Tagged: Masahiro Tanaka

Step Aside Boys, Toe’s Got This…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Yankees 2, Rangers 1…

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Ronald Torreyes!  The unlikely hero delivered in the 10th inning with a walk-off run-scoring single as the Yankees took the first game of a three game set from the Texas Rangers.  

The game, delayed for an hour and forty minutes by rain, was a classic pitcher’s duel between Japanese greats Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka.  The duel may have ended with goose eggs and no decisions for both pitchers, but they were incredible as the game did not see its first runs until the 9th inning.  Worried about Tanaka prior to the game, he showed that he was anything but a concern as he pitched 8 innings of three-hit scoreless ball,  Walking just two, he fanned nine.  Darvish went 7 innings with no runs and two hits, and did one better than Tanaka with strikeouts (10).  I am not sure what we’ll see the next time Tanaka takes the mound but with Darvish as his motivation on Friday night, he was magnificent.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

I was worried that Rangers slugger Joey Gallo would torch Tanaka pitches but he struck out with two runners on in the third inning, and grounded out in a similar situation in the eighth as the last batter Tanaka faced.  Gallo finished 0-for-4 and 3 strikeouts.  

The Yankees brought Aroldis Chapman in for the 9th inning of the scoreless game.  He struck out the first batter, Shin-Soo Choo, but Elvis Andrus followed with a single.  Struggling with his command, Chapman, who was sweating profusely, hit Nomar Mazara with a pitch in the shoulder.  With Adrian Beltre at the plate, Andrus stole third.  A great defensive play by third baseman Torreyes in stopping a wide throw from Gary Sanchez prevented more damage at that point.  But when Beltre struck out, the ball got away from Sanchez and Andrus ran home for the game’s first run.  

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Torreyes went down on a groundout for the first out.  But no worries, Brett Gardner came up and delivered with a game-tying home run to right.  Aaron Hicks grounded out for the second out.  Aaron Judge singled to put the potential winning run at first.  Unfortunately, Matt Holliday struck out to send the game into extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, the Rangers loaded the bases against Chad Green and Chasen Shreve with two outs but Shreve got Andrus to pop out to end the threat.  This set the stage for the home half of the 10th.  With one out, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius singled, with Sanchez taking third.  Chris Carter struck out on four pitches (surprise, surprise).  But no fear, Ronald Torreyes stepped up to the plate.  The little man with the big stick.  A line drive single to center scored Sanchez with the winning run.  The Yankees win.

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

The victory allowed the Yankees (40-31) to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East Standings.  The Red Sox had defeated the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 earlier in the evening.  The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 15-5, to remain 2 1/2 games back.  

After the game, the Yankees mercifully ended the Chris Carter experiment.  He seemed lost at the plate, with another 0-for-4 performance and three strikeouts.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Carter had a chance to be a hero in the bottom of the 8th with Gary Sanchez on first and two outs.  But he feebly struck out swinging.  There was something about that weak final swing that gave me an “I’m done” feeling. It was reinforced in the 10th when Carter struck out with a huge opportunity to be the game’s hero.  Apparently, GM Brian Cashman felt the same way as Carter was designated for assignment immediately after the game.  Tyler Austin, who has homered in his last three of his last four games, was recalled to take Carter’s place.  In the 27 games at Triple A after his reactivation from the DL in late May, Austin has hit .300/.366/.500 with 4 HR’s and 21 RBI’s for the RailRiders. Of his 30 hits in 100 at-bats, 17 have gone for extra-bases.  The alarming statistic is 32 strikeouts but Austin has really been heating up with the bat over the past week.  He has played error-free baseball at first.  Welcome back, Tyler!  Trust us, we are very glad to see you.

Big Papi, The Man Among Boys…

The Boston Red Sox retired the number of David “Big Papi” Ortiz last night in their game against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park.  Big Papi was a thorn in the Yankees’ side for many years.  Time and again, a game was ended with a Big Papi blast.  I am very glad that #34 will no longer be an active number worn when the Red Sox come to town.  My biggest fear was that he would “un-retire”. 

Credit:  Stuart Cahill

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr expressed it well when he said, “That just lets you know what a special impact he’s made in the community and the organization and all of baseball.  What he’s done for the city, the team, people around him, it’s well deserved.  I know we couldn’t be any happier for him.”  I agree.  As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t wait for the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton (may he rest in peace) to retire, and I felt the same about Papi.  More than anything, it is a sign of how much respect I held for those men.  


A close friend of mine who is a lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fan, and Boston-area resident, did post this comment on Social Media:  “This is just my humble opinion, but I think it is much too early for the Red Sox to be retiring Ortiz’s number.  With the exception of Johnny Pesky, the honor of having a number retired by the Red Sox was reserved for those players who entered the Baseball HOF.”  My response…whatever it takes to keep him from coming out of retirement.

Odds & Ends…

Chance Adams is a friggin’ rock star.  In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 11-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday, the RailRiders’ ace was magnificent.  Pawtucket didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning.  Adams (5-2) finished six innings strong, allowing just the one hit and no runs.  He issued two walks, while fanning eight.  The outstanding performance lowered Adams’ season ERA to 2.12.  At some point in the not-so-distant future, it will be determined that Adams has nothing left to prove at the Triple A level.  In my mind, he’s just a couple of Luis Cessa bumps and bruises away from stepping on the main stage (or the potential first call if another starter…I hope not…is injured).  Why not take a Chance?…

The Boston Red Sox are going hog wild in an attempt to find help.  Yesterday, they signed pitcher Doug Fister, released by the Los Angeles Angels, and shortstop/third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who was cut by the St Louis Cardinals.  Injuries to their pitching staff forced the Fister move.  The disaster known as Pablo Sandoval brought in Peralta.  I still think the Red Sox will be heavy players for Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas at the trading deadline. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Sox should have about $9 million to play with before they risk crossing the luxury tax threshold.   


Happy Saturday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

No Fight in this “Dog”…

Credit:  Tony Avelar-Associated Press

A’s 5, Yankees 2…

A funny thing happened on our way to a fun and exciting season.  We got our butts kicked by the American League’s worst team. The season-high losing streak has now reached five games (three in a row to the lowly A’s) as the agony on the West Coast continues.  

After the return of the “batting practice” pitcher (Masahiro Tanaka), the Yankees thrust a Triple A pitcher into the role of stopper later today.  It’s going to be a very long flight back to New York for the Yankees if they can’t at least salvage the final game of the four game series.

Masahiro Tanaka’s performance yesterday showed me that I really hope that he opts out of his contract at the end of the year.  But unfortunately, the worse he pitches, the more foolish he’d walk away from guaranteed money that he’d be unable to top on the open market.  Tanaka is no ace and I am becoming very pessimistic about his chances to reclaim any resemblance of a top of the rotation guy.

Tanaka did strike out 10 batters, when the A’s weren’t sending the pitches out of the park (three home runs in the first four innings).  In fact, Tanaka is the only pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out at least ten while allowing three homers in four innings or less.  It’s not exactly a record that I’d be proud of.

After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the first inning despite a runner in scoring position, the A’s Matt Joyce hopped on the first pitch thrown by Tanaka and homered to right-center.  Tanaka struck out the next 3 batters to end the first (giving the false illusion that the homer was an aberration).  

The next inning, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead when they scored two runs on three successive singles and a sac fly against A’s starter Jesse Hahn.  But it was temporary.  In the bottom of the 2nd, Ryon Healy blasted a shot to left center to tie the game.  Like the inning before, Tanaka subsequently recorded all three outs by strikeout, leaving runners at first and second through a double and a walk which followed the homer.  Tanaka faced the minimum of three batters in the third (one by strikeout), but Ryon Healy opened the fourth with his second home run of the game.  The A’s had the lead for good, 3-2.  It was another inning of all three outs recorded by strikeout, but sadly they were mixed in with four singles that produced two more runs.  5-2, A’s.

Credit:  Getty Images

Tanaka (5-7, 6.34 ERA) didn’t come back for the fifth inning, and he was replaced by Domingo German who finished up the game (protecting the other tired arms in the bullpen).  German did an admirable job with four scoreless innings (6 strikeouts of his own) but the Yankees offense was silent for the remainder of the game.  Swinging strikeouts in the 9th by Chris Carter, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine ended the game (leaving Ronald Torreyes, who had singled and taken second on defensive indifference, stranded).  

The Boston Red Sox missed out on an opportunity to tie the Yankees (38-28) for the AL East lead and they remain one game back thanks to their 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros.  The Red Sox seem to be having their own Tanaka-like problems with last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello (3-9, 5.05 ERA).  The Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles both won so they are 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively.  

Luis Cessa will be on the mound for the Yankees later today, making his season debut.  The Yankees bullpen will be at its strongest for the first time in a long time with the expected activation of closer Aroldis Chapman.  I am hopeful that the return of Tyler Clippard to the 7th inning allows him to be more effective with the pressurized latter innings under the control of Dellin Betances and Chapman.  

Odds & Ends…

Since his elevation to the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 28th, first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, son of former Yankees pitcher Clay Bellinger, has been on a home-run tear.  He already has four multi-homer games, and his 19th home run yesterday matched Gary Sanchez’s MLB record for most home runs in a player’s first 49 games.  The Dodger Days for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, currently on the DL with a degenerative disc in his lower back, appear to be numbered.

Credit:  Jeff Roberson-Associated Press

The Yankees received a scare yesterday when top prospect Gleyber Torres was pulled from the game with an injury suffered on a headfirst slide at home plate.  He has been diagnosed with a hyperextended elbow.  X-rays performed after the game were negative.  He’ll undergo further medical evaluation before returning to Scranton.  Hopefully all is well except for a few days of rest.

I hadn’t really seen a list yet, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this weekend that the Yankees must place the following players on the 40-man roster between now and November 20th or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft:  Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, Tyler Wade, Zack Littell, Thairo Estrada, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Ian Clarkin, Billy McKinney and J.P. Feyereisen.  It would seem that the abundance of talented prospects requiring protection will be a factor in the days leading up the trading deadline next month.  

Happy Father’s Day to all dads in the Yankees Universe!  I hope it’s a tremendous day for you, complete with a Yankees victory!  Enjoy!

Telling It To The Judge…

Credit:  Sean M Haffey-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Angels 3…

One of the greatest highlights of this game were the chants of “MVP!” for Aaron Judge from the Anaheim crowd.  It was incredible to get that type of response from the park that Mike Trout calls home.  Judge is certainly deserving of the accolades but it is not something that you’d expect on enemy turf.    

When Kole Calhoun, the second batter in the bottom of the first inning, homered with no one on, I had fears that Masahiro Tanaka was going to get rocked once again.  But fortunately, the old Tanaka re-emerged and kept the Angels off the board until the 7th inning.  

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

The Yankees built up a 3-1 lead through the top of the 7th.  Following a couple of two-out walks of Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro in the third inning, Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Holliday and tying the game at 1.  The Yankees took the lead in the 5th, thanks again to another two-out hit from Gregorius.  After Aaron Judge walked and Starlin Castro singled, Gregorius singled to center which scored Judge.  In the 7th, Judge singled and moved to second on a groundout by Matt Holliday.  Castro followed with a ground out to the pitcher, bringing Gregorius up again with two outs.  The Los Angeles Angels took no chances and intentionally walked Didi to put the bat in the hands of Chase Headley (ugh!).  Despite my lack of excitement about Headley, he delivered with a single, scoring Judge.  The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases, but Austin Romine hit a grounder for the final out of the inning.  

Tanaka pitched well enough to win but it was not to be.  In the bottom of the 7th, after Andrelton Simmons had flied out, Eric Young, Jr reached base as a result of a fielding error by Chase Headley (his 11th of the season, one more than he had last year in 140 games at third).  The next batter, Martin Maldonado, struck out but Young advanced to second on a steal.  Former Washington National Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, scoring Young.  Aaron Judge mistakenly threw the ball home on an overthrow which allowed Espinosa to take second.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Tanaka (hand clap for #19) and brought in Tyler Clippard.  Clippard promptly gave up a double to Cameron Maybin, scoring Espinosa for a run charged to Tanaka and the game was tied at 3.  He struck out Kole Calhoun for the final out, and the game moved to the 8th inning.

After Brett Gardner flied out, Aaron Hicks doubled to left.  The Angels made a pitching change to bring in their interim closer, Bud Norris.  On a 2-0 count, Judge showed the Anaheim crowd the magic that we’ve been experiencing in the Bronx with a home run to right center, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead and the eventual margin of victory. 

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

With two outs and a runner at first thanks to a walk in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi took no chances and brought in Dellin Betances to get the final out of the inning.  It was a much cleaner than the last time Betances entered an inning with two outs (when he loaded the bases and threw 17 pitches to record the necessary out).  This time, it was three pitches and a fly out.

In the 9th, Betances was on his game as he struck out the side.  Yankees win, 5-3.

This was a great game for the California Central Valley native Judge.  He finished 2-for-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s, while increasing his batting average to .347, in front of family, friends and James Kaprielian.  Yankees fans are everywhere and they certainly made themselves known on this night with the “MVP!” chants.

Gregorius was 4-for-4 with the 2 RBI’s.  

It may be a down year for the Angels, but they’ve always played well against the Yankees so this was a satisfying victory.  It would have been nice for Tanaka to pick up the win, but still, it had to be a confidence-booster for him.  His final line was 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER,  2 BB, 8 SO.  I hope to see more of this and less of the Tanaka starts we saw over the past month.  Clippard, responsible for costing Tanaka the victory, took the win, thanks to Judge’s timely homer.  

The Yankees (38-23) maintained their four-game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays (who had the night off) remained in third, but dropped to 6 1/2 games back.  The Baltimore Orioles lost again (10-7 to the Chicago White Sox), sliding to 7 1/2 games behind the leaders.  The O’s are now just a half game from falling into the AL East Cellar.  

Odds & Ends…

I hate to say that I am disappointed with the MLB Draft because Yankees scouts know a heck of lot more than I do, but I was not enthused with the first round selection (16th pick) of right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt.  Schmidt had Tommy John surgery earlier this Spring and will be unavailable to pitch until sometime in late 2018.  I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to the pick of Andrew Brackman a number of years ago.  Taking a chance on an injured but high ceiling pitcher who never rose to the level of his potential and is subsequently out of baseball.  I hope this is not the same situation with Schmidt.  I thought first baseman Evan White or lefty pitcher D.L. Hall would have been great picks at that spot, or even lefty David Peterson (who was later picked by the Mets).   

Damon Oppenheimer,  Yankees VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting, had these words for Schmidt (who is from the University of South Carolina like Jordan Montgomery):  “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus.  He has command, he has makeup.  We really like his delivery.  He’s got a chance to be a top end of the rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff.  And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.”  A few of the pitchers taken in the first round sound better suited for relief work so I suppose if you have a chance for a top of the rotation guy, you take it.  I hope this one works out.

In the second round (with the 54th pick), the Yankees chose a high school pitcher (Matt Sauer).  I like this pick, perhaps more so than Schmidt.  Sauer is right-handed and just 18 years old, he is already 6’4”.  He a product of an appropriately named Righetti High School (CA) even if the school is named for a guy named Ernest Righetti and not former Yankees closer Dave “Rags” Righetti.  Oppenheimer offered these words about Sauer:  “Sauer is a projectable high school right-hander who is athletic, with a ‘now’ fastball and a plus slider.  He really has a good way about his aggressiveness and makeup on the mound.  We see a chance there for a starter with power stuff.”

Credit:  The Tribune (San Luis Obispo)

Welcome to the Yankees Family, Clarke and Matt!

Have a great Tuesday!  It should be a fun day as the Yankees try to keep this winning streak alive and MLB Draft continues with rounds 3 through 10.  

Mission: Making J-Ellsbury The Next Wally Pipp…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Does Jacoby Ellsbury really deserve his job back if/when he gets healthy?  This might be one of the few times that I’ve enjoyed the injury replacement better than the regular.  Aaron Friggin’ Hicks.  A day after the two-homer game by Gary Sanchez, Hicksie put up a deuce of his own.  A new day, a new hero.

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-N.Y. Post

The game featured another strong start from Jordan Montgomery who continues to show that he is a competitor on the mound in the mold of Andy Pettitte.  It didn’t look like it was going to be a very good night for Monty in the second inning.  Chris Davis walked to open the inning and Jonathan Schoop followed with a homer to center to pick the O’s up 2-0.  Two of the next three batters reached base with singles but Monty shut the O’s down from there.  The only hit he allowed from that point forward was a harmless double by former Yankee Ruben Tejada (whom the Yankees sold to the O’s last week).  The boy is growing into a man before our very eyes.  There’s no way that we would have had the trust in Chad Green, Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell like we do with Monty had they won the fifth starter’s role out of training camp.  He’s also pitched better than many of the rumored trade candidates.

Monty (4-4) was pulled at the start of the eighth inning.  For the game, he limited the O’s to just 5 hits and the two runs on the homer by Schoop.  He walked a batter and struck out 8.  His season ERA was lowered to 3.55.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

The Yankee offense quickly answered Schoop’s homer.  Starlin Castro deposited the third pitch of the bottom of the 2nd under the Modell sign in right-center to cut the margin to 2-1.  Thursday night’s hero, Gary Sanchez (the Sanchino!)  followed with a double.  He moved to third on a flyout by Didi Gregorius and then scored on a sac fly by the generally-useless Chase Headley to tie the game.

The game remained tied until the sixth inning as both Montgomery and the O’s Dylan Bundy were pitching great.  In the bottom of the 6th, it was time for the Hicksie Show.  He opened the inning with a solo shot, a ‘no doubt about it’ smash, to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 3-2.  It was ironically the first ball placed in The Judge’s Chambers.  

Credit:  MLB.com

In the 7th, Chase Headley reached first on a throwing error by pitcher Edwin Jackson who had just relieved Bundy.  Aaron Hicks came to bat again, with two outs, and he crushed Jackson’s offering to the right center bleachers to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead.  Aaron Judge was walked on four straight pitches out of the strike zone, and Jackson paid the price when Matt Holliday doubled in the next at-bat to score Judge.

The Yankees tacked on two more unneeded runs in the eighth when Austin Romine singled with the bases loaded.  Hats off to Romine for this game.  No offense to Sanchez, but Romine and Montgomery work very well together.  He could have gone hitless and it would have been fine given the strong work he provides behind the plate for Monty.  

The Boston Red Sox won on a late comeback against the Detroit Tigers so the Yankees (35-23) remained three games ahead of the Sox in the AL East.  The O’s fell to 4 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers.  The Tampa Bay Rays have won three in a row and are 5 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

Manager Joe Girardi said that Masahiro Tanaka’s scheduled start on Sunday has been pushed back.  He is now scheduled to pick up the baton on Monday when the Yankees travel to Anaheim, CA to play the Los Angeles Angels.  He’ll be facing the Angels’ Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA).  

No word yet who’ll start for the Yankees on Sunday.  The present roster candidates would be Chad Green or Adam Warren, with an advantage toward Green since he’s been stretched out more recently.  Potential call-ups include Bryan Mitchell or Luis Cessa.  I think the Yankees will choose one of the more experienced arms, so I would not expect the elevation of Chance Adams to the 40-man roster.  He’s young (only 22) and only at AA-Trenton, but Ronald Herrera is an intriguing arm.  On Thursday night, he tied his career high with 9 strikeouts in leading the Thunder to a 9-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats.   Pitching 6 2/3 innings, he limited the Yard Goats (damn, I love these minor league names!) to just two hits.  In 8 starts, Herrera is 7-0 and is currently sporting a 1.07 ERA.  He has struck out 41 batters in 50 1/3 innings.  Herrera was acquired in November 2015 through the trade that sent Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres.  He is also on the 40-man roster which places him at an advantage over the older and the more advanced Adams.  I extremely doubt the Yankees entrust a key AL East start to a pitcher who has only made one start (last year with poor results) at the AAA Level.  But he is a name to watch.  Probably the most advanced arm, outside of the Major League vets, is the 24-year old righty Domingo German.  German is also on the 40-man roster.  He’s currently 2-1 with 3.76 ERA in four games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  My bet is the start goes to Green.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman flew to Tampa last night and will pitch in a simulated game today.  The plan is for him to pitch with AA-Trenton next week before rejoining the Yankees in Oakland for the weekend series against the A’s.  By all accounts, Chapman is healthy and throwing strikes.  Coming soon, sore catchers’ hands at a Yankees game near you.

Credit:  MLB.com

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s keep this Yankees winning streak alive!

CC and the Backdoor Slider…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 8, Red Sox 0…

Much better!


When CC Sabathia was named the #2 starter at the beginning of the year, I thought it was comical.  Now, he’s probably the ace.  This vintage run of excellent starts by Sabathia has been tremendous and much needed.  I know that he has benefited from his talks with Andy Pettitte about transitioning to an older pitcher but after a few starts to forget earlier this year, I had given him up for dead.  Then, suddenly he has re-emerged as a dominant pitcher.  I am not sure how long this will last, but I’m lovin’ the ride.

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

A night after a disappointing loss, Sabathia (7-2) shut the Red Sox down with eight solid innings.  He held the Sox to 5 hits and struck out 5 in the shutout.  He did not walk anyone.  When he wasn’t pitching great, he was making excellent bare-handed defensive plays, like stopping the Jackie Bradley, Jr chopper in the fifth and throwing the runner out at first with a runner at third.  It was a critical play as Josh Rutledge had opened the inning with a triple.  The runner was eventually left stranded, thanks in very large part to CC’s great play on JBJ.


All of CC’s pitches were working, but it was the deadly slider that left the Sox batters shaking their heads.  It’s an interesting stat that it was the first time CC has shutout an opponent with at least eight innings pitched since September 2012.  


I expected Sabathia to tire in the later innings but he was still cruising in the eighth (retiring the final 12 batters he faced).  Manager Joe Girardi made the right decision to pull CC after eight innings and 95 pitches.  Jonathan Holder finished up in relief.  


I wonder if we can get Pettitte to come to New York to talk to Masahiro Tanaka.  I don’t know but it’s cool to write Pettitte’s name in a blog post again.  He would make a good replacement for pitching coach Larry Rothschild one day.  


As for the offense, it came from a very unlikely source.  The forgotten man and the guy on almost everybody’s list for roster reduction when Greg Bird returns delivered in a big way.  Chris Carter, who entered the game with a .183 batting average, blasted a three-run homer to left-center in the Yankees’ four-run fourth inning that gave the Yankees some breathing room in a game, which up to that point, had been a pitcher’s duel.  The Yankees tacked on three more runs late, including a RBI single from Carter in the eighth.  Carter was 3-for-4 on the night, with 4 RBI’s.  He raised his batting average by 19 points to .202.  

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

Carter should have had two home runs, but Mookie Betts was aided by a Yankees fan to make a leaping catch to rob Carter in the sixth.  The ball seemingly was over the wall but landed in the fan’s hands and rolled back into Betts’ glove.  Girardi tried to challenge but the umps ruled that he was outside of the 30-second window to appeal.  I’m glad that play didn’t factor into the outcome of the game.


Didi Gregorius got the scoring started in the third with a solo shot off Red Sox starter and AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.  Porcello has not been the same pitcher he was last year (he is now 3-8) but when he started the game strong, I had been concerned that he was finding the success he had enjoyed last year.  Thankfully, it was not meant to be as Carter and Company gave CC an abundance of runs, one night after they fell one short.


With the win, the Yankees (33-23) moved back up to two games ahead of the Red Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles came up with another extra inning win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to remain 2 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

It is being reported that Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start as scheduled.  I think this is a mistake.  Something is clearly wrong and to allow the pitcher to work out his issues in-game is not a smart move in my opinion.  This seems to be psychological as best I can tell.  I think Tanaka needs to get his head straight first, then work on the pitches.  That’s why I would give him time away from the rotation.  If I owned the Yankees, I’d send Tanaka back home to Japan for a week or two.  Let him regroup, and then have him try to find what he had during spring training.  Chad Green is capable of a spot start or even Adam Warren.  Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell are also available for call-up.  Any of the four are capable of doing better than the recent Tanaka performances.  I’d love a spot start by Chance Adams but I agree that he’s not ready and then there’s the small issue of finding room on the 40-man roster.  

I was going to rip NESN’s Jerry Remy for his comments that Tanaka should not be allowed to have a translator during mound visits, but then he owned up to his mistake and apologized.  

Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com reported yesterday that an anonymous GM has indicated he would give 2018 free agent-to-be Bryce Harper a 15-year deal for $600 million. If that’s the price tag, I have no problem with an outfield of Aaron Judge, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks.  

Oddly, the Yankees and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders have identical win-loss records at 33-23.  The RailRiders won their 33rd game with a 5-1 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  Gleyber Torres had the go-ahead two-run double in the 7th inning and scored on a wild pitch in the 9th.  Torres was 2-for-4.  Tyler Austin also had a run-scoring double in the 9th.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

I love Yankees prospects but I saw that the St Louis Cardinals have assigned a young outfielder by the name of Matt Fiedler to the State College Spikes (High A).  A 9th round pick in the 2016 Draft, the 22 year old right-handed leftfielder hit .325 with 4 homers and 31 RBI’s last year for Johnson City Cardinals (the 2016 Appalachian League Champions).  I hope the Eagan, MN native continues his upward climb in the Cardinals organization.  I’d buy his jersey if he makes it to the Show.  I haven’t been this excited since, well, Jay Fiedler was a Miami Dolphin although Vernon Fiddler in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Nashville Predators is kinda neat…

Credit:  University of Minnesota

Have a great Thursday!  I don’t want much today…just a Yankees win!

Losing that Winning Feeling…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…


I was not confident with Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday night and he proved my concerns to be correct with yet another horrendous start.  Tanaka has become the National League’s version of the pitcher batting (generally speaking)…an automatic out or in this case, an automatic loss.  


I did not like the thought of Tanaka opening the series with the Red Sox because of the fear that he’d put us at the disadvantage.  He’s easily the weakest link in the rotation right now and I have no clue what can be done to turn him around.  If he’s not hurt, there is no explanation for why he’s become a batting practice pitcher on the mound during games.


The first two Red Sox batters at the start of the game both singled.  So, there were runners at the corner before Tanaka could even record an out.  It looked like it could have been a big inning for the Sox, but Tanaka was able to limit the damage to one run.  


The Sox scored three runs in the fourth.  After an inning opening walk to Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez went deep for back-to-back homers.  


The Yankees had a threat going in the bottom of the fourth after two one-out singles, but Chase Headley hit into a double-play to kill the potential rally.  Headley was 0-for-3 for the game.


The next inning, Tanaka served up another home run, this time a solo shot by the youngster Andrew Benintendi.  The Sox were up 5-1 and it would be all the runs they would need on this night.


The Yankees tried to scratch and claw their way back.  Chris Carter opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run.  Aaron Judge doubled with two outs, but Matt Holliday struck out to strand Judge.


In the bottom of the sixth, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks both singled, bringing Didi Gregorius to the plate.  Didi hit into a double play, but Castro was able to score on the play to close the gap to 5-3.


The next and last opportunity for the Yankees would be in the eighth.  Matt Holliday opened with a double.  After the next two batters recorded outs, Didi was up again.  The Red Sox brought closer Craig Kimbrel into the game.  Kimbrel struck out Didi swinging, but it was a wild pitch and Didi beat the throw to first base to keep the inning alive and allow Holliday to score.  5-4, Red Sox.  Chris Carter could have rehabilitated his image in the eyes of Yankees fans with a key hit, but he struck out to end the inning.  Kimbrel would go on to strike out the side in the ninth to finish with five strikeouts in four outs, picking up his 17th save.

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  This was their 14th loss in 25 games since May 8th.  


Aaron Judge made a great catch in the second inning, jumping and crashing into the right field wall to take an extra base hit away from Jackie Bradley, Jr.  Although he had the game-ending strikeout, he was 2-for-4 with a walk.  He was trying.

The Yankees bullpen did an outstanding job to hold the Sox scoreless after Tanaka departed, but special acknowledgement goes to Chad Green for his 3 1/3 innings of perfect relief with 5 strikeouts.  


The final line on Tanaka (5-6) was 5 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 HR.  This process of Tanaka trying to find his pitches in games is killing us.  


The Red Sox matched the Yankees (32-23) in total victories and moved to within one game of the AL East lead (the Sox have two more losses than the Yankees).  The Baltimore Orioles beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in 10 innings so they moved to within 2 1/2 games.


Odds & Ends…


Major League Baseball released its first AL Update for the All-Star Game voting on Tuesday.  The leader is Aaron Judge with 1,251,543 votes.  He overtook the injured Mike Trout by 96,187 votes.  In the AL Outfield, Brett Gardner is 9th with 364,493.  In the ‘I don’t know what the heck they were thinking’ category is Jacoby Ellsbury with 269,974 votes.  Aaron Hicks is far more deserving of those votes.


Other Yankees in the AL Results:  


Catcher:  Gary Sanchez (4th behind Salvador Perez, Wellington Castillo and Brian McCann) with 461,152 votes.  First Base:  Yeah, right.  Second Base:  Starlin Castro (2nd behind Jose Altuve) with 778,699 votes.  Third Base:  Oops, no one is covering.  Shortstop:  Didi Gregorius (3rd behind Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa) with 397,326 votes.  DH:  Matt Holliday (2nd behind Nelson Cruz) with 460,355 votes.  


This year’s All-Star Game will be held at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, July 11th.


Aroldis Chapman is targeting the upcoming A’s series for his return.  The Yankees will be in Oakland for a four-game set starting Thursday, June 15th.  I am very anxious to show a showdown between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis with the game on the line.  I feel that a healthy and rested Chapman is the superior competitor in that situation and I want to see Davis strike out to lose the game (as retribution for his home run off Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series).


On Monday, the Baltimore Orioles acquired infielder Ruben Tejada from the Yankees for cash considerations and assigned him to AAA.  On Tuesday, they elevated him to the Major League roster.  Things seem to have worked out for Tejada in his new home as he was not likely to see the Big Leagues in Pinstripes anytime soon.  I just hope this doesn’t become a Steve Pearce situation where he starts crushing home runs for the O’s.  


Chance Adams took the loss on Tuesday night in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ 8-1 loss to the Rochester Red Wings.  He pitched six innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs.  He walked 4 batters, allowed one home run, and struck out 7.  The outing pushed his ERA to 2.17.  The winning pitcher for the Red Wings was former Yankees prospect Nik Turley (who had 15 strikeouts).


Have a great Wednesday!  On the bright side, Masahiro Tanaka is not pitching today.  Go Yankees!

Beat the Best to be the Best…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Rivalry…

The Yankees and the Red Sox rekindle Baseball’s best rivalry tonight.  The Yankees begin play two games ahead of the Red Sox in the division standings.  Boston, the pre-season favorite to the win the AL East, has slowly been moving up the standings.  They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and have won two in a row.

The Red Sox are currently without the services of the gutsy Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia is on the DL with a left wrist sprain.  He is not eligible to be activated until Friday.  Boston is also without starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez as he went on the DL over the weekend with right knee subluxation (partial dislocation).  

The Yankees will miss Chris Sale, who was the starter on Sunday in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, this series. Boston’s talented young left-fielder Andrew Benintendi is starting to heat up.  He had two home runs on Sunday to back Sale.  He is currently batting .269/.342/.413 and has 7 HR and 30 RBI.  He is second on the team with 8 stolen bases.

Credit:  David Goldman-Associated Press

Jackie Bradley, Jr, after a horrific start is also coming around.  Batting .269 with 7 HR and 24 RBI, he has a home run and 6 RBI’s in the last four games (5-for-13).


As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said over the weekend, it’s one big series after another right now.  If the Yankees intend to be players in the AL East for the long haul this season, they need to make a statement.  Since they’ve begun this rugged 13 consecutive game stretch against AL East opponents, the Yankees are 3-4.  With the next 6 games at home against the Red Sox and Orioles, the Yankees can help themselves…or not.  

The scheduled pitching match-ups for the Red Sox series are:

TODAY

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 4.24 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 6.34 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Red Sox:  Rick Porcello (3-7, 4.24 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (6-2, 4.12 ERA)

THURSDAY

Red Sox:  David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-3, 3.76 ERA)

Better to Rent or to Buy…

The arguments have been made for why the Yankees should stick to plan and forego any expensive rentals for the mid-summer.  I get the logic.  Does it make sense to part with Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier, or Jorge Mateo to bring someone in for a few months when the youngsters can be part of the impending “dynasty”?  

Yet, when you hear Yankees General Partner/Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner make comments like, “Oh yeah.  We’re greedy.  We want to win this year.”, you know that it’s possible common sense may take a backseat.  

Speculation is starting to run rampant with third base possibilities. I’ve seen a few articles centered on Todd Frazer as a potential trade target.  His pic with Derek Jeter as a child is a nice story but it doesn’t mean I want the guy on my team.  Frazier had 40 home runs last year, but he only batted .225/.302/.464.  He has gotten off to a much worst start this year with only 8 homers, 25 RBI’s and a line of .195/.306/.396.  The 31-year-old probably represents a buy low candidate but I am not enthused.  He is making $12 million this year and will be a free agent after the season is over.  I’ve already jettisoned Frazier from a couple of fantasy baseball teams.  If the Yankees could acquire for some names that I’ve never heard of and will never hear again, I could probably buy into giving it a try.  Otherwise, I don’t want to lose good prospects for a guy who is flirting with the Mendoza line (and on the wrong side to boot).  

If the Yankees have to make a move, I’d probably be more in favor of Mike Moustakas.  Also  a free agent at the end of the year, Moustakas is making $8.7 million this year with better numbers.  He has 14 home runs and 29 RBI’s and is batting .255/.295/.510.  Both Moustakas and Frazier had fielding percentages of .947 entering play yesterday.  Moustakas is younger…he’ll be 29 in September. 

It all boils down to cost.  How much?  If the Yankees can make moves to improve the team without sacrificing key talent, they should do it.  If not, stand pat.  The great thing about a top farm system is redundancy at certain positions.  Thairo Estrada is doing a great job at AA-Trenton but he plays second base/shortstop.  It is a position of strength for the Yankees with Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo and others.  If trades could create opportunity for redundant players blocked in the system, I am not opposed to their inclusion in potential roster-enhancing moves.  


This is a tough call.  I recognize that the Yankees are building for something greater but I also know that when you have your opportunities for October baseball, you make the most of it.  There does need to be a good short-term plan with long-term vision.  If you get a ticket to the dance, you never know what can happen.  

Odds & Ends…

Because of Sunday’s rainout, Chance Adams scheduled start for AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was pushed from Monday to today.  Bryan Mitchell, Sunday’s scheduled starter, took the mound on Monday night in the RailRiders’ 6-3 win over the Rochester Red Wings.  He didn’t figure in the decision as he only lasted 2 1/3 innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs.  Domingo German, pitching in relief for the first time since 2012, gave a start-like relief performance in picking up the win.  German limited the Red Wings to 5 hits and 1 run over 5 2/3 innings, while striking out 7.  Ben Heller picked up his first save.

The RailRiders victory featured the first home run, a three-run shot, by super prospect Gleyber Torres.  Torres was 3-for-3 with a walk, and he drove in 4 RBI’s.  

Tyler Austin completed his rehab assignment and was re-assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  It’s just a matter of time before Austin gets the call for the short trip to NYC.  Rob Refsnyder offers better versatility with his ability to play second and third, in addition to first base and the outfield.  But at some point, his bat needs to start producing.  If not, the Yanks are better served by first baseman/OF Austin.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Hopefully we’ll see the “good” Tanaka later today.  Go Yanks!