|Photo Credit: The NY Times (Uli Seit)|
Nothing But Crickets From Yankee Stadium…
Friday was an explosive day for Major League Baseball but relatively quiet for the New York Yankees.
I would like to send best wishes for a fast recovery to CC Sabathia who, it was announced, recently underwent an angioplasty, a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. The procedure was combined with the permanent placement of a small wire mesh tube called a stent to help prop the artery open and decrease its chance of narrowing again. CC is expected to be fully ready by Spring Training but he is in our thoughts as he recovers. It’s a fairly common procedure but 38 seems incredibly young. Get well, Big Man!
The news of the day was the blockbuster trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer, and $7 million to the Reds for Homer Bailey and prospects RHP Josiah Gray and infielder Jeter Downs. It seems to me that Downs is destined to play in Miami for his namesake. Maybe he is a chess piece to help the Dodgers land Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. As part of the agreement for Bailey to waive his no-trade provision, the Dodgers will release him. He is owed $23 million for next season (carrying a $17.5 million cap hit) with $5 million 2020 buyout. No, I do not want the Yankees to sign him even though he can be picked up for minimum salary.
The immediate speculation is the Dodgers are clearing space and room for Bryce Harper. Admittedly, that does not seem to be the Dodgers’ MO under baseball head Andrew Friedman. For a player so concerned with his legacy, Dodger Stadium would certainly be an attractive place to play for Harper if the team in the Bronx is not interested in his services. Harper in a Dodgers uniform would look better than the White Sox or Phillies although he’d still look best in Pinstripes.
No doubt the Dodgers have more moves to make. The trade is curious for the Reds who are a better team today but not a contender. I guess with so many teams tanking it, it is refreshing to see a bad team trying to get better for its fans. Although there would still be room for the Reds to drop Sonny Gray into their starting rotation, the likelihood the Reds will move second baseman Scooter Gennett seems remote if they are trying to win a few more games.
It’s wild that the Yankees can’t rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract yet the Dodgers have moved Matt Kemp’s excessive contract not once but twice. I guess it helps when the player stays healthy and can at least take the field now and then.
Friday also saw another former Yankees prospect on the move. Seattle traded OF Ben Gamel to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with RHP Noah Zavolas, for outfielder Domingo Santana. For Gamel, he joins the team that once employed his brother, Mat. I’ll miss seeing Gamel when the Yankees play the Mariners. He may not be a great player but he was always playing high energy against the Yankees. Seattle’s certainly not going to seem the same without James Paxton, Robinson Cano, James Pazos and Gamel.
I was a little sad to see the Texas Rangers trade infielder Jurickson Profar to the Oakland A’s. Profar, long a Yankees target, would have been a valuable resource with the impending absence of Didi Gregorious. While I do not necessarily want to see Gleyber Torres slide over to short, Profar could have covered second base until Didi returns. I’d really like to see Gleyber stay at second to perfect his craft at the position, but given there are better second base options available than shortstop, the Yankees may have no choice. If the Yankees lose out on Manny, perhaps they should try to sign former A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie, currently a free agent, since he’s clearly out in Oakland now. Lowrie was a big part of the A’s success last season.
I suppose we could see some activity today but we’re entering the quiet zone of Christmas to New Year’s Day so it’s time for the Yankees Universe to relax and enjoy the holidays before we begin obsessing about trades and free agent signings again. The relaxation should be helped by the news Manny Machado has told the Yankees, White and Phillies that he does not intend to make a decision until after the first of the year. So relax, just breath…
At this point, Max Wildstein has summed up on Twitter how I feel about Machado:
Before the year is out, I would like to see the Yankees fill at least one of the holes in the bullpen. David Robertson, Adam Ottavino or Zach Britton would be just fine. Cash, please make it happen. All I want for Christmas is a Super Bullpen.
Congratulations to former Yankees prospect Rob Segedin. The 30-year-old third baseman, who was traded to the Dodgers in the 2016 trade that originally brought Ronald Torreyes to the Yankees, has apparently brought an end to his playing career. Segedin had a few cups of coffee with the Dodgers in 2016 and 2017 but could never show the promise he held when drafted in the third round by the Yankees in 2010. Segedin is reportedly joining the Philadelphia Phillies as a minor league hitting instructor. I had held out hope he would achieve his Major League dream as a player but now I’ll wish him well as he embarks in a coaching career. Perhaps this leads to be a full-time opportunity in the Show.
I don’t know about you but this off-season seems like one of the longest in recent memory. The Yankees started fast with the trade that brought James Paxton to New York but it’s been a long, slow burn ever since. I guess I should just find a new hobby for the next few weeks to get my mind off baseball.
Enjoy the pre-Christmas weekend! I am sure it is a last minute scramble for many. Well, sadly, maybe not for GM Brian Cashman.
As always, Go Yankees!
Yankees 9, Reds 5…
All seems to be right in the Yankees Universe once again. After Manager Joe Girardi voiced that “he’s thrown the best all year for us…call him what you want”, Luis Severino went out and threw another ace-style performance at the Cincinnati Reds as the Yankees swept the two-game series.
Jordan Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Tuesday and settled for a two-hit, one-run performance over 6 2/3 innings. It was as if Severino said, “that’s great, but I can do better”. Sevy (7-4) pitched 7 innings for the win, allowing only 3 hits and 2 runs (none earned). He walked a couple of batters and struck out 9. For the man who couldn’t win a start in 2016, he is this year’s MVP in the starting rotation.
Then there’s Didi Gregorius who is hitting everything thrown within 50 miles of him. Derek Jeter who? Okay, I jest on that part so as to not offend the DJ fans and his legacy but Didi is simply playing in a higher league right now.
Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post
The game started out to be a pitching duel between Severino and Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey. They traded 0’s for a couple of innings until the Yankees broke through with a run in the bottom of the 3rd. The Toddfather (Todd Frazier, as if it needs an explanation) got the inning started with a single. But he was quickly erased when the $153 million pinch-runner, starting in center due to a day off for Aaron Judge in right, hit into a double play. Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner took matters into their own bats and both singled to put runners at first and second. The other Frazier (Red Thunder) singled to right to score Torreyes. The Yankees had the early 1-0 lead.
In the 5th inning, after the $153 million man flied out for the second out of the inning, Ronald Torreyes, Brett Gardner, and Clint Frazier repeated the third inning formula. Single, single, single with run scored. Like the 3rd inning, Gary Sanchez got the final out leaving Gardner stranded. It was 2-0 Yankees.
Finally in the 6th inning, the Yankees looked elsewhere than Torreyes, Gardy and Red Thunder for runs as Didi Gregorius reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Peraza, subbing for the injured Zack Cozart, and advanced to second. Chase Headley singed to center to bring home Didi. 3-0, Yankees. After Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a force attempt throwing error to second base by first baseman Joey Votto to load the bases. Frazier was originally called out at second, but the Yankees rightfully challenged the play and it was overturned when it clearly showed that Jose Peraza’s foot was off base when he took the throw from Votto. Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to short and was thrown out at first but Headley scored on the play as the Yankees increased their lead to 4-0.
The Reds picked up a couple of runs against Severino in the top of the 7th. Scott Schebler reached base on a fielding error by Didi Gregorius. Eugenio Suarez made the Yankees pay for it with a double to left, scoring Schebler. A wild pitch by Sevy advanced Suarez to third. Tucker Barnhart grounded out to first, but Suarez scored. 4-2, Yankees.
The Yankees broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th. Clint Frazier walked and scored when Gary Sanchez doubled to left. Sanchez advanced to third on the throw. Matt Holliday singled to left to score Sanchez. It was 6-2 Yankees and the end of the line for Homer Bailey. Reliever Tony Cingrani entered the game and was met with a Didi Gregorius home run to right (that’s been happening to quite a few pitchers lately). Two more runs and it was 8-2. After Chase Headley lined out, the Toddfather finally crashed the party with his first Yankee home run, a solo shot to left. It was 9-2 Yankees and it seemed like it would be a coast to victory.
Credit: Elsa-Getty Images
Enter Luis Cessa. The first out was easy…a ground out by Billy Hamilton. The second batter, Scooter Gennett, should have been an out but Gennett reached first after swinging at the third strike, a ball that got past Gary Sanchez due to a wild pitch on Cessa. Cessa then proceeded to walk Joey Votto which brought up Adam Duvall. During the at-bat, I was thinking that Cessa had better be careful with the dangerous Duvall at the plate. Boom, a three-run shot to right and the Reds had closed the gap to 9-5. Fortunately, after a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Cessa retired the next two batters to get out of the inning. I am not sure that I could have been that patient with Cessa. If I was manager, he probably would have been grabbing his bus seat for the trip to Scranton, PA by the end of the game.
Girardi made the wise choice to go with David Robertson in the 9th. 1-2-3, game over. Man, I love having D-Rob back in the fold. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (53-46) did not make up any ground in the AL East despite the win. The Boston Red Sox, behind Chris Sale and rookie third baseman Rafael Devers who homered in his first MLB at-bat, beat the Seattle Mariners, 4-0. The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1. So, the Yankees remain one game behind the Red Sox and a game and a half ahead of the Rays who departed for the Bronx following their game in Baltimore.
The $153 Million Man was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and was the only starting position player without a hit. What was it that Joe Girardi said? He was to take advantage of his opportunities? Ouch…
Next Up: Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…
The Yankees get back into AL East play this evening at Yankee Stadium. The third-place Tampa Bays come to town ready to make some noise. It is the Yankees’ mission to ensure that they leave disappointed.
|Credit: Will Vragovic-Tampa Bay Times|
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Rays: Chris Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.44 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA)
Rays: Blake Snell (0-6, 4.86 ERA)
Yankees: Caleb Smith (0-1, 8.10 ERA)
Rays: Jacob Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA)
Odds & Ends…
Chance Adams pitched yesterday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 5-4 win over the Norfolk Tides. He did not get the decision but went 7 innings, giving up only three hits and two runs. He had two walks to go with seven strikeouts. His season ERA stands at 2.39. The RailRiders won the game, thanks to a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning by Mike Ford off former Yankees pitcher Matt Wotherspoon. The Tides got a run off winner Ben Heller in the bottom of the 10th.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go Yankees!
Yankees 4, Reds 2…
Todd Frazier’s Yankee Stadium debut will be hard to forget. I am not talking about the 500 or 600 people that traveled up to the game from Tom’s River, New Jersey. With the bases loaded and no outs in the second inning, Frazier came to bat and promptly hit into an inning-ending triple play. Fortunately, the Yankees squeezed one run out of it but not exactly a stellar debut. Nevertheless, thanks to a magnificent Jordan Montgomery and 2 later RBI’s from the third out of the triple play (Didi Gregorius), the Yankees prevailed over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
The second inning started so nicely for the Yankees. Matt Holliday, Didi Gregorius, and Chase Headley all singled to load the bases with no outs against Reds starter Luis Castillo. It set the stage for Todd Frazier’s Yankee Stadium debut. I was thinking Grand Slam. How beautiful that would have been. But it was not meant to be as Frazier hit a grounder to shortstop Jose Peraza on a 3-1 hitter’s count. After erasing Headley and Frazier, the Reds had Didi hung up between second and third. He had broken for third base and then had second thoughts and ended up running out of the base path for the third and final out but not before Holliday had crossed the plate with the game’s first run.
The Yankees picked up another run in the 4th inning. Aaron Judge singled to right off Castillo and worked his way to third base courtesy of a Matt Holliday broken bat groundout and then balk by the pitcher. Didi Gregorius scored Judge with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Another run came the next inning when Todd Frazier, shaking off the triple play, led off with a single to left. Tyler Wade hit into a fielder’s choice which eliminated Frazier at second. Austin Romine, a high school teammate of Colorado’s great third baseman Nolan Arenado, doubled to the right field corner with Wade motoring around to score the Yankees’ third run. The Yankees loaded the bases after Romine’s double but were unable to cash in when Matt Holliday grounded out to end the inning.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Jordan Montgomery was amazing. He had a no-hitter going until the top of the 6th inning when Scott Schebler led off with a double to the wall in right center. Schebler ended up scoring when he moved to third on a fly out and came home on a ground out. Monty pitched into the 7th inning and had two outs before he was pulled after giving up a single to Adam Duvall. Tommy Kahnle came on to secure the final out. Montgomery settled for a two-hitter over 6 2/3 innings, allowing the single run and walking a batter, while striking out 6. We’ve been watching Monty “grow up” this season before our very eyes and it has been fun. He does not pitch like a rookie and is showing that he can be an arm to rely upon down the stretch.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-AP|
With the Yankees holding the slim 3-1 lead, things got a little too interesting in the 8th. Dellin Betances, showing that his struggles are not behind him, got into trouble. He walked the first batter, Devin Mesoraco, to immediately start in the hole. After striking out Scott Schebler, he walked Jose Peraza. Zack Cozart pinch-hit for Arismendy Alcantara and hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice, forcing Peraza out at second. Mesoraco moved to third, with Cozart at first. Billy Hamilton doubled to right, scoring Mesoraco and moving Cozart to third. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough and pulled Betances in favor of Adam Warren. Meanwhile, the Reds replaced Cozart after he aggravated a quad injury running to third base with pinch-runner Robert Stephenson, a starting pitcher (the Reds were down to catchers on their bench). Fortunately, Stephenson, representing the tying run, was left stranded at third when Warren struck out Eugenio Suarez.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees added a much-needed insurance run when Didi Gregorius homered to right center, a solo shot.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg-The New York Post|
The Yankees took a 4-2 lead into the 9th inning for closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, unlike Betances, had no command issues as he easily dispatched the three Reds he faced for his 12th save of the season. Yankees win!
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
The Yankees (52-46) moved to within a game of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East Standings with the victory. The Red Sox lost another game in Seattle, this time a 6-5 loss in 13 innings (after the Mariners rallied in the bottom of the 13th trailing the Red Sox, 5-4). The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-4, to remain 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Ironically, although he has no official RBI as a Yankee, Todd Frazier has driven in two runs with a double play and now a triple play during his brief Yankees career. Hopefully, he’ll start mixing in a few official ribbies.
|Credit: Anthony J Causi-The New York Post|
After the game, Joe Girardi said that it was his intent to avoid using David Robertson in the game. He continues to have confidence in Dellin Betances, as do we, but there’s no question that he needs to work his way out of this funk sooner rather than later.
Sonny Gray Watch…
Okay, I admit it. I am ‘all in’ on the Sonny Gray rumors. He was probably the most scouted major league player during last night’s match-up between Gray’s current (soon to be former) team, the Oakland A’s and the AL East’s very own Toronto Blue Jays. I have to admit that I was channel flipping between games. It was actually a ‘two-fer’ watch with Yonder Alonzo starting at first base.
|Credit: Mark Blinch-AP|
I am still expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to pull a desperation move but hopefully they are more focused on Yu Darvish assuming the Texas Rangers can be persuaded to sell.
Gray’s outing against the Blue Jays didn’t go so well. Although he didn’t allow any earned runs, the Jays scored four runs against him courtesy of his own throwing error which extended the second inning in the A’s 4-1 loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO. He took the loss, dropping to 6-5 while his ERA was lowered to 3.43.
A number of teams were present to scout Gray at Rogers Centre in addition to the Yankees. They included the Cubs, Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates, Indians, and Royals. Although they were not present, the Houston Astros remain a frontrunner to acquire Gray according to A’s beat writer Susan Slusser.
Here’s hoping that GM Brian Cashman is able to ensure that Gray’s next start will be in pinstripes.
Odds & Ends…
Ex-Yankee relievers seem to be in high demand. Last week, we saw David Phelps traded from the Miami Marlins to the Seattle Mariners and saw him over the weekend. Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox, having already divested themselves of former (and now current) Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, shipped ex-Yankee reliever Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers. Swarzak had just picked up his first save on Monday after Tyler Clippard failed to close the previous game. I guess it is a curse to effectively close a game for the White Sox this year but I am not complaining. Justin Wilson is probably the next former Yankee reliever on the auction block.
Speaking of ex-Yankees, the Boston Red Sox felt they needed one. They acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez overnight from the San Francisco Giants for a couple of minor league pitchers. Thwarted in their attempt to acquire Todd Frazier from the Chicago White Sox, they had recently called up top prospect Rafael Devers to man third base. The Red Sox press release referred to Nunez as a utility player so he’ll presumably provide insurance for the 20-year-old Devers if the Red Sox opt to continue with plans with the youngster at the hot corner or possibly platoon with him.
Triple A outfielder Jake Cave has been named the International League’s Player of the Week for the week ending July 23rd. Cave was 15-for-26 (.577) with 2 homers and 8 RBI’s. His on-base percentage was .607 and his slugging percentage was .885. He hit safely in all seven games played, with multiple hits in all but two of the games. Since his promotion from Double A, Cave has the most hits (47) of any player in the International League over that period of time. I know that the 24-year-old Cave is desperately seeking a MLB opportunity. If he can’t get it with the Yankees, I hope that he is included in a deadline deal that will allow him to make his MLB debt. He’s earned it.
Have a great Wednesday! One more with the Reds and then bring us the Rays! Let’s Go Yankees!
Serious Competition for the Arms Race…
The sprint to the trading deadline begins in earnest this week as teams jockey for position over the next couple of months. The trading deadline is Monday, July 31st at 4:00 pm Eastern.
I fully expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be major players. Losing their ace and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball hurts. It does not appear that the back injury that kept Clayton Kershaw out of action for two months last year is as bad this year, but he will miss time. Current speculation is that he’ll be out 4-6 weeks. The Los Angeles Times was already calling for Yu Darvish by Monday morning (or someone of similar ability…Sonny Gray?). The Times used the analogy that the Chicago Cubs had to trade elite prospect Gleyber Torres last season to bring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago. They go on to say that the Cubs would not have won the World Series if not for the trade, adding “it was a reminder that victory goes to the bold”. I think Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and the Dodgers will be very bold in their attempt to bolster starting pitching, particularly considering that Brandon McCarthy has gone back on the DL too.
Credit: Jon SooHoo
I do not want to give up any top prospects beyond the recent loss of outfielder Blake Rutherford. This is tough because I would love to see Yu Darvish or Sonny Gray run out onto the field at Yankee Stadium wearing pinstripes. But you can’t make a deal like that without parting with top pitching talent, such as Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield. It would make more sense to trade for a lower profile pitcher and make room on the 40-man roster soon for Adams to make his MLB debut. But even that move comes with cost. Adams has another year before he’ll be Rule 5 eligible so creating room on the 40-man roster for Adams costs a potential spot for a quality prospect that must be protected this year. It doesn’t really matter if Adams is Major League-ready but that’s something only time will tell. Given the Yankees have shown they do not believe Adams is ready, it seems more likely we’ll see more roll-outs of Caleb Smith (or Luis Cessa) or eventually another one of the current 40-man roster arms like Dietrich Enns (below) or Ronald Herrera before we ever get a sniff of Adams at the MLB level.
Credit: Sean McKeag-Times Leader
By most accounts, the desire of the Houston Astros to acquire another starter has lessened with the activation off the DL of Collin McHugh and soon, Dallas Keuchel. The Milwaukee Brewers remain hot for a starting pitcher as do a few other teams. The Minnesota Twins finally completed their delayed acquisition of Atlanta starter (and former Cardinal) Jaime Garcia, while the Kansas City Royals grabbed Trevor Cahill from the San Diego Padres. There are arms to be had and based on the prices paid by the Twins and the Royals, it is possible to get help without sacrificing the farm.
GM Brian Cashman and crew have a very tough week ahead of them. They have hard decisions to make and they’ll have to stand before Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner with their recommendations. The AL East can be won, despite the presence of Chris Sale in Boston, so the decisions over the next week will go a long way toward deciding who is playing October baseball.
Glad D-Rob’s back home…
It has been a few years since David Robertson performed in a set-up role for the Yankees, but I had forgotten how he likes to run off the field at the conclusion of an inning. It is so great to see that again. He is one of a kind and a direct link to the great Mariano Rivera. I’ve been excited to have Tommy Kahnle back in the organization after being such a great admirer of his when he was a Yankees prospect, but there is something special about D-Rob and I am glad that he is back in pinstripes. It would have been very difficult to watch him pitch for a team like the Boston Red Sox. So, even if I haven’t said it too much on this blog site, I am very happy that D-Rob is a Yankee once again.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
Next Up: Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees face the Reds for their second and final series this season. The teams split a two-game series in Cincinnati back in early May. The Reds represent a reunion for a few Yankees. Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman were once prominent Reds, and Didi Gregorius was a prospect in the organization (originally signed by the Reds as an amateur free agent in 2007).
Credit: Al Behrman-AP
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups for the two-game series:
Reds: Luis Castillo (1-3, 3.86 ERA)
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (6-5, 4.09 ERA)
Reds: Homer Bailey (2-4, 8.56 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (6-4, 3.21 ERA)
Even without playing, the Yankees were able to gain a half game on the Boston Red Sox. The Sox replaced the Yankees at Safeco Field in Seattle and were shutout by James Paxton and the Mariners, 4-0. The Tampa Bay Rays also lost (5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles) so it was a great day off. The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by 2 games and increased their lead over the Rays by 1 1/2 games.
I’ll say it right now. I am NOT on board with the special Derek Jeter’s Day hats to be worn by the Yankees on Sunday. With no disrespect to the former Yankees captain or the countless mothers that will be in attendance for the joint Jeter-Mother’s Day game, the color pink does not have a place with the famed pinstripes. Behind the pink hat is just someone trying to make a buck. If all proceeds are given to a meaningful charity, then maybe I could buy into the dreadful hat. Otherwise, it looks like a poorly thought out marketing scheme.
The DL epidemic seems to be impacting elite closers. Depending upon who you ask, Baseball’s third and fourth best closers are now on the Disabled List. Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles is out for 45-60 days following a visit with Dr Neal ElAttrache (the surgeon who recently performed Tommy John surgery on James Kaprielian). For Britton’s sake, he received better news than Kaprielian did as surgery is not necessary for his left arm (throwing arm) strain. However, he’ll be out until after the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have placed their new high-priced closer, and former Yankee, Mark Melancon, on the DL with a “mild right pronator strain”. Here’s wishing and hoping for good health for the premier closers, the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I realize that some Yankees fans will be moving into “World Series or Bust” mode any day now (if they haven’t already) but I still need more time before I am going to proclaim the Yankees as the team of the year. I want to see how the young Baby Bombers perform this weekend against Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and the high flying Houston Astros. If the Yankees are still making noise at the top of the AL East when the calendar flips to June, then maybe I’ll start to get on-board. It’s a long season and it’s still early. There’s no doubt we’ll experience a few bumps in the road. It will be how the team responds to those downturns that will determine the eventual course for this season.
CC Sabathia was awful for one inning last night but that’s all it took to shut down the Yankees’ six game winning streak in the 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Ten men came to the plate against Sabathia in the second inning. Six singles and a walk later and the Reds had erased a 2-0 Yanks advantage by pushing five runs across the plate. Sabathia (2-2) went 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and the 5 runs. He walked 2 and struck out 2, while pushing his ERA to 5.77. Right now, at least, Sabathia is the weak link in an otherwise strong Yankees rotation. But as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link so this is certainly a concern.
Credit: John Minchillo/AP
The Yankees had a chance to win at the end. With any game, that’s all I can ask. After Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday walked with one out in the 9th inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with the chance to erase the Reds’ two-run lead. Sanchez had already homered in his first at-bat of the game, a ball that travelled 448 feet to center. But he lined a shot to Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who threw to second, catching Hicks off base, for the game-ending double play.
Didi Gregorius is starting to heat up which is a good sign. He went 3-for-4 with a first inning home run.
The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 5-4 in extra innings last night, so the Yankees (21-10) fell out of first place in the AL East by a half-game. The Boston Red Sox lost which is always a fun thing to see. I’d take joy in that even if they were the worst team in baseball.
All things considered it was a good (albeit short) road trip as the Yanks took four of five. With an off day today (Sleep, I love you!), the Yankees prepare for a long four game set against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium beginning Thursday. The series concludes on Sunday with Derek Jeter Night and the aforementioned pink caps.
The former Yankees coming to the Bronx are Astros catcher Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran. Lance McCullers, Jr, one of the Astros starting pitchers, is the son of a former Yankee. His father pitched for the Yankees from 1989 to 1990 (three years before Lance Jr was born).
The probable pitching matchups for the Astros series are as follows:
HOU: Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.88 ERA)
NYY: Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA)
HOU: Lance McCullers, Jr (2-1, 3.40 ERA)
NYY: Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA)
HOU: Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.64 ERA)
NYY: Luis Severino (2-2, 3.40 ERA)
HOU: Charlie Morton (4-2, 3.63 ERA)
NYY: Masahiro Tanaka (5-1, 4.36 ERA)
Speaking of former Yankees, the Detroit Tigers have named Justin Wilson as their closer, replacing Francisco Rodriguez. The lefty, who brought pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York, is currently carrying a 1.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. Regardless of how Cessa and Green ever perform, it sure would have been nice to have Wilson in this year’s bullpen. But then again, Andrew Miller would have looked good too. Oh well, onward and upward!
Have a great Wednesday!
Sleep? Who needs stinkin’ Sleep! The Yankees arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 5:08 a.m. yesterday following their 18-inning marathon win over the Chicago Cubs and by the end of the day, they had their sixth consecutive victory with the 10-4 pounding of the Reds. The Yankees treated their former top prospect Rookie Davis, banished to Ohio in the Aroldis Chapman trade, like, well, a rookie. Run-scoring singles by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius put three runs on the board in the first inning and the sleepless Yanks were in charge early.
It was another okay, but not great, pitching performance by Masahiro Tanaka. He definitely went the ‘bend but not break’ route in picking up his fifth win of the year. The Reds had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning, trailing the Yankees by three. But a pop out and a double play ended the threat. It was probably the game-defining moment.
Credit: John Minchillo/AP
In the seventh inning with former Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen on the mound, three Yankees were hit by pitches. It wasn’t intentional but that’s a lot for one inning. The last one, a pitch that hit Chase Headley on the bone just below his knee (ouch!) with the bases loaded, scored a run. Ronald Torreyes, after being knocked down by a high, inside pitch from the wild Storen, singled to put the Yankees up 7-2. The second runner, Gary Sanchez, was easily thrown out at the plate, for the final out.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Tanaka running on fumes after reaching the 100-pitch mark, he walked Zach Cozart and then gave up a no doubt-about-it home run to Reds slugger Joey Votto. With his 112th pitch, Tanaka somehow got Adam Duvall on a swinging strikeout to end the inning. As Tanaka walked off the mound, he was clearly upset about the Votto home run but his night was done with the Yankees leading 7-4.
The eighth inning featured another long home run to right by Brett Gardner, scoring two runs, and a solo shot by Matt Holliday, playing his second straight game at first base.
From there, it was up to the depleted Yankees bullpen. With most of the relievers unavailable, the Yankees went with Tyler Clippard for the eighth. Clippard was his usual self with a quiet inning that saw three up and three down. I have to admit that I got a sick feeling to my stomach when I saw lefty Tommy Layne warming up for the ninth inning. A six-run lead should make one feel fairly secure, but if any Yankee could blow a large lead, it’s Layne. It didn’t help when the first batter reached on an infield single. The next batter hit into a ground out but the Yanks were unable to turn a double play, capturing only the lead runner. That brought the speedy Billy Hamilton to the plate. Layne fell behind in the count very quickly with three successive balls. I started to have chills, knowing the heart of the Reds order was coming up. After a couple of well-placed strikes, Hamilton hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius. This time, the Yankees were successful in turning the double play and it was game over. Yankees win, 10-4.
The Yankees (21-9) maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s withstood a late challenge to beat their former catcher Matt Wieters and the Washington Nationals 6-4. The O’s have won five in a row as they seemingly match the Yankees step-for-step on a nightly basis. The Boston Red Sox had the night off.
Prior to yesterday’s game, there had been speculation the Yankees might send down Sunday night heroes Chasen Shreve and/or Jonathan Holder to bring up fresh arms. But in the end, it was Rob Refsnyder who got the ticket to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In his place, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chad Green.
For the Reds, the loss cost them first place in the NL Central as they were overtaken by the St Louis Cardinals.
The Yankees face a more challenging pitcher today in Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.22 ERA). For the Yanks, CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA), who hasn’t instilled confidence in anyone except opposing hitters in recent starts, takes the mound. I expect to see a much stronger Reds team today so hopefully the Yankees offense can rise up to the challenge. It will be good to see a rested Aaron Judge back in the lineup.
Tomorrow is a day off so the Yankees will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Have a great Tuesday! Let’s grab a W and head back to New York!
When you have one of Baseball’s elite closers on the mound with a three run lead in the bottom of the 9th, it should be game over. Sadly, it was an off night for Aroldis Chapman as he allowed three runs before being pulled from the game. From that point, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the Chicago Cubs pulled off a walk-off. Fortunately, these are not the 2016 New York Yankees.
In an 18-inning affair that lasted six hours and five minutes (sorry, I didn’t stay up), Aaron Hicks , Ronald Torreyes and Starlin Castro emerged as the heroes of heroes. Leading off the 18th, Aaron Hicks bunted toward third and reached second thanks to a throwing error by Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras. After a sacrifice bunt by Torreyes moved Hicks to third, he scored on a grounder to short by Castro.
When Chasen Shreve (1-0) struck out Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks at 2:13 a.m., the Yankees (20-9) had completed an improbable and very exhausting 5-4 victory.
It’s tough to play a night game on “getaway” day, but even tougher to play what essentially equates to a double-header in terms of innings played. It was an incredible job by the bullpen for anyone not named Chapman. Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder and Shreve combined for 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief following Chapman’s blown save. The Yankees and Cubs set a Major League record for strikeouts with 48. Yankees pitchers accounted for 26 of those K’s, including 9 by starter Luis Severino and 5 by Shreve. The Cubs also set a record by using three pitchers as pinch-hitters.
I am thankful the Yankees didn’t have to employ the last man standing in the bullpen (Tommy Layne) given his recent propensity for watching the opponent score while he is on the mound.
Chapman’s underwhelming performance against his World Series teammates wasted another great start by Severino. With a four-hitter in 7 innings of work while allowing only a single run (a 2nd inning home run by Javier Baez), he bested former Boston Red Sox nemesis Jon Lester and stood in line for the victory until Chapman let it get away. A run scoring triple by Aaron Judge in the 7th inning had put Severino in position to win, with a two-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 8th for support. But the Cubs, stealing a page from these exciting young Pinstripers, showed that the game is not over ’til it’s over…to borrow a line from legendary Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.
Castro completed his three day Chicago reunion with 2 RBI’s despite an 0-for-8 night. He also had a run-scoring ground-out in the first inning.
The game had its humorous moment when left fielder Aaron Hicks lost sight of Baez’s home run ball. That’s how I would play every inning…
Matt Holliday did a solid job with his first Yankees start at first base. He went 2-for-4 until he was lifted for pinch-hitter Chris Carter. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Holliday play some more first base in Cincinnati. Heck, at this point, the Yankees should probably play Aaron Hicks at first. They have to find ways to keep that dude’s bat in the lineup.
For the Yankees, they became only the second team to sweep the Cubs this season. They maintained a half-game over the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead. The O’s had a broom of their own with a weekend sweep of the Chicago White Sox. Sadly, the Red Sox won again after providing 17 runs for their ace, Chris Sale.
The Yankees make a short hop to Cincinnati, Ohio for a game against former Yankees top pitching prospect Rookie Davis and the Cincinnati Reds later today. I would generally say that the Yankees may be a little sluggish after the late night, but that would be underestimating the resiliency of this team. It will be a challenge as the Reds (17-14) are the current leader in the NL Central, thanks to the Yankees’ sweep of the Cubs. But if any team can find a way, I’ll take my chances with the Yankees.
Have a great Monday! Hopefully we’re in line for a restful and victorious day!