|Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
American League Wild Card Game
Yankees 8, Twins 4…
Eventually, the Minnesota Twins will find the answer for their struggles in the Bronx but this will not be one of those years. Admittedly, I was not feeling too good after Luis Severino had given up three runs on two homers in the opening inning and the Twins were threatening for more with only one out. But exit Severino and enter the stellar Yankees bullpen, plus a few timely home runs, and the Yankees found themselves with a date with the Indians in Cleveland for the American League Division Series.
For Luis Severino, it was a game to forget. Whether it was his youth and/or his lack of post-season experience, he was overwhelmed and unable to find any of his pitches. He needs to have another talk with Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, this time about life in October. It was a learning experience for the youngster and I am sure that he’ll be stronger for it as we move forward.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The Twins quickly took the lead when Brian Dozier led off the game with a home run that landed in the first row of the left field stands, bouncing off a fan’s hands and back onto the field. Still, I thought that it was something that Sevy could overcome. He got the next batter, Joe Mauer, to pop up which Todd Frazier caught in foul territory for the first out. But then Sevy was unable to put away Jorge Polanco and walked him. Eddie Rosario hit a line drive to right that carried out, and it was 3-0 Twins. Manager Joe Girardi picked up the phone to get the bullpen ready. Eduardo Escobar singled to left center, and Max Kepler followed with a double to right, moving Escobar to third. Unfortunately, it was evident, by then, that Severino was not going to overcome the jitters. Girardi made the call to the bullpen and brought in Chad Green. Using Girardi’s words, it’s not what you want. But the decision to go to Green paid off with two huge strikeouts of Byron Buxton and Jason Castro to hold the game to a three-run deficit. There’s no question that the Twins could have easily escalated it to five runs or more. Holding the Twins to only three runs was tremendous, and the set the stage for the events to follow.
The game was billed as a battle of Dominican Republic pitchers. Ervin Santana, the Twins ace, was born about 70 miles away from Severino’s hometown. Santana, carrying an 0-5 record in six starts at Yankee Stadium, had been asked how many wins he had at Yankee Stadium earlier this week and he responded that Tuesday would be one. Tuesday has passed and he’s still looking for that first win.
Handed a three-run lead, Santana walked Brett Gardner to start the bottom of the first inning. Aaron Judge battled Santana before finally hitting a single to center to put runners at the corners. Gary Sanchez popped up to the catcher for the first out. It brought Didi Gregorius to the plate. Didi has been nothing short of spectacular this season and he came through in a big way. On a full count, he got a hold of a Santana pitch to deposit it into the right field seats. Suddenly, with a swing of the bat, the game was tied.
After Chad Green easily retired the Twins in the top of the 2nd including two by strikeout, Brett Gardner hit a two-out solo homer into the second deck of the right field stands in the bottom of the inning to give the Yankees their first lead, 4-3.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
However, with Green still pitching, the Twins charged right back in the top of the 3rd. Perhaps overstaying his welcome, the Twins loaded the bases when Jorge Polanco led off with a single to right and Green walked two of the next three hitters to load the bases with only one out. Despite two starters in the bullpen, Girardi pulled Green and brought in David Robertson. Byron Buxton grounded into a force out at second but Polanco scored on the play when the Yankees were unable to turn the double play to re-tie the game. D-Rob struck out Jason Castro to end the inning and prevent any further damage. That was a huge spot for D-Rob and he came up big holding the Twins to only one run when they could have easily scored more.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
In the bottom of the 3rd, Ervin Santana was gone, replaced by young Twins starter Jose Berrios. Gary Sanchez led off the inning with a double to the left field wall. When Berrios struck out the next two batters, it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning without Sanchez coming home to score. Greg Bird had other ideas as he lined a single to right bringing Sanchez around for the go-ahead run. 5-4, Yankees. Aaron Hicks singled on a soft grounder to third to put runners at the corners, but the Yankees couldn’t capitalize when Jacoby Ellsbury, starting at DH over Chase Headley and Matt Holliday, popped out to third to end the inning.
The Twins made a defensive substitution in the bottom of the 4th inning. Byron Buxton, who had hit the wall to catch a Todd Frazier fly in the 2nd inning, was removed due to lingering effects of back tightness and replaced by New York native Zack Granite. With the Twins’ best player, Miguel Sano, off the playoff roster dealing with his prior shin injury, losing Buxton, their next best great player was tough for the Twins. Nothing against Granite, but he’s not the player Buxton is. I hope that Buxton is okay and you never want to see a player leave through injury. But that one hurt the Twins (no pun intended). Todd Frazier struck out for the first out but Brett Gardner followed with a single to left on a fly dropped in front of the left fielder. Aaron Judge stepped up (literally and figuratively) and hit one of his shorter home runs to left. I was unsure for a moment if it was a home run but the ball had indeed hit above the fence line before bouncing back on the field. Judge, showing the most emotion I’ve seen from him as he rounded first base, circled the bases to give the Yankees a 7-4 lead.
David Robertson was still pitching in the 6th inning, making one of his longest appearances. Zack Granite led off with a single to right on a ball that got under Starlin Castro’s glove. D-Rob struck out Jason Castro and Robbie Grossman for two outs, but that final out would prove elusive. With Brian Dozier at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Granite to easily move to second. Dozier subsequently walked to bring the tying run to the plate. Girardi signaled for the bullpen and brought in Tommy Kahnle to replace D-Rob. Joe Mauer hit a long fly to left and for a moment I couldn’t tell if it was in or out when the TV crew switched cameras as the ball was falling. Fortunately, Brett Gardner made the catch on the warning track for the final out. Another huge spot with success for the Yankees.
Kahnle easily retired the Twins in the 7th inning. In the bottom of the inning with Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger on the mound, Aaron Judge got things started by taking a walk. I thought it was an excellent at-bat for Judge as he avoided chasing any pitches. Gary Sanchez hit a ball through the hole on the left side into the outfield. Judge advanced to third. The throw from the outfield sailed over the third baseman’s head (they probably could have nailed Judge at third had the throw been accurate) so Sanchez was able to move to second. With no outs and two runners in scoring position, the Twins elected to intentionally walk Didi Gregorius. Great strategy to open up the potential for the double play or a force out at home, but it left no margin for error. Starlin Castro had the first crack at the potential scoring opportunity but he flied out to right. With Greg Bird up next, the Twins brought in reliever Taylor Rogers, a lefty, for an all-Denver, Colorado battle (Bird is from Aurora, CO while Rogers hails from Littleton, CO). Rogers won the battle when he struck out Bird for the second out. The Twins made another call to the bullpen and brought in Alan Busenitz to face former Twin Aaron Hicks. Busenitz couldn’t throw strikes and walked A-A-Ron on four pitches to bring Judge home. The Yankees had increased their lead to 8-4. Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to leave the bases full, but the Yankees added an important insurance run.
Tommy Kahnle came back out for the 8th inning and retired the Twins in order. The Twins nearly had a base runner with one out but Zack Granite ran over first base without touching the bag on a grounder to first. Bird tossed the ball to Kahnle who dropped the ball but Starlin Castro alertly picked up the ball to tag Granite out before he could get back. I didn’t expect to see Dellin Betances given his struggles in September so I was very glad to see Kahnle continuing to pitch very strongly to get the game into the 9th inning and into the hands of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman gave up a two-out single to Joe Mauer but the inning was never in doubt as Chapman easily shut down the Twins, striking out Jorge Polanco to end the game. The Yankees win!
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
I am still not a fan of the single-game elimination but the Yankees persevered and head for Cleveland to face the Indians for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday. Now I can say that I am very joyous about the Yankees being in the post-season. It is so hard to be excited about a potential ‘one and done’ situation and I was very uneasy coming into the game. It didn’t help when Luis Severino had nothing and gave the Twins the strong early lead. You’d think that the Law of Averages would eventually tilt in Minnesota’s favor given the Yankees long-standing history of dominance over the Twins. I was very pleased that Tuesday was not their night. They’ll eventually get a key victory in the Bronx but it won’t be this year.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Congratulations to the New York Yankees for moving to the next round! I have very proud of this team and their accomplishments this year. They may not win the next round but the Yankees have shown the world their future is bright. This team has the potential to surprise but if not, there’s no doubt this will be a stronger team when they take the field next season.
Chasen Shreve threw out the first pitch. The Las Vegas native symbolized representation for his home city after this week’s senseless tragedy that claimed 58 lives and injured more than 500 people. There was a moment of silence observed for the victims.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
Earlier this season, Chase Headley took one near the family jewels. The same fate was bestowed upon Gary Sanchez when a foul ball hit the catcher where the sun doesn’t shine causing Sanchez to roll on the ground in pain while David Robertson was still on the mound. Ouch! Fortunately, he was able to continue. That was a painful experience to watch. It would not have been fun to be the recipient.
Have a great Wednesday! We have a day to enjoy and then the work begins on Thursday. Go Yankees!
|Credit: Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP|
Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1…
The title is sarcastic (if you didn’t notice). I am very disappointed with Masahiro Tanaka and the blow out loss to the AL East Cellar Dwellers. Trailing the Red Sox by four games with only nine games to play makes it a near impossibility to catch Boston unless they go into a tailspin like the Los Angeles Dodgers recently did. I seriously doubt that will happen for the Red Sox as they keep winning.
The Yankees had been playing so well, winning 15 of 20 games since August 31st. For a year that the Yankees have exceeded all expectations, Tanaka’s overall performance is the reason the Yankees are talking Wild Card and not AL East title. If he had pitched like his previous three years, we’d be talking about how many games the Red Sox are behind. It bothers me that we can hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, we can sweep the most recent series with the Twins, and yet, the Twins have a chance for one game to send the Yankees packing for the winter. If the Yankees play like they did yesterday, there will be no expanded playoffs for the Pinstripes.
Aaron Judge is the only player that came ready to play. His solo home run in the first inning, a monster 469 foot blast to left center off the facing of the second deck, gave the Yankees an early lead but it was the last run the Yankees would score. It was Judge’s 46th home run of the season, matching Joe DiMaggio’s career high.
|Credit: Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP|
The Blue Jays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the 1st against Tanaka. Teoscar Hernandez led off with a single to left center. Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder’s choice at third but Todd Frazier’s throw to Starlin Castro, which should have been an easy force out at second, got past Castro for an error as Hernandez raced around to third. Runners at the corners. Jose Bautista hit a soft grounder to third and was thrown out at first but Hernandez scored. Game tied, 1-1.
In the top of the 3rd, Todd Frazier doubled to right on a ball that went to the wall, sliding into second just under the throw from Jose Bautista. Clint Frazier popped out to the shortstop for the first out. Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right on a great running catch by Bautista, who then threw the ball in to second baseman Ryan Goins. With the Toddfather standing on second, Goins used the old hidden ball trick with a fake throw. Frazier momentarily lifted his foot off second to turn around and Goins nabbed him for the out to complete the double play. It was that type of game…
|Credit: Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP|
In the bottom of the 3rd, Teoscar Hernandez got to Tanaka again, this time a solo shot to left to give the Blue Jays the 2-1 lead. Bottom of the 4th, it was Russell Martin’s turn. His two-run shot, a liner just over the left field wall off Tanaka after Joey Bats had walked to start the inning, put the Blue Jays, 4-1.
The Yankees’ third and final hit came in the top of the 6th when Aaron Judge led off with a double to deep left center that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall. But the silent Yankee bats left him stranded behind the pitching of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, the recipient of a $13 million contract extension a few days earlier.
In the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays put the game away against Tanaka. Jose Bautista walked to start the inning. Kevin Pillar singled to center as Joey Bats moved to second. Tanaka struck out Russell Martin and Miguel Montero so it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning, but then he walked Kendrys Morales, pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney, on four consecutive balls out of the strike zone to load the bases. Tanaka had two strikes on the ‘Hidden Ball’ Master, Ryan Goins, but the third pitch, a slider, left the park in right for a grand slam. 8-1 Blue Jays, and, finally, the end of the night for Tanaka.
|Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports|
The only remaining runner that the Yankees could muster was when Aaron Judge walked in the 8th. The Blue Jays easily coasted to victory and most likely handed the Boston Red Sox the AL East Championship.
I apologize to those of you who are Tanaka fans but he sucked. His win-loss record now stands at 12-12 and his season ERA has increased to 4.94. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and three home runs in 5 2/3 innings. He disappeared at a time when the Yankees needed him the most. Dude, please opt out at the end of the year if this is truly the pitcher you are now.
|Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images|
The Yankees (85-68), as mentioned, fell four games behind the Red Sox. Boston beat Sal Romano, who grew up as a Yankees fan, and the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4. The Minnesota Twins have won two straight since they were swept by the Yankees so they have reduced their Wild Card deficit from 7 games to 5 1/2 in two days. The Los Angeles Angels are in a downward spiral, losers of five in a row, so they trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games, along with the Texas Rangers.
I don’t mind when the Yankees battle hard and lose, but Friday night was not one of those games. Outside of Aaron Judge, it was a complete team letdown. If I didn’t know better, it looked like the Toronto Blue Jays were the playoff team, not the Yankees. We expect and demand better play today.
Odds & Ends…
Today’s pitching matchup will feature Sonny Gray (9-11) versus Joe Biagini (3-11). A change was announced for Sunday. Jaime Garcia (5-9) now gets the start. He’ll oppose New York native Marcus Stroman (12-8).
Todd Frazier was able to talk to the father of the little girl struck by the foul ball during Wednesday’s game. The little girl is still in the hospital and as one relative indicated, it will be a long process. Frazier was told by the girl’s father that “she’s doing okay”. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the little girl as she continues to recover.
After last night’s game, an unauthorized man apparently gained access to the Yankees clubhouse in an attempt to steal some towels and a batting helmet. He was chased away by Todd Frazier, Tyler Wade, and others. The man was subsequently detained by stadium security but it’s scary that someone could have penetrated the crowded clubhouse that easily.
Have a great Saturday! Hopefully this a much better baseball day for all of us. Go Yankees!
I don’t know, the Minnesota Twins might want to consider forfeiting the Wild Card game. Seriously, the Yankees seem to have the Twins number as evidenced by the sweep of the most recent three-game series. I only hope that it continues into October assuming the Twins are successful in holding off the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card spot.
For the first two innings, the game appeared to be a pitching duel between Yankees ace Luis Severino and the ancient Bartolo Colon. A few isolated hits but no serious threats. Then, in the top of the 3rd inning, the Twins came out charging. Kennys Vargas singled on a soft bouncer to short that Didi Gregorius tried to barehand..unsuccessfully…with one out. Jason Castro followed with a single, a line drive to right. Runners at the corners. Brian Dozier drew a walk and the bases were full. Joe Mauer, battling Sevy for 13 pitches, singled to right, scoring Vargas. After a trip to the mound by Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (which never seems to work), Jorge Polanco lashed a single to right just past a running Greg Bird who nearly had the ball, Castro and Dozier scored. The Twins were up, 3-0. Severino evaded further trouble by retiring the next two batters.
All I could think was, “We’re going to let Bartolo Colon beat us? Really?”. Fortunately, the Yankees heard me. Greg Bird led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double to the right field wall, sliding into second just under the outfield throw. After Brett Gardner struck out, Aaron Judge hammered a Colon pitch over the wall in right for a two-run home run. It was Judge’s 45th of the year and his 100th RBI. Amazing. This was a guy who was almost beat out of a job by Aaron Hicks in Spring Training.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Gary Sanchez was up next and he delivered his 32nd home run with a shot to center in Monument Park. Drop the accolades for Judge and pick them up for Sanchez. 32 homers…the most ever for a Yankees catcher despite missing nearly a month of the season. More homers than Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada accomplished in one season. Incredible. The game was tied.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Luis Severino did not return for the 4th inning. 3 innings worked, 5 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 3 K’s on 71 pitches. He needed 46 pitches for the 3rd inning alone. A no decision that pushed his season ERA back over three (3.03).
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis-The NY Post
Chasen Shreve took over for Severino. Given Shreve’s recent performances, I was feeling a little shell-shocked. But he retired the first batter he faced, Max Kepler, on a swinging strikeout. Eduardo Escobar followed by flying out to left on a ball that took Brett Gardner to the warning track. Whew! So far, so good. Then, he walked Kennys Vargas. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Get that bum out of there! Nobody listened to me, so Shreve was able to pitch to the next batter, Jason Castro, who grounded out to second for the final out. Okay, Shreve, that wasn’t bad. I feel better now…
The bottom of the 4th arrived and, man, so did the rejuvenated September 2017 Yankees. Well, Matt Holliday excluded. He started the inning with a pop out to first in foul territory. Jacoby Ellsbury, playing like a man who is worth $153 million, tripled to left (actually, it probably should have been an error on left fielder Eddie Rosario who didn’t take a good route to the ball and it bounced out of his glove). Todd Frazier walked. Greg Bird doubled to the right field corner with Ellsbury scoring on the play and the Toddfather moving to third. The Yankees had their first lead of the game. Paul Molitor decided to make a pitching change and brought in Tyler Duffey to replace Colon. I was worried that our little rally was going to be short-fused. Silly me. Brett Gardner lined a single to center which scored Frazier. Bird moved to third. Aaron Judge struck out to briefly bring the return of my pessimism, but Gary Sanchez lightened my mood with a single to right, scoring Bird. Didi Gregorius was up next and he crushed a three-run homer to the second deck in right. It was Didi’s 25th home run of the year, giving him the most for a Yankees shortstop in franchise history. After the hit, Didi turned around and apologized to Jason Castro for dropping the bat in front of him. Class act by a very classy guy.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
The Yankees had scored 6 runs and now led 9-3. Starlin Castro grounded out to short to end the inning but I was okay with that.
Chasen Shreve did his job in the top of the 5th with no complaints or inner dialogue from me. In the bottom of the 5th, former Yankees farmhand Nik Turley took over for Tyler Duffey. Matt Holliday, deciding he wanted to join the party, started the Yankees half of the inning with a single to center. Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk on four pitches. After a game delay when Todd Frazier hit a young fan with a foul ball, he flied out to center but Holliday tagged and moved to third. With Greg Bird at bat, Turley unleashed a wild pitch that got away from Jason Castro and Holliday came in to score. Ellsbury moved to second. Bird then singled on a grounder to first that the first baseman momentarily lost after stopping the ball to put runners at the corners. It was another hit that probably should have been ruled an error. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch in the back and the bases were loaded. That would be all for Turley and he was replaced by Michael Tonklin. Aaron Judge hit a fly to right, scoring Ellsbury. The Yankees were now up, 11-3. Gary Sanchez singled to left to reload the bases, but Didi Gregorius struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.
Shreve returned with another solid inning in the 6th to help restore some of my confidence in the young Las Vegan left-hander. By the bottom of the 7th, both teams began making multiple substitutions. The Yanks rode the arms of Ben Heller and Domingo German to the finish. Nice job by both but special mention for German. He pitched two scoreless innings with no hits and a meaningless walk in the 9th. He struck out a total of four Twins including Kennys Vargas to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (85-67) increased their lead in the Wild Card standings to seven games over the Twins with 10 games to play. The Twins retained their 1 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to the Cleveland Indians, 6-5. The Boston Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles with a 9-0 win on Wednesday, so they remain three games in front of the Yankees. The win clinched a post-season berth for the Red Sox.
Chasen Shreve (4-1), by virtue of Severino’s early departure, got the win. Three Yankees had three hits (Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird) and two had three RBI’s (Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius). Sanchez had two ribbies. Judge now has 101 RBIs, becoming the fourth Yankees rookie to reach the 100 RBI mark, joining Tony Lazzeri (1926), Joe DiMaggio (1936), and Hideki Matsui (2003). Judge also became the third rookie in MLB history and eighth player in Yankees history with 100 runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 walks. This was yet another great team victory. Thumbs down, Everyone!
Next Up: Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…
The Yankees enjoy their final day off of the regular season today (barring any rainouts) before embarking on their last road trip with a quick three-game set north of the border starting Friday night. The Blue Jays, picked by many to finish as high as second in the AL East prior to the season, have successfully held off the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, for rights to the AL East Cellar although they’ll need to keep losing to fend off the O’s.
It may be a down year for the Blue Jays but they always seem to play the Yankees very tough. Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06 ERA)
Blue Jays: Joe Biagini (3-11, 5.33 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-11, 3.38 ERA)
Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman (12-8, 3.01 ERA)
Marco Estrada, who had been due to become a free agent after the season, signed a one-year contract extension for $13 million this week. So, he’ll be a happy man on Friday night.
I really hope that the Yankees find the perfect combination of excellent pitching from Sonny Gray and run support on Sunday.
Odds & Ends…
The downside to Wednesday’s victory was the injury of a young girl who was hit by the foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier in the 5th inning. The girl, a toddler, was attending the game with her grandparents. She was apparently struck in the mouth.
After the game, the Yankees released a short statement: “The child who was struck with a batted ball today was given first aid at the ballpark and is receiving medical attention at an area hospital. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, prevents the team from giving more information. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Our prayers and well wishes to the young girl for a full and speedy recovery.
Credit: Bill Kostroun-AP
Credit: Abbie Parr-Getty Images
Joe Girardi said after the game that the little girl was “doing OK”. This was a wake up call for the Yankees organization to extend the netting to protect fans.
I do feel bad for the Twins fans. Many of them are fans of the Minnesota Vikings like me. The Vikings took one on the chin last Sunday when they were steamrolled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-9, behind backup QB Case Keenum. So it has not been a great week for sports fans in and around Minneapolis/St Paul, MN. But I certainly do not feel bad enough that I wanted the Twins to escape with a victory. How sweep it is!
Have a great Thursday! It’s a day off…let’s enjoy! Go Yankees!
The way the game started, it looked like it was going to be the Twins’ day. But in the end, it was the grizzled old veterans (CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner) that keyed the victory for the Yankees.
In a game delayed by rain (one hour and five minutes), the Twins got an early jump on Sabathia. Brian Dozier led off with a single to center on the first pitch. Joe Mauer reached on a bunt to third (a roller on the line that Todd Frazier waited to see if it would roll out), Dozier advanced to second. Jorge Polanco followed with a bunt single back to the pitcher. CC must have been thrilled with all those bunts (memories of Boston). Polanco was called out on the field but the Twins challenged and replay showed that he had beaten Sabathia’s throw to first. The bases were loaded with no outs. Even though it resulted in a run, the play of the game occurred when Jorge Polanco hit a grounder to short and the Yankees completed a double play (second to first) with Dozier running home to score the game’s first run. Byron Buxton grounded out back to Sabathia to end the threat. The Twins could have scored multiple runs in that situation, which would have changed the complexion of the game, but CC was able to limit the damage.
The top of the 2nd saw a completely different Sabathia. He set down the Twins on a ground out and two strikeouts. Thanks to walks by Starlin Castro and Greg Bird, the Yankees had two runners on base in the bottom of the 2nd, with two outs, for Brett Gardner. Gardy delivered with a line drive to left to score Castro.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press|
Bird moved to third, but Aaron Judge was unable to bring him home when he flied out to center to end the inning. Game tied.
Max Kepler led off the top of the 3rd inning with a home run to right center as the Twins recaptured the lead.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the bottom of the 4th with a double down the left field line. After Todd Frazier struck out, Greg Bird took his second walk of the game. Runners at first and second. Brett Gardner came up big again with a single to right, past a diving Joe Mauer, to score Ellsbury. The Twins pulled starter Jose Berrios and replaced him with Alan Busenitz. With Aaron Judge batting, Busenitz uncorked a wild pitch which moved the runners to second and third. Aaron Judge took advantage with a sacrifice fly to the right field warning track that scored Bird. The Yankees had their first lead of the game, 3-2.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-Getty Images|
The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 5th. With former Met Dillon Gee on the mound and one out, Chase Headley was hit by a pitch near the family jewels. Yikes! Headley was okay, but as Michael Kay of the YES Network said, I hope he was wearing a cup even though he was not playing in the field (DH) for this game. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left through the hole and Headley moved to second. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to first for the second out, but the runners advanced to second and third. Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. The Twins made another pitching change, replacing Gee with Buddy Boshers. Greg Bird hit a grounder to first that looked like it would be a routine play for Joe Mauer but the ball bounced off the side of his glove and all runners were safe, with Headley scoring. If there was ever a guy that deserved to score, it was Headley as he had truly taken one for the team. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-2.
Sabathia found himself back in another jam in the 6th inning. Two singles, a stolen base, and an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, but CC was able to get Eddie Rosario to fly out to left to leave the runners stranded. Rosario’s hit took Brett Gardner to the warning track and back into the wall but it was still the third out even if it did cause me to lose my breath momentarily. Sabathia’s day was done.
In the bottom of the 6th, Twins reliever Ryan Pressly took over for Buddy Boshers. The first batter, Aaron Judge, singled to left through the hole. Gary Sanchez followed with a single to left and the Yankees had runners at the corners. After outs by Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley, Starlin Castro singled to right, inches past a diving Brian Dozier, to score Judge. Sanchez moved to second. A wild pitch had advanced the runners to second and third. From there, Pressly intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier grounded out to short to end the inning but the Yankees had added to their lead, 5-2.
Chad Green took over for Sabathia in the 7th. It wasn’t the usual Terminator-like appearance for Green, but he did hold the Twins scoreless despite allowing a single and a walk in the inning.
The Yanks missed another scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 7th. Brett Gardner had reached on a one-out grounder to short (a ball that squirted out of the shortstop’s glove). With Aaron Judge batting, Gardy stole second. He then moved to third on a wild pitch by reliever John Curtiss. Judge hit a grounder to third and Gardy made an unsuccessful break for home. Eduardo Escobar’s throw to catcher Chris Gimenez nailed Gardy at the plate.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press|
In the top of the 8th, David Robertson got the call. Joe Girardi had said prior to the game that Dellin Betances would be unavailable after pitching in the two previous games but obviously there was much discussion among the Yankees Universe yesterday about whether the Yankees should drop Betances to less pressurized situations until he can find himself again. D-Rob added fuel to the argument when he struck out the side.
Aroldis Chapman came into the game in the 9th. Although he did allow a two-out double to Chris Gimenez, he got Max Kepler to hit a liner to left for the final out to earn his 20th save. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (84-67) kept pace with the Boston Red Sox, staying three games back. The Baltimore Orioles have done the Yankees no favors as they fell to the Sox again, this time by a score of 1-0 in extra innings. Manny Machado, please feel free to mix in a few timely hits. The Yankees have built a commanding six game lead in the Wild Card standings over the Twins. The third place WC-contending team, the Los Angeles Angels, also lost so they failed to make up any ground on their 1 1/2 game deficit to the Twins.
CC Sabathia (12-5) was clearly the crafty vet in this game. He escaped huge jams and overall held the Twins in check. ‘Get the game to the bullpen’ and he did.
Both Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro had three hits, and Aaron Judge had two. Another good win by the home team!
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees have made a pitching change for today’s game. Earlier, Joe Girardi had announced that Masahiro Tanaka would be the scheduled starter. However, upon reconsideration (based primarily on the fact that the Yankees have not yet clinched a post-season berth), they have decided to pitch Luis Severino (13-6, 2.93 ERA). He’ll be opposed by the ageless Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.80 ERA). Tanaka will pitch Friday night in Toronto. The move gives Severino the potential for three starts if the Yankees are still challenging the Sox for the division championship. If not, he’ll make two more starts, including today, and will take the mound for the Wild Card game.
It is amazing to think that if/when Aaron Judge hits his 45th home run of the season, he’ll join very select company as the only Yankees with 45 or more home runs in a season…Roger Maris (61); Babe Ruth (60, 59, 54, 54, 49, 47, 46, 46, 46); Mickey Mantle (54, 52); Alex Rodriguez (54, 48); Lou Gehrig (49, 49, 47, 46); and Joe DiMaggio (46). Standing pat at 44 HR’s is impressive as it would also include Tino Martinez but clearly we want Judge to continue to send balls into orbit.
Have a great Wednesday! It’s a wonderful day for a win! Go Yankees!
Yankees 2, Twins 1…
The game had many stars…Jaime Garcia, Aaron Judge, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, but it was Aroldis Chapman who brought home the victory with his 5-out save that included working out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the top of the 8th inning as the Yankees held off the Minnesota Twins.
I’ve not been a very big fan of Jaime Garcia but he delivered on Monday night. In a game that looked like a mismatch on paper (Garcia against 15-game winner Ervin Santana), Garcia was just a tad bit better on this night. It was evident that he brought his “A” game when he struck out the side in the first inning to start the game against his former team of 6 days in July.
Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press
Aaron Judge gave Garcia an early lead when he belted his 44th homer of the year, a solo shot to right. It was Judge’s 97th RBI of the season.
The Twins tied the game in the top of the 5th inning. Eddie Rosario led off with a single to second on a ball that was deflected off the glove of a diving Didi Gregorius into shallow right field. Eduardo Escobar singled to right, but Aaron Judge’s slight bobble of the ball (ruled an error) allowed Rosario the time he needed to race around to third base. Robbie Grossman hit a grounder to third. Todd Frazier fielded and threw to second for the force out on Escobar but Rosario scored and the game was tied.
Garcia was able to get the first two outs in the top of the 6th, but when he gave up Joe Mauer’s single to right, his day was done. David Robertson, ready and waiting, came in and struck out Byron Buxton to end the Twins’ side of the inning.
Garcia probably wished that he could have gotten Mauer out because the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Chase Headley singled to center on a ball that was deflected off the glove of second baseman Brian Dozier with one out. Starlin Castro singled to left, with Headley moving to second. With Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate, a wild pitch by Ervin Santana allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Ellsbury was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Todd Frazier’s sacrifice fly to center scored Headley and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.
The Twins made a pitching change and brought in Trevor Hildenberger who retired Greg Bird on a ground out at first so the Yankees were unable to push any further runs across.
Dellin Betances replaced the highly effective David Robertson to start the 8th inning and the drama began. He hit the first batter, Robbie Grossman, with a pitch to the hip. Zach Granite pinch hit for Jason Castro and moved Grossman to second with a sacrifice bunt. Max Kepler pinch hit for Ehire Adrianza and drew a walk on four successive pitches. After pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound, Betances threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. Larry, your talk didn’t work! Betances proceeded to walk Brian Dozier, after almost striking him out on a foul tip that Gary Sanchez was unable to catch earlier in the at-bat, and the bases were full with only one out. Finally, Joe Girardi realized that it was not Dellin’s night and mercifully made the call for Aroldis Chapman.
Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post
Chapman proceeded to strike out the dangerous Joe Mauer on three pitches and got Byron Buxton to jump on the first pitch for a fly out to right to end the threat. Chapman had averted disaster in shutting down the Twins on four pitches. Whew! No wait, a BIG WHEW!
Credit: Kathy Willens-Associated Press
Chapman easily retired the Twins in the top of the 9th, with the radar gun reaching 104 mph. His swinging strikeout of Eduardo Escobar ended the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (83-67) were unable to make up any ground on the Red Sox. Boston, despite falling behind by five runs early, overcame the Baltimore Orioles in extra innings, winning 10-8. So, the Yankees remain three games behind the Sox. The Yankees increased their Wild Card lead over the Twins to five games.
I will continue to be critical of Jaime Garcia because I am not a fan of his, but for this game, he pitched well enough to win. 5 2/3 innings, four hits, one run (no earned runs), and nine strikeouts on 85 pitches. An incredible stat, for him, was no walks given his propensity for free passes. David Robertson (9-2), the winner, has the most wins of any reliever. I love his ‘Andrew Miller’ like attitude (willingness to pitch anywhere, any time). Aroldis Chapman was clearly the game’s MVP for his clean-up of the mess created by Dellin Betances. Even better is that he only threw 16 pitches for the five-out save, his 19th, so he’ll be ready to go again tonight. Chapman pitching at the top of his game is crucial for October success.
Nice win, guys!
Odds & Ends…
MLB.com has released its revised list of Top 100 Prospects and the great Gleyber Torres is #1! Of course, we already knew that and anxiously await his arrival in the Bronx in 2018.
Other notable Yankees and former Yankees include: 23) Clint Frazier; 41) Blake Rutherford (White Sox); 55) Chance Adams; 70) Dustin Fowler (Athletics); 82) Estevan Florial; 84) Justus Sheffield; and 96) Miguel Andujar. Proving that we drafted the wrong son of Dante Bichette Sr, Toronto’s Bo Bichette came in at #26. His brother, Dante Jr, has been a disappointment in the Yankees organization and probably will not return. The Yankees took Dante Jr with their first pick (a compensatory pick, #51) in 2011. It was the same year they drafted Greg Bird, Jake Cave and Jon Gray (who didn’t sign and was later drafted by the Colorado Rockies).
Have a great Tuesday! Let’s put away those pesky Twins for the series win! Go Yankees!
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:
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40 ERA)
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.33 ERA)
Mariners: Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA)
Mariners: Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.35 ERA)
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!
Twins 4, Yankees 2…
The Baby Bombers tried but without too much help from the veteran leadership, the Yankees fell to the Twins in Minneapolis.
New first baseman Garrett Cooper finally had his coming out party with three hits (two doubles) and his first Major League RBI. Clint Frazier, penciled in at #2 in the lineup, contributed two speed-earned doubles.
The Twins struck first, picking up a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Kennys Vargas walked and scored when Eddie Rosario lined a double to the center field wall. They added another run the next inning. Brian Dozier and Zack Granite both singled, and Joe Mauer walked to load the bases. In one of the game’s great plays, Miguel Sano hit a fly ball to Aaron Judge in right. Dozier attempted to score on the fly ball, but was nailed at the plate by an exceptional throw from Judge to catcher Austin Romine.
|Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP|
The Yankees nearly escaped the inning without any damage, but starter Bryan Mitchell, covering first base, botched a catch from second baseman Starlin Castro which allowed Max Kepler to reach base with Granite scoring the Twins’ second run.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th. The inning opened with a challenge play that was ruled in Minnesota’s favor. Didi Gregorius was initially ruled safe at first on an infield hit and headfirst slide, but replay subsequently showed that he was late to the bag as Adalberto Mejia’s foot touched base just before Didi’s hands. With two outs, Garrett Cooper doubled to right center, a smash to the wall. He scored on Austin Romine’s double over the head of right fielder Max Kepler. 2-1, Twins.
The game was tied in the top of the 7th when Chase Headley doubled to left center between the outfielders. He scored on Garrett Cooper’s second double of the game, a solid line drive to left.
Then the game fell apart for the Yankees. In the top of 8th, it looked to have the potential of a big inning that could have given the Yankees the lead. Clint Frazier hit a double to left, motoring around to second without hesitation. Twins reliever Taylor Rogers intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday. It proved to be the right decision by Twins manager Paul Molitor when Holliday hit into a 6-4-3 double play which erased Judge at second. Frazier moved to third. After taking a big swing for a strike, Didi Gregorius attempted an awful bunt which just bounced up and down at home plate. Twins catcher Jason Castro was able to easily throw out Gregorius for the final out.
In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to stick with Caleb Smith. Smith had entered the game in the 6th inning in relief of Bryan Mitchell. For two innings, he was tremendous in retiring 6 batters with 3 strikeouts. I know it is easy to second guess Girardi after-the-fact, but I felt that Girardi should have brought in one of his veteran relievers for the pressure-packed 8th. Smith’s brilliant two-inning work would have been a great confidence booster in making his MLB debut so it would have been a good place to pull him, especially with the Twins’ 3-4-5 hitters coming up. But Girardi elected to stay with the hot hand. Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano opened the bottom of the 8th with singles off Smith. Mauer’s hit fell just short of Aaron Judge’s sliding glove and Sano’s seeing-eye single made it to left past a sliding Didi Gregorius. After striking out Max Kepler, Smith gave up a single to left by pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar which scored Mauer. Sano moved to third on the play, beating a throw from Austin Romine to Gregorius, and scored when Eddie Rosario doubled, a rolling liner, to right. The Twins had taken a 4-2 lead which would prove to be the game’s final runs. To Smith’s credit, with the bases loaded after an intentional walk, retired the next two batters get out of the inning.
|Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP|
The Yankees were unable to muster any offense in the top of the 9th in the rain against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler and went down 1-2-3.
|Credit: Star Tribune|
Doing the little things right could have won this game but it was not meant to be.
The Yankees (47-44) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. The Sox fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3. The second place Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games in front of the Yankees and 2 games behind Boston with their 3-2 victory over the Oakland A’s.
Caleb Smith (0-1) took his first loss of the season after his 8-0 start at Triple A. Bryan Mitchell’s final line wasn’t bad. 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 run unearned thanks to his own error), 2 BB, and 2 SO. Aaron Judge’s post All-Star Game slump continued with his 0-for-3 performance which dropped him to 1-for-21 for the second half. He struck out once.
Odds & Ends…
Michael Pineda’s consultation with Dr Timothy Kremchek for a second opinion has confirmed the need for Tommy John surgery. Dr Kremchek will perform the surgery today in Cincinnati. Although I doubt Michael ever pitches for the Yankees again, I wish him much success with the surgery and a speedy recovery.
Greg Bird will also have surgery on his ankle today. He is expected to be out for six weeks. While it is projected that he could be back in September, I’d find it highly unlikely given he has missed so much time the past two years. Even more unlikely if the Yankees swing a trade for someone like Yonder Alonso or Justin Bour. I hope this surgery puts Bird back on the path to be a contributing member for the Yankees.
Have a great Tuesday! Time to get back in the win column. Let’s Go Yankees!