|(Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson/AP)|
OK, it wasn’t quite that bad…
The Yankees got a great pitching performance from new Yankee James Paxton…and lose. It wasn’t exactly how it was planned to go down. I guess Sonny Gray left behind his lack of run support and they assigned to the Big Maple. The Yankees tried to make a comeback but those two insurance runs the Baltimore Orioles tacked on in the top of the ninth were too much to overcome as the Yankees dropped their first game of the season, 5-3.
The range of emotions from Yankee fans were from ‘big deal, it’s the second game of the season’ to ‘OMG, the season is lost!’. I guess you could put me somewhere in the middle. I simply hate to lose winnable games. When the season is done, the Baltimore will most likely have the most losses of any team in either league. Yet, if they win today, they win their first series of the season against a team expected to make noise in October. The Yankees need to win these games. Yes, it is only one game but these types of games can accumulate to a significant amount over the course of a 162-game schedule. I don’t like to lose. I know, I had better learn to deal with 60 losses, give or take, over the course of the summer but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. But after all these years, losing doesn’t get any easier when you are a Yankee fan.
Credit to the Orioles for using an Opener to keep the Yankee bats at bay. Nate Karns started his first game since 2017 and pitched the first two innings. The Yankees had him on the ropes with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning with only one out, but Miguel Andujar hit into an inning-ending double play.
|(Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/NY Post)|
New Jersey’s own Jimmy Yacabonis pitched the next three innings, giving up only a run, to earn the win for the O’s.
Meanwhile, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder failed to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard in the later innings and despite the two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees walked off the field wondering what could have been. So much for the shutdown bullpen that’s going to end games early.
Troy Tulowitzki hit the only Yankee homer, a solo shot in the ninth off former Yank Richard Bleier.
I thought it was a great game for D.J. LeMahieu, who started at third base with Miguel Andujar taking over DH duties. LeMahieu was 2-for-4 with one RBI and a run scored. He flashed his superior leather more than a few times at third, and looked like a veteran at the position. I was in a Denver, Colorado retail shop late yesterday afternoon wearing my Yankee cap, and the clerk commented to me he couldn’t believe the Yankees paid LeMahieu all that money to be a utility player. I agree. With no offense to Troy Tulowitzki, the greater commitment should be for LeMahieu, even if it pushes Gleyber Torres to shortstop until Didi Gregorius returns. A home run by Tulo is not going to change my opinion. I do like LeMahieu at third and Andujar at DH so I hope that’s a frequent option although Giancarlo Stanton needs his time at DH as well. Although LeMahieu has not played much third in the Majors, it was his most frequent position in the Minors so it’s not like he has rarely played there. It’s just been a few years. He’ll shake off the rust.
The Yankees committed three costly errors in the game. Gary Sanchez bounced a throw past Gleyber Torres covering second base in the sixth inning which allowed a run to score. D.J. LeMahieu bounced a throw to Luke Voit at first base which Voit couldn’t handle, for a throwing error, in the top of the ninth inning, allowing Joey Rickard, leading off the inning, to reach second base. He would eventually score an unearned run. Voit had a throwing error earlier in the game (top of the 2nd) which didn’t cause any damage. After tagging first base on a grounder by Rio Ruiz, Voit tried to make an off-balance throw to second to complete the double play but the ball sailed widely to the left, allowing the baserunner, Joey Rickard, to race to third. Fortunately, that was as far as Rickard would get.
James Paxton (0-1) took the tough luck loss. His final line was 5 2/3 innings, four hits, two runs (one earned), a walk and five strikeouts. He threw 82 pitches, one less than Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday and worked at a very quick and efficient pace. He certainly deserved to win and on most days he would have. He’ll get that first Yankee win soon with pitching performances like this.
|(Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson/AP)|
Okay, I’ll let the game go. It was just one game. I get it. The Yankees (1-1) complete the series today with the Orioles. J.A. Happ takes the ball for the Pinstripers while he’ll be opposed by Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy. Hopefully, Happ continues his win streak as a Yankee for at least one more game.
I followed the score of the Red Sox-Mariners game last night and was pleased when Seattle extended their lead to 6-2 on a three-run homer by Jay Bruce in the fifth inning. Then, in the 9th, it all fall apart for the M’s with three errors by third baseman Dylan Moore, filling in for the injured Kyle Seager. The Sox rallied for three runs and had the tying run at third base and go-ahead run at first with two outs, but former Yankee prospect Nick Rumbelow struck out Xander Bogaerts to end the game and preserve Seattle’s victory. Whew! Boston was almost gifted another win. Seattle’s defense looked like the Keystone Cops in that final inning.
|(Photo Credit: Dean Rutz/Seattle Times)|
Today is a good day for a Pinstriped victory.
As always, Go Yankees!
(Photo: John G Zimmerman/Sports Illustrated)
Season Opener is a week away…
Finally, we can see real baseball on the horizon. Well, if you are an early bird, I suppose you’ve been up to watch the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s play the last two days in Tokyo for an early preview of the regular season. But, c’mon, we all know that real baseball doesn’t start until the New York Yankees take the field.
The Yankees officially announced the signing of LHP Gio Gonzalez yesterday. Initially, it was reported to be a $3 million contract if Gio makes the Major League roster, but subsequently we learned it also includes an incentive of $300,000 per start up to 30 starts so the deal could be worth as much as $12 million. I’ve seen more than one Yankee fan say the team should use an opener before bringing Gio in so that he technically does not get credit for a “start” but seriously that’s not the way the Yankees operate. You may feel that Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a tight-wad but I firmly believe even if the Yankees used an opener like Jonathan Holder for an inning before bringing in Gio to cover the next five or six innings, the team would honor the performance as a start. They wouldn’t use an opener solely for avoidance of paying the incentive. Say what you will about the Yankees’ Front Office but the Yankees have proven, time and again, they take care of their own.
It was a little weird seeing the pics of Gio without his beard. Like James Paxton, going beardless makes him look so much younger.
Hey, maybe it will make his arm look younger too. Oh well, wishful thinking on my part. I do hope that Gio gets an opportunity to join the Yankees with this 30-day trial. If not Opening Day (which seems unrealistic from a timing standpoint), a few weeks into the season. I really hope it doesn’t come down to April 20th with us wondering whether Gio will be added to the MLB roster or if he’ll exercise his opt-out if he doesn’t. If the Yankees were truly the only team offering him a contract this month, it’s not like teams will be lined up for his services on April 20th unless there is an epidemic of arm injuries around both leagues.
Wednesday also saw Yankees RHP Luis Severino toss twenty-five pitches from 60 feet on flat ground with his resumption of baseball activity after two weeks of rest. Sevy reported a little rust from the time off, but overall felt good about the workout. There were no reports of pain or discomfort in the right shoulder/rotator cuff. Sevy plans to toss twenty-five pitches at 60 feet again today on his path to hopefully return in early May. I don’t want to say the season is lost without Severino but he is such a huge part of the mission to dethrone the Boston Red Sox and bring the World Series championship back to New York. Hopefully there are no setbacks on his road to recovery. We need this man and his right arm.
I didn’t realistically think Ichiro Suzuki would be a Mariner after the two-game series in Japan but he made it official when he announced that he would retire at the conclusion of this morning’s game. What a career! The future Hall of Famer will leave the game with 3,089 hits (or 4,367 hits counting his time in Nippon Professional Baseball). I had really hoped he would pick up one final hit in the games in Japan but it was not meant to be. In his final at-bat in the 8th inning this morning, the crowd yelled “Ich-Eee-Ro” as he prepared for the first pitch. After a lengthy at-bat, he hit an infield roller to short and the throw just beat Ichiro to first base. Bummer, I was so hopeful for a safe sign from the first base umpire. Ichiro took the field in the top of the 9th but once all of the players were in position, Mariners manager Scott Servais pulled everyone off the field. Ichiro, the last man on the field, slowly walked off where he was greeted with hugs from his teammates and coaches. The scene was especially emotional for Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi who made his Major League debut in the game. He bowed his head as he hugged Ichiro and it was evident tears were flowing down his cheeks. One Japanese career begins, another ends. A very touching moment. Congratulations with your retirement, Ichiro! It was our privilege and pleasure to watch you perform for so many years. We wish you the very best with your post-playing career. No doubt Ichiro will forever be a Seattle Mariner but I am grateful for his 360 games as a Yankee after his acquisition from the Mariners on July 23, 2012 for Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell. I really wish that Ichiro could have had a farewell game like Derek Jeter did, but there’s no doubt this one was every bit as emotional. I am sad we bring closure to such a fantastic career. It’s time but it doesn’t make it any easier. Thank you, Ichiro. We’ll see you in Cooperstown, New York in five years.
(Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
Since I am dishing out congratulations, I should throw some towards Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, the best player in the game today. His contract extension, 12-years at $426.5 million including the money he was already owed in 2019 and 2020, is official. I think it’s only right he stays in an Angels uniform for the duration of his career. Many thought he’d join Bryce Harper in Philadelphia, including Bryce, and I am sure there are more than a few Yankee fans that had hoped he would find a way to the Bronx. As much as I would have loved Trout as a Yankee, he belongs in an Angels uniform and should stay there. He is such an amazing, selfless player who is head and shoulders above everyone else in MLB. Unlike Bryce Harper, Trout deserved to be paid like the best player in Baseball because he is.
I know the Yankees had been hoping Trout would fall to them in the 2009 MLB Draft but the Angels thwarted those plans when they chose Trout with the 25th pick of the draft (ironically, a compensation pick for losing free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira to the Yankees). With Trout off the board, the Yankees regrettably selected outfielder Slade Heathcott, no longer in the game, with the 29th pick. Dang, so close, yet so far away. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, there were 24 foolish picks before Trout in that draft. With no offense to top pick Stephen Strasburg, there is nobody on that list who comes close to Trout. Now if the Angels could just settle their stadium situation. I know they’ve talked with the city of Long Beach but I really hope the team stays in Orange County. I love Long Beach (one of my favorite cities) but it feels like Dodgers country to me. Maybe that’s just because the Dodgers are my NL team. Long Beach is located in Los Angeles County and is just a short 45-minute train ride south of downtown LA. Mike Trout belongs to the Angels like the Angels belong in Orange County. I hope they can get this figured out now that they no longer have to worry about Trout.
I don’t know about you but I am ready for Yankees baseball. One week, just one week. I can smell those hot dogs and beers outside of Yankee Stadium already.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo by Christian Petersen|
Top Prospect Justus Sheffield joins the ranks of “former” Yankees…
The news broke suddenly yesterday afternoon. After a fairly quiet November (up to that point, the only significant MLB trade had been Seattle’s catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays as the start of Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto’s “re-imagining” of his roster), reports came hard and fast like a James Paxton four-seam fastball that the Yankees had acquired the talented lefty from Seattle.
My initial reaction was ‘it’s a start, but we need more’. I didn’t expect the Yankees to lose Miguel Andujar in a trade for the much talked about trade speculation involving the 6’4” Big Maple and fortunately he was not involved. For a frontline ace like Corey Kluber, you’d part with the young third baseman but not for Paxton.
|Photo by Al Bello, Getty Images|
When it was announced the Yankees had sent top prospect Justus Sheffield, breakout minor league starter Erik Swanson, and rising minor league outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams to Seattle for Paxton, Yankee fans were immediately trying to find flaws in the prospects sent to the Northwest. I am not going to join the crowd and trash Sheffield. The fact remains he is only 22 and still has an excellent chance to be a difference-maker. For a team that is prepared to win in 2019, this is a trade that makes sense. Paxton makes the Yankees better when they step back on the grounds of Yankee Stadium next year. Sheffield is probably a few seasons away from reaching his potential. This is totally a ‘win now’ move.
The Yankees also needed to make room on the 40-man roster for Swanson or he would have been eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft so this saves a spot for someone else.
So where do we go from here? I really hope the Yankees continue their pursuit of free agent lefty Patrick Corbin. He was and continues to be my top choice. I’d love to have Corey Kluber but I don’t really expect the Cleveland Indians to trade their ace without asking for a King’s ransom. Admittedly, I will be disappointed if the Yankees sign J.A. Happ to fill the last spot in the rotation. Happ was great during his short time as a Yankee last year, but as a long-term piece, let’s say I would be a little underwhelmed. I would have been fine with Happ to go with Corbin, but not paired with Paxton who carries injury risk. I know, all pitchers carry injury risk. It’s the nature of the beast, but Paxton has consistently missed time over the last few years.
If the Yankees are successful in signing Corbin, the newcomers, along with Masahiro Tanaka, will certainly ease some pressure off Luis Severino to be “the man”. I suppose it’s not out of the question for the Yankees to sign both Corbin and Happ. Last year proved, once again, you can never have too many starters. Personally, I preferred signing Happ over long-time Yank CC Sabathia for the back end of the rotation. But regardless, you know that one or more starters in the rotation will miss time for various ailments and the Yankees need to be prepared. I really hope we’re not facing more rollouts of Luis Cessa to fill those spots. Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga and Chance Adams will have every opportunity to help, I am sure, but I hope we’re not leaning on those guys in multiple spots like we were at times last season.
Seattle fans seem to be taking the trade in stride. I think they realized that their team was mired in mediocrity in a division with some very strong teams. They have a few players with bloated contracts like Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager. I have always loved Cano but the back half of his huge contract is not going to be pretty for the 36-year old. I am glad the Yankees were able to acquire Paxton without having to take on any of unmovable contracts. The M’s can use the young pieces received in the Zunino and Paxton trades to position themselves for 2021 or so. I read one Seattle columnist who said Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto basically had the choice of getting punched in the mouth or hit by a truck. He chose the former.
I fully expect Domingo German to give up #65 for Paxton. It’s not exactly like German is married to the number. I believe Jonathan Holder was wearing the number at the start of last season until he opted for a lower number in the 50’s. The number still reminds me of Phil Hughes but no doubt, in time, Paxton can make it his own.
There may be minor moves made today as teams finalize their 40-man rosters for Rule 5 eligibility next month. I doubt we’ll see anything as major as the Paxton trade, but there’s always a chance for the inevitable Sonny Gray trade now that his spot in the rotation has been filled. Otherwise, I expect the remainder of the week to be fairly quiet with no significant moves until we get past the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.
Paxton is the first step toward the enhancement of the 2019 Yankees (if you don’t count the re-signings of Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia). Multiple moves remain necessary before this team is ready to take down the Boston Red Sox. Another starter, at least two more for the bullpen, and an interim solution at shortstop. Yet, my excitement for February is building. It only gets better from here.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: The Canadian Press (Fred Thornhill)|
Will Paxton join Gerrit Cole in Houston?…
Last year, the Yankees missed an opportunity to acquire top starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Houston Astros swooped in to grab the talented righty. It’s possible that the Yankees could be outdone by the Astros for the second consecutive year. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted this morning that Houston is in on the potential trade talks for James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners along with the Yankees and other clubs.
I wanted Cole last winter although a number of Yankee fans did not. Honestly, it’s unlikely Cole would have pitched as well in the Bronx as he did in Houston so perhaps the opposing fans were right. This is a new year, and now the trade speculation is on Paxton, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. My initial desire is to place Kluber at the top of the list, but the more you think about it, the less likely you feel the Cleveland Indians would actually move their aces. The Indians remain a contending team so unless it is a serious overpay, the Tribe is not going to part with Kluber or Carrasco. So it leaves Paxton as potentially the best available trade target assuming the Mariners decide to move him. Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto is, of course, very unpredictable but the Yankees and Mariners have matched up for lesser deals in recent years so there is history of successful negotiations. I have no doubt DiPoto would trade within division for the right mix of players so Houston is a serious threat for the Yankees if they identify Paxton as the guy they want. The Astros may lose Charlie Morton to free agency and they’ve already lost Lance McCullers, Jr for the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery. So the Astros are just as motivated to add top starters as the Yankees.
As much as I like Paxton, he is not someone I would trade Miguel Andujar for (or Estevan Florial or Justus Sheffield for that matter). Kluber or Carrasco, yes, but not Paxton. Paxton carries much greater risk with his inability to stay healthy. So, as much as I would hate to get punked by the Astros again and as much as I’d like Paxton on the staff, there is a price I’d draw a line. If Houston wants to overpay, let them. If GM Brian Cashman can get Paxton at his price, great. I’ll be excited to see Paxton join the Yankees starting rotation…with Miguel Andujar continuing to field grounders at third in Yankee Stadium.
A pic of a shaved Dallas Keuchel has been floating the Internet with talk about how the “beardless” one would look in the Bronx.
With no offense to Keuchel, I don’t really want to see him in the Bronx. I know he’s been tough on the Yankees over the years but I cannot find myself with the desire to root for him. Keuchel will only be 31 when the season begins, however, I think Keuchel and Patrick Corbin are on opposite trajectories for their 30’s. Corbin, like fine wine, stands a much better chance of aging well. If the Yankees miss out on Corbin and others, it is possible they have to make a run at Keuchel but I really hope that’s a potential option which never comes to fruition. Bring me Corbin and J.A. Happ and I’ll be happy.
Trying to brace myself for the possibility the Yankees pass on the big ticket purchases this winter, I think Marwin Gonzalez and Jurickson Profar represent the best options for the infield to help cover for the loss of Didi Gregorius. I’ve liked Daniel Murphy in the past but I don’t feel he really fits the Yankees at this stage in his career. Both Gonzalez and Profar have positional diversity which makes them very valuable with the current group of Yankees. Who knows, maybe this is the year Tyler Wade puts it together to launch his Major League career in full force. It’s not really a bet I’d make but it is not my team or my money. Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is on record that he is tired of lining the pockets of other owners and it’s his right to make the financial decisions in the best interests of the Steinbrenner Family. I think most of us thought the Yankees were positioning themselves for a big splash into the 2018-19 free agent market but the reality is that we need to be prepared for Team Fiscal Restraint. I am hopeful Hal sees the potential salary relief when guys like Jacoby Ellsbury come off the books in just a couple of years but we’ll see.
It was tough in years past to see the Yankees pass on the big name free agents. Max Scherzer stands out as one. At the time of his free agency, the Yankees were cited as one of the favorites to sign him. They didn’t and Scherzer moved from Detroit to Washington and has continued to pitch at an elite level. Even if the Yankees weren’t ready to add an elite pitcher at the time of Scherzer’s availability, he’d certainly look fantastic in the starting rotation today. The price would have meant the inability to bring payroll under the luxury tax threshold this year so the decision to pass on Scherzer remains debatable. It’s amazing how the decision to sign Jacoby Ellsbury has haunted the Yankees for so many years. I guess that’s a strong argument for not going hog wild in the current free agent market.
Before I close, I’d like to send out our prayers and thoughts to all those affected by the wildfires in Northern and Southern California. For some, there will never be recovery. I hope the fires are brought under control soon and we suffer no further loss of life. For those of you in California, please stay safe.
|View of Malibu from Santa Monica Pier|
Lastly, Happy Veteran’s Day! We can never forget those who served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to maintain our freedom. Today, and every day, we honor you.
As always, Go Yankees!
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.”
|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.
|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!
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:
Indians: Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)
Indians: Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)
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!
|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!
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!