|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.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Robbins)
No fear, Bird will fly…
Spring stats mean nothing. A few homers against mostly Double-A pitching and everyone felt that Miguel Andujar should be the starting third baseman. Now, I see that there are fans starting to grip about first baseman Greg Bird and his cold bat. Entering play today, Bird is batting .095 (2-for-21 with no home runs). Chill…when the season starts, Bird will be a competent and reliable bat in the Yankees batting order. If there is a certainty, Bird knows how to hit. Health is always questionable but when/if healthy, I fully expect Bird to get his share of big knocks.
|Photo Credit: MLB.com|
Poor Sonny Gray. He pitched great against the Atlanta Braves yesterday, going 3 2/3 innings and allowing only one hit and no runs. But the Yankees were held to one run on Gary Sanchez’s solo home run in the 6th inning and lost to the Braves, 3-1. No run support as usual for the Tennessean. I know, spring games are meaningless, but I did think it was humorous as the guy never seems to get any runs. Of course, the Yankees offense did not have its full arsenal since this was a road game. Honestly, with the benefit of training camp with the Yankees and time to adjust to being a New York Yankee and all that entails, I am expecting this to be a big year for Sonny Gray. I think he’ll pitch closer to the ace he was with the Oakland A’s and not the pitcher we saw at the end of last season (which was still very good). I am excited to see what a full season of Gray in the rotation will bring. I am very confident it will yield great results.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Abbie Parr)|
Speaking of starting pitching, Jordan Montgomery, as expected, has been announced as the team’s fifth starter by Manager Aaron Boone. Monty has looked very good this Spring. In 3 games covering 8 2/3 innings, he is 1-0 with 1.04 ERA. He has only allowed five hits and one run, while striking out eleven batters. He has walked four. Armed with his trusty change-up, a pitch missing for much of last year, we should see an improved Montgomery this season. I would not surprise me if Monty ends up with better stats than Houston’s Gerrit Cole by the time the post-season begins.
Ivan Nova, who probably couldn’t crack the Yankees top five, was recently named as the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day starter. There is much to like about the potential of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Jordan Montgomery.
The Yankees play the New York Mets today at Steinbrenner Field. The game is at 1:05 pm Eastern. The scheduled starters are:
Brett Gardner, CF
Aaron Judge, RF
Giancarlo Stanton, LF
Brandon Drury, 3B
Tyler Austin, 1B
Austin Romine, C
Jace Peterson, DH
Ronald Torreyes, SS
Tyler Wade, 2B
The starting pitcher will be former Mets prospect Luis Cessa. After the recent Twitter wars between the Yankees and Mets, I hope the Yankees send the Mets home on a disappointing bus ride back to Port St Lucie.
Today’s game will be televised by the YES Network but not tomorrow’s game when the Yankees travel to Jupiter, FL (Giancarlo Stanton’s old stomping grounds) to play the Miami Marlins. The Yankees who are making the trip (like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez) will see old friend Starlin Castro. Stanton is not expected to make the trip. If he had, I would have been really disappointed about Sunday’s game not being televised. The Marlins travel to Steinbrenner Field a week from Sunday so that should be a good game to watch as Stanton most likely will be in the lineup. Hopefully Starlin makes the trip so those of us not fortunate enough to be in Florida can see him again.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Robert Deutsch)|
The Yankees made a few more cuts yesterday. RHP Albert Abreu, slowed by recent appendectomy surgery, and Thairo Estrada, continuing to recover from the gunshot with bullet still lodged in his hip during a failed robbery attempt in late January, were reassigned to minor league camp. Johnny Lasagna aka Jonathan Loaisiga was also reassigned.
As I watch Shohei Otani attempt to both pitch and bat for the Los Angeles Angels, I am so glad that the Yankees are not dealing with the distraction. While I love Otani, the pitcher, I much prefer the bat of Giancarlo Stanton regardless of what the Japanese superstar is able to accomplish in Anaheim, CA this year.
Bummer…the Chicago White Sox eliminated the future possibility of their All-Garcia outfield when they released outfielder Willy Garcia. He had played a couple of times last year in a starting outfield that also featured fellow Garcia’s, Avisail and Leury. Willy was not expected to make this year’s White Sox squad. Thus endeth the All-Garcia outfield. I guess the Yankees need to acquire Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr so that they can feature an All-Aaron outfield. Ha, not really. Maybe Brett can just change his name to Aaron Gardner…
|Photo Credits: Getty Images|
How about Aaron Judge at Tight End?…
Admittedly, I was surprised when I saw the news that the Yankees had acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers. Wilson, better known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, is nothing more than a guy who likes to experience Fantasy Baseball in a Major League Camp. He has no plans to play two sports and really only wants to maintain his connection to baseball, which is obviously one of his loves.
Even more surprisingly was the negative reaction of many Yankees fans. Personally, I had no issue with Wilson’s desire to achieve a dream of playing with the Yankees. His late father was a lifetime Yankees fan, and Wilson himself was a Yankees fan during his childhood and perhaps still is. I guess I see the positives of Wilson’s addition. He is an inspiration for the players and I view him as a great motivational speaker for the few weeks he will spend in Tampa. The Yankees have said that he’ll participate in pre-game workouts and will be in the dugout, but it doesn’t really sound like he’ll see much, if any, action on the field during games. So, I have no problems with Wilson’s presence. I am not a Seahawks fan, but Wilson has played his sport at the highest level and can share insights from his experiences as a very good, quality professional player.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Seattle Times speculates that while Wilson may not be using Baseball as leverage, it is possible that he is sending a signal to Seahawks ownership that there is life outside of Seattle. What’s better than going to one of the most recognizable teams in Sports in the biggest city in the country? Wilson is sure to draw a huge crowd when he makes his first appearance at Steinbrenner Field sometime during March. The paper indicated when Wilson last participated in Spring Training for the Texas Rangers (2014 and 2015), he was in negotiations for an extension with the Seahawks. It led to a four-year deal that expires in two years. At the time of the contract signing, Wilson was the second highest paid QB behind Aaron Rodgers (although he wanted to be the highest paid). However, since that time, he will fall to the tenth highest paid at the position once Alex Smith’s new deal with the Washington Redskins becomes official and Jimmy Garrapolo re-signs with the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson hasn’t played professional baseball since 2011 when he appeared in 61 games at the Class A level for the Colorado Rockies organization.
I did like CC Sabathia’s tweet that the Yankees were going to win the World Series and the Super Bowl this year. And the various memes that said the Yankees now have the best quarterback in New York, poking fun at Eli Manning, and, yes, Tim Tebow.
This is a total publicity ploy for both sides. No one has any illusions that Wilson has suddenly decided to embark upon a professional baseball career like Tebow. He’ll be back on the field for the Seahawks this fall when they try to rebound from a lost season. But when he does take the field, he’ll do it knowing that, for a few days or weeks, he was a New York Yankee. Life is good.
FlavaFraz21 gets his number back…
It was tough watching Todd Frazier with a Mets cap and a NYM jersey bearing his number #21 that he was unable to wear with the Yankees, thanks to Paul O’Neill, at his introductory press conference. Listening to him talk only reaffirmed what an incredibly positive voice he is for a clubhouse.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Kathy Willens)|
Based on reports, the Yankees were never willing to offer more than a one year deal. I know it’s not my money, but I would have gone two years with Frazier like the Mets did. Even if the Yankees acquire Manny Machado next off-season, Frazier could have provided backup support for both first and third bases, with some pop for DH. Or, based on the team-friendly contract that Frazier signed with the Mets, if the Yankees had signed him for the same approximate dollars, he would have had some trade marketability for the teams that strike out in their bids for free agents-to-be Machado and Josh Donaldson.
I hope that not signing Frazier does not come back to haunt the Yankees.
If at third you don’t succeed…
As stagnant as the free agent market has been, I still do not see Mike Moustakas taking a one-year “pillow” contract. I am intrigued by the thought of the damage that Moose Tacos could do with the right field porch and his lefty bat would be a very healthy addition to the predominantly right-handed Yankees lineup. I don’t know where he’ll end up, but I don’t envision Moustakas in Pinstripes regardless of how greedy the Yankees decide to get (or not).
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)|
I am not opposed to Miguel Andujar as the starting third baseman but I do want a solid Plan B in place. Ronald Torreyes filled in capably at third last season but he’s not my preference for a starter if Andujar proves that he needs more seasoning in the Minor Leagues. Torreyes is best served as the team’s utility player.
Shane Spencer, he is not…
The Yankees signed former Los Angeles Angels outfielder Shane Robinson to a minor league deal with a training camp invitation. I am not sure that I really understand the addition of another outfielder given the plethora of outfielders participating in training camp. Robinson has played for the St Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and Angels over his 8-year career, playing in 436 games. He doesn’t offer much with his bat (.226 lifetime batting average with six career home runs). He only played 20 games last year for the Angels, batting .194 with no homers and one RBI.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I’d say this is a depth move for Triple A, but even the outfield at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is overflowing. Robinson will make $950,000 if he makes the Major League roster but at face value, it seems so unlikely. If he does not make the MLB roster, he can opt out of his contract on June 15th.
5 more days until Pitchers and Catchers report…I cannot wait.
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports|
And Thus Endeth the Cole Rumors…
The trade rumor that wouldn’t go away…did. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally traded their so-called ace to the Houston Astros for a package that included reliever Joe Musgrove (a speculated middle-of-the-rotation starter type), third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz, and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. Moran, former Major Leaguer B.J. Surhoff’s nephew, was the Astros’ seventh-rated prospect according to MLB.com.
If the Yankees did, in fact, offer Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Miguel Andujar to the Pirates, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington didn’t stop until he could find a much worse package for Steel Town. In reality, the trade shows that GM Brian Cashman never offered the much talked about packages for Cole. It’s been said that he may have only offered Clint Frazier OR Chance Adams. The Yankees were clearly not as high on Cole as the Astros were.
I’m glad the page can finally be turned. I am in favor of adding a starting pitcher only if it upgrades the current starting rotation. After completion of the one-year contracts for all the arbitration-eligible players, the Yankees have approximately $22 million left before they hit the luxury tax threshold (which is, of course, a hard “salary cap” in the Hal Steinbrenner Universe) of $197 million. The Yankees will not use all of that money so to say that they have $22 million left to spend is a bit of a misnomer. They need to set aside $2 million in case CC Sabathia hits his bonus milestones and there’s no way that Team Hal will bring payroll (AAV) tightly against the threshold. He’ll want a buffer and of course there needs to be enough room to play at the trading deadline. Only the Yankees truly know how much money they have left to spend.
If the Yankees did sign a free agent pitcher like Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, it is a certainty that the contract of Brett Gardner or David Robertson would be moved to make room. With the money the Yankees would have to include with Jacoby Ellsbury if they could entice him to waive his no-trade clause, I don’t think moving him would provide enough salary space for a big ticket purchase. They’d have to find a team willing to take at least half of his current salary and honestly I don’t think that team exists.
Chris Archer, we’re coming for you. With Cole out of the picture, the pitcher most likely to draw top speculation as the guy targeted for the Yankees, it is the talented 29-year-old righthander of the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, it’s possible that we could start hearing Michael Fulmer’s name again but both men continue to carry high price tags. If he doesn’t get a viable role for the 2018 Yankees (i.e., trade of Gardner or Ellsbury to make way), Frazier would look very good in Detroit’s outfield.
Even despite the current stagnant free agent market, I don’t think either Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier will accept a one-year “pillow” contract regardless of what happens between now and training camp. I like the left-handed bat of Moustakas but I think he’ll eventually end up with the St Louis Cardinals.
At this point, there is not really much left to do for the Yankees except make preparations to to start training camp in a month. Now that long-time coach Rob Thomson (annual organizer of training camp) is in Philadelphia, third base coach Phil Nevin and others will have to step up and deliver for new manager Aaron Boone. I am looking forward to the results of their preparation and organization as they host the members and challengers for the 2018 New York Yankees.
Go ahead, underestimate Didi Gregorius…
The MLB Network has been reviewing their top ten lists at each position, but they blew it for shortstops. The omission of Didi Gregorius is wrong. There’s no way that I’d trade Didi for half of the guys on this list:
Tim Beckham over Didi is a joke. Trevor Story was struggling to hold his job last season and it’s only a matter of time until Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers pushes him out of the way.
That’s fine. Pitch to Didi like you think he’s an afterthought in the Yankees lineup and let’s see what happens.
Congratulations to Tyler Austin…
Tyler Austin proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Stephanie Dana, over the weekend and she said yes. Hopefully this is a sign that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the young Yankees first baseman/outfielder. Congrats to Tyler and Stephanie!
The New York Mess…
The Mets are really going to sign free agent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez? It makes me appreciate every day that I am a Yankees fan. Nothing like pushing a young, promising first baseman (Dominic Smith) out of the way for an aged ‘has-been’. Jon Heyman’s argument is that A-Gon only costs the minimum and there are questions about Smith’s conditioning. Viable arguments but I am glad that A-Gon is on their team and not mine.
|Photo Credit: Orange County Register|
Life as a Minnesota Vikings fan has not been as rewarding as life as a Yankees fan, but the best Vikings team in years takes the field today against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs. The winner moves on to the NFC Championship to play the Eagles in Philadelphia. I am hopeful and optimistic that the Vikings will be the ones traveling to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Vikings will feature three active QB’s behind starter Case Keenum. Sam Bradford, who missed the majority of the season with a knee injury, was activated for today’s game. He’ll be joined by fellow QB’s Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter. With Keenum, Bradford, and Bridgewater all potential free agents after the season, I was very glad to see the Vikings waive backup TE Kyle Carter rather than Sloter to free up a spot for Bradford. Bradford was the starting QB in the season opener when the Vikings beat the Saints. My hope is that all three backups need to do no more than hold clipboards while Keenum continues his season of rejuvenation.
And as always, Go Yankees!
Yankees 7, Mets 5…
Bryan Mitchell tried to give the game away, loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 9th and then allowing a grand salami by former Yank Curtis Granderson, but Dellin Betances came in (“it’s not really what you want to do” –Joe Girardi) to restore order and give the Yankees the series sweep over the New York Mets.
This should have been an easy win with the dominance of Luis Severino and the power of Gary Sanchez but it was a nail-bitter at the end. If the Mets had gotten a runner on base against Betances, they would have brought the potential game-tying run to the plate. But Dellin is no Aroldis Chapman (of late) and he shut the door.
This game should have been all about the Kraken. Gary Sanchez is rapidly becoming Mr August although I’d be okay with Mr August through October. He owned August last year and he owns it again this season. Brett Gardner led off with a bouncer back to Mets pitcher Steven Matz and reached second when Matz’s throw sailed over first baseman Dominic Smith’s head. Aaron Hicks walked. After Aaron Judge struck out (record extended), El Gary came to the plate and sent a Matz pitch into the left center stands as a souvenir. The Yankees led 3-0 to give Luis Severino some backing before he had even thrown a pitch.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
The Yankees got to Matz again in the fourth inning. Tyler Austin singled to right, his second hit of the game. Ronald Torreyes followed with a single to left, a roller through the hole at short. The best hit of the night, sorry Gary, came when Luis Severino popped a bunt that fell in for a single to load the bases. The Yankees bench went nuts over Sevy’s first Major League hit. Brett Gardner, showing the professional hitter that he is, lined a double into the left field corner. Both Austin and Torreyes scored. Sevy stopped at third, huffing and puffing (not seriously). After Aaron Hicks grounded out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded again. The Mets pulled Steven Matz and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford. Gary Sanchez greeted Bradford with a single to left (through the hole between third and short), which scored Severino and Gardner. Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud was unable to hold Yoenis Cespedes’ throw, otherwise, he might have had a play on Gardner at the plate. The Yankees had scored 4 runs and now led 7-0.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Luis Severino was dominant after his collapse against Boston last weekend. He pitched into the seventh inning. He got the first out…a ground out by Amed Rosario, but from there, the inning deteriorated. A fly ball to right by Travis d’Arnaud was dropped by Aaron Judge and d’Arnaud was able to reach second on the two-base error. With Matt Reynolds batting, a wild pitch by Severino allowed d’Arnaud to move to third. It was another case where Gary Sanchez didn’t have his glove low enough to stop the pitch. Matt Reynolds looped a single to center to score d’Arnaud and the Mets had their first run of the game. Brandon Nimmo also singled to center, and Sevy’s day was done. He could only watch from the dugout as both runners were his responsibility. The Yankees brought in lefty Chasen Shreve, causing Tweeter to blow up with the “Chasen History” references due to the appearance of two Chasens (Shreve and the Mets’ Bradford) in the game. Shreve struck out Curtis Granderson for the second out, but walked Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases. In perhaps what would prove to be one of the game’s biggest moments, Shreve struck out Michael Conforto to end the threat.
Shreve easily set down the Mets in the 8th, but Bryan Mitchell was brought in for the 9th to close it out. Sadly, he was ill equipped for the job on this night. Travis d’Arnaud led off with a double to the wall in left. Matt Reynolds singled to right while d’Arnaud was held at third. Following a coaching visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Mitchell walked Brandon Nimmo to load the bases with no outs. Curtis Granderson came up and jumped all over the first pitch from Mitchell for a grand slam to right. Manager Joe Girardi was visibly unhappy (along with Yankees fans), and finally pulled Mitchell. Enter Dellin Betances. 1-2-3, game over. Yankees win!
The Boston Red Sox had the day off so the Yankees (65-55) picked up a 1/2 game and now trail the Sox by 4 games as they head to Boston for the weekend. The Tampa Bay Rays continue to slide, falling to the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3. The loss, combined with the Blue Jays win, created a three-way tie for the AL East Cellar (the Baltimore Orioles were idle). All three teams trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games.
Excellent pitching performance by Luis Severino (10-5). After giving up 10 runs (8 earned) in his last start, Sevy bounced back to allow only four hits and one run (none earned) over 6 1/3 innings. If not for Judge’s error, he probably could have gone deeper into the game. He walked three batters, but struck out nine in lowering his season ERA to 3.18.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
Also, you can’t say enough about the huge bullpen performances by Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances, who picked up his eighth save. Both pitchers had the outcome of the game in their hands and they triumphed.
As for Mitchell, I know that he is capable of providing long relief but I’d probably send him down to Triple A and recall hot reliever Ben Heller with Caleb Smith, also capable of going long, in the pen.
Gary Sanchez…The Kraken…El Gary…The Sanchino. Two hits, including the homer and five RBI’s. Jump on his back and hold on…the man is on fire.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
The streak continues. Aaron Judge extended his own Major League record for strikeouts (by a non-pitcher) to 34 games. I’d like to see a nice clean 4-for-4 day to put this one in the history books. For this game, Judge went hitless in four at-bats and was punched out three times.
The Yankees had a sense of humor with their Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) reference after the game:
We could probably use Dany’s dragons as the Yankees head north to Massachusetts.
Next Up: Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, MA…
The Red Sox come into the latest series well rested as they had the day off on Thursday following their walk-off win over the St Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. The Yankees meanwhile had to toil in Queens last night before hopping a plane for the short flight to Beantown.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 3.94 ERA)
Red Sox: Drew Pomeranz (12-4, 3.39 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-5, 4.05 ERA)
Red Sox: Chris Sale (14-4, 2.51 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (7-7, 3.37 ERA)
Red Sox: Doug Fister (2-6, 5.56 ERA) / TBA
It’s unfortunate we won’t have Luis Severino for this series, but at least we have Sonny Gray. Gray will be making his first start in the Yankees-Red Sox wars. He’ll really find out that he no longer resides in Oakland (if watching last weekend’s series wasn’t enough). I am not sure if Boston has fully decided its starter for Sunday. Fister is a strong possibility but not a certainty.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have recalled 1B/OF Tyler Austin from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He takes the place of 1B Garrett Cooper. Cooper has been placed on the 10-day DL with left hamstring tendonitis.
Greg Bird was in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup last night at DH. He was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in the RailRiders’ 5-4 win over the Gwinnett Braves (a team that will soon be called something like the Buttons or the Sweet Teas).
Have a great Friday! May the Baseball Gods favor the Yankees this weekend. Go Yankees!
Yankees 5, Mets 3…
…Ya gotta love John Sterling and his home run calls. Aaron Judge hits a home run and it’s almost bigger news than the game itself. His blast, which traveled into the third deck of the left center stands, traveled 457 feet at a velocity of 117 mph to help power the Yankees to the win over the New York Mets. It was funny to watch the Mets outfielders stand without moving as they watched the ball fly over.
I didn’t like the first inning when the Yankees failed to take advantage of a scoring opportunity and the Mets did not. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single lined to right. He stole second (the throw bouncing off Ellsbury as he slid), and later advanced to third on Aaron Judge’s ground out back to the pitcher. Robert Gsellman looked at Ellsbury but didn’t hold him long enough before throwing Judge out. Unfortunately, the Yankees could not bring Ells home. In the bottom of the inning, the Mets didn’t waste their opportunity. Juan Lagares opened with a double down the third base line all the way to the corner off Yankees starter Jaime Garcia. After moving to third on a ground out, he scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets had the early 1-0 lead.
The second inning was weird but the Yankees came away with the game-tying run. With the Mets rotating third baseman Travis d’Arnaud and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera in frequent positional switches, Chase Headley drew a one-out walk against Mets starter Robert Gsellman. A wild pitch by Gsellman into the dirt through catcher Rene Rivera’s legs allowed Headley to move to second, followed by a passed ball on Rivera that advanced him to third. Rivera’s look back at Gsellman was a classic “WTF?”. Garrett Cooper grounded out to third on a diving stop by Asdrubal Cabrera but Headley scored on the play. The Yankees had tied the game.
Aaron Judge led off the 4th inning with his towering blast. It was one of those “wow” moments. The home run was Judge’s 37th of the year. The Yankees had taken their first lead of the game, 2-1.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
In the bottom of the 5th, Rene Rivera hit a two-out solo homer over the wall in left center to tie the game. It seemed so wrong that his homer counted as much as Judge’s did.
The Yankees took their second lead of the game in the 6th inning. Aaron Judge singled on a liner to left with one out. Successive walks to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez loaded the bases and ended the day for Robert Gsellman. Reliever Paul Sewald was brought into the game and Chase Headley greeted him with a sacrifice fly to center which scored Judge. 3-2, Yankees.
In the bottom of the inning, the Mets came right back to tie the game again. Asdrubal Cabrera opened the inning with a single to left. He subsequently tried to steal second on a ball that got away from Gary Sanchez, but it was a bad idea to test El Gary’s arm. Out at second. Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk from Jaime Garcia and Michael Conforto doubled to left…a roller to the wall, advancing Cespedes to third. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia and brought Tommy Kahnle into the game. Travis d’Arnaud lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cespedes but Kahnle was able to limit the damage to only the one run. Game was tied again at 3.
Ronald Torreyes led off the 7th inning with a double to the left field corner. What can you say about Toe? He is constantly coming up with key, unsung hits in critical moments. A sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Kahnle, pushed Toe to third. Successive walks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks by Paul Sewald loaded the bases. Admittedly, the fourth ball to Hicks looked like the third strike but oh well, I’ll take it. Aaron Judge had first crack at the potential scoring opportunity but he popped out to the catcher. Didi Gregorius was next and he didn’t miss his opportunity. He rapped a double with authority to the right field corner, scoring both Toe and Ellsbury.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
From there, the Yankees rode the bullpen arms of Adam Warren and David Robertson to victory. The Mets were given four outs in the bottom of the 9th when a third strike on Amed Rosario rolled under Gary Sanchez’s glove to the backstop, allowing Rosario to reach first. Robertson was charged with the wild pitch, but Sanchez should have had his glove down. Robertson shook it off and did what he does best. He closed the game out for his 14th save on a called strikeout of Rene Rivera who had represented the potential tying run. I continue to be thankful every day that DRob is a Yankee again.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
The Yankees (64-55) were unable to pick up any ground on the Boston Red Sox. The Sox were trailing the St Louis Cardinals, 4-2, in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway Park, but Xander Bogaerts homered and Mookie Betts hit a two-run double to give the Red Sox the 5-4 walk-off win. So, the Yankees remain 4 1/2 games behind the Sox. The Sox are off today so the Yankees will either gain or lose a 1/2 game depending upon the outcome of the Yankees-Mets series finale. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles lost. The Rays dropped a 3-2 contest to the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s were beaten 7-6 by Yonder Alonso and the Seattle Mariners. So, they trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 and 6 games, respectively.
Despite the monster home run, Aaron Judge set the MLB record for consecutive games with a strikeout for non-pitchers with a swinging strikeout in the top of the 9th. He has now struck out in 32 successive games.
Although he was on the mound when the Mets tied the game in the 6th, Tommy Kahnle (2-3) was the beneficiary of the two-run double by Didi Gregorius in the 7th to take the win. Excellent job by Adam Warren who pitched two innings of scoreless one-hit ball with 3 strikeouts. I am sure that the Chicago Cubs look at Warren and wonder where that guy was at the start of last season.
Mets starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who hadn’t played third since high school, was forced to play the position when both Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes were scratched before the game due to ribcage injuries. d’Arnaud and Cabrera, the second baseman, made a total of 22 positional switches during the course of the game. Cabrera would frequently move to third for right-handed hitters. It was a smart play by Mets manager Terry Collins as he limited the fielding chances for d’Arnaud. Cabrera took all of the grounders to third and d’Arnaud only had to deal with a popup.
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
Odds & Ends…
Credit to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com for the words of Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner at the MLB Owners Meeting in Chicago:
- If we don’t make the play-offs, it’s a failure. Any year, any year. That’s just the mindset for us.
- It was a great first two and a half months. It’s been tough the last two months for the most part. But I think they’re coming out of it and the pitching additions we made at the Deadline are already helping, and we’re going to have a strong last five, six weeks.
- The changes we did at the last Trade Deadline a year ago clearly [were] a difficult decision. But I made it, it was mine, and we got a lot of good players from it and we still stayed in contention until the last couple weeks. But we’ve been fortunate. The young guys we kept talking about for three, four years finally got to the point where they could contribute at the big league level. Other guys — [international] signings like Estevan Florial — have been good. So we’ve got a very good player development system right now, and we’re competing. That’s always a very good sign. And it’s always tough to give up some of the top [prospects], but I wasn’t going to do it for a rental. If you do it, you do it for a young guy that’s under control for a year or two.
- We can still go into the free-agent market. We’ll just have to see who’s ready [in the Minor League system] and who’s not and how the team looks at X [payroll] number.
Credit: Nam Y Huh-Associated Press
Greg Bird began his rehab assignment last night with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. After the RailRiders completed the rain suspended game from the night before (which they lost 9-4 to the Gwinnett Braves), Bird was penciled into the lineup at first base for the regularly scheduled Wednesday game. He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the first four innings of the RailRiders’ 4-1 loss to the Braves. Chance Adams, 9-4, was the losing pitcher.
CC Sabathia will be activated off the DL on Saturday according to Sweeny Murti of WFAN. He’s scheduled to make the start against the Boston Red Sox. I wish I felt more optimistic about this news than I do.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s sweep the Subway Series with a win! Go Yankees!
Yankees 5, Mets 4…
Sonny Gray finally won his first game as a Yankee, blanking the Mets until rookie first baseman Dominic Smith blasted his first Major League home run. All was good up until the 9th when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run homer to Amed Rosario, showing he is not over whatever this funk is, to bring the Mets within a run. Fortunately, the Yanks prevailed but it was a disappointing end to what should have been an exciting win.
The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd. Ronald Torreyes led off with a double to left off Mets starter Jacob DeGrom. The third baseman, Wilmer Flores, was playing in and was unable to reach the ball which went past third base. Toe fell down at first base but was able to get up and slide into second ahead of the throw. It was a nice recovery by Toe who had alertly slapped first base with his hand as he got up to run. Brett Gardner executed a sacrifice bunt to move Toe to third. Aaron Hicks rapped a fly ball to right that dropped in ahead of Curtis Granderson to score Toe and the Yankees led 1-0.
They added two more runs in the bottom of the 4th. Chase Headley worked a two-out walk. He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who parked one in the right center stands on a line drive to increase the score to 3-0. As the Mets announcers said, “It’s a double in every other park except this one”.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
With Sonny Gray still going strong, Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the 6th inning and unloaded on a DeGrom pitch for a tremendous home run to left center. The homer, Gary’s 21st of the year, increased the lead to 4-0.
|Credit: Rich Schultz-The Associated Press|
Wilmer Flores led off the 7th and he battled Gray for 8 pitches before walking to reach first. He didn’t stay there long as Dominic Smith followed with a home run to center. End of day for Gray, but it was a great performance despite the two-run homer. Manager Joe Girardi brought in Tommy Kahnle who retired the next three Mets to halt the Mets’ momentum.
Dellin Betances pitched the 8th. He did walk a batter (Yoenis Cespedes) with two outs. Cespedes moved into a scoring position after a wild pitch off Gary Sanchez’s glove but was left stranded when Betances struck out Michael Conforto.
The Yankees added an insurance run (which would prove to be huge) in the bottom of the 8th. Aaron Judge led off with a double to the left field corner wall, sliding into second with his left hand just under the perfect throw from Yoenis Cespedes. Didi Gregorius singled on a fly to shallow left that fell just beyond Wilmer Flores, the third baseman, to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly to center by Gary Sanchez was deep enough (warning track) to score Judge to give the Yankees a 5-2 advantage. The Mets replaced DeGrom with lefty Jerry Blevins. Chase Headley singled to left, moving Gregorius to second. Blevins then struck out Jacoby Ellsbury. The Mets pulled Blevins and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford (there’s another reliever in MLB from Las Vegas, Nevada named Chasen besides Shreve? Was it something in the Clark County water 27-28 years ago?). Bradford got Todd Frazier to pop out to first to end the inning. In retrospect, we could have used those additional runs to help prevent an agonizing 9th.
I started to get nervous when I saw Aroldis Chapman warming up. I was thankful the Yankees weren’t nursing a one-run lead. Wilmer Flores was first up. He worked the count full which had me fearing that Chapman would walk the lead-off batter. Fortunately, he struck out Flores on a foul tip to get the first out. The Mets then inserted Jose Reyes as a pinch-hitter for Dominic Smith which seemed odd given that Smith had homered in his last at-bat and Chapman had been beaten by a young slugger the night before. Nevertheless, Reyes hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley could not corral. Reyes was awarded a single but Headley could have cleanly handled the play for an out. Rookie Amed Rosario came to the plate and hit a long fly ball to center that Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury could only watch as it sailed over the fence. The Yankees’ lead had been cut to 5-4 and there was still only one out.
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound. Maybe he told Chapman to stop trying to be cute with the flat sliders. Whatever he told Chapman, it must have worked. Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to short on a great stop and throw to first by Didi Gregorius (despite losing his footing). Chapman had Juan Lagares down to two strikes but he hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley successfully handled. Chapman was moving toward first and took the toss from Headley just ahead of Lagares, but he must have pulled something in his leg as he was running toward first. Chapman got the save, his 16th, but it was far from an exciting win. I’ll take the win, don’t get me wrong. But Chapman’s struggles took away some of the euphoria that normally accompanies the excitement of victory.
The Yankees (63-55) still trail the Boston Red Sox by 4 1/2 games. The Red Sox pounded the St Louis Cardinals, 10-4, in a game that saw the Sox turn an easy triple play to go with an eight-run inning. The Toronto Blue Jays moved back into third place with their 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. They trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games. The Baltimore Orioles, sliding back to fourth place, lost to the Seattle Mariners, 3-1. They are 5 games behind the Yanks. The Yankees increased their lead in the Wild Card standings by 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels. It’s amazing to think that 8 AL teams are within 5 games of each other. In the National League, the two WC leaders (Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks) hold a five-game cushion.
Aaron Judge struck out in the first inning against Jacob DeGrom to extend his consecutive game streak with a strikeout to 32 games. He tied Adam Dunn’s 2012 record for non-pitchers. If he strikes out tonight, he’ll hold the dubious record by himself.
As great as the Yankees bullpen has been this year, it seems like there is an ugly stick that is passed from reliever to reliever. Former Yankee reliever Tyler Clippard was awful for a stretch prior to his trade to the Chicago White Sox. By the time he was traded to the Houston Astros, he was once again being touted as a two-time All-Star. He passed his awfulness before his departure to Dellin Betances, who rebounded, but must have given the baton to Chapman. The Yankees were downplaying Chapman’s hamstring tightness after the game but there’s reason for concern (in my opinion). If it were my decision, I’d pull Chapman from the closer’s role until he can right the ship. My choice for closer would be David Robertson. Betances tends to have more problems with base runners and I’d prefer to keep him in his effective set-up role.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press|
For Sonny Gray (7-7), it was great to see him get the win in his Yankee Stadium debut. Pitching six innings, he held the Mets to 5 hits and only gave up the 2 runs on the Dominic Smith homer in the 7th. He walked two batters and struck out 5. This is why Gray was worth the cost of Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian.
Odds & Ends…
The latest Subway Series moves to Citi Field tonight. Jaime Garcia gets to pitch in familiar National League digs. Have Bat–Will Travel. Hopefully the Yankees will back Garcia with a few runs this time or maybe he just takes matters into his own hands…
Credit: FOX Sports
The New York Mets have made a pitching change for tonight’s game. The scheduled starter, Seth Lugo, has been placed on the DL with an impingement in his right shoulder. Robert Gsellman, a 24-year-old righty, will start in his place. Gsellman is 5-5 with 6.16 ERA for the Mets this season.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-The Associated Press|
It’s hard for me to get overly excited about Greg Bird after a series of disappointments this year since Spring Training. Nevertheless, he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today. Bird is hoping to join the Yankees next week but for me, he needs to show that he can hit again before Garrett Cooper loses his spot as the backup first baseman for the big league club. I am very skeptical that we’ll have any significant productivity from Bird in 2017. I hope he proves me wrong.
As expected, the Yankees placed RHP Luis Cessa on the 10-day DL with his ribcage injury. LHP Caleb Smith, demoted yesterday, was recalled to take Cessa’s place. The lovely Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…
Have a great Wednesday! Let’s show Queens how Bronxites like to party! Go Yankees!