Tagged: Masahiro Tanaka

Sweepless in Seattle…

Credit:  Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

Mariners 6, Yankees 5…

So much for a potential sweep in Seattle as the Mariners prevailed over the Yankees in extra innings on Saturday night.  Ex-Yankees Ben Gamel and Robinson Cano made themselves heard in this game.  The Yankees can still take three of four with a victory today so they can still end this road trip on a high note.

Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff (in a statement that we have made far too often this season).  The Yankees scored first in the second inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to right, a one-hopper off the wall. After Sanchez was nearly picked off at second, Didi Gregorius hit a single to right which moved Sanchez to third.  Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Sanchez scored on the play.  After allowing a meaningless single in each of the two first innings, Tanaka lost the lead in the third.  Mike Zunino opened with a blast to left center and the game was tied.  Following a strikeout of Jean Segura, former Yankee Ben Gamel homered on the first pitch to right center.  It was the 26th home run allowed by Tanaka this season, tying him for the  dubious AL lead with Ricky Nolasco. Robinson Cano went down swinging for the second out.  Nelson Cruz singled on an infield grounder to third (Tood Frazier’s long throw was up the line which took Garrett Cooper off first) and Kyle Seager was hit by a pitch on the back toe to put runners at first and second.  Following a coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Danny Valencia ripped a single to left to score Cruz and Mitch Haniger singled through the hole to left to score Seager.  It was 4-1 Mariners.  Jarrod Dyson grounded out to end the inning.

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP

Garrett Cooper tripled to center in the fifth with a near home run which sent center fielder Jarrod Dyson into the wall.  Dyson stayed but you could tell that he was still affected by the collision.  He would depart the game after the inning was over.  Ronald Torreyes lofted a fly ball to Dyson in center as Cooper tagged and scored.  In the sixth, Clint Frazier started the inning with a 10-pitch at-bat against M’s starter Ariel Miranda but chased an upstairs fastball to strike out. The Mariners pulled Miranda and replaced him with Steve Cishek.  Aaron Judge greeted Cishek with a high fly to right center for his 32nd home run of the season.  The Yankees had closed the gap to 4-3.

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP

The Yankees tied the game in the 8th inning.  With one out, Brett Gardner beat out a grounder to short for a single.  Clint Frazier doubled to center off the top of the wall (if only it had been just a few more inches), Gardner moved to third.  The Mariners intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday.  Holliday hit a deep sacrifice fly to right, easily scoring Gardner.  The game was tied at 4.  Gary Sanchez lined out to right so the Yankees were unable to push any more runs across the plate.  In retrospect, this was a very big missed opportunity.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Mariners recaptured the lead when Robinson Cano led off with a home run to left off David Robertson. Bummer, but you couldn’t blame D-Rob as it was an excellent pitch. He was able to retire the next three batters to get out of the inning without any further damage. 

The Yankees had life again in the top of the 9th with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz on the mound.  Didi Gregorius walked to start the inning.  Diaz was able to retire the next two batters, Todd Frazier and Chase Headley who pinch-hit for Garrett Cooper.  With Ronald Torreyes at the plate, Jacoby Ellsbury was brought in to pinch run for Gregorius and promptly stole second.  Torreyes singled to left on a line drive, bringing Ellsbury around to score and the game was tied again.  After Tommy Kahnle finished the M’s in the bottom of the 9th, it was off to extra innings.

Credit:  Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

M’s reliever Tony Zych replaced Diaz in the 10th and easily retired the Yankees, including strikeouts of both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge.  In the bottom of the 10th, Adam Warren was on the mound.  Warren gave up a lead-off double by Ben Gamel (rapidly becoming a Yankee killer).  Robinson Cano was intentionally walked to open the possibility for a double play, but unfortunately, Nelson Cruz hit a line drive to left and Clint Frazier’s throw to the plate was off the mark as Gamel scored the winning run.  The Mariners win, 6-5.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren/AP

The Yankees (50-46) didn’t lose any ground in the AL East despite the loss.  The Boston Red Sox fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 7-3, while the Texas Rangers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3.  It would have been a great opportunity to pick up ground in the division but it was not meant to be.  The Yankees and Rays remain 3 1/2 games behind Boston.  

Somehow, the Yankees need to get Todd Frazier going.  His 0-for-4 night dropped his season batting average to .201.  Anything from him last night could have been a difference-maker.  Among the starting position players, he was the only one without a hit for the second game in a row.

Odds & Ends…

Second baseman Starlin Castro has been placed on the 10-Day DL after re-aggravating his hamstring.  Tyler Wade, who was seen in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre locker room before the RailRiders’ game yesterday, was recalled and didn’t get to Seattle until late last night.  Presumably, he’ll share time at second with Ronald Torreyes.  Wade had a tremendous game on Thursday when the RailRiders defeated the Charlotte Knights, 13-2.  He tripled and homered, driving in 4 RBI’s.  

Caleb Smith (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will start today’s getaway game against the Mariners in place of Luis Cessa.  I am very glad to see this move.  I’d rather see what Smith is capable of doing with his first Major League start versus another uneven performance by Luis Cessa.  I am sure that Cessa will be the first call to the pen if Smith gets into trouble early but hopefully he is able to show the great success he has enjoyed in Triple A this year.  Yovanni Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will oppose Smith.  

Jacoby Ellsbury, at least temporarily, has lost his starting gig.  With over $68 million still owed Ellsbury after this year, there’s probably not much chance he’ll be exiting anytime soon.  Manager Joe Girardi has said that he wants to go with the hot hand which means keeping Clint Frazier in the lineup.  The threat of Frazier being demoted to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns still looms as the Yankees are not going to cut Ellsbury.  This goes against the premise of putting your best players on the field but obviously there are more factors at play.  

The Yankees get a much needed day off on Monday following their cross-country flight home.  Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox, flying up from Orange County, will replace the Yankees at Safeco Field for a three-game series against the Mariners.

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s make this a fun day with a much-needed win!  Go Yankees!

The Beantown Split…

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-AP

Game 1:  Yankees 3, Red Sox 0…

Michael Pineda goes on the DL with a season-ending injury so “who ya gonna call”?  Apparently the answer is CC Sabathia.  In the first game on Sunday, CC gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…six innings of scoreless two-hit ball.  He blamed the five walks on rust, but he was otherwise very effective against the potent Red Sox lineup as the Yankees topped the Red Sox.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Sabathia (8-3) walked the first two batters he faced in the game.  A force out at second put runners at the corners with one out.  But Sabathia was able to induce former Yankee Chris Young to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Red Sox off the board.

The Yankees were finally able to break through with the game’s first runs in the fourth inning against Sox starter Rick Porcello.  Didi Gregorius lined a one-out single to right.  Clint Frazier hit an infield grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but Bogaerts bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Frazier to reach first as Gregorius took second.  Austin Romine singled to left, just past a diving Bogaerts, to load the bases.  Ji-Man Choi hit a sharp fly ball to left fielder Andrew Benintendi, which scored Gregorius.  Ronald Torreyes got all of a Porcello pitch with the barrel of his bat for a solid single to left, which brought Clint Frazier around to score in a close play at the plate.  Brett Gardner took a pitch off the forearm to re-load the bases, but Chase Headley grounded out to first to end the inning.  2-0, Yankees.

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-AP

In the top of the 5th, Didi Gregorius lined a fly ball into the right field stands just fair of the Pesky Pole for a two-out solo home run as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-0.

Aaron Judge finally got his first hit of the series in the 7th when he reached first base on an infield grounder against Red Sox reliever Austin Maddox.  

In the bottom of the 7th, Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) replaced CC Sabathia.  Like Saturday, the first batter he faced (Brock Holt) singled to start the inning.  Despite my Clippard-induced uneasiness, he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.  

After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the 8th with two men on base, the Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning after Chad Green two-out walks to Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis.  Fortunately, Jackie Bradley, Jr went down swinging as Green preserved the shutout.

Manager Joe Girardi brought in Aroldis Chapman for the 9th, his third consecutive appearance in three days.  Unlike Friday night, Chapman did his job, despite a two-out single by Dustin Pedroia, to earn his 9th save of the season.  

The Yankees (47-42) moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with the win.  Pending the outcome of the second game of the double-header, the Yankees also slid back into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays finally lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3.  

Game 2:  Red Sox 3, Yankees 0…

In the nightcap, the Red Sox reversed Game 1’s score as they shut out the Yankees.  It was the first time this season the Yankees have failed to score.  

The Yankees have generally fared well against Red Sox starter David Price but not on this night.  Price scattered 7 hits over 8 scoreless innings and struck out 8.  He did not walk a batter.  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave the Yanks length (he went 7 2/3 innings) but he was unable to match Price’s performance.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Red Sox broke their 24-inning scoreless streak when Christian Vazquez singled and Mookie Betts clobbered a Tanaka pitch over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park for a 2-0 lead.

Garrett Cooper picked his first Major League hit in the 5th inning when he lined a double to the wall in left.  He was left stranded but it was good to see him finally have a productive at-bat.

The Red Sox picked up another run in the bottom of the 6th.  Mookie Betts led off with a liner that deflected off Masahiro Tanaka’s glove.  On the run, Starlin Castro scooped it up and hurriedly threw a low throw to first baseman Garrett Cooper which Cooper was unable to handle.  Betts, without hesitation, advanced to second.  An error was charged to Castro.  After Betts moved to third on a groundout by Andrew Benintendi, Dustin Pedroia hit a hard single into left field, just past Ronald Torreyes at third.  Torreyes misread the velocity of the ball, otherwise, he could have moved into proper position to potentially get the runner at home.  The run increased the Sox lead to 3-0.

With Gary Sanchez on base in the eighth, Aaron Judge had a chance to make it a one-run game when he launched a high fly to the Bermuda Triangle in center.  But Jackie Bradley, Jr made a leaping catch to snag  the ball which would have landed in the Sox bullpen.  “I thought it had a chance.  But I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong centerfielder.  Jackie’s been making plays like that for a long time,” Judge said after the game.

Credit:  Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Yankees had a chance in the 9th against closer Craig Kimbrel.  Didi Gregorius, 0-for-5  with 5 K’s lifetime against Kimbrel, ripped stand-up double off the left field wall.  With two outs, Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Garrett Cooper, walked.  It brought Chase Headley to the plate representing the tying run, but sadly, Headley struck out to end the game.

The Yankees (47-43) fell back into third place with the loss, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays are 1/2 game ahead of the Yanks.  

HR Derby Hangover:  It was not a great series for Aaron Judge.  He was 1-for-18 with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks.  Hopefully the Land of 10,000 Lakes helps him get back on track.  

Next Up:  Minnesota Twins at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN…

The Yankees will see one of their former starters this series when Bartolo Colon takes the mound on Wednesday for his first appearance as a Minnesota Twin.  Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will be able to meet up with fellow Home Run Derby participant Miguel Sano.  Like the Yankees, the Twins (46-45) started the season strong but have tailed off lately.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  

TODAY

Yankees:  Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA)

Twins:  Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.43 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.18 ERA)*

Twins:  Bartolo Colon (0-0, 0.00 ERA)  — He was 2-8 with 8.14 ERA for the NL Braves.

*Cessa is listed as the scheduled starter, but with Caleb Smith on the active roster, I wonder if Smith makes his MLB debut this game. 

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78 ERA)

Twins:  Jose Berrios (8-3, 3.70 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Boston will formally file a protest over the lack of an interference call in Saturday night’s 4-1 victory by the Yankees.  In the 11th inning, Matt Holliday, forced out at second on an infield grounder to first base by Jacoby Ellsbury, raced back to first thinking that Ellsbury had been forced before the throw to second.  His action prevented Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from catching the relay from Xander Bogaerts and Ellsbury was ruled safe at first.  Farrell felt that it should have been a double play on interference.  The Yankees didn’t score in the inning so the net effect was inconsequential.  I am not really sure what purpose the protest serves.  It was clearly not an intentional act by Holliday as he thought that he was still in play.   

Upon completion of yesterday’s double-header, RHP Domingo German was optioned to Triple A.  Bryan Mitchell, who served as the “26th man” for the double-header, was moved onto the 25-man roster and will start tonight’s game. 

Have a great Monday!  Hopefully the Yankees will be right on target at Target Field.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Sunday’s Recurring Theme: If Only…

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Brewers 5, Yankees 3…

I guess three positive starts by Masahiro Tanaka was not enough to prove that the right-hander was back.  He followed up those three starts with another disappointing performance on a beautiful day in the Bronx as the Yankees fell to the Brew Crew.  Tanaka (7-8) lasted just 4 1/3 innings and 83 pitches, giving up 6 hits, 5 runs (including two home runs), and a walk.  He struck out 5 in the loss.  He didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday but he also didn’t receive much help.  If only…

Saturday’s hero, Clint Frazier, tried.  He had another homer but the big bats of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were a combined 2-for-9 with no homers or RBI’s and 5 strikeouts.  

The Brewers jumped on Tanaka right away with three runs in the first.  Jonathan Villar opened the game with a single.   Eric Thames singled to right to put runners at the corners.  After Domingo Santana struck out, former Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw pummeled a Tanaka pitch over the bullpen in right to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.  I wonder how much Boston wishes they still had Shaw (19 HR and 65 RBI) instead of Pablo Sandoval and fill-ins at third base.  The guy they traded for (former Brewers closer Tyler Thornburg) underwent season-ending surgery last month.  

The Brewers added another run in the top of the 2nd inning when Stephen Vogt, formerly of the Oakland A’s, opened with a solo shot to center which dropped into the bullpen.  4-0, Brewers.

The Yankees offense finally got something going in the 4th.  With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left and subsequently stole second.  Headley singled to left, which scored Ellsbury with the Yankees’ first run.  Clint Frazier followed with his third homer as a Yankee, to right center, which brought the Yankees within one run, 4-3.  

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

After Tanaka gave up two one-out singles in the top of the 5th, his day was done.  Chasen Shreve was brought in and he lost the battle to the only batter he faced when Travis Shaw collected his 4th RBI of the day with a run-scoring single.  Adam Warren should be called The Cleaner because he’s always the one that has to clean up the mess.  He struck out both batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.  

The Yankees had a runner in scoring position in every inning from the 5th inning through the 9th but all were left stranded.  For a moment, it seemed as though the Yankees had taken a 6-5 lead on an apparent 3-run home run by Chase Headley in the 6th inning, but appeal and further review clearly showed the ball sailed just to the right of the right field foul pole so the homer was erased…yes, if only.  Headley subsequently went down swinging. It was another lost opportunity in a day of lost opportunities.  Brett Gardner was on second in the bottom of the 9th after he walked and stole a base, but Gary Sanchez took a called third strike to end the game.  Gary, Dude…if only.  The Brewers escaped with the 5-3 win.  

Credit:  UPI

I got my pre-game wish.  More Red Thunder and no Tyler Clippard.  But it was not enough.  If only we had won…

With the loss, the Yankees (45-41) dropped into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Both teams are 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox, who fell to the Rays, 5-3, on Sunday.  It was a very disappointing finish to the first half for the Yankees who had started the season so strongly.  I have no clue if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers at the end of the month, but I am in agreement with those who believe the Yankees are not yet a World Series contender.  I know that GM Brian Cashman feels a return to good health and a few enhancements could be the difference-maker but I’d hate to see the team make moves this year that might steal from 2018 or 2019 when the Yankees really will be World Series contenders.  But I admit, we do need a  new first baseman.

Odds & Ends…

Matt Holliday played DH for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Sunday in their 5-2 loss to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  His lone hit in four at-bats was a run-scoring single.

The Home Run Derby is tonight.  I have already completed my bracket and have Aaron Judge emerging as the victor over Giancarlo Stanton but I do think that Gary Sanchez could get on a roll to steal this one.  It’s unfortunate that he drew Stanton as his first round opponent.  Former Yankee Clay Bellinger will serve as the Derby pitcher for his son, Cody.  I am sure Yankee fans will be paying close attention to Aaron Judge’s first round opponent given the trade rumors swirling about the potential trade of Justin Bour to the Yankees.

Have a great Monday!  Let’s Go Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge!  Enjoy the HR Derby!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

To Buy or Not to Buy…

The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away.  At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we’ll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers.  If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter.  However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the ‘sell high’ category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer.  If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right…we’re stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner.  Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others.  There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  I don’t think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667).  They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats.  Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts.  Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts.  Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they’ve been missing since Zack Greinke left.  As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill.  The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.

Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me.  He’d easily fit into Bruce Bochy’s lineup and give them the left-fielder that they’ve literally been waiting years for.  

I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season.  My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline.  But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we’ll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared.  It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does.  Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced.  But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run.  The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East.  The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.

Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16.  The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best.  Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances.  Clearly, this group has the potential…and the history…to be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The July schedule, simply put, is tough.  After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox.  It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th.  Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night.  The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today.  After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break.  The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano.  This year he’ll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand.  Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M’s, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks’ heels.  July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers.  August doesn’t get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap.  In other words, the schedule is a bitch.  

The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later.  They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners.  Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year’s end will be a challenge.

I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.  

Will Today be a Holliday?…

All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today.  Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return.  Many people afflicted by EBV don’t even know they have it since they do not feel sick.  I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday.  The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup.  Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team’s biggest black hole.  I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year.  Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room.  We’ll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions.  In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz’s former club, the Buffalo Bisons.  Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.


Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB.  It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption.  The one dude who I hope isn’t outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter.  I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires.  Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.

Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder.  Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees.  Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.


Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline.  Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles).  But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx.  The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5’8″ but he is one of the best arms in the AL East.  This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA.  He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings.  The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe. 

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius.  Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner.  I tried.  I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi.  There’s no doubt he’s an All-Star.  On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.  

Didi with his Mom

Have a great Friday!  Let’s kick this weekend off right with a win!  Let’s Go Yankees! 

Chasing the Victory…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3…

Before the game, GM Brian Cashman, responding to questions about the infield corners, replied that Chase Headley is his third baseman.  Headley went out and backed up his GM with a key fielding plays and hits to lead the Yankees to the win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

With the talented Marcus Stroman on the mound for Toronto, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the 1st inning when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both singled and Didi Gregorius walked.  Chase Headley came to the plate and was hit by a pitch (conveniently hitting his lower right shin guard) to bring home Judge.  Jacoby Ellsbury followed Headley with a walk to push another run across and the Yankees led 2-0.  

From that point, it became a pitching duel between Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka.  After experiencing trouble with a blister in the fifth inning, Stroman did not return for the sixth.  Tanaka (7-7), who has pitched like an ace since his match-up against fellow Japanese countryman Yu Darvish a couple of weeks ago, gave the Yankees seven strong innings.  The Jays finally scored a run against him the 7th inning when Ezequiel Carrera was hit by a pitch.  Carrera stole second but an errant throw by Gary Sanchez and an overthrown ball from the outfield allowed Carrera to take third.  Darwin Barney singled to left, scoring Carrera, and it was 2-1 Yankees.

With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead, Dellin Betances entered the game to start the 8th in relief of Tanaka.  Given his recent struggles, it was time to hold my breath.  Betances struck out Joey Bats with a 3-2 count, but then walked the dangerous Josh Donaldson.  I was growing concerned with Dellin’s control, but then he ended the inning with a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play.  Justin Smoak struck out, and then Sanchez drilled the ball to Chase Headley, covering second due to a shift, who nailed the sliding Donaldson for the final out.  That was a great confidence booster for Betances and hopefully it is the start of his return to bullpen dominance.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees were finally able to put together some offense in the bottom of the 8th when Jays reliever Ryan Tepera entered the game in relief of Danny Barnes.  Aaron Judge singled and moved to third when Gary Sanchez dropped a double in deep left, just beyond the reaching glove of Steve Pearce.  Didi Gregorius walked and the bases were loaded for Chase Headley.  He did not disappoint.  A double to right scored both Judge and Sanchez.  Following a strikeout by Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes came up and hit an infield squibber that Tepera grabbed and threw to catcher Luke Maile.  Maile converged with Gregorius, who was sliding headfirst into home, and the ball rolled away from Maile’s glove.  Headley came in to score the second run on the play, and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.  

On to the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman.  When Chapman first got up in the pen, the Yankees held the slim one-run lead.  But Chapman had to wait while the Yankees were scoring the four runs in the prior inning, which eliminated the save opportunity.  Chapman came into the game and continued to show the control problems that have plagued his recent outings.  Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a double.  Chapman was able to induce Steve Pearce into a groundout, while holding Morales at second.  Pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar came to the plate and laced a double down the third base line (looked foul to me), scoring Morales.  Darwin Barney singled to right to score Pillar and the Jays had closed to within three runs at 6-3.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

After Troy Tulowitzki struck out, former Yankee Russell Martin came to the plate in place of Luke Maile.  Joey Bats was in the on-deck circle, representing the tying run if Martin successfully reached base.  Martin hit a hard liner toward third that looked to be trouble but an excellent catch by Chase Headley ended the game.  

A little drama at the end, but it was a great win for the Yankees.  The positives were the continued strength of Masahiro Tanaka (his third consecutive ace-like performance) and the glove and bat of Chase Headley.  The negatives were the continued bullpen struggles, most notably Aroldis Chapman and the first base play of Chris Carter.  Twice, Carter hit into rally-killing double plays.  He stifled a scoring opportunity in the 4th with runners at first and second when he hit into the inning-ending DP, and had another opportunity in the 8th after Ronald Torreyes had reached base due to the fielder’s choice that had scored the Yankees’ final two runs but he weakly hit into another inning-ending DP.  Although he wasn’t charged with an error, his glove remains suspect at first base.  Every thrown or hit ball his way is cause for concern.  In the third, he muffed a grounder by Ryan Goins but fortunately Tanaka was there to take the toss from Carter for the out.  

Clint Frazier, making his Yankee Stadium debut, was 0-for-3, with 2 strikeouts.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees have got to get their two top bullpen pitchers back to form.  It was a good start for Betances but Chapman continues to be a concern.  If the score had still been 2-1, it most likely would have been another heart-breaking loss for the Yankees.  Too much work…not enough…somehow, Manager Joe Girardi has to find the right mix.  His cause should be greatly aided by the impending return of Adam Warren which allows all of the relievers to return to their early season roles when they were a very dominant group.  

The Yankees (44-37) remain three games behind Boston.  The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 7-5, in extra innings.  The Tampa Bay Rays had the day off so they slid to 2 1/2 games in back of the Yankees.  

Odds & Ends…

Gary Sanchez will join Aaron Judge for next Monday’s Home Run Derby as part of the festivities for the All-Star Game.  Together, they’ll represent half of the American League’s entrants in the competition, joining Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  The National League team will be comprised of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

CC Sabathia and Adam Warren have been activated off the DL for today’s game.  Making room are pitchers Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell, who were sent to Triple A.  I am mildly surprised that it was Mitchell and not Luis Cessa pegged for the trip to Scranton, PA.

The Blue Jays will have a new catcher on their roster today.  Miguel Montero, who lost his job with the Chicago Cubs after publicly criticizing Jake Arrieta and other Chicago pitchers for being “slow to the plate”, was acquired by Toronto on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Arrieta was on the mound when the Washington Nationals stole seven bases in a recent Cubs game.  

Get your AL All-Star Final Vote in for Didi Gregorius!  According to an update this morning, he is currently trailing Mike Moustakas and Xander Bogaerts.  C’mon NYY fans!  

Have a great 4th of July!  Hopefully the Yankees can provide the fireworks to make this a very memorable day for all of us!  Go Yankees!

Tanaka + Baby Bombers + 99 = 1 for the Win Column!…

Credit:  Associated Press

Yankees 12, White Sox 3…

Two young Bombers collected their first Major League hits to help power Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees to the victory over the Chicago White Sox.  Throw in another Aaron Judge home run and it was a good night at the office (even if it was a slightly wet and windy one).

When I saw the lineup card, I was a little concerned when I saw that two “fresh” rookies would be starting.  But on this night, they were exactly what the doctor ordered.  The Yankees jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.  Brett Gardner walked to open the game.  Following outs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and a passed ball that moved Gardy to second, Didi Gregorius reached first safely on a throwing error by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.  Gardy scored on the play.  Chase Headley and Austin Romine both walked to load the bases.  Miguel Andujar, a new arrival from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, stepped to the plate and chopped a single to center which scored Gregorius and Headley. 

Credit:  Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

Tanaka escaped a bases loaded jam in the 2nd but he wasn’t so lucky in the 5th.  After the White Sox opened the inning by loading the bases with two hits and a walk, former Yankee Melky Cabrera lined a single to left, scoring two runs.  Fortunately, Tanaka was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.  3-2, Yankees.

The Yankees wasted no time in re-establishing a multiple run lead.  In the top of the 6th, against Sox reliever Jake Petricka, Austin Romine doubled with one out.  After Miguel Andujar hit a grounder for the second out, Tyler Wade followed with his first Major League hit, a fly ball that dropped in for a double to score Romine.  Ronald Torreyes then laced a sharp double to right, scoring Wade.  5-2, Yankees.  White Sox manager Rick Renteria came out to talk to Petricka and was thrown out when he began jarring with the Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.  The Yankees two-out hit parade continued as Brett Gardner singled to center to score Torreyes.  Aaron Judge came up and lined “a bullet” to left for his 27th home run of the season.  8-2, Yanks.

Credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images

Tanaka (6-7) finished his day by striking out the side in the bottom of the 6th.  I really didn’t know what to expect out of Tanaka for this start.  I didn’t know if last week’s stellar performance against Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers was an aberration or a sign that Tanaka was back on track.  Fortunately, it appears the turbulence may be a thing of the past…or at least I hope so.  Tanaka’s final line was very solid.  6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 5 SO.  He threw 101 pitches, lowered his season ERA to 5.56 and most importantly, did not give up any home runs.  

It started to rain in the 7th inning.  It got a little tense in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Wade, playing left field, was charged with an error.  A fly ball that normally would have been destined for center field drifted toward left with the aid of the wind.  Brett Gardner, playing center field, was moving with the ball and attempted to catch it but so was the left-fielder Wade.  Their gloves collided causing the ball to bounce out of Gardy’s glove.  The White Sox put a second runner on base on another wind-aided fly ball that Ronald Torreyes missed.  There was also a fly in foul territory that normally would have been caught if not for the wind.  Despite a subsequent walk that loaded the bases, Chad Green was able to strike out Todd Frazier to end the threat.  Whew!  I was very worried that the wind was going to help the White Sox get back in the game.  I guess there’s a reason they call it the Windy City.

In the top of the 9th, Didi Gregorius hit a one-out two-run homer to increase the lead to 10-2.    In a bit of deja vu from earlier in the game, both Chase Headley and Austin Romine walked in front of Miguel Andujar.  Like the first inning, Andujar didn’t miss the opportunity.  He lined a double to center to score (again) both Headley and Romine.  Nice debut performance by Andujar with 4 RBI’s on the night.  He finished 3-for-4 with a stolen base.  He was probably left wondering what’s so hard about baseball at this level.

Chicago’s Adam Engel homered off Tyler Webb in the bottom of the 9th to make it 12-3 but then Webb settled down and retired the next three batters (two by strikeout).  The Yankees win!

Then it was off to bed for the Baby Bombers…

long-island-newborn-photographer_newborn-boy_baby-with-baseball_07(pp_w768_h510)

 

After so many close games and disappointing losses, it was nice to have a blowout.  The Yankees (42-34) moved back into a first place tie in the AL East with the win.  The Boston Red Sox lost to the Minnesota Twins, 4-1.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2, so they are three games back.  

Odds & Ends…

Former Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero, 27, is looking for a new team.  He was released on Tuesday by the Triple A Norfolk Tides, the top farm team for the Baltimore Orioles.  Montero recently completed a 50-game suspension for a banned substance and was only batting .143 in 49 at-bats with 14 strikeouts for the Tide. After Montero’s trade to the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 deal that brought Michael Pineda to New York, he has spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization in addition to his latest Minors stint with the O’s.  I guess that means the Red Sox or the Rays are on tap next.  It’s been a hard road for the player once billed to be the next greatest catcher for the Yankees.  Now he’s struggling to just stay in the game at first base or DH.  Sad story for the guy who was supposed to be Gary Sanchez before Gary Sanchez was.   

News started breaking early on Wednesday about the promotion of third base prospect Miguel Andujar to the Yankees.  Andujar had just been promoted from Double A Trenton to Triple A Scranton on June 19th.  In 67 games for the Thunder, Andujar had a slash line of .312/.342/.494 with 7 HR’s and 52 RBI’s.  Out of 79 total hits, 23 went for doubles.  He also had a team-high 10 errors.  In 7 games for the RailRiders, Andujar was hitting .308 with 1 HR and 2 RBI’s (8-for-26). It is a small sample size but he only committed one error at Triple A.  He hit well during Spring Training but his fielding was questionable. Nevertheless, he is known as an above-average defender.  He now has a golden opportunity to out-perform an over-priced, 33-year-old veteran.  Yesterday’s debut, even if he was at DH and not third, was a great start.

Credit:  ESPN.com

To make room for Andujar, the Yankees placed DH Matt Holliday (viral infection) on the 10-Day DL retroactive to June 25th.  Holliday has been battling the symptoms of the allergic reaction he first encountered in Oakland.  He’ll return to New York for further tests.  We wish Matt the best and hope to see him back on the  field in the near future.  


We thought the Chris Carter Experiment was over, but alas, it might not be.  The Yankees have announced that Carter, previously designated for assignment, has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple A. He now represents the next option should the Yankees decide it is necessary to place Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring).  So, just when you thought it was safe to watch a Yankees game again…


Happy Thursday!  One final game in Chicago before the getaway to Houston, Texas.  Let’s Go Yankees!

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!