Tagged: Matt Holliday

Sevy and the Blazing Fast Goose Eggs…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Yankees 3, Royals 0…

Luis Severino continued the recent albeit short trend of stellar pitching performances by Yankee starters.  Masahiro Tanaka excluded, the rotation has pitched to win the last four games.  Severino was tremendous, pitching eight innings.  He was still clicking the radar gun at 99 mph in the 8th.  By completing eight, Severino was able to pass the baton to Dellin Betances for the one inning save without relying on any of the tired arms in the pen. 

Severino (3-2) was incredible in the scoreless outing with a season high 114 pitches.  He allowed only one extra base hit (a double by Brandon Moss in the 5th inning) and did not allow any runners past second base.  Sevy only allowed four hits and walked one while striking out seven.  He lowered his season ERA to 3.11.

Jason Hammel kept the Yankees in check most of the night but the Pinstripers didn’t need much.  Didi Gregorius hit a solo homer in the third inning to give the Yanks an early 1-0 lead.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

In the 6th inning, the Yankees picked up another run through great-base running effort by Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez singled to open the inning and then stole second.  Thanks to a throwing error by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, Sanchez alertly raced on to third.  Matt Holliday brought him home with a sac fly.

The Yankees picked up their final run when Gregorius led off the 7th inning with a double.  A ground out by Chris Carter moved Gregorius to third, which brought Brett Gardner to the plate.  With two strikes, Gardner was the beneficiary of a called ball on a pitch by Royals reliever Matt Strahm that seemingly landed well within the strike zone.  It should have been the third strike for the second out of the inning but with the next pitch, Gardner singled to center to drive in the run.

Betances struck out the side in the 9th inning to earn his fourth save of the season, lowering his season ERA to 0.57.

The Yankees (27-17) moved 2 1/2 games up on the Baltimore Orioles.  Baltimore lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins and their fine rookie pitcher Jose Berrios.  The Boston Red Sox remained 3 1/2 games back with their 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

I want one of those guys…

Last night, Chris Sale of the Red Sox attempted to become the MLB pitcher in the Modern Era to record at least 10 strikeouts in nine straight games.  He failed but he is still the fifth pitcher since 1900 to reach 100 strikeouts in his first 10 starts.  It probably wasn’t one of his better games, but Sale still kept the game within reach for the Red Sox until their offense exploded for 7 runs in the 7th inning of their game against the Texas Rangers.  Sale finished the night with 7 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  

Credit:  Christopher Evans

Sale has such a presence when he is on the mound.  I can’t think of any potential trade targets that can match Sale as a frontline ace.  I remain hopeful that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me, but I think most of us know who the available trade suspects are.  

Gleyber Torres Watch (with a little Tyler Austin thrown in)…

It was another night at third base yesterday for Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Columbus Clippers, 5-0. 

Watching the RailRiders this closely shows me one thing.  Clint Frazier is on fire.  He hit his eighth home run (and 28th RBI) in the first inning of the RailRiders’ game against the Columbus Clippers on Wednesday.  He also had a two-run shot on Tuesday during Gleyber’s first game at the AAA Level.  But enough about ridiculously hot outfielders and how the Yankees like to keep them down while parading the $153 Million Man in center field at Yankee Stadium on a nightly basis.  Note:  To Jacoby Ellsbury’s defense, he was injured during last night’s game against the Royals when he collided into the outfield wall after making a catch.  He suffered a neck sprain and a concussion, and has been placed on the 7-Day DL.  I wish him no ill will and hope that he returns to the health sooner than later.  It does kind of make me wish that the padding on the outfield walls was a little more player-friendly.  Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to the Bronx to replace Ellsbury.  On performance alone, Frazier would have been the best option, but Refsnyder is already on the 40-Man Roster which was the difference-maker.  

Credit:  Andy Grosh/MiLB.com

Torres was a wee bit cooler than Frazier.  With an ‘O-fer’ night (0-for-3), he wasn’t really doing much with the bat but he did walk twice, stole a base, and avoided striking out.  All things considered, it was another game in the education and development of the Yankees premier prospect as he climbs the ladder for the eventual call to the Bronx.  

I thought Mike Ford did a good job for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the short time since his call-up.  In nine games, he hit 4 homers and 10 RBI’s, batting .306/.432/.750.  But he was returned to AA-Trenton yesterday when Ji-Man Choi was activated from the 7-Day DL for the RailRiders.  

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell

Maybe I should have re-named this section the Minor League Report.

As promised, here’s a little Tyler Austin…


Finally…

The Yankees conclude their four-game set against the Kansas City Royals this afternoon at 1:05 pm Eastern.  The Royals have announced a change in starters for the game as Miguel Almonte, called up on Tuesday from the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A), will replace Nathan Karns who was placed on the DL with forearm stiffness. He was 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 6 starts for the Naturals. For Almonte, the start at Yankee Stadium will be a treat.  “That was my favorite team growing up”, Almonte said yesterday through an interpreter.  No worries, Miguel, they are our favorite team too.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill for the Yankees in an outing that will probably have me watching the game between my fingers.  I really hope that he has rediscovered the touch and can continue the streak of solid pitching performances.  Otherwise, the fans in the outfield bleachers should receive hazard duty pay.
Have a great Thursday!  Why settle for two when you can take three??!!…

 

Despite Jeter, Yankees Unable To Turn 2…

Credit:  John Munson/NJ Advance Media

It was a majestic day as the Yankees honored Derek Jeter and officially hung No. 2 among the Legends in Monument Park.  Sadly, the Yankees were unable “Turn 2” as they lost the second game of the doubleheader following the Jeter ceremony.

In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the pink Yankees rallied, after falling behind, to win the game.  The Yankees opened the scoring in the first inning on a run-scoring groundout by Matt Holliday.  Sadly, Luis Severino did not have it for Mother’s Day and he fell apart in the third inning.  He opened the inning by hitting George Springer with a pitch, and then gave up a single to Josh Reddick.  After Jose Altuve hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Reddick out at second, the Astros put together a string of four singles to score three runs, ending Severino’s day.  Chad Green, called up earlier in the day from AAA, got Alex Bregman to hit into an inning-ending double play.  

As bad as Severino was, Green was terrific.  He went 3 2/3 innings, holding the Astros to only one hit and no runs.  He walked one and struck out three.  In the 4th inning, the Yankee tied the game with a two-run homer by Starlin Castro and then took a 4-3 lead in the next at-bat when Aaron Judge finally went deep again with his 14th home run of the season.

Credit:  Seth Wenig/Associated Press

The game stayed 4-3 until the top of the 7th inning with Adam Warren pitching.  A couple of singles, a walk, a fielding error by Starlin Castro and a sac fly allowed the Astros to re-take the lead, 6-4.  Heading into the bottom of the 7th after Austin Romine grounded out, Brett Gardner singled and Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, moving Gardner to third.  Matt Holliday, in a gutsy at-bat after falling behind 0-2, fought off a few pitches and singled in a failed diving attempt by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa which scored Gardner.  At that point, the Astros brought in Chris Devenski who has been virtually unhittable this year.  Apparently, Starlin Castro hasn’t been listening to how dominant Devenski is and he doubled to score Ellsbury.  After an intentional walk to Aaron Judge and a strikeout of Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley came to bat with the bases loaded.  On the TV telecast, Michael Kay was making comments about how Headley is due.  Then, as if Headley heard Kay, he laced a triple to right to clear the bases, putting the Yankees up 9-6.  Chris Carter doubled to score Headley, and the Yankees held a 10-6 lead after pushing six runs across the plate in the inning.

Brett Gardner added an insurance run in the 8th with a solo shot to center.  In probably his worst outing of the season, Adam Warren (1-0) picked up the victory.  Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless 9th inning to close out the game in a non-save situation.  Yankees win, 11-6.

The second game started very badly for starter Masahiro Tanaka.  From the beginning, Tanaka was struggling with each batter, and by the time Alex Bregman hit a grand slam, the Astros were up 6-0 before the Yankees had even taken an at-bat. When Tanaka was pulled after 1 2/3 innings, he had given up two home runs to George Springer and was trailing 8-0. Tanaka has given up 16 runs in his last 15 innings. Still, this was Derek Jeter’s day so I felt no lead was too much.  The Yankees almost proved me right.  In the 5th, trailing 9-0, the Yanks scored four runs on an RBI single by Brett Gardner and a three-run homer by Matt Holliday.  

In the 9th inning, after a passed ball had allowed Marwin Gonzalez to score to put the Astros up 10-4, the Yankees tried valiantly to erase the deficit.  A two-run single by Starlin Castro and a run-scoring single by Aaron Judge brought the Yankees within three runs at 10-7.  With two outs and runners at the corners, the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate with Aaron Hicks.  It could have been a signature moment for Hicksey but unfortunately he grounded out to end the game.  

It was a good job by the bullpen to limit the damage after the Tanaka disaster.  The two runs charged to the bullpen were both unearned.  They gave the team a chance to win despite the overwhelming early Astros lead.  

The doubleheader split left the Yankees with a 22-13 record (losing three of four to Houston).  However, thanks to Tuesday’s opponent (the Kansas City Royals), the Baltimore Orioles lost their fourth in a row in a 9-8 loss.  The loss allowed the Yankees to re-take sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game.  The Boston Red Sox also lost, 11-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The hottest team in the division at the moment is the cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays, winners of their fifth consecutive game.  

The Yankees were competitive with the Astros but unfortunately Houston proved the age-old adage, “good pitching beats good hitting”.  Things do not get any easier as the Yankees hit the road to Kansas City.  The Royals swept the O’s over the weekend with three one-run victories.  The Yankees will need better starting pitching than they received in the Astros series if they are to have any hope.  

Sunday morning started with disturbing news.  The Yankees announced they had placed closer Aroldis Chapman on the 10-Day Disabled List.  Clearly, something was not right with Chapman who failed to get out of the inning in his last two appearances.  A MRI showed no structural damage (whew!) so Chapman only needs rest.  He’ll avoid any baseball-related activities for two weeks and then he’ll resume throwing.  He’ll most likely need a rehab stint before he is activated so the current projection is that he’ll be out for a month.  In the interim, Dellin Betances will slide into the closer’s role with Warren, Holder and Tyler Clippard providing set-up.  There’s no doubt that Holder has been a Godsend this year and his presence helps ease the sting of losing Chapman.  Hopefully, the Betances that struggled last September was simply one that was tired after a long season.  Now, Betances has a chance for redemption.  If he proves successful, the Yankees need to take care of Betances financially this coming off-season and avoid penny-pinching him like they did during last year’s arbitration hearing.  

Recently, when top closers Zach Britton and Mark Melancon had been placed on the DL, I had expressed hope that the DL-epidemic would not impact the remaining elite closers, Chapman and Kenley Jansen.  Now, Jansen is the last man standing.  It definitely shows the value of having an elite set-up artist capable of filling in for a closing role.  

Chad Green was called up to replace Chapman.  Green is getting used to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx commute.  If he keeps pitching like he did in yesterday’s first game, he’s making an argument for why he shouldn’t go back to Pennsylvania.  

Here’s hoping that Chapman is able to fully recover with rest and is able to return on schedule next month.  

Despite the mixed results from the doubleheader and the loss of our closer, it was a special day.  The Jeter ceremony was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen and it will be a long-time before we see such a memorable event again.  Congratulations to Derek as he awaits the arrival of his first child, a child who almost certainly felt the magic of the day in his mother’s womb.  It was a good day, a very good day…

Credit:  Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News

Have a great Monday!  Yesterday was Jeter’s Day, today is your day.  

There’s Time For Sleep in November…

Sleep?  Who needs stinkin’ Sleep!  The Yankees arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 5:08 a.m. yesterday following their 18-inning marathon win over the Chicago Cubs and by the end of the day, they had their sixth consecutive victory with the 10-4 pounding of the Reds.  The Yankees treated their former top prospect Rookie Davis, banished to Ohio in the Aroldis Chapman trade, like, well, a rookie.  Run-scoring singles by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius put three runs on the board in the first inning and the sleepless Yanks were in charge early.

It was another okay, but not great, pitching performance by Masahiro Tanaka.  He definitely went the ‘bend but not break’ route in picking up his fifth win of the year.  The Reds had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning, trailing the Yankees by three.  But a pop out and a double play ended the threat.  It was probably the game-defining moment.

Credit:  John Minchillo/AP

In the seventh inning with former Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen on the mound, three Yankees were hit by pitches.  It wasn’t intentional but that’s a lot for one inning.  The last one, a pitch that hit Chase Headley on the bone just below his knee (ouch!) with the bases loaded, scored a run.  Ronald Torreyes, after being knocked down by a high, inside pitch from the wild Storen, singled to put the Yankees up 7-2.  The second runner, Gary Sanchez, was easily thrown out at the plate, for the final out.   

In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Tanaka running on fumes after reaching the 100-pitch mark, he walked Zach Cozart and then gave up a no doubt-about-it home run to Reds slugger Joey Votto.  With his 112th pitch, Tanaka somehow got Adam Duvall on a swinging strikeout to end the inning.  As Tanaka walked off the mound, he was clearly upset about the Votto home run but his night was done with the Yankees leading 7-4.

The eighth inning featured another long home run to right by Brett Gardner, scoring two runs, and a solo shot by Matt Holliday, playing his second straight game at first base.  

From there, it was up to the depleted Yankees bullpen.  With most of the relievers unavailable, the Yankees went with Tyler Clippard for the eighth.  Clippard was his usual self with a quiet inning that saw three up and three down.  I have to admit that I got a sick feeling to my stomach when I saw lefty Tommy Layne warming up for the ninth inning.  A six-run lead should make one feel fairly secure, but if any Yankee could blow a large lead, it’s Layne.  It didn’t help when the first batter reached on an infield single.  The next batter hit into a ground out but the Yanks were unable to turn a double play, capturing only the lead runner.  That brought the speedy Billy Hamilton to the plate.  Layne fell behind in the count very quickly with three successive balls.  I started to have chills, knowing the heart of the Reds order was coming up.  After a couple of well-placed strikes, Hamilton hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius.  This time, the Yankees were successful in turning the double play and it was game over.  Yankees win, 10-4.

The Yankees (21-9) maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s withstood a late challenge to beat their former catcher Matt Wieters and the Washington Nationals 6-4.  The O’s have won five in a row as they seemingly match the Yankees step-for-step on a nightly basis.  The Boston Red Sox had the night off.

Prior to yesterday’s game, there had been speculation the Yankees might send down Sunday night heroes Chasen Shreve and/or Jonathan Holder to bring up fresh arms.  But in the end, it was Rob Refsnyder who got the ticket to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  In his place, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chad Green.  

For the Reds, the loss cost them first place in the NL Central as they were overtaken by the St Louis Cardinals.  

The Yankees face a more challenging pitcher today in Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.22 ERA).  For the Yanks, CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA), who hasn’t instilled confidence in anyone except opposing hitters in recent starts, takes the mound.  I expect to see a much stronger Reds team today so hopefully the Yankees offense can rise up to the challenge.  It will be good to see a rested Aaron Judge back in the lineup.  

Tomorrow is a day off so the Yankees will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Have  a great Tuesday!  Let’s grab a W and head back to New York!

Resiliency-R-Us, Open All Night…

Credit:  MLB.com

When you have one of Baseball’s elite closers on the mound with a three run lead in the bottom of the 9th, it should be game over.  Sadly, it was an off night for Aroldis Chapman as he allowed three runs before being pulled from the game.  From that point, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the Chicago Cubs pulled off a walk-off.  Fortunately, these are not the 2016 New York Yankees.

In an 18-inning affair that lasted six hours and five minutes (sorry, I didn’t stay up), Aaron Hicks , Ronald Torreyes and Starlin Castro emerged as the heroes of heroes.  Leading off the 18th, Aaron Hicks bunted toward third and reached second thanks to a throwing error by Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras.  After a sacrifice bunt by Torreyes moved Hicks to third, he scored on a grounder to short by Castro.

When Chasen Shreve (1-0) struck out Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks at 2:13 a.m., the Yankees (20-9) had completed an improbable and very exhausting 5-4 victory.

It’s tough to play a night game on “getaway” day, but even tougher to play what essentially equates to a double-header in terms of innings played.  It was an incredible job by the bullpen for anyone not named Chapman.  Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder and Shreve combined for 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief following Chapman’s blown save.  The Yankees and Cubs set a Major League record for strikeouts with 48.  Yankees pitchers accounted for 26 of those K’s, including 9 by starter Luis Severino and 5 by Shreve.  The Cubs also set a record by using three pitchers as pinch-hitters.  

I am thankful the Yankees didn’t have to employ the last man standing in the bullpen (Tommy Layne) given his recent propensity for watching the opponent score while he is on the mound.  

Chapman’s underwhelming performance against his World Series teammates wasted another great start by Severino.  With a four-hitter in 7 innings of work while allowing only a single run (a 2nd inning home run by Javier Baez), he bested former Boston Red Sox nemesis Jon Lester and stood in line for the victory until Chapman let it get away.  A run scoring triple by Aaron Judge in the 7th inning had put Severino in position to win, with a two-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 8th for support.  But the Cubs, stealing a page from these exciting young Pinstripers, showed that the game is not over ’til it’s over…to borrow a line from legendary Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.  

Castro completed his three day Chicago reunion with 2 RBI’s despite an 0-for-8 night.  He also had a run-scoring ground-out in the first inning.  

The game had its humorous moment when left fielder Aaron Hicks lost sight of Baez’s home run ball.  That’s how I would play every inning…

Credit:  MLB.com

Matt Holliday did a solid job with his first Yankees start at first base.  He went 2-for-4 until he was lifted for pinch-hitter Chris Carter.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see Holliday play some more first base in Cincinnati.  Heck, at this point, the Yankees should probably play Aaron Hicks at first.  They have to find ways to keep that dude’s bat in the lineup.  

For the Yankees, they became only the second team to sweep the Cubs this season.  They maintained a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead.  The O’s had a broom of their own with a weekend sweep of the Chicago White Sox.  Sadly, the Red Sox won again after providing 17 runs for their ace, Chris Sale.  

The Yankees make a short hop to Cincinnati, Ohio for a game against former Yankees top pitching prospect Rookie Davis and the Cincinnati Reds later today.  I would generally say that the Yankees may be a little sluggish after the late night, but that would be underestimating the resiliency of this team.  It will be a challenge as the Reds (17-14) are the current leader in the NL Central, thanks to the Yankees’ sweep of the Cubs.  But if any team can find a way, I’ll take my chances with the Yankees.

Have a great Monday!  Hopefully we’re in line for a restful and victorious day!

I Left My Heart in San Fran…I mean, Chicago!…

Credit:  Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

ChiTown is spreading the love for our second baseman, Starlin Castro.  From comments by Cubs manager Joe Maddon “He was a great teammate here” to current Cubs players like Anthony Rizzo “He played hard and played every day”, the warm accolades about Castro are overflowing in the Chicago papers.  As Rizzo went on to say, “He was here for a while and part of this two-year run.  But I’m sure he was pulling for us.  I’m sure it would have been great for him to be a part of it, too, but I think a little part of him was.”

The Cubs will honor Castro before today’s game at Wrigley Field as a thank you for his contributions while a long-time member of the Cubs organization.  From the 2010 to 2015 seasons, Castro played in 891 games and batted .281/.321/.404.  He hit 62 home runs with 363 RBI’s and 75 stolen bases. 

I am sure that it will be tough for Castro to watch Adam Warren and Aroldis Chapman accept their World Series rings from Cubs President Theo Epstein and Maddon, considering he was part of the rebuilding effort that led to the championship run.  He played six seasons in Chicago’s North Side, while you could piece together only one season collectively for Warren and Chapman (if you include Warren’s time in the minors). 

Credit:  Jonathan Danie/Getty Images

I fully expect a loud and rousing ovation for Castro when he comes to bat for the first time today.  He has always said the right things about his time in Chicago and I don’t think I really understood before how willing Castro was to accept the position change from shortstop to second base during his final months as a Cub.  It had to have been a huge letdown but he didn’t complain or argue.  He embraced the change and has continued to improve as a second baseman.  

I am very happy that he’ll be recognized by the city of Chicago and Cubs fans.  But of course, once the first pitch is thrown, he is a Yankee and his job will be to beat the Cubs.

While three Yankees will be having fun reminiscing, one Yankee returns to the field of his arch-rival.  With so many years in St Louis as a member of the Cardinals, Wrigley Field is like a Yankee setting foot on Fenway Park turf for Matt Holliday.  He’ll have no trouble going to war when the games begin.  

Credit:  Getty Images

It will also be interesting to see how Chapman does.  I don’t expect any spillover from his negative comments about his handling by Joe Maddon in the World Series (the two have apparently talked and mended fences since then, plus Chapman was right).  I think Aroldis will be a pro when he takes the mound.  He played a huge role in getting the Cubs to the World Series and certainly deserves the ring he’ll receive.

Credit:  Jon Durr/Getty Images

I forgot to mention Yankees manager Joe Girardi as this is a homecoming for him too.  A Chicagoland native, he is also a former Cub (1989-1992, 2000-2002).  I am sure that he’ll have fun visiting with friends and family.  When I think of Girardi and the Cubs, it always reminds me of a very tragic day.  On June 22, 2002, Girardi, then the Cubs catcher, took the microphone to speak to the Wrigley Field crowd moments after a game with the Cardinals was scheduled to begin.  A very emotional Girardi spoke the words “I thank you for your patience.  We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinals family, the Commissioner has cancelled the game today.  I ask you to say a prayer for the St Louis Cardinals family.”  The crowd was silenced.  The name had not yet been released but we subsequently found out that Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile had been found dead (heart disease) in his hotel room. I have always admired Girardi for how he handled the situation that day even though he didn’t know Kile.  

Among the Coaching Staff, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild was the long-time pitching coach for the Cubs prior to his arrival in New York (from 2002 to 2010).  Bullpen coach Mike Harkey played for the Cubs in 1988 and 1990-1993.  

Here are the pitching match-ups for the Yankees-Cubs series:

FRIDAY

NYY:  Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.14 ERA)

CHC:  Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 4.18 ERA)

SATURDAY

NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.15 ERA)

CHC:  Brett Anderson (2-1, 6.23 ERA)

SUNDAY

NYY:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA)

CHC:  Jon Lester (1-1, 3.67 ERA)

Gary Sanchez is expected to be activated before today’s game.  He is the one guy capable of stealing ratings away from The Aaron Judge Show.  It’s going to be so much fun watching those two in the lineup together again.  It’s an awesome time to be a Yankees fan!

Credit:  Seth Wenig/AP

Have a great Friday!  Let’s show the World Champions that we can play this game!

The Rookies Have Been Judged…

Credit:  Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Live from New York, it’s The Aaron Judge Show!

Aaron Judge has been named AL Rookie of the Month for April.  He becomes the fourth Yankee to win the award.  The previous winners were Hideki Matsui (June 2003), Robinson Cano (September 2005), and Gary Sanchez (August 2016).

For the month, Judge was a little busy:

  • 1st in AL with 23 runs, .750 SLG
  • Tied for 1st in AL with 10 home runs
  • Tied for 5th in AL with 20 RBI’s

Judge was also the leader with exit velocity.  His homer off Greg Bird’s high school buddy, Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles, on April 28th had an exit velocity of 119.4 mph.  He was also seventh in the AL with the longest home run (457 feet).  I still expect Judge to top 500 feet at some point.  The current major league leader is Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks at 481 feet.  

I have not really had a favorite Yankee since Mariano Rivera retired but I am certainly a huge fan of Judge.  I just can’t decide who I like better…Judge or Gary Sanchez.  Well, I’d have to put Aroldis Chapman into the group as I’ve always loved a great closer dating back to the Rich “Goose” Gossage days, or maybe even Sparky Lyle.  All I know is that Judge and Sanchez are incredibly fun to watch.  Looking forward to getting the band back together this weekend when Sanchez returns from the DL.  

Congrats to Aaron for the AL Rookie of the Month Award.  I will really go out on a limb and say this is the first of many awards for the talented young slugger.  Seriously, I thought he was going to be good when he figured this level out but I was never expecting this type of performance.  There’s no way he can sustain it (can he?) but for now I’m enjoying the ride!

I was reading some columns on The Bleacher Report yesterday and I came across one that referenced the single thing every team should do right now.  For the Yankees, it was cutting Tommy Layne and promoting Luis Cessa.  I have to admit that I am probably on board with cutting Layne.  After his release by the Boston Red Sox last year, he did a decent job for the Yankees.  He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings pitched.  He gave up 10 hits, 6 runs, 7 walks, and struck out 13.  His WHIP was 1.063.  This year, at least for his last few outings, he’s been touched for runs.  He is currently carrying a 6.00 ERA in 6 innings pitched.  He has allowed 9 hits, 4 earned runs, and 3 walks.  He has struck out 7.  The innings aren’t sufficient to give great credibility to his WHIP but it is presently very high at 2.00.  Bottomline, Tommy Layne is what he is.  He will never be Andrew Miller and he is not a pitcher with great upside.  He’s replaceable.  The Yankees currently have a better lefty on the 25-man roster in Chasen Shreve.  I have no problem with cutting Layne loose to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.  As for who should take Layne’s place, I would not have any issues with Cessa.  I like him and think he provides a good option for long relief and rotation insurance as a potential back-end starter.  I remain a Bryan Mitchell fan, and there are probably a couple of other pitchers on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster that I could buy into over Layne.  

I feel every youth movement is best served with a combination of veterans and young talent.  If the veterans perform, they should stay.  If they don’t, I’d have no problems showing them the door.  But then again, I don’t write the checks.  I am tired of uneven and at times horrific play from overpaid, aging veterans.  I started to buy into the early season results of CC Sabathia but his last few starts have only reaffirmed that he is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was.  I am ready to move on.  I’d rather see a young pitcher learn at the Major League level like Jordan Montgomery is currently doing than pay an aged veteran who is just collecting paychecks until contract expiration or release.  CC has been great in the clubhouse but there are other guys who can rise to the challenge. I am more tolerant of mistakes by a young player who is learning than a veteran showing signs of decay.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

Speaking of Sabathia, the results were not pretty on Wednesday night.  Before the Yankees had even picked up a bat, CC had put the team in a 4-0 hole against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Justin Smoak delivered a run-scoring single in the top of the first inning and Steve Pearce, who had two homers the night before, followed with a three-run home run.  Fortunately, the Yankees answered quickly as Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run in the bottom of the frame, driving in three runs.  It seemed like it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night when the Blue Jays scored two more runs in the second inning to go up 6-3.  But these are the new and improved Yankees and when the April AL Rookie of the Month came to the plate with Starlin Castro on first base in the third inning, it was a one run game again as Judge sent a Marcus Stroman offering 426 feet over the center field wall.  Fortunately, Sabathia would not allow further damage although he was gone after just four innings.  His line for the night:  4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 SO.  In just two games, Sabathia’s ERA has gone from 2.70 to 5.45.  Sabathia pitched to two batters in the top of the fifth without recording an out, giving up a walk and a single.  Adam Warren came in and stopped the potential Jays rally.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees scored three runs to take the lead.  Two run scoring singles and a bases loaded walk put the Yankees up 8-6.  They could have gotten more runs, but Matt Holliday hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.  At that point, the game was in the hands of the dynamic duo, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

The Blue Jays didn’t threaten in those final two innings, although the game’s final batter, Russell Martin, had the benefit of four strikes before ending the game.  The umps missed a call when Martin swung and missed for an apparent third strike which subsequently bounced off his shoulder.  It should have been game over, but was not.  It took two more Chapman pitches, but the last one gave the Yankees closer his sixth save of the season.  The Yankees win, 8-6.  

Thanks to another Boston Red Sox victory over Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees (17-9) took sole possession of first place in the AL East.  There seems to be much bad blood in Boston between the O’s Manny Machado and the Red Sox.  I can’t help but think this plays into the Yankees’ hands for when Machado becomes a free agent in a couple of years.  There’s nothing better than beating the Red Sox wearing pinstripes.   

Today is an off day as the Yankees make their way to Chicago.  TV is going to be so boring tonight.  I have really gotten used to watching The Aaron Judge Show every day.  I guess I’ll just have to look forward to Friday afternoon when Michael Pineda takes the mound agains the Cubs.

Have a great and restful Thursday!

Fifteen wins for April? Sign me up…

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

All things considered, I’d rather talk about wins than losses…  

After reeling off two wins against the Baltimore Orioles, it felt like the chances were good for a sweep when the Yankees rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie Sunday’s game 4-4.  But unfortunately, luck ran out and the Yankees lost 7-4 as they now await the arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays later today.  

The loss dropped the Yankees to 15-8 and back into a tie for first place with the Orioles.

Although the Yankees had their chances late in the game, I thought the inability to push more runs across early in the game was key.  Had they broken open the game early, there would have been no need for late game heroics.  Through the first three innings, the Yankees left seven men on base.  The Yankees had runners on second and third with no outs in the second inning, but failed to score when O’s starter Wade Miley struck out Kyle Higashioka, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks in succession.

For the game, the Yankees left sixteen runners on base.  Still, they had a chance, thanks to a single by Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the ninth that scored Aaron Judge and Chase Headley to tie the game.  After Gregorius took second due to defensive indifference, the Yankees had runners at second and third.  Unfortunately, Chris Carter struck out to end the threat with a weak at-bat.  

From there, things got interesting.  Manager Joe Girardi moved reliever Bryan Mitchell, who had pitched the top of the ninth, to first base, and brought in Aroldis Chapman.  By keeping Mitchell in the game, the Yankees lost the DH spot in the lineup as it was taken by the new pitcher.  Had the Yankees won the game in the bottom of the tenth, it would have been a brilliant move.  Mitchell did commit one error (dropped foul pop) but Chapman prevented any other damage.  Sadly, with no DH, Matt Holliday was out of the game, and the Yankees had to pinch hit Greg Bird with the winning run at third base and only one out.  Bird was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and the next batter, Starlin Castro, hit into a force out that got Austin Romine out at the plate.  With the bases still loaded and two outs, Aaron Judge had a chance to send his team to victory, but it was not meant to be as he struck out.  

The lost chances eliminated the Yankees’ hopes for a win as the Orioles scored three runs in the top of the eleventh against Bryan Mitchell, who had moved back to pitching from first base to replace Chapman at the start of the inning.  

It was a frustrating set of circumstances that led to the lost DH but I do not fault Girardi for trying to get creative.  With a depleted bullpen, the Yankees did not have the men for an extended extra inning affair.  I would have preferred to have seen Holliday batting in the tenth with the winning run 90 feet away but you cannot fault Girardi’s logic.  He was trying to win a game and it could have (coulda, woulda, shoulda) worked out.  

I am not going to worry about a loss on April 30th.  The Yankees are still playing very well, and there’s nothing about yesterday’s loss that can detract from the excitement about the team.  If the Yankee took two games out of three for every series, they’d be in excellent shape.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Tonight, the Yankees begin a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.  After a horrific start to the season, the Blue Jays are starting to win.  They took two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend.  This will be a big test for the young Yankees.

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

MONDAY

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.70 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-1, 3.00 ERA)

TUESDAY

Blue Jays:  Mat Latos (0.00, 3.27 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 4.20 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (2-2, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (2-1, 4.34 ERA)

The former Yankees in this series are Blue Jays starting catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Steve Pearce.

Speaking of ex-Yankees, infielder Pete Kozma, who had been designated for assignment when Didi Gregorius returned, has been claimed by the Texas Rangers.  To make room for Kozma, the Rangers demoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar to Triple-A.  Best of luck to Kozma and thanks to him for his brief efforts in the Bronx.

As for current Yankees, catcher Gary Sanchez begins a rehab assignment with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow with eyes on returning this weekend at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  

Have a great Monday!  Let’s get this machine back in the win column!