|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
New York secures one-game ‘do-or-die’ playoff…
As expected, the Yankees secured a post-season berth on Saturday when the Tampa Bay Rays lost followed by the extra-innings win by the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.
The only thing that seems weird to me is breaking champagne as if you had just won the division. I think I read that 120 bottles of Moet & Chandon met their fate. I guess I should appreciate the Yankees have extended their season by one game and if they can win that one, they’ll move on to join the division winners for the divisional playoffs. Once they are in the divisional playoffs, anything can happen. We know the Yankees can beat any team if they are playing to their abilities. I know that it was not officially a Wild Card game (which didn’t exist back then), but I am sure the 1978 Yankees and Red Sox did not pop bubbly at the end of the regular season when they finished in a tie for the AL East and had to play the memorable Bucky “F——ing” Dent tie-breaker at Fenway Park. I know, there are ten other teams in the American League that wish their season wasn’t ending a week from today and would be very excited to play one game for the right to advance. So, congratulations to the Yankees for giving themselves a chance.
I have a more business-like approach. Let’s secure the home position for the Wild Card and focus on winning the single game elimination. When it is over and if the Yankees emerge victorious, that’s truly cause for celebration.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)|
Right now, my primary concern for the Yankees is to hold off the Oakland A’s for the top spot in the Wild Card standings. After the Yankees game had ended, I watched the end of the A’s matchup against the Minnesota Twins. The A’s loaded the bases against the Twins in the bottom of the ninth with the game deadlocked at two. Mark Canha battled Twins closer Trevor Hildenberger in an 11-pitch at-bat before striking out for the second out. It looked like the Twins might get out of the jam with one more out, but on the very next pitch to Matt Chapman, Hildenberger threw a wild pitch past catcher Willians Astudillo to basically gift wrap the victory for the A’s as Stephen Piscotty easily raced home for the winning run. That moment was very disheartening. So, the Yankees maintained their 1 1/2 game lead over Oakland (two in the loss column and the Yankees hold the tie breaker).
The A’s can clinch the second Wild Card spot today with a Rays loss or an A’s win. If the Rays are eliminated, I think they’ll still be very motivated to beat the Yankees in the upcoming series because it will be their “playoff” even if they aren’t going anywhere. Hats off to Kevin Cash and his Rays. I know I certainly did not expect them to have 86 wins on September 23rd.
For those of you who follow Twitter (some very begrudgingly like Bryan Van Dusen), you probably saw this tweet. Courtesy of the twitter account of Brendan Kuty, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (@BrendanKutyNJ):
Judge said he pulled aside Luke Voit during the celebration. “We wouldn’t be in this position right now if it wasn’t for you. You coming over here, I know it was a slow start, but you picked it up and you picked us up and when we needed the big hit, you came through for us.”
Big words from a big man, and words very well deserved for Luke Voit. Voit launched his 11th home run for the Yankees yesterday with a solo blast in the second inning. It eventually ensured the game would go into extra innings for the Yankees to win it. For those counting at home, Voit has 11 homers and 25 RBIs for the Yankees and his batting line is .314/.385/.648 with 1.032 OPS. The guy’s been incredible and he has made Greg Bird irrelevant.
|Photo Credit: Getty Imaes (Mike Stobe)|
As for Aaron Judge, his return to the active roster has been huge. I know he was a presence in the dugout during his lengthy stay on the disabled list, cheering on his teammates, but this is a different team when he is in the lineup. I’ve felt all season that he is the heartbeat of the team and this month has proven it to be so true. I really think Judge should be the next Captain for the Yankees. He is the team’s MVP and clearly its leader, a role that will continue to grow for him. The “fun” is returning to the team and it is no doubt directly tied to Aaron Judge. He is a worthy successor for future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
Hopefully Aaron Hicks was not hurt too badly when he fouled the pitch off his ankle in the bottom of the eleventh yesterday before he hit the game-winning double. Tests after the game were negative but that foul looked so painful. There’s no doubt we’ll see Hicks in shin guards moving forward. I heard he had the ankle heavily taped after yesterday’s game. My hope is that he is feeling much better today without too much swelling. Hicks is the unsung hero for this team and they cannot afford to lose him for any extended time.
Yesterday, it was reported CC Sabathia intends to play another season. Sadly, I do not feel it should be with the Yankees despite how much Sabathia has done and meant for the organization over the years. He has been a great Yankee and I’ll always be appreciative of his time in Pinstripes. But the Yankees can do better for the fifth spot in the rotation even if that just means re-signing J.A. Happ in the off-season. I expect the Yankees to upgrade the starting rotation (Patrick Corbin, please) and at this point in his career, Sabathia is not going to get better and will only regress. Age sucks but it is a terminal affliction for all of us.
The Yankees should also not pick up the $12.5 million club option for Brett Gardner and should go with the $2 million buyout. Another great Yankee but it is time to move on. Regardless of what happens for the rest of 2018, I have very high expectations for the 2019 New York Yankees. It is time to end the AL East reign of the Boston Red Sox and I think the ’19 Yankees will be the team to do it. It will be weird to see Sabathia in a different uniform but even stranger to see Gardy in other colors after a career isolated to Pinstripes. There are tough decisions ahead for the Yankees. I suppose it’s possible the Yankees could re-sign Gardy to a lower salary, but I am hopeful for the future of Clint Frazier and would like to see Red Thunder given every opportunity to break camp with the big league club next year. Or sign Bryce Harper, that works too.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports the Yankees would like to have Andrew McCutchen back next year if they “can cut a reasonable deal”. I would support his return, but of course Cafardo also threatens “And yes, Jacoby Ellsbury could return in 2019”. Now, that’s one guy I do not want to see in a Yankees uniform next year. I am done with DL’s-bury. Time to cut bait with Ellsbury if he is healthy. If Cafardo is to be believed, the Yankees will rekindle talks with the San Francisco Giants in the off-season about Madison Bumgarner so that’s one to keep an eye on.
With heavy speculation J.A. Happ will be the starter for the Yankees on October 3rd against the Oakland A’s (sorry Rays fans, you’re not catching them), today is a big day. Happ (16-6, 3.62 ERA) takes the mound against Alex Cobb (5-15, 4.90 ERA) and the Orioles. If Happ dominates Baltimore, he’ll solidify his chances to be “the man” in the Wild Card game. If not, Yankees Twitter will be announcing the end of the World by late afternoon.
A win today would be a beautiful thing. Let’s get this sweep. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters (Adam Hunger)|
Yanks kick off final regular season home stand with an easy win…
For all of the struggles by the Yankees this month, last night was fun. The Yankees were in charge from the start and never looked back en route to the 11-0 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays behind the stellar pitching of restored staff ace Masahiro Tanaka.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
After a disappointing nine-game road trip that saw the Yankees drop series in Oakland and Minneapolis to finish 4-5, allowing the A’s to close the gap in the AL Wild Card standings, the Yankees needed a strong game with contributions across the roster. I suppose it was a good sign when it was announced Aaron Judge had been activated off the disabled list prior to the game, even if his bat wasn’t activated with him. Judge will serve as a pinch runner and defensive specialist until it is time to take a few swings in simulated games in Tampa before he gets an opportunity to seek his 27th home run for the Bombers. Given that Judge is the obvious heart and soul of this team (and its future Captain if the Yankees do what’s right), I am glad to see him on the active roster even with his limitations.
I am resigned to the fact that this has been a special season for the Boston Red Sox. I hope they fail in the post-season (like the 2001 Seattle Mariners) but there’s been no doubt they’ve owned the regular season. Unlike the Yankees, they’ve been able to limit the slumps and no opposing lead seems safe against J.D. Martinez and Company. I remain hopeful that they’ll fail in the post-season with their questionable bullpen but at the moment they are the best Red Sox team of my lifetime (well, anybody’s lifetime for that matter). I hate the Houston Astros but if the AL Championship comes down to the Astros and the Red Sox, I’d have to pull for a repeat World Series appearance for the defending champs.
There’s been so much talk about which pitcher should get the call in the inevitable Wild Card game against the Oakland A’s. Right now, it would seem that Tanaka is the man of the hour. Many have mentioned J.A. Happ as a possibility but as good as he has been as a Yankee, I really think the choice should be limited to Tanaka or Luis Severino. I guess I can still remember the times when the Yankees had their way with Happ when he was wearing a Blue Jays uniform. In his last game against the Yankees in July, he was pounded for six runs in 2 2/3 innings in Toronto’s 10-5 loss to the Yanks. Although Severino has been struggling for awhile, he pitched much better in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins when the Yankees didn’t get their first hit until the eighth inning. He held the Twins to only one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings and didn’t walk anybody in the tough luck loss. He struck out five. It’s a start, both literally and figuratively.
As the Yankees begin their final home stand, it is a little sad that it could be the last regular season games at Yankee Stadium for a few of the guys. Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, and David Robertson are the names that stick out the most to me. Several guys, like Sonny Gray and maybe even Greg Bird, may have played themselves off the roster after the season. It’s doubtful the Yankees will re-sign Andrew McCutchen or Zach Britton so their brief Pinstriped careers could soon be coming to an end and there is no certainty the Yankees will re-sign J.A. Happ. MLB Trade Rumors speculated this morning that Happ could earn more than a guaranteed $40 million for three years on his next deal when he becomes a free agent after the season. That’s a lot of money for a guy who turns 36 next month. Hopefully the Yankees hang on to their Wild Card lead so that there is at least one more game at Yankee Stadium for the impending departees after the current home stand ends.
I am not sure how I feel about the Yankees’ chances for October. If they play like the team we’ve seen in recent weeks, it will be ‘one and done’ in the Wild Card game. If they can capitalize on the momentum of last night’s game and propel themselves into the playoffs on a roll, anything can happen. We know this team is capable of beating anybody including the Red Sox. But we also know that the bats can go into silent mode with runners in scoring position at times (more often than I would like). I guess I could say that while I am hopeful for the best, I am braced for the worst. I do know the Yankees need a healthy Aaron Judge and Aroldis Chapman before we play the final regular season series in Boston at the end of the month. We need both guys firing on all cylinders for the team’s hopes to advance deep into October.
Like many Yankee fans, I am very pleased with the production and energy that we’ve seen from first baseman Luke Voit. I certainly never dreamed that GM Brian Cashman would be able to flip relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos for a guy who has become such a big part of the Yankees offense. I don’t know what the future holds for Voit but I am enjoying the current ride. I think the Yankees will look to upgrade the position in the off-season but Voit has certainly earned the right to battle Greg Bird for the starting position next Spring.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
I’ve seen so many people call for the head of Aaron Boone. Sure, he’s made his share of rookie mistakes in his first year as Yankees manager but I think he’ll be stronger for it in 2019. There’s not anybody out there I would prefer to see as the team’s manager at this point and I am certainly not pining for the return of Joe Girardi. When Boone was announced as the Yankees manager last off-season, I had been hopeful that he’d select a veteran manager as his bench coach. So I was a little disappointed when he went with Josh Bard who has not managed at any level. Bard may be smart and confident, but I really preferred a battle tested veteran manager in the role as lead consultant for Boone. Boone does have managerial experience on his staff with Larry Rothschild who was the original manager for the Tampa Bay Rays (then Devil Rays) when they entered the American League. Third base coach Phil Nevin has minor league managerial experience. But that’s not the same as your right hand guy. The best case scenario would have been for the Yankees to have retained former bench coach Rob Thomson who now serves in the same role for the Philadelphia Phillies and their infant manager, Gabe Kapler. Another veteran manager who left the organization last off-season will most likely be coaching first base for the Yankees’ Wild Card opponent. Al Pedrique, the former manager of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, is presently first base coach for the Oakland A’s. In my opinion, Thomson or Pedrique would have been much better options to sit (or rather stand) beside Boone in the Yankees dugout than Bard.
Speaking of Joe Girardi, I am not sure where he’ll get his next opportunity. I had thought St Louis was an obvious destination but the Cardinals have committed to their interim manager, Mike Shildt, by dropping the interim tag. Shildt has made the Cardinals relevant again after their disappointing performance under former manager Mike Matheny. I thought Washington might be another possibility but it sounds like first-year manager Dave Martinez will get another shot in 2019 even if the team will be Bryce Harper-less. The Toronto Blue Jays have been mentioned as a possibility given the speculation that their manager, John Gibbons, is managing his final games in a Blue Jays uniform. It would be weird to see Girardi in the AL East with another team. But when you look at teams with great young prospects on the horizon, the Blue Jays would be near the top of the list with the highly rated sons of former Major Leaguers Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette, and Craig Biggio among others. All things considered, I am hopeful Girardi likes his job with MLB Network well enough to wait for a Chicago job to open at some point in the future.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders beat the heavily favored Durham Bulls last night to send the International League’s Governors’ Cup Finals to the winner-take-all Game Five to be played in Moosic, PA later today. Domingo German will start for the RailRiders against Durham’s Kyle Bird (part of the Bulls planned bullpen day). The Bulls are the defending IL champs, while the RailRiders were the Wild Card entrant and last year’s championship series loser. Win or lose, this has been a great season for the Yankees’ top farm team. The Bulls have been at a disadvantage for the series since all of the games have been played at PNC Field in Moosic due to the weather conditions in the Carolinas.
Entering play today, the magic number for the Boston Red Sox to win the AL East championship is six games. The Yankees (91-56) currently trail the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games so at this point it is only a matter of time until the Red Sox are sipping champagne. My hope is that they do not do it next week on Yankee Stadium soil. The Yankees lead the AL Wild Card by a game and a half over the Oakland A’s but hold the tie-breaker. The Seattle Mariners trail the A’s by 8 1/2 games so barring any miracle comebacks, the AL Wild Card will be Yankees-A’s with location being the only question.
For today’s game, the Yankees send CC Sabathia (7-6, 3.54 ERA) to the mound. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Sean Reid-Foley (1-3, 6.86 ERA). Sabathia has not looked good in his recent outings and he really needs to step his game soon. Hopefully today is the start. We want a win, we need a win, let’s get a win. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Yanks Get Double Treat on Saturday…
The Yankees swept the day/night doubleheader in Baltimore on Saturday, and find themselves only seven games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East (just six games back in the loss column). The Yankees took the day game by a score of 10-3 behind the pitching of J.A. “Happer” Happ, his fifth consecutive Yankees victory, and then swept the doubleheader by defeating the O’s 5-1 in the nightcap, a win delivered courtesy of Sonny “Pickles” Gray.
Granted, Gray was facing the worst team in Major League Baseball and they weren’t playing at Yankee Stadium so he had the right conditions for a stellar game. The last time “Pickles” had faced Baltimore, he was pounded for seven runs in only 2 2/3 innings (a 5-7 loss to the O’s on August 1st but that game was in the Bronx. He pitched six scoreless innings of three-hit ball against the Orioles at Camden Yards on July 11th and has only given up one run to Baltimore in three Camden Yards starts this year. He clearly likes pitching in Baltimore even if he can’t pitch anywhere else so I temper Saturday night’s performance. Still, it was a win and that’s what matters most. Gray threw 79 pitches in 6 1/3 innings, limiting Baltimore to three hits and no runs. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter until the final guy he faced in the bottom of the 7th inning.
After the game, Gray proclaimed himself as “one of the best starting pitchers in this league” which I thought was a bit much. Maybe he was saying it for the benefit of O’s GM Dan Duquette (future trade possibilities), given his propensity for ‘elite-like’ games in Baltimore. His statement could not have been meant for Yankee fans because we know better. Good for Gray to have confidence, but he shouldn’t rush out to buy shelf space for a Cy Young Award.
Perhaps the disappointment of the night game was the inability of reliever Tommy Kahnle to preserve the shutout for “Pickles”. It was a messy bottom of the ninth as Kahnle gave up three hits, the last one a single by Yankees castoff Jace Peterson which scored Trey Mancini with Baltimore’s only run. Manager Aaron Boone was forced to bring in Dellin “El Acido” Betances to get the final out with two runners on base. Fortunately, he struck out Caleb Joseph on five pitches to prevent an Orioles rally and gained his first save of the season. There’s no way that should have ever been a save situation and it reinforces why Tommy Kahnle has a long way to go before he can be a trusted member of the bullpen again.
In the day game, I was a little worried when J.A. Happ gave up two runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning which gave the O’s a one-run lead. He has pitched so well for the Yankees since his acquisition in July and it is inevitable that the wheels will fall off. Happ is exactly the type of trading deadline deal you want to make. Acquire a guy who outperforms his time with his previous club and just wins down the stretch. The Yankees other lefty July trade target, Cole Hamels, is doing a tremendous job for the Chicago Cubs, but I agree that Happ was the right choice given his AL East experience. Happ ended up with yet another quality start, holding the O’s to just those two runs on five hits over six innings for his 15th win of he year. Happ (15-6) walked a batter and struck out nine and is only a win behind Luis Severino. Luis Cessa, the 26th man, finished up the final three innings for his first save despite the blowout.
Miguel “Papá ” Andujar, who has become everybody’s favorite choice for AL Rookie of the Year, hit his 21st home run in the first game with 4 RBI’s to pace the Yankees. Aaron “Hicksie” Hicks had three hits and 2 RBI’s. Luke “Louis” Voit got the start in the first game over Greg Bird, and delivered a run-scoring single. Brett “Gardner” Gardner also chipped in a couple of RBI’s and Gleyber “GT” Torres, with two hits, had an RBI as well.
In the night game, Gardy, Hicks, and Giancarlo “G” Stanton all contributed an RBI, and Austin “Ro” Romine smacked an insurance-providing solo homer in the top of the ninth. Greg “Bird” Bird finally got the start after two successive starts by Luke Voit. He responded to the challenge for his position by going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
The Yankees (82-47) play the Boston Red Sox six more times with three games in New York and three in Boston. The New York series is Tuesday, September 18th through Thursday, September 20th, while the Boston series finishes the regular season on Friday, September 28th to Sunday, September 30th. It’s still an uphill battle but the division title remains within reach if the cards fall right for the Yankees. Getting everybody healthy is the first course of business.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe had some interesting comments about the Yankees in his weekly Sunday Baseball Notes. He stated the Indians and the Yankees “were exploring the possibility of (Andrew) McCutchen, who has cleared waivers and can be traded anywhere”. I find it hard to believe the Yankees would add McCutchen due to the luxury tax threshold limitations but I guess you can never underestimate GM Brian Cashman. I wouldn’t mind seeing McCutchen in pinstripes but then again, he’s a redundant luxury once Aaron Judge returns to good health. Cutch does have that “it” factor and could be capable of delivering huge hits when it matters the most even if he is no longer the player he once was for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cafardo also said the Yankees were in the hunt for Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner at the July trading deadline but found the price too high. Bummer, I would have loved Mad-Bum on the Yankees. Of course, I have no idea what the Giants asked for. Handing over our ten best prospects probably would not have been a good idea. LOL! I doubt that was the cost but it probably wasn’t too far off.
Congrats to former Yankee Matt Holliday for his return to the Majors with his original team, the Colorado Rockies. Holliday was unable to wear his original number (5) since it now belongs to long-time Rockie Carlos Gonzalez and the number he wore with the Yankees (17) is retired in honor of Rockies great Todd Helton. So Holliday opted for number 7 which of course is a hallowed number around here. Holliday went hitless in his Rockies debut on Friday after an absence of ten years in a Colorado uniform but he delivered a pinch hit homer yesterday against another one of his former teams, the St Louis Cardinals.
The Yankees conclude their series at Camden Yards today. Luis Severino (16-6, 3.28 ERA) will face Dylan Bundy (7-12, 5.31 ERA) tonight at 8 pm ET before the team heads home (sleep? who needs stinkin’ sleep!). It would be great if Sevy could pitch like he did in the first half. We need THAT guy hitting all cylinders for the sprint to the finish. Baltimore is going to lose 100 games this season with or without our help. We might as well move them one game closer. With the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers on tap for the seven-game homestand starting Monday, the Yankees must continue to put the pressure on the Beantown Bunch. These are the games that we can and should win before we face the Wild Card contending Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners on the the last West Coast trip of the regular season starting on Labor Day.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Patrick McDermott)|
Yanks Use Unlikely Heroes to Thwart the O’s…
When the lineup was posted prior to the game, Luke Voit’s name at first base was about as exciting as getting teeth pulled despite Greg Bird’s struggles with the bat. After the game was over, Voit had ensured he could be the beneficiary of more playing time at Bird’s expense. His two home runs were huge. The first tied the game in the early stages and the latter provided the necessary insurance for the win. The muscled kid from St Louis came up big for the Pinstripes with 4 RBI’s in the 7-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Zach Britton picked up his first save for the Yankees, his fifth of the year. He was treated rudely by former teammate Chris Davis who blasted a solo home run in the bottom of the tenth, but thanks to Voit’s two-run shot after the Yankees had taken a one-run lead in the top of the tenth, Britton withstood the Davis home run trot to preserve the win. Things might have looked differently had Britton not gotten Trey Mancini, the batter before Davis, to hit into a double play. Whatever it takes, it was a win and the Yankees finally have a winning season record against the O’s at 7-6.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Orioles got on the board first. After the Yankees had threatened in the top of the first inning (but failed), the O’s grabbed the early lead with a two-run single by Chris Davis in the bottom of the inning off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Davis entered the game batting .163 on the season but apparently Yankees pitching didn’t get the memo.
Orioles starter Alex Cobb, who has enjoyed a resurgent second half following a 2-12 record leading up to the All-Star Game, was tough on the Yankees lineup. After escaping the first inning scoring opportunity, he blanked the Yankees over the next two innings, allowing just a couple of meaningless walks. It looked like he was going to have his way in the top of the fourth inning when he struck out Miguel Andujar to start the frame. Neil Walker singled to center, but Gleyber Torres flied out to right for the second out. Up to the plate strolled Luke Voit who had hit into a double play in the second inning for his first at-bat. Voit crushed the Cobb offering over the wall in left center to tie the game at two. It looked weird to see Chasen Shreve’s #45 circling the bases.
CC Sabathia got the Yankees through six innings with the game knotted at two. The ball was turned over to David Robertson for the seventh but unfortunately he ran into a bit of bad luck. The first hitter, John Andreoli (a recent cast-off from the Seattle Mariners), reached base on a fielding error by interim shortstop Gleyber Torres (the ball rolled up his arm off his wrist and dropped into shallow left field). Torres was in pain but stayed in the game. D-Rob was able to retire the next two hitters but then Jonathan Villar, the former Milwaukee Brewer, took Robertson deep to left center, giving the O’s a 4-2 lead. I hate to say it, but I don’t really see the Yankees re-signing D-Rob, one of my favorite Yankees over the years, after the season.
The Yankees answered in the top of the eighth. With only one out, they loaded the bases against two Orioles relievers. The third O’s pitcher of the inning, Mychal Givens, came in to face Gleyber Torres and was greeted with a two-run single to right. The O’s had a play at the plate for the second runner, Miguel Andujar, on a strong throw by Adam Jones, but the ball came loose on the collision at home. Papa was safe and the game was tied again. The Yanks re-loaded the bases after Luke Voit had struck out for the second out, but Ronald Torreyes left the runners stranded with a pop out to first.
Dellin Betances, sporting yellow shoes, pitched the bottom of the eighth. He got into a little trouble with a couple of singles but was able to get out of the inning with a couple of swinging strikeouts.
The Yankees had a chance in the ninth when Brett Gardner opened the inning with a single, but after Giancarlo Stanton flied out, Aaron Hicks hit the ball directly into Chris Davis’ glove, standing on first base, for an inning-ending double play. Three up and three down for Chad Green in the bottom of the ninth, and it was off to extra innings we went.
With former Yankees prospect Cody Carroll pitching, Neil Walker homered to right center with one out to give the Yankees their first lead of the game. Neil, please accept my apology for any disparaging words I may have used about you earlier in the season. Gleyber Torres followed with a walk. He stole second and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the O’s catcher. Luke Voit, who obviously enjoyed the fourth inning home run, decided to re-live the experience with another two-run blast, this time to right center.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Patrick Semansky)|
The Yankees took the three-run lead into the bottom of the tenth, bringing in former Orioles closer Zach Britton to finish off his ex-teammates. Adam Jones singled to right to open the inning for the Orioles, but Trey Mancini, in the midst of a down year for him, grounded into a double play. So Chris Davis came to the plate with the bases empty and two outs. His homer to center, traveling 430 feet, cut the Yanks’ lead to two. Fortunately, Tim Beckham grounded out to first to end the game. It was a struggle but the Yankees persevered to pull out the victory. Britton walked off the Orioles mound with another save in his illustrious Camden Yards career, but the first in opposing gear.
The win, the Yankees’ 80th of the year, helped them to cut the gap to 8 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox dropped a 10-3 game to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees are just the second team in MLB to reach 80 wins, but of course the Red Sox became the first to 90 earlier this week. The Yankees hold a four-game lead on the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card standings and eight games over Adam Warren and the Seattle Mariners.
Nice job by CC Sabathia, fresh off the 10-day DL, to give the Yankees some length after the first inning difficulties. He mixed in a couple of eight-pitch innings. He may not have gotten the decision but he put his team in position for the win. As they say, wins are a worthless statistic to prove a pitcher’s worth. The Yankees would not have won this game without CC’s strong performance.
Gary Sanchez began a rehab assignment in Florida (Gulf Coast League) today so it sounds like we’ll be getting one of the wounded soldiers back soon. Sanchez will move up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after today’s game before rejoins the team, hopefully next week. I really hope that El Gary brings some of the hustle I’ve seen with the rehab workout videos. We could really use the pre-2018 version of Sanchez for the regular season’s final month.
The Yankees and the Orioles play two today. RHP Luis Cessa has been called up as the 26th man for the day/night double-header. The first game, at 1:00 pm ET, features J.A. Happ (14-6, 3.84 ERA) against Jimmy Yacabonis (0-1, 6.75 ERA). Luke Voit hit his last Triple A homer, prior to his call-up, against Yacabonis. Sure enough, on the lineup just posted for today’s game, Voit is playing first base. The second game, 7:05 pm ET, will pit the beleaguered Sonny Gray (9-8, 5.34 ERA) against Andrew Cashner (4-11, 4.84 ERA). Despite his record, Cashner always seems to pitch well against the Yankees. If Gray wants to pitch any meaningful games for the Yankees down the stretch, he needs to show up tonight. No pressure. Somehow I suspect he’ll fail miserably to maintain his grip on the Sonny Gray Sucks! tag line. Sonny, dammit, prove me wrong.
Hopefully last night’s win provides some momentum for the Yankees against the pesky O’s. Why win just one game, when you can take two? Let’s do this. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: AP (Rich Schultz)|
Yanks Overcome Weather & Rangers for the Win…
It was raining and we had a closer with a bum knee on the mound who has shown an inability to consistently throw strikes (recently). A walk, a single, and a hit by pitch had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the ninth inning for Aroldis Chapman. He fell behind the next hitter, Jurickson Profar, on a 3-1 count. With the Yankees leading by two, a misplaced pitch could have brought the Rangers within one and the bases still juiced. Fortunately, the Cuban Missile rose to the occasion and delivered two well-placed four-seam fastballs to send the Rangers back to their NYC hotel on a losing note. Yankees win, 5-3.
Credit to Lance Lynn. I can’t say I was too excited when the Yankees acquired him last month (it felt kinda like ‘Jaime Garcia Revisited’) but this guy has a mental toughness that I did not know or expect. I guess if I had been paying better attention to the St Louis Cardinals the last few years, I would have known but the Cards are not exactly high on my priority list. Lynn didn’t provide the Yankees with length since he was gone after five innings and 99 pitches, but at least he held the Rangers to only one run on five hits. He issued three free passes but at least he struck out eight. If he had given up three or four runs, the Yankees most likely would have lost this game. He may not have gotten the win (thanks to Zach Britton’s meltdown), but he put his team in position to win. That’s all you can ask.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Corey Sipkin)|
As for Britton, I am not going to rip the guy. He missed most of the season after rupturing his right Achilles while sprinting during an off-season workout last December. He was still working himself back to form when the Yankees acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles. With the Yankees, his role changed from closer to basically seventh inning setup. The other night, after Chad Green had given up a couple of runs, he placed some of the blame on his role change. The same can be said for Britton. He’s a pro, and he is only a couple seasons removed from being the most elite reliever in baseball before injuries derailed him. I think as he rounds back into form, he’ll give the Yankees the pitcher they thought they were acquiring from the O’s.
Nevertheless, the seventh inning was ugly. After retiring the first two batters, Britton loaded the bases on a couple of hits and a walk. He then walked future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2. Exit Britton and enter Dellin Betances. A balk on the big guy tied the game and removed Lynn’s ability to get the win.
There will be better days for Britton. I have faith and confidence he’ll get this right. Although Britton is quick to admit that his troubles have been “self-inflicted”, Manager Aaron Boone remains in his corner (as he should). If the Yankees make it to October, I have no doubt Britton will come up huge.
For most of the season, I’ve been supportive of Gleyber Torres for AL Rookie of the Year over Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels. But yesterday showed the real ROY should be Miguel Andujar. His two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh restored the Yankees’ two-run lead which ultimately gave the Yankees (and ironically Dellin Betances) the much-needed win. 17 homers, 55 RBI, .296/.329/.511, .841 OPS, all those extra base hits. And to think I actually wanted the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier last winter. ESPN projects Andujar’s final stats to read 24 homers and 77 RBIs with the nearly .300 batting average. Sign me up all day long. That’s better production than we’ve seen out of third base for a long time or before age caught up with Alex Rodriguez.
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
Despite the win, the Yankees (73-43) lost a half-game to the Boston Red Sox and now trail the AL East leaders by 9 1/2 games. The Red Sox took two from their 2018 punching bag, the lowly Baltimore Orioles, yesterday and they have Chris Sale on the mound for today’s series finale at Camden Yards. The Red Sox have forgotten how to lose. The Yankees maintained their 4 1/2 game lead on the Oakland A’s and 6 games on the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card standings.
The return of Chance Adams to Triple A did not go so well. After holding his own against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in his last start, he imploded in Durham, NC against the Bulls. Even though he wasn’t the loser, his final line was enough to keep him away from Yankee Stadium for awhile. 3 1/3 innings, eight hits, seven runs, four walks, two home runs allowed (including one to former Yankee Rob Refsnyder). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders rallied in the ninth to take the lead but the Bulls won it with a walk-off two run homer by former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Austin Meadows. Meadows, who came to the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the Chris Archer deal, had two home runs on the day.
The Luke Voit acquisition has been a head-scratcher for most of us. I’ve seen the references that he is basically Tyler Austin but with an extra year of control. But he is not really doing anything for me. He has two hits in twelve at-bats for the Yankees and a couple of RBI’s. Meanwhile, Tyler Austin homered on Saturday in his debut with the Minnesota Twins. I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe Voit deserves a spot on the active roster. With Neil Walker’s ability to play first base, I’d rather see Ronald Torreyes back in the Bronx. Another name that probably deserves stronger consideration over Voit is first baseman Ryan McBroom. The downside, and enough to keep him away from the Bronx, is that he does not have a place on the 40-man roster. McBroom got demoted to Double A when the Yankees acquired Voit, but he was elevated back to the RailRiders when Voit got the call for the Show. Between Double and Triple A, McBroom, acquired from the Blue Jays organization last summer for the aforementioned Rob Refsnyder, has hit .312/.354/.482, .836 OPS. He has 15 home runs and 54 ribbies with his time in Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 26 year-old is much more deserving of the Pinstripes than the weight room junkie Voit.
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller|
I’d love to see the Yankees dump outfielder Shane Robinson but that’s not going to happen as long as Giancarlo Stanton is nursing a tight left hamstring that has relegated him to strict DH duties. If the Yankees are not going to trade for outfield help, I can only hope that Clint Frazier gets healthy soon. At this point, I’d prefer Zack Zehner (SWB) or Trey Amburgey (Trenton) over Robinson but that darn 40-man roster will keep them away.
I’ll be heading out to Coors Field soon to watch the Colorado Rockies host Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last night was a tough game to watch. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but with no closer (Kenley Jansen was sent back to LA on Friday night with an irregular heartbeat), the Dodgers bullpen collapsed to set the stage for Rockies rookie infielder Ryan McMahon’s walk-off three-run bomb. So, despite our bullpen woes yesterday, it could have been much, much worse as the Dodger fans will attest. Hopefully today is a better day for the Dodger Blue.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Mahoney)|
For the Yankees, they have a chance to take three of four from Texas with a win today. We want a win and we need a win. CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.49 ERA) gets the call. He’ll be opposed by Martin Perez (2-4, 6.15 ERA). Keep Ronald Guzman from crossing home plate and put more runs on the board than the Rangers, that’s all I ask. After the Yankees conclude today’s game, they’ll prepare for a classic pitcher’s duel tomorrow at Yankee Stadium when the New York Mets come to the Bronx for a single makeup game. Luis Severino against Jacob deGrom. It should be a great one. I am really hoping Sevy has put his recent struggles behind him.
I’d Like to Forget Yesterday’s Game but Thurman Munson was a bigger loss…
This is always a tough day as I am sure it is for any Yankees fan who grew up with the Bronx Zoo Yankees. It has been 39 years since the death of my favorite Yankee, a day that I can still so vividly remember. One of those ‘you know exactly where you were’ moments in life. I’ve had many favorite ball players over the years but none have matched the intensity and passion that drove Yankees Captain and star catcher Thurman Munson. It’s not to say that guys like Jorge Posada or Don Mattingly or Derek Jeter weren’t passionate or intense, they were, but there was something about Thurman that set him apart. Looking back, the early George Steinbrenner Era was so chaotic. It’s what I grew up with so changing managers every year was the norm. Signing the most glamorous superstars in the off-season was expected. The polarization of players like Reggie Jackson was simply daily life in the Bronx. The one constant was the strength (mentally and physically) of the team’s legendary catcher. I loved that guy and miss him to this day.
My first Yankees jersey was number 15. I wish I still had it even if it had been a child’s size.
My biggest fear in the late ‘70’s was the eventual departure of Munson from the Yankees. I remember the days when he was talking more and more like a guy who wanted to play for the Cleveland Indians so that he could be closer to home. It was clear how much family meant to him. I selfishly wanted him to stay but in retrospect, I would have gladly taken his presence on the Indians roster for the later years of his career over his early demise.
Thurman, we are thinking of you. We miss you. Your spirit and memory continue to run strong through the fabric of Yankee Stadium even if the current one was not yet built in 1979. I remain forever grateful that you were and always will be a Yankee. You stand tall among the Yankee Legends.
How do you transition from ‘GREAT’ to, as Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues would put it, not so ‘GRAYT’? Sadly, that’s what comparing today to yesterday brings when talking about certain players (specifically excluding the tragic death of one of the most beloved Yankees).
I am done with Sonny Gray. He had already reached ‘Sonny Gray Sucks!’ status for me earlier this year, but I foolishly bought into the last couple of starts which were somewhat decent. I had been hopeful that he was finally turning the corner and headed down the path of promise we once felt he was destined for. Then he blows up against one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball. By the time Lance Lynn entered the game to calm the troops, the damage had been done. Gleyber Torres tried to bring the team back with his two home runs but an inability of others to create opportunities when the bases were loaded was too much. Lots of negatives in the game. Gleyber’s fielding, the whiffs with run scoring opportunities, the third base coach going off on the team in the dugout for their lackadaisical effort, etc. It was not a good game from any aspect, but at the heart was the pathetic performance delivered by one Sonny Douglas Gray. His smile walking off the mound (regardless of his explanation) was horrific. Ed Whitson couldn’t pitch in the Bronx, nor could Javier Vazquez. A.J. Burnett flamed out. Following in their footsteps is Gray. I firmly believe that Gray would thrive in a place like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee, but he’ll never be the man in the Bronx. He is incapable of rising to the occasion on Major League Baseball’s Main Stage. He prefers to be a less pressurized side show in a small community theater.
The Yankees shouldn’t give up Gray for nothing but they should try to do the humane thing and re-home him to a family that can love and support him. If he stays in the Bronx, I am in favor of euthanasia. Alright, that might be a little harsh, but he’s reached the end of the line for rotation opportunities in my mind. I know the Yankees need to try to rebuild some value before he is traded away (Brian Cashman should have flipped him at this year’s trading deadline), but the time to live or die with Sonny Gray in the starting rotation is over for this season. I wasn’t excited about the addition of Lance Lynn, but I firmly believe that Lynn should be the starter over Gray for the duration of the season. Make Gray the rotation’s sixth man, with an occasional spot start. Even that scares me to a degree. He’s become the guy I’d want pitching with a ten-run lead but of course he’d still have me pacing the room.
Too bad the Oakland A’s do not have a return policy for defective merchandise. I’d like my money back. Heck, I’d gladly take Dustin Fowler (demoted to Triple A yesterday by the A’s) back in exchange for Gray. Let them keep James Kaprielian and Jorge Mateo as “profit”.
For today’s game in Boston, we know that first baseman Luke Voit and Luis Cessa have been called up. While outfielder Shane Robinson goes down for Voit, there hasn’t been word yet this morning about who’s spot Cessa will take. The obvious solution is the placement of J.A. Happ, currently battling Noah Syndergaard disease, on the 10-day DL retroactive to three days ago. I’d argue the demotion of Sonny Gray (according to Roster Resource, he has two options left). Losing Gray makes more sense to me than Happ who should be healthy again within a few days.
I kind of feel bad for Luke Voit. He was a hometown St Louis kid fighting to reach his Major League Dream with his favorite childhood team, but it was extinguished when he was dealt to the Yankees, along with international bonus pool money, in the trade that sent relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos to the Gateway City. Of course there are worse places to go than the Bronx and I am hopeful that the history and the tradition of the organization appeal to the Missouri kid. Maybe we can get Tino Martinez to stop by and express the advantages of playing for the Yankees over the Cardinals. Seriously, I hope Voit thrives in New York and becomes Brian Cashman’s latest gem. This is a great opportunity for him even if he is destined to return to Moosic, PA in the not-so-distant future. With no offense to Robinson, I am much happier with Voit on the Major League roster.
This is a big series for the Yankees. Four games against Boston in the very heart of Red Sox Nation. Mike Francesa tweeted this morning, “We are all going to learn something about this Yankee team this weekend”. No doubt. If they play like they did yesterday, the Red Sox will be clearing shelf space for their 2018 AL East Championship trophy. The Yankees need to make a statement and take at least three of four from the AL East leaders. They have the talent to do it. We’ll soon see if they have the heart. They certainly did not yesterday. Red Sox fans are loving life today. If they are feeling miserable and uncomfortable on Sunday, it will have been a successful weekend.
Thank God Sonny Gray will not be pitching.
Pinstripers, your mission should you choose to accept it… Let’s do this. Time to make noise in the AL East.
|Photo Credit: The Kansas City Star via AP (John Sleezer)|
Yanks Continue Struggles with Losing Teams…
The Yankees do know these are the Kansas City Royals, right? Maybe they’d fare better if they thought they were playing Manny Machado and the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was an awful feeling when the Royals, on the fast track for 100 losses, throttled Luis Severino and later David Robertson en route to the 10-5 victory in the first game of Saturday’s day/night double-header. I am concerned, very concerned, about Severino. Despite the rotation pitching woes earlier this season, the one constant was strong performances by Severino who was pitching at Chris Sale-Corey Kluber level as he raced to fourteen wins. Yesterday, Sevy was gone before the end of the fifth inning, after coughing up eight hits and six runs. For his last four starts, Severino has given up 19 runs in 19 1/3 innings. His ERA, below 2.00 not long ago, is now a run higher. Not good. The Yankees need to get him with Pedro Martinez again soon. I jest on that part, but Sevy does need to figure this out. The sooner, the better.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
I thought the Yankees were going to climb back into the game after Sevy’s departure and a 6-0 deficit when they scored five runs to make it a one-run game but the bullpen was not up to the task. David Robertson continues to pitch like a guy playing his final two months in Pinstripes. The 2018 version of D-Rob has not been as trustworthy as the 2017 version and it is sad to see. He’s been one of my favorites but it seems inevitable that we’ll have a second parting of the ways in a few months. Is there such a thing as too much quality in the bullpen, leading to a lack of work and rusty performances? Hopefully the pen gels with the latest moves and provides us with a stretch run to remember.
I was fearful the Royals were going to sweep the day when they forged ahead of the Yankees in the nightcap while new reliever Zach Britton, hearing the boos so familiar when he pitched as a visitor, was on the mound in the seventh, but Greg Bird, Neil Walker and Aaron Hicks saved the day. Bird’s homer in the bottom of the eighth tied the game. Walker followed with a double to deep right center, and advanced to third on a bunt single by Austin Romine (loved the Twitter comments of “Yankees catcher sprints to first” which is not something we are accustomed to when Gary Sanchez is playing). Aaron Hicks flied out to left, but Walker tagged and scored the go-ahead run. I was hopeful the Yankees could pick up a few more runs in the situation, but Brett Gardner grounded out and Giancarlo Stanton went down swinging to strand two runners in scoring position.
From there, the game was placed into the hands of Aroldis Chapman who had the major meltdown in his last appearance before being saved by Chasen Shreve. It didn’t start well when the first batter, Adalberto Mondesi (I liked the name ‘Raul Mondesi, Jr’ better), led off the ninth with a single to center. Chappy got the next two batters but then he walked the potential go-ahead run. Mondesi stole third to put runners at the corners for the pesky Whit Merrifield. I can’t say I was feeling too good at that point, but Chapman struck him out on four pitches to end the game. Whew! A struggle to win one of two games from a team that has only won 32 games this season. We should be crushing these teams like the Red Sox do.
Boston hammered the Minnesota Twins, 10-4, so they were able to increase their lead in the AL East to five and a half games. Despite the struggles, the Yankees (66-37) can take three of four from the Royals with a win today. It is going to be very disheartening if they end up splitting the series with one of baseball’s worst teams.
Who am I going to complain about now? The Yankees traded LHP Chasen Shreve to the St Louis Cardinals last night so I no longer have a bullpen punching bag. After labeling Shreve as a DFA candidate for months, he wasn’t DFA’d and to my surprise, the Yankees packaged him with RHP Giovanny Gallegos to pick up a bag of donuts and some coin for the international market. Okay, first baseman Luke Voit is not a bag of donuts (is he?) but the guy is not exactly a prospect at 27. The Missouri native played 67 games at Triple A this year, and hit .299/.391/.500, .891 OPS, with 9 homers and 36 RBIs. He has drawn 31 walks. Voit has played in 8 games with eleven plate appearances at the Major League level this season. He is 2-for-11 with a homer and 3 RBIs.
|Photo Credit: Jeff Curry|
Voit will most likely head to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but first base is not exactly a position of need compared to the outfield or catching for the Rail Riders. They have Tyler Austin, Mike Ford and Ryan McBroom. McBroom’s numbers at Triple A this season are nearly identical to Voit’s. In 73 games, McBroom, acquired a couple of seasons ago for Rob Refsnyder, is batting .297 with 9 homers and 32 RBIs. With the glut of first-base types, McBroom, was recently sent to Double A. It certainly wasn’t because of performance. Poor Mike Ford, who had a brief taste of the big leagues in his Rule 5 spring training with the Seattle Mariners, is never going to see the light of day at Yankee Stadium. Ford, batting .240, has 12 home runs and 36 ribbies in 67 games for the RailRiders.
For as much as I’ve wanted to see Shreve go, it was still a sad moment when it actually happened. He was a Yankee for four years and there were good times to go with the bad. Listening to his post-game interview was extremely difficult while Shreve expressed his love for his teammates. I wish the Las Vegas native the best as he moves to the Gateway to the West. The Cardinals have a strong history of tradition and success even if 2018 is not one of their better years. The Cardinals are only four games out of the NL Wild Card chase so Shreve does have an opportunity to help his new team reach October. For Gallegos, it means the end of the Scranton/Bronx Shuttle. Hopefully he’ll have a much better time sticking in the bigs with the Cardinals.
The trade opens a spot on the 25-man roster for today’s starter, J.A. Happ. Happ had been added as the 26th man prior to the start of the second game of yesterday’s double-header after his delayed arrival so the Yankees needed to clear room on the active roster for him. I had expected it to be outfielder Shane Robinson who homered in yesterday’s second game but he presumably lives to see another day in Pinstripes. His spot is the one that clearly needs to be upgraded before the trading deadline unless we can get some positive news about Clint Frazier soon.
Yesterday brought rumors the Yankees are one of the teams aggressively pursuing Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer, although the San Diego Padres continue to be seen as the favorites. A report at the end of the day indicated that the Rays had two scouts watching Justus Sheffield’s start for the RailRiders last evening. I like Archer but not well enough to trade the organization’s top prospect for him. There are only a few guys the Yankees should consider trading Sheffield for and Archer is not one of them. Blake Snell, maybe, but he’s currently on the DL.
The Yankees may be hurt by injuries, but the Houston Astros are having problems of their own. They already had star shortstop Carlos Correa on the disabled list and yesterday the 2017 AL MVP, Jose Altuve, hit the DL for the first time in his career. Altuve has lingering soreness in his right knee.
I was watching a little of the Los Angeles Angels game last night and it’s incredible what former Yankees prospect Francisco Arcia is doing for the Halos in his Major League debut. In two games and eight at-bats, the 28-year-old Arcia, a catcher, has two homers and ten RBIs. The Yankees could certainly use Arcia now but who would have known the career minor leaguer was capable of this type of performance. Okay, apparently former Yankees Assistant GM and now Angels GM Billy Eppler knew. It’s not sustainable but it is a great story. One of the Angels announcers made the comment that this is the time of year you need a player to come along and give the team a jolt. Yeah, we could use one of those guys about now.
I will be curious to see how J.A. Happ performs today. He has faced the Kansas City Royals once already this year. In Toronto’s 15-5 victory on April 18th, Happ pitched six innings, allowing five hits and four runs, to pick up the win for the Blue Jays. He walked a couple of batters and struck out eight. The way the Yankees offense is performing, he’ll need to do better than that today. Sure, the Yankees should score 15 runs on a team like KC but not the .500 club that we’ve been seeing in recent weeks. I am hopeful the excitement of a pennant race will reinvigorate Happ. After Sevy’s pitiful performance yesterday and CC Sabathia’s short outing, we could use a strong show from the rotation. We need a “jolt” and this team needs to get on a roll. Make Yankees Baseball fun again! Otherwise, the Red Sox will be waltzing to the finish line.
I’d like to see the Yankees add a bat before Tuesday’s trading deadline, but I am not expecting any earth-shattering moves. The cost of starting pitching seems too high, and I am not really interested in overpaying for another league-average starter. Maybe it is time to bring Justus Sheffield up to the Show to see what he can do out of the bullpen for the duration of the season. I am also looking forward to Jonathan Loaisiga’s return to good health.
Hopefully the Yankees simply take care of business today. We need a win. Please make it HAPPen.