|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Omar Rawlings)|
For a meaningless game, Saturday’s game featured huge milestones…
Congratulations to the 2018 New York Yankees for their achievement of 100 victories. It is something they have not done since the championship year of 2009 and it is not something that many teams do each year. It usually means that you win the division but the Boston Red Sox were just a little better this time around.
The Yankees also busted the MLB record yesterday for Team Home Runs. When Gleyber Torres hit his two-run shot in the 4th inning off Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, it gave the Yankees one more than the previous record of 264 set by the Seattle Mariners. Giancarlo Stanton added the 266th of the year with his 38th dinger in the 7th inning. For Stanton, he also had two RBI’s to give him 100 for his new team, matching the team’s win total when the Yankees closed out the 8-5 victory. But I have to give a big…
RED SOX SUCK!
…for their fan who threw Stanton’s home run ball back onto the field and hit Giancarlo as he rounded second.
Miguel Andujar set the new Yankees’ rookie record for doubles with two yesterday to increase his season total to 46, eclipsing the old mark of 44 set by Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio back in 1936.That’s special company when you can rub shoulders with Yankee legends. If Shohei Ohtani wins the AL Rookie of the Year, it won’t detract from the brilliant season Andujar has enjoyed. He deserves the hardware as much as Ohtani, but all things considered, I’d rather have a World Series trophy. Andujar has a chance, Ohtani does not.
In taking the first two games of the three-game series with the Red Sox, the Yankees have prevented Boston from reaching 110 victories which I personally appreciated. Today’s game is probably about as meaningless as a spring training game, but it is a day the Yankees can enjoy and get ready for Wednesday’s Wild Card Game in the Bronx against the Oakland A’s.
I look back to Boston’s sweep of the Yankees in early August as the defining moment for the AL East. It gave the Sox the momentum and the separation they needed from the Yankees to propel them to the AL East championship. If the Yankees could have at least split that series, I think the race to the finish would have been much tighter.
Within the last couple of weeks, I had my doubts if the Yankees would be able to hold the lead in the Wild Card standings and thought they could potentially lose home field advantage for the game to the hard charging Oakland A’s. I apologize for the ‘glass is half empty’ approach. Thankfully, the Yankees have picked up some momentum over the last week and grabbed the pole position earlier this week. The A’s did pick up their 97th win of the year yesterday against the Los Angeles Angels, 5-2, which boggles my mind. They are truly a team that came out of nowhere but are loaded with lethal bats and a deadly bullpen. The A’s have a chance to avenge the famous Derek Jeter “Flip Play” which erased the A’s Jeremy Giambi in the 2001 ALDS.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I like the 2018 Yankees and their chances but I’ll temper any excitement until the conclusion of Wednesday’s game. Anybody can win one game. Heck, the Baltimore Orioles, even with 115 losses, could beat the Boston Red Sox in one game. I know, the stakes are much higher in the post-season and guys elevate their game, but in the span of nine innings, anything can happen. If the Yankees can beat the A’s, then I feel they have a great shot moving forward. It will mean a quick return to Boston for the next round if it happens.
I honestly do not know which pitcher I’d go with to start Wednesday’s game. I like the job J.A. Happ has done since he joined the Yankees. I look at his last game against the Red Sox when he gave up four runs as really just a bad pitch to Steve Pearce who didn’t miss it for a grand slam. I am sure that Aaron Boone would have pitched that inning differently in the playoffs and Happ would not have faced Pearce. On recent performance, I’d have to go with Happ, but I can’t discount the argument David Cone made on yesterday’s FOX telecast of the game, “Severino is your Ferrari”, “you can’t keep your Ferrari in the garage”. Sevy has been the ace for the last couple of years and despite his stretch of struggles this summer, he’s still the leader of the staff. So, I’d probably go with Sevy but I can’t really argue against Happ if Boone decides to go that direction. I thought Masahiro Tanaka might the one rounding into form for the one-game ‘do or die’ playoff but his last start showed me that we don’t need his propensity for allowing home runs in a game against a team filled with sluggers like the A’s. Khris Davis hit his 48th of the year yesterday, proving that if you throw him a mistake, the ball will go very, very far. I’d prefer not seeing Tanaka face guys like Davis, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Stephen Piscotty. So, in my mind, Tanaka is not an option when your season is on the line. Nevertheless, the Wild Card game is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation so any signs of trouble for the starter should be a quick signal to the pen.
I was a little disappointed with the forgettable performance of Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder yesterday. This has been a breakout year for Holder who has been relied upon as one of the bullpen’s key performers. Holder was given the ninth to finish off the game, in relief of Sonny Gray who had done a fine job for a couple of innings. The Yankees had a comfortable 8-3 lead, but Tzu-Wei Lin walloped Holder’s first pitch for a ground rule double to left. Brock Holt followed with a homer to right to close the gap with the Yankees to three runs. Sam Travis was next and he singled to center. With Aroldis Chapman warming in the pen, Holder finally got the first out when he struck out the past-his-prime Brandon Phillips. Chapman had to come in and close out the game, picking up his 32nd save in a game that should not have been a save situation. Hopefully this was just an isolated poor outing for Holder. The Yankees need him for middle relief in October if the team advances beyond the Wild Card. Chapman did walk a batter to bring the tying run to the plate, but I am glad to see the Cuban Missile is rounding back into form. He is still not where he needs to be, but I like the insurance card (Zach Britton). A combo of a healthy Chapman and an elite closer like Britton is a solid recipe for success.
Credit to the Yankees for their accomplishments this year. To win 100 games for a team that seemed to struggle for extended periods this year shows that they are a very talented group when healthy. In looking at the National League, it’s not easy to make the playoffs, let alone win 100 games. There are two dead heats entering the last day of the season with ties atop the NL Central and NL West. The NL Central co-leaders, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, have the most wins in the NL at 94. For the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies, today’s games could either mean winning the division or heading to Los Angeles for a tie-breaker game tomorrow. The loser of the tie-breaker would then head to Milwaukee or Chicago depending upon who loses the NL Central. The Brewers and Cubs would play a potential tie-breaker Monday in Chicago. Very complicated. I am glad the Yankees don’t enter the final regular season game with so much uncertainty and potentially chaotic travel schedule over the next couple of days.
Buck Showalter probably manages his last game today. His team has lost three consecutive games and stands at 46-115. They’re facing the Houston Astros at Camden Yards so today they’ll probably see Houston’s backups and minor leaguers. Hopefully it means one final victory for Buck before he goes. His managerial record is 1550-1517-1 for a .505 winning percentage. In my mind, he helped prepare the 90’s Yankees for its run of success even if he never saw the fruits of his labor. Farewell, Buck. I hope this is not the end of the road, but just the closure of another chapter before a new one begins. Maybe the Angelos Family surprises me and decides to keep Buck around but I seriously doubt it.
Also, farewell to David Wright of the New York Mets. I don’t care for the Mets but I recognize Wright was a special player and it’s too bad his final years were filled with injuries. He is one of the game’s better ambassadors and I am hopeful he stays in the game for his post-playing career. Major League Baseball needs more guys like David Wright.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)|
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the Yankees were just assembling in Tampa in Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers in camp, awaiting the arrival of the position players including new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton.This has been a very fast year. Although the bullpen management has driven me nuts at times, I think Aaron Boone has done a good job as the team’s manager. So many of those bullpen decisions are driven by Brian Cashman’s analytics team so it’s hard to place all of the blame on Boonie. I like the calming effect his personality has on the clubhouse, not too much unlike former Yankees manager Joe Torre. I know that many Yankees fans have anointed the team’s former manager as Saint Girardi, forgetting his faults. But entering Wednesday’s game, win or lose, I am glad Aaron Boone is the manager of the New York Yankees.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
A loss on Wednesday does not end the hopes of this team. They’ll be back, stronger than ever, in 2019, and I think they’ll overtake the Boston Red Sox next year. The Sox benefited from career years from multiple players but I don’t think they’ll catch lightning in a bottle again next year. The Yankees can have a say in ending Boston’s highly successful season with a win on October 3rd. A perfect ending and a beautiful beginning for the Yankees if they can survive the Wild Card game and defeat the Red Sox. The Yankees, right now, can beat anybody. That’s not a boast, but a fact. Let’s prove it on the field.
|Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)|
Yanks avert loss despite ‘outta control’ Chapman…
Let me get this straight. The Yankees take a four-run lead into the ninth inning, bring in closer Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Mets, nearly lose the game, and Chappy has to be “saved” by Chasen Shreve? You’re kidding me, right?
Chapman’s very forgettable (maybe not so forgettable for us) ninth inning was directly attributable to his inability to throw strikes. Only 3 of 19 pitches were strikes and the last 11 pitches he threw were outside of the strike zone. In order, Chapman walked a batter, gave up an infield single, walked two more batters and then plunked a hitter before giving way to the bullpen’s weakest link. Shreve inherited the bases loaded situation with no outs and the Yankees clinging to a two-run lead. In other words, he had to walk a high wire without a net. Fortunately, Shreve and the Yankees held on to beat the New York Mets, 7-6, to even up the series at a game apiece.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Hopefully it was “just a bad day” as Chapman described to the media after the game. Health-wise, Chapman seemed fine, balky knee and all. His meltdown nearly deprived Sonny Gray (7-7) of his first win at Yankee Stadium since May 5th.
The game didn’t start out well when Sonny Gray gave up a homer to Michael Conforto, a solo shot to right, in the second inning for the game’s first run. Michael Kay of the YES Network was quick to point out that Gray has an 8.25 ERA at home compared to a road ERA of 3.62 to illustrate how challenging Yankee Stadium is for the Tennessean.
The Mets’ Steven Matz, a favorite of TGP’s Daniel Burch, kept the Yankees off the board until the fourth inning. The Yankees were able to victimize Mets center fielder Matt den Dekker, who probably wished he was still playing Triple A ball in Las Vegas, for a few runs. Or perhaps it was the Mets fans wished he was still in Vegas. Giancarlo Stanton opened the bottom of the inning with an infield single. Matz had thrown three consecutive balls to give Stanton the perfect hitter’s count but he hit a soft grounder to third instead of one of his tailor-made homers. Oh well, no matter. Stanton was safe at first. After Gary Sanchez struck out (of course), Didi Gregorius laced a triple to deep center that den Dekker dived for but couldn’t reach. Stanton scored and the game was tied. Miguel Andujar followed with a fly to right that was caught by a fan. Miggy was awarded second with a ground-rule double, while Gregorius scored the go-ahead run. Greg Bird’s double to deep center, a ball that bounced off the side of den Dekker’s outstretched glove, scored Andujar. After Brandon Drury flied out, Austin Romine singled to, who else, a diving den Dekker who couldn’t make the catch and Bird scored to make it a 4-1 game.
There was a little drama in the top of the fifth for the Mets when Asdrubal Cabrera was tossed for throwing his bat down after a called strikeout on a checked swing (looked like his wrists broke on the replay to support the call). Cabrera continued barking at the third base umpire (Hunter Wendelstedt), throwing his batting helmet and gloves, before he eventually departed. Cabrera was the second Met to get tossed after hitting coach Pat Roessler was ejected earlier in the game for arguing balls and strikes.
Sonny Gray took the three-run lead into the sixth inning but it unraveled for him. After getting Wilmer Flores to pop out, he walked the next two batters (Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista) to earn his exit from the game. David Robertson came in, striking out Kevin Plawecki after working the count full. He was not so lucky when the next batter, Amed Rosario, drilled a single to right center to score Conforto. Joey Bats slid safely into third. With Matt den Dekker batting, D-Rob was charged with an error on a throw to first to check the runner. The bad throw hit Rosario, sliding back to first base, in the foot with the ball bouncing away, and Joey Bats scored to close the gap to 4-3.
Gray deserved better than his final line…5 1/3 innings, three hits, three runs (two earned), three walks, and six strikeouts…but it put him in position for the win even though the two Mets runs had scored to make it a one-run game.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
The Yankees picked up a run in the bottom of the sixth inning while Steven Matz was still on the mound for the Mets. Miguel Andujar led off for the Yanks with a double to right. Miggy was seemingly in the heart of every scoring opportunity on this day. Greg Bird ended Matz’s day with a single to right, scoring Andujar. It was 5-3 Yankees.
Aaron Judge homered leading off the bottom of the seventh inning against Mets reliever Tim Peterson. The line drive which fought against the wind landed in the Mets bullpen in left field. It was Judge’s 26th home run of the year to make it a three-run game again.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees scored what would prove to be the decisive run. With former Yankee Anthony Swarzak pitching for the Mets, Miguel Andujar led off with a single to center, a ground ball that got past Amed Rosario. After Greg Bird struck out, Brandon Drury singled to right center, advancing Andujar to third. Drury took second on the throw when the ball, over the head of the cutoff man, bounced off third baseman Jose Bautista on a short hop. Austin Romine hit a grounder to second with the infield drawn but the play scored Andujar. The Yankees were up, 7-3.
Michael Kay asked the question “does Aaron Boone bring in Chapman to keep him fresh?” while the Yankees were still batting in the eighth. The answer would soon be provided but it was not the Chapman we wanted to see.
The YES Network illustrated a grand shot of Chapman entering the game from center field (ala Mariano Rivera style) but the effort would not match the entrance. Kevin Plawecki, walk. Amed Rosario, infield single under the glove of the diving Miguel Andujar. Ty Kelly, pinch-hitting for Matt den Dekker, walk. Bases loaded, no outs. With Michael Kay repeatedly saying Chapman had no control, he stayed in the game. Jose Reyes, walk, which pushed Plawecki across home plate for a run. A visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Rothchild’s visit didn’t help. Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch on his upper arm and the Mets had their second run to make it 7-5. Finally, Aaron Boone had seen enough (not sure what took so long) and made the call to the pen for Chasen Shreve, my favorite DFA candidate. Devin Mesoraco hit a grounder to Brandon Drury who stepped on second and completed the double play with a throw to first. The Mets scored to make it a one-run game, but the DP was huge. It brought Wilmer Flores to the plate as the last hope for the Mets. Flores hit a slow roller back to the mound but Shreve picked up the ball and fired it to first to end the game. Yankees win, 7-6. Credit to Shreve for outperforming my expectations. It was his first save of the season and might have been one of the biggest saves of the year for the Yankees.
It was not a great game for Gary Sanchez who finished the day hitless in four at-bats. He struck out twice. I saw one Twitter post that asked how you strike out Sanchez. You throw him a pitch outside the strike zone. Sadly, there is some truth to it.
Despite the horrific outing for Aroldis Chapman, credit to Jonathan Holder and Dellin Betances for their combined two innings of hitless relief with three K’s. If they had failed, the Mets most likely would have won this game.
The Yankees (63-34) picked up a game on the Red Sox. They are back to four and a half games behind the AL East leaders after Boston fell to the Detroit Tigers and rumored trade candidate Mike Fiers, 5-0.
Domingo Acevedo’s stay in the Big Leagues was short-lived. After getting to dress for Saturday’s game (but not pitching), Acevedo was returned to Double-A Trenton after the game. The demotion was not a surprise. Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com had speculated prior to the game that Acevedo was called up as insurance for Sonny Gray. With job complete and no need for his long relief services, Acevedo was sent “home”. Giovanny Gallegos is expected to take Acevedo’s place. I am not quite sure what Tommy Kahnle has to do to get back as he is a Major Leaguer stuck in Triple A like Drury was until recently.
In other Yankees transaction news, Clint Frazier was moved from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 7-day DL to the Yankees 10-day DL for his concussion protocol.
In an interview with the Seattle Times on Friday, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto said second base belongs to Dee Gordon with the impending return of former Yankee Robinson Cano. Cano, who is eligible to return from his 80-game suspension on August 14th, is expected to see time at first base and designated hitter. It makes sense for the Mariners given Cano is not eligible for post-season play and they’ll need Gordon in top form at second base. But admittedly, it will be weird to see Cano playing first base even if he has the athleticism and bat to play the position.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who sat out the first two games of the Mets series with the Yankees, was traded to the Oakland A’s yesterday. The A’s are unexpectedly in the Wild Card hunt and even though Blake Treinen has had a breakout year as their closer, Familia deepens their pen. After the Padres grabbed one of the best prospects in baseball for their closer, I was surprised the best the Mets could do was land the A’s 17th best prospect among the two players they received along with international bonus pool money. But then again, they’re the Mets.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is reporting Brandon Drury was the headliner in the Yankees offer for Manny Machado. I suppose that’s not a great surprise. Cafardo also mentioned that the general feeling around Baseball is that the Yankees are trying to move Sonny Gray. The thinking is Gray would be better served in a smaller market. Despite his win on Saturday, I can’t say I am in disagreement. But of course it is all dependent upon the level of pitching talent GM Brian Cashman can secure by the trading deadline. If Cash is unable to land at least two quality starters, they’d be foolish to move Gray.
The Yankees and Mets conclude their three-game series tonight. Jacob deGrom (5-4, 1.68 ERA), a pitcher most Yankees fans covet even if a trade with the Mets is improbable, will take on Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.54 ERA). deGrom would like great in Pinstripes, I’m just sayin’. I don’t think it will happen but until the trading deadline passes, it’s nice to think about. I’d love to charge into October with Sevy and deGrom leading the way. Anyway, I hope deGrom pitches great but not too great.
Yankees fall to the lowly Mets in Series Opener…
Well, that was disappointing. I can’t say I met the news the Yankees would start Domingo German and Sonny Gray to open the second half with great optimism. Still, I had hoped for a better performance from German on Friday but it was not to be. From the time German walked the lead-off hitter with four consecutive balls to start the game, it felt like it wasn’t going to be his night.
The Mets had a 3-0 lead before the Yankees had even come to bat, and German was headed for the showers after 3 2/3 innings and four runs. He somehow made the pathetic Mets offense look like a juggernaut. The Yankees tried to rally but the hole dug by German and reliever Adam Warren was too great as the Yankees fell to the Mets, 7-5. German’s season record dropped to 2-6 with the loss, paired with a 5.68 ERA. After the game, German was given a ticket to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in Columbus, Ohio to work on his mechanics. I can’t say that I am sorry to see him go.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
This really underscores the inability of GM Brian Cashman to secure much-needed reinforcements for the starting rotation. We’ve known for a long time the team needed help. I know Jordan Montgomery’s Tommy John surgery was unforeseen but Cashman was openly talking about the need for another quality starter last winter (an obvious need that everyone saw). German and Jonathan Loaisiga may turn out to be great middle-of-the-rotation arms but for a team in contention, we don’t have the luxury of learning with their bumps and bruises. Last start excluded, I don’t think anyone thought Sonny Gray would be this bad and that has magnified Cashman’s inability to find adequate help. If the deal-breaker to acquire former Pittsburgh Pirate Gerrit Cole last winter was Clint Frazier, it was a huge error on Cashman’s part. Cole (10-2, 2.52 ERA for the Houston Astros) would look great in the Yankees rotation right now.
After last night’s game when German was demoted, manager Aaron Boone said Luis Cessa would make German’s next start. The Yankees were expected to temporarily call up a reliever until it was time for Cessa to make his start and today they promoted Domingo Acevedo to take German’s spot. Acevedo, a starter for Double-A Trenton, is expected to provide long relief for the Yankees until it is time for Cessa to make his start. He provides Boone with another power arm in the pen for now. I think Acevedo’s long term future is the bullpen so this is his moment to impress.
|Photo Credit: Martin Griff|
Cessa pitched fine his last time out for the Yankees but I am starting to join the crowd that wants to see top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. I don’t think Sheffield will be a starter for a pennant-chasing team as we head toward the stretch run, at least not this year particularly given he’ll be bumping up against an innings limit, but I am intrigued to see what he can do. It can’t be any worse than German has already given us. The downside with the promotion of Sheffield is the need to create room on the 40-man roster, which is not a factor for either Cessa or Acevedo. The Yanks have to place Sheff on the 40-man roster prior to December’s Rule 5 Draft, but that’s a move for later.
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees recalled infielder Brandon Drury to fill the spot vacated when they optioned Clint Frazier to Triple A prior to the All-Star break. By spend ing more time in the Minors, the Yankees secured an extra year of control on Drury. I hope he’s here to stay. It remains my opinion that I’d be very comfortable with Drury at third should the Yankees find it necessary to include Miguel Andujar for a top starting pitcher. Andujar is a very nice young player but there’s no doubt this team’s greater need is starting pitching.
The Yankees apparently lost out on reliever Brad Hand when they refused to include Andujar in a potential trade with the San Diego Padres before he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians. As much as I would have liked to have given the bullpen a Hand, I agree if Andujar is moved, it should be for a top starter (not guys like Cole Hamels or J.A. Happ) and certainly not for relievers. I really like Baltimore’s Zach Britton but Andujar should not be part of the discussion despite the O’s obvious need for a third baseman now that Tim Beckham has moved back to short.
Drury is penciled in to play second base today against the Mets and Steven Matz. The two ribbies last night by Neil Walker was nice but I’ll gladly take Drury over Walker any day of the week. “Yankees DFA Walker” remains the headline that I am most anxious to see. Well, maybe “Yankees acquire elite starting pitcher…” but the elimination of Walker is not far behind.
The most painful aspect of last night’s loss was the win by the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox made a solo first inning run hold up in the 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers behind former Tiger David Price. The win allowed the Red Sox to increase their lead in the AL East to 5 1/2 games. If the Yankees can’t shake this tailspin, the Red Sox are going to run away with the division as they’ve shown no signs of losing anytime soon. The Red Sox continue to show that they can do what the Yankees cannot, beat the teams you are supposed to.
Gary Sanchez, who struck out to end the eighth inning last night with the bases loaded, remains a disappointment. His batting line stands at .191/.289/.428. Entering the season, I felt Sanchez was the Yankees best hitter but clearly I was wrong. I saw one random Twitter post suggest the Yankees should include Sanchez in a trade for Jacob deGrom and then swing a deal with the Miami Marlins for their catcher, J.T. Realmuto. A few months ago, I would have laughed at the thought but today it is one that gives you pause. I remain hopeful that El Gary starts hitting like 2017 and there’s still time. We need his bat.
Manny Machado’s debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers was a successful one. He singled in his first at bat against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and finished the game with two hits and a couple of walks. The Dodgers used a three-run homer by Kike Hernandez to hold off the Brewers for a 6-4 win to make Machado’s first game as a Dodger a winning one. Machado was met with boos from the Milwaukee crowd. Milwaukee had fallen short in their quest to acquire Machado. As if it was Manny’s fault Orioles GM Dan Duquette made the decision to send him to sunny LA rather than the Beer Capital of the World. I enjoyed how seamlessly Manny fit in with the Dodgers on his first day, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I hope he doesn’t like it well enough to prevent him from signing with the Yankees in the off-season.
When it was speculated that Manny had chosen #8 with the Dodgers out of respect for Orioles great Cal Ripken, Jr, he should have run with it even if it wasn’t the case.
During his press conference for his Dodgers introduction, he stated that he was a fan of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant (even has a dog named after him) and chose the number for Kobe. I know that Kobe won more titles with #8, but I tend to remember him as #24. Machado also stated the number 8 was symbolic of “new beginnings”. Orioles fans are grieving about the loss of Machado and I think it would have been very soothing for them to hear that he had chosen the number for Ripken rather than Bryant. But on the other hand, you can’t blame Manny for wanting to turn the page. Hopefully he’ll be turning the page on the Dodgers in a few months and making plans for finding a new home in Manhattan.
I remain hopeful Brian Cashman surprises us all with a golden stealth move to strengthen starting pitching and help give the Yankees the necessary weapons to take down the Boston Red Sox. We’re ten days away from the non-waiver trading deadline so there’s time. Personally, I am feeling the urgency, especially considering starts like German last night, but I am optimistic that Cash will not let us down. There is too much potential for the 2018 Yankees to let it slip away.
Sonny Gray, please man up today. I know you’re pitching at Yankee Stadium, a venue you do not seem to appreciate if your pitching stats are any indication, but today is a new day. And these are the Mets. Just win, that’s all I ask.
2nd Best Winning % in MLB but 2nd in the AL East…
It’s Friday and Baseball is back! Thanks to the All-Star Break, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen the Yankees on the field. Okay, any one not named Aaron Judge or Luis Severino. They’re back in the Bronx and ready to take on the not-so-high flyin’ Mets. One thing is sure, we’ll be seeing plenty of ink about Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom and their potential connection to the Yankees over the next few days.
Syndergaard takes the mound tonight against Domingo German, while deGrom matches up against Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday. As much as I’d love to have either pitcher, the realist in me knows that the likelihood either pitcher is traded to the Yankees is non-existent. The Mets are not going to send any of their top players to the Yankees regardless of the return.
The Yankees begin the second half four-and-a-half games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Hats off to the Red Sox for their brilliant first half. They beat the teams they were supposed to. Mookie Betts has showed why he is one of the best players in Major League Baseball, and J.D. Martinez has proven to be the best off-season addition for any team (sorry, Giancarlo). But it’s a new day and plenty of time for the Yankees to catch the Red Sox and put them in their rearview mirror. The Yankees have 67 games remaining or three more than the Red Sox. I think as long as the Yankees can keep winning series, they’ll be in great shape come September, or better yet, October. The Red Sox have an easy start to the second half with the Detroit Tigers and Manny Machado-less Baltimore Orioles, a team that they already owned this season winning nine of ten games played. However, there’s a big showdown with the Yankees at Fenway Park looming the first week of August. This is a great chance for the Yankees to keep it close for the next couple of weeks and then make a huge statement in Boston with hopefully a win of the four-game series.
I think it was tough for Yankees fans to see Manny Machado traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers this week. Many of us, myself included, envisioned what it would look like to see Manny in pinstripes. I know, it was a ‘want’ and not a ‘need’ but how beautiful would it have looked to insert Machado’s name into the Yankees lineup? It may still come to fruition after the season when Manny hits the open market, but of course that doesn’t help us today. The best part about Manny going to Los Angeles is that Yankees pitchers won’t have to face him again unless the Yankees and Dodgers meet in the World Series (a very nice problem to have). Manny destroyed the Yankees this year with six home runs. It’ll be nice to play the Baltimore Orioles for the remainder of the year without the threat of Manny at bat. Hopefully the next home run he hits at Yankee Stadium will be while wearing Pinstripes. We’ll see.
Nice job by Machado in picking his new number for the Dodgers. His beloved #13 was already taken by this year’s breakout player, Max Muncy. Closer Kenley Jansen offered to pay Muncy to relinquish the number, but in the end, Manny chose a different number. Like Don Mattingly, who took #8 as a tribute for Yogi Berra when he joined the Dodgers coaching staff under Joe Torre a few years ago and later served as their manager, Machado has acquired the same number in honor of Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. A very classy move by Machado and a gesture I am sure the heartbroken O’s fans appreciate.
The Yankees lost another trade target yesterday when the Cleveland Indians abruptly acquired San Diego closer Brad Hand yesterday. I was surprised at the high cost the Indians paid (top catching prospect Francisco Mejia) but Cleveland’s bullpen was a mess. Once they get Andrew Miller back on the field, the Indians bullpen, with Hand, Miller, closer Cody Allen, and newcomer Adam Cimber, appears to be very formidable, especially in the post-season. Former Yankees pitcher, and now Padres reliever, Phil Hughes had the best Twitter quote following the Hand trade: “Just a few more trades and I’ll be the closer. Too soon?” Former Yankee Kirby Yates is expected to take Hand’s place as San Diego’s closer, but even he has been the subject of trade speculation. Hughes, while clearly jesting, may in fact get his wish.
|Photo Credit: The San Diego Union-Tribune (K.C. Alfred)|
Yankees fans are growing impatient but we’re still eleven days away from the non-waiver trading deadline. There’s time. GM Brian Cashman and his staff are working diligently behind the scenes. At this point, I am not really expecting a big splash but I do fully anticipate reinforcements in the not-so-distant future. It was a year ago yesterday the Yankees acquired relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and third baseman Todd Frazier from the Chicago White Sox. If I had my wish, I’d probably prefer the acquisition of Orioles reliever Zach Britton who seems to be rounding back into form after his recovery from injuries. It’s not that I don’t feel the Yankees shouldn’t acquire a starter but the names of Michael Fulmer, J.A. Happ, and Cole Hamels are not inspiring to me. Dan O’Dowd of the MLB Network feels that Hamels would be re-energized with the chance to play in a pennant race, but c’mon, he clearly is not the pitcher he once was. The Yankees had scouts at Wrigley Field in Chicago yesterday to watch St Louis Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez. I’d love to have Martinez, 26, but his Yankees audition didn’t go so well as he took the loss against the Cubs, giving up six runs (five earned) over five innings, in the 9-6 defeat. Still, Martinez would be an upgrade if the Yankees can entice the Cardinals to part with the talented righty.
|Photo Credit: AP (Charles Rex Arbogast)|
The Yankees may have lost a valuable trading chip yesterday when outfielder Clint Frazier was pulled from a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game for possible concussion symptoms after a failed diving attempt to catch a fly ball in the first inning. Frazier’s concussion in Spring Training cost him the first couple months of the season.
There will be one “newcomer” when the Yankees take the field tonight. Well, he is not quite a newcomer but Gary Sanchez will be back in action behind the plate following his activation off the disabled list yesterday. If El Gary starts to hit like he did last summer, it’s scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of. With no offense to either Austin Romine or Kyle Higashioka, Sanchez’s presence improves the team. Higgy was optioned to Triple A to make room for Sanchez. Now, we just need to get Gleyber Torres back.
ESPN’s Keith Law released his Mid-Season Top 50 Prospect Update yesterday and has Yankees LHP Justus Sheffield listed at #12. I loved his last line about Top Sheff: “He’s very close to major league-ready, however, has all the elements of a future No. 2 starter”. I wouldn’t want to put the pressure of a pennant chase on Sheff as a starter for the Yankees this year plus he’ll be nearing an innings limit at some point, but you gotta love the thought of Sheffield pitching out of the pen, perhaps as soon as next month or September at the latest.
Well, let’s begin Operation Beat Boston. Yankees, welcome back. We’ve missed you. Let’s make this a victorious Friday. Send Thor to the showers early, and bring us a win.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rich Schultz)
Baby Bombers Power Yanks to Victory…
OK, the winning pitcher and the reliever who picked up the save have celebrated the Big 3-0, but the young bats of Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and 26-year-old Aaron Judge homered to propel the Yankees to a one-run win over the New York Mets, 4-3, on Saturday.
The game had a bizarre beginning when Aaron Hicks led off with a shot to right that went into the Yankees bullpen through an open door. The potential triple wound up as a ground-rule double thanks to the inattentive unknown individual who left the door open. The Mets got out of the inning when Mets pitcher Steven Matz caught Hicks straying too far from second with two outs and nailed him with a tag out at second to end the inning. Perhaps if he had been on third, the results for the inning (goose egg) would have been different. Fortunately, the Mets would leave the door open for the Yankees to win the game after they scored three runs in the bottom of the first on homers by Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera’s hit was a two-run shot after a triple by Brandon Nimmo.
It looked like it was going to be a short outing for Domingo German but he settled down after the rough first inning. He ended up going five more strong innings without allowing anymore runs after the Mets’ uprising in the first. On 96 pitches, he struck out nine batters. He didn’t figure into the decision since he left with the game tied after completing the sixth inning but clearly the Yankees would not have won the game if the 25-year-old German did not shut down the Mets after those early home runs. With the announcement prior to the game that Masahiro Tanaka had been placed on the 10-day DL with the hamstring tightness in both legs, the Yankees need German now more than ever. The way he shook off the early problems showed veteran prowess despite his youth.
Photo Credit: New York Post (Corey Sipkin)
Like Jacob deGrom had done the day before, Steven Matz held the Yanks in check early. Gleyber Torres finally got the Yankees on the board with a solo shot in the top of the third inning to make it a 3-1 game. In the top of the sixth, after Gary Sanchez had walked with one out, Miguel Andujar, displaying why he, and not the Toddfather nor Brandon Drury for that matter, is the Yankees third baseman, blasted a Matz pitch into the left field stands. The Yankees had knotted the game at three.
Photo Credit: Newsday (Joseph D Sullivan)
David Robertson took over for German in the bottom of the seventh and immediately gave up a lead-off double to Adrian Gonzalez on the first pitch. Fortunately, he retired the next three batters, which included a great defensive play by Didi Gregorius to end the inning, stranding A-Gon at second and leaving the game deadlocked.
The Mets inserted former Yankees reliever Anthony Swarzak to start the top of the eighth inning and he was greeted with a Judgian blast on the first pitch, a shot to left by Aaron Judge to give the Yankees a one-run lead. The Yankees proceeded to get runners at the corners with two outs, but failed to score any further runs when Greg Bird, pinch-hitting for Tyler Austin, grounded out to second.
Bottom of the eighth it was three up and three down by strikeout for Dellin Betances. Man, oh man, he looks good lately. Earlier this season, I didn’t want Dellin anywhere near the ninth inning but he has restored my confidence in him. A day after Aroldis Chapman had a mound visit by Trainer Steve Donahue for ongoing tendonitis in his knee, I probably would have left Chappy on the bench for this game. I would have held Betances for the ninth after burning D-Rob earlier in the game. Of course, it’s easy to say in hindsight but suffice it say that I am very happy that Betances is becoming a trusted resource once again.
As for Chapman, it was a shaky performance. He walked Jay Bruce to start the ninth, a batter who cannot seem to hit the broad side of a barn this season. He struck out the next two batters including former Toronto villain Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista but a walk of Kevin Plawecki put Bruce in scoring position. Fortunately, the next batter was Jose Reyes, who is struggling to hold his roster spot with the Mets. A liner to right into the waiting glove of Aaron Judge ended the game and handed Chapman his 17th save of the season.
Prior to the season, I didn’t want rookies at second AND third but here we are. Andujar and Torres have clearly proved me wrong. I still feel bad for Brandon Drury, a player I like, but I am thrilled with the performances of the rookies. I never expected this kind of power from the very talented Torres who now has 11 homers for the year. The only time he had double-digit homers in the minors was 2016 between two Class A clubs. He certainly never displayed this type of power while he was in the Chicago Cubs organization. I remember being saddened when the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs. I guess I’ve recovered…and then some. I love this Yankees team and the rookies are at the forefront of the team’s success.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Bill Kostroun)
The Yankees (42-18) maintained their half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (44-21) in the AL East with the win. The Sox beat the other Sox, 4-2, to keep pace. Hopefully the White Sox can take today’s game.
With the placement of Tanaka on the disabled list, the Yankees recalled utility-man Ronald Torreyes prior to the game. It brought multiple comments of “The cameraman is back!” on Twitter but Toe’s value to the chemistry of the 2018 Yankees cannot be understated. The clubhouse was very happy to see him and it reinforces how this team supports one another. Toe made it into yesterday’s game as a pinch-hitter for Dellin Betances in the ninth. He grounded out to short, but when his name is called upon the next time, his bat or glove, as always, will be ready. Welcome back, Toe!
Just when I thought Josh Rogers is putting his name into the conversation for spot starter, he threw his second consecutive stinker yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. After giving up six runs in 1 1/3 innings on June 3rd, Rogers allowed 13 hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings yesterday as the Louisville Bats coasted past the RailRiders, 9-4, with a 20-hit attack. Many are saying that Jonathan Loaisiga will get the call to make the spot start on Friday but I also think A.J. Cole, the forgotten man on the bench, should get consideration. The Yankees really need to see what they have with Cole. Either they need to give him an opportunity or they need to move on and open his spot for one of the talented young arms in the system ready to take the next step.
The Yankees can sweep the Mets today with our best pitcher (Luis Severino, like I needed to mention his name) on the mound. A good day for baseball and a great day for a victory.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)|
Stanton hits 22nd Career Homer at Citi Field…
I should be leading off by saying how instrumental Brett Gardner’s home run off Mets ace Jacob deGrom was to the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Mets or the brilliant job Masahiro Tanaka did after giving up the lead off right field upper deck homer to Brandon Nimmo, but watching Giancarlo Stanton go yard, even if it was just a tack-on run, was a game highlight for me.
We know Stanton will eventually get hot and start hitting home runs seemingly every day. Maybe this is the start. His homer was the 22nd of his career at Citi Field. In 109 career games against the Mets, Stanton has 36 home runs and 82 RBIs. It is the most career homers he has against any opponent. The next closest opponent is the team the Yankees face for a two-game series starting Tuesday (the Washington Nationals). Stanton has 34 career homers against the Nats. Then, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that has lost its best starting pitcher (Chris Archer, injury-DL) and best reliever (Alex Colome, trade to Mariners). It is easy to see how this could be the start of a very hot summer for Giancarlo.
Brett Gardner, the veteran easily written off by most Yankees fans at the start of the year, provided the hit that powered the victory. With Jacob deGrom pitching like he always does against the Yankees (dominating) and a deadlocked game at 1-1 in the eighth inning, Gardy’s two-run homer off deGrom gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. On a team filled with big sluggers, Gardner is the unlikely hero but there he is leading by example time and again.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
As for deGrom, I couldn’t help but imagine how he’d look in Pinstripes. Honestly, I do not think the Mets would ever trade their ace to the Yankees but realistically it does make sense. The Mets could garner a boatload of top prospects from their NYC rivals which would help restore some luster in Queens, even if it meant watching deGrom win a World Series championship, or two or three…, with the Yankees.
Credit to Masahiro Tanaka for shaking off the Nimmo dinger to start the game. He got the obligatory home run out of the way early. I am worried that he left the game with hamstring tightness, but before he departed, he did not allow another hit to the Mets and recorded eight strikeouts before his early departure after completing five innings. Not to be confused with Shohei Ohtani at bat, Tanaka reached base in the top of the sixth inning, thanks to an uncharacteristic fielding error by Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Tanaka worked his way to third with a single by Gleyber Torres and a walk by Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge’s fly to right brought Tanaka running home to score the run to tie the game, but something did seem wrong with his body language as there was no excitement in his face as he walked back to the Yankees dugout. He left the game with what was described as hamstring tightness and will undergo further tests today. Hopefully this is nothing serious. Naturally, the apparent injury brought back memories of Chien-Ming Wang who was never the same after suffering a foot injury in a National League park. I have never been against the lack of a DH in the NL except for the risk to AL pitchers who do not regularly come to the plate with bat in hand. It puts them at an obvious disadvantage and opens the possibility of unnecessary injury.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
The Yankees bullpen also gets kudos for keeping the Mets off the board to set the stage for the late game heroics by Gardy and Giancarlo. Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman combined for four innings of three-hit, scoreless relief. Green gave up two hits but struck out two, including an inning-ending strikeout of Devin Mesoraco, to stifle a potential Mets rally. Courtesy of Gardy’s homer to follow the next inning, Green (4-0) picked up the vulture win. For Chapman, it was his 16th save of the season. The Mets had the tying run at the plate when Chappy hit a batter and another reached on an infield hit, but he induced a fly out by slugger Jay Bruce to end the game. Trainer Steve Donahue visited Chapman while he was on the mound but he stayed in the game. He has apparently been dealing with tendonitis in his left knee, although Aaron Boone said after the game it was “no big deal”. I hope not. Chapman, for all his sweatiness, has been fantastic this year. Quietly, I have enjoyed the performances of Betances lately. In his most recent games, Aaron Boone hasn’t tried to squeeze more than an inning out of Betances and it has yielded very good results. So credit to Boonie for making good use of the pen. The Mets, for as miserable as they’ve been at times this year, have the bats to get back into a game in a hurry.
The Yankees (41-18) leaped over the Boston Red Sox (43-21) in the AL East by a half-game with the victory. Chris Sale pitched masterfully against his former club, the Chicago White Sox, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox used Dylan Covey and their bullpen to shutout Boston, 1-0. It was the third consecutive loss for Sale. Too bad, so sad. Um, not really.
If the Yankees have to pull a spot starter out of the minor leagues, I fully expect Jonathan Loaisiga to get the call. The 23-year-old righty is 6-0 with 2.30 ERA this year with High A-Tampa and Double A-Trenton. The only concern is that he has yet to pitch at the Triple A level. He has a spot on the 40-man roster which gives him an “arm” up on the guys who are not. Justus Sheffield certainly threw his name into the hat with yesterday’s outstanding performance. He only gave up one hit and two runs (none earned) in six innings of work to help power the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to a 4-3 win over the Louisville Bats in front of a packed house at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Top Sheff did walk three batters and threw a wild pitch but he struck out eight to pick up his first Triple A win this year. There’s no doubt Sheffield will make his Major League debut this year. It is just a matter of whether it will be sooner or later.
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller|
Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Capitals for their championships in the NBA and NHL, respectively. Championships are old hat for the Warriors but it was exciting to see the Capitals win their first, especially for their great player and captain, Alex Ovechkin. Somehow it didn’t seem right for the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win a championship in their inaugural year so I was happy to see the Caps emerge as the Stanley Cup Champions. Plus the Golden Knights had knocked my team (the San Jose Sharks) out of the playoffs so it was sweet revenge.
Today is a new day but a good day to continue the Mets losing streak. Go Domingo German and, as always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)|
The Battle of New York…
I am always the first to say that Spring games mean absolutely nothing but I have to admit it was fun beat the New York Mets on Saturday by 7 runs for the second time this year. The Yankees won 10-3 at Steinbrenner Field after beating the Mets 11-4 last Wednesday in Port St Lucie, FL.
Rumor has it the new guy, Giancarlo Stanton, can hit bombs. We were finally treated to the first Pinstriped home run by the big guy and man, did it feel good to see that one go out. It made me realize how much I like watching Aaron Judge and Stanton hit back-to-back, considering I have been an advocate for breaking them up with Greg Bird. It was exciting to see Judge reach base and then both guys celebrating at home plate after Stanton completed his home run trot, which included the faux football hand-off by third base coach Phil Nevin as Stanton rounded the base. John Sterling’s call of the home run was “a Stantonian blast”. Unclear if that’s just a temporary Spring call or if it will be the tagline for the season.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Another great moment in Saturday’s game was the first Spring appearance of David Robertson, who had recently been felled by food poisoning. Luis Cessa started the game and reaffirmed my concerns about his stature as the rotation’s sixth man when he got into trouble in the second inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases with only one out. Enter D-Rob. Six pitches…two strikeouts…inning over. I really hope the Yankees do not allow Robertson to leave at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent. The guy was made to be a Yankee and it was hard enough to watch his years away in Chicago. Now that we have him back, I don’t want to lose him again.
There was a scare in the top of the 6th inning when Tyler Wade rolled his wrist while attempting to dive for an infield grounder by Jose Reyes. Wade left the game and although he iced the hand, no further tests were planned. It sounds as though Wade will be back out on the field by Monday. The current leader for Opening Day second baseman, it would have been tough to lose Wade for any extended period of time. I am glad he is okay. It was certainly a scary moment.
The game also featured a bit of miscommunication. Dellin Betances pitched the fourth inning and then went to the clubhouse. No one told Adam Warren that he was scheduled to pitch the fifth, so it became a scramble after the Yankees completed batting in the bottom of the fourth. There was some apparent confusion in the dugout, and Warren quickly got up in the bullpen. After a brief delay, Betances came back out to face one batter, giving up a single, before departing for good. Aaron Boone held his usual 5th inning in-game conversation with the YES Network broadcasters but clearly did not want to talk about the incident. “We had some issues there. We’ll just leave it at that.” Some on social media were crucifying Boone for the miscommunication but I’d rather see Boone make mistakes in Spring training and learn from them before the season starts.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)|
A fair amount of drama for a “meaningless” Saturday afternoon game.
The Yankees had a couple more cuts yesterday when flame-throwing RHP Domingo Acevedo was optioned to Double-A Trenton and RHP Brian Keller was reassigned to minor league camp.
The Minnesota Twins may have lost the Wild Card game to the Yankees last season, but they will be a stronger team when they take the field this year. Although top starting pitcher Ervin Santana will miss the start of the season after surgery on his finger last month, the Twins previously added Jake Odorizzi in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and yesterday they signed free-agent Lance Lynn (an innings-eater and a very good pickup) to a one-year, $12 million contract. The Lynn signing triggered today’s release of Anibal Sanchez (Lynn was clearly an upgrade, in a total statement of the obvious). I would have loved to have seen the Yankees sign Lynn. The Twins have also added former Rays first baseman Logan Morrison, who slugged 38 home runs in 2017, to be their primary DH. I haven’t really been keeping up with the Twins, but they are quietly getting stronger. They also added Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed to their bullpen. I’ve never been a big fan of Rodney but Reed was a great signing.
With Lynn signing for much less than anticipated, I can’t help but wonder what it would take to sign free agent righty Alex Cobb in this environment of falling prices. You can never have enough starting pitching. I know that he’d never do it, but it would be cool if Jake Arrieta came to the Yankees with an offer to play for a pillow contract so that he can test the free agent market again next year. He does know and trust the Yankees closer. I know, I am just dreaming but whatever it takes to bring the 28th World Championship to the Bronx.
Lefty Joe Mantiply, 27, who spent last season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and was in camp with the Cincinnati Reds this year as a non-roster invitee underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on Friday. We wish Joe the very best as he begins his journey on the road to recovery and hopefully fulfilling his dream of one day making it back to the Major Leagues (he pitched briefly for the Detroit Tigers in 2016).
|Photo Credit: Cheryl Pursell|
I am bummed that today’s game against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, FL will not be televised. For the Yankees making the trip, be sure to say hello to our old friend, Starlin Castro.