Tagged: Oakland

How do you spell “R-E-L-I-E-F”? No clue…

 

Credit:  Ben Margot-Associated Press

A’s 7, Yankees 6…

I am not gonna lie.  This has been a tough week with games that don’t start until after 10 pm EDT and a series of losses that could have been wins if not for bullpen breakdowns.  Aroldis Chapman is within our sights yet he seems so far away as the bullpen provides loss after loss. Sunday cannot get here quick enough.

This was another game that saw the Yankees fight back after falling behind early.  The A’s jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning but the Yankees answered with a three-run homer by Aaron Judge in the top of the 3rd, his 23rd HR of the year.  

Credit:  John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

They picked up single runs in the 5th through 7th innings, including a solo shot by Chris Carter in the 6th, to take a 6-4 lead.  

In the bottom of the 7th, with Chasen Shreve on the mound, the A’s picked up a run on a sac fly by Chad Pinder.  Jonathan Holder replaced Shreve for the 8th, but a walk, double and intentional walk, which loaded the bases, set the stage for A’s rookie third baseman Matt Chapman to deliver the game-winning hit with a two-run single.

A’s closer Santiago Casilla struck out three of the four batters he faced to seal the 7-6 victory for Oakland.  

Aside from the disastrous second inning, Luis Severino pitched well. He went six innings, allowing four hits, runs, and walks.  He struck out six.  He banged his knee against a locker prior to the game but didn’t attribute it as a cause for his early struggles.  Jonathan Holder (1-1) took the loss with a pitch that was supposed to be in the dirt but was left where Chapman could emerge as the victor with the winning hit. 

With a starting lineup that included Rob Refsnyder, Mason Williams, Austin Romine, and Ronald Torreyes, I was concerned about this game from the start.  Nothing against those guys, but the players who sat (Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) are heavy artillery.  Hopefully everyone is feeling a little healthier and/or rested today.  

The 8th inning has been a major problem area with Dellin Betances as the designated ninth inning guy.  It will be nice to have Betances back to provide the late setup coverage when Chapman returns.  For all the bullpen failures, Betances has stood alone as the bright spot.  Note to Yankees Prez Randy Levine, Betances is worth more than $3 million.  Pay him, you blithering idiot.

While the Yankees (38-27) were losing to the American League’s worst team, the Boston Red Sox were beating its best (2-1 victory over the Houston Astros).  So, the Red Sox have pulled to within one game of the Yankees in the AL East standings.  All the other AL East teams lost.  The Yankees have now lost four in a row, a new season high, after snapping their six-game winning streak in Anaheim.  

Odds & Ends…

Prior to Friday’s game, the Yankees made a few roster moves.  The injuries to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks forced their hand.  With both players day to day, a trip to the DL doesn’t make sense for either guy.  So, roster help had to come from other areas.  Adam Warren, dealing with a sore trapezius muscle, was moved to the DL and Giovanny Gallegos was returned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Kyle Higashioka was recalled to back up Austin Romine while Sanchez is dealing with his tight groin muscle, and Mason Williams was elevated to provide the Yankees an additional outfielder to help offset the temporary loss of Hicks.  Necessary moves, but ones that weakened an already strained bullpen. 

Speaking of Aroldis Chapman, the results of his final rehab tune-out at AA-Trenton were less than ideal.  Chapman started the Thunder’s game on Friday against the Erie SeaWolves.  He threw 20 pitches (his pitch limit).  While he struck out two in pitching 2/3rd’s of an inning, he walked two and threw two wild pitches which allowed the SeaWolves to score a run.  The Thunder eventually won the game, 4-2.  After the game, Chapman, through an interpreter, said, “I felt good out there.  I know my command wasn’t 100%, but I felt really good.  The good thing is I know I am going to come back strong.”  I hope so as the Yankees need a strong and healthy Chapman now more than ever.

Credit:  Greg Slaboda-The Trentonian

It does not sound good for first baseman Greg Bird.  He met with the Yankees team physician and had a CT scan and MRI for his knee and ankle on Friday.  He’ll meet with Dr Bob Anderson in North Carolina for a second opinion.  It’s starting to look as though this will be another lost year for Bird.  

Yesterday saw a nice Triple A debut for starting pitcher Domingo Acevedo.  He pitched 7 innings of three-hit ball in the RailRiders’ 8-1 win over the Buffalo Bisons.  He gave up only one run, and struck out four.  Walks were high (five) but it was a great start for Acevedo.  Gleyber Torres was 3-for-4 in the game with a run scored.  

Have a great Saturday!  Please let today be the start of a new winning streak.  Go Yankees!

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Losing the Game of Inches…

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sport

A’s 8, Yankees 7…


I love California but this road trip has been horrific.


The Yankees fought back in this game time and again and took the lead in the 10th, only to lose another game with a rookie pitcher on the mound.  I am not pinning this on Giovanny Gallegos but it’s a testament to the mounting bangs and bruises on this team.


After the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded in the first inning, the A’s took the early lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot by Jed Lowrie.  The A’s took a 3-0 lead in the second when Adam Rosales doubled off Jordan Montgomery, following a walk by Matt Chapman, making his Major League debut, and a ground-rule double by Josh Phegley, scoring both base runners.


The game stayed that way until the sixth.  In the top of the inning, Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded to score two runs.  Chris Carter followed with a single to tie the game at 3.  The A’s replaced starting pitcher Sonny Gray with Sean Dolittle who retired the next two Yankees to get out of the inning.  In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso homered as the A’s re-captured the lead, 4-3.  


The seesaw battle continued in the 7th inning when Gary Sanchez doubled with Starlin Castro on second, scoring Castro with the tying run.  But the A’s answered the run with a run-scoring single by Chad Pinder in the bottom of the inning and the A’s were back up, 5-4.


Chris Carter homered in the top of the 8th to once again tie the game, 5-5.  Like the inning before, the A’s answered the call in the bottom of the inning when Matt Joyce hit a grounder into a force out with the bases loaded and only one out, scoring the lead runner.  6-5, A’s. Tyler Clippard had started the inning but he was ineffective (again) as two of three batters he faced reached base through a single and a walk.  Dellin Betances was on the mound when the A’s scored their run, but he was able to strike out Rajai Davis to prevent any further damage.


The 9th inning saw the Yankees tie the game again when Starlin Castro doubled off A’s closer Santiago Casilla and Gary Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.  Gary Sanchez stole second to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position (replaced by pinch runner Ronald Torreyes as Sanchez came out of the game with a tight groin) with only one out, but Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter could not move the runner.  Didi flied out, and Carter went down swinging on a 3-2 count.  In the bottom of the 9th, the A’s loaded the bases with two outs against Betances but he was able to get out of the inning by striking out Matt Chapman.


The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the 10th when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.  Matt Holliday, entering the game at DH to replace Torreyes, struck out against A’s reliever Liam Hendricks to end the inning.  The Yankees could have used a few insurance runs on this night.  In the bottom of the 10th, Giovanny Gallegos replaced Betances.  He retired the first two batters he faced, but then Rajai Davis singled and Chad Pinder doubled to move Davis to third.  Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Khris Davis ended the game with a single just over Starlin Castro (ball tipped off his glove), scoring Davis and Pinder with the winning runs.  A’s emerged with the 8-7 victory in another lost opportunity for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi summed it up after the game, “It hurts because it’s a matter of a couple inches that you lose that game by and it’s frustrating.”


This was another game that shows how much the Yankees miss closer Aroldis Chapman.  It will be good to get Chapman back this weekend (hopefully on Sunday) so that Betances can get into games earlier and lessen the reliance on other arms.  


Fingers crossed for both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks who also left the game in the 9th with tightness in his Achilles Heel.  After the game, it was disclosed that reliever Adam Warren is battling tightness in his trapezius muscle which accounted for his unavailability.  Hopefully, none of these ailments are serious.  

Didi Gregorius singled in the game to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games.


Fortunately, the Yankees (38-26) did not lose any ground to any AL East team except the Toronto Blue Jays as everyone else lost.  The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays remain 2 games and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively, while the Blue Jays moved up to 6 1/2 games back (bringing  the Baltimore Orioles into a tie for the AL East cellar).  


Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends…

Ronald Herrera, we hardly knew ye.  After taking the loss in his lone Big League appearance on Wednesday night, Herrera has found himself back with the Double A Trenton Thunder.  I thought it was much to ask of Herrera to make the jump from AA to the Majors, and the proof was in the pudding with the pitch he threw Andrelton Simmons.  What works in AA goes for a long home run in the Big Leagues.  The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on the Disabled List, as expected.  To replace Herrera and Sabathia, the Yankees have recalled Luis Cessa and Domingo German.  Sunday’s starter has not yet been determined but Girardi has a pool of Cessa, German and Chad Green to choose from.  Cessa appears to be the favorite to start on Sunday (or on Saturday if Girardi decides to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day).

The Yankees stopped the rehabilitation for Greg Bird yesterday and he’ll see Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad today.  Bird told Trainer Steve Donohue on Thursday morning that the leg was not feeling right and not functioning right.  This is not good news.  The Yankees are already suspect at both infield corners.  Tyler Austin has not exactly set the World on fire at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is currently batting .303 but only has 1 homer and 6 RBI’s in 17 games (66 AB’s).  In my opinion, the best first baseman in the system is Thunder first baseman Mike Ford.  This year, including his time at AAA, Ford, 24, is batting .289/.410/.509 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI’s.  He has played 61 games and has walked 44 times.  He even stole a base…once.  But he has the same disadvantage as Chance Adams and others, he does not have a place on the 40-man roster.  

There was already talk the Yankees needed to upgrade at third.  If the priority becomes first base, does this increase the likelihood that we’ll see Gleyber Torres as soon as next month?  I still think it is too premature for him and his AAA manager is on record saying that he is not ready yet.  I guess this is why GM Brian Cashman is paid to make these decisions.  The added pressure on him is the moves over the next 45 days will go a long way toward determining his future at the end of the year with the expiration of his contract.  


Have a great Friday!  Let’s win one of these close games for a change…

I’d Judge the Weekend a Slamming Success…

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

Yankees 9, A’s 5…

On the eve of thirteen consecutive games against American League East teams, the Yankees used the Judge to set sentence Sunday on the three game series with the Oakland A’s.  The verdict — the Yankees are guilty of taking the series, two games to one.

With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the third inning, they loaded the bases (I can’t believe that Matt Joyce dropped that fly ball by Matt Holliday but hey, I’ll take it) with two outs for Aaron Judge.  In the preceding at-bat, Starlin Castro had a chance for the grand salami but he struck out.  A’s pitcher Andrew Triggs, with the count at two balls and a strike, threw a two-seam fastball to Judge.  As Julia Roberts said in the movie ‘Pretty Woman’, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”  Judge made the most of his swing as he sent the ball over the center field wall for his 16th home run of the year.  The Yankees were up by three runs at 5-2 with the grand slam, Judge’s first, and a lead that they would not relinquish this day.  

It wasn’t a clean outing for Michael Pineda (6-2) but he did enough to capture the win.  He needs to clean up the mental errors…the three walks (two of the runners eventually scored), a balk and a throwing error.  In the sixth inning, with the Yankees leading 6-2, Pineda walked Jed Lowrie and then, with Khris Davis at the plate, balked to allow Lowrie to advance to second.  Davis subsequently reached first base on a throwing error by Pineda, while Lowrie raced around to home plate to close the gap to 6-3.  As the YES Network’s Michael Kay put it, “A walk, a balk, and an E-1”. Pineda finished the sixth, thanks to a double play, but that would be it for his day.  He finished with three hits, three runs (two earned although he was the responsible party for the unearned run), and five strikeouts.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees picked up another run in the seventh inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to left with two outs and Ronald Torreyes on first.  The hit scored Torreyes, to push the score to 7-3.  The A’s challenged the call saying that left fielder Khris Davis held the ball long enough before bouncing out of his glove but the call on the field was upheld.  

The A’s responded with two runs in the eighth inning when Khris Davis hit his fifteenth homer of the season, a two-run shot off Yankees reliever Chad Green (with yet another walked batter that scored) to tighten the score, 7-5.  After a one batter appearance by the LOOGY (Tommy Layne, who retired lefty swinging Yonder Alonso on a fly out to right), Adam Warren was brought in for the role of cleaner (Mr Kaplan?)  and he eliminated Ryon Healy with a fly out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner gave the Yankees some breathing room with a two-run double to increase the Yankees lead to 9-5.  Warren stayed in the game in the ninth to clean up the bodies with three up, three down for his first save of the season.  Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York…

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

It was a good day all around for the Yankees (29-18).  The Boston Red Sox finally dropped a game to Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners, 5-0, while the Baltimore Orioles, today’s opponent, lost their seventh consecutive game, 8-4 to the Houston Astros.  The losses increased the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to 3 games over the Red Sox and 4 1/2 games over the Orioles.  The Tampa Bay Rays, the only other team to win in the AL East on Sunday, are 5 games back.

Down on the Farm…

Tyler Austin continued his latest rehab assignment in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.  At DH, he was 1-for-3 with a run scored in the RailRiders’ 3-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens.  Gleyber Torres, at short, was 1-for-4 with a single.  

Yankees left-hander Justus Sheffield had a great game for the AA-Trenton Thunder.  He pitched a three-hitter in 6 2/3 innings to beat the Portland Sea Dogs, 6-2.  He only gave up one run (none earned), walked one and struck out six.  With more performances like that, the 21-year-old could very well find himself in Pennsylvania.  The hitting star for the Thunder was third baseman Miguel Andujar.  He was 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.  

The Road Ahead…

The Yankees take to the road today with a trip to Baltimore, Maryland for three games with the Orioles, followed by a trip north of the border to Toronto, Canada for a four-game set with the Blue Jays.  Upon completion of the road trip, the Yankees return home to face the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in three-game series.  As losers of seven straight, the Orioles will be looking to turn things around in their home park.  It’s not going to be an easy series by any stretch of the imagination.

Here are the pitching matchup’s for the Baltimore series:

TODAY

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

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA)

TUESDAY

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

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

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86 ERA)

Orioles:  Kevin Gausman (2-4, 6.17 ERA)

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!  Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has lost family, friends, and loved ones in the defense of our Country.  Our eternal thanks to the men and women who gave all…

Using 2 Hits to Maximum Advantage…

Credit:  Al Bello/Getty Images

Yankees 3, A’s 2…

The Yankees didn’t get much offense on Saturday, but thanks to the rejuvenated CC Sabathia (5-2), they didn’t need it.

In the first inning, they scratched out a run through a walk, hit by pitch, wild pitch, and sacrifice fly (by Starlin Castro).  By the time Oakland’s Ryon Healy doubled in the sixth inning to tie the score, the Yankees were still searching for their first hit against A’s starter Jharel Cotton.

CC was pitching great but I did have a heart attack in the top of the sixth with two outs when Trevor Plouffe sharply hit a fly to right.  Starlin Castro, on the run, appeared to catch the ball but it bounced out of his glove.  Alertly, a running Aaron Judge was in the right spot at the right time and made the catch to end the inning.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

Cotton, who entered the game with a 5.68 ERA, pitched liked an ace.  Despite a walk to Brett Gardner in the third (subsequently erased when he tried to steal second), Cotton was cruising from the second inning through the fifth, with three up-three down each frame.  It was more of the same to start the sixth as Cotton recorded two quick outs on fly balls.  

Then, the walk raised its ugly head for Cotton again when he gave Gary Sanchez a free pass.  Matt Holliday came to the plate, with two outs and no team hits showing on the scoreboard.  After a first pitch ball (low and inside), Holliday got a hold of Cotton’s second offering and launched a blast to left-center.  “High fly ball, left field…going back Davis.  Track, wall, SEE YA!” (courtesy of Michael Kay of the YES Network).  

After giving up a single to the next batter (Castro), Cotton was done even though he had allowed the only two hits the Yankees would get in this game.  Cotton pitched his heart out in his 13th major league game and recorded a career high 107 pitches, but like Masahiro Tanaka found out the other night, Baseball can be a cruel sport.  

CC tired in the seventh when, with one out, he gave up a homer to Josh Phegley, to bring the score to 3-2 Yanks, and a double by Adam Rosales.  Time to turn to the Yankees bullpen which had ignited an A’s rally the night before.  Fortunately, Adam Warren got Matt Joyce on a groundout and left Rosales stranded at third when he struck out Mark Canha.

The eighth inning brought Tyler Clippard into the game.  With the disaster of the night before fresh on everyone’s mind, Clippard struck out the first batter, Jed Lowrie.  Lowrie, who seems to rise to the occasion against the Yanks, was subsequently ejected for arguing strikes.  At that point, the Friday night version of Clippard reappeared.  A walk to Khris Davis and a double by Ryon Healy put runners at second and third with just one out.  Exit Clippard, and enter Dellin Betances.  Ball, called strike, foul, called strike…inning over.  Hey Randy Levine, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Credit:  Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

In the ninth inning, it was three up and three down for Betances, with a swinging strikeout by Matt Joyce to end the game.  

Cut to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”…ah, I love that song on winning days.

With the win, the Yankees (28-18) held their two-game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox beat the Seattle Mariners again.  The scary part is that the complete game shut-out was by a rookie pitcher, Brian Johnson, making his first career start at Fenway Park.  Johnson was optioned back to AAA after the game but he’s making the way for the return of David Price who will be activated from the DL this week.  The Baltimore Orioles lost their sixth game in a row to slide 3 1/2 games back.

Player Updates…

Tyler Austin was elevated to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday with his rehab assignment.  On Saturday, he contributed a run-scoring single to help the RailRiders defeat the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-1.  Gleyber Torres was 1-for-5 with a double, driving in a run.  

Greg Bird departs for Tampa today.  He’ll most likely take a few at-bats in extended spring training at the Yankees’ minor-league complex on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning his rehab assignment.  He spoke of muscle soreness yesterday (typical soreness after not using certain muscles) but otherwise everything seems to be moving forward with his progress.

Also progressing is closer Aroldis Chapman who must have received favorable news from the doctor on Saturday as he was able to make 25 throws from 60 feet.  He’ll continue with playing catch on Sunday as he begins his preparation for hopefully a mid-June return.  

Speaking of Chapman, I am hopeful that he’ll be activated during the Yankees road trip to California when the Yankees travel to Oakland on June 15th.  I really want to see a rematch between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis.  Davis had the game-tying home run off Chapman in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. I want to see Chapman punch out Davis to win a game as retribution.  Hey, I am not a vindictive person…just competitive.

Credit:  MLB.com

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

Splitter showed up but Clippard did not…

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg

Friday night was very disappointing…  

The disappointment certainly did not reside with Masahiro Tanaka who was able to put the horrific past couple of weeks in his rearview mirror, but it was the implosion of the bullpen.  Tyler Clippard picked a very bad night to have a bad night and Jonathan Holder didn’t do anything to help.  

Tanaka started the game with three strikeouts although he did give up a double to Oakland’s Jed Lowrie.  It went a long way for me to show that Tanaka was not going to be a punching bag on this evening.  Tanaka pitched into the eighth without allowing any runs, while striking out a season-high 13 batters.  The only problem was that Sean Manaea, moved up a day in the rotation after Kendall Graveman was scratched, was just as good. The Yankees could not muster any offense against Manaea, who only permitted one extra base-hit, a double by Austin Romine in the third inning.

Credit:  Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the game still deadlocked at 0-0 in eighth inning, Tanaka struck out Mark Canha and was then pulled by manager Joe Girardi after giving up a single to Adam Rosales.  Using ‘ifs and buts’, if Aroldis Chapman had been healthy, the Yankees could have gone to Dellin Betances in that situation but Girardi had no choice but to go to interim setup reliever Tyler Clippard.  

From there, the game fell apart.  Rosales was safe at third following a throwing error by Clippard.  The next batter, Rajai Davis, hit into a fielder’s choice, and Rosales was erased at home.  Davis then stole second, but it didn’t matter because Clippard walked the next batter, Matt Joyce, a .194 hitter.  Jed Lowrie, 3-for-4 on the night, promptly singled to score Davis.  While I understand the rules for why the run was charged to Tanaka, this one was clearly on Clippard.  The next batter, Khris Davis, reached first on an infield single to Gregorius, scoring Joyce.  The Yankees challenged the call at first but lost.  Things could have gotten worse from there as Clippard threw a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third but Ryan Healy flied out to left to end the inning.

Jonathan Holder replaced Clippard in the top of the ninth inning and was greeted by a single (Trevor Plouffe) and a home run (Stephen Vogt) which put the A’s up 4-0.  He stayed and got the next three outs, but by then the damage had been done.

The Yankees tried to muster a rally in the bottom of the ninth.  They had the bases loaded with just one out for Didi Gregorius.  Didi was unable to get the ball out of the park and the Yankees had to settle for a sac fly to put their first run on the board.  With two outs and the game-tying run still at the plate, Girardi pinch-hit Gary Sanchez for Chase Headley.  Unfortunately, Sanchez delivered the same result that Headley would have, a pop up in the infield to end the game.  

Numerous disappointments with this night.  Obviously, the bullpen.  The Yankees need Aroldis Chapman back.  Since he went on the DL, Betances is the only reliever to step up his game.  The others have regressed from the added work.  Chapman is scheduled to throw catch today if a visit to the doctor goes well so hopefully this is the start of his return.  Matt Holliday was a no-show.  He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, leaving three runners on base.  Chase Headley is bringing nothing to the table.  He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, and hasn’t been able to hit for a month as his batting average has fallen to .228.  

I know the calls for Gleyber Torres will soon begin but I think it’s more likely the Yankees would swing a minor trade for a Major League third base replacement at this point.  This is a direct reflection of how poorly the Yankees have drafted for third base.  Miguel Andujar is the organization’s best third baseman and he’s further away than Torres who most likely will be the eventual starter for the Yankees.  In 2011, the year they drafted Greg Bird, the Yankees first pick (51st selection) was Dante Bichette, Jr.  Had Bichette been able to develop, he would have been ready for a job in the Bronx.  As it is, the 24-year-old Bichette is batting .147/.213/.265 for AA-Trenton and is closer to a job outside of Baseball.  I recognize that 2011 was not a strong year for third basemen in general, but with the 292nd pick, the Boston Red Sox chose Travis Shaw who is currently the starting third baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers (9 HR, 34 RBI, .286 BA) .  The Yankees chose a few more third basemen in the 2011 Draft.  Matthew Duran was chosen with the 149th pick (Greg Bird wasn’t chosen until 30 picks later), Zach Wilson was picked 659th, and Connor Mach was the 1409th selection.  All three players are out of baseball.

I think the Yankees are stuck with Headley for the duration of the year.

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

The Yankees (27-18) maintained their 2 1/2 game advantage over the Baltimore Orioles, but lost ground with the AL East lead to two games as the hard-charging Boston Red Sox have moved up to second.  Baltimore lost to the very strong Houston Astros, 2-0, while the Red Sox were beating the punchless Seattle Mariners, 3-0.  

Here are the revised pitching match-ups for the remainder of the Oakland series with the scratch of Kendall Graveman yesterday:

TODAY

Athletics:  Jharel Cotton (3-4, 5.68 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62 ERA)

TOMORROW

Athletics:  Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35 ERA)

I would have liked to have seen Sonny Gray this series given the trade rumors but Gray’s turn in the rotation doesn’t come up again until Tuesday in Cleveland.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees need to provide some offense today for Sabathia who, hopefully, continues his recent string of quality starts.  This is a series that the Yankees should be winning so if they lose two of three or worse yet, get swept, this will be looked upon as a missed opportunity.  Win the games you are supposed to win.  Apparently, the Red Sox got the memo but the Yankees didn’t.  Turn it around…today. 

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s find ways to beat the A’s!

Mr Splitter, you are cordially invited to Yankee Stadium tonight…

Credit:  Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The big question today on everyone’s mind is Masahiro Tanaka.  After two consecutive disastrous starts, where are we?  With an extra day of rest due to yesterday’s rainout, we’ll soon find out.  

Since Tanaka’s gem against the Boston Red Sox on April 27th when he threw a complete game three-hit shutout, the results have not been pretty.  In his subsequent four starts, he has given up 21 earned runs (22 overall).   By definition, the only quality start since that time was his May 8th win over the Cincinnati Reds when he went seven innings, allowing only three earned runs.  But the Reds were able to get their hits against Tanaka as they racked up a total of 10 including a home run by Joey Votto.  In his last two games, Tanaka has lasted a combined total of only 4 2/3 innings and has been hammered for 14 runs and 7 home runs.  

The Yankees have confidence in Tanaka.  During a HOPE Week charity event yesterday, GM Brian offered the following comments:

“We’ve done the ‘CSI: The Bronx’ on him a number of different times.  We’ve gone through the analytics comparison from when he’s flying high to the current low.  There are no indicators other than the splitter’s not splitting like it usually does, and the command of the fastball is off.”

“But in terms of velocity — even swings and misses in the the zone, a lot of background statistics that you try to study to try to measure certain things that are alarming in nature that are off.  So we can’t point to anything other than the fact that I don’t think his splitter is as good as it’s been.  I know that for a fact.  His splitter’s not performing up to what his past standard has been.”

“Other teams are doing damage against him, but there’s no indicator of an injury.  I know the player doesn’t feel that he’s hurt, and I know the pitching coach doesn’t feel there’s an injury relation, either.”

“From an analytics standpoint and front-office perspective, we can’t seem to come up with some reason that would lead us to take that step.  We’re not afraid to do it if we felt that was necessary, but we’re not going to do something that appears to be unnecessary.” (spoken regarding whether the Yankees should have Tanaka undergo a MRI).  

“All indications are no (regarding an MRI exam).  We have all departments on call, whether guys are flying on high and doing well, as well as when guys are struggling.  Whether it’s mechanical, whether it’s something from the analytical side that shows a drop in performance that could lead to why, all those things aren’t indicating there’s an area to pursue on the medical side.”

“Obviously we want everybody playing to their capabilities at all times, but that’s just not how the game works.  It’s just about managing through the down times, and that’s what we’re all here for.”

“Right now he’s in a down stretch and so we’re looking forward to getting him up and running to what we’re used to seeing.”

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

If Tanaka goes out and pitches at least six innings and gives up no more than 2 or 3 runs, will we feel that this was just a blip on the radar and that all is good?  Or if he strains his neck watching balls fly out of Yankee Stadium, are we going to be fearing the end of the world?  I honestly do not know what to expect with Tanaka’s performance tonight.  We’ll get early indications when we see his first few splitters and how he performs in the all-important first inning tonight against the Oakland A’s.  I am hopeful that these are just mechanical flaws and the typical slump that everyone encounters from time to time.  But if not, I am concerned.  We need the Tanaka that we’ve grown accustomed to and cannot afford a ‘Daisuke Matsuzaka’-type downward spiral.  

The Yankees enter an important three-game set tonight against the Oakland A’s.  While the A’s are only 21-25 this season, the Yankees need to take care of business with a road trip to Baltimore looming on the immediate horizon.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Athletics:  Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.83 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 6.56 ERA)

SATURDAY

Athletics:  Sean Manaea (2-3, 5.24 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62 ERA)

SUNDAY

Athletics:  Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77 ERA)

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35 ERA)

Have a great Friday!  I hope an early ‘splitter’ (from work) is effective for everyone today!

Life as a Yankees fan…

42 Years…

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My interest in Baseball began in my childhood like most fans.

I can remember NFL Football as the first sport I discovered but my passion and love for Major League Baseball started a few years later and quickly rose to favored status.

I consider 1972 as the year I started following Football with close interest.  That’s the year I became a fan of Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings.  I was aware of Football in the immediate preceding years, but my father died in early 1972 at the age of 42.  I found the Vikings gave me something to focus on as I processed my grief.

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Along this same time period, I started following the Oakland A’s.  In the 1970’s, they were a very colorful team with a unique owner and a collective cast of characters that were routinely championship caliber.  But the one player that stood out to me was A’s starting pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter.  As a North Carolina farmer, fisherman, and general outdoor enthusiast, Catfish had a very easy and engaging personality to go with the fantastic arm.

During the 1974 season, Catfish finished 25-12, with a 2.49 ERA, while winning the AL Cy Young Award.  Meanwhile, the A’s were winning their third consecutive World Series championship.

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I had been aware of the perfect game that Catfish had thrown during the 1968 season and it was easy to identify with him as my favorite active player.

One of the very first books that I read was a biography about Yankees legend Lou Gehrig so I naturally carried positive feelings about the Pinstripers and their rich, legendary history.

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This set the stage for December 31, 1974.  After aggressive pursuit by the majority of the MLB teams, Catfish, a free agent, signed a five-year contract with the New York Yankees.

I remember feelings of disappointment that the A’s had allowed Catfish to become a free agent and could not envision myself as an A’s fan without him on the mound despite their recent history of success.

So, on the day Catfish signed with New York, I officially decided to become a Yankees fan.  The team had struggled during the preceding decade but my preference was to follow Catfish, even with a potentially losing team, over continuing to root for the A’s.

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From that day forward, I have never looked back as the Yankees have been my team ever since.

After a couple of years, catcher Thurman Munson replaced Catfish as my favorite baseball player but the love of the Yankees deepened with each passing year.

I will always credit Lou Gehrig for creating my positive perception of the Pinstripes, and Catfish Hunter for bringing it all together.

42 has multiple meanings for me.  It is the number  of years I’ve been a Yankees fan, it was the number of years my father walked the Earth, it is the symbol of one of Baseball’s greatest players (Jackie Robinson), and the number of one of my all-time favorite Yankees (Mariano Rivera).

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Today, December 31, 2016, I look back on the many great memories (the tremendous victories and the heartbreaking losses) the Yankees have provided, and look forward to the the bright future and continuation of the success of Baseball’s most storied franchise.

I am grateful to be a Yankees fan…

–Scott