|Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP|
Comeback Win Vaults Yankees Past Rays in AL East…
Okay, it’s just mid-May and like Aaron Boone alluded to last night after the game, it’s a long season ahead. Yet, it is satisfying to sit atop the AL East even if it is only temporary depending upon the outcome of today’s game. Standings will become more important in the months ahead but I continue to be amazed at the resiliency of this team.
Gio Urshela’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it last night may have been his game-winning hit, but it’s a microcosm of this season and how well the replacement Yankees have stepped up to support the team in the wake of injuries to multiple major team stars. I was kind of hoping Kendrys Morales would have his signature Yankee moment in his second game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth, which would have been his second of the game, to win it but it was not meant to be. Kendrys was probably wishing too hard for a homer too and that’s why he struck out. Oh well, Gio was there to pick him up.
To answer your question, yes Michael Kay, the Yankees had a rally in their bones.
Credit Luke Voit for the home run to open the bottom of the ninth to cut it to a one-run deficit. Perhaps the Yankees were destined to win it anyway but the homer changed the mood in the air. As a TV viewer, I know I was feeling a lift even if the Yankees were still trailing at that point after only putting up one run (the Morales homer in the bottom of the second) the prior eight innings.
|Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post|
I’ve seen many jump on Aaron Boone for pitching Chad Green in the eighth inning when the Rays put two runs on the board to break the 1-1 tie. I had no problem with the move. After the game, Boone indicated that the decision was to avoid Zack Britton this game since he had thrown 31 pitches in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles. Aroldis Chapman would have only entered in a save situation. But even without his explanation for not using Britton (or Chapman), I had no problem with Boone’s decision to bring Green into the high leverage situation. I’m sure Green would have liked a mulligan on the sixth pitch to Brandon Lowe, which Lowe ripped to deep center for a run-scoring double, but otherwise, I thought he pitched very effectively. The unearned run on the errant throw to first base by Gleyber Torres which allowed another run to score was not Green’s fault. The bullpen has been pitching so well lately, I guess the fans have come to expect zeros every time a Yankee reliever takes the mound but guess what, shit happens. I want Chad Green to be a big part of this bullpen and I hope Boone keeps rolling him out in high leverage spots. I am convinced he rediscovered himself with his brief stay in Scranton a couple of weeks ago and the results, over a broader span, will prove it. Say what you will, but I think Aaron Boone has improved as a manager over the course of two seasons.
Great job by CC Sabathia. Outside of the fourth inning solo dinger by Willy Adames which tied the game, Sabathia was excellent. It was his longest start of the season at six innings, with an economical 84 pitches. He only walked two batters, while striking out four, and lowered his season ERA to 2.97 with the single earned run on the Adames homer. The four K’s pushed the future Hall of Famer’s career strikeout total to 3,013.
|Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images|
This is a strange season. I am excited about how well the Yankees have done despite missing so many huge parts of the team. On the other hand, I keep wondering when the shoe is going to drop. I really hope the replacements can keep this up until we start to get the big guns back.
Before the Yankees completed their comeback win, the Houston Astros exerted their position as the best team in the American League, right now, with their 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Despite their sluggish start, the Red Sox have been very strong lately as they have charged back into AL East relevance (which I had fully expected, hence, the reason I never talked smack when the Red Sox were down). The Red Sox loss and the Yankee win leaves the Sox 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees…not that it matters at this point. I didn’t watch the Astros-Red Sox game but I did see enough to shake my head and say that Alex Bregman is incredible. He didn’t do anything with his bat (1-for-4, a meaningless first inning single) but his defense play was, as usual, outstanding. Such a great all-around player. It really makes me appreciate Gio Urshela as the Yankees’ third baseman in Miguel Andujar’s absence. A great glove at third cannot be underestimated. After the Rays game, CC Sabathia was asked if he had ever played with anyone as good defensively as Urshela, and CC couldn’t come up with a name.
Last winter, I had wanted the Yankees to sign Manny Machado for his all-around play. Who knows if he can keep it up, but at this point, Urshela has provided everything I wanted from Machado at a fraction of the cost. Manny is batting .268/.346/.470 with .347 wOBA and 120 wRC+ (1.4 WAR) in 44 games. He has 9 homers and 23 RBIs. In 10 fewer games, Urshela is batting .347/.398/.500 with .384 wOBA and 142 wRC+ (1.0 WAR). He has 2 home runs and 16 RBIs. Granted, Machado has more power but Urshela has more than fulfilled expectations. I am not saying that Urshela will ever be the player Machado is, but I really hope that he is able to keep this up to prevent GM Brian Cashman from going outside to get further help at third base. It would be awesome if this is truly Urshela’s breakout year. Not sure how this plays out when Didi Gregorius returns to take shortstop, creating an infield crowd. But that’s a problem for another day. Today, I’ll gladly watch Urshela with amazement, play after play, day after day.
I guess it was in the back of all of our minds but it was rough hearing Carlos Beltran say that Aaron Judge will not fully recover from the oblique injury this season. I know, it’s a core muscle and anyone who has had a similar injury knows how difficult it is to let the muscle rest. In other words, you can’t. Hopefully Judge is able to get healthy enough to help the team at some point in the not-so-distant future although he hasn’t resumed baseball activities yet. I’d rather he waits until he is truly ready, even though he won’t be 100%, and not try to come back too soon. We need Judge when the summer months get here.
|Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill/NY Post|
It’s a new day. Let’s hope the Yankees magic continues today (and tomorrow and the next day…). As with The Three Musketeers, same with The Twenty-Five New York Yankees, “all for one and one for all”.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Julio Aguilar)|
Tampa’s Best Resident treated rudely by the St Pete Rays…
The last couple of days have not been fun.
I was afraid after the Yankees finished off the sweep of the surging Seattle Mariners, the Yankees might struggle against a losing team. I know, every team goes through mini-slumps and it is inevitable the Yankees will lose from time to time as difficult as it may be for Yankees fans. They’ll eventually lose around sixty games (give or take) by the time the season is finished so Loss #24 on June 23rd is not the end of the World. Winning 116 games in the regular season does not guarantee anything. Just ask the Mariners. The goal is to win the division, not to see if the Yankees can top the 114 victories by the 1998 Yankees.
I think the toughest part of Friday night’s 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was the inability of the Yankees to score runs off the Rays rotation by bullpen. Trailing 2-0 in the 7th inning, Aaron Judge delivered a run-scoring single off one-time brief Yankee Chaz Roe and had the Yankees set up in scoring position with Brett Gardner at second and Judge at first and only one out. But both Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorious both grounded out to end the Yankees best chance to tie the game. Otherwise, it was a very quiet night.
On the same night as the Yankees were floundering in St Petersburg, the Boston Red Sox overcame deficits of 0-5 and 5-10 to defeat the Seattle Mariners by a score of 14-10. The Yankees couldn’t squeeze out one more run while the Red Sox had no problem erasing not one but two five-run deficits.
Yesterday’s loss might have been easier to take for no other reason than the Red Sox finally lost. The Mariners snapped their five-game losing skid with a 7-2 victory over Boston and nine-game winner Edwin Rodriguez.
There were not very many positives with Saturday’s game as the Rays bullpen held the Yankees scoreless on four hits en route to the 4-0 win over the Yanks. Sonny Gray gave up three runs in the first two innings to put the Yankees in a hole and the last hitter he faced in the bottom of the 7th, rookie Willy Adames, took him yard. Credit Gray for the stretch of hitters when he retired 15 Rays in a row, but ultimately it was just another loss for the disappointing Gray (5-5, 4.93 ERA).
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I do not understand Wilmer Font’s mastery of the Yankees. Font lost jobs earlier this year with the Los Angeles Dodgers (11.32 ERA) and Oakland A’s (14.85 ERA) but against the Yankees, Font is 1-0 and has limited the team to only 2 runs over 11 1/3 innings with 9 strikeouts. The Yankees have almost single-handedly revived Font’s career.
The most painful at-bat for me yesterday was Giancarlo Stanton’s strikeout (against Rays reliever and Friday night’s “opener” Ryne Stanek) to end the top of the 6th inning, leaving Aaron Judge stranded at third. Leaving runners in scoring position has plagued the Yankees in both losses and the last couple of weeks. Friday night, they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and they left nine men on base. Yesterday, they were 1-for-8 (Didi Gregorius advanced Judge from second to third prior to Stanton’s swinging strikeout) but couldn’t get anyone home.
The Yankees offense really hasn’t done anything since the two-homer outburst in the first inning of the series finale with the Mariners last Thursday.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Julio Aguilar)|
The Yankees (50-24) hold a slim one-game lead over the Red Sox (51-27) in the AL East. After helping the Rays climb closer to .500, the Yankees have a tough week ahead. When today’s game is over, they’ll hop on a plane bound for Philadelphia to play a three-game set against the Phillies. The Phillies currently have a better record than the Washington Nationals and sit just a game and a half behind the surprising Atlanta Braves in the NL East. There’s no doubt they’ll be ready to play when the Yankees come to town. The Phillies are riding a three-game winning streak entering play today. After a much-needed day off on Thursday, the Yankees return home to face the Boston Red Sox for three games next weekend. The Braves follow the Red Sox so the Yankees have clearly missed an opportunity to beat up on a losing team before another difficult stretch. Time to get the team’s offense going. Today is better than tomorrow. I’ve really missed Michael Kay’s “See ya!” calls.
I was going to rip on Chasen Shreve but the Yankees did it for me. Shreve relieved Sonny Gray yesterday after the homer by Willy Adames and he had the Rays set up for more runs with a couple of walks and a hit to load the bases. Fortunately he struck out Wilson Ramos to leave the bases full, but it appears this may have been his final Yankees appearance. The Yankees designated Shreve for assignment today, recalling Tommy Kahnle from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. As a lefty who has experienced some success at the MLB level, I doubt Shreve clears waivers so thus endeth his Yankees career. The Yankees need another lefty for the pen but I am not sad to see Shreve go. He was the bullpen’s weakest link.
Welcome back, Tommy Kahnle! The Philadelphia Eagles fan was 1-1 with 3.12 ERA in eight games for the RailRiders. He struck out 15 batters in 14 innings and yielded only 3 walks. I am glad to have Kahnle back even if his 7th inning role has been supplanted by Jonathan Holder. He gives Aaron Boone a few choices before he pulls the Dellin Betances-Aroldis Chapman card late in games.
I cannot talk about the RailRiders without mentioning Brandon Drury. Drury’s two-run homer yesterday was the difference-maker in the RailRiders’ 4-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings. Drury continues to be an on-base machine even if he was only 1-for-4 in the game. For a big league club that’s struggling to advance base runners, Drury could help. At this point, I’d be ready to eat the balance of Neil Walker’s contract to open a spot for Drury. Walker has done a fine job supporting first base, but the athletic Drury can be equally as effective (if not more so).
Very nice job on Saturday by Yankees pitching prospect Garrett Whitlock for the Tampa Tarpons (High-A). Whitlock, 22, picked up the win over the Jupiter Hammerheads with a three-hit shutout. He beat former Yankees prospect Jorge Guzman (the hard-thrower who went to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton trade), striking out eleven Hammerheads over seven innings while only walking one. Whitlock was drafted in the 18th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. He is currently rated as the 26th best Yankees prospect by MLB.com. He is exceeding expectations (5-3, 1.41 ERA in combined A ball, with 81 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 70 innings) and should advance his stature within one of baseball’s best farm systems with his breakout season. Whitlock has only given up one homer this year (only the second of his minor league career) and none for the Tarpons. I suspect that we’ll be hearing more and more about Whitlock in the coming months.
|Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio|
Hard to believe that the calendar will soon turn to July. Trade talks should be heating up in the coming weeks. That should spark some good Bryan Van Dusen posts. It will be a fun month, made even better if the Yankees can put some distance between themselves and the Red Sox.
Never a better day to start winning than today. Go Yankees!
Update: Sounds like the DFA of Chasen Shreve was fake news or just my wishful thinking. Bummer. I am ready for the guy to go and for Tommy Kahnle to rejoin the Yanks.
We may want it all but…
We’re the mighty Yankees. We should have every available superstar, right? To listen to some fans, that seems to be the case. But in reality, this is a business and the magical figure of $197 million to reset luxury tax penalties may as well be a hard and fast salary cap. Team Hal will do whatever it takes to stay under that mark.
It’s nice that free agent pitcher Yu Darvish has narrowed his choices to six teams, including the Yankees. But in the grand scheme of things, it means nothing. The Yankees are not going to pursue Darvish at this point given the pitcher’s desire for a contract in excess of $20 million per year annually.
Yesterday, Michael Kay reported on his show that the Yankees had previously offered Darvish 7 years at $160 million but had given him a short window (48 hours) to accept. When Darvish didn’t bite, the Yankees allegedly pulled the offer. No offense to Michael (he’s one of my favorites), I struggle with the thought the Yankees really made that type of offer with the current roster construction and cost. If the Yankees really did make that level of offer and Darvish did not accept, he was foolish in this stagnant market.
I really liked Yu Darvish when he first came to the United States and had been hopeful the Yankees would sign him before he was snagged by the Texas Rangers. But now, while I agree he is an upper echelon pitcher, I don’t feel that he’d be the right fit. The primary reason is money. The reality is that the Yankees will keep 2018 payroll below the $197 million threshold. Even if the Yankees moved contract(s) to make room, I don’t think it would be the wisest path to add a multi-year, greater than $20 mil per year, contract for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30. If Darvish was the missing piece to guarantee a World Series, it would be one thing but he’s not. The only thing that I like about a Darvish signing is that he wouldn’t cost multiple top prospects like a trade for Gerrit Cole would. The reality is that arms like Justus Sheffield and Albert Abreu could be out-performing Darvish in the big leagues within the next few years.
While Manny Machado would look great in Pinstripes, the reality is that he will not be part of the 2018 Yankees. At the moment, the Arizona Diamondbacks appear to be the frontrunner…if the Baltimore Orioles decide to trade their very talented third baseman. The D-Backs, if they acquire Machado, would move him to his position of preference (shortstop). While I think Machado should stay at third (for the sake of his surgically-repaired knees), you wonder if shortstop becomes Machado’s top priority when he hits the free agent market after the upcoming season. If so, the Yankees will not be in play given the team already has a strong shortstop. Didi Gregorius, the unsung hero of the 2017 Yankees, is not going anywhere.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I am not opposed to the Yankees filling second and third bases with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, respectively. I just don’t feel the Yankees would entrust two critical positions to rookies at the same time.
GM Brian Cashman is talking like Torres could break camp as the starting second baseman but it makes the most sense to keep him at Triple A for the first few weeks to delay his MLB service time and push his free agent eligibility back a year. Hal Steinbrenner, the accountant, is never going to go hog wild with payroll, even if he is successful in resetting luxury tax penalties this year. Unlike his father, he will always be concerned about the bottom line. I am comfortable with Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes covering second until Torres is ready. I buy into the opinion that we didn’t see the real Wade last year and he could be more like the player he was for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders this year. Training camp will be very critical for him. But, really, there’s no question second base belongs to Torres regardless of what Wade is able to accomplish.
As for third, Andujar, if he isn’t traded, will be watched very closely at training camp as he attempts to disprove the perspective that his defensive game hasn’t caught up with his bat. Another name that has been suggested, Kyle Holder, seems to be a stretch. Holder is 23 but the highest he has played was at High A Tampa last year. It would be very difficult to make that type of leap for the defensive wizard. He’s not a power bat but in the Yankees lineup, he would not need to be. Realistically, I think Holder is still a season or two away. My opinion remains that the 2018 Yankees third baseman is not presently on the roster. But if I am wrong and Andujar heads north to the Bronx with the big league club in late March, so be it. I’ll be a fan and supporter.
I was glad to see the Yankees settle two of their potential arbitration cases yesterday when they signed Tommy Kahnle and Aaron Hicks to one-year contracts for $1.325 million and $2.825 million, respectively. With today’s deadline to exchange arbitration figures, it’s possible that we could see other signings. The other arbitration eligible players are Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Sonny Gray, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve and Austin Romine. The Yankees want to avoid contentious battles like the one with Dellin Betances last year, even though they won. Of the players, I’d really hate to see Gregorius or Gray go to arbitration. They are such huge keys for the upcoming season. The worst way to start the year would be for them to go into a room to hear about their faults from the team’s perspective.
My general sense is that the Yankees will make at least one other significant move before training camp but it’s equally possible that ‘what you see is what you get’ with the current roster. I expect other non-roster invitees beyond infielder Jace Peterson but it’s hard to classify any of those as “significant”.
Let’s see what today brings…
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill|
Yankees 9, A’s 5…
On the eve of thirteen consecutive games against American League East teams, the Yankees used the Judge to set sentence Sunday on the three game series with the Oakland A’s. The verdict — the Yankees are guilty of taking the series, two games to one.
With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the third inning, they loaded the bases (I can’t believe that Matt Joyce dropped that fly ball by Matt Holliday but hey, I’ll take it) with two outs for Aaron Judge. In the preceding at-bat, Starlin Castro had a chance for the grand salami but he struck out. A’s pitcher Andrew Triggs, with the count at two balls and a strike, threw a two-seam fastball to Judge. As Julia Roberts said in the movie ‘Pretty Woman’, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” Judge made the most of his swing as he sent the ball over the center field wall for his 16th home run of the year. The Yankees were up by three runs at 5-2 with the grand slam, Judge’s first, and a lead that they would not relinquish this day.
It wasn’t a clean outing for Michael Pineda (6-2) but he did enough to capture the win. He needs to clean up the mental errors…the three walks (two of the runners eventually scored), a balk and a throwing error. In the sixth inning, with the Yankees leading 6-2, Pineda walked Jed Lowrie and then, with Khris Davis at the plate, balked to allow Lowrie to advance to second. Davis subsequently reached first base on a throwing error by Pineda, while Lowrie raced around to home plate to close the gap to 6-3. As the YES Network’s Michael Kay put it, “A walk, a balk, and an E-1”. Pineda finished the sixth, thanks to a double play, but that would be it for his day. He finished with three hits, three runs (two earned although he was the responsible party for the unearned run), and five strikeouts.
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
The Yankees picked up another run in the seventh inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to left with two outs and Ronald Torreyes on first. The hit scored Torreyes, to push the score to 7-3. The A’s challenged the call saying that left fielder Khris Davis held the ball long enough before bouncing out of his glove but the call on the field was upheld.
The A’s responded with two runs in the eighth inning when Khris Davis hit his fifteenth homer of the season, a two-run shot off Yankees reliever Chad Green (with yet another walked batter that scored) to tighten the score, 7-5. After a one batter appearance by the LOOGY (Tommy Layne, who retired lefty swinging Yonder Alonso on a fly out to right), Adam Warren was brought in for the role of cleaner (Mr Kaplan?) and he eliminated Ryon Healy with a fly out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner gave the Yankees some breathing room with a two-run double to increase the Yankees lead to 9-5. Warren stayed in the game in the ninth to clean up the bodies with three up, three down for his first save of the season. Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York…
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
It was a good day all around for the Yankees (29-18). The Boston Red Sox finally dropped a game to Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners, 5-0, while the Baltimore Orioles, today’s opponent, lost their seventh consecutive game, 8-4 to the Houston Astros. The losses increased the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to 3 games over the Red Sox and 4 1/2 games over the Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays, the only other team to win in the AL East on Sunday, are 5 games back.
Down on the Farm…
Tyler Austin continued his latest rehab assignment in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. At DH, he was 1-for-3 with a run scored in the RailRiders’ 3-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens. Gleyber Torres, at short, was 1-for-4 with a single.
Yankees left-hander Justus Sheffield had a great game for the AA-Trenton Thunder. He pitched a three-hitter in 6 2/3 innings to beat the Portland Sea Dogs, 6-2. He only gave up one run (none earned), walked one and struck out six. With more performances like that, the 21-year-old could very well find himself in Pennsylvania. The hitting star for the Thunder was third baseman Miguel Andujar. He was 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.
The Road Ahead…
The Yankees take to the road today with a trip to Baltimore, Maryland for three games with the Orioles, followed by a trip north of the border to Toronto, Canada for a four-game set with the Blue Jays. Upon completion of the road trip, the Yankees return home to face the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in three-game series. As losers of seven straight, the Orioles will be looking to turn things around in their home park. It’s not going to be an easy series by any stretch of the imagination.
Here are the pitching matchup’s for the Baltimore series:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11 ERA)
Orioles: Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.43 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86 ERA)
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (2-4, 6.17 ERA)
Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day! Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has lost family, friends, and loved ones in the defense of our Country. Our eternal thanks to the men and women who gave all…
|Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images|
Yankees 3, A’s 2…
The Yankees didn’t get much offense on Saturday, but thanks to the rejuvenated CC Sabathia (5-2), they didn’t need it.
In the first inning, they scratched out a run through a walk, hit by pitch, wild pitch, and sacrifice fly (by Starlin Castro). By the time Oakland’s Ryon Healy doubled in the sixth inning to tie the score, the Yankees were still searching for their first hit against A’s starter Jharel Cotton.
CC was pitching great but I did have a heart attack in the top of the sixth with two outs when Trevor Plouffe sharply hit a fly to right. Starlin Castro, on the run, appeared to catch the ball but it bounced out of his glove. Alertly, a running Aaron Judge was in the right spot at the right time and made the catch to end the inning.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill|
Cotton, who entered the game with a 5.68 ERA, pitched liked an ace. Despite a walk to Brett Gardner in the third (subsequently erased when he tried to steal second), Cotton was cruising from the second inning through the fifth, with three up-three down each frame. It was more of the same to start the sixth as Cotton recorded two quick outs on fly balls.
Then, the walk raised its ugly head for Cotton again when he gave Gary Sanchez a free pass. Matt Holliday came to the plate, with two outs and no team hits showing on the scoreboard. After a first pitch ball (low and inside), Holliday got a hold of Cotton’s second offering and launched a blast to left-center. “High fly ball, left field…going back Davis. Track, wall, SEE YA!” (courtesy of Michael Kay of the YES Network).
After giving up a single to the next batter (Castro), Cotton was done even though he had allowed the only two hits the Yankees would get in this game. Cotton pitched his heart out in his 13th major league game and recorded a career high 107 pitches, but like Masahiro Tanaka found out the other night, Baseball can be a cruel sport.
CC tired in the seventh when, with one out, he gave up a homer to Josh Phegley, to bring the score to 3-2 Yanks, and a double by Adam Rosales. Time to turn to the Yankees bullpen which had ignited an A’s rally the night before. Fortunately, Adam Warren got Matt Joyce on a groundout and left Rosales stranded at third when he struck out Mark Canha.
The eighth inning brought Tyler Clippard into the game. With the disaster of the night before fresh on everyone’s mind, Clippard struck out the first batter, Jed Lowrie. Lowrie, who seems to rise to the occasion against the Yanks, was subsequently ejected for arguing strikes. At that point, the Friday night version of Clippard reappeared. A walk to Khris Davis and a double by Ryon Healy put runners at second and third with just one out. Exit Clippard, and enter Dellin Betances. Ball, called strike, foul, called strike…inning over. Hey Randy Levine, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.
|Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports|
In the ninth inning, it was three up and three down for Betances, with a swinging strikeout by Matt Joyce to end the game.
Cut to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”…ah, I love that song on winning days.
With the win, the Yankees (28-18) held their two-game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox. The Sox beat the Seattle Mariners again. The scary part is that the complete game shut-out was by a rookie pitcher, Brian Johnson, making his first career start at Fenway Park. Johnson was optioned back to AAA after the game but he’s making the way for the return of David Price who will be activated from the DL this week. The Baltimore Orioles lost their sixth game in a row to slide 3 1/2 games back.
Tyler Austin was elevated to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday with his rehab assignment. On Saturday, he contributed a run-scoring single to help the RailRiders defeat the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-1. Gleyber Torres was 1-for-5 with a double, driving in a run.
Greg Bird departs for Tampa today. He’ll most likely take a few at-bats in extended spring training at the Yankees’ minor-league complex on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning his rehab assignment. He spoke of muscle soreness yesterday (typical soreness after not using certain muscles) but otherwise everything seems to be moving forward with his progress.
Also progressing is closer Aroldis Chapman who must have received favorable news from the doctor on Saturday as he was able to make 25 throws from 60 feet. He’ll continue with playing catch on Sunday as he begins his preparation for hopefully a mid-June return.
Speaking of Chapman, I am hopeful that he’ll be activated during the Yankees road trip to California when the Yankees travel to Oakland on June 15th. I really want to see a rematch between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis. Davis had the game-tying home run off Chapman in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. I want to see Chapman punch out Davis to win a game as retribution. Hey, I am not a vindictive person…just competitive.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s win again while Chase Headley continues to sit…
|Credit: John Munson/NJ Advance Media|
It was a majestic day as the Yankees honored Derek Jeter and officially hung No. 2 among the Legends in Monument Park. Sadly, the Yankees were unable “Turn 2” as they lost the second game of the doubleheader following the Jeter ceremony.
In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the pink Yankees rallied, after falling behind, to win the game. The Yankees opened the scoring in the first inning on a run-scoring groundout by Matt Holliday. Sadly, Luis Severino did not have it for Mother’s Day and he fell apart in the third inning. He opened the inning by hitting George Springer with a pitch, and then gave up a single to Josh Reddick. After Jose Altuve hit into a fielder’s choice that forced Reddick out at second, the Astros put together a string of four singles to score three runs, ending Severino’s day. Chad Green, called up earlier in the day from AAA, got Alex Bregman to hit into an inning-ending double play.
As bad as Severino was, Green was terrific. He went 3 2/3 innings, holding the Astros to only one hit and no runs. He walked one and struck out three. In the 4th inning, the Yankee tied the game with a two-run homer by Starlin Castro and then took a 4-3 lead in the next at-bat when Aaron Judge finally went deep again with his 14th home run of the season.
|Credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press|
The game stayed 4-3 until the top of the 7th inning with Adam Warren pitching. A couple of singles, a walk, a fielding error by Starlin Castro and a sac fly allowed the Astros to re-take the lead, 6-4. Heading into the bottom of the 7th after Austin Romine grounded out, Brett Gardner singled and Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, moving Gardner to third. Matt Holliday, in a gutsy at-bat after falling behind 0-2, fought off a few pitches and singled in a failed diving attempt by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa which scored Gardner. At that point, the Astros brought in Chris Devenski who has been virtually unhittable this year. Apparently, Starlin Castro hasn’t been listening to how dominant Devenski is and he doubled to score Ellsbury. After an intentional walk to Aaron Judge and a strikeout of Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley came to bat with the bases loaded. On the TV telecast, Michael Kay was making comments about how Headley is due. Then, as if Headley heard Kay, he laced a triple to right to clear the bases, putting the Yankees up 9-6. Chris Carter doubled to score Headley, and the Yankees held a 10-6 lead after pushing six runs across the plate in the inning.
Brett Gardner added an insurance run in the 8th with a solo shot to center. In probably his worst outing of the season, Adam Warren (1-0) picked up the victory. Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless 9th inning to close out the game in a non-save situation. Yankees win, 11-6.
The second game started very badly for starter Masahiro Tanaka. From the beginning, Tanaka was struggling with each batter, and by the time Alex Bregman hit a grand slam, the Astros were up 6-0 before the Yankees had even taken an at-bat. When Tanaka was pulled after 1 2/3 innings, he had given up two home runs to George Springer and was trailing 8-0. Tanaka has given up 16 runs in his last 15 innings. Still, this was Derek Jeter’s day so I felt no lead was too much. The Yankees almost proved me right. In the 5th, trailing 9-0, the Yanks scored four runs on an RBI single by Brett Gardner and a three-run homer by Matt Holliday.
In the 9th inning, after a passed ball had allowed Marwin Gonzalez to score to put the Astros up 10-4, the Yankees tried valiantly to erase the deficit. A two-run single by Starlin Castro and a run-scoring single by Aaron Judge brought the Yankees within three runs at 10-7. With two outs and runners at the corners, the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate with Aaron Hicks. It could have been a signature moment for Hicksey but unfortunately he grounded out to end the game.
It was a good job by the bullpen to limit the damage after the Tanaka disaster. The two runs charged to the bullpen were both unearned. They gave the team a chance to win despite the overwhelming early Astros lead.
The doubleheader split left the Yankees with a 22-13 record (losing three of four to Houston). However, thanks to Tuesday’s opponent (the Kansas City Royals), the Baltimore Orioles lost their fourth in a row in a 9-8 loss. The loss allowed the Yankees to re-take sole possession of first place in the AL East by a half-game. The Boston Red Sox also lost, 11-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The hottest team in the division at the moment is the cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays, winners of their fifth consecutive game.
The Yankees were competitive with the Astros but unfortunately Houston proved the age-old adage, “good pitching beats good hitting”. Things do not get any easier as the Yankees hit the road to Kansas City. The Royals swept the O’s over the weekend with three one-run victories. The Yankees will need better starting pitching than they received in the Astros series if they are to have any hope.
Sunday morning started with disturbing news. The Yankees announced they had placed closer Aroldis Chapman on the 10-Day Disabled List. Clearly, something was not right with Chapman who failed to get out of the inning in his last two appearances. A MRI showed no structural damage (whew!) so Chapman only needs rest. He’ll avoid any baseball-related activities for two weeks and then he’ll resume throwing. He’ll most likely need a rehab stint before he is activated so the current projection is that he’ll be out for a month. In the interim, Dellin Betances will slide into the closer’s role with Warren, Holder and Tyler Clippard providing set-up. There’s no doubt that Holder has been a Godsend this year and his presence helps ease the sting of losing Chapman. Hopefully, the Betances that struggled last September was simply one that was tired after a long season. Now, Betances has a chance for redemption. If he proves successful, the Yankees need to take care of Betances financially this coming off-season and avoid penny-pinching him like they did during last year’s arbitration hearing.
Recently, when top closers Zach Britton and Mark Melancon had been placed on the DL, I had expressed hope that the DL-epidemic would not impact the remaining elite closers, Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Now, Jansen is the last man standing. It definitely shows the value of having an elite set-up artist capable of filling in for a closing role.
Chad Green was called up to replace Chapman. Green is getting used to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the Bronx commute. If he keeps pitching like he did in yesterday’s first game, he’s making an argument for why he shouldn’t go back to Pennsylvania.
Here’s hoping that Chapman is able to fully recover with rest and is able to return on schedule next month.
Despite the mixed results from the doubleheader and the loss of our closer, it was a special day. The Jeter ceremony was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen and it will be a long-time before we see such a memorable event again. Congratulations to Derek as he awaits the arrival of his first child, a child who almost certainly felt the magic of the day in his mother’s womb. It was a good day, a very good day…
|Credit: Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News|
Have a great Monday! Yesterday was Jeter’s Day, today is your day.
Credit: Associated Press
CC Sabathia. What to do…
There’s no doubt we would not have celebrated a World Series championship in 2009 if not for the efforts of one Carsten Charles Sabathia, Jr. For the first three years of his contract with the Yankees, he was the epitome of an Ace. I would never want to dismiss the contributions he has made to the Yankees organization or the value he has held as a leading voice in the clubhouse.
The times they are a-changin (with a hat tip to Bob Dylan). Sabathia is now 36 and is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was. He’ll be 37 in a couple of months, and despite his long talks with Andy Pettitte, he has not successfully made the transition to an older pitcher. I was fooled for the first couple of starts this year, but we’ve seen the real Sabathia over the last few starts…and it hasn’t been pretty.
At age 32 and before, CC could be counted on for double-digit wins every year. From age 33 forward, last year’s 9 wins has been the season high. Betting whether or not Sabathia passes last season’s win total is not a bet I would make even if I was using your money. Pro Sports can be illogical at times when certain players start because of high contracts or past performance even though there are younger, more talented players waiting in the wings. Years ago, a friend told me that baseball players should be paid a flat base salary and then commissions for production. Applying that to different positions and players is much easier said than done, but the core logic that players should be paid for today’s production (not yesterday) makes so much sense to me. We’re in the final year of Sabathia’s contract with $25 million remaining. Does Sabathia deserve a spot in the rotation simply because he is the team’s highest paid player? If he is not producing, then no. Why pay money to lose when you can win?
In looking at the Yankees rotation, if they made a trade for a frontline starting pitcher, who do you pull? At this point, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino are locked in. The latter two have shown signs of being a part of the next championship run. Jordan Montgomery has been a very pleasant surprise who will continue to get better. So, realistically, the loser would have to be Sabathia. I don’t know that I’d pull Sabathia for Chad Green or Luis Cessa, but Chance Adams is charging fast for the Major Leagues. He may not be ready now, but his time is rapidly approaching. If the Yankees go out and trade for someone like Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, I’d gladly part with Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and others to bring the talented young pitcher to the Bronx. For Sabathia, I’d pull out a Michael Kay line, “See ya!”.
There’s no way that Sabathia is pulling on the pinstripes in 2018. We are approaching the point where every start could be his last in the Bronx. If he continues to thwart winning streaks, then it is time to cut our losses. Swallow the remainder of the $25 mil and move on.
Thanks for the memories, CC. We’ll save you a place for Old Timer’s Day…
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News
I have mixed feelings about Aaron Judge’s appearance on the May 15th cover of Sports Illustrated. I grew up at a time where it was a curse to appear on the cover. So, I still have those thoughts in the back of my head even if bad things never happen. I have been quite pleased with Judge’s season so far and he gives New York a potential superstar. But admittedly, I liked it better when Judge was able to out-produce expectations. With heightened expectations, can he sustain the production? That will be one of the keys for the rest of the season. We’ll inevitably hit a stretch where he can’t (hit). The ebbs and flows of Baseball ensures that everyone stays humble. So, for now, congrats Aaron, but please hit a homer on May 16th (Yankees are off on the 15th) so that I know the SI Cover is not a jinx.
I’d like to send out thoughts and prayers to Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, whom the Yankees faced on April 22nd in an 11-5 victory over the Pirates. He underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer earlier this week. Hopefully it was caught early and he’ll make a full and complete recovery. Taillon is one of the game’s promising young talents and I look for many future years of his participation. All the best to Jameson on his road to a winning recovery. Here is a tweet that he sent out after the surgery:
I think all Baseball fans support Taillon. Well written words by the tall young right-hander. Here’s looking forward to the day that he is able to take the mound at PNC Park again.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s hose the ‘Stros!