Tagged: Red Sox

The Beantown Split…

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-AP

Game 1:  Yankees 3, Red Sox 0…

Michael Pineda goes on the DL with a season-ending injury so “who ya gonna call”?  Apparently the answer is CC Sabathia.  In the first game on Sunday, CC gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…six innings of scoreless two-hit ball.  He blamed the five walks on rust, but he was otherwise very effective against the potent Red Sox lineup as the Yankees topped the Red Sox.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Sabathia (8-3) walked the first two batters he faced in the game.  A force out at second put runners at the corners with one out.  But Sabathia was able to induce former Yankee Chris Young to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Red Sox off the board.

The Yankees were finally able to break through with the game’s first runs in the fourth inning against Sox starter Rick Porcello.  Didi Gregorius lined a one-out single to right.  Clint Frazier hit an infield grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but Bogaerts bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Frazier to reach first as Gregorius took second.  Austin Romine singled to left, just past a diving Bogaerts, to load the bases.  Ji-Man Choi hit a sharp fly ball to left fielder Andrew Benintendi, which scored Gregorius.  Ronald Torreyes got all of a Porcello pitch with the barrel of his bat for a solid single to left, which brought Clint Frazier around to score in a close play at the plate.  Brett Gardner took a pitch off the forearm to re-load the bases, but Chase Headley grounded out to first to end the inning.  2-0, Yankees.

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-AP

In the top of the 5th, Didi Gregorius lined a fly ball into the right field stands just fair of the Pesky Pole for a two-out solo home run as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-0.

Aaron Judge finally got his first hit of the series in the 7th when he reached first base on an infield grounder against Red Sox reliever Austin Maddox.  

In the bottom of the 7th, Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) replaced CC Sabathia.  Like Saturday, the first batter he faced (Brock Holt) singled to start the inning.  Despite my Clippard-induced uneasiness, he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.  

After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the 8th with two men on base, the Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning after Chad Green two-out walks to Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis.  Fortunately, Jackie Bradley, Jr went down swinging as Green preserved the shutout.

Manager Joe Girardi brought in Aroldis Chapman for the 9th, his third consecutive appearance in three days.  Unlike Friday night, Chapman did his job, despite a two-out single by Dustin Pedroia, to earn his 9th save of the season.  

The Yankees (47-42) moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with the win.  Pending the outcome of the second game of the double-header, the Yankees also slid back into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays finally lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3.  

Game 2:  Red Sox 3, Yankees 0…

In the nightcap, the Red Sox reversed Game 1’s score as they shut out the Yankees.  It was the first time this season the Yankees have failed to score.  

The Yankees have generally fared well against Red Sox starter David Price but not on this night.  Price scattered 7 hits over 8 scoreless innings and struck out 8.  He did not walk a batter.  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave the Yanks length (he went 7 2/3 innings) but he was unable to match Price’s performance.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Red Sox broke their 24-inning scoreless streak when Christian Vazquez singled and Mookie Betts clobbered a Tanaka pitch over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park for a 2-0 lead.

Garrett Cooper picked his first Major League hit in the 5th inning when he lined a double to the wall in left.  He was left stranded but it was good to see him finally have a productive at-bat.

The Red Sox picked up another run in the bottom of the 6th.  Mookie Betts led off with a liner that deflected off Masahiro Tanaka’s glove.  On the run, Starlin Castro scooped it up and hurriedly threw a low throw to first baseman Garrett Cooper which Cooper was unable to handle.  Betts, without hesitation, advanced to second.  An error was charged to Castro.  After Betts moved to third on a groundout by Andrew Benintendi, Dustin Pedroia hit a hard single into left field, just past Ronald Torreyes at third.  Torreyes misread the velocity of the ball, otherwise, he could have moved into proper position to potentially get the runner at home.  The run increased the Sox lead to 3-0.

With Gary Sanchez on base in the eighth, Aaron Judge had a chance to make it a one-run game when he launched a high fly to the Bermuda Triangle in center.  But Jackie Bradley, Jr made a leaping catch to snag  the ball which would have landed in the Sox bullpen.  “I thought it had a chance.  But I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong centerfielder.  Jackie’s been making plays like that for a long time,” Judge said after the game.

Credit:  Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Yankees had a chance in the 9th against closer Craig Kimbrel.  Didi Gregorius, 0-for-5  with 5 K’s lifetime against Kimbrel, ripped stand-up double off the left field wall.  With two outs, Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Garrett Cooper, walked.  It brought Chase Headley to the plate representing the tying run, but sadly, Headley struck out to end the game.

The Yankees (47-43) fell back into third place with the loss, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays are 1/2 game ahead of the Yanks.  

HR Derby Hangover:  It was not a great series for Aaron Judge.  He was 1-for-18 with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks.  Hopefully the Land of 10,000 Lakes helps him get back on track.  

Next Up:  Minnesota Twins at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN…

The Yankees will see one of their former starters this series when Bartolo Colon takes the mound on Wednesday for his first appearance as a Minnesota Twin.  Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will be able to meet up with fellow Home Run Derby participant Miguel Sano.  Like the Yankees, the Twins (46-45) started the season strong but have tailed off lately.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  

TODAY

Yankees:  Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA)

Twins:  Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.43 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.18 ERA)*

Twins:  Bartolo Colon (0-0, 0.00 ERA)  — He was 2-8 with 8.14 ERA for the NL Braves.

*Cessa is listed as the scheduled starter, but with Caleb Smith on the active roster, I wonder if Smith makes his MLB debut this game. 

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78 ERA)

Twins:  Jose Berrios (8-3, 3.70 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Boston will formally file a protest over the lack of an interference call in Saturday night’s 4-1 victory by the Yankees.  In the 11th inning, Matt Holliday, forced out at second on an infield grounder to first base by Jacoby Ellsbury, raced back to first thinking that Ellsbury had been forced before the throw to second.  His action prevented Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from catching the relay from Xander Bogaerts and Ellsbury was ruled safe at first.  Farrell felt that it should have been a double play on interference.  The Yankees didn’t score in the inning so the net effect was inconsequential.  I am not really sure what purpose the protest serves.  It was clearly not an intentional act by Holliday as he thought that he was still in play.   

Upon completion of yesterday’s double-header, RHP Domingo German was optioned to Triple A.  Bryan Mitchell, who served as the “26th man” for the double-header, was moved onto the 25-man roster and will start tonight’s game. 

Have a great Monday!  Hopefully the Yankees will be right on target at Target Field.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…

Credit:  Rich Gagnon-Getty Images

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1…

What started out as a nice afternoon game in Boston turned out to be an extended night game as the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox.  Chris Sale, with a career ERA of 1.17 against the Yankees, was outstanding on Saturday which generally does not bode well for our guys.  Fortunately, Luis Severino was up to the task and kept the Yankees in the game, setting the stage for late inning heroics.  

Credit:  Associated Press

The Red Sox scored the first run in the 3rd inning.  With one out, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia both walked to put runners at first and second.  Xander Bogaerts hit an infield roller to third that Chase Headley scooped up, looked to first and then turned around and threw too late to shortstop Ronald Torreyes, covering at third.  Everyone was safe.  Mitch Moreland then lofted a deep fly to left and Betts easily ran home for the game’s first run.  Hanley Ramirez could have done more damage but Severino got him on a line out to Chase Headley to end the threat.  

The Yankees only managed three hits off Chris Sale, which included two doubles, but they were unable to push any runs across the plate.  Sale went into the 8th inning, getting Ronald Torreyes to ground out before Brett Gardner singled to right.  Sale then got Gary Sanchez to go down swinging, but with 118 pitches thrown (and 13 strikeouts), the Sox made the call to closer Craig Kimbrel.  Aaron Judge flied out to right to end the top half of the inning.  

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) to replace Luis Severino.  Tzu-Wei Lin promptly singled to center and I had a sinking feeling of “here we go again”.  It didn’t help when the count rose to 3-0 on the next batter, Mookie Betts, but on a full count, Betts popped out to short.  Lin then got a great jump on a steal attempt and was sliding past second baseman Starlin Castro who stayed with the play and took the throw from Gary Sanchez to catch Lin on the foot before his hands reached second base.  The Red Sox challenged the play but the call on the field was upheld (rightfully so).  So good to have Castro back at second.  Dustin Pedroia lined out and Clippard was able to leave the field with his head held high.  

For his Red Sox career, Craig Kimbrel was 30-for-30 in save opportunities as he took the mound in the 9th.  A good point was made during the FOX TV telecast by A.J. Pierzynski with the four-out save attempt.  Aaron Judge, despite the fly out to end the top of the 8th, extended the at-bat which forced Kimbrel to throw 10 pitches.  It’s not often that he throws that many pitches before having to sit and come back out again.  It would be a foretelling comment as Matt Holliday greeted Kimbrel with a game-tying, save-blowing home run to left center over the Green Monster to open the inning. 

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

Starlin Castro subsequently reached base when first baseman Mitch Moreland was pulled off the base on an errant throw from Xander Bogaerts and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second, just beating the tag by Bogaerts.  But Ellsbury was left stranded when Kimbrel proceeded to strike out the side.  The bottom of the 9th brought in Dellin Betances who seems to have left his control problems behind him.  He easily retired the three batters he faced and the game headed into extra innings.

The Red Sox looked like they were in position for the walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th.  Chasen Shreve had been brought in to replace Betances, and he gave up singles to Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley, Jr to put a runner in scoring position with no outs.  It was a little surprising that Benintendi didn’t try to run for third on JBJ’s hit, but thankfully he did not.  Girardi wasted no time in giving Shreve the hook and brought in Adam Warren.  Warren, proving how much he means to this team, retired the three batters he faced, leaving Benintendi stranded at second.  Had Benintendi been on third, he most likely would have scored the winning run when Tzu-Wei Lin flied out to Aaron Judge for the second out against Warren.  

The 11th inning brought an unusual play that resulted in a game protest by Red Sox manager John Farrell.  Matt Holliday walked to open the inning.  Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a grounder to first, and Mitch Moreland threw the ball to Xander Bogaerts for the force out at second.  But Matt Holliday, as we later found out, mistakenly thought that Moreland had stepped on first to retire Ellsbury (he had not) and turned to dive back toward first base.  Bogaerts threw the ball back to Moreland but it glanced off Ellsbury’s leg since Holliday was in Moreland’s way, leaving Ellsbury safe at first.  Farrell argued unsuccessfully that it should have been called a double play due to interference. Despite the 4 minute, 50 second delay, it didn’t really matter as neither Chase Headley nor Didi Gregorius were able to advance Ellsbury from first.

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

From there it was a battle of the bullpens until the top of the 16th inning with Boston’s Doug Fister pitching.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left  and Chase Headley singled to center to put runners at the corners with no outs.  Didi Gregorius singled to center which scored Ellsbury with the go-ahead run.  Austin Romine followed with a single to center, scoring Headley while Gregorius took second.  Ronald Torreyes successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third.  Gary Sanchez hit a sac fly to left, scoring Gregorius with an insurance run as the Yankees took a 4-1 lead. 

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald

Ben Heller (1-0), who had replaced Aroldis Chapman in the 15th inning, retired Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland to win the game for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-Associated Press

It was a very long game (5 hours and 50 minutes) but perseverance paid off as the Yankees eventually pulled out the win.  I can’t say enough about the tremendous performance by Luis Severino.  It was the key to the game, along with the dramatic home run by Matt Holliday in the 9th which gave Craig Kimbrel his first blown save at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform.  Considering today’s double-header, it is amazing to think the Yankees will have played at least 34 innings in 24 hours by the end of the day.  

The Yankees (46-42) remain in third place in the AL East standings but moved 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels again, 6-3, to move 2 1/2 games behind Boston.  

New Yankees first baseman Garrett Cooper had another unsuccessful day at the plate before he was lifted from the game.  He was 0-for-3, with two strikeouts.  Aaron Judge may have been 0-for-6 but I’d still go back to his extended at-bat against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 8th as a key factor for Holliday’s 9th inning home run.

A long hard day but it’s so much better to walk off the field with a win.

Odds & Ends…

Michael Pineda will meet with Dr Timothy Kremchek, an orthopaedic surgeon, in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday for a second opinion.  Dr Kremchek is the medical director for the Cincinnati Reds.  If Tommy John surgery is needed (as expected), the procedure could be performed as early as Tuesday.  

CC Sabathia will start Game 1 of today’s double-header in place of Bryan Mitchell.  In a flurry of roster moves today, the Yankees recalled RHP Domingo German and added LHP Caleb Smith to the 25-man roster.  Relievers Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, both of whom would have been unavailable today after yesterday’s game, were optioned to Triple A.  Michael Pineda was moved to the 60-day DL with his right UCL injury and RHP Bryan Mitchell was added as the “26th man”.  

Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees activated Starlin Castro and optioned Tyler Wade to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

I am not sure why it took so long but Manager Joe Girardi has finally said that Tyler Clippard is no longer the “7th inning” guy.  Adam Warren and Chad Green will take over the duties of setting up Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.  Good move.  Warren and Green have both been outstanding in recent weeks while the bullpen overall as struggled.  

Chance Adams had his latest start for the RailRiders yesterday.  While he did limit the Buffalo Bisons to two hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings, he walked four batters.  It is the command issues that are holding Adams back at this point (along with the development of his third pitch) so yesterday was not a positive outcome.  Adams did not factor into the decision as the RailRiders defeated the Bisons, 2-1.  Miguel Andujar was the hitting star.  He was 2-for-3 and provided the eventual margin of victory with a run-scoring single in the 7th inning.

Have a great Sunday!  In honor of the double-header, let’s have twice the fun!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Walking Away From Victory…

Credit:  Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…

The Yankees paid $86 million for Aroldis Chapman to blow last night’s game.  The bad with the good.  I’ve been concerned about Chapman for a few weeks now, actually dating back before he went on the DL.  His struggles with command have largely flown under the radar given the horrific stretches encountered by both Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances.  I thought maybe Chapman’s contract might look bad toward the end but not in the first year.  For the same money, the Yankees could have signed Kenley Jansen in the off-season.  Jansen earned his 22nd save last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is 4-0 with 0.93 ERA.  Chapman has 8 saves and 3.92 ERA.  Granted, Chapman could have used some defensive help in the 9th so to his defense, it was not entirely his fault.  I think Chapman will be alright and a force in the second half.  

The game was a struggle for Jordan Montgomery, laboring every inning he pitched.  Even if he did give up 6 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings worked, it could have been much worse.  So credit to him for not rolling over.  The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the first two innings but failed to get them home.  They finally broke through in third inning after the Yankees had taken a 1-0 lead.  With Xander Bogaerts at first (single), Hanley Ramirez hammered a Montgomery fastball over the Green Monster in center to give the Sox a 2-1 lead.

The Red Sox picked up a third run in the 4th inning.  Sam Travis opened with a walk off Montgomery.  Christian Vasquez ripped a single to left, runners at first and second.  Deven Marrero hit an infield grounder to Didi Gregorius who fired the ball to Ronald Torreyes at second in an attempt to get the force out but Torreyes took his eyes off the ball and it glanced off his glove for an error to load the bases.  Montgomery was able to retire Mookie Betts on a pop up but Dustin Pedroia singled to left to score Travis, 3-1 Sox.  A subsequent double play with the bases still loaded prevented any further damage.

In the top of the 5th, the Yankees led off with a double by Chase Headley.  Brett Gardner lined a one-out single to right to score Headley.  Gary Sanchez, the Sanchino, followed with his 14th home run of the year, a high fly ball that sailed out of Fenway Park in left, and the Yankees had taken a 4-3 lead.  

Credit:  CJ Gunther-EPA

The Yankees bullpen took over in the bottom of the 5th.  Chad Green was spectacular, working two innings with no hits and 5 strikeouts.  Adam Warren despite giving up two singles in the 7th, kept the Sox off the board.  Dellin Betances hit Mitch Moreland with a pitch in the 8th but otherwise was great with three strikeouts.  

The Yankees were unable to add any insurance runs against Sox starter Drew Pomeranz and the Red Sox bullpen (who held the Yanks hitless for the final 3 innings) so it was off to the bottom of the 9th and closer Aroldis Chapman. 

I hate to re-live this inning but here we go.  Mookie Betts reached first on an infield single to deep short.  Dustin Pedroia followed with a grounder to short.  The throw from Didi Gregorius to Ronald Torreyes at second was too high and Torreyes had to jump to catch the ball, taking his feet off the bag.  Betts safe at second, Pedroia at first.  A double steal moved the runners to second and third.  Xander Bogaerts hit an infield grounder to Torreyes and he was unable to handle it for his second error of the game.  Betts scored the tying run.  The Yankees intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases.  Chapman then struggled to find the strike zone with Andrew Benintendi and walked him on a 3-1 count, bringing home Pedroia with the winning run.  Defeat with no balls out of the infield…a disappointing loss.

Credit:  Stuart Cahill-Boston Herald

The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 2-1, in 10 innings to take sole possession of 2nd place in the AL as the Yankees (45-42) dropped to third.  The Yankees are 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and a game behind the Rays.  

Oh, By The Way…

The news for the second half is certainly not starting off on the right foot.  With Michael Pineda’s diagnosis of a flexor muscle strain and a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, there’s a strong possibility for Tommy John surgery.  He’ll seek a second opinion but this is not good news.  Considering this is his “walk” year, I wonder if he’ll go the way of Nathan Evoldi who was released and later signed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  With Bryan Mitchell scheduled to start Game 1 of Sunday’s double-header and Luis Cessa next week in Minneapolis, the rotation is looking very shaky.  I am sure that the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates are salivating over the potential price tag they can assign to Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole. My fear is that the desperation forces the Yankees to part with Chance Adams in addition to other high-ranking prospects to acquire an established starter.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox will be throwing Chris Sale and two former AL Cy Young Award winners at us this weekend.


I had my doubts that Pineda would be back next year but this probably seals it for his departure.  


Scouts from other teams seem to think that Chance Adams is Major League ready but according to the Yankees, he still needs to work on his command and his third pitch.  That’s more involved than a start or two so it’s anybody’s guess when we’ll see Adams in the Bronx.  I think he’s potentially more effective than Luis Cessa but they didn’t ask me.  Maybe it is Caleb Smith that gets the next call.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-Times Leader`

Oh yeah, and Greg Bird has inflammation in the Os Trigonum of his right ankle and surgery is a strong possibility (if so, 6-8 weeks recovery).  


The roster moves made in advance of yesterday’s game with the Red Sox were the activation of DH Matt Holliday and the purchase of 1B Garrett Cooper’s contract from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Making room were the placement of Michael Pineda on the disabled list and the demotion of Rob Refsnyder to SWB.  Cooper was thrown to the wolves immediately as he made his Major League debut last night in Boston.  Yeah, Garrett, Yankee games can be intense.  Welcome to the Pinstripes!

Cooper started last night’s game although he was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts in his MLB debut.


Odds & Ends…


It is interesting that the Yankees played the fewest games (86) in the first half of any team according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.  The team is scheduled to play 52 games in the next 55 days and of course they have 3 games in the next 2 days.  With no days off, they play games on the road in Minneapolis and Seattle before they get a break (which of course will be consumed by a cross-country flight to return home from the Pacific Northwest).  No rest for the weary…


Have a great Saturday!  I’ll be out on my Harley so hopefully the Yankees bring home a victory against the great Chris Sale.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Back to Work Friday!…

Aw shucks, do we really hafta?…

I have to admit the break was very nice.  I took full advantage of it and enjoyed every minute.  But alas, all good things must end.  Time to get back to baseball and hopefully what will be a very productive second half for the Pinstripers.  

I am glad the Chicago Cubs laid the Jose Quintana rumors to rest.  It was a serious overpay (in my opinion) and I don’t think the cost was worth the top prospects in the organization.  So, congratulations to GM Brian Cashman for his restraint.  There’s no doubt we need pitching but we’ll just have to find another well, and hopefully a less costly one.  The long term view is still the best view in the house.  I am sure teams will now move to other rumored trade targets, ramping up the cost for guys like Yu Darvish or Gerrit Cole (should they be placed on the market).  I’d rather see Chance Adams get a chance at some point rather than his inclusion in a trade for an older, more established pitcher.

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With less than three weeks to the trading deadline, Thursday should just be a slight preview of the days ahead as teams jockey for position.

I thought yesterday’s trade for first baseman Garrett Cooper was a chance worth taking.  Why not?…the Yankees do not have anything to lose.  By trading Tyler Webb, it was an indication that he didn’t fit into their long-term plans.  Plus, he tied up a valuable 40-man roster spot which will be a premium in the off-season when the Yankees have to decide whom to protect and whom to potentially expose to the Rule 5 Draft.  Every move made today has ramifications on the off-season so I am sure that Cashman is being both near- and far-sighted at the same time.  Ji-Man Choi has had a couple of nice home runs but I am not sold on him as a Major League first baseman.  If he falters, it is nice to know that Cooper is waiting in the wings.  He probably represents an upgrade over Mike Ford (currently on the DL for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).  

Stay tuned as I am sure we’re in for a ride.

I honestly did not think Aaron Judge would win the Home Run Derby last Monday.  The win didn’t surprise me and I certainly loved watching the incredible show as much as anyone.  But there was so much hype about him going into the Derby, I felt the weight of expectations would be too much.  Between Judge and Gary Sanchez, I thought Sanchez would be the one to persevere.  So, my apologies to Aaron and congratulations on the tremendous win.  Now, in one of those bottom of the 9th at-bats when the Yankees are trailing and you represent the tying or winning run, please feel free to mix in a tape measure, Statcast-blowing blast instead of the usual strikeout.  I am not trying to be critical of Judge and I am very appreciative of his consistent contributions game by game…but…outside of Clint Frazier’s recent walk-off, the bottom of the 9th at Yankee Stadium has generally meant three outs in recent weeks.

No All-Star Game recap from me, but it was tough to see a “formerly” beloved ex-Yankee hit the home run to win the game and another “probably still” beloved ex-Yankee save the win.  Robinson Cano hurts more than Andrew Miller since the added measure (salt in the wound) was that Cano on the team as an injury replacement for current Yankee Starlin Castro.  The losses of Cano leaving via free agency and the trade of Miller (not his fault) still sting.  If Cano was still a Yankee, we’d probably be talking about the potential future retirement of his number.  Now, Gary Sanchez gets the honors and Cano has a career that you primarily only see through box scores unless you live in Seattle.

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

The Yankees get a very quick and hard test to open the second half.  They’ll travel to Boston to play the first place Red Sox for four games in three days.  The break, outside of Chris Sale, gave the Sox the opportunity to reset their pitching rotation.  With Sale pitching Tuesday’s All-Star Game, he’ll take the mound on Saturday.  But we’ll see the top 4 pitchers in Boston’s rotation for this series.  So no fifth starters this go-around.  The Red Sox are starting to play like everyone expected although they did lose their most recent series when they were beaten by the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently tied with the Yankees for second place in the AL East.  If Boston finds a solution for their third base problem and perhaps more arms for the pen, they’ll be a formidable team although at this point, I’d have to say the Houston Astros are the likely winners of the ALCS regardless of who they play.

By catching closer Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star Game, I am hopeful that Gary Sanchez picked up a thing or two to use during his at-bats.  I think he was surprised at the movement of Kimbrel’s pitches from the catcher’s point of view.  Very weird to see a Yankee catch a Red Sox pitcher.

The Red Sox can be beaten but not by the Yankees team we saw the last couple of weeks.  They’ll need to rise to the challenge.  I hope that Dellin Betances can right the ship once and for all.  The same goes for Masahiro Tanaka.  I only hope that we are not forced to use Tyler Clippard in a critical situation.

Final Notes…

As expected, the Yankees have sent Starlin Castro to Double-A Trenton on a rehab assignment.  They also released Chris Carter after he cleared waivers so there will be no Carter Experiment III.  

Have a great Friday!  Let’s start the second half off right with a win in Beantown!  Let’s Go Yankees!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

To Buy or Not to Buy…

The MLB Trading Deadline is just a mere 24 days away.  At 4 pm ET on Tuesday, July 31st, we’ll know the answer if the Yankees will be buyers or sellers.  If the freefall continues, the odds are stronger toward the latter.  However, none of the current Yankee veterans potentially available fall into the ‘sell high’ category like Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller did last summer.  If the Yankees indeed become sellers, I would look at Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Jacoby Ellsbury (yeah, right…we’re stuck with this one), and Brett Gardner.  Depending upon the return, I could be coerced into others.  There are really no untouchables outside of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.  I don’t think Aroldis Chapman is going anywhere, but otherwise, I think everyone else could be had for the right price.  

The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently 58-29 and are on pace to win 108 games with their current winning percentage (.667).  They have the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) but he might not even the best pitcher on their staff if you look purely at stats.  Alex Wood is 10-0 with a very low 1.67 ERA in 13 starts.  Kershaw has 3 more wins but with 5 more starts.  Wood has given the Dodgers the second starter they’ve been missing since Zack Greinke left.  As the Dodgers march toward a potential historic season, they have the inconsistent Kenta Maeda (6-4, 4.56 ERA) and the injury-plagued Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.25 ERA) to go with Kershaw, Wood and Rich Hill.  The rotation would look so much better with Masahiro Tanaka, based on his last three starts, than either Maeda or McCarthy.

Brett Gardner to the San Francisco Giants has long made sense to me.  He’d easily fit into Bruce Bochy’s lineup and give them the left-fielder that they’ve literally been waiting years for.  

I honestly hope the Yankees regain their magical step from earlier in the season.  My clear preference is to buy at the trading deadline.  But the realist in me recognizes there is the strong possibility we’ll be sellers if the team continues on its current path so we must be prepared.  It hurt to lose Andrew Miller last summer and it still does.  Regardless of how Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield perform as Yankees, our fondness for Miller will never be replaced.  But moves have to be made to better the team for the long run.  The Boston Red Sox are showing signs of potentially running away with the AL East.  The Yankees soon will have to make the decision to go all in for a Wild Card spot or chalk this year up to development.

Since June 13th, when the Los Angeles Angels ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Anaheim, the Yankees are a meager 6-16.  The top three guys in the bullpen, excluding Adam Warren at this point, are unreliable at best.  Aroldis Chapman has struggled with control issues that would be magnified if not for the horrific performances by Tyler Clippard and more recently Dellin Betances.  Clearly, this group has the potential…and the history…to be dominant but continued struggles only help push the Yankees further into the downward spiral.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The July schedule, simply put, is tough.  After the All-Star Game break, the team heads to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox.  It concludes with a day/night double-header on Sunday, July 16th.  Following the second game, the Yankees have to jump on a plane to fly to Minneapolis, MN to play the Minnesota Twins the next night.  The Twins are no slouch, holding a 44-41 record and just a game and a half out in the AL Central, entering games today.  After three days in the Twin Cities, the Yanks hop a westbound plane for Seattle to face Robinson Cano and the Mariners with no break.  The Mariners currently have a losing record but the Yankees always seem to bring out the best in Cano.  This year he’ll be joined by another player with incentive to beat the Yankees in young outfielder Ben Gamel, a former Yankees farmhand.  Flying home to NYC following the three-game series with the M’s, the Yanks get one day off before a two-game set against the Cincinnati Reds which rolls over into a four-game stand with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team currently nipping at the Yanks’ heels.  July 31st, while we sit and wait for the trading deadline dust to settle in the afternoon, the Yankees will begin a three-game with the Detroit Tigers.  August doesn’t get any easier with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners on tap.  In other words, the schedule is a bitch.  

The Yankees have to find a way to win the one-run games now, not later.  They need to resolve the bullpen failures and they need to significantly upgrade at least one of the infield corners.  Otherwise, even making it to .500 by year’s end will be a challenge.

I hate to say it but it is my current opinion (which could easily be changed by a winning streak) that the Yankees will be sellers at the deadline as we await bigger and better things in 2018 and 2019.  

Will Today be a Holliday?…

All signs are pointing to the return of DH Matt Holliday today.  Diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the most common viral infection in humans, Holliday is feeling better and getting ready to return.  Many people afflicted by EBV don’t even know they have it since they do not feel sick.  I am glad to hear that they finally have a handle on what has ailed Holliday.  The Yankees have missed his stick in the lineup.  Plus, his occasional starts at first base have helped get production out of the team’s biggest black hole.  I hope he is able to make a successful return today or if not, this weekend.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees created some organizational depth when they acquired infielder Jonathan Diaz this week from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Diaz, 32, was having a subpar year in the Blue Jays farm system, but he was with the RailRiders last season and will provide them with infield depth again this year.  Billy Fleming was sent from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Double-A Trenton to make room.  We’ll never see Diaz at the MLB level but he helps the RailRiders who have suffered multiple recent losses due to Baby Bomber promotions.  In his first game with the RailRiders, Diaz hit a single that started their winning rally, a 4-3 victory in extra innings over Diaz’s former club, the Buffalo Bisons.  Meanwhile, at Trenton, Fleming hit a two-run homer off MLB pitcher (on rehab assignment) Vince Velasquez to power the Thunder to a 6-3 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils.


Speaking of organizational depth, Mason Williams has cleared waivers and was outrighted to SWB.  It is a chance for Williams to make a case for redemption.  The one dude who I hope isn’t outrighted to SWB is Chris Carter.  I am ready for him to collect a paycheck elsewhere although the Yankees will be paying him good money for the rest of the year to do whatever he desires.  Maybe some time at a batting cage, mixed in with some fielding lessons might be a good idea.

Justus Sheffield has been placed on the DL by the Double-A Trenton Thunder.  Sheffield is dealing with a strained oblique and adds to the number of medically-impaired Yankees.  Mike Ford, the next first baseman on the food chain (Triple A), is dealing with a hamstring injury and hoping to avoid the DL.


Of the trade possibilities, I am very intrigued at the prospect Marcus Stroman may be available if the Blue Jays become sellers at the trading deadline.  Trading within the division is always very difficult (although the Yankees do not seem to have a problem giving relievers to the Baltimore Orioles).  But if GM Brian Cashman could pull it off, Stroman would be a very popular guy in the Bronx.  The 26-year-old righty is not too much bigger than Ronald Torreyes at 5’8″ but he is one of the best arms in the AL East.  This year, he is 8-5 with 3.42 ERA.  He has averaged slightly more than 6 innings per start, and has struck out 87 batters in 105 1/3 innings.  The Long Island native would easily become a fan favorite if he added pinstripes to his wardrobe. 

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

No All-Star Game for Didi Gregorius.  Despite his awesome campaign for the AL Final Vote, the winner was Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.  Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the NL Final Vote winner.  I tried.  I submitted multiple text and internet votes for Sir Didi.  There’s no doubt he’s an All-Star.  On the bright side for him, he now gets a few days off to prepare for the Red Sox on the other side.  

Didi with his Mom

Have a great Friday!  Let’s kick this weekend off right with a win!  Let’s Go Yankees! 

Step Aside Boys, Toe’s Got This…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Yankees 2, Rangers 1…

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Ronald Torreyes!  The unlikely hero delivered in the 10th inning with a walk-off run-scoring single as the Yankees took the first game of a three game set from the Texas Rangers.  

The game, delayed for an hour and forty minutes by rain, was a classic pitcher’s duel between Japanese greats Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka.  The duel may have ended with goose eggs and no decisions for both pitchers, but they were incredible as the game did not see its first runs until the 9th inning.  Worried about Tanaka prior to the game, he showed that he was anything but a concern as he pitched 8 innings of three-hit scoreless ball,  Walking just two, he fanned nine.  Darvish went 7 innings with no runs and two hits, and did one better than Tanaka with strikeouts (10).  I am not sure what we’ll see the next time Tanaka takes the mound but with Darvish as his motivation on Friday night, he was magnificent.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

I was worried that Rangers slugger Joey Gallo would torch Tanaka pitches but he struck out with two runners on in the third inning, and grounded out in a similar situation in the eighth as the last batter Tanaka faced.  Gallo finished 0-for-4 and 3 strikeouts.  

The Yankees brought Aroldis Chapman in for the 9th inning of the scoreless game.  He struck out the first batter, Shin-Soo Choo, but Elvis Andrus followed with a single.  Struggling with his command, Chapman, who was sweating profusely, hit Nomar Mazara with a pitch in the shoulder.  With Adrian Beltre at the plate, Andrus stole third.  A great defensive play by third baseman Torreyes in stopping a wide throw from Gary Sanchez prevented more damage at that point.  But when Beltre struck out, the ball got away from Sanchez and Andrus ran home for the game’s first run.  

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 9th, Torreyes went down on a groundout for the first out.  But no worries, Brett Gardner came up and delivered with a game-tying home run to right.  Aaron Hicks grounded out for the second out.  Aaron Judge singled to put the potential winning run at first.  Unfortunately, Matt Holliday struck out to send the game into extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, the Rangers loaded the bases against Chad Green and Chasen Shreve with two outs but Shreve got Andrus to pop out to end the threat.  This set the stage for the home half of the 10th.  With one out, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius singled, with Sanchez taking third.  Chris Carter struck out on four pitches (surprise, surprise).  But no fear, Ronald Torreyes stepped up to the plate.  The little man with the big stick.  A line drive single to center scored Sanchez with the winning run.  The Yankees win.

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

The victory allowed the Yankees (40-31) to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East Standings.  The Red Sox had defeated the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 earlier in the evening.  The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 15-5, to remain 2 1/2 games back.  

After the game, the Yankees mercifully ended the Chris Carter experiment.  He seemed lost at the plate, with another 0-for-4 performance and three strikeouts.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-The New York Post

Carter had a chance to be a hero in the bottom of the 8th with Gary Sanchez on first and two outs.  But he feebly struck out swinging.  There was something about that weak final swing that gave me an “I’m done” feeling. It was reinforced in the 10th when Carter struck out with a huge opportunity to be the game’s hero.  Apparently, GM Brian Cashman felt the same way as Carter was designated for assignment immediately after the game.  Tyler Austin, who has homered in his last three of his last four games, was recalled to take Carter’s place.  In the 27 games at Triple A after his reactivation from the DL in late May, Austin has hit .300/.366/.500 with 4 HR’s and 21 RBI’s for the RailRiders. Of his 30 hits in 100 at-bats, 17 have gone for extra-bases.  The alarming statistic is 32 strikeouts but Austin has really been heating up with the bat over the past week.  He has played error-free baseball at first.  Welcome back, Tyler!  Trust us, we are very glad to see you.

Big Papi, The Man Among Boys…

The Boston Red Sox retired the number of David “Big Papi” Ortiz last night in their game against the Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park.  Big Papi was a thorn in the Yankees’ side for many years.  Time and again, a game was ended with a Big Papi blast.  I am very glad that #34 will no longer be an active number worn when the Red Sox come to town.  My biggest fear was that he would “un-retire”. 

Credit:  Stuart Cahill

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr expressed it well when he said, “That just lets you know what a special impact he’s made in the community and the organization and all of baseball.  What he’s done for the city, the team, people around him, it’s well deserved.  I know we couldn’t be any happier for him.”  I agree.  As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t wait for the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton (may he rest in peace) to retire, and I felt the same about Papi.  More than anything, it is a sign of how much respect I held for those men.  


A close friend of mine who is a lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fan, and Boston-area resident, did post this comment on Social Media:  “This is just my humble opinion, but I think it is much too early for the Red Sox to be retiring Ortiz’s number.  With the exception of Johnny Pesky, the honor of having a number retired by the Red Sox was reserved for those players who entered the Baseball HOF.”  My response…whatever it takes to keep him from coming out of retirement.

Odds & Ends…

Chance Adams is a friggin’ rock star.  In Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 11-1 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday, the RailRiders’ ace was magnificent.  Pawtucket didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning.  Adams (5-2) finished six innings strong, allowing just the one hit and no runs.  He issued two walks, while fanning eight.  The outstanding performance lowered Adams’ season ERA to 2.12.  At some point in the not-so-distant future, it will be determined that Adams has nothing left to prove at the Triple A level.  In my mind, he’s just a couple of Luis Cessa bumps and bruises away from stepping on the main stage (or the potential first call if another starter…I hope not…is injured).  Why not take a Chance?…

The Boston Red Sox are going hog wild in an attempt to find help.  Yesterday, they signed pitcher Doug Fister, released by the Los Angeles Angels, and shortstop/third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who was cut by the St Louis Cardinals.  Injuries to their pitching staff forced the Fister move.  The disaster known as Pablo Sandoval brought in Peralta.  I still think the Red Sox will be heavy players for Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas at the trading deadline. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Sox should have about $9 million to play with before they risk crossing the luxury tax threshold.   


Happy Saturday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

The Land of the Lost…

Angels 8, Yankees 3…

It is difficult to remember when the Yankees last walked off a field with a victory.  It seems so very long ago.  The losing streak continues as the Yankees dropped their seventh consecutive game to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

A little more than a week ago, we were very excited about the team and its surprising performance so far this season.  But over the last week, the wheels have come off and the team is looking more and more like the .500 team it was projected to be at the beginning of the year.  They’ll turn this around and start playing better but it doesn’t make the current losing funk feel any better.  

I thought the return of Aroldis Chapman to push Tyler Clippard back to the 7th inning would help the latter to restore some of his effectiveness.  I was wrong.  After the Yankees had clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie, Clippard came into the game in the 7th and proceeded to hand the Angels the win.  Retiring only one batter, he allowed a solo home run by Cameron Maybin (who is not exactly known for his ability to hit balls out of the park), a double and a run-scoring triple.  He was just a single shy of a cycle, but Manager Joe Girardi ended the agony by pulling Clippard and replacing him with Jonathan Holder.  Holder gave up the missing single to score the runner on third, charging a total of 3 runs to Clippard (1-4) for one out of work.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Michael Pineda, who had normally pitched much better at home than on the road, was missing his primary pitch.  The Angels grabbed the early lead with a run-scoring single by Albert Pujols in the first inning and they scored two runs in the second when Danny Espinosa drove in a run with a double and Kole Calhoun singled to score Espinosa.

Angels pitcher Parker Bridwell (who?) and their bullpen kept the Yankee bats silent for the most part.  The Yankees were finally able to push across their first run in the fourth when Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to score Starlin Castro.  

The Yankees then used solo home runs to tie the game.  Aaron Judge blasted his 24th home run of the year in the fifth and Gary Sanchez went yard in the sixth with his 12th.

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

There was excitement in the Bronx once again.  Enter Tyler Clippard.  The optimistic feelings were quickly extinguished as the Angels had taken the 6-3 lead by the time the seventh inning was over.  The Angels tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings as the Yankees just couldn’t get untracked offensively despite the earlier homers by Judge and Sanchez.  

I knew we were in trouble when first baseman Chris Carter blew a routine fielding play that allowed Eric Young Jr to reach second base at the top of the second inning.  It felt like it was going to be one of those games.  It also reinforced that we are stuck with Carter for better or worse (my money is on the latter).  Carter finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout.  Just a typical day at the office for him.

Credit:  Getty Images

It’s tough to win when you can only scratch out four hits against hittable pitchers.  

The Yankees (38-30) were overtaken by the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings.  The Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 and now lead the division by a half game.  I guess this was inevitable. It’s kind of hard to maintain a lead when you can’t put W’s on the board.

Odds & Ends…

The Tommy John surgery for Gleyber Torres is scheduled for today.  Dr David W Altchek will be performing the procedure.  Dr Altchek is an Attending Orthopedic Surgeon and Co-Chief Emeritus in the Sports Medicine & Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.  He is also medical director for the New York Mets and a medical consultant for the NBA.  All the best to Gleyber for his surgery and post-op recovery.
The Sauer Project has begun.  The Yankees have signed second round draft pick RHP Matt Sauer, pending a physical, to an undisclosed deal.  The allocation for the 54th pick is $1,236,000 but it’s speculated the Yankees went over allocation to convince Sauer to forego  his commitment to the University of Arizona.  The 18-year-old has signs of significant upside for his fastball and slider.  The Yankees’ minor league pitching instructors will be tasked with helping Sauer develop a third pitch to help his eventual ascension to the top of a Major League rotation.  Welcome to the Yankees, Matt!  Here’s wishing you much better health and success than current top pitching prospect James Kaprielian!
Credit:  Santa Maria Times
With the July 7th signing deadline for MLB draft picks just a couple of weeks away, the Yankees are making progress with their signings.  Of the players chosen through the 22nd round, only RHP Clarke Schmidt (1st) and RHP Garrett Whitlock (18th) are unsigned.  But with the deal in place for Sauer (and potentially for double the allocation), you have to believe the framework of a deal is in place for Schmidt which will free the dollars needed for Sauer.  I was the happiest when I saw that 22nd pick RHP Janson Junk had signed.  Damn, I love that name.  The Yankees have also signed their 27th pick, RHP Alex Mauricio and they inked undrafted free agent 2B Cody Brown.  I keep hoping the Yankees find a way to sign 29th pick Tristan Beck but I knew going in that was an incredible longshot.  Beck won’t sign for allocation and the other signings diminish the available dollars so it’s a virtual certainty that Beck goes back to Stanford.  Bummer…
Have a great Wednesday!  Yankees, feel free to mix in a win!  Go Yankees!