glove). Todd Frazier walked. Greg Bird doubled to the right field corner with Ellsbury scoring on the play and the Toddfather moving to third. The Yankees had their first lead of the game. Paul Molitor decided to make a pitching change and brought in Tyler Duffey to replace Colon. I was worried that our little rally was going to be short-fused. Silly me. Brett Gardner lined a single to center which scored Frazier. Bird moved to third. Aaron Judge struck out to briefly bring the return of my pessimism, but Gary Sanchez lightened my mood with a single to right, scoring Bird. Didi Gregorius was up next and he crushed a three-run homer to the second deck in right. It was Didi’s 25th home run of the year, giving him the most for a Yankees shortstop in franchise history. After the hit, Didi turned around and apologized to Jason Castro for dropping the bat in front of him. Class act by a very classy guy.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
The Yankees had scored 6 runs and now led 9-3. Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning but I was okay with that.
Chasen Shreve did his job in the top of the 5th with no complaints or inner dialogue from me. In the bottom of the 5th, former Yankees farmhand Nik Turley took over for Tyler Duffey. Matt Holliday, deciding he wanted to join the party, started the Yankees half of the inning with a single to center. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk on four pitches. After a game delay when Todd Frazier hit a young fan with a foul ball, he flied out to center but Holliday tagged and moved to third. With Greg Bird at bat, Turley unleashed a wild pitch that got away from Jason Castro and Holliday came in to score. Ellsbury moved to second. Bird then singled on a grounder to first that the first baseman momentarily lost after stopping the ball to put runners at the corners. It was another hit that probably should have been ruled an error. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch in the back and the bases were loaded. That would be all for Turley and he was replaced by Michael Tonklin. Aaron Judge hit a fly to right, scoring Ellsbury. The Yankees were now up, 11-3. Gary Sanchez singled to left to reload the bases, but Didi Gregorius struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.
Shreve returned with another solid inning in the 6th to help restore some of my confidence in the young Las Vegan left-hander. By the bottom of the 7th, both teams began making multiple substitutions. The Yanks rode the arms of Ben Heller and Domingo German to the finish. Nice job by both but special mention for German. He pitched two scoreless innings with no hits and a meaningless walk in the 9th. He struck out a total of four Twins including Kennys Vargas to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (85-67) increased their lead in the Wild Card standings to seven games over the Twins with 10 games to play. The Twins retained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-5. The Boston Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles with a 9-0 win on Wednesday, so they remain three games in front of the Yankees. The win clinched a post-season berth for the Red Sox.
Chasen Shreve (4-1), by virtue of Severino’s early departure, got the win. Three Yankees had three hits (Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird) and two had three RBI’s (Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius). Sanchez had two ribbies. Judge now has 101 RBIs, becoming the fourth Yankees rookie to reach the 100 RBI mark, joining Tony Lazzeri (1926), Joe DiMaggio (1936), and Hideki Matsui (2003). Judge also became the third rookie in MLB history and eighth player in Yankees history with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks. This was yet another great team victory. Thumbs down, Everyone!
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…
The Yankees enjoy their final day off of the regular season today (barring any rainouts) before embarking on their last road trip with a quick three-game set north of the border starting Friday night. The Blue Jays, picked by many to finish as high as second in the AL East prior to the season, have successfully held off the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, for rights to the AL East Cellar although they’ll need to keep losing to fend off the O’s.
It may be a down year for the Blue Jays but they always seem to play the Yankees very tough. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)
Blue Jays: Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01 ERA)
Marco Estrada, who had been due to become a free agent after the season, signed a one-year contract extension for $13 million this week. So, he’ll be a happy man on Friday night.
I really hope that the Yankees find the perfect combination of excellent pitching from Sonny Gray and run support on Sunday.
Odds & Ends…
The downside to Wednesday’s victory was the injury of a young girl who was hit by the foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the 5th inning. The girl, a toddler, was attending the game with her grandparents. She was apparently struck in the mouth.
After the game, the Yankees released a short statement: “The child who was struck with a batted ball today was given first aid at the ballpark and is receiving medical attention at an area hospital. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, prevents the team from giving more information. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Our prayers and well wishes to the young girl for a full and speedy recovery.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Credit: Abbie Parr-Getty Images
Joe Girardi said after the game that the little girl was “doing OK”. This was a wake up call for the Yankees organization to extend the netting to protect fans.
I do feel bad for the Twins fans. Many of them are fans of the Minnesota Vikings like me. The Vikings took one on the chin last Sunday when they were steamrolled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-9, behind backup QB Case Keenum. So it has not been a great week for sports fans in and around Minneapolis/St Paul, MN. But I certainly do not feel bad enough that I wanted the Twins to escape with a victory. How sweep it is!
Have a great Thursday! It’s a day off…let’s enjoy! Go Yankees!
The way the game started, it looked like it was going to be the Twins’ day. But in the end, it was the grizzled old veterans (CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner) that keyed the victory for the Yankees.
In a game delayed by rain (one hour and five minutes), the Twins got an early jump on Sabathia. Brian Dozier led off with a single to center on the first pitch. Joe Mauer reached on a bunt to third (a roller on the line that Todd Frazier waited to see if it would roll out), Dozier advanced to second. Jorge Polanco followed with a bunt single back to the pitcher. CC must have been thrilled with all those bunts (memories of Boston). Polanco was called out on the field but the Twins challenged and replay showed that he had beaten Sabathia’s throw to first. The bases were loaded with no outs. Even though it resulted in a run, the play of the game occurred when Jorge Polanco hit a grounder to short and the Yankees completed a double play (second to first) with Dozier running home to score the game’s first run. Byron Buxton grounded out back to Sabathia to end the threat. The Twins could have scored multiple runs in that situation, which would have changed the complexion of the game, but CC was able to limit the damage.
The top of the 2nd saw a completely different Sabathia. He set down the Twins on a ground out and two strikeouts. Thanks to walks by Starlin Castro and Greg Bird, the Yankees had two runners on base in the bottom of the 2nd, with two outs, for Brett Gardner. Gardy delivered with a line drive to left to score Castro.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press|
Bird moved to third, but Aaron Judge was unable to bring him home when he flied out to center to end the inning. Game tied.
Max Kepler led off the top of the 3rd inning with a home run to right center as the Twins recaptured the lead.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the bottom of the 4th with a double down the left field line. After Todd Frazier struck out, Greg Bird took his second walk of the game. Runners at first and second. Brett Gardner came up big again with a single to right, past a diving Joe Mauer, to score Ellsbury. The Twins pulled starter Jose Berrios and replaced him with Alan Busenitz. With Aaron Judge batting, Busenitz uncorked a wild pitch which moved the runners to second and third. Aaron Judge took advantage with a sacrifice fly to the right field warning track that scored Bird. The Yankees had their first lead of the game, 3-2.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-Getty Images|
The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 5th. With former Met Dillon Gee on the mound and one out, Chase Headley was hit by a pitch near the family jewels. Yikes! Headley was okay, but as Michael Kay of the YES Network said, I hope he was wearing a cup even though he was not playing in the field (DH) for this game. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left through the hole and Headley moved to second. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to first for the second out, but the runners advanced to second and third. Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. The Twins made another pitching change, replacing Gee with Buddy Boshers. Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that looked like it would be a routine play for Joe Mauer but the ball bounced off the side of his glove and all runners were safe, with Headley scoring. If there was ever a guy that deserved to score, it was Headley as he had truly taken one for the team. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-2.
Sabathia found himself back in another jam in the 6th inning. Two singles, a stolen base, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, but CC was able to get Eddie Rosario to fly out to left to leave the runners stranded. Rosario’s hit took Brett Gardner to the warning track and back into the wall but it was still the third out even if it did cause me to lose my breath momentarily. Sabathia’s day was done.
In the bottom of the 6th, Twins reliever Ryan Pressly took over for Buddy Boshers. The first batter, Aaron Judge, singled to left through the hole. Gary Sanchez followed with a single to left and the Yankees had runners at the corners. After outs by Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley, Starlin Castro singled to right, inches past a diving Brian Dozier, to score Judge. Sanchez moved to second. A wild pitch had advanced the runners to second and third. From there, Pressly intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier grounded out to short to end the inning but the Yankees had added to their lead, 5-2.
Chad Green took over for Sabathia in the 7th. It wasn’t the usual Terminator-like appearance for Green, but he did hold the Twins scoreless despite allowing a single and a walk in the inning.
The Yanks missed another scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 7th. Brett Gardner had reached on a one-out grounder to short (a ball that squirted out of the shortstop’s glove). With Aaron Judge batting, Gardy stole second. He then moved to third on a wild pitch by reliever John Curtiss. Judge hit a grounder to third and Gardy made an unsuccessful break for home. Eduardo Escobar’s throw to catcher Chris Gimenez nailed Gardy at the plate.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press|
In the top of the 8th, David Robertson got the call. Joe Girardi had said prior to the game that Dellin Betances would be unavailable after pitching in the two previous games but obviously there was much discussion among the Yankees Universe yesterday about whether the Yankees should drop Betances to less pressurized situations until he can find himself again. D-Rob added fuel to the argument when he struck out the side.
Aroldis Chapman came into the game in the 9th. Although he did allow a two-out double to Chris Gimenez, he got Max Kepler to hit a liner to left for the final out to earn his 20th save. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (84-67) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox, staying three games back. The Baltimore Orioles have done the Yankees no favors as they fell to the Sox again, this time by a score of 1-0 in extra innings. Manny Machado, please feel free to mix in a few timely hits. The Yankees have built a commanding six game lead in the Wild Card standings over the Twins. The third place WC-contending team, the Los Angeles Angels, also lost so they failed to make up any ground on their 1 1/2 game deficit to the Twins.
CC Sabathia (12-5) was clearly the crafty vet in this game. He escaped huge jams and overall held the Twins in check. ‘Get the game to the bullpen’ and he did.
Both Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro had three hits, and Aaron Judge had two. Another good win by the home team!
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have made a pitching change for today’s game. Earlier, Joe Girardi had announced that Masahiro Tanaka would be the scheduled starter. However, upon reconsideration (based primarily on the fact that the Yankees have not yet clinched a post-season berth), they have decided to pitch Luis Severino (13-6, 2.93 ERA). He’ll be opposed by the ageless Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.80 ERA). Tanaka will pitch Friday night in Toronto. The move gives Severino the potential for three starts if the Yankees are still challenging the Sox for the division championship. If not, he’ll make two more starts, including today, and will take the mound for the Wild Card game.
It is amazing to think that if/when Aaron Judge hits his 45th home run of the season, he’ll join very select company as the only Yankees with 45 or more home runs in a season…Roger Maris (61); Babe Ruth (60, 59, 54, 54, 49, 47, 46, 46, 46); Mickey Mantle (54, 52); Alex Rodriguez (54, 48); Lou Gehrig (49, 49, 47, 46); and Joe DiMaggio (46). Standing pat at 44 HR’s is impressive as it would also include Tino Martinez but clearly we want Judge to continue to send balls into orbit.
Have a great Wednesday! It’s a wonderful day for a win! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Getty Images|
Yankees 8, Orioles 2…
Didi Gregorius was the man on the field and with the bat on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Baltimore Orioles for the second consecutive day. His brilliant defensive play and 4 RBI’s helped Joe Girardi achieve his 900th career victory as Yankees manager. Of course, it didn’t hurt having the great Luis Severino on the mound.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 1st inning. Brett Gardner led off with a double to center. Gary Sanchez lined a one-out single to left, moving Gardy to third. A sacrifice fly to right by Didi Gregorius scored the speedy Gardner and the Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.
The Orioles got to Luis Severino in the top of the 2nd for really the only weakness in Sevy’s start. Chris Davis took a two-out walk, and Wellington Castillo followed with a shot to the right field porch to put the O’s in front, 2-1.
Chase Headley, starting at third base when Todd Frazier was scratched due to back stiffness, reached base to start the bottom of the 2nd with a bunt toward third. After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to center, Matt Holliday lined a single to left, moving Headley to second. Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that was mishandled by Chris Davis (ball went through his legs into right field), allowing Bird to reach base. Headley scored and Holliday advanced to third. The game was tied at 2. The Yankees were unable to bring Holliday home when O’s starter Gabriel Ynoa struck out both Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge to get out of the inning.
In the bottom of the 5th, Aaron Judge walked with one out. Buck Showalter went to the pen, replacing Ynoa with reliever Miguel Castro. With Gary Sanchez at bat, Judge stole second with a headfirst slide. El Gary subsequently grounded out with a short bouncer at the plate, but Didi Gregorius didn’t miss the opportunity with a home run to right center to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a walk. Brett Gardner hit a grounder between first and second but the O’s were unable to force Bird or get a double play when second baseman Jonathan Schoop misplayed the ball (bounced off his glove). The runners were safe at first and second. Showalter pulled Castro and brought in Mychal Givens. Givens walked Judge to load the bases. Gary Sanchez hit a single to right, a fly ball that dropped in front of Mark Trumbo. Bird scored. Not that I am complaining but I thought it was a lazy defensive effort by Trumbo. Oh well, the Yankees had increased their lead to 5-2. Showalter went to the pen again, this time bringing in former Yankees reliever Richard Bleier. Didi Gregorius hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, a fly to center, scoring Gardner who slid into home just under the great outfield throw. After Starlin Castro lined out to short, Chase Headley singled to right, scoring Judge. The throw in from the outfield easily tagged Sanchez out at third for the final out, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 7-2.
Luis Severino was cruising. He pitched as strongly in the 8th inning as he had earlier in the game, and he finished his day with three up, three down.
Greg Bird added a run in the bottom of the 8th when he hit his 4th home run of the year, a solo shot to right into the second deck off Bleier. It was good to see Bird get good results even if the run was unnecessary at that point. Hopefully he’s on the path to showing us the hitter he was in Spring Training. If he gets hot, the Yankees offense will be very hard to stop.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
David Robertson took over for Severino in the top of the 9th. He started off by walking Manny Machado. A wild pitch allowed Machado to move to second. D-Rob was able to retire Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini, but another wild pitch moved Machado to third. But there he would stay as Mark Trumbo flied out to left to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (81-66) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox and still trail by three games. It looked like the Yanks might move to within two games when the Tampa Bay Rays had a 5-2 lead in the top of the 9th with closer Alex Colome on the mound, but the Sox scored 3 runs to tie it and eventually won 13-6 in 15 innings. Although he was not the loser, it was a former Yankee on the mound (Chase Whitley) when Red Sox offense blew the flood gates open. The Yankees did increase their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to four games. The Twins lost a close 4-3 game to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yanks have a six-game advantage over the third place WC team, the Los Angeles Angels.
Luis Severino is clearly the guy I want on the mound if the Yankees must settle for the Wild Card. He pitched eight strong innings, allowing only three hits and the two runs on the 2nd inning homer. He walked one and struck out seven. As strong as he was pitching, he could have easily finished with a complete game. But at 95 pitches and a six-run lead, it was better to let D-Rob close it out. Sevy (13-6) lowered his season ERA to 2.93 with the performance. Nice job, Sevy!
Didi Gregorius was clearly the hitting star with the home run and 4 RBI’s, but Chase Headley was 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. He did record an out on one of those hits when he tried, unsuccessfully, to stretch a single to a double. Gary Sanchez chipped in two hits and a RBI. Even though he didn’t get a hit, Aaron Judge was still in the mix with two runs scored courtesy of the walks he took. Greg Bird, Brett Gardner and others…this was a great team win!
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
Odds & Ends…
Sadly, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost the Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls. The Rays’ top farm team took the championship with a Game Four victory to win the series, three games to one. The RailRiders tried to claw back into the game but fell short, losing 6-4. Brady Lail was the starter and loser.
Now that the RailRiders’ season is over, I wonder if we’ll see the addition of guys like Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar to the MLB roster. I really do not expect to see Chance Adams since the Yankees have no pressure to add him to the 40-man roster this year. Cave, on the other hand, must be protected or he’ll most likely be lost in the Rule 5 Draft. Erik Kratz, I know you’re batting 1.000 (2-for-2) but I think your taxi is here waiting for you. I hope you enjoyed the show.
|Credit: Jason Farmer, Staff Photographer/Times-Tribune|
It was great season for the Yankees farm teams even if the top two clubs were unable to deliver championships. They are gaining the knowledge and experience that will help them deliver World Series championships for the big league team. The bigger picture.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s take the series with a win today. Go Yankees!
Credit: Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images
Yankees 3, Rangers 1…
Luis Severino was spectacular on Saturday as he combined with two relievers to one-hit the Texas Rangers. Sevy didn’t get the win, but he was masterful a day after Masahiro Tanaka’s implosion. Manager Joe Girardi went with the “A” team for the bullpen, using David Robertson (the winner) and Aroldis Chapman (the save).
Brett Gardner kicked off the game with a single to left. However, the Yankees came up empty when Chase Headley hit a sharp fly to center that Gardy thought was going to drop in. He took off for second and thinking the ball would fall, he accelerated for third. Unfortunately, Rangers center fielder Carlos Gomez made a great catch. There was no chance for Gardy to get back to first so the Rangers were able to complete the easy double play. Gary Sanchez popped out to short so it was time to start the Luis Severino Show.
The Yankees came up with a great defensive play of their own in the bottom of the first when Jacoby Ellsbury, echoing shades of his younger self, recorded the final out with a diving catch to rob Elvis Andrus of a hit. The play received an ovation from Severino on the mound.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the Rangers’ Carlos Gomez had to be helped off the field during an at-bat when he rolled his right ankle after hitting a grounder to second and suffered a high ankle sprain.
Through the early innings, Severino was cruising but unfortunately so was Rangers starter Andrew Cashner. The Yankees threatened again in the top of the 3rd when Brett Gardner hit a two-out single to left. Chase Headley singled to right to put the runners at the corners, but Gary Sanchez went down swinging to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 5th, with the Rangers still searching for their first hit against Severino, Joey Gallo walked to start the inning for the Rangers. Will Middlebrooks hit into a fielder’s choice at third and the Yankees erased Gallo at second but they were unable to turn the double play. Rangers backup catcher Brett Nicholas, starting in place of Robinson Chirinos who had the day off, doubled to the right field corner to score Middlebrooks. It was the only hit the Rangers would get off Severino and the Yankees bullpen for the duration of the game.
Luis Severino pitched through the 7th inning but the Yankees still trailed 1-0.
In the top of the 8th with Andrew Cashner still on the mound for the Rangers, Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch. That would be all for Cashner, who did a magnificent job. The Rangers brought in Alex Claudio to replace Cashner. The Yankees sent up Matt Holliday to pinch hit for Greg Bird. Holliday singled to right and Frazier moved to third. Tyler Wade replaced Holliday at first. After Brett Gardner fouled out to the catcher, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly deep to center to score Frazier. The game was tied. Gary Sanchez singled to left past shortstop Elvis Andrus, moving Wade to second. However, the Yankees were unable to capitalize when Didi Gregorius grounded out to the defensive shift at short/second to end the inning.
David Robertson pitched a clean bottom of the 8th to send the game to the 9th.
With Alex Claudio still pitching for the Rangers, Starlin Castro led off the 9th with a single to right. Aaron Judge hit a grounder to third and the throw erased Castro at second. The Rangers were unable to turn the double play when the relay to first pulled Joey Gallo off the bag so Judge was safe. Jacoby Ellsbury lined a single to right which advanced Judge to third. The Rangers replaced Claudio with Ricky Rodriguez. Todd Frazier was hit by pitch, again, so he took first and Ellsbury moved to second. The bases were loaded. Tyler Austin, who had entered the game in the bottom of the 8th to replace Bird, singled to left on a hard hit ball which brought Judge home with the go-ahead run.
Credit: Larry W Smith-EPA
Brett Gardner was unable to advance the runners when he popped out to short. It brought Chase Headley to the plate with the bases still packed. He patiently took a walk which brought Ellsbury home with the second run of the inning. The Yankees led 3-1. The Rangers made another pitching change to bring in Nick Gardewine. Gardewine ended the Yankees rally by getting Gary Sanchez to hit into a fielder’s choice which forced Headley at second.
Bottom the 9th and the heart of the Rangers order due up. It was time for the return of Aroldis Chapman to his endeared role as the Yankees closer. He did not disappoint. After Elvis Andrus grounded out to second (Starlin Castro’s brilliant throw to first just beat the runner as confirmed by the challenge replay), Chapman struck out both Nomar Mazara and pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to end the game. The Yankees win!
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees (76-65) were unable to make up any ground on the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox, behind Chris Sale, dismantled the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-0, and maintained their 4 1/2 game lead over the Yankees. The Cleveland Indians won their 17th game in a row. Their 4-2 victory over Baltimore pushed the O’s 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
It was an incredible effort by Luis Severino. He pitched seven innings, allowing only the single hit and run. He walked three and struck out ten. The outing lowered his season ERA to 2.96. David Robertson (7-2) picked up the win and Aroldis Chapman captured his 17th save.
For the Yankees offense, they had nine hits but all were singles. Brett Gardner (2-for-5) was the only hitter with multiple hits. Chase Headley had 2 RBI’s and Tyler Austin had the crucial game-winning RBI in the 9th.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have a change in the pitching match-up for today’s game. Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.14 ERA) will start in place of CC Sabathia, who was moved to Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field in Queens. A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09 ERA), who had originally been scheduled to pitch on Saturday until Andrew Cashner was moved up, will start for the Rangers. The Minnesota Twins lost so they are 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings (holding the 2nd spot). The Los Angeles Angeles and Texas Rangers are 2 and 2 1/2 games behind the Twins, respectively.
The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders won Game 3 of their Governor’s Cup best-of-five first round series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies). The 6-1 win, behind the arm of Brady Lail, gives the RailRiders the 2-1 series advantage. Donovan Solano was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Mason Williams was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Billy McKinney homered for the second time in the series with a two-run shot in the 6th inning.
Credit: Fred Adams-for Times Leader
Game 4 is scheduled for today at 1:05 pm at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Nestor Cortes (2-4, 1.49 ERA) takes the mound in the potential series-clinching game. he’ll face Jacob Waguespack (9-7, 3.42 ERA in A-Adv and AA this year).
The Double A Trenton Thunder crushed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets), 9-1, in Game 4 of their Eastern League Division Series to win the series and advance to the Eastern League Championship Series. They’ll face the Altoona Curve (Pirates) with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ.
As expected, the Yankees signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop prospect Ronny Rojas. The Yankees have long been tied to the youngster but he didn’t turn 16 until August 23rd. Rojas was rated as the eleventh best unsigned international prospect earlier this summer by MLB.com. He is the highest rated Yankees signing behind OF Everson Pereira, who was rated fourth.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s take this series and head for NYC! Go Yankees!
Orioles 7, Yankees 6…
I’ve never been a big fan of Dellin Betances as closer and Tuesday night was Exhibit A. I do not feel that he has the closer’s mentality and his arm plays best in a prime setup role. His inability to throw strikes to Tim Beckham with two outs set up Manny Machado for the late night heroics with a dramatic two-run walk-off home run. I’ve felt all along that David Robertson should have been the interim closer but at this point, an argument could be made for the return of Aroldis Chapman.
In a game delayed by rain (game time was 9:15 pm Eastern), the Orioles scored first in the bottom of the first inning. Jonathan Schoop worked a two-out walk off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Adam Jones reached base on an infield single to third (a slow roller that hit the bag). During Trey Mancini’s at-bat, a wild pitch by Sabathia that got away from Austin Romine allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Mancini proceeded to hit a short dribbler to short. Didi Gregorius charged in to retrieve the ball but in the words of Michael Kay, he had to “eat it” when there was no play at either first or home. Schoop scored and the O’s led 1-0.
The Yankees erupted in the third inning against Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson. Austin Romine led off with a single to left through the hole. After Brett Gardner lined out to right, Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Didi Gregorius lined a single to right which scored both Romine and Judge. Judge slid in safely under the throw. Matt Holliday walked to re-load the bases. The O’s then pulled Hellickson and replaced him with former Yankee Richard Bleier. Greg Bird hit a sacrifice fly to center which scored Castro. An error by center fielder Adam Jones, he dropped the ball, allowed Bird to safely reach base and the bases were still loaded. Todd Frazier grounded out softly to short with the only play the throw to first. Gregorius came home with the fourth run. Jacoby Ellsbury was next and he singled up the middle to center to score Holliday and Bird. The Yankees were seemingly in control at 6-1.
|Credit: Patrick Semansky-Associated Press|
Leading off the bottom of the 3rd, Manny Machado, the American League Player of the Month in August, gave a preview of coming attractions with his line drive home run to center. The Yankees still led, 6-2, but it was statement by Machado that the game was not over.
While the Yankees were struggling to get runners past second base, the O’s added another run in the bottom of the 5th inning when Jonathan Schoop took Sabathia deep to left center for a solo homer.
Sabathia pitched into the 6th inning but overstayed his welcome. Trey Mancini led off with a looper just over Todd Frazier’s outreached glove for a single. Mark Trumbo took advantage and blasted a two-run shot to left. It was a one-run game. After Chris Davis grounded out for the first out of the inning, the Yankees finally pulled Sabathia. Tommy Kahnle took over and got the final two outs.
Girardi’s formula was then to use David Robertson for the 7th and Aroldis Chapman for the 8th. Both men did their jobs. Each retiring the three batters they faced. Unfortunately, after the big 3rd inning, the Yankees offense stalled. Their last chance came in the 8th when they had two men on base with only one out, but Aaron Judge struck out and Starlin Castro popped out to third in foul territory to strand the runners.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the 9th, Dellin Betances took over for Chapman and retired the first two batters. He needed just one more out which never came. He couldn’t throw strikes to Tim Beckham, walking him on a 3-1 count. Manny Machado, swinging at a poorly placed high pitch from Betances, sent the ball over the wall in center field for the walk-off two-run home run.
|Credit: Associated Press|
The Yankees (74-64) lost ground to the Boston Red Sox. The Sox were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0 in the bottom of the 9th before tying the game and sending it into extra innings. They finally scored the walk-off run in the 19th inning to win the game and push the Yankees 3 1/2 games back. The Orioles moved back to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees with the win. The Los Angeles Angels leap-frogged the Minnesota Twins and trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the Wild Card Standings. The Angels beat the Oakland A’s, 8-7, in 10 innings, while the Twins fell to the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.
This is another game that the Yankees should have won. It would have been huge to win the first two games in Baltimore. But it was not meant to be so hopefully the Yankees can rebound today. Rain is in the forecast throughout the evening so there’s a strong possibility the game is called and pushed to Thursday. When the teams take the field, the Yankees must play like a team fighting for the post-season and avoid the mistakes that allow the opponent to capitalize. Moving Betances back to set up would be a start.
Odds & Ends…
Every time the Yankees add a player from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I can’t help but feel bad for RailRiders Manager Al Pedrique as his team prepares for its International League playoff series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. But then again, the RailRiders can raid from the Double A Trenton Thunder as 2B Billy Fleming will attest. I guess talent rolls up hill. The latest RailRider to exit the team is 1B/OF Tyler Austin who was promoted to the big league club prior to yesterday’s game. It makes more sense for Austin to provide outfield corner support than either Tyler Wade or Ronald Torreyes. Austin had two home runs the other day in the RailRiders’ regular season finale.
Luis Severino’s post on The Player’s Tribune website entitled My Journey to the Bronx is a great read. It makes you feel proud and excited to be a Yankees fan. I didn’t realize how close he came to being a Colorado Rockie. I am glad it didn’t happen and that the opportunity to play for his favorite childhood team came to fruition.
Have a great Wednesday! Let’s grab a win today at Camden Yards before the team jumps on a plane bound for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex! Go Yankees!
Yankees 9, Red Sox 2…
The most critical play of the game might have been when the Yankees challenged the call in the bottom of the 6th. The bases were loaded and two outs for Gary Sanchez. He hit a hard smash to third. Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers dove to stop the ball and got up, throwing the ball to first. The ref signaled out and it appeared the inning was over. But hold on, the Yankees challenged the play and replay showed that Sanchez had reached first just ahead of the ball. The call was overturned and the inning continued. Six runs later and the Yankees had placed a dagger in Boston’s heart.
The Yankees had runners at third in the first two innings but nothing to show for it. Luis Severino was dominating the Red Sox but the Yankees were getting their chances against Boston starter Chris Sale. Finally, to open the bottom of the 3rd, Chase Headley sent a Sale pitch into the left field stands (just over the wall).
In the bottom of the 4th, the long ball continued to be the only weapon. Matt Holliday, after battling off a few pitches, blasted a solo shot to the deepest part of the park in center and was followed by Todd Frazier’s homer to left (a few rows back). The Yankees had taken a 3-0 lead.
When Chris Sale was pulled with one out and runner at first in the top of the 5th inning, he was laboring and had thrown 109 pitches. It’s amazing that as dominant as Sale has been this year against the Yankees, he failed to win a game in four tries.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-Getty Images|
The Sox finally got on the board in the top of the 6th. Eduardo Nunez made it to first with one out when Todd Frazier failed to handle a grounder to third and the ball rolled into left field. Following the second out by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts hit a grounder to third but Frazier’s low throw bounced past first baseman Chase Headley. Frazier’s second error of the inning. The runners moved up to second and third. Nunez came home to score when a low Sevy pitch got past Gary Sanchez to the backstop. 3-1, Yankees. Boston was unable to bring Betts home from third when Mitch Moreland struck out swinging. It would be Luis Severino’s final pitch but what a game for the young right-hander! Two hits, one run (but none earned), no walks and nine strikeouts. Chris Sale may very well win the AL Cy Young Award (I know, Corey Kluber will have something to say about that) but on this day, Luis Severino was better.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
With Boston’s Joe Kelly on the mound, Matt Holliday opened the bottom of the 6th by working a walk. Kelly struck out Todd Frazier and was replaced by Robby Scott. Jacoby Ellsbury greeted Scott with a single lined to right. Brett Gardner walked and the bases were full of Yanks. The Sox made another pitching move and brought in former New York Met Addison Reed. Reed struck out Chase Headley for the second out. Gary Sanchez was next. During the at-bat, Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis was barking about balls and strikes from the Boston dugout when he felt several calls were missed. He got an early departure from the game for his troubles. Sanchez hit the ball to third and it appeared that he was out at first for the final out. The play was incredibly close but I was uncertain. While Yankee players were signaling safe in the dugout, the Yankees challenged the play and the call was overturned when it showed El Gary’s foot touching first base just ahead of the throw. The safe call validated Holliday’s run. It was 4-1 Yankees.
Starlin Castro kept the inning going with a hard liner to right. The ball went to the wall for a double and all three baserunners scored. Minutes earlier, the game had been a tight pitching duel and now the Yankees had a six-run lead. It brought Aaron Judge to the plate. Boom! No doubt about it as the ball sailed 469 feet into the left field seats at an exit velocity of 115.1 mph.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
From there, it was about riding the bullpen to victory. Despite the eight-run lead, it was a slightly bumpy ride. Tommy Kahnle was first. He pitched the top of the 7th in relief of Severino after Manager Joe Girardi decided against bringing Sevy back out after the long bottom of the 6th. Kahnle looked rusty as he walked the first batter, Dustin Pedroia. Deven Marrero was brought in to pinch-run for Pedroia. Rafael Devers singled to left which moved Marrero to second and no outs. Fortunately, Kahnle struck out the next two batters and got the final out when Jackie Bradley, Jr popped out to third in foul territory.
Chasen Shreve took over in the 8th. Given his recent struggles, I felt far from secure. But he proved me wrong by retiring the three batters he faced (two by strikeout). For the 9th, Girardi brought in Giovanny Gallegos. I know that the Yankees had a big lead, but I probably would have gone with Aroldis Chapman for no other reason than to get him some work. Oh well, they pay Girardi to make the decisions. Sam Travis was up first and he singled to left, just past Todd Frazier at third. A wild pitch (high throw from Gallegos) moved Travis to second. Gallegos was looking a bit like a rookie but then he struck out Deven Marrero. A groundout by Rafael Devers moved Travis to third. Blake Swihart came in, pinch-hitting for Hanley Ramirez, and drew a walk. Sandy Leon’s single to left scored Travis. Swihart moved to second. Gallegos, with Aroldis Chapman warming up, finally got Jackie Bradley, Jr to swing at the third strike to end the game. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees (73-63) moved to within 3 1/2 games of the Red Sox with the win in the final head-to-head match-up between the two teams. The Yankees took the season series, 11 games to 8. This was a huge series. If the results had been in reverse, the Yankees could have potentially been looking up in the Wild Card Standings and holding a distant view of the top of the AL East. Instead, they are still within striking distance for the division crown and continue to hold the edge in the Wild Card. The Yankees maintained their 3 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s fought back against the Toronto Blue Jays to win 5-4 in 12 innings. The Minnesota Twins lost (5-4 to the Kansas City Royals) so the Yankees increased their Wild Card lead to two games.
Luis Severino (12-6) was outstanding. The guy welcomes the challenge of continually facing the top aces in the game. Sevy became the youngest Yankees pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season by age 23 since Al Downing did it back in 1964 with 217 strikeouts.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-Getty Images|
It was good to see Aaron Judge hit his 38th home run. Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers had hit his 36th earlier in the day. The rookies might not reach Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49 (set in 1987) but they’re certainly giving it a try.
Credit to Gary Sanchez for his effort to get to first base in the 6th inning. I was listening to sports announcers earlier in the day who were complaining about Robinson Cano’s “60% effort”, at times, when running to first base. Sanchez showed that hustle can make a difference.
Next Up: Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland…
After playing a Sunday night game in New York, the Yankees turn right around and play an afternoon game in Baltimore. It probably feels like a night-day double-header. No rest for the wicked…or in this case, no rest for the good guys.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.15 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (13-8, 3.94 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71 ERA)
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 6.85 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (8-9, 3.36 ERA)
Orioles: Jeremy Hellickson (2-3, 6.55 ERA)
I was glad to see the Yankees replace Jaime Garcia with Jordan Montgomery. Not that Monty pitched much better than Garcia last time out (the actual line was worse) but I trust Monty more with the chips on the line. Hopefully the Yankees can take this series to hold off the recent charge by the Orioles.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have placed OF Aaron Hicks on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain. After missing time earlier this summer with a right oblique strain, maybe Hicks should invest in a new personal trainer. Hopefully this is not the end for Hicks’ 2017 season. LHP Caleb Smith was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take A-A-Ron’s roster spot.
Have a great Monday! It’s Labor Day but let’s hope it is not too much labor to carve out the O’s. Go Yankees!