Tagged: Michael Kay

I’d Judge the Weekend a Slamming Success…

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:

TODAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30 ERA)

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11 ERA)

Orioles:  Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.43 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

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…

Using 2 Hits to Maximum Advantage…

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.

Player Updates…

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.

Credit:  MLB.com

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s win again while Chase Headley continues to sit…

Despite Jeter, Yankees Unable To Turn 2…

Credit:  John Munson/NJ Advance Media

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

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

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

Credit:  Seth Wenig/Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit:  Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News

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

Past Performance Does Not Equal Future Results…

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!  

Yep, I was wrong but that’s okay…

 

Congratulations to the Captain!…

Well, I am very wrong about when Derek Jeter would make the 3,000 hit club!  I really thought that the last hit to reach the magic number would be the most difficult hit given the enormous pressure associated with it.  I must have forgotten it was Derek Jeter we were talking about.  There is a reason that he has thrived, time and again, in pressure situations.  It was what makes him different from you and me, and why he is a Yankee legend.

 

Jeter salutes the sellout crowd at the Stadium after making the trip around the bases in the third inning.

Robert Sabo/NY Daily News

When DJ singled during his first at-bat, I felt that yesterday could be the day but again I really thought the at-bat trying for 3,000 would be so difficult.  But never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what would happen next.  I heard YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay reference that the first major league hit that Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price had given up was a home run to Jeter, but I definitely was not thinking home run.  When Jeter came to bat, and blasted the 3,000th hit with homer to left, I was very surprised.  For a moment, I had to ask myself if what I just saw was real.  There is absolutely no way that it could have been scripted any better.

 

Derek Jeter smacks a home run to left field in his second at-bat of the game and becomes the first Yankee ever to record 3,000 hits and the 28th player all-time to notch the mark.

Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News

After a see-saw game that saw the lead change several times, Derek was responsible for the game winning hit in the 8th as he capped the day by going 5-for-5.  My immediate thought was that the game was instantly headed to the YES Network’s library of classic Yankee games.

 

Jeter salutes the fans one last time after the historic day.

Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News

The day belonged to Derek Jeter and he deserved it.  With so much negativity associated with Major League Baseball at times, Derek is what is so right about the game.  When I see younger guys who put the game ahead of themselves, I can’t help but wonder if DJ hasn’t been an influence on their lives in some way, shape or form…the same way that Don Mattingly influenced younger guys like Mark Teixeira.

When Mariano Rivera gave Jeter a hug, I recognized that it was two numbers that will never step on a playing field again when those two are finished with their playing days.

 

3,000 hits ... the celebration.

Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News

Congratulations to Derek Jeter for becoming the first New York Yankee to reach 3,000 hits.  He stands alone in Yankee history as the only player in its legendary history with 3,000 hits in pinstripes.  Alex Rodriguez may be the next Yankee to reach 3,000 hits, but many of his came while he was with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers so it won’t be the same.  Derek Jeter is the leader of the New York Yankees, and, somewhere, he most certainly achieved a standing ovation from the great Yankees of the past…Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and many others.  I can even hear the late Phil Rizzuto hollering, “Holy Cow!”…

 

Phil Rizzuto threw out the first pitch before Game 2 of the 1999 American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium against Boston. Shortstop Derek Jeter accompanied Rizzuto for the ceremony.

Mark Lennihan/AP

 

–Scott