Tagged: New York

The Mitchell Report: An A+ for Dellin!…

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Associated Press

Yankees 7, Mets 5…

Bryan Mitchell tried to give the game away, loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 9th and then allowing a grand salami by former Yank Curtis Granderson, but Dellin Betances came in (“it’s not really what you want to do” –Joe Girardi) to restore order and give the Yankees the series sweep over the New York Mets.

This should have been an easy win with the dominance of Luis Severino and the power of Gary Sanchez but it was a nail-bitter at the end.  If the Mets had gotten a runner on base against Betances, they would have brought the potential game-tying run to the plate.  But Dellin is no Aroldis Chapman (of late) and he shut the door. 

This game should have been all about the Kraken.  Gary Sanchez is rapidly becoming Mr August although I’d be okay with Mr August through October.  He owned August last year and he owns it again this season.  Brett Gardner led off with a bouncer back to Mets pitcher Steven Matz and reached second when Matz’s throw sailed over first baseman Dominic Smith’s head.  Aaron Hicks walked.  After Aaron Judge struck out (record extended), El Gary came to the plate and sent a Matz pitch into the left center stands as a souvenir.  The Yankees led 3-0 to give Luis Severino some backing before he had even thrown a pitch.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yankees got to Matz again in the fourth inning.  Tyler Austin singled to right, his second hit of the game.  Ronald Torreyes followed with a single to left, a roller through the hole at short.  The best hit of the night, sorry Gary, came when Luis Severino popped a bunt that fell in for a single to load the bases.  The Yankees bench went nuts over Sevy’s first Major League hit.  Brett Gardner, showing the professional hitter that he is, lined a double into the left field corner.  Both Austin and Torreyes scored.  Sevy stopped at third, huffing and puffing (not seriously).  After Aaron Hicks grounded out, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded again.  The Mets pulled Steven Matz and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford.  Gary Sanchez greeted Bradford with a single to left (through the hole between third and short), which scored Severino and Gardner.  Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud was unable to hold Yoenis Cespedes’ throw, otherwise, he might have had a play on Gardner at the plate.  The Yankees had scored 4 runs and now led 7-0.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Severino was dominant after his collapse against Boston last weekend.  He pitched into the seventh inning.  He got the first out…a ground out by Amed Rosario, but from there, the inning deteriorated.  A fly ball to right by Travis d’Arnaud was dropped by Aaron Judge and d’Arnaud was able to reach second on the two-base error.  With Matt Reynolds batting, a wild pitch by Severino allowed d’Arnaud to move to third. It was another case where Gary Sanchez didn’t have his glove low enough to stop the pitch. Matt Reynolds looped a single to center to score d’Arnaud and the Mets had their first run of the game.  Brandon Nimmo also singled to center, and Sevy’s day was done. He could only watch from the dugout as both runners were his responsibility.  The Yankees brought in lefty Chasen Shreve, causing Tweeter to blow up with the “Chasen History” references due to the appearance of two Chasens (Shreve and the Mets’ Bradford) in the game.  Shreve struck out Curtis Granderson for the second out, but walked Asdrubal Cabrera to load the bases.  In perhaps what would prove to be one of the game’s biggest moments, Shreve struck out Michael Conforto to end the threat.

Shreve easily set down the Mets in the 8th, but Bryan Mitchell was brought in for the 9th to close it out.  Sadly, he was ill equipped for the job on this night.  Travis d’Arnaud led off with a double to the wall in left.  Matt Reynolds singled to right while d’Arnaud was held at third. Following a coaching visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Mitchell walked Brandon Nimmo to load the bases with no outs.  Curtis Granderson came up and jumped all over the first pitch from Mitchell for a grand slam to right.  Manager Joe Girardi was visibly unhappy (along with Yankees fans), and finally pulled Mitchell.  Enter Dellin Betances.  1-2-3, game over.  Yankees win!

The Boston Red Sox had the day off so the Yankees (65-55) picked up a 1/2 game and now trail the Sox by 4 games as they head to Boston for the weekend.  The Tampa Bay Rays continue to slide, falling to the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3.  The loss, combined with the Blue Jays win, created a three-way tie for the AL East Cellar (the Baltimore Orioles were idle). All three teams trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games.

Excellent pitching performance by Luis Severino (10-5).  After giving up 10 runs (8 earned) in his last start, Sevy bounced back to allow only four hits and one run (none earned) over 6 1/3 innings.  If not for Judge’s error, he probably could have gone deeper into the game.  He walked three batters, but struck out nine in lowering his season ERA to 3.18.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Also, you can’t say enough about the huge bullpen performances by Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances, who picked up his eighth save.  Both pitchers had the outcome of the game in their hands and they triumphed.

As for Mitchell, I know that he is capable of providing long relief but I’d probably send him down to Triple A and recall hot reliever Ben Heller with Caleb Smith, also capable of going long, in the pen.   

Gary Sanchez…The Kraken…El Gary…The Sanchino.  Two hits, including the homer and five RBI’s.  Jump on his back and hold on…the man is on fire.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

The streak continues.  Aaron Judge extended his own Major League record for strikeouts (by a non-pitcher) to 34 games.  I’d like to see a nice clean 4-for-4 day to put this one in the history books.  For this game, Judge went hitless in four at-bats and was punched out three times.  


The Yankees had a sense of humor with their Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) reference after the game:

We could probably use Dany’s dragons as the Yankees head north to Massachusetts.

game-thrones-loot-train-attack

Credit:  HBO

 

Next Up:  Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Boston, MA…

The Red Sox come into the latest series well rested as they had the day off on Thursday following their walk-off win over the St Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.  The Yankees meanwhile had to toil in Queens last night before hopping a plane for the short flight to Beantown.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 3.94 ERA)

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (12-4, 3.39 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-5, 4.05 ERA)

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (14-4, 2.51 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (7-7, 3.37 ERA)

Red Sox:  Doug Fister (2-6, 5.56 ERA) / TBA

It’s unfortunate we won’t have Luis Severino for this series, but at least we have Sonny Gray.  Gray will be making his first start in the Yankees-Red Sox wars.  He’ll really find out that he no longer resides in Oakland (if watching last weekend’s series wasn’t enough).  I am not sure if Boston has fully decided its starter for Sunday.  Fister is a strong possibility but not a certainty.

 

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have recalled 1B/OF Tyler Austin from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He takes the place of 1B Garrett Cooper.  Cooper has been placed on the 10-day DL with left hamstring tendonitis.  

Greg Bird was in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup last night at DH.  He was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in the RailRiders’ 5-4 win over the Gwinnett Braves (a team that will soon be called something like the Buttons or the Sweet Teas). 

Have a great Friday!  May the Baseball Gods favor the Yankees this weekend.  Go Yankees!

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The Judgian Blast…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Mets 3…

…Ya gotta love John Sterling and his home run calls.  Aaron Judge hits a home run and it’s almost bigger news than the game itself.  His blast, which traveled into the third deck of the left center stands, traveled 457 feet at a velocity of 117 mph to help power the Yankees to the win over the New York Mets.  It was funny to watch the Mets outfielders stand without moving as they watched the ball fly over.  


I didn’t like the first inning when the Yankees failed to take advantage of a scoring opportunity and the Mets did not.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single lined to right.  He stole second (the throw bouncing off Ellsbury as he slid), and later advanced to third on Aaron Judge’s ground out back to the pitcher.  Robert Gsellman looked at Ellsbury but didn’t hold him long enough before throwing Judge out.  Unfortunately, the Yankees could not bring Ells home.  In the bottom of the inning, the Mets didn’t waste their opportunity. Juan Lagares opened with a double down the third base line all the way to the corner off Yankees starter Jaime Garcia.  After moving to third on a ground out, he scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Yoenis Cespedes.  The Mets had the early 1-0 lead.


The second inning was weird but the Yankees came away with the game-tying run.  With the Mets rotating third baseman Travis d’Arnaud and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera in frequent positional switches, Chase Headley drew a one-out walk against Mets starter Robert Gsellman.  A wild pitch by Gsellman into the dirt through catcher Rene Rivera’s legs allowed Headley to move to second, followed by a passed ball on Rivera that advanced him to third. Rivera’s look back at Gsellman was a classic “WTF?”. Garrett Cooper grounded out to third on a diving stop by Asdrubal Cabrera but Headley scored on the play.  The Yankees had tied the game.


Aaron Judge led off the 4th inning with his towering blast. It was one of those “wow” moments.  The home run was Judge’s 37th of the year.  The Yankees had taken their first lead of the game, 2-1.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

In the bottom of the 5th, Rene Rivera hit a two-out solo homer over the wall in left center to tie the game.  It seemed so wrong that his homer counted as much as Judge’s did.  


The Yankees took their second lead of the game in the 6th inning.  Aaron Judge singled on a liner to left with one out.  Successive walks to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez loaded the bases and ended the day for Robert Gsellman.  Reliever Paul Sewald was brought into the game and Chase Headley greeted him with a sacrifice fly to center which scored Judge.  3-2, Yankees.


In the bottom of the inning, the Mets came right back to tie the game again.  Asdrubal Cabrera opened the inning with a single to left.  He subsequently  tried to steal second on a ball that got away from Gary Sanchez, but it was a bad idea to test El Gary’s arm.  Out at second.  Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk from Jaime Garcia and Michael Conforto doubled to left…a roller to the wall, advancing Cespedes to third.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia and brought Tommy Kahnle into the game.  Travis d’Arnaud lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cespedes but Kahnle was able to limit the damage to only the one run. Game was tied again at 3.


Ronald Torreyes led off the 7th inning with a double to the left field corner.  What can you say about Toe? He is constantly coming up with key, unsung hits in critical moments. A sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Kahnle, pushed Toe to third. Successive walks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks by Paul Sewald loaded the bases. Admittedly, the fourth ball to Hicks looked like the third strike but oh well, I’ll take it. Aaron Judge had first crack at the potential scoring opportunity but he popped out to the catcher.  Didi Gregorius was next and he didn’t miss his opportunity.  He rapped a double with authority to the right field corner, scoring both Toe and Ellsbury.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

From there, the Yankees rode the bullpen arms of Adam Warren and David Robertson to victory.  The Mets were given four outs in the bottom of the 9th when a third strike on Amed Rosario rolled under Gary Sanchez’s glove to the backstop, allowing Rosario to reach first.  Robertson was charged with the wild pitch, but Sanchez should have had his glove down.  Robertson shook it off and did what he does best.  He closed the game out for his 14th save on a called strikeout of Rene Rivera who had represented the potential tying run.  I continue to be thankful every day that DRob is a Yankee again.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yankees (64-55) were unable to pick up any ground on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox were trailing the St Louis Cardinals, 4-2, in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway Park, but Xander Bogaerts homered and Mookie Betts hit a two-run double to give the Red Sox the 5-4 walk-off win.  So, the Yankees remain 4 1/2 games behind the Sox.  The Sox are off today so the Yankees will either gain or lose a 1/2 game depending upon the outcome  of the Yankees-Mets series finale.  Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles lost.  The Rays dropped a 3-2 contest to the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s were beaten 7-6 by Yonder Alonso and the Seattle Mariners.  So, they trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 and 6 games, respectively.  


Despite the monster home run, Aaron Judge set the MLB record for consecutive games with a strikeout for non-pitchers with a swinging strikeout in the top of the 9th.  He has now struck out in 32 successive games.  


Although he was on the mound when the Mets tied the game in the 6th, Tommy Kahnle (2-3) was the beneficiary of the two-run double by Didi Gregorius in the 7th to take the win. Excellent job by Adam Warren who pitched two innings of scoreless one-hit ball with 3 strikeouts.  I am sure that the Chicago Cubs look at Warren and wonder where that guy was at the start of last season.

Mets starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who hadn’t played third since high school, was forced to play the position when both Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes were scratched before the game due to ribcage injuries.  d’Arnaud and Cabrera, the second baseman, made a total of 22 positional switches during the course of the game.  Cabrera would frequently move to third for right-handed hitters.  It was a smart play by Mets manager Terry Collins as he limited the fielding chances for d’Arnaud.  Cabrera took all of the grounders to third and d’Arnaud only had to deal with a popup.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

Credit to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com for the words of Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner at the MLB Owners Meeting in Chicago: 

  • If we don’t make the play-offs, it’s a failure.  Any year, any year.  That’s just the mindset for us.
  • It was a great first two and a half months.  It’s been tough the last two months for the most part.  But I think they’re coming out of it and the pitching additions we made at the Deadline are already helping, and we’re going to have a strong last five, six weeks. 
  • The changes we did at the last Trade Deadline a year ago clearly [were] a difficult decision. But I made it, it was mine, and we got a lot of good players from it and we still stayed in contention until the last couple weeks. But we’ve been fortunate. The young guys we kept talking about for three, four years finally got to the point where they could contribute at the big league level. Other guys — [international] signings like Estevan Florial — have been good. So we’ve got a very good player development system right now, and we’re competing. That’s always a very good sign. And it’s always tough to give up some of the top [prospects], but I wasn’t going to do it for a rental. If you do it, you do it for a young guy that’s under control for a year or two.
  • We can still go into the free-agent market. We’ll just have to see who’s ready [in the Minor League system] and who’s not and how the team looks at X [payroll] number.

Credit:  Nam Y Huh-Associated Press

Greg Bird began his rehab assignment last night with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  After the RailRiders completed the rain suspended game from the night before (which they lost 9-4 to the Gwinnett Braves), Bird was penciled into the lineup at first base for the regularly scheduled Wednesday game.  He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the first four innings of the RailRiders’ 4-1 loss to the Braves.  Chance Adams, 9-4, was the losing pitcher.


CC Sabathia will be activated off the DL on Saturday according to Sweeny Murti of WFAN. He’s scheduled to make the start against the Boston Red Sox.  I wish I felt more optimistic about this news than I do.

Have a great Thursday!  Let’s sweep the Subway Series with a win!  Go Yankees!

Sonny Wins Despite Gray Skies…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Mets 4…

Sonny Gray finally won his first game as a Yankee, blanking the Mets until rookie first baseman Dominic Smith blasted his first Major League home run.  All was good up until the 9th when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run homer to Amed Rosario, showing he is not over whatever this funk is, to bring the Mets within a run.  Fortunately, the Yanks prevailed but it was a disappointing end to what should have been an exciting win.

The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a double to left off Mets starter Jacob DeGrom.  The third baseman, Wilmer Flores, was playing in and was unable to reach the ball which went past third base.  Toe fell down at first base but was able to get up and slide into second ahead of the throw. It was a nice recovery by Toe who had alertly slapped first base with his hand as he got up to run.  Brett Gardner executed a sacrifice bunt to move Toe to third.  Aaron Hicks rapped a fly ball to right that dropped in ahead of Curtis Granderson to score Toe and the Yankees led 1-0.

They added two more runs in the bottom of the 4th.  Chase Headley worked a two-out walk.  He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who parked one in the right center stands on a line drive to increase the score to 3-0.  As the Mets announcers said, “It’s a double in every other park except this one”.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Sonny Gray still going strong, Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the 6th inning and unloaded on a DeGrom pitch for a tremendous home run to left center.  The homer, Gary’s 21st of the year, increased the lead to 4-0.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Wilmer Flores led off the 7th and he battled Gray for 8 pitches before walking to reach first.  He didn’t stay there long as Dominic Smith followed with a home run to center.  End of day for Gray, but it was a great performance despite the two-run homer.  Manager Joe Girardi brought in Tommy Kahnle who retired the next three Mets to halt the Mets’ momentum.  

Dellin Betances pitched the 8th.  He did walk a batter (Yoenis Cespedes) with two outs.  Cespedes moved into a scoring position after a wild pitch off Gary Sanchez’s glove but was left stranded when Betances struck out Michael Conforto.

The Yankees added an insurance run (which would prove to be huge) in the bottom of the 8th.  Aaron Judge led off with a double to the left field corner wall, sliding into second with his left hand just under the perfect throw from Yoenis Cespedes.  Didi Gregorius singled on a fly to shallow left that fell just beyond Wilmer Flores, the third baseman, to put runners on the corners.  A sacrifice fly to center by Gary Sanchez was deep enough (warning track) to score Judge to give the Yankees a 5-2 advantage.  The Mets replaced DeGrom with lefty Jerry Blevins.  Chase Headley singled to left, moving Gregorius to second.  Blevins then struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  The Mets pulled Blevins and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford (there’s another reliever in MLB from Las Vegas, Nevada named Chasen besides Shreve? Was it something in the Clark County water 27-28 years ago?).  Bradford got Todd Frazier to pop out to first to end the inning.  In retrospect, we could have used those additional runs to help prevent an agonizing 9th.

I started to get nervous when I saw Aroldis Chapman warming up.  I was thankful the Yankees weren’t nursing a one-run lead.  Wilmer Flores was first up.  He worked the count full which had me fearing that Chapman would walk the lead-off batter.  Fortunately, he struck out Flores on a foul tip to get the first out.  The Mets then inserted Jose Reyes as a pinch-hitter for Dominic Smith which seemed odd given that Smith had homered in his last at-bat and Chapman had been beaten by a young slugger the night before.  Nevertheless, Reyes hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley could not corral.  Reyes was awarded a single but Headley could have cleanly handled the play for an out.  Rookie Amed Rosario came to the plate and hit a long fly ball to center that Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury could only watch as it sailed over the fence.  The Yankees’ lead had been cut to 5-4 and there was still only one out.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound. Maybe he told Chapman to stop trying to be cute with the flat sliders.  Whatever he told Chapman, it must have worked.  Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to short on a great stop and throw to first by Didi Gregorius (despite losing his footing).  Chapman had Juan Lagares down to two strikes but he hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley successfully handled.  Chapman was moving toward first and took the toss from Headley just ahead of Lagares, but he must have pulled something in his leg as he was running toward first.  Chapman got the save, his 16th, but it was far from an exciting win.  I’ll take the win, don’t get me wrong.  But Chapman’s struggles took away some of the euphoria that normally accompanies the excitement of victory.  

The Yankees (63-55) still trail the Boston Red Sox by 4 1/2 games.  The Red Sox pounded the St Louis Cardinals, 10-4, in a game that saw the Sox turn an easy triple play to go with an eight-run inning.  The Toronto Blue Jays moved back into third place with their 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  They trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles, sliding back to fourth place, lost to the Seattle Mariners, 3-1.  They are 5 games behind the Yanks.  The Yankees increased their lead in the Wild Card standings by 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels.  It’s amazing to think that 8 AL teams are within 5 games of each other.  In the National League, the two WC leaders (Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks) hold a five-game cushion.  

Aaron Judge struck out in the first inning against Jacob DeGrom to extend his consecutive game streak with a strikeout to 32 games.  He tied Adam Dunn’s 2012 record for non-pitchers.  If he strikes out tonight, he’ll hold the dubious record by himself.  

As great as the Yankees bullpen has been this year, it seems like there is an ugly stick that is passed from reliever to reliever.  Former Yankee reliever Tyler Clippard was awful for a stretch prior to his trade to the Chicago White Sox.  By the time he was traded to the Houston Astros, he was once again being touted as a two-time All-Star.  He passed his awfulness before his departure to Dellin Betances, who rebounded, but must have given the baton to Chapman.  The Yankees were downplaying Chapman’s hamstring tightness after the game but there’s reason for concern (in my opinion).  If it were my decision, I’d pull Chapman from the closer’s role until he can right the ship.  My choice for closer would be David Robertson.  Betances tends to have more problems with base runners and I’d prefer to keep him in his effective set-up role.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

For Sonny Gray (7-7), it was great to see him get the win in his Yankee Stadium debut.  Pitching six innings, he held the Mets to 5 hits and only gave  up the 2 runs on the Dominic Smith homer in the 7th.  He walked two batters and struck out 5.  This is why Gray was worth the cost of Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian.

Odds & Ends…

The latest Subway Series moves to Citi Field tonight.  Jaime Garcia gets to pitch in familiar National League digs.  Have Bat–Will Travel.  Hopefully the Yankees will back Garcia with a few runs this time or maybe he just takes matters into his own hands…

Credit:  FOX Sports

The New York Mets have made a pitching change for tonight’s game.  The scheduled starter, Seth Lugo, has been placed on the DL with an impingement in his right shoulder. Robert Gsellman, a 24-year-old righty, will start in his place.  Gsellman is 5-5 with 6.16 ERA for the Mets this season. 

Credit:  Kathy Willens-The Associated Press

It’s hard for me to get overly excited about Greg Bird after a series of disappointments this year since Spring Training.  Nevertheless, he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today.  Bird is hoping to join the Yankees next week but for me, he needs to show that he can hit again before Garrett Cooper loses his spot as the backup first baseman for the big league club.  I am very skeptical that we’ll have any significant productivity from Bird in 2017.  I hope he proves me wrong.


As expected, the Yankees placed RHP Luis Cessa on the 10-day DL with his ribcage injury. LHP Caleb Smith, demoted yesterday, was recalled to take Cessa’s place.  The lovely Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…


Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s show Queens how Bronxites like to party!  Go Yankees!

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!

There Was Almost Life After Sale…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

Red Sox 3, Yankees 2…

The Yankees had victory in their hands but Aroldis Chapman was unable to hold a one-run lead in the 9th and the Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox in extra innings.  

This was one tough.  I felt very uneasy with Chapman taking the mound.  The Yankees really needed an insurance run in the 8th when Didi Gregorius struck out in the bottom of the 8th with runners at the corners and two outs.  I was concerned that Chapman would not be able to hold a one-run advantage.  Unfortunately, I was right.  Dellin Betances may have righted the ship but Chapman has not.  I don’t know if it’s the World Series “hangover” (too many pitches thrown in an extended season), but…right now…the Yankees have two better closers in Betances and David Robertson.  

It was expected that Chris Sale would be tough and he was.  Entering the game, his season ERA was only 1.15 against the Yankees in two starts.  We could have used that 0.15 of a run.  After Boston had scored the game’s first run in the top of the 5th on a run-scoring single by Jackie Bradley, Jr, the Yankees struck back against Sale when they got their turn at bat.  Chase Headley lined a one-out single to center.  After Ronald Torreyes struck out, Austin Romine tripled to right to score Headley.  Mookie Betts was at the wall but couldn’t make the catch on Romine’s hit.  The game was tied at 1.  It would be the sole run the Yankees would score off Sale.  He went 7 strong innings and only allowed 4 hits and the single run, while walking 2 and striking out 12.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

Still, the Yankees had a chance.  Jordan Montgomery, struck in the head by a line drive during batting practice on Saturday, was excellent.  He kept the Yankees in the game, holding the Red Sox at bay to match Sale’s dominance for 5 1/3 innings.  The Red Sox were able to get only two hits off Monty, and the run in the 5th.  Throwing 84 pitches, Monty did walk 3 batters but struck out 4.  

Credit:  Jason Scenes-EPA

With Sale out of the game, the Yankees finally broke through with a run in the 8th against Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes.  Aaron Hicks worked a one-out walk.  Aaron Judge singled to right, Hicks moved to second.  Another walk, this time to Gary Sanchez, loaded the bases.    Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hicks with the go-ahead run.  The Yankees led, 2-1.  The Red Sox pulled Barnes and replaced him with reliever Robby Scott to face Didi Gregorius.  A single by Didi in this spot would have been huge, but sadly Scott struck out Didi on three pitches.

Enter Aroldis Chapman, goodbye potential win.  With two strikes on Rafael Devers, Chapman unleashed a 103 mph fastball and Devers was ready for it.  Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks could only watch as the ball landed over the wall in left center.  The game was tied.

Credit:  Bill Kostroun

The Yankees could have won the game in the bottom of the 9th.  With Addison Reed pitching, Chase Headley led off with a walk.  Ronald Torreyes laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to second.  Jacoby Ellsbury, pinch hitting for Austin Romine, grounded out to first, but Headley was able to advance to third.  The potential winning run just 90 feet away.  The Sox replaced Reed with closer Craig Kimbrel to face Brett Gardner.  It was a big opportunity for Gardy but but he struck out to end the inning.

Aroldis Chapman was still on the mound when the Yankees took the field in the 10th.  With one out, he hit Jackie Bradley, Jr with a pitch and walked Eduardo Nunez.  Manager Joe Girardi finally had the stones to remove Chapman and replaced him with Tommy Kahnle.  Kahnle walked the first batter he faced (Mookie Betts) to load the bases.  Andrew Benintendi’s single to right scored JBJ with the go-ahead run.  Kahnle was able to retire the next two batters but the damage had been done.  The Sox were up, 3-2.

Craig Kimbrel easily retired the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th, and the Red Sox walked off the field with the game and series win.

It won’t get any easier when the Yankees play in Boston next weekend.  The Red Sox do not fear Chapman, nor should they have any reason to.  “He’s my closer”, Joe Girardi said after the game.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

The Yankees (61-55) fell a season high 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.  They had a chance to make a statement and it didn’t happen.  The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles were unable to make up any ground on the Yankees.  The Rays lost, 4-3, to the Cleveland Indians while the O’s were thumped, 9-3, by the Oakland A’s.  The A’s are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the O’s are trailing by four.  The Yankees hold the Wild Card advantage by 1 1/2 games over the Los Angeles Angels (where did they come from?…) and 2 games over Jaime Garcia’s former team (for 6 days), the Minnesota Twins.  

Aaron Hicks made a great diving catch in the first inning to rob Eduardo Nunez of an extra-base hit.  

Aaron Judge had three more strikeouts on Sunday to extend his consecutive game streak to 30.  He trails the record that Adam Dunn set, for non-pitchers, in 2012 with strikeouts in 32 consecutive games.  The Yankees really need Judge to make the necessary adjustments to get out of this funk if they are to have any October aspirations.

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Next Up:  New York Mets at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY (2) and Citi Field, Flushing, NY (2)…

The Yankees play a quick two-game set at home against the Mets before the series resumes at Citi Field for two games beginning on Wednesday.  The series follows some recent bad blood between the two teams over contentious failed trade negotiations leading up to the trading deadline.

Here are the pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Mets:  Rafael Montero (1-8, 6.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.83 ERA)

TUESDAY

Mets:  Jacob DeGrom (13-5, 3.21 ERA)

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-7, 3.39 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.82 ERA)

Mets:  Seth Lugo (5-3, 4.85 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-5, 3.32 ERA)

Mets:  Steven Matz (2-6, 5.54 ERA)

May Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia finally got some runs to work with, and may Luis Severino pitch much, much better than he did last Saturday against the Red Sox.  As for Cessa today, at least he’s facing a pitcher with 8 losses and ERA above six.  

Odds & Ends…

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees returned reliever Giovanny Gallegos to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled LHP Caleb Smith (who had been scheduled to pitch for the RailRiders on Sunday but was scratched with the promotion).  LHP Nestor Cortes made the start for SWB in Smith’s place.  Cortes didn’t get the win but he held the Durham Bulls to one hit and one unearned run in 4 2/3 innings.  With no free passes, he struck out eight.  The RailRiders won the game on a two-run homer by Ji-Man Choi in the top of the 9th.

The Texas Rangers have released infielder Pete Kozma who was on the Yankees’ opening day roster as an injury replacement for Didi Gregorius.  The Rangers had previously sold reliever Ernesto Frieri, who was in spring training with the Yankees, to the Seattle Mariners for $1 earlier in the week.  

The Houston Astros have acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Clippard rebuilt his stock after the trade   from the Yankees to the White Sox.  Although he lost his first appearance for the White Sox, he won his only other decision in 11 appearances and finished with a 1.80 ERA and two saves.  The Astros get a much better pitcher than the Yankees had earlier this year.

Have a great Monday!  A win today would be great!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Two Little, Too Late…

Credit:  Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Orioles 3, Yankees 2…

Admittedly, I had wished the Baltimore Orioles had won on Sunday (when they lost to the Houston Astros, 8-4).  Coming into the series with the Yankees, the O’s were on a seven-game losing streak but were returning home to Camden Yards for the Memorial Day showdown (a wounded dog ready to bite).  The Orioles were due and unfortunately it came at the expense of the Yankees.

It was a winnable game, but you need offense to win.  Dylan Bundy, who has been Baltimore’s best pitcher so far this year, was good but you can’t say great.  He scattered seven hits over seven innings and held the Yanks to only two runs.  Bundy was the beneficiary of three double-plays.  It was hard to say if it was simply great Bundy pitching or anemic Yankee bats.  Outside of the Aarons, the Yankees couldn’t generate any runs.  Aaron Hicks had an early sac fly, scoring Starlin Castro to tie the game at one in the second inning, and Aaron Judge had a solo homer in the seventh (his 17th of the year).  

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The two runs were not enough to overcome Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring single in the first and Jonathan Scoop’s two-run double in the third.

Jordan Montgomery (2-4) reopened long term concerns about his spot in the rotation.  He threw 100 pitches just to get into the fifth inning.  After allowing two one-out singles in the fifth, Montgomery was finished.  For 4 1/3 innings of work, he had allowed eight hits and three runs (only one earned, thanks to Starlin Castro’s fielding error in the third).  He walked one and struck out five.  He is pitching well enough to earn his next start, but if the Yankees do make a trade for a starter within the next couple of months, Montgomery could be the odd man out.  

Both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve pitched well in relief of Montgomery as they combined for 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief and six strikeouts.  The only blemish was Shreve’s insignificant walk of Mark Trumbo in the seventh.

Aaron Judge had one final shot in the ninth inning to try and tie the game, but he struck out against interim O’s closer Brad Brach.  Brach, hardly a clone of injured O’s elite closer Zach Britton, also struck out Didi Gregorius to end the game.

Credit:  Ulysses Munoz/Baltimore Sun

Chris Carter was miserable.  He had an 0-for-3 day with two strikeouts.  Overall, he is 0-for-12 for his last five games and has been punched out in half of those at-bats.  Carter is batting .188 on the season.  When both Tyler Austin and Greg Bird are healthy, Carter is going to be in a very precarious situation if he doesn’t find the swing that drilled 41 homers last year.  

Chase Headley, after a two game rest, was 1-for-2 with a walk.  It kind of makes me wonder what the pesky Ronald Torreyes could have done against Bundy.  But alas, we’ll never know.  The Orioles won this game, and pulled back to within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees (29-19) in the AL East.  Fortunately, the Chicago White Sox rallied against the Red Sox bullpen to beat Boston 5-4 in a game saved by former Yankee closer David Robertson.  So, the Red Sox remain 3 games behind the Yankees.  

Credit:  Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune

Better luck to the Baby Bombers today.  It is more fun to write about wins than losses.  

Player Updates…

It doesn’t sound like Jacoby Ellsbury will be back anytime soon.  As of Sunday, he still had a headache and continues to deal with the neck sprain so he has not resumed baseball activities.  The presence of Aaron Hicks makes Ellsbury’s absence a non-factor unless Brett Gardner or Aaron Judge get hurt.

Aroldis Chapman was able to throw again prior to yesterday’s game against Baltimore but still no word when he’ll be ready for a rehab assignment.  He’ll take today off before resuming light throwing tomorrow.

Tyler Austin was 1-for-4 (single) in his latest rehab assignment as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders fell to the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-0.

The Yankees will miss Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout in a couple of weeks when they make their West Coast road trip.  Trout had surgery yesterday on a torn ulnar ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.  Trout injured the thumb on Sunday with a head first slide in Miami. 

Have a great Tuesday!  Twelve games left against the AL East in the current stretch…let’s make the most of it.  A win today would be a good start…

Flying to New York on a Positive Note…

All is right in the world again…  

Yankees win and the Orioles do not.  Two to three weeks ago, who would’ve guessed that the Yankees best pitcher would be CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka its worst.  Thanks to CC’s strong performance, the three runs scored by the Yankees in the second inning would be all they needed in the 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  

Despite the run-scoring single by Didi Gregorius and a two-run homer by Brett Gardner, Chris Archer showed why he would be a prime trade target for the Yankees.  He struck out twelve Bombers in 6 1/3 innings but couldn’t overcome CC or the Yanks bullpen.  

The play of the game was Aaron Judge’s diving backhanded catch of a deep fly by Evan Longoria with a runner on base.  If Judge was two inches shorter, he never would have made the catch!  He needed every bit of his 6’7” frame to reach the fly but much to the surprise of Rays base runner Corey Dickerson, who was doubled off first, he did.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Sabathia (4-2) went five innings for the win.  In 95 pitches, he only allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk.  He had six strikeouts.  The Yanks bullpen trio of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances contributed four innings with no hits or runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.  Betances earned his second save since Aroldis Chapman went on the 10-Day DL.

Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4, matching his career high for hits.  Both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday whiffed four times in 0-for-4 days.  

The Yankees (25-16) recaptured first place in the AL East, thanks to Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, to allow the Yanks to re-take a half-game lead.  

The Tyler Austin Watch…  

In his second game for the AA-Trenton Thunder, Tyler Austin was 1-for-2, a single, in the Thunder’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs.  He played first base and was replaced by Billy Fleming after two at-bats.  The game also saw the AA debut of reliever Jose Mesa, Jr (son of the former major leaguer) for the Thunder.  He pitched three innings with no hits or runs, but did allow two walks while striking out two, in relief of tough-luck loser Yefry Ramirez (6 IP, 4H, 1R/ER, 2BB, and 8SO). 

In related news, Chris Carter was 0-for-3 for the Yankees in Tampa.  If Austin continues to hit and Carter does not, we know how this story is going to end.  Or how it should end.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…  

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees recalled reliever Bryan Mitchell and returned Giovanny Gallegos to AAA.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Speaking of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…

The Yankees top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has been elevated to the RailRiders.  In 32 games, Torres hit 5 home runs and drove in 18 runs.  He batted .273 and stole 5 bags.    The 20-year-old, who can also play second and third, is just a stone’s throw away from the Bronx.  Current theory has Torres taking second base for the Yankees when he is ready, with Starlin Castro sliding to third. 

Credit:  Matt Rourke/AP

I cannot say SWB without mentioning righty Chance Adams.  Through two games, Adams is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.  He has pitched 12 innings, allowing six hits and two runs.  He has walked three batters while striking out eleven.  Adams was the loser in Friday’s 2-1 pitcher’s duel loss to Aaron Slegers and the Rochester Red Wings.

Pitching Match-ups for Yankees-Royals…  

The Yankees are back in the Bronx for a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals, their opponent prior to the just-completed Tampa Bay Rays series.  The Yankees took two of three in Kansas City, losing only the final game of the series.  

TODAY:

Royals:  Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA)

TUESDAY:

Royals:  Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81 ERA)

WEDNESDAY:

Royals:  Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA)

THURSDAY:

Royals:  Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.17 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56, Yikes!)

Honestly, I would have skipped Tanaka this run through the rotation.  He needs to work on the mental side to get back to the basics to re-establish his splitter and slider.  Karns was a late announcement for Thursday’s game.  The veteran is dealing with forearm stiffness.  If he is unable to go, I’d probably expect to see Chris Young (0-0, 6.85 ERA) filling in.  I seriously hope that we’ll see an improved Tanaka on Thursday but admittedly my glass is half-empty…

 

Have a great Monday!  Let’s make it two in a row!