Tagged: Matt Holliday

The Puzzling Case of Pickles…

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Yanks Get Double Treat on Saturday…

The Yankees swept the day/night doubleheader in Baltimore on Saturday, and find themselves only seven games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East (just six games back in the loss column). The Yankees took the day game by a score of 10-3 behind the pitching of J.A. “Happer” Happ, his fifth consecutive Yankees victory, and then swept the doubleheader by defeating the O’s 5-1 in the nightcap, a win delivered courtesy of Sonny “Pickles” Gray.

Granted, Gray was facing the worst team in Major League Baseball and they weren’t playing at Yankee Stadium so he had the right conditions for a stellar game. The last time “Pickles” had faced Baltimore, he was pounded for seven runs in only 2 2/3 innings (a 5-7 loss to the O’s on August 1st but that game was in the Bronx. He pitched six scoreless innings of three-hit ball against the Orioles at Camden Yards on July 11th and has only given up one run to Baltimore in three Camden Yards starts this year. He clearly likes pitching in Baltimore even if he can’t pitch anywhere else so I temper Saturday night’s performance. Still, it was a win and that’s what matters most. Gray threw 79 pitches in 6 1/3 innings, limiting Baltimore to three hits and no runs.  He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter until the final guy he faced in the bottom of the 7th inning.

After the game, Gray proclaimed himself as “one of the best starting pitchers in this league” which I thought was a bit much. Maybe he was saying it for the benefit of O’s GM Dan Duquette (future trade possibilities), given his propensity for ‘elite-like’ games in Baltimore. His statement could not have been meant for Yankee fans because we know better. Good for Gray to have confidence, but he shouldn’t rush out to buy shelf space for a Cy Young Award.

Perhaps the disappointment of the night game was the inability of reliever Tommy Kahnle to preserve the shutout for “Pickles”. It was a messy bottom of the ninth as Kahnle gave up three hits, the last one a single by Yankees castoff Jace Peterson which scored Trey Mancini with Baltimore’s only run. Manager Aaron Boone was forced to bring in Dellin “El Acido” Betances to get the final out with two runners on base. Fortunately, he struck out Caleb Joseph on five pitches to prevent an Orioles rally and gained his first save of the season. There’s no way that should have ever been a save situation and it reinforces why Tommy Kahnle has a long way to go before he can be a trusted member of the bullpen again.

In the day game, I was a little worried when J.A. Happ gave up two runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning which gave the O’s a one-run lead. He has pitched so well for the Yankees since his acquisition in July and it is inevitable that the wheels will fall off. Happ is exactly the type of trading deadline deal you want to make. Acquire a guy who outperforms his time with his previous club and just wins down the stretch.  The Yankees other lefty July trade target, Cole Hamels, is doing a tremendous job for the Chicago Cubs, but I agree that Happ was the right choice given his AL East experience. Happ ended up with yet another quality start, holding the O’s to just those two runs on five hits over six innings for his 15th win of he year. Happ (15-6) walked a batter and struck out nine and is only a win behind Luis Severino. Luis Cessa, the 26th man, finished up the final three innings for his first save despite the blowout.

Miguel “Papá ” Andujar, who has become everybody’s favorite choice for AL Rookie of the Year, hit his 21st home run in the first game with 4 RBI’s to pace the Yankees. Aaron “Hicksie” Hicks had three hits and 2 RBI’s. Luke “Louis” Voit got the start in the first game over Greg Bird, and delivered a run-scoring single. Brett “Gardner” Gardner also chipped in a couple of RBI’s and Gleyber “GT” Torres, with two hits, had an RBI as well.

In the night game, Gardy, Hicks, and Giancarlo “G” Stanton all contributed an RBI, and Austin “Ro” Romine smacked an insurance-providing solo homer in the top of the ninth. Greg “Bird” Bird finally got the start after two successive starts by Luke Voit. He responded to the challenge for his position by going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

The Yankees (82-47) play the Boston Red Sox six more times with three games in New York and three in Boston. The New York series is Tuesday, September 18th through Thursday, September 20th, while the Boston series finishes the regular season on Friday, September 28th to Sunday, September 30th. It’s still an uphill battle but the division title remains within reach if the cards fall right for the Yankees. Getting everybody healthy is the first course of business.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe had some interesting comments about the Yankees in his weekly Sunday Baseball Notes.  He stated the Indians and the Yankees “were exploring the possibility of (Andrew) McCutchen, who has cleared waivers and can be traded anywhere”. I find it hard to believe the Yankees would add McCutchen due to the luxury tax threshold limitations but I guess you can never underestimate GM Brian Cashman. I wouldn’t mind seeing McCutchen in pinstripes but then again, he’s a redundant luxury once Aaron Judge returns to good health. Cutch does have that “it” factor and could be capable of delivering huge hits when it matters the most even if he is no longer the player he once was for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cafardo also said the Yankees were in the hunt for Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner at the July trading deadline but found the price too high. Bummer, I would have loved Mad-Bum on the Yankees. Of course, I have no idea what the Giants asked for. Handing over our ten best prospects probably would not have been a good idea. LOL! I doubt that was the cost but it probably wasn’t too far off.

Congrats to former Yankee Matt Holliday for his return to the Majors with his original team, the Colorado Rockies. Holliday was unable to wear his original number (5) since it now belongs to long-time Rockie Carlos Gonzalez and the number he wore with the Yankees (17) is retired in honor of Rockies great Todd Helton. So Holliday opted for number 7 which of course is a hallowed number around here. Holliday went hitless in his Rockies debut on Friday after an absence of ten years in a Colorado uniform but he delivered a pinch hit homer yesterday against another one of his former teams, the St Louis Cardinals.

The Yankees conclude their series at Camden Yards today. Luis Severino (16-6, 3.28 ERA) will face Dylan Bundy (7-12, 5.31 ERA) tonight at 8 pm ET before the team heads home (sleep?  who needs stinkin’ sleep!). It would be great if Sevy could pitch like he did in the first half. We need THAT guy hitting all cylinders for the sprint to the finish. Baltimore is going to lose 100 games this season with or without our help. We might as well move them one game closer. With the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers on tap for the seven-game homestand starting Monday, the Yankees must continue to put the pressure on the Beantown Bunch.  These are the games that we can and should win before we face the Wild Card contending Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners on the the last West Coast trip of the regular season starting on Labor Day.

Go Yankees!

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Roll Call for Tampa…

The Smell of Spring…

Spring Training is just around the corner, with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tampa within the next ten days (no later than Tuesday, February 13th). First workout will be on Valentine’s Day.  Yes, we love those pitchers and catchers, especially when they wear Pinstripes.

Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)

Here is the complete list of the Yankees’ 40-man roster plus non-roster invitees (identified below as “NR” in lieu of numbers). The numbers are according to the Yankees website through MLB.com. It appears that Austin Romine has taken Joe Girardi’s old number, thanks to his loss of #27. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have been given high numbers which means nothing will be handed to them, although, as it stands right now, both are projected to be on the MLB Roster on Opening Day or shortly thereafter.

PITCHERS

87 Albert Abreu

88 Domingo Acevedo

NR Chance Adams

68 Dellin Betances

NR Cody Carroll

NR Cale Coshow

85 Luis Cessa

54 Aroldis Chapman

NR Raynel Espinal

NR J.P. Feyereisen

62 Giovanny Gallegos

63 Domingo German

55 Sonny Gray

57 Chad Green

NR David Hale

61 Ben Heller

65 Jonathan Holder

48 Tommy Kahnle

NR Brady Lail

NR Wade LeBlanc

89 Jonathan Loaisiga

47 Jordan Montgomery

30 David Robertson

52 CC Sabathia

40 Luis Severino

NR Justus Sheffield

45 Chasen Shreve

19 Masahiro Tanaka

NR Dillon Tate

43 Adam Warren

NR Taylor Widener

CATCHERS

NR Francisco Diaz

38 Kyle Higashioka

NR Erik Kratz

NR Chace Numata

28 Austin Romine

NR Jorge Saez

24 Gary Sanchez

INFIELDERS

67 Miguel Andujar

26 Tyler Austin

33 Greg Bird

NR Danny Espinosa

90 Thairo Estrada

18 Didi Gregorius

NR Kyle Holder

NR Jace Peterson

NR Nick Solak

81 Gleyber Torres

74 Ronald Torreyes

39 Tyler Wade

OUTFIELDERS

66 Jabari Blash

70 Jake Cave

22 Jacob Ellsbury

NR Estevan Florial

77 Clint Frazier

11 Brett Gardner

31 Aaron Hicks

99 Aaron Judge

71 Billy McKinney

27 Giancarlo Stanton

There is still time for these 60 names to change and there probably will be some tweaks before camp actually opens. At any rate, it will be very exciting to see many of these players on the field in the not-so-distant future. Position players must report by Sunday, February 18th, with the first full workout scheduled for the next day. The Yankees open their Spring Schedule in 20 days against the Detroit Tigers at Steinbrenner Field (1:05 pm EST, February 23rd).

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters (Kim Klement)

It was sad to read this weekend that Matt Holliday, who would still like to play, has received no offers. Hopefully somebody gives him the opportunity for his Swan Song. He was a tremendous force on the Yankees last year until he was derailed by the Epstein-Barr virus. Unfortunately, I see no room for him on the Yankees but he’d be a tremendous player/coach/mentor for a team wiling to give him the opportunity.

Photo Credit: New York Post

I won’t lie…there is a part of me that hopes the Yankees find a way to sign Yu Darvish. Bryan Van Dusen (@BryanV_TGP) posted the following question on Twitter this morning:  “Does Yu Darvish want to be a Yankee so bad that he’s willing to wait as long as possible, just in case they free up enough money? Or is this a ridiculous question by a desperate #Yankees fan?”  Logic tells me that it will never happen. Even if the Yankees freed up more salary space, there’s probably other areas of greater need than handing a multi-year contract averaging more than $20 million annually to a thirty-something pitcher. Plus, there are young, talented (and cheap) pitchers on the immediate horizon with Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Albert Abreu and others. But still, it’s nice to think about what Darvish would look like in the Yankees rotation. I have no problem with the Yankees getting greedy…

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tim Bradbury)

This weekend represents the official end to the NFL season with Super Bowl 52 on Sunday. Nothing against Tom Brady and his eventual path to the NFL Hall of Fame, but I’ll have to go with the underdog Philadelphia Eagles. I have no desire to back any team from Boston. It probably helps that I am not a New York Giants fan so I am not opposed to backing the Eagles. There’s probably a lot of truth in the statement that only Patriots and Giants fans want to see New England win (although I am sure there are a few Cowboys and Redskins fans in that category too). So, on Sunday, I’ll be cheering for Tommy Kahnle…

Photo Credit: MLB.com

Go Yankees!

“B” Team Bats Go Down Quietly To End Regular Season…

Credit:  MLB.com

Blue Jays 2, Yankees 1…

I can’t say that I went into this game feeling very strongly about a win or loss.  In the grand scheme of things, the playoff format has been decided so it didn’t really matter if the Yankees went 92-70 or finished 91-71 (which they did).  They still finished second in the American League East and hold home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday. Despite holding the Blue Jays to two hits, the Yankees were unable to muster any significant offense and lost by a run.

The Yankees lineup featured many backup players as key starters got the day off in advance of the AL Wild Card game. The only notable starters were Todd Frazier and Starlin Castro. Chase Headley got the start at first base, but he’s probably the team’s DH heading into the post-season. Greg Bird got into the game later.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

It was nice outing for Jordan Montgomery. He held the Blue Jays scoreless until the top of the 4th inning. Richard Urena worked a one-out walk.  Justin Smoak singled to right on a grounder that went just past the glove of Tyler Wade, with Urena moving to third. Jose Bautista, making perhaps his final start as a Blue Jay, lofted a high fly to center. Urena scored on the sacrifice as the throw from Aaron Hicks was off line. 

Credit:  Associated Press

I thought the Yankees had a chance to potentially pick up a run in the bottom of the 4th. Tyler Wade singled to left barely over the stretched glove of shortstop Richard Urena with one down. While Matt Holliday was batting, Wade appeared to steal second to move into scoring position. However, replay showed that the tag was applied before Wade reached the base as Urena’s foot blocked the base to prevent Wade from touching the bag. Matt Holliday flied out to end the inning so the Yankees were still down by a run.

Credit:  Getty Images

Montgomery made it into the 6th inning, striking out Ryan Goins. But that was all for Monty’s successful rookie campaign as Manager Joe Girardi took the ball and turned it over to Adam Warren. 5 1/3 innings for Montgomery. Two hits, a walk and a run.  He struck out three batters for the eventual no-decision. 

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Adam Warren, making his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list, retired the two batters he faced to end the inning and show that he’s ready to be a potential weapon for Tuesday night.  

Warren retired the only batter he faced in the top of the 7th (pop out by Justin Smoak) and was replaced by Domingo German.

With Blue Jays reliever Danny Barnes on the mound in the bottom of the 7th, Matt Holliday homered into the left field seats with one out, a solo shot. The game was tied at 1.   It looked like the Yankees might get more when Greg Bird followed with a walk. Miguel Andujar doubled to left center (ball dropped in front of a sliding Teoscar Hernandez), with Bird moving to third and there was still only one out. But the Yankees couldn’t get either runner home as both Austin Romine and Clint Frazier grounded out to leave the runners stranded.

The Blue Jays scored the eventual winning run in the top of the 8th despite no hits. With Domingo German still pitching, Rob Refsnyder reached first base after striking out when Austin Romine couldn’t catch a wild pitch from German (a low pitch that hit the ground behind the plate and bounced away).  Ezequiel Carrera walked, with Refsnyder advancing to second. Darwin Barney laid down a good sacrifice bunt with two strikes to push the runners to second and third. Ryan Goins took advantage of the runner at third with perhaps the shortest RBI I’ve seen this year, a slow dribbler that went no more than 10 feet. Refsnyder came home to score as the only play was to get the runner at first. The Blue Jays had  recaptured the lead, 2-1. German struck out Teoscar Hernandez to get out of the inning but the Jays had the run they would need to win the game.

From there, the Yankees couldn’t do anything against Toronto relievers Ryan Tepera and Roberto Osuna with Greg Bird popping out to the shortstop Richard Urena for the final out to end the game. It would have been nice to close out the season with a win but as I stated when I started this blog post, it didn’t really matter one way or the other. It’s hard to take momentum from a game when most of the starters are sitting on the bench.  

The second-place Yankees (91-71) finish the season two games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox (93-69) fell to the Houston Astros, 4-3, as those two teams prepare to resume their battle in Houston, Texas with Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday. The Minnesota Twins, the Yankees opponent on Tuesday, beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-1, to finish the season at 85-77.  

It’s been a long, run season and I hope that it continues beyond Tuesday. If not, I feel that Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner has been given the message that this team is ready to compete now and that he needs to ensure the team is given the best possible chance for success in 2018. 

GM Brian Cashman and Amateur Scouting Director Damon Oppenheimer presented Aaron Judge with an inscribed Waterford Crystal Gavel for his rookie record of 52 home runs.

Next Up:  American League Wild Card Game, Minnesota Twins versus New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

Here it is…do or die. We’ve endured the rigor of 162 regular season games and the pay-off is a chance to advance to the American League Division Series. Win or lose, this has been a tremendous year for the Yankees. They’ve surprised the experts who didn’t expect the Yankees to contend this quickly. The Minnesota Twins have had an excellent year as well, going from a team that lost 100 games in 2016 to a play-off contender.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups. Suffice it to say that every pitcher on both teams will be ready for the call.  

Tuesday, October 3rd, 8:00 pm ET

Twins:  Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA)

This should be a great game! The winner advances to play the Indians for Game 1 of the ALDS in Cleveland on Thursday.  

 

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees announced on Sunday that “they will significantly expand the protective netting during the upcoming off-season at both Yankee Stadium and George M Steinbrenner Field”. The action comes after the young girl was hit in the mouth on a foul ball by Todd Frazier on September 25th.  

The managerial firings should begin shortly. It’s been announced after much speculation that Terry Collins will not be returning to the dugout for the New York Mets in 2018.  He’ll move into a front office position. Ironically, neither of the AL Wild Card managers have a contract beyond this year. I guess Tuesday will have a say in their respective futures although you’d have to believe that both would be back after unexpectedly successful seasons.  

Have a great Monday! Enjoy the day off, and let’s get ready to root, root for the home team on Tuesday night. Go Yankees!

I Get My Hicks Above The Fenceline, Sunshine…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Rays 1…

Tuesday night, Aaron Hicks found himself back in the starting lineup after his latest stint on the disabled list. Not a moment too soon as A-A-Ron sparked the Yankees to victory with his superior catch in the first inning.

The game didn’t start so well for young Mr Jordan Montgomery. Kevin Kiermaier got the game started with a single up the middle to center field. Stephen Souza, Jr singled through the hole at short into shallow left field. Montgomery had Evan Longoria on a full count but lost him with Ball Four. The bases were loaded full of Rays with no outs. Monty finally struck out Logan Morrison to secure the first out. Wilson Ramos was up next and he blasted a shot over the center field wall for a grand slam…no, wait…Aaron Hicks with the spectacular over the fence catch for the second out!  Kiermaier tagged and scored on the play. I am not a math major but I’ll take a 1-0 deficit over 4-0 any day. Montgomery struck out Adeiny Hechavarria, who has seemed to feast on Yankees pitching this year, to end the inning. Whew! Monty and the Yankees dodged a major bullet.

The Yankees had two runners on base in the bottom of the 1st inning, courtesy of walks by Rays starter Blake Snell, but they were unable to score.  

The top of the 2nd went more smoothly for Montgomery as he set down the Rays in order…three up, three down.  No drama…just the way I like it.

In the bottom of the inning, Starlin Castro led off with a home run into the  left field bleachers to tie the game.  Star-light, Star-bright!

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The inning continued as consecutive singles by Todd Frazier, Clint Frazier and Ronald Torreyes loaded the bases. Aaron Hicks picked up the go-ahead RBI when he took a walk to bring the Toddfather home. Next up, Aaron Judge walked on four pitches to bring Red Thunder home. The Yankees were up, 3-1. The Rays pulled Snell, who hadn’t lost a game since late July, and replaced him with Chaz Roe. Gary Sanchez lined out to first, with Judge staying put, but the Rays caught Hicks off second (he couldn’t get back in time) to complete the double play. With Matt Holliday batting, Judge stole second so the Yankees had runners at second and third. Roe uncorked a wild pitch that got by Wilson Ramos all the way to the backstop, and Torreyes ran home with the fourth run of the inning. Judge moved to third but he was left stranded when Holliday flied out to center.

Jordan Montgomery kept the Rays off the board through the 6th inning and turned the game over to the bullpen in the 7th. Tommy Kahnle was up first and he retired the Rays in order, including the last two by strikeout. David Robertson took over in the 8th. He walked the first batter, Stephen Souza, Jr, but the runner did not advance past first base as D-Rob retired the next three Rays.

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In the bottom of the 8th, with Rays reliever Austin Pruitt on the mound, Ronald Torreyes drew a one-out walk. While Brett Gardner was at bat, a wild pitch allowed Toe to move to second. Gardy grounded out to second, advancing Toe  to third. Aaron Judge walked to put runners at the corners. After a brief delay that saw Home Plate Umpire Dan Bellino toss a fan for tipping pitches, Gary Sanchez singled on a fly that dropped in front of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (to my surprise) which brought Toe home to score. Matt Holliday reached on an infield single to short that Adeiny Hechavarria wasn’t able to field cleanly (made a running stop on the grounder in shallow left but the ball dropped out of his glove) allowing Sanchez to slide safely into second just ahead of the throw. Judge scored on the play and the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1. Chase Headley grounded out, back to the pitcher, but the Yankees took the five run lead to the 9th.

Dellin Betances, who I thought should have pitched in Monday’s win over the Royals, entered the game in the non-save situation. A ground out and two fly outs on seven pitches, Game over. I was very glad to see a clean (and short) outing by Betances. The Yankees win!

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees (88-69) picked up another game on the Boston Red Sox with the win. The Sox lost to the Toronto Blue Jays for the second consecutive day. The Blue Jays won the game, 9-4, behind J.A. Happ. The loser for the Sox was Chris Sale, a loss that might tilt the AL Cy Young Award toward Cleveland’s Corey Kluber. The Yankees trail the Sox by three games with five to play. The Yankees secured home-field advantage for the Wild Card game with the win although they have not given up on the AL East championship. The Minnesota Twins won yesterday, 8-6 over the Cleveland Indians, and lead the second Wild Card spot by five games over the Los Angeles Angels.  

It was a great rebound by Jordan Montgomery (9-7). Lately, it has seemed like most of his struggles happen early. The Rays could have changed the complexion of the game with a first inning grand slam but Monty persevered after the incredible catch by Aaron Hicks. In six innings of work, he scattered six hits to hold the Rays to the single first inning run. He walked only one batter (the first inning walk of Evan Longoria), and struck out five.  The dude looks to be a strong piece for the rotation in 2018.
Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Hats off, again, to the Bullpen with three hitless innings of relief.
Starlin Castro was 3-for-3, including the second inning home run. It’s great to see him hitting again and just in time! No home runs for Aaron Judge after two consecutive multi-homer days, but he was in the mix with a run batted in, his 109th, thanks to the bases loaded walk and a run scored.
Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Odds & Ends…
I attended a few games at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN several years ago so, apparently, I am still on the Minnesota Twins mailing list. I received the notice that the Twins’ American League Division Series tickets go on sale on Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. CT. A bit of wishful thinking of their part. Hopefully, the Yankees can ensure those tickets are never used.
The Rays have made a pitching change for the series finale on Thursday. Alex Cobb had been the scheduled starter. With their season nearing its end, Rays manager Kevin Cash decided that Cobb had reached his season innings limit (179 innings in 2017 after only 22 in 2016). Jacob Faria (5-4, 3.33 ERA) will get the start versus Sonny Gray.
Have a great Wednesday! I’d like a win and maybe a couple of Aaron Judge home runs today, please. Go Yankees!

Mr McGwire, I Believe You Have My Seat…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Getty Images

Yankees 11, Royals 3…

Welcome to the Aaron Judge Show!  Number 99 entered the game trailing Mark McGwire’s MLB Rookie Home Run Record of 49 by one homer. He departed the game, two homers later, as the new record holder. All Rise for the Judge!

Oh yeah, they played a game too…

The Yankees got on the board first. After CC Sabathia retired the Royals in order in the top of the 1st inning, Brett Gardner led off the Yankees’ half with a single that dropped in right center field. After Aaron Judge flied out to center (a warning track fly that drew awes from the crowd), Gary Sanchez doubled to deep right into the corner with Gardner holding up at third. Didi Gregorius hit a grounder to first for the second out, but Gardy scored on the play. Sanchez moved to third. Unfortunately, he was left stranded when Matt Holliday struck out. Yankees were up, 1-0.

As Sabathia made his way through the Royals lineup in vintage 2009 fashion, the Yankees struck again in a big way in the bottom of the 3rd. Royals starter Jake Junis gave Brett Gardner a free pass on five pitches with one out. Aaron Judge came to the plate and demolished a Junis pitch into the right field stands to increase the Yankees’ lead to 3-0. The home run was Judge’s 49th of the year, tying the MLB Rookie Record held by Mark McGwire (set in 1987).  

While Sabathia was holding the Royals scoreless, the Yankees got on the board again in the bottom of the 6th. Didi Gregorius hit a one-out single to left on a short hop to left fielder Melky Cabrera. He came around to score on a double to the left field wall by Matt Holliday. Didi didn’t have to stand on second base very long as Greg Bird followed with a home run to the second deck in right. The Yankees had increased their lead to 6-0.  

As great as Sabathia was pitching (three hits over six scoreless innings), I thought bringing him out for the 7th inning might be pushing our luck. Eric Hosmer led off with a single to left just over the glove of Didi Gregorius. Salvador Perez made it a 6-2 game with a home run to left. I thought surely Joe Girardi would make a move at that point but he didn’t. With CC’s 80th pitch, the bat of Mike Moustakas said “big mistake”, homering to right to cut the deficit to three runs. 

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

Finally, Girardi made the move and ended Sabathia’s day. As great as CC can be at times, he is no longer more than a 5-6 inning guy. I know, it’s easy to second guess but I just don’t trust Sabathia past the 6th inning anymore. Plus, with the plethora of arms in the pen, it’s not really necessary.  Chad Green entered the game. He walked the first batter he faced, Jorge Bonifacio. Alcides Escobar hit a fielder’s choice to short, forcing Bonifacio out at second. Escobar was too quick for the Yankees to turn the double play. Green struck out Paulo Orlando for the second out and was finally able to end the inning when he got Whit Merrifield to ground out to second in an 8-pitch at-bat. It was a tough inning for Yankees pitching but fortunately the Yankees were able to hold the Royals after the back-to-back homers.

With Trevor Cahill on the mound, Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with a single that dropped into center field. Brett Gardner momentarily dampened spirits when he hit into a double play at second. Very close play at first as it looked like Gardy may have beat the throw, but the Yankees did not challenge. But no fear, Aaron Judge stepped up and broke the tie with McGwire for the MLB Rookie HR Record when he blasted Cahill’s offering into the left field seats for his 50th home run. Gary Sanchez wasted no time, jumping all over Cahill’s first pitch, to deposit another ball, a bullet, into the left field seats for consecutive home runs. The Yankees subsequently loaded the bases on a single and two walks, but Todd Frazier grounded into a force out at third to end the inning. Still, the Yankees had increased their lead to 8-3.

Credit:  Seth Wenig-AP

With no offense to Dellin Betances, I love having David Robertson in the 8th inning to set up Aroldis Chapman. He came in and struck out the side to push the game to the bottom of the 8th. I get fired up watching D-Rob pitch and the way he runs off the field when the inning is over. I enjoyed him replacing Mariano Rivera as the team’s closer a few years back and I enjoy him now in whatever role he can be afforded as long as he’s on the field pitching.  

In the bottom of the 8th, Ronald Torreyes hit a one-out double to right, a ball that dropped in between a crowd of Royals. A throwing error by the right fielder, Jorge Bonifacio (ball got past Alcides Escobar at second), allowed Toe to advance to third. Last time, Brett Gardner hit into a double play to erase Toe. This time, Gardy doubled down the right field line to make it a 9-3 game. Aaron Judge walked (I wouldn’t have thrown him anything to hit either) and he left the game to an ovation when he was replaced at first base by pinch-runner Clint Frazier. Gary Sanchez singled to left on a line drive to load the bases and there was still only one out. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Gardy, to keep the bases full of Yanks. Matt Holliday lofted a fly ball to right, deep enough to score Clint Frazier on the sacrifice. Greg Bird finally brought the inning to a close when he popped out to third, but the Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.

Actually, this probably would have been a great spot to bring in Dellin Betances but Girardi opted to go with Tommy Kahnle. A good choice but I’d really like to see Betances continuing work out of his funk and an 8-run lead would have been good placement for him. Kahnle walked a batter but it was otherwise a quiet inning as the Royals went down without advancing the runner. The Yankees win!

The Royals can probably have t-shirts made up that say “I went to NYC for one day and all I got was a butt-kicking”. I am sure that all things considered, they wish they had ended this series back in May. The loss most likely ended any aspirations the Royals held for the second Wild Card slot.  

The Yankees (87-69) picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox although it is probably too little, too.  The Toronto Blue Jays, fresh off a series win over the Yankees last weekend, defeated Boston, 6-4 yesterday.  The Yankees trail the Sox by four games with six to play.  The Yankees lead the Wild Card standings by five games.  

It was a great start by CC Sabathia despite the Perez-Moustakas freight train he ran into by overstaying his welcome. With the win (his 236th career victory), Sabathia improved his season record to 13-5. 

Credit:  Robert Sabo

The bullpen trio of Green, Robertson and Kahnle held the Royals hitless (and scoreless) for nine outs while compiling six strikeouts. A job well done! 

I don’t know about you, but I am kinda thinking this Judge guy has a chance to be something special. Seriously, this has to be one of the greatest Rookie seasons that I’ve ever experienced. Obviously, my view is a little Pinstriped tainted but Judge has put his name among the All-Time Greats. With an organization as deep in tradition and history as the Yankees, that’s very, very hard to do.

Thumbs down, Guys! This was a wonderful win!

Next Up:  Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The march toward the conclusion of the regular season and the Wild Card game that awaits the Yankees will continue tonight with the division foe Rays coming to town. There was a time when the Rays were battling the Yankees for the Wild Card but at this point, the Rays are just playing out the string to get a jump start on their October vacation plans. They can certainly play the role of spoiler as the Yankees attempt to drive to home field advantage for next week’s Wild Card game.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Rays:  Blake Snell (4-6, 4.01 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Rays:  Matt Andriese (5-4, 4.44 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03 ERA)

THURSDAY

Rays:  Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (10-11, 3.31 ERA)

This should be Severino’s final tune-up before the Wild Card game.  Hopefully he’s more effective than he was last time out. 

Is Alex Cobb a preview of coming attractions? He’s a free agent this off-season and his name has been linked to the Yankees as a possibility.  

Odds & Ends…

Given the surprising success of the Yankees this year, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Yankees do not re-sign both Manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman. 

Cashman has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the Yankees and setting them up for success for years to come. But with no offense to Cashman, he isn’t the sole reason for the success.  Other people, including Damon Oppenheimer, Jean Afterman, Gary Denbo and others have played significant roles. Is it time for a new GM? Alex Anthopoulos has been my personal favorite for the job, but I wish I had realized how great Mike Hazen was. The former Red Sox GM has transformed the Arizona Diamondbacks into a team that could catapult themselves over the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers into the World Series. Who’s the next Mike Hazen-in-waiting? I have mixed feelings about Cashman. I have long respected the guy but I wonder if it is time for new blood. With the loss of the late Gene Michael’s voice in the organization, Cashman is one of the last links to the old regime led by George Steinbrenner. I don’t know the answer to this question and I certainly won’t be disappointed if Hal Steinbrenner signs Cashman to a new long-term deal. Inevitably, I trust young Steinbrenner to do the right thing…whatever that may be.  

Girardi is not as easy for me. I’ve never been a big Girardi guy but it’s not like I feel he is the wrong man for the job. There’s no doubt that I’d prefer someone like Terry Francona and my personal homer pick, Don Mattingly. But Francona won’t be leaving Cleveland anytime soon and Mattingly is currently unavailable (as he awaits the arrival of his new boss in Miami, Derek Jeter). Nothing against Al Pedrique or Tony Pena, but I don’t really think either guy would be an improvement over Girardi. For the lack of better available candidates, I am probably for re-signing Girardi to a new 3 to 5 year contract.  

Have a great Tuesday! Let’s have our way with the Rays. Go Yankees!

The Night of 2 Bad Pitches…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Rays 2, Yankees 1…

The Yankees picked a bad night to go dry offensively as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays despite a solid complete game effort from Sonny Gray.  In the end, it was two misplaced pitches that were deposited into the outfield seats that helped the Rays overcome the Yankees.  If the Yankees fall short of their bid to win the AL East, they’ll look back at games like this and wonder what could have been.

Matt Holliday put the Yankees on the board first.  Aaron Judge took a one-out walk in the top of the 1st inning, his 110th of the season to extend his own MLB rookie record.  He moved to second on a slow rolling ground out by Gary Sanchez.  Matt Holliday laced a double to left when the ball went under the glove of left fielder Corey Dickerson, scoring Judge.  But Holliday was left stranded when Starlin Castro followed by striking out.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Rays wasted no time in answering the run.  Rays leadoff hitter Kevin Kiermaier jumped on the first pitch by Sonny Gray to send it over the center field wall.  As YES Network announcer Al Leiter said, “Welcome to the game, Sonny Gray”.  

Gray rebounded and found his groove, shutting the Rays down until the 8th inning.  Unfortunately, he left a pitch high and over the middle of the plate for Adeiny Hechavarria and the hitter did not waste the opportunity.  He got all of the Gray pitch to send it over the wall in left center.  The Rays had their first lead of the game, 2-1.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the Yankees just couldn’t get any going.  Rare was the inning they sent more than three men to the plate.  A 5th inning walk by Todd Frazier, a 6th inning single by Brett Gardner, and a 7th inning single by Chase Headley were the only baserunners that the Yankees could get.  Unfortunately, none could get past first base, thanks in large part to ten strikeouts by Rays starter Blake Snell and the bullpen.  

The Yankees bowed out quietly in the 9th against Rays closer Alex Colome who picked up his 44th save.  

The Boston Red Sox beat the punchless Oakland A’s, 11-1, so they increased their AL East lead over the Yankees (78-66) to four games. The Minnesota Twins scored two touchdowns and a safety in destroying the San Diego Padres, 16-0 (hey, it’s football season, gimme a break!).  So, the lead in the Wild Card Standings shrank to three games. The Rays were able to leap-frog the Baltimore Orioles for third place in the AL East with the win. They are 7 games behind the Yankees. The O’s lost a close 3-2 game to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sonny Gray’s final line was great.  He pitched 8 innings and only allowed five hits, two runs, and one walk.  He struck out five.  But the killer was two home runs out of 94 pitches thrown.  Run support has not been Gray’s friend during his short Yankees career.  In his five losses as a Yankee, he’s been backed by four runs.

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Frazier, making his return from the disabled list, tried.  He had a couple of deep balls in his two at-bats, the second of which would have been met with “See ya!” from Michael Kay had the game been played at Yankee Stadium. Instead, it was just a running catch by Rays right fielder Stephen Souza, Jr.

Credit:  Anthony J Causi-NY Post

I wish I had more optimism about today’s game but it is hard to get excited about Jaime Garcia, especially when he is going against Chris Archer.  On paper, it looks like a mismatch in favor of the Rays.  The Yankees have had a fair amount of success against Archer so hopefully this afternoon will be another one of those times.  We need runs.  Hopefully the offense decides to bring their bats for the series finale.

Odds & Ends…

It was also a bad night for the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders as they dropped Game 1 of the International League’s Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls (Rays), 6-0.  The losing pitcher for the RailRiders was starter Ronald Herrera.  Not much offense as the RailRiders were only able to pound out three hits (two by Mason Williams).  Game 2 is scheduled for this evening in Durham, NC.  Domingo German gets the start for the RailRiders.

Credit:  Ben McKeown-for Times Leader

The losing continued with the Double A Trenton Thunder as they dropped Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) by a score of 2-1.  The losing pitcher for the Thunder was Dillon Tate, who like Sonny Gray pitched a great game.  But at the end of the game, the scoreboard showed more runs for the other team.  Game 2 will be this evening in Trenton, NJ with Justus Sheffield on the mound for the home team.

Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s make it a Winning Wednesday for the Pinstripers and their top farm teams!  Go Yankees…and RailRiders…and Thunder!

I’ll Take A Win To Go, Please…

Credit:  Gail Burton-Associated Press

Yankees 9, Orioles 1…


Thursday was supposed to have been an off-day.  But thanks to Wednesday’s rainout, the Yankees were forced to grab a win yesterday before they high-tailed it to BWI for the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth.  

The starting pitcher for Baltimore was Kevin Gausman, Greg Bird’s former Grandview High School (Centennial, Colorado) teammate.  Bird was a catcher in high school so the two formed the battery for  the Wolves.  I was looking forward to watching Bird bat against Gausman but he was out of the lineup for Thursday’s game.  He pinch-hit later in the game but Gausman was in the showers by that time.

Credit:  Aurora Sentinel

The game got started on the right foot.  Brett Gardner walked to lead off the first inning.  There’s never anything wrong with getting the speedy Gardner on base.  After fellow Coloradan Chase Headley struck out against Gausman, Gardy stole second.  Gausman recorded his second strikeout when Starlin Castro went down swinging.  But never fear, Sir Didi’s here.  Gregorius hit a double to right which brought Gardner around to score.  But the Yankees weren’t done.  Next up was Aaron Judge.  Judge, showing no respect for Bird’s good friend, boomed a towering shot to center.  T-Ball Practice! Note to Gausman:  It’s probably best not to leave a high fat one over the middle of the plate. 3-0 Yankees before Sonny Gray could even pick up a baseball.

Credit:  Rob Carr-Getty Images

With Gray cruising through the first few innings, the Yankees struck again in the top of the 3rd.  Didi Gregorius, continuing his hot hitting, reached first on an infield single to short.  Aaron Judge walked (his 104th of the season) so there were two men on base for Matt Holliday.  Holliday’s single lined to right scored Gregorius and moved Judge to third just ahead of the throw.  Jacoby Ellsbury hit a one-out grounder to second which forced Holliday but Judge was able to score when Ellsbury beat the throw to first to prevent the double play.  The Yankees had increased their lead to 5-0.


Gausman didn’t return for the start of the 4th inning which dashed my hopes for a potential Greg Bird pinch-hitting opportunity against his friend.  Mike Wright took over for the O’s.  With one out, Brett Gardner doubled to left.  Chase Headley added two more runs with his long home run to right.  

Star-light, Star-bright.  The top of the 6th, with O’s reliever Donnie Hart pitching, opened with a lead-off single by Brett Gardner.  Sadly, to my disappointment, his stay on the base paths was ended when Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second.  Starlin Castro came up and asked ‘is this what Manny Machado did the other night?’ by way of his blast to left-center. Yankees led, 8-0, and Sonny Gray was still pitching like I wish he had pitched against the Boston Red Sox.

Credit:  Rob Carr-Getty Images

Unfortunately, Sonny ran out of gas in the bottom of the 6th.  Jonathan Schoop got it started for the O’s with an infield single.  Adam Jones hit a grounder to short with the fielder’s choice eliminating Schoop at second.  Gray struck out Trey Mancini, but Chris Davis followed with a single to right center.  Jones moved to second.  Mark Trumbo hit a grounder to short but a throwing error by Didi Gregorius (off-balance throw over the head of Starlin Castro at second) allowed Davis to reach third while Jones scored.  Great overall job by Sonny Gray but it was time for his day to come to an end. Enter Chad Green; end of inning (by strikeout).  


The Yankees homered again in the top of the 7th when Todd Frazier joined the party with a solo blast to left. Orioles left-fielder Trey Mancini tried to leap but the home run ball was over his glove. Chad Green powered through the O’s lineup in the bottom of the 7th, erasing the only base runner on a double play.  Coming into the season, I didn’t really want the guy on the MLB roster and he’s arguably been the most valuable (and most consistent) reliever in the bullpen.  I am glad the Yankees never hired me to be a talent evaluator. 


Tommy Kahnle helped three Orioles find their way to the bench in the 8th. Recent Triple A call-up Ben Heller took over in the 9th and he continued the trend set by his bullpen predecessors.  1-2-3, game over.  Yankees win!


The Yankees (75-64) are 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox were idle on Thursday but they had won the day before.  The Orioles slipped back to 4 1/2 games behind the Yanks.  The Yankees’ lead in the Wild Card Standings is 2 1/2 games over the Minnesota Twins (the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2).


Nice job by Sonny Gray (9-9).  He pitched 5 2/3 innings (102 pitches) and allowed six hits, two walks, and one run (none earned).  He struck out five while lowering his season ERA to 3.22.  Hand clap for the bullpen.  Green, Kahnle and Heller combined for 3 1/3 innnings of one-hit scoreless relief with three K’s.  No drama…exactly the way I like it.


As for the hitting stars, pass the hat…everyone contributed.  This was a great team victory. Congrats to Austin Romine for successfully holding down the catching position while Gary Sanchez was on the golf course..or at the bar or wherever he may have been for three games off.  


The Yankees came close to the series sweep but taking two out of three at Camden Yards is still a notable accomplishment.   It’s a good springboard for the next series.

 

Next Up:  Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas…

The Yankees travel to Dallas/Fort Worth to take on the Yu Darvish-less Texas Rangers.  The Rangers remain in the hunt for a Wild Card spot so they’ll be ready to play.  Like the Baltimore Orioles, the Rangers have a team of sluggers with 218 home runs this season which leads MLB.  Any mistake pitches will be making long distance travel plans.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (11-10, 4.54 ERA)

Rangers:  Martin Perez (11-10, 4.87 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (12-6, 3.03 ERA)

Rangers:  A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA)

Rangers:  Andrew Cashner (9-9, 3.29 ERA)

The Rangers’ Ballpark has long been one of my favorites. Hopefully it holds good things for the Yankees this time around.  

Gene “Stick” Michael, Yankees Legend…


The Yankees Universe was deeply saddened yesterday when it was learned that Yankees Senior Adviser Gene “Stick” Michael had passed away due to a heart attack at age 79.  


There will be many obituaries and that’s really not the intent of my mention of his passing. Growing up with the Yankees as my favorite team, Stick was such an integral part through the years.  I don’t really remember his playing days, but I do remember his brief managerial stints with the team in the early 80’s.  Of course, he directed the course of the franchise in the early 90’s as the team’s general manager while George Steinbrenner was serving his suspension and was probably the man most responsible for the late 90’s dynasty.  What really stuck out to me about Stick over the years was his strong sense of loyalty to the Yankees organization and his ability to speak his mind and hold his ground with the Boss.  It was tough when Stick left the Yankees to become the manager for the Chicago Cubs in 1986 but I was happy when he found his way back home. 


The Yankees will wear black armbands on their left sleeve for the duration of the season in honor of Stick.  

Credit:  Barton Silverman-The New York Times

This is a HUGE loss for the Yankees.  Stick was one of kind and perhaps one of the greatest baseball evaluators ever. The man can stand among the huge Legends who wore Pinstripes.  He earned it. His impact to the organization has been as great if not greater than most.  He will be missed.  Rest in peace, Sir… 

Odds & Ends…

A few weeks ago, everybody was talking about how the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers were among the greatest teams of all-time.  Now, after losing seven in a row and 12 of 13 games, they’d have to go undefeated the rest of the way to match the 1998 Yankees.  Clayton Kershaw was pounded last night by the Colorado Rockies in his own ballpark.  If the Dodgers can’t figure this out, their stay in October is going to be very short-lived.

The Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost the first game of their first round five-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 6-5, in 12 innings.  Game 2 is set for tonight at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA with Chance Adams on the mound for the RailRiders.


Have a great Friday!  Let’s keep contributing the ‘W’ column!  Go Yankees!