Yankees 3, Rays 2…
The only way to play drama-free baseball with the Yankees bullpen is to insert Chad Green. Otherwise, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Joe Girardi made a few pitching moves that left a couple of Yankee pitchers with ruffled feathers but in the end, the Yankees came away with the game and series win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It doesn’t matter how we get the “W” as long as we successfully get the “W”.
The Yankees jumped on Rays starter Chris Archer first. Starlin Castro led off the top of the 2nd inning with a single to center. He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who singled to right, putting runners at first and third. Todd Frazier’s single to left center past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria scored Castro while Ellsbury took second. After Clint Frazier struck out, Austin Romine walked to load the bases. Brett Gardner singled through the hole to left, driving in both Ellsbury and the Toddfather. The Yankees led, 3-0. Chase Headley grounded into a double play at second so the Yanks were unable to push any further runs across. Sadly, it would be the last runs the Yankees would see on the day.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
The Yanks had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the 3rd but Archer struck out Clint Frazier to escape the jam.
While I was wishing that the Yankees had anyone on the mound not named Jaime Garcia, the Rays got a run back in the bottom of the 3rd when Kevin Kiermaier led off with a home run to right field. It was Kiermaier’s second home run in as many days. But that’s the hazard of having Garcia pitch, you know the opponent is going to score runs. The job is to score more than he allows.
To the Yankees’ credit, they made Chris Archer work. While they only got the three 2nd inning runs off him, Archer was gone after surrendering a lead-off double to Gary Sanchez in the top of the 5th. Four innings of work with 92 pitches thrown. Sonny Gray’s complete game on Tuesday was only 2 more pitches than Archer threw with four more innings. It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t do more damage against Archer in light of their extended at-bats.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
Jaime Garcia got the hook in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a two-out single to Lucas Duda. With Evan Longoria coming to bat, Joe Girardi didn’t want to take any chances. Chad Green came in and got the final out. I was actually amazed that Garcia made it into the 5th inning without allowing more than one run. He didn’t last long enough to qualify for a win but I can assure you that I did not shed a tear as he was walking off the mound.
Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
As for Chad Green, he’s a freakin’ rock star. I didn’t want the guy to make the opening day roster yet he’s been Mr Lights Out for the bullpen. He showed off his magic when he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th. I can see why Joe Girardi gets the urge to leave Green in the game, but I was thankful that he only worked 1 1/3 innings despite his stellar work. I’d rather have Green available on Thursday or Friday as opposed to waiting until Saturday at the earliest. Need to keep this guy ready for frequent work.
Tommy Kahnle took over in the 7th. It provoked Rays manager Kevin Cash to start making moves. First up, Mallex Smith pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos and reached on a single to left field. Corey Dickerson, pinch-hitting for Jesus Sucre, hit into a double play, first to second. It was a good thing because Brad Miller followed, pinch-hitting for Danny Espinosa, and singled to left. If the Yankees had not been able to erase Smith at second, it is very possible that he could have scored on Miller’s hit. Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left to end the drama, but Kahnle did his job. It wasn’t as pretty as Green’s performance but the end result was the same…no runs for the Rays.
The Yankees had a great opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning. Starlin Castro singled to left, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled down the right field line and Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases. Clint Frazier had first crack but he popped out to first baseman Logan Morrison in foul territory. Next up was Austin Romine but he struck out to end the inning. A huge missed opportunity to get at least a run or two more.
On to the 8th and it was Dellin’s turn. Lucas Duda, potentially facing his last at-bat in his former ball park for this series, flied out to center in front of the warning track. I was worried about him and it would not have surprised me to see the man on the field with the most career HR’s at Citi Field to have parked one. It was not to be but it didn’t stop Evan Longoria, Yankee-killer, from hitting a single up the middle in the next at-bat. Betances always makes me think of former Orioles manager Earl Weaver and his reliever Don Stanhouse, whom Weaver referred to as “Full Pack” in reference to the number of cigarettes he would smoke during Stanhouse’s appearances. Betances does that to me even if I don’t smoke. Dellin struck out Logan Morrison for the second out, but Joe Girardi wasn’t going to take any chances. He made the call to the pen to bring in Aroldis Chapman an inning early. Of course, Chapman walked his first batter (Stephen Souza, Jr) to move Longoria into scoring position at second base. Adeiny Hechavarria, the latest Yankee-killer, singled to shallow center field, scoring Longoria. Hechavarria and Chapman played together in the Cuban Leagues ten years ago so there’s history between the two. Souza moved to third to put runners at the corners. Chapman finally struck out Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Mallex Smith, on a foul tip, but the Rays had closed the gap to 3-2. Those potential insurance runs in the 8th inning sure would have been nice.
The Yankees blew another huge opportunity for runs in the 9th. With Brad Boxberger pitching for the Rays, Brett Gardner led off with a single up the middle. With Chase Headley at bat, Gardy appeared to steal second base but he was sent back to first when it was ruled that Headley’s bat had hit the catcher’s arm for interference. Headley then singled to right, advancing Gardy to third. Gardy probably would have scored had the steal been successful. From there, the offense stalled. Gary Sanchez struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius flied out to left (not deep enough to score Gardy). Headley stole second but it didn’t really matter when Starlin Castro popped out to center to end the inning. Ugh!
Chapman had me on the edge in the bottom of the 9th. He walked the first batter, Curt Casali, a career .197 hitter. WTF??!! Fortunately, from there, Chapman struck out Brad Miller and Kevin Kiermaier. Lucas Duda was able to make it to the plate for one final Citi Field “home” appearance with a chance to send the ball out of the park for a walk-off win. But the Missile rose to the occasion and struck out Duda for the final out. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (79-66) moved back to three games behind Boston with the win. The Red Sox fell to the Oakland A’s, 7-3. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-1, so they recaptured third place from the Tampa Bay Rays. The O’s trail the Yanks by 7 1/2 games entering play today. The Minnesota Twins held off the San Diego Padres, 3-1, in extra innings to remain three games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card Standings.
Jaime Garcia was apparently very upset with Joe Girardi about the early hook but I could care less what Garcia thinks. His Yankees career will be over soon. There’s no way he is a member of the 2018 Yankees.
Credit: Charles Wenzelberg-New York Post
Chad Green (5-0) picked up Garcia’s win with his stellar relief effort. Aroldis Chapman captured his 18th save despite the high wire act.
I was very grateful that those late missed scoring opportunities didn’t come back to bite the Yankees. As we saw, they very possibly could have. The Yankees will need to play better at home in the upcoming series if they want to continue to win.
Next Up: Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
Having completed the short stay in Queens, the Yankees return to home sweet home to face the fading Baltimore Orioles for a long four-game set. The O’s generally play the Yankees very tough so they’ll be looking to play the role of spoiler for this series. If there is anything I’ve learned over the years it is to never underestimate Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Orioles: Wade Miley (8-12, 4.96 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (11-11, 4.82)
Orioles: Jeremy Hellickson (2-4, 6.54 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (12-6, 2.96 ERA)
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-10, 6.75 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.85 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.03 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-10, 3.17 ERA)
October is coming. Live it, feel it. Now is the time for the Yankees to make a charge!
Odds & Ends…
Game 2 of the International League Governor’s Cup Finals goes to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The RailRiders beat the Durham Bulls, 4-0, behind stellar pitching from Domingo German (7 innings, one hit, no runs, three walks and eight K’s) and two relievers. The Bulls featured an inning of relief from former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Nasty Nate pitched an inning of scoreless relief for the Bulls, giving up two hits and striking out one. The series is tied. Game 3 will be tonight at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. Chance Adams will be on the mound for the RailRiders, while the Rays top prospect, Brent Honeywell, will pitch for the Bulls.
The news wasn’t so good in Trenton, NJ where the Thunder dropped Game 2 of their Eastern League Championship series to the Altoona Curve by a score of 4-2. The losing pitcher was Justus Sheffield who had been part of a no-hitter during his previous outing. The series now shifts to Altoona, PA this evening with the Curve needing to win just one game for the best-of-five championship. Will Carter (3-1, 3.26 ERA) gets the start for the Thunder.
Have a great Thursday! Not asking for much today…just a win! Go Yankees!
Rays 2, Yankees 1…
The Yankees picked a bad night to go dry offensively as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays despite a solid complete game effort from Sonny Gray. In the end, it was two misplaced pitches that were deposited into the outfield seats that helped the Rays overcome the Yankees. If the Yankees fall short of their bid to win the AL East, they’ll look back at games like this and wonder what could have been.
Matt Holliday put the Yankees on the board first. Aaron Judge took a one-out walk in the top of the 1st inning, his 110th of the season to extend his own MLB rookie record. He moved to second on a slow rolling ground out by Gary Sanchez. Matt Holliday laced a double to left when the ball went under the glove of left fielder Corey Dickerson, scoring Judge. But Holliday was left stranded when Starlin Castro followed by striking out.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
The Rays wasted no time in answering the run. Rays leadoff hitter Kevin Kiermaier jumped on the first pitch by Sonny Gray to send it over the center field wall. As YES Network announcer Al Leiter said, “Welcome to the game, Sonny Gray”.
Gray rebounded and found his groove, shutting the Rays down until the 8th inning. Unfortunately, he left a pitch high and over the middle of the plate for Adeiny Hechavarria and the hitter did not waste the opportunity. He got all of the Gray pitch to send it over the wall in left center. The Rays had their first lead of the game, 2-1.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Meanwhile, the Yankees just couldn’t get any going. Rare was the inning they sent more than three men to the plate. A 5th inning walk by Todd Frazier, a 6th inning single by Brett Gardner, and a 7th inning single by Chase Headley were the only baserunners that the Yankees could get. Unfortunately, none could get past first base, thanks in large part to ten strikeouts by Rays starter Blake Snell and the bullpen.
The Yankees bowed out quietly in the 9th against Rays closer Alex Colome who picked up his 44th save.
The Boston Red Sox beat the punchless Oakland A’s, 11-1, so they increased their AL East lead over the Yankees (78-66) to four games. The Minnesota Twins scored two touchdowns and a safety in destroying the San Diego Padres, 16-0 (hey, it’s football season, gimme a break!). So, the lead in the Wild Card Standings shrank to three games. The Rays were able to leap-frog the Baltimore Orioles for third place in the AL East with the win. They are 7 games behind the Yankees. The O’s lost a close 3-2 game to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sonny Gray’s final line was great. He pitched 8 innings and only allowed five hits, two runs, and one walk. He struck out five. But the killer was two home runs out of 94 pitches thrown. Run support has not been Gray’s friend during his short Yankees career. In his five losses as a Yankee, he’s been backed by four runs.
|Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports|
Clint Frazier, making his return from the disabled list, tried. He had a couple of deep balls in his two at-bats, the second of which would have been met with “See ya!” from Michael Kay had the game been played at Yankee Stadium. Instead, it was just a running catch by Rays right fielder Stephen Souza, Jr.
|Credit: Anthony J Causi-NY Post|
I wish I had more optimism about today’s game but it is hard to get excited about Jaime Garcia, especially when he is going against Chris Archer. On paper, it looks like a mismatch in favor of the Rays. The Yankees have had a fair amount of success against Archer so hopefully this afternoon will be another one of those times. We need runs. Hopefully the offense decides to bring their bats for the series finale.
Odds & Ends…
It was also a bad night for the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders as they dropped Game 1 of the International League’s Governor’s Cup Finals to the Durham Bulls (Rays), 6-0. The losing pitcher for the RailRiders was starter Ronald Herrera. Not much offense as the RailRiders were only able to pound out three hits (two by Mason Williams). Game 2 is scheduled for this evening in Durham, NC. Domingo German gets the start for the RailRiders.
|Credit: Ben McKeown-for Times Leader|
The losing continued with the Double A Trenton Thunder as they dropped Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) by a score of 2-1. The losing pitcher for the Thunder was Dillon Tate, who like Sonny Gray pitched a great game. But at the end of the game, the scoreboard showed more runs for the other team. Game 2 will be this evening in Trenton, NJ with Justus Sheffield on the mound for the home team.
Have a great Wednesday! Let’s make it a Winning Wednesday for the Pinstripers and their top farm teams! Go Yankees…and RailRiders…and Thunder!
Yankees 5, Rays 1…
A fielding error by Rays third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the 4th inning opened the door for an offensive outburst that was capped by a three-run homer by Todd Frazier. The single inning explosion carried the Yankees to victory over the “home” Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, NY.
|Credit: Steven Ryan-Getty Images|
For three innings, the Yankees couldn’t muster a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, the Rays scratched out a run against the Yanks in the bottom of the 2nd. Lucas Duda, at home at Citi Field and using his old locker, drew a walk to start the inning. Yankees starter CC Sabathia retired the next two batters and had Adeiny Hechavarria down to two strikes. Hechavarria battled and finally on the 9th pitch of the at-bat tripled to the center field wall, splitting the outfielders, to score Duda with the game’s first run.
Aaron Judge opened the 4th inning with a walk, extending his own MLB record for most walks by a rookie to 108. Gary Sanchez finally got the first hit for the Yankees, a line drive to center. The Yankees had runners at the corners. Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge standing up. The game was tied. Starlin Castro struck out for the second out. Then the magic happened. Well, maybe not from Trevor Plouffe’s perspective. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third that Plouffe was unable to field (under his glove). As the ball rolled down the left field line, Sanchez scored to give the Yankees the lead and Holliday moved to second on the play. On a full count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher’s interference when his bat hit the catcher’s mitt. It was the 30th career catcher’s interference for Ellsbury which surpassed Pete Rose for the most all-time. Todd Frazier came to the plate and homered to left off the facing in the second deck to make it 5-1. The Yankees got two more runners on base when Tyler Austin doubled to the left field wall and Brett Gardner walked. It spelled the end for Jake Odorizzi who went from a no-hitter to a four-run deficit despite only allowing one earned run. Rays reliever Chaz Roe came in and struck out Aaron Judge, who had led off the inning, to end the Yankees’ rally.
CC Sabathia was allowing baserunners, giving up two singles in both the third and fourth innings, but had been escaping unscathed. He got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th. He walked Peter Bourjos to start the inning. After striking out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches, Trevor Plouffe singled to center over Sabathia’s back with Bourjos moving to second. Manager Joe Girardi opted to take no further chances and pulled Sabathia (to avoid a confrontation with Evan Longoria). The move appeared justified when David Robertson came in and struck out both Longoria and Lucas Duda to end the threat. Sabathia probably wasn’t too happy with the early hook, but he had thrown 88 pitches and allowed six hits. It was only a matter of time before the Rays broke through but the D-Rob insurance card paid off.
|Credit: Andrew Savulich-The New York Daily News|
The Rays did have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th with D-Rob still pitching. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-out ground-rule double which hit the warning track in left and bounced off the back wall. He took third on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez, but was left stranded when Danny Espinosa grounded out to short.
The Yankees got their final hit of the night in the 7th inning when Brett Gardner led off with a single to left. A failed stolen base attempt, a perfect throw from catcher Wilson Ramos to second baseman Danny Espinosa, sent Gardy to the bench.
D-Rob pitched the bottom of the 7th, making this outing the longest in his career (pitching a total of 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with 4 K’s).
|Credit: Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images|
The bottom of the 8th brought out Dellin Betances and it was time to start drinking heavily. Evan Longoria started off with a single that dropped in right field. Betances struck out Lucas Duda for the first out, but then walked Cesar Puello. Aargh! Logan Morrison was up next, pinch-hitting for Wilson Ramos, and I was seeing images of a three-run home run to make it a one-run game. Fortunately, those visions proved false as Betances struck out Morrison. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out, with Aaron Judge running to the wall, for the final out. Whew! That was a hard inning to sit through…
Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th. After a brief pause on my part hoping that Chapman has truly righted the ship, he proceeded to retire the side on ten pitches. It wasn’t a save opportunity but the result was the same. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (78-65) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox so they now trail by 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, so the gap between the Yanks and the third-place O’s is now 7 1/2 games. The win also increased the Yankees lead in the Wild Card Standings to 4 games.
David Robertson (8-2) picked up the vulture win with Sabathia’s inability to make it through five full innings. The Yankees were outhit by the Rays, 8 to 4, but they obviously made the most of their hits with Todd Frazier’s home run leading the way.
|Credit: Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press|
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees activated OF Clint Frazier off of the disabled list on Monday. Red Thunder was somewhat underwhelming in his rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder. In 17 at-bats, he had only 2 hits and 10 strikeouts. Here’s hoping that his return to the Pinstripes is little more successful. He should slot back into the fourth outfielder role that has been lacking since Aaron Hicks went on the DL.
When Aaron Judge hit his 40th home run, he joined some lofty company. Prior to Judge’s home run, the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs at 25 years or younger were Babe Ruth (54, 1920), Lou Gehrig (47, 1927), Joe DiMaggio (46, 1937), and Mickey Mantle (52, 1956). That’s a nice group of names to rub shoulders with…
Have a great Tuesday! Seems like a great day for another win! Go Yankees!
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
Rays 5, Yankees 3…
Ronald Torreyes tried but nobody else in the offensive lineup was cooperative as the Yankees lost the fourth and final game of the series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Yankee hitters were 1-for-11 in scoring opportunities so this one goes down as a game of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’.
On a day when it was announced the Yankees had acquired left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, one of the other lefties in the rotation…Jordan Montgomery…failed to get out of the third inning. Like Saturday, the Rays took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Montgomery struck out Peter Bourjos, walked Steven Souza, Jr, and struck out Evan Longoria. Lucas Duda singled to left as Souza, Jr took second. Trevor Plouffe followed with a single up the middle, scoring Souza, Jr with the game’s first run.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
The Yankees grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second. Chase Headley walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Rays starter Jacob Faria. After Todd Frazier struck out, Ronald Torreyes hit a homer over the left field wall…2-1, Yankees.
Peter Bourjos led off the third inning with a double to the left field wall. After Steven Souza, Jr struck out, Evan Longoria reached on an infield chopper as the speedy Bourjos took third. Lucas Duda walked to load the bases with only one out. For a moment, it looked like Monty might be able to work out of the jam. He struck out Trevor Plouffe and had Corey Dickerson a strike away from ending the inning. But Dickerson hit a 1-2 pitch into center field, scoring Bourjos and Longoria with the tying and go-ahead runs. Wilson Ramos followed with a single to center, scoring Duda, and it was 4-2 Rays. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough, and pulled Montgomery, who had thrown 71 pitches despite an inability to get out of the 3rd inning, in favor of Luis Cessa. Cessa threw a wild pitch which allowed Dickerson to take third as Ramos moved to second, but he was able to strike out Tim Beckham to get out of the inning.
The Yankees made it a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th. With two outs, Todd Frazier walked on four straight balls and scored when Ronald Torreyes doubled to the left field corner. Frazier slid in under the throw from the outfield to score while Torreyes moved to third but Toe was left stranded when Austin Romine grounded out.
The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the 8th against Yankees reliever Chad Green. Mallex Smith, pinch-hitting for Tim Beckham, led off the 8th with an infield single. Smith stole second, easily sliding in under the tag. With two outs, Steven Souza, Jr doubled off the left center wall to bring Smith home for the Rays’ fifth and final run.
The Yankees had numerous scoring opportunities in this game, but none bigger than the bottom of the 9th. After Gary Sanchez struck out against Rays closer Alex Colome, Brett Gardner singled to left. A wild pitch moved Gardy to second and Clint Frazier reached first when Colome threw four straight pitches outside of the strike zone. With the tying run at first and one out, the Yankees had the heart of the lineup representing the winning run at the plate. Aaron Judge had the first opportunity but got under a pitch and popped out to Trevor Plouffe in foul territory. It came down to Matt Holliday for the Yankees’ last chance. He weakly grounded out to Evan Longoria who easily threw Holliday out at first.
The Yankees could have won this game, leaving a total of 22 men on base, but it was not meant to be. The bullpen did a very good job after Montgomery’s early exit. The combination of Luis Cessa, Chasen Shreve and Chad Green pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing only 3 hits and the 8th inning run given up by Green. They walked 6 batters but struck out 11. Shreve and Green worked out of a bases loaded threat in the top of the 7th inning. The trio gave the Yankees the chance to win so that’s all you can ask.
Fortunately, the Boston Red Sox also lost on Sunday, by the same 5-3 score to the Kansas City Royals, so the Yankees (56-47) maintained their half game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East. The Rays picked up a game so they are 3 1/2 back after losing three of four to the Yankees over the weekend.
Austin Romine left the game after getting hit by a pitch in the 6th inning. It was a tough game for him. He was struck in the throat by a bounced foul ball earlier in the game, and was hit in the head by Steven Souza, Jr’s bat on a follow-through of his swing. Although he stayed in the game to run after getting hit, he was replaced at catcher by Gary Sanchez the next inning. The cameras showed a bruised welt on Romine’s hand but x-rays proved negative. Manager Joe Girardi does not expect any DL time for Romine, and of course Romine’s attitude was the usual ‘just cram the hand in the glove and go’.
Credit: Getty Images
Clint Frazier had quite a second inning. Right before Romine got the ball to the throat, Frazier caught a fly ball in front of Brett Gardner who had tried to call Frazier off. The next batter, Adeiny Hechavarria, hit a ball to the left field wall and Frazier timed his leap and catch perfectly to take away an extra base hit. Bad play-good play, but fortunately both were for outs.
Next Up: Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees entertain the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series at the Stadium beginning today. By game time, the Trading Deadline will have come and gone. It’s time to focus on winning the AL East. Newcomer Jaime Garcia, having pitched last Friday in Oakland for the Twins, will be unavailable to pitch until Thursday, thereby missing the Detroit series.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Tigers: Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03 ERA)
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 6.18 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.66 ERA)
Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann (6-8, 5.69 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (8-9, 5.09 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees optioned lefty starter Caleb Smith to Triple A and recalled lefty reliever Chasen Shreve. After the game, they optioned RHP Luis Cessa to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (presumably to make room for LHP Jaime Garcia).
I had thought Tigers reliever Justin Wilson would be the next ex-Yankee traded this month in what has been a flurry of transactions involving former Pinstripers. I was wrong. Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox made their latest veteran dump when they sent OF Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals. This is Melky’s second tour with the Royals where he spent the 2011 season. But Wilson wasn’t far behind as word spread that he was on his way to Wrigley Field by the end of the day.
Congratulations to third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers for becoming a member of the 3,000 Hit Club. Beltre reached the milestone on Sunday with a double off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wade Miley. Beltre is currently in his 20th MLB season and is the first player born in the Dominican Republic to reach 3,000 hits.
Credit: Tom Fox-The Dallas Morning News
As of this writing, I don’t know what to think about the Sonny Gray rumors. On Saturday, it sounded like the Yankees were making significant progress with the Oakland A’s but then yesterday, nothing (implying a potential impasse). With the clock clicking down, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. While I remain optimistic the Yankees will get Gray, there is a good possibility that Jaime Garcia is the Yankees’ last acquisition before the deadline. Although the Yankees are rumored to be looking at Yu Darvish as a backup plan, I think that is far less likely to happen. I’m hoping we’ll be looking at Sonny skies before game time today but prepared to move on with the arms and bats currently on the roster.
Have a great Monday! It’s should be a wild ride up to 4 pm Eastern today but afterwards, let’s start a new winning streak. Go Yankees!
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
Yankees 5, Rays 4…
Aroldis Chapman to stop the top of the 9th and Brett Gardner to walk it off in the bottom of inning. This formula seems to be working. Chapman has long been a high end finisher, but Gardy is the one who seems to come through in the clutch when you need him the most. He is the first Yankees player to two walk-off’s in the same series. The Yankees used this formula to pull out another victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, their third consecutive win over the Rays and sixth overall.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
Caleb Smith, perhaps making his final start for the Yankees this year, was in a hole immediately when Peter Bourjos homered to left center with the game’s second pitch. He recovered to get out of the inning without any further damage.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Gary Sanchez led off with a ground-rule double to right. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to the left side but Sanchez wisely read that third baseman Trevor Plouffe was committed to throwing to first so he was easily able to take third on the play. Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to center and Sanchez tagged and scored standing up. Game was tied.
The Rays had a huge opportunity to break the game open in the third inning. Jesus Sucre led off with a single to left against Smith. Peter Bourjos hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius which erased Sucre at second. Steven Souza, Jr hit a hard liner which Gregorius almost snared (man, that would have been a brilliant play) but the ball bounced out of his glove toward third. Runners at first and second. Evan Longoria walked to load the bases, still with only one out. Lucas Duda hit a sacrifice fly to center as Bourjos scored, giving the Rays the 2-1 lead. With runners at the corners and two outs, I thought Todd Frazier had one of the plays of the game when he made a barehanded grab on Trevor Plouffe’s grounder and his throw to Garrett Cooper just beat Plouffe to first. If the Rays had been able to score multiple runs, the game would have had a much different look.
Caleb Smith pitched into the 4th inning. After striking out Corey Dickerson, he walked Tim Beckham. Even the YES Network announcers were commenting about Smith leaving his pitches up in the strike zone. All things considered, he was very lucky the Rays weren’t more successful against him. Smith’s departure after 71 pitches underscored the Yankees need for a quality starter. Adam Warren replaced Smith and struck out Adeiny Hechavarria. Beckham attempted to steal on the swinging strikeout, but the throw from Gary Sanchez to Ronald Torreyes was on target to nail the runner for the final out.
The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 4th when Gary Sanchez homered to left center. But this seemed like one of those games where the Rays continually had the answer for the Yankees runs. In the top of the 5th, Steven Souza, Jr homered to left as the Rays re-took the lead, 3-2.
Dellin Betances pitched the the top of the 6th inning. It wasn’t clean as he walked the first batter, Lucas Duda, on four straight balls. But he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning, leaving Duda stranded at second. In the bottom of the frame, Matt Holliday opened with a single to left. A fly out by Didi Gregorius ended the day for Rays starter Blake Snell and he was replaced by former San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo. The Yankees sent Chase Headley to the plate to pinch hit for Garrett Cooper. Good call by Manager Joe Girardi as Headley homered to left to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 4-3.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
The 7th inning brought Tommy Kahnle to the mound to replace Betances. A couple of hits had runners at the corners with one out but he was able to strike out Steven Souza, Jr and get Yankee killer Evan Longoria to pop out in foul territory to strand the runners. Steve Cishek, acquired during this series by the Rays from the Seattle Mariners, entered the game in the bottom of the 7th in relief of Romo. Last Saturday in Seattle, Aaron Judge had homered off Cishek but it was not to be this time around as Cishek struck out the side including Judge who went down swinging.
David Robertson took over for Kahnle in the 8th but he was immediately victimized by Lucas Duda who absolutely crushed the D-Rob pitch into the right field upper deck. Duda has been the Ben Gamel of this series. Watching how tailor-made Duda’s swing is for Yankee Stadium makes one wish that GM Brian Cashman had been more aggressive in his talks with the Mets before the first baseman was acquired by the Rays. Robertson gave up another single was was able to get out of the inning with the game tied at 4.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
9th inning and it was time for Aroldis Chapman. It wasn’t a perfect inning as Wilson Ramos was awarded first base on catcher’s interference (if the bat touched El Gary’s glove, it must have only been one of the strings as it wasn’t readily apparent watching replay). A ground out by Steven Souza, Jr eliminated Ramos at second but Souza, Jr subsequently made it to third when he stole second and advanced another base on an error. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Chapman retired Evan Longoria for the final out on a pop up in foul territory.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
For the bottom of the 9th, the Rays replaced reliever Tommy Hunter with Brad Boxberger. He walked his first batter, Chase Headley, and the Yankees replaced Headley with the $153 million pinch-runner, Jacoby Ellsbury, sporting stylish shades. Ellsbury successfully stole second with Todd Frazier at bat but it didn’t really matter as Boxberger plunked Frazier with a pitch to give him first base. Ronald Torreyes then laid down a beautiful bunt to third which left all three runners safe and the bases loaded. The Rays then pulled Boxberger and replaced him with former White Sox reliever Dan Jennings. Maybe Rays manager Kevin Cash didn’t catch the fact that this was not the best of games for former White Sox relievers (see Kahnle and Robertson). Brett Gardner came the plate and nicely laid down a single to center to score Ellsbury with the winning run. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
The Yankees (56-46) remained the AL East division leaders with the win, but the Boston Red Sox stayed just a half game off the pace with their comeback win over the Kansas City Royals. The Sox won in 10 innings with a walk-off grounder by former Yankee Eduardo Nunez which scored Sandy Leon with the winning run. It was a big game for Nunez. He was 3-for-6 with 2 homers and 3 RBI’s. With the loss, the Rays fell 4 1/2 games behind the leaders.
Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 in the game with a run scored so hopefully it is a sign that his bat is starting to unthaw. Todd Frazier is still cold as he was hitless in 3 at-bats.
Odds & Ends…
Gray skies are forming over Yankee Stadium. I am not referring to the weather but as we near the final 24 hours before the trading deadline, the Sonny Gray rumors will not go away. Twitter was abuzz with words yesterday that Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s had moved off their demand for either Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier in the deal. I think most of us are expecting outfielder Estevan Florial and 2B/SS/OF Jorge Mateo to be included so it is a matter of what other pitching prospects will comprise the package and whether or not Yonder Alonzo will be coming the other way. It seems like there is strong room for agreement at this point.
This morning’s news brings word that the Yankees are nearing a deal for lefty starter Jaime Garcia of the Minnesota Twins. Pitching prospect Zach Littell (currently in Double A) is a healthy scratch today for the Trenton Thunder which has led to speculation that he’ll be the prospect heading to the Twin Cities. Littell was acquired by the Yankees last fall in the trade that sent reliever James Pazos to the Seattle Mariners and has been terrific in the Yankees system this year. But he is a casualty of the roster-crunch as the Yankees must protect him on the 40-man roster this year or risk exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft. Garcia does not appear to be a fall back plan for Gray considering he is nowhere near the same level of pitcher. He represents rotation insurance, with Jordan Montgomery nearing a career high in innings pitched (and is potentially working with an innings limit) and would be hedge for good health with CC Sabathia and potentially Gray.
Garcia came up with the St Louis Cardinals where he was a starter for the majority of the Matt Holliday years. He was traded last December to the Atlanta Braves. Garcia, who turned 31 earlier this month, was traded to the Twins a week ago for the pennant push. But a string of losses subsequently caused the Twins to re-think their strategy. Entering play today, the Twins find themselves 7 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Garcia has only pitched one game for the Twins. He was the winner in Oakland on Friday night (6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 SO).
If the Yankees successfully acquire Gray, Alonzo, and/or Garcia, the MLB roster losers appear to be Caleb Smith, Luis Cessa, and Garrett Cooper. GM Brian Cashman will have to get very creative with his 40-man roster moves.
Word is now breaking that the Yankees have, in fact, acquired Garcia for Littell and Triple A pitcher Dietrich Enns. The Twins will also pay some of the money remaining on Garcia’s contract. My initial reaction is that the cost seems very high to acquire a journeyman starter but Enns held a highly valued spot on the 40-man roster.
Sounds like we are in for a turbulent ride until the trading deadline.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s make the Rays series a sweeping success! Go Yankees!
Yankees 6, Rays 1…
Masahiro Tanaka was dealing on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Tampa Rays for the second night in a row. He was backed by homers from all three starting outfielders and amassed 14 strikeouts over 8 innings before David Robertson capped off his brilliant game. The win vaulted the Yankees back into first place in the AL East.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
The first inning showed that Tanaka was potentially on top of his game when he struck out the side. Brett Gardner, Thursday night’s hero with the walk-off home run, started the scoring for the Yankees with a home run. He became only the third Yankee with walk-off/walk-on home runs, joining Joe Gordon (1940) and Roberto Kelly (1990). Gardy’s homer, his 19th of the year (a career high), landed in the bullpen in right field under the Toyota sign. Rays right-fielder Stephen Souza, Jr climbed the wall with thoughts of making a spectacular catch but the ball was just beyond his reach. It was an interesting stat coming into the game that the Yankees are 15-0 when Gardy goes yard. We can make that 16-0.
After Rays starter Austin Pruitt gave up the lead-off HR to Gardy, he proceeded to strike out the side so it looked like we would be settling into a pitcher’s duel. Tanaka picked up two more strikeouts in each of the second and third innings, before striking out only one in the 4th. In the bottom of the 4th, the Yankees picked up their second run when Aaron Judge hammered a Pruitt pitch to left for his 33rd home run of the season.
After Tanaka set the Rays down in order in the top of the 5th, picking up another K, the Yankees added to their lead. Pruitt alternated strikeouts and walks with Chase Headley (out), Todd Frazier (walk), Ronald Torreyes (out), and Brett Gardner (walk). After a coaching visit to the mound by Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, Clint Frazier completed the outfield trifecta with a monster blast to left center, traveling 455 feet into the left field stands. Red Thunder continues to amaze with his blazing bat speed. I know that I am one of many who feel the Yankees would be very foolish to send Frazier back down to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns. The team’s resurgence this month has been driven, in large part, by Red Thunder’s energy and heart.
Leading 5-0, Tanaka took a perfect game into the 6th inning but it was spoiled with two outs when Adeiny Hechavarria hit a grounder past a diving Didi Gregorius for the Rays first hit. In the 7th inning, the Rays marred the shutout when they got their only other hit, a homer to right by former New York Met Lucas Duda. 5-1, Yankees.
Tanaka completed the eighth inning exactly as he started the first by striking out the side. It was the end of the night for Tanaka but what a game! If he continues to pitch like this down the stretch, it will mean great things for the Yankees.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
The Yankees picked up their final run in the 8th inning. After Rays reliever (and former Yankee) Chase Whitley shut down the Yankees for two innings, setting down all six batters he faced in the 6th and 7th innings, the Rays brought in Adam Kolarek to start the 8th. He hit Brett Gardner with a pitch to put Gardy at first. He struck out Clint Frazier and induced Aaron Judge to hit into a ground out which moved Gardy to second. Kolarek intentionally walked Gary Sanchez, but a passed ball advanced both runners to second and third. Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Gardner but Gary Sanchez was nailed at the plate as he attempted to score too.
David Robertson finished up the 9th with his usual “no drama”. Just another day at the office for D-Rob, and the Yankees emerged with their 55th victory of the season. Boo yeah! Yankees win!
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As mentioned at the top of this post, the Yankees (55-46) moved into first place in the division standings. The Boston Red Sox, who had received disappointing news earlier in the day with the placement of David Price on the DL, fell to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2. It was the Royals’ ninth consecutive victory. The Red Sox now trail the Yanks by a half game, while the Rays are 3 1/2 back.
Aaron Judge visited the dentist earlier in the day to temporarily repair his chipped tooth. He’ll have to make a trip back for permanent work but it was very good to see Judge back out on the field. I liked the YES Network’s reference to “Babe Tooth”…
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post|
A last note about Masahiro Tanaka. His masterpiece against the Rays follows largely horrific performances on the road against them. In two games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL, Tanaka was 0-2 with 20.67 ERA. Tanaka improved his record to 8-9 and ERA to 5.09 with the victory. Simply an excellent game by the right-hander.
Odds & Ends…
Robert Refsnyder is expected to return to the Major Leagues today for the Toronto Blue Jays. The utility man would take the place of Troy Tulowitzki who sprained his right ankle and will undergo further tests. The thought is that Ref could play some second base while Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney cover short during Tulo’s absence. All the best to Ref as he tries to make his mark north of the border.
|Credit: James P McCoy-Buffalo News|
The division foes are being very active on the trade market this week. The Rays have been the loudest with their acquisitions of Lucas Duda, Dan Jennings, Sergio Romo and Steve Cishek. The Baltimore Orioles, only 7 1/2 games back, acquired Philadelphia Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson overnight. With David Price going on the DL, it will be interesting to see if the Boston Red Sox make any further moves after their acquisition of former Yankees third baseman/infielder Eduardo Nunez. The Red Sox “say” they are not going to chase down another starter but that remains to be seen.
It was incredible game for outfielder Billy McKinney yesterday as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders crushed the Charlotte Knights, 15-8. McKinney was 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and a grand slam and a career high 6 RBI’s. His outfield throw also nailed a runner at home plate in the third inning. Miguel Andujar, making a statement that he wants to be the Yankees third baseman in 2018, was 2-for-6 with a homer and has raised his batting average to .324 as he continues to feast on Triple A pitching.
Have a great Saturday! Here’s hoping the Yankees can continue their success against the Rays. Go Yankees!
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
Yankees 6, Rays 5…
For the games that the Yankees have lost which they should have won, it’s nice when they win a few that they probably should have lost. It took extra innings but Brett Gardner ended the long night with a game-winning walk-off home run as the Yankees overcame the Tampa Bay Rays.
Early, it looked like it was going to be the Yankees way. CC Sabathia was backed by a few runs while the Yankees took the early lead. They scored first in the second inning. With one out, Chase Headley singled to right and scored when Jacoby Ellsbury, the $153 million man making his second consecutive start, doubled to left. Todd Frazier singled to right to score Ellsbury with the second run of the inning. The Yankees added a run in the bottom of the 3rd when Gary Sanchez blasted his 15th homer of the season to left. It was 3-0 Yankees.
But it started to unravel for CC Sabathia in the top of the 4th inning. Evan Longoria led off and his numbers against Sabathia were ridiculous. Prior to the game, Longoria had hit .405 with 7 home runs and 16 RBI’s in 74 at-bats against CC and held a career .355 batting average against the Yankees. While I was thinking it was probably best not to give Longoria anything to hit, he promptly parked in right center to draw the Rays within two runs, 3-1. It was Longoria’s 35th career home run against the Yankees. After striking out Tim Beckham in the top of the 5th (Sabathia’s 2,800th career strikeout), Adeiny Hecchavaria and Peter Bourjos hit back-to-back doubles (down the third base and first base lines, respectively) to score another run. After walking Stephen Souza, Jr, Manager Joe Girardi pulled a visibly disappointed Sabathia (“C’mon, man!”) and replaced him with Chad Green. The move backfired as Brad Miller doubled to the right field wall, scoring Bourjos and Souza, Jr. The Rays were up, 4-3.
|Credit: Elsa-Getty Images|
With Green still on the mound in the top of the 6th, Corey Dickerson homered with a high fly ball to right center to increase the Rays’ lead to 5-3. The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the 6th inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with only one out. But both Todd Frazier and Tyler Wade struck out against Rays starter Chris Archer to end the inning. Maybe it was just me, but Tyler Wade looked very over-matched in this game.
After Tommy Kahnle pitched a clean 7th inning, Dellin Betances came on in the 8th. He struck out the first two batters but then allowed back-to-back singles. Fortunately, he was able to retire Adeiny Hecchavarria to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the 8th, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley both singled off Rays reliever Dan Jennings (who was acquired earlier in the day from the Chicago White Sox). The Rays replaced Jennings with Brad Boxberger with the runners at the corners. Matt Holliday, pinch-hitting for Jacoby Ellsbury, hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Headley at second. Meanwhile, Gregorius scored to make it a one-run game, 5-4. Ronald Torreyes was inserted as a pinch-runner for Holliday at first. Todd Frazier followed with a single, but the Yankees were unable to add any runs when Tyler Wade hit into an inning-ending double play. I didn’t really understand the decision to pinch-hit for Ellsbury. I would have pinch-hit for Wade and then used Torreyes to replace him at second. It’s easy to second guess but Wade seemed like such a little boy among men in the game.
Adam Warren kept the Rays off the board in the top of the 9th and then the Yankees were given a gift in the bottom of the inning. With Rays closer Alex Colome taking over for Brad Boxberger, Brett Gardner led off with a triple to the left field wall, splitting the outfielders. After both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge failed to advance Gardy, Gary Sanchez hit a playable ball between shortstop Adeiny Hecchavarria and second Tim Beckham (“You take it”…”no, no, you take it”) for the game-tying run. Didi Gregorius grounded out and it was off to extra innings.
Aroldis Chapman took over for Adam Warren in the 10th and easily set down the Rays. Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge replaced Alex Colome and walked Chase Headley to start the bottom of the 10th. Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to scoring position at second, but Clint Frazier failed to advance the runner with a fly out. Tyler Wade came up and it seemed like it would be an unsuccessful at-bat before it even got started. He was swinging at balls outside of the strike zone and clearly had a death grip on his bat as he struck out to end the inning.
The 11th inning was the perfect scenario for Yankee fans. Aroldis Chapman came out for his second consecutive inning and struck out the side. Brett Gardner, the first batter up in the bottom of the 11th, sent the Andrew Kittredge pitch to the right field stands for the game-winner. Yankees win!
Manager Joe Girardi was ejected from the game in the bottom of the 7th for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Stu Sheurwater. Girardi was right. Sheurwater did a horrible job behind the plate and could have potentially altered this game away from the Yankees with his inconsistent calls.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
Tyler Wade was 0-for-5, with three strikeouts. He also left a game high 7 runners on base.
After the game, Aaron Judge suffered a broken tooth during the on-field celebration for the victory. It is not believed that the injury will cause any lost playing time for Judge but it was not the way you want to end such a dramatic win.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
The Yankees (54-46) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings so they only trail by a half game entering play today. Boston begins a three-game set against the suddenly hot Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park tonight. The Rays fell 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.