Tagged: Mariners

High-Flying Yankees Invade Florida…

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Another Series Win, check…

What a week! After splitting Monday’s quasi-double-header with the Nationals in Washington, D.C., the Yankees swept the resurgent Seattle Mariners in the Bronx.

The games against the Mariners couldn’t have been more exciting. After a fairly easy win on Tuesday night, Wednesday featured the Yankees’ rally from a 0-5 deficit with a game tying two-run homer in the 8th inning by Gary Sanchez followed by Giancarlo Stanton’s dramatic two-out, two-strike walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th. Yesterday, the Yankees used two first inning two-run dingers by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar to hold off the M’s for the series sweep.  

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Honestly, I did not expect the Yankees to sweep the Seattle series. The Mariners entered the game 20 games above .500, and were hanging with the Houston Astros atop the AL  West. The M’s left NYC yesterday with a four-game losing streak and 3 1/2 games behind the Astros.  Not a fun week for them. Still, the Mariners are playing much better than people expected when their star player, former Yankee Robinson Cano, was injured and then subsequently suspended for 80 games due to suspected PED use. There’s no doubt with a play or two here and there, the M’s could have easily taken two of the three games.  

I didn’t really get Aaron Boone’s decision to bring in Chasen Shreve to relieve Jonathan Loaisiga during Wednesday’s game. Sure, Loaisiga created the fourth inning mess that had given the Mariners an early 1-0 lead and he departed the game with two outs and runners at first and second, but Shreve did him no favors by allowing a two-run single to Dee Gordon, with both runs charged to Loaisiga. When Shreve entered the game, it felt like it was a great opportunity for the M’s, not the Yankees, and it was. I do not trust the lefty and if there’s a spot in the bullpen that desperately needs an upgrade, it is Shreve. In a bullpen of stars, he is the weakest link.    

Fortunately, after Shreve allowed a couple more runs, Boone made the decision to bring in Jonathan Holder who has been the best reliever not named Dellin Betances in recent weeks. Holder held the M’s scoreless over 2 1/3 innings to set the stage for the late inning heroics by Sanchez and Stanton. For me, Holder’s performance was the key to winning the game. 

I don’t know if it (the dramatic 9th inning game-winning home run) was Giancarlo Stanton’s “signature moment” but it was certainly a huge one for the Yankees and their fans. Stanton benefited from a misplaced pitch but to his credit, he didn’t miss it. Seattle reliever Ryan Cook knew he had made a mistake almost as quickly as the ball had left his hand. Hopefully, for Stanton’s sake, it is a sign of great things to come at Yankee Stadium for the slugger who has been much better on the road than at home ala Sonny Gray.  

On a day when the Yankees used a walk-off home run by #27 to win a game, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders did the same when Zack Zehner, wearing #27, hit a 9th-inning two-run homer to beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, 5-3. Very ironic and coincidental.

Yesterday, the Yankees scored four runs on two homers in the first inning against Seattle’s James Paxton, and then had to hold on when Luis Severino did not have his best stuff. Sevy allowed a two-run homer in the second to Kyle Seager and was touched again for a run-scoring single in the sixth inning by former Yankee Ben Gamel to make it a one-run game. The bullpen trio of David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman kept Seattle off the board from there to deliver Sevy his 11th victory of the season and it almost certainly ensures the young right-hander will be part of the AL All-Star team next month.  

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Thursday’s game also featured the first time that both Seattle’s Andrew Romine and his brother, Austin, started the same game.  It seems like that would have happened while Andrew was playing for the Detroit Tigers but it never did. Andrew started at shortstop for the Mariners and was 1-for-4 (seventh inning single; stranded at second) while Austin was 0-for-4, starting at catcher in place of Gary Sanchez. I loved the punch that Andrew threw at Austin while at the plate.  

Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With the Yankees  (50-22) in St Petersburg, Florida to face the Tampa Bay Rays for a weekend series, they enter play today with a two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (50-26) in the AL East. The Red Sox averted a series sweep by the home team at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN yesterday when they beat the Twins, 9-2, but the two-game lead for the Yankees is the largest they’ve held this month. It’s incredible that both the Yankees and Red Sox are on a path for more than 100 wins and the Yankees have yet to play their best baseball. Yesterday was the first day of summer but it should be a very fun summer for the Yankees and their fans. Somewhere in other Major League cities, there are several talented players and/or pitchers that will soon find themselves on the roster of the greatest team in baseball. No offense to the All-Star Game, but the MLB trading deadline is THE event of July. We’re buyers this year, boys…

The Brandon Drury Watch continues to yield fruit. On Thursday, Drury’s two-run single keyed a series win by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Drury played first base (second time this season) in the 3-1 win and made some good defensive plays.

A.J. Cole finally got to pitch Tuesday after 22 days as a spectator with a good seat for Yankees games, holding Seattle scoreless over the final two innings in the Yankees’ 7-2 win and now he’s on the 10-day DL. Bummer. Cole apparently suffered a neck strain prior to Wednesday’s game while playing catch. I guess that’s better than landing on the DL after injuring yourself while pulling on your pants like Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. Luis Cessa, on a rehab assignment with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, was recalled to take Cole’s place. Pardon me if I am feeling a little underwhelmed.

Given the Yankees are back in Florida to play the Rays, it means more starts against “openers”. Ryne Stanek opens tonight. He opened for the Rays last Saturday in New York when the Rays lost to the Yankees, 4-1. Stanek pitched an inning and a third before making way for a more extended stint by Ryan Yarbrough. I expect the same 1-2 formula tonight. Yarbrough hasn’t pitched since Saturday’s game, while Stanek pitched an inning of relief for Blake Snell on Tuesday night when the Rays snapped Houston’s 12-game consecutive win streak. CC Sabathia will open, okay start, for the Yankees. The Rays (34-40) are currently tied for third place in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays, 17 games behind your favorite Pinstripers.

The Rays go with another opener on Saturday (Wilmer Font) against Sonny Gray. As a road game, I am looking for much better things from Gray. Sunday will feature the first legitimate starter for Tampa when the talented Blake Snell takes the hill. He’ll face the ever-improving Domingo German in what should be a great pitcher’s duel.  

A great time to be a Yankees fan. A great day for a Yankees win.

Go Yankees!

Advertisements

Good Hitting or Good Pitching? I’ll Take Both, Please…

 ny-1529459425-v8e81bwt5t-snap-image
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)

Yankees win again behind German…

The Yankees got off to a good start with their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners last night with a 7-2 win at Yankee Stadium.

Very nice pitching performance by young Domingo German. I wish Sonny Gray could take notes on how to pitch in the Bronx. The veteran could learn a thing or two from the rookie. German could have broken in the first inning when the Mariners had runners at the corners and no outs following a double and an error by Didi Gregorius. Sure, the M’s picked up a run on Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice to short but German shook it off and struck out Corey Seager’s brother Kyle to end the threat. From there, German shut down the Mariners, retiring 18 in a row, until Nelson Cruz did what he does best in the seventh inning, a dinger to left. You can’t really blame German for that one. Cruz does it to the best of ’em.

German’s final pitching line was something Sonny Gray can only dream about at Yankee Stadium. Seven very strong innings, two hits, two runs but only one earned, zero walks, and nine strikeouts.  German is pitching like he doesn’t want GM Brian Cashman to make any pitching acquisitions at the trading deadline. While I’d leave German in the rotation, I would still make a trade for a proven veteran starter. Nothing against Jonathan Loaisiga but I’d rather limit the rookies in the rotation for the stretch run to only one (German).

I liked the tag line used by Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues:  Dominant Domingo and the Dingers. It was a very good description of the game. I can’t wait for the movie.

 stanton3
Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With German easing the Yankees’ desperation for starting pitching help, I hope it opens the possibility for a trade to acquire a shutdown arm for the bullpen. None better than San Diego’s LHP Brad Hand which would allow the Yankees to dump Chasen Shreve. I think it was Sweeny Murti who said the other day that he’d like for the Yankees to acquire the Padres closer for no other reason than to be able to say “Aloha, Mr Hand!”. Yes, that’s true. Good point. But Hand is also the most highly sought-after reliever now that former Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera resides in Washington, D.C. and he has drawn attention from many teams including the Boston Red Sox. I really would not want to see Hand go to Boston to help shore up their bullpen deficiencies. The move to acquire him by the Yankees would not be all about keeping him out Boston but rather give us a deadly bullpen that can shut down anyone, anytime, anywhere.

 824123706.0
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Denis Poroy)

If the Yankees make no moves for starting pitching, they should most certainly look to add additional bullpen pieces. I really don’t want to see Shreve as the top lefty come October. He’s too inconsistent for me and a few others on this site.

It was good to see the Yankees offense come to life last night. Marco Gonzales has pitched very well for the Mariners this year and he entered the game with a 7-3 record. I thought well enough of him to add him to my fantasy baseball team a few weeks ago. He killed my team last night with six runs allowed, including three home runs. But hey, it was worth it. I cut him after the game but there’s no way I can be disappointed with his dismal performance.

 merlin_139878879_3e167f54-6307-445b-88a1-55c293b5bc05-superJumbo
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)

The homers were really fun to watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s shot to center in the first inning to tie the game, Miguel Andujar’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth to give the Yankees their first lead, Aaron Hicks’ two-run blast to left in the fifth after Clint Frazier had singled to increase the Yankees’ lead to 5-1, and the eighth inning ‘tack-on’ homer to left by Gleyber Torres off former Yankees reliever Nick Rumbelow. If you saw only the homer and not the batter, you would have sworn that Gleyber’s shot was courtesy of Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. It was certainly worthy of the words “All Rise” or “a Stantonian blast” if it had been hit by #99 or #27 rather than #25. The ball traveled 446 feet, easily the longest hit of the night. After Torres hit his homer, I saw one Yankees tweet say only 38 more to go to the rookie record. Very funny even if impossible.  Still, I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams could have forecasted 14 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and a slash line of .291/.346/.566 for Gleyber Torres on June 19th. The guy is such a joy to watch game after game. Sure, he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as pitchers adjust but he’s shown us enough to be confident he will.

Oh yeah, Aaron Judge had an RBI on single to left in the bottom of the seventh off Rumbelow with the run charged to Gonzales. A single. How pedestrian! Seriously, I love what Aaron Judge means to this team and how he is continually a difference-maker with both bat and glove.

I was hopeful that Gary Sanchez was breaking out of his slump but he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average back down to .191.

It was a fun game. The Mariners are a very good club and this series could easily be a preview of October if the M’s continue to play well. They are currently 46-27 and sit just two games behind the World Champions in the AL West. I don’t expect the Yankees to sweep the series but I am hopeful they capture at least one of the next two games before hopping on a plane bound for Tampa, Florida.

The Boston Red Sox, despite having their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound, lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN so the Yankees (48-22) increased their AL East lead to one game. Credit to the third-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ next opponent. They used Blake Snell (a pitcher that I’d love to see Brian Cashman acquire) to beat the Astros and Justin Verlander, snapping Houston’s 12-game winning streak.

Congratulations to Brandon Drury for winning International League Player of the Week honors. The Major League player, who deserves better than Triple A, hit .471 with one home run and 11 RBI’s during the week of June 11th through 17th. He had 16 hits, 25 total bases, and 11 runs scored. In last night’s 7-5 loss by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (love that name!), Drury was 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts. It doesn’t deter me. I still want Drury back in Pinstripes where he belongs. With Ryan McBroom’s demotion to Double-A, I saw a quote by RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell that the plan is to play Drury at first periodically. Operation Dump Neil Walker; Promote Brandon Drury is well underway. I liked Mitchell’s quote about Drury earlier this week: “He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us. He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.”

 cut
Photo Credit: Todd Hiller

As for Chance Adams (the loser in the game), he is stepping dangerously into “Chance Adams Sucks!” Territory. Once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, Adams gave up six runs in four innings (four earned) yesterday.  He walked four batters while striking out only one. Control continues to be his Achilles Heel. Suffice it to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr Adams (2-3, 5.21 ERA) in the Bronx anytime soon.

It’s Wednesday and an awesome day for Lasagna! It will be Old versus Young today as 32-year-old “King” Felix Hernandez takes on rookie 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga who was phenomenal in his debut appearance. When I looked up Hernandez, I was thinking he was older than he really is.  He seems to have aged prematurely and is certainly not the ace he once was. This season, he is 6-6 with 5.44 ERA and an unsightly 1.38 WHIP. For all the years the Yankees were linked to him in trade rumors, I am glad it was a trade never consummated.  Let’s get a win and take this series.

Go Yankees!

Old Timer’s Show More Offense Than The Kids…

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

Yankees Drop Series Finale to the Rays…

I hate it when the Yankees lose. I know, it’s inevitable. Even a team as great as the Yankees has to lose every now and then. But it stinks when the Yankees clearly had a chance to sweep the four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. If they could have mixed in a little offense, they win the game. Instead, they fell 3-1 to the AL East’s third-place team

CC Sabathia, aside from a not-so-good second inning, pitched very well despite giving up ten hits. He held the Rays to those three second inning runs and got his team into the eighth inning before turning over the keys to Adam Warren to finish the game.

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Aaron Hicks tried. His eighth inning home run gave the Yankees their only run for the day. He was 2-for-5 on the day but his pop out to third, with Neil Walker on second base, in the bottom of the ninth sent the Yankees home with the loss.

The game featured the use of an “opener” for the second game in a row for the Rays. Wilmer Font couldn’t hold jobs with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Seattle Mariners earlier this year, but he was able to hold the vaunted Yankees offense to one run through 4 2/3 innings. Chaz Roe, who pitched two innings in three appearances for the Yankees in September 2014, was the winner. Sergio Romo, another failed Dodger, picked up the save. The Yankees offense should have crushed this Rays pitching staff…but didn’t.

According to Mike Mazzeo of the New York Daily News, Giancarlo Stanton is 13-for-64 with runners in scoring position. Ouch!

Photo Credit:  AP (Bill Kostroun)

The loss allowed the Boston Red Sox (49-24) to creep back into a first place tie with the Yankees although the Yanks (46-21) still lead by percentage points, .687 to .671. The Rays sit 15 games behind the leaders.

The highlight of the day yesterday was Nick Swisher’s home run for the Old Timer’s Day game. Honestly, I wish that I could go through life with the same passion as energy as Nick Swisher. His love for life and the Yankees is so strong.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

This was certainly a beautiful sight to see yesterday. Hard to believe that Andy Pettitte not only wears 46 but is 46 and is now a grandfather.  He still graces the Yankee Stadium mound with his presence like he always did.

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

Today is an odd day. The Yankees make up the suspended game from May 15th (tied 3-3, top of the sixth inning) and the rain-out from May 16th at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Red Sox are off today so if the Yankees lose both games today, they’ll fall behind the Sox. Technically, they can split and maintain the first place tie. Thanks to the weather, the Sox have played six more games than the Yankees so it will be shortened to four games after today.

After the game, the Yankees return home to Yankee Stadium to face the Seattle Mariners. The M’s, coming off a weekend split with the Red Sox, are the Kings of One-Run Games. They’ve won 23 one-run games this year and have won as many games as the Yankees entering play today. The Mariners, minus the suspended Robinson Cano, are currently 46-26. They’re off today so the Seattle players get the run of New York City while the Yankees play in the Nation’s Capitol.

My Brandon Drury watch shows that the Yankees third baseman is continuing to tear up the International League. He was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored in yesterday’s 4-2 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs. The dude has been an on-base machine and would pair very well right now with Miguel Andujar at third in the Bronx. Drury’s current slash line with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is .360/.470/.529 with a .999 OPS.  #FreeDrury

Photo Credit: Times Leader

As excited as I am about the impending return of Drury, the news that Jacoby Ellsbury will soon resume baseball activities was somewhat of a gut punch. I know, the guy has some baseball talent but is it wrong that I don’t want him on my team? For a team that finds it so difficult to squeeze all their talented Major League-ready players onto a 25-man roster, Ellsbury would take a spot away from a more deserving player. Maybe the guy returns like it is 2011 or maybe he comes back for a temporary stay until his next trip to the disabled list. My money is on the latter. But even if he can still give something, let him do it for someone else. Go back to Boston (even if we pay the freight), I don’t really care. I think the funniest line on Twitter yesterday was that Nick Swisher has done more at Yankee Stadium this year than Jacoby Ellsbury has.

Today is a new day. One win would be great, two wins even better. Let’s Go Yankees!

Masa & The Game of Errors…

Credit:  Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 10, Mariners 1…

Okay, the ugliness was isolated to the first inning, for the most part, but the Yankees came out on the right side and coasted to the easy victory over the Seattle Mariners.  I would love to have one of these kind of games against the Boston Red Sox but we’re never so lucky.

The top of the first inning didn’t start out very well as it took Masahiro Tanaka a few batters before he could find his groove.  After Jean Segura lined out directly to Aaron Judge in right to start the game, Yonder Alonso singled to left and advanced to second when left fielder Aaron Hicks was unable to field the ball cleanly.  Error on Hicks.  Robinson Cano, making his first start in the series after sitting out two games with hamstring tightness, singled to left in front of Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury (“you get it”…“no, no, after you”).  Alonso moved to third.  Nelson Cruz was next and he smacked a double to the left field wall, scoring Alonso.  Cano advanced to third.  Fortunately, from there, Tanaka found his pitches.  He struck out Kyle Seager and then got out of the inning with only one run scored when Mitch Haniger flied out to right center.  It could have been much worse but Tanaka was able to  limit the damage.  

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

In the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka was rewarded for his effort.  Aaron Hicks led off against Mariners starter Andrew Albers and popped out to short.  Starlin Castro followed with a double over the head of right fielder Mitch Haniger.  The Baseball Gods decided to smile upon the home team at this point.  Gary Sanchez singled to left and Ben Gamel ran up on the ball and missed it with his glove.  By the time center fielder Guillermo Heredia had retrieved the ball and threw it to the infield, Castro had scored and Sanchez was standing on second.  The game was tied.  After Aaron Judge walked, Didi Gregorius hit a fly to shallow left.  With the trio of Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Jean Segura converging, no one called for the ball and it fell in.  The error was charged to Segura and the bases were loaded.  For the Mariners, the nightmare continued.  Chase Headley hit a grounder to third that Kyle Seager bobbled and dropped.  Sanchez scored and Headley was safe at first.  The bases were still loaded.  Todd Frazier struck out for the second out.  It brought Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate.  Ells lined a double to left.  Ben Gamel retrieved the ball and threw it into Jean Segura at short who dropped the ball and momentarily lost sight of it.  Judge and Gregorius scored.  Headley, seeing the opportunity when Segura dropped the ball, broke for home.  Segura’s throw bounced past the catcher as Headley scored and Ellsbury took third.  Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to third and then beat out the throw from Seager.  Ellsbury scored and it was 6-1 Yankees.  Aaron Hicks, who had started the inning with a pop out, flied out to center to end the inning.  Alas, all good things must end.  The Mariners were charged a total of five errors in the inning.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Manager Joe Girardi’s day was over before the Mariners starter was out of the game.  With one out and Jean Segura at first in the top of the 3rd, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to first baseman Chase Headley who threw to Didi Gregorius at second for the force out.  However, the Yankees were unable to turn the inning-ending double play when Segura ran out of the base path and obstructed the view of Gregorius to first which caused an errant throw.  Girardi came flying out, demanding an explanation and got tossed for his inquisitive approach.  He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field.  Fortunately, Tanaka struck out Nelson Cruz to avoid any damage, but Girardi got to watch the rest of the game on TV like the rest of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be at Yankee Stadium.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees added to their lead.  Ronald Torreyes, singled to center for his second hit of the game with two outs.  Aaron Hicks lined a single to right, moving Toe to second.  Starlin Castro singled with a blooper to center to score Toe and the Yankees were up 7-1.  

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Todd Frazier committed the game’s seventh error, and the second by the Yankees, to open the top of the 6th when he was unable to field a grounder hit by Nelson Cruz.  Tanaka struck out the next two batters and got Ben Gamel to ground out to first to leave Cruz stranded at first.  No harm, no foul.  

In the bottom of the 6th with Andrew Albers still pitching for the Mariners, Starlin Castro led off with a soft line drive to center.  After Gary Sanchez walked, the Mariners made a pitching change to bring in reliever Dan Altavilla.  A wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third.  Aaron Judge walked to load the bases.  After Didi Gregorius struck out, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to center.  Castro scored but Gary Sanchez was caught between second and third on the throw back into the infield and the Mariners were able to complete the double play.  However, the run counted and it was 8-1 Yankees.

After Masahiro Tanaka cruised through the Mariners in a three-up, three-down top of the 7th, the Yankees made more noise in the bottom of the inning.  Todd Frazier led off with a walk and moved to second when Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a roller to right.  Ronald Torreyes, with his third hit of the game, lined a single to left and the bases were loaded.  After Aaron Hicks popped out (infield fly rule invoked), Greg Bird pinch-hit for Starlin Castro.  Bird singled to right between the two infield defenders, scoring both Frazier and Ellsbury.  The Yankees now led 10-1.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-Associated Press

Caleb Smith took over for Tanaka in the 8th and retired the six batters he faced over the final two innings.  Danny Valencia, the game’s final batter, took Smith deep with Aaron Judge’s back nearly to the wall, but the ball landed in Judge’s glove for the final out.  Game over.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (70-59) were able to pick up another game on Boston as the Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1.  The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by only 2 1/2 games.  Oh, if only the Yankees could have scored more runs Friday night.  The O’s finally reached .500 with their sweep of the Red Sox and continue to trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games.  The Tampa Bay Rays won in extra innings over the St Louis Cardinals, 3-2, so they remain 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees.  No change in the Wild Card Standings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, behind three homers by Byron Buxton to remain 3 1/2 games behind New York.  

I was worried going into this game given Masahiro Tanaka’s weird split of pitching much better at night than during daytime games.  But after the bumpy start, he settled down and gave the Yankees an ace-like performance.  Tanaka (10-10) went seven strong innings, holding the Mariners to the one run on six hits.  He walked one batter but more importantly did not give up any homers.  He struck out ten.  Nice job by Caleb Smith in saving the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians.  

Starlin Castro was 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.  Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-4, with a single RBI and a run scored.  The Yankee offense finished with 15 hits but surprisingly no home runs.  No matter, it was a very solid win and good momentum for the week ahead.

Next Up:  Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The Yankees begin a very difficult week that starts with the Indians and ends with the Boston Red Sox.  Every game is important at this stage of the season.  The Indians come into this series a little banged up.  They have a total of nine players on the DL, including LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Danny Salazar, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Michael Brantley and 2B Jason Kipnis.  The Indians have a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

MONDAY 

Indians:  Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)

TUESDAY

Indians:  Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Indians:  Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82 ERA)

This will be a tough series.  Admittedly, I wish Jordan Montgomery was here with the big league club and pitching on Tuesday night. Jaime Garcia does not inspire much confidence and certainly not when he’s facing a very tough Trevor Bauer.  I hope Caleb Smith is prepared to pitch that day.  

Have a great Monday!  I know that Corey Kluber will be tough but let’s make it three-in-a-row!  Go Yankees!

The Cost of Fowler, Kaprielian & Mateo…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Mariners 3…

On Saturday, the cost was WORTH IT as Sonny Gray turned in his best Yankees performance thus far.  His seven innings of three-hit ball helped the Yankees defeat the Seattle Mariners on a beautiful day in the Bronx.  Even though his victories in Pinstripes have been rare, he brings a confidence (for the fans) to the mound that is probably only matched by Luis Severino.  Gray hasn’t pitched badly in his other starts, he just doesn’t seem to get the necessary run support.  That wasn’t the case yesterday.

The game started like Friday’s defeat…the inability to score with a runner in scoring position.  Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a single to center.  A wild pitch by Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo moved Gardy to second.  But there he would stay as the heart of the batting order (Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) couldn’t bring him home.

Fortunately, the Yankees took advantage of an opportunity in the 2nd.  Gallardo walked the first two batters (Starlin Castro and Greg Bird).  A sacrifice bunt by Chase Headley (laid it down perfectly toward third to ensure the only play was at first) moved the runners to second and third.  Jacoby Ellsbury, making a rare start, singled to left.  Castro scored, but Bird was thrown out at the plate.  I was surprised that third base coach Joe Espada gave Bird the green light but Bird would have been safe if he had kept his foot down sliding into home plate.  The Yankees led, 1-0.

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Associated Press

The Mariners got the run back in the top of the 3rd inning.  Backup catcher Carlos Ruiz, starting for regular catcher Mike Zunino the day after a night game, homered to left to tie the game. 

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Associated Press

The Yankees finally got something going in the bottom of the 4th with two outs.  Greg Bird singled to right and Chase Headley walked.  Jacoby Ellsbury, in a campaign for more playing time, drilled a fly ball to the right field porch to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

Credit:  Andy Martin-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Sonny Gray was on cruise-control.  With a back-up catcher, who entered the game with a .202 batting average, seemingly having the only success against him, Gray kept the M’s at bay.  The Mariners had an opportunity in the top of the 6th when Gray hit two successive batters with pitches but Sonny worked his way out of the jam.  

When Ben Gamel look-alike Taylor Motter singled on a hard hit ball to third in the top of the 7th (great stop by Chase Headley to prevent a double), it was the first hit by a Mariner other than Carlos Ruiz.  Ruiz had a single in the 5th in addition to his home run for two of the three hits that Sonny Gray would allow. Ruiz followed Motter but this time Gray struck him out swinging.  Motter stole second on the strikeout but he was left stranded when Jean Segura flied out to end the inning.  That would be it for Gray.  106 pitches, the three hits, one run, two walks, and nine strikeouts.  It was a tremendous performance for Gray and showed that he will be a key factor down the stretch.

The Yankees would add much-needed insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th.  Facing Mariners reliever Casey Lawrence, Austin Romine reached first base on a popup that dropped when Jean Segura gave up on it due to the sun and left fielder Ben Gamel couldn’t get there to make the catch.  Brett Gardner followed with a single to center.  After outs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases.  Starlin Castro lined a single to left to score Romine and Gardy.  There was no play at the plate this time as Gamel bobbled the ball after the stop. Greg Bird subsequently walked to reload the bases, but Chase Headley flied out to end the inning.  

Chasen Shreve was brought in to start the 8th inning in place of Sonny Gray, and the Mariner bats seemed to come alive.  Danny Valencia opened with a double to the left field wall.  Nelson Cruz followed with a grounder to third which should have been a routine play but Chase Headley’s throw sailed over Greg Bird’s head for an error.  The M’s had runners at the corners.  A single to right off the glove of Starlin Castro by Kyle Seager scored Valencia and ended Shreve’s latest outing.  Tommy Kahnle came in and struck out the first batter he faced (Mitch Haniger).  Ben Gamel grounded into a fielder’s choice that erased Seager at second, but the Mariners had runners at the corners again with two outs.  Guillermo Heredia lined a single to right to score Cruz.  The Mariners had reduced the Yankees’ lead to 6-3.  The next batter came to the plate in the form of Robinson Cano, who was pinch-hitting for Taylor Motter.  Fortunately, instead of a game-tying home run, Robby grounded out to second to end the threat.  Too close for comfort.

The Yanks had a chance to add a run in the bottom of the 8th when Brett Gardner singled and stole second with two outs.  But the same story that keeps repeating itself…an Aaron Judge strikeout…left Gardy stranded.

Credit:  Ray Stubblebine

Fortunately, the Yankees had Dellin Betances for the 9th inning.  He set the M’s down in order, two by strikeout, for his 10th save.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (69-59) finally picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox, having all they can handle with Buck Showalter’s Orioles, fell to Baltimore, 7-0.  The Yanks now trail the Sox by 3 1/2 games.  The O’s are 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost, 6-4 to the St Louis Cardinals, so they slipped back into fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers.  The Yankees picked up a game in the Wild Card Standings and lead the second place Minnesota Twins by 3 1/2 games. The Twins dropped a 10-9 slugfest to Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays.  

Clearly, the stars of this game were Sonny Gray (8-8, 3.26 ERA) and Jacoby Ellsbury.  Ellsbury, batting eighth in the lineup, was 2-for-4 with the home run and 4 RBI’s.  It was good to see Greg Bird in the mix (he was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored).  

Credit:  Associated Press

Of course, you can’t say enough good things about the job Dellin Betances did after the leaky performance of the bullpen in the 8th.  Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were a combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts and nine men left on base.  Ouch…

Odds & Ends…

Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders!  They clinched their third straight post-season appearance with a 7-1 win over the Syracuse Chiefs behind the arm of Chance Adams (11-4, 2.63 ERA).  The RailRiders’ magic number for winning the International League North Division is two.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-For Times Leader

Have a great Sunday!  The Yankees need a win today with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox looming on the immediate horizon.  Go Yankees!

Yonder Alonzo & The Trade Never Made…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Mariners 2, Yankees 1…

I was surprised when the Sonny Grade trade last month did not include first baseman Yonder Alonzo.  The Yankees had been so closely connected to both players, but Chase Headley’s play after the switch to first had softened the need for a first baseman.  I’ve never trusted Headley to sustain his production and felt that the Yankees should have made the deal for Alonzo, especially after losing out on Lucas Duda.  The Yankees didn’t make the deal and the Seattle Mariners swooped in and grabbed him from the Oakland A’s.  The move paid dividends for the Mariners when Alonzo provided the game-winning home run off Aroldis Chapman last night as the M’s sent the Yankees to their second consecutive loss.

For the Yankees, the old problem of missing scoring opportunities re-surfaced.  They loaded the bases a few times yet had no runs to show for it.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The Mariners threatened to score in the 2nd and 3rd innings against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, but he was able to emerge unscathed both times.  In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees loaded the bases on three walks with only one out.  Aaron Hicks flied out to left but it wasn’t deep enough to score a run.  Gary Sanchez came up and blasted a high fly that sounded like a home run but left fielder Ben Gamel caught it on the warning track.  Oh, if it could have only traveled a few feet further.  It was a huge missed opportunity.

In the top of the 4th, the Mariners scored the game’s first run when Mike Zunino blasted a home run to left, a solo shot.  It’s where I wish that El Gary’s shot could have landed the previous inning. The Yankees re-loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning.  Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch in his back as he attempted to turn away so he took first base.  Starlin Castro doubled to right with the ball bouncing to the wall.  Didi Gregorius was held at third. With two outs, Chase Headley walked to fill the bases, but Todd Frazier went down swinging to end the inning.  Sad face for me.

The game progressed into the latter innings with the Yankees unable to scratch out any runs M’s starter Ariel Miranda and the Seattle bullpen until the 8th inning.  Former Yankee reliever David Phelps took the mound in the 8th and walked Aaron Judge with one out.  Didi Gregorius followed with a double to left center. Guillermo Heredia bobbled the stop and it gave Judge the time to score.  The game was tied.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

A base running gaffe cost the Yankees for potentially more runs.  Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short and Didi aggressively broke for third.  A great play if he had been safe, but third baseman Kyle Seager was able to apply the tag for the out.  Two subsequent walks loaded the bases, but like the 4th inning, Todd Frazier struck out…again.  

Dellin Betances took over in the 9th and the Mariners almost blew the game open.  Kyle Seager walked, and Mike Zunino doubled to left down the line to the corner.  Seager was given the stop sign at third.  Yonder Alonzo, pinch-hitting for Guillermo Heredia, drew a walk to load the bases.  There was only one out.  Following a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Betances got Ben Gamel to pop up in foul territory for the second out.  Robinson Cano entered the game as pinch-hitter for Taylor Motter but he struck out on three pitches.  Betances had worked his way out of trouble. 

David Robertson held the M’s in the top of the 10th, allowing only a meaningless single.  Aroldis Chapman took over in the 11th inning and it looked good for two batters.  Both Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino grounded out so Chapman only needed one more out.  Yonder Alonzo, with a swing that would have looked great in pinstripes or at least these funkly little league looking uniforms, destroyed a Chapman pitch over the center field wall into Monument Park.  The M’s had taken a one run lead.

Mariners closer Edwin Diaz took over for reliever James Pazos in the bottom of the 11th.  After two quick outs (the second a deep fly to the warning track in left by Todd Frazier), Brett Gardner worked a walk.  He attempted to steal second and was called out on the field, with the Mariners thinking they won the game, but the Yankees challenged.  Upon further review, Gardy was ruled safe as his hands reached the bag before the tag.  There was brief hope but Aaron Hicks struck out to end the game.  Not A-A-Ron’s finest moment…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

This was yet another very disappointing loss.  The Yankees could have shaved two games off the AL East deficit the last two days but they’ve failed to take advantage of Red Sox losses.  The Yankees (68-59) remain 4 1/2 games behind Boston.  The Baltimore Orioles beat, or should I say crushed, the Red Sox, 16-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the St Louis Cardinals, 7-3, so the Rays and O’s remain tied for third place, trailing the Yankees by 5 1/2 games.  The Mariners were able to close the Wild Card gap with the Yankees to three games.  The Yankees still lead the Wild Card chase, but the Minnesota Twins picked up a game with their 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  They trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games.  

It was a very strong game for CC Sabathia.  He pitched seven innings for the no-decision, giving up only five hits, a walk, and one run.  He struck out six.  Aroldis Chapman (4-3) took the loss.  His season ERA is now 4.23.  

Hopefully the Yankees can shake out of the RISP doldrums today but they never seem to give Sonny Gray any run support.  Today is as good as any to change that.  

Odds & Ends…

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees reinstated 2B Starlin Castro from the DL and optioned little used 2B/SS Tyler Wade to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Although Wade looked starstruck early on, his lack of play had more to do with the terrific performance of Ronald Torreyes. But for everything that Toe’s done, I am glad to have Castro back on the field.  Too bad for Wade that his last MLB memory (at least for now) is the fight-marred game in Detroit.  

Today, the Yankees activated first baseman Greg Bird.  He’s in the lineup and will bat sixth.  Tyler Austin is the unlucky odd man out as he heads for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


Major League Baseball issued a release yesterday regarding the suspensions and fines as a result of Thursday’s brawl in Detroit:

I’ve heard screams about no suspensions for Michael Fulmer, Dellin Betances or Tommy Kahnle, but honestly, I felt there was reasonable doubt about the intentions of both Fulmer and Betances.  Perhaps Kahnle should have been suspended for not hitting Miguel Cabrera!

The suspensions are currently being appealed by all (hoping for reduced penalties).


Joe Girardi has indicated the Yankees will attempt to stagger the suspensions since they do not currently have any other catchers on the MLB active roster and the only other catcher on the 40-man roster (Kyle Higashioka) is on the DL. It’s unfortunate that someone will lose their 40-man roster spot out of the need for a temporary catcher.

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s All Rise for Victory!  Go Yankees!

Thunder & Lightning Capture Series Win…

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Yankees 6, Mariners 4…

I hate solo home runs.  I should qualify it by saying I do not dislike home runs…I just prefer to see men on base when it happens.  After the Yankees clubbed three home runs (of the solo variety), the Mariners were able to rally past the Yanks against starter Caleb Smith before the Yankees rebounded to take the win, courtesy of Red Thunder (Clint Frazier) and the blazing heat of the bullpen. 

Caleb Smith was solid…for three innings.  Early, he was backed by homers.  Brett Gardner led off the game with his 17th homer of the season off Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (breaking his tie with Matt Holliday to take sole possession of second place for team homers behind Aaron Judge).  The hit was #1,040 of Gardner’s career, breaking a tie for 39th place on the all-time franchise list with Tino Martinez.  Next within Gardner’s sights is #38 Yanks hit leader, Charlie Keller, with 1,053 hits.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

In the second inning, Didi Gregorius launched a line drive homer to right center as the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0.   Gregorius led off the 4th inning with another shot to the right field stands for his second home run of the game.  It was Didi’s first multi-homer game in his young career.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Staked to a 3-0 lead, Smith couldn’t hold it in the 4th inning.  After breezing through the first three innings allowing only a meaningless second inning double, the Baseball Gods turned against Smith.  Danny Valencia got the party started with a single to right.  Robinson Cano followed with a liner to right, moving Valencia to second.  Smith had Nelson Cruz in a 3-2 count but lost him with Ball 4 to load the bases.  For a moment, it looked like Smith might escape the 4th inning unscathed.  He struck out Kyle Seager and got Mitch Haniger to fly out in right field foul territory.  But Ben Gamel, thoroughly enjoying this series against his former team, singled to score Valencia and Cano.  The Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead.  Guillermo Heredia followed with a double to left which scored Cruz and Gamel as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead.  End of game for Caleb Smith.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

A round of ovation for Chad Green.  While the entire bullpen was magnificent, Green was outstanding.  He struck out Carlos Ruiz to end the 4th, and pitched two more innings without allowing a hit and struck out 3.  He has thrived in his current role and this performance was critical as it set the stage for the Yankees’ comeback in the top of the 6th inning.  With one out in the top of the 6th, both Chase Headley and Todd Frazier walked against reliever and former Yankee James Pazos.  Ronald Torreyes, pinch-hitting for second baseman Tyler Wade, singled to right  to load the bases.  Brett Gardner followed with a single to left, scoring Headley with the tying run.  The Mariners pulled Pazos and replaced him with Tony Zych.  Clint Frazier greeted Zych with a double to left, scoring both Frazier and Torreyes as the Yanks moved ahead, 6-4.  Zych intentionally walked Aaron Judge, much to the dismay of the Yankee fans in attendance at Safeco Field, but it proved the right decision for the M’s since Gary Sanchez popped out and Matt Holliday grounded into the final out.

From there, it was up to the rest of the bullpen.  Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched clean 7th and 8th innings, respectively, pushing the game to the final inning and last licks for the Mariners.

The Yankees had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the 9th.  Matt Holliday walked with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.  After Didi Gregorius flied out the second out, Chase Headley hit a liner into the right field corner.  Ellsbury came flying around the bases but the relay from right fielder Mitch Haniger to second baseman Robinson Cano to catcher Carlos Ruiz was on target and just ahead of the sliding Ellsbury for the final out.

The bottom of the 9th brought Aroldis Chapman and a little holding of the breath to see what type of command he would have.  Nelson Cruz, the first batter, reached with a hit that ricocheted off Chapman and retrieved too late by Didi Gregorius to get Cruz at first.  The M’s replaced Cruz with pinch-runner Taylor Motter, who sports a similar “Johnny Damon Caveman“ look like Ben Gamel, to get some speed on the base paths.  Fortunately, Chapman caught him off first and it was an easy rundown by Chase Headley for the first out.  It proved to be invaluable as the next hitter, Kyle Seager, doubled to center.  A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Seager to move to third.  The game would have looked much different had the Yankees not gotten Motter out.  He most likely would have scored with Seager representing the tying run just 90 feet away.  As it was, the tying run was still at the plate.  Mitch Haniger had first crack but he popped out to Ronald Torreyes.  Last chance came up in the form of new Yankee-killer Ben Gamel.  But with Chapman’s blazing heat inching up the velocity chart, Gamel went down swinging.  Game over.  Yankees win.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Stephen Brashear-Getty Images

Unlike Saturday when the Yankees failed to gain any ground following losses by the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday was the opposite.  With the win, the Yankees (51-46) took sole possession of second place in the AL East and moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Rays slipped a full game behind the Yankees (two games in the loss column).  Both the Red Sox and Rays lost one-run games on Sunday.  The Red Sox were defeated by the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, while the Rays lost a tough 6-5 game to the Texas Rangers.

Todd Frazier finally got a hit and scored a run so hopefully he’s starting to come around.  His Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday will feature a game against his original team, the Cincinnati Reds.  So it should give Frazier added incentive when he makes his first home appearance in front of family, friends, and newfound Frazier fans in the Yankees Universe.

Hopefully Gary Sanchez’s bat is waiting for him too.

Headed Home to NYC…

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees made a rare intra-division trade on Sunday to send infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The return is an underwhelming 25-year-old first base prospect who has failed to advance past Double A, Ryan McBroom.  Here’s hoping to much better success in the Yankees organization.  Welcome, Ryan!

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And so, the Yankees story for Refsnyder ends with no fanfare.  It is rather sad as most of us at one time wanted Ref to succeed as the second baseman for the Yankees.  He never succeeded with his limited opportunities…either due to his own inability or the lack of chances or a combination of both.  So long, Ref and best of luck as you continue your (hopeful) MLB career in Toronto.

Also, in other transaction news, the Yankees announced they have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The competition for quality starters figures to be very intense as we enter the final week before the trading deadline.  With news that Clayton Kershaw was pulled early from a start on Sunday due to lower back tightness (and a possible trip to the DL), the Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be very aggressive in their pursuit of another top starter.  The Texas Rangers figure to capture a King’s Ransom for two months of service from impending free agent Yu Darvish.  The Yankees starting rotation looks very vulnerable right now with Caleb Smith’s inability to get out of the fourth inning on Sunday and Masahiro Tanaka’s disappointing showing on Saturday.  This week should be very interesting but probably a bit disappointing for Yankees fans if the team desires to retain its top prospects (which they should).  

The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday with a walk-off run-scoring double by Brandon Moss.  The pitcher?  Tyler Clippard, facing his first batter wearing a White Sox uniform, with runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the 9th.  Man, I sure do not miss Clippard…

Credit:  Getty Images

Have a great Monday!  The Yankees get to sleep in while the rest of us trudge off to work.  Oh well, make it a wonderful day!  Go Yankees!