Tagged: Mike Axisa

Slamming the Door, The Tale of Tanaka to Chapman…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 0…

I ripped Masahiro Tanaka for his last start and he looked at me and said “F-U!” with his latest performance. I love it! Outside of Dellin Betances, I liked everything about this game as the Yankees took down the Jays for their 90th win of the season on Friday afternoon.

While many people were speculating about whether this was Masahiro Tanaka’s final regular season start wearing a Yankees uniform, Masa-hero came out strong. I always like to use the first inning as a barometer and Tanaka was firing on all cylinders, striking out the side on thirteen pitches.

In the bottom of the first, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a one-out single through the hole to shallow left field off Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini. With Aaron Judge at the plate, Ellsbury stole second for his 22nd stolen base of the year. Judge ended up taking a walk anyway. Didi Gregorius was next and he singled to right on a looper that dropped in front of right fielder Michael Saunders to load the bases.  Starlin Castro hit a soft grounder between third and the pitching mound, and Biagini had no play by the time he got to the ball. Ellsbury scored on the play.  Greg Bird’s sacrifice fly to deep center scored Judge. It was the seventh consecutive game with a RBI for Greg Bird who has gone from a season afterthought to one of its prime performers in a matter of just a few weeks since he returned from the disabled list.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Headley struck out to end the inning but the Yankees had a 2-0 lead.  

Tanaka held the Blue Jays hitless through two outs in the top of the 5th inning, when Ezequiel Carrera hit a grounder to second. Starlin Castro went hard after the ball, crashing his knee against the ground, but his throw was not in time to get Carrera at first. With Raffy Lopez batting, Carrera stole second. However, Tanaka got out of the inning when he turned to fire a perfect strike to Didi Gregorius at second to nail Carrera who was trying to dive back to the base. 

Austin Romine led off the bottom of the 5th with a single over the second baseman’s head into right center. Romine was forced out at second when Aaron Hicks hit a grounder to second but Hicks was safe at first. With Jacoby Ellsbury at bat, Hicks stole second. Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to first for the second out.  Aaron Judge followed with a single to left, scoring Hicks. Blue Jays catcher was up the line for the outfield throw so there was no play at the plate but they got Judge between first and second for the final out.  

Ryan Goins picked up the Blue Jays’ second hit off Tanaka in the 6th, a single to center that dropped in front of Jacoby Ellsbury, but Tanaka was still mowing hitters down so Goins didn’t go anywhere when Tanaka struck out the side again. Thirteen strikeouts through six innings for Tanaka.  Incredible.  

Matt Dermody replaced Biagini in the bottom of the 6th inning. Didi Gregorius led off with a single to left. With Starlin Castro batting, Didi Gregorius stole second on what appeared to be third strike on Castro. However, Joe Girardi came out with the argument that it was a foul tip. The umps agreed with Girardi, and Didi returned to first base with Castro coming back to the plate.    Two pitches later, the outcome was the same. Castro swung at the third strike but Didi successfully stole second. Next, Greg Bird (rapidly becoming one of the Yankees best post-trading deadline “acquisitions”) drilled a line drive single off the wall in the right field corner to score Gregorius. Danny Barnes entered the game in relief of Dermody and induced Chase Headley to hit into an inning-ending double play, but no matter, the Yankees had increased their lead to 4-0.

Tanaka allowed one more hit, a double down the line into the left field corner by Josh Donaldson in the top of the 7th, for a total of three. Donaldson got as far as third on a ground out, but Tanaka retired the next three batters in order including two by strikeout to end the inning and his time in the game. He finished with fifteen strikeouts to go with no hits, no runs, and no walks.  It was simply an outstanding performance by Tanaka. If this was his final regular season start as a Yankee, thank you very much. It was a masterpiece to remember.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

David Robertson pitched the 8th inning. It started with the first walk by a Yankees pitcher in the game, but the runner was erased on a beautiful double play. Raffy Lopez hit a grounder to Greg Bird at first. Bird threw to Didi Gregorius for the force at second. Didi’s throw back to first hooked out but Bird sprawled out on the ground for the catch with his right foot still on the bag.  Excellent defensive play by Bird. D-Rob struck out Ryan Goins to end the inning.  

The 9th inning was not quite as much fun…at least not at the start. Dellin Betances came in with a chance to prove he has finally righted the ship. Richard Urena had other ideas and led off with a single to right, a one hop off the wall.  With Teoscar Hernandez at the plate, a Betances pitch went off Austin Romine’s glove for a passed ball on the catcher. Urena moved to second. Betances ended up walking Hernandez and all you could do was shake your head. End of Betances, who is running out of time to prove that he can be trusted with late inning relief again. I hate to say it, given my disdain for the man, but Dellin is proving Yankees president Randy Levine was right for his critical comments about Betances after the reliever’s arbitration hearing in the off-season.  

Credit:  Abbie Parr-Getty Images

Enter Aroldis Chapman. Man, oh, Man, I am so happy this guy is the Missile again. He struck out Josh Donaldson on three pitches for the first out. Jose Bautista hit a grounder to short and the Yankees were able to force Hernandez out at second but they couldn’t turn the double play when the ball went over Greg Bird’s head. The ball bounced back so Urena had to hold at third. With Rob Refsnyder batting, Bautista took second on defensive indifference. Chapman laid three 100+ mph fastballs across the plate for Refsnyder, with the last pitch hitting 102 mph. Three swings and misses by the former Yankee. Game over. Yankees win!

The Yankees (90-70) looked like a playoff team in this game. They picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox, who lost 3-2 to the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. The Yankees trail the Sox by two games with two to play. I don’t expect the Yankees to catch the Red Sox but they’ve certainly made it interesting these final days of the season.  

Mike Axisa had a great tweet after the game about Tanaka pitching on seven days rest: “One day it will be acknowledged that Tanaka does not actually pitch better on extra rest. Today is not that day.”

Odds & Ends…

Brad Ausmus became the first managerial casualty when it was announced earlier this week that he would not be retained after the season by the Detroit Tigers. I can still remember being disappointed when the Colorado Rockies chose Ausmus, a catcher, in the 1992 Expansion Draft out of the Yankees farm system. Of course, I didn’t really know anything about a guy named Jorge Posada at the time. The latest non-returnee is Pete Mackanin of the Philadelphia Phillies. After the season, Mackanin will become a special assistant to Phillies GM Matt Klentak. As a rebuilding team, I thought that Mackanin would be back but apparently the Phillies leadership team felt otherwise. Two managerial job openings and counting although it’s been widely speculated that Terry Collins of the Mets will not return. So make it three…

The Minnesota Twins have activated their best hitter, 3B Miguel Sano, off the disabled list. Sano was placed on the DL in August when he fouled a ball off his left shin. Sano will have the weekend to get ready for next Tuesday’s Wild Card game.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun-AP

Tonight, I will be at Coors Field to watch Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies. It will be Kershaw’s final appearance of the regular season as he tunes up for his NLDS Game 1 start next week. This will be the first time I get to see Cody Bellinger play in person.  It should be a great game. As a former Los Angeles resident, I have so missed the ability to go to Dodger Stadium on a regular basis.  

Have a great Saturday! My only request for today is a Pinstriped victory! Go Yankees!

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Recipe for Success: Just Add Hicks to the Mix…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Yankees 4, Mets 2…

A day after a disappointing one-run loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees bullpen backed homers by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez to give the Yankees the victory over the New York Mets in the opener of their four-game series.  

Normally, I hate solo home runs.  Stronger preference (obviously) for round-trippers with men on base, but in this game, three solo shots were enough to power the Yankees to the win despite two home runs by the Mets (also of the solo variety).  

The Mets scored their runs in the third inning against Yankees starter Luis Cessa.  The Grandy Man, Curtis Granderson, showing how much he misses the right field porch, parked one there down the right field line.  One out later, Yoenis Cespedes sent one that bounced off the right field wall for a homer, just missed by Aaron Judge, and the Mets led 2-0.

The Yankees had a chance for a big inning in the 4th against Mets starter Rafael Montero.  Aaron Hicks singled to center, a soft liner, with one out.  Aaron Judge followed with a walk on four pitches.  A wild pitch by Montero advanced the runners to second and third, but it didn’t really matter as the next batter, Didi Gregorius, walked on a full count to load the bases.  Gary Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Hicks (who came in just ahead of the tag), but that’s all the Yankees would get as Chase Headley flied out to right.  The Mets still led, 2-1.  

While pitching to Rene Rivera to open the 5th, Luis Cessa apparently felt discomfort in his back which brought Manager Joe Girardi to the mound.  Cessa convinced Girardi to let him stay.  He was able to retire Rivera on a ground out, but the next batter, Juan Lagares, singled to center, a roller up the middle.  After making his second trip to the mound, Girardi pulled Cessa and replaced him with Chad Green.  After the game, Girardi said the medical staff does not believe the injury, a right rhomboid muscle issue, is serious, however, Cessa will undergo an MRI this morning.  

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Back to the game, Lagares attempted to steal second but was erased on Gary Sanchez’s brilliant throw to shortstop Tyler Wade.  Green then struck out Curtis Granderson to get out of the inning.

Aaron Judge, showing signs of breaking out of his recent extended slump, homered to open the 6th inning to tie the game at two.  The ball landed near the Modell’s sign in right.  It was Judge’s 36th of the season.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Outstanding pitching performance by Chad Green who continued to shut the Mets down through the seventh inning.  He kept the Mets off the board for 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief, walking one batter and striking out four.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-NY Post

David Robertson continued the bullpen mastery in the 8th when he struck out the side, with the only flaw a two-out walk to Asdrubal Cabrera.  

Aaron Hicks, leading off the bottom of the 8th inning, broke the tie when he belted a pitch from Mets reliever Hansel Robles deep into the right center stands.  

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

After Robles struck out Aaron Judge, the Mets brought in lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to retire Didi Gregorius on a ground out, and then made another switch to bring in righty Erik Goeddel to face Gary Sanchez.  As Julia Roberts said in the movie Pretty Woman, “Big mistake”.  A blast to right center by Sanchez, near where Judge had parked his shot, and it was 4-2 Yankees.  Unlike Sunday night, the Yankees had their insurance run although they wouldn’t need it.

Dellin Betances entered the game in the 9th due to Aroldis Chapman’s unavailability (he had thrown 26 pitches over nearly two innings of work during Sunday’s loss).  Betances, unlike Chapman, got the job done.  He allowed a two-out single to Mets rookie Dominic Smith when Tyler Wade, at short, was unable to make an accurate throw after a bare-handed grab.  Smith moved to second on defensive indifference but was left stranded when Betances struck out Amed Rosario to end the game.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (62-55) were able to pick up a game they had lost over the weekend to the Boston Red Sox with the victory.  The Red Sox, despite two home runs by Sunday night’s hero…Rafael Devers, fell to the Cleveland Indians, 7-3, at Fenway Park.  So, the Yankees are back to 4 1/2 games behind the Sox.  The Baltimore Orioles took sole possession of third place in the AL East with their 11-3 victory over the sliding Seattle Mariners.  They are four games behind the Yankees.  The Tampa Bay Rays, dropping to fourth, lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1.  The Rays trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games and are just a game away from the AL East cellar.  

I have to admit that it took me a minute to get Mike Axisa’s tweet during the game about the great pitching performances of Luis Cessa and Chad Green.  One of the night’s best tweets…

Aaron Judge extended his consecutive game streak with a strikeout (excluding pitchers) to 31 games.  He now trails Adam Dunn’s record by only one game.  But to Judge’s defense, he did hit his 40th career home run.  Gary Sanchez’s shot was also his 40th career HR.  

David Robertson (6-2) was the beneficiary of the home run by Aaron Hicks as he took the victory.  The save was the seventh of the season for Dellin Betances.  

Odds & Ends…

To make yesterday’s start, RHP Luis Cessa was recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with LHP Caleb Smith, called up this past weekend, going the other way without tossing a pitch.  

I know that Aroldis Chapman’s pitch on Sunday to Rafael Devers came in hot (103 mph) and Devers’ swing was as perfect as it could be to make the home run the product of the hitter and not the pitcher, but count me among those who feel that Chapman is still not right.  It’s going to take a few shutdown performances (Kenley Jansen-style) before I am going to believe that Chapman is the man for the 9th.  I like Chapman a lot and I was excited when the Yankees re-signed him, but at this moment in time, I feel that David Robertson and Dellin Betances represent stronger closing options.  That opinion dissipates when The Missile can show me he is once again the man for the job.  That’s on him…not on me.

Credit:  Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Have a great Tuesday!  Last day at Yankee Stadium before the road trip.  Let’s rock the house!  Go Yankees!

Monty & The Awful 2nd Inning…

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Twins 6, Yankees 1…

The new guys did not help as the Yankees got clobbered in losing the series to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.  I liked the tweet by Mike Axisa of CBS Sports-MLB:  “Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle for a starting pitcher”.  Funny but also a bit truthful.  I realize that Jordan Montgomery bounced back after the disastrous 2nd inning to give the Yankees an otherwise strong six innings but those 6 runs in the 2nd proved to be insurmountable.  In the game of win or lose, Monty (6-5) sucked.  


The toughest part about the 6-run 2nd was that all of the runs were scored with two outs.  With runners at second and third, Zack Granite, a native New Yorker who was 2-for-22 in his MLB career to that point, singled up the middle to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.  The dangerous Brian Dozier walked on a 3-2 count, pushing Granite to second.  A Larry Rothschild visit to the mound later, Eduardo Escobar hit a single to center field which scored Granite and moved Dozier to second.  Miguel Sano stepped up and decided to play a game of Home Run Derby with a blast to center off an 0-2 rolling curveball from Jordan Montgomery.  It was 6-0 Twins before the new guys, who had just shown up due to a flight delay, could shake hands with all of their new Yankees teammates.

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees had their biggest chance to get back into the game in the 7th inning.  With Twins starter Jose Berrios still on the mound, Clint Frazier started the inning with a single to center.  Garrett Cooper hit a liner to left for the first out.  He was followed by Austin Romine who was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch.  Clint Frazier to second.  Todd Frazier then entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ronald Torreyes but went down swinging for the second out.  Gardner singled to left center to score Clint Frazier and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder, Robbie Grossman (who mishandled the ball before firing it to third).  Romine moved to third.  The Twins pulled Berrios and brought in reliever Taylor Duffey to face Jacoby Ellsbury.  A single by Ellsbury could have brought the Yankees within striking distance but he struck out with the bat resting on his shoulder with a fastball down the middle to end the inning.  It was the second time the Yankees left the bases full with no runs as Ronald Torreyes had grounded out with bases full of Yanks in the top of the 2nd before the onslaught of runs by the Twins.  


Tommy Kahnle made his Yankees debut in the 8th in relief of Chad Green.  He gave a preview of coming attractions by retiring the three batters he faced including two by strikeout. His pitches were hitting up to 100 mph.  I liked Kahnle’s quote after the game, “I always dreamed once they (the Yankees) drafted me I would pitch for them in the big leagues.  That day has come”.  As a fan of Kahnle’s who was very disappointed when he was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Colorado Rockies and has remained keenly aware of the pitcher, I share his sentiments.  Despite the loss, it was very good to see Kahnle in a Yankees uniform.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the 9th but he is expected to be fine for today’s game in Seattle.

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Yankees (48-45) need to forget this series and start with a clean slate today against the Mariners.  The time is now to make a move after weeks of sliding backwards. The Yankees lost ground to the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays,  5-1, so the Yankees are now 4 1/2 games behind the leaders.  They remain 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays who lost to the Oakland A’s, 7-2.


Next Up:  Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA…


The Yankees get a chance to catch up with Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel for four games in the Pacific Northwest.  

Here are the scheduled pitching matchups:


THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40 ERA)

Mariners:  Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA)


FRIDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.33 ERA)

Mariners:  Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA)


SATURDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA)

Mariners:  Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.35 ERA)


SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.61 ERA)

Mariners:  Sam Gaviglio (3-5, 4.62 ERA)


I feel fairly confident about Thursday, even with King Felix on the mound, and Saturday, but as for Friday and Sunday…not so much.


Here’s hoping the new guys bring some much needed magic and mojo back to our favorite team.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, the Yankees made a flurry of roster moves yesterday to make room for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle.  Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple A and Ji-Man Choi was designated for assignment.  Rob Refsnyder, on the 40-man roster, was also DFA’d as the Yankees needed to create the room on the 40-man roster even though Tyler Clippard vacated his spot with the trade to the White Sox.  I can’t say that I am overly excited about Luis Cessa remaining on the active roster.  Given a choice between Cessa and Caleb Smith, I’d prefer to see Smith get the next start in place of Michael Pineda.  Frazier took Tyler Clippard’s old number (29), Robertson reclaimed his own old number (30) with Clint Frazier switching to double-Mickey Mantle (77), and Kahnle’s number with the White Sox was waiting for him thanks to the recent dismissal of Chris Carter (48).  

Speaking of poor starts, the Yankees are surely looking for rotation help after Jordan Montgomery’s string of sub-par starts.  But being “careful buyers” probably means that the Yankees will not be players for guys like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole.  Now is the time for GM Brian Cashman to earn the dollars for his next contract.  


This is a hypothetical question considering that Aaron Hicks is not healthy, but if you have five outfielders (Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier), is Jacoby Ellsbury the sixth or seventh best outfielder?  Just wondering…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi has said that Todd Frazier will be the team’s regular third baseman.  Chase Headley will move to first and platoon with Garrett Cooper.  If Frazier has a strong finish to the season, I’d have to believe it is more likely the team will attempt to re-sign him over Matt Holliday.  Frazier intends to talk to YES Network broadcaster Paul O’Neill about possibly switching his number from #29 to #21 before the team returns to the Bronx.  Frazier has always worn #21 because of O’Neill.  I think it would be appropriate and would not boo the move assuming that he gets O’Neill’s blessing.

Former Yankee Chris Carter has signed with the Oakland A’s, a team he played for from 2010 to 2012.  He’ll report to the A’s Triple A club, the Nashville Sounds.  I can still remember when the Sounds were a Double A team for the Yankees and Buck Showalter was a first baseman/outfielder for them.  

We’ll probably be seeing another former Yankee soon (in the wrong uniform) as the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners have been identified as strong possibilities for David Phelps of the Miami Marlins.  The Red Sox are also still looking at Miami’s Martin Prado, currently on the 10-Day DL, as well as Eduardo Nunez of the San Francisco Giants.  

Have a great Thursday!  Sevy can make it a truly awesome day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Just Win, Baby!…

 

What a difference a day makes!…


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Of course, the Yankees could have used a few of
those runs on Tuesday night, but at least they were facing a proven major
league pitcher (Fausto Carmona) which they definitely have greater success
against than unproven, unknown rookies. 

 

The Yankees got the scoring going early, building
up to a 6-0 lead after just three innings, and then coasted to the 8-0 win
against the Indians in Cleveland. 
Another night, another homerless evening for Alex Rodriguez who remains
stuck on 599.  It would be nice for him
to just hit the home run so that he’d stop pressing so hard. 



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Andrew Weber/US Presswire

 

It was also a great pitching performance by the
hotheaded A.J. Burnett, who managed to avoid a meltdown in throwing scoreless
ball for 6 1/3 innings (he gave up 7 hits and 3 walks, while striking out
7). 

 

I did think that it was a good idea to bring in
Joba Chamberlain in the 7th inning despite the 8 run lead.  He needs to build his confidence back up
again, and become the pitcher that we know he can be.  The 8th inning went to starter
reject Sergio Mitre as manager Joe Girardi continued to experiment with the
bullpen.   Mitre was effective with two
strikeouts as he retired the 3 batters he faced in the 8th, although
he did struggle somewhat in the 9th (allowing two baserunners
through a hit and a walk).  But he did
end the game on a swinging strikeout.   I
think he’s definitely better in spots than as a starting pitcher, so perhaps he’s
found a niche.  His replacement in the
rotation, Dustin Moseley, starts against the Indians tomorrow in the getaway
game.  Hopefully, Dustin will enjoy
greater success than Mitre did in the last start. 

 

Despite the Yankees’ win, they failed to pick up
any ground on either the Tampa Bay Rays or the Boston Red Sox as both team won
today.  The pressure will be on the
Yankees tomorrow night, especially if the Rays win their earlier game against
the Tigers.  The Rays are presently two
games back in the AL East, so they could be within a game after tomorrow’s
results.  The Red Sox, 7 games back, are
idle. 


Red Sox Fan 2.JPG

 


I can’t say that there have been many trade
speculations this week that I have been excited about, but I agree with Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues about the potential of adding Adam Dunn to
the lineup at DH.  His swing would be a
great fit for Yankee Stadium, and unlike Nick Johnson, he is someone that can
be counted on to be around when October rolls around.  He would also provide great protection for
Robinson Cano in the batting order.  I
think Dunn and a solid reliever would make the July trading deadline a huge
success for the Yanks. 



Adam Dunn Adam Dunn #44 of the Washington Nationals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 21, 2009 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Adam Dunn

Doug Benc/Getty Images



I want to send out my best wishes for former
Yankees pitcher Ross Ohlendorf who was hit in the face on a ball hit by
Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki.  The line
drive hit which struck the right side of Ohlendorf’s face occurred in the first
inning of tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Colorado
Rockies.  Ohlendorf remained upright and
never lost consciousness.  He underwent
further tests after the incident, but hopefully, all is well and he’ll be back
in the Pirates rotation soon.



Chris Schneider/AP


–Scott