Tagged: Rob Refsnyder

“B” Team Bats Go Down Quietly To End Regular Season…

Credit:  MLB.com

Blue Jays 2, Yankees 1…

I can’t say that I went into this game feeling very strongly about a win or loss.  In the grand scheme of things, the playoff format has been decided so it didn’t really matter if the Yankees went 92-70 or finished 91-71 (which they did).  They still finished second in the American League East and hold home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday. Despite holding the Blue Jays to two hits, the Yankees were unable to muster any significant offense and lost by a run.

The Yankees lineup featured many backup players as key starters got the day off in advance of the AL Wild Card game. The only notable starters were Todd Frazier and Starlin Castro. Chase Headley got the start at first base, but he’s probably the team’s DH heading into the post-season. Greg Bird got into the game later.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

It was nice outing for Jordan Montgomery. He held the Blue Jays scoreless until the top of the 4th inning. Richard Urena worked a one-out walk.  Justin Smoak singled to right on a grounder that went just past the glove of Tyler Wade, with Urena moving to third. Jose Bautista, making perhaps his final start as a Blue Jay, lofted a high fly to center. Urena scored on the sacrifice as the throw from Aaron Hicks was off line. 

Credit:  Associated Press

I thought the Yankees had a chance to potentially pick up a run in the bottom of the 4th. Tyler Wade singled to left barely over the stretched glove of shortstop Richard Urena with one down. While Matt Holliday was batting, Wade appeared to steal second to move into scoring position. However, replay showed that the tag was applied before Wade reached the base as Urena’s foot blocked the base to prevent Wade from touching the bag. Matt Holliday flied out to end the inning so the Yankees were still down by a run.

Credit:  Getty Images

Montgomery made it into the 6th inning, striking out Ryan Goins. But that was all for Monty’s successful rookie campaign as Manager Joe Girardi took the ball and turned it over to Adam Warren. 5 1/3 innings for Montgomery. Two hits, a walk and a run.  He struck out three batters for the eventual no-decision. 

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Adam Warren, making his first appearance since being activated off the disabled list, retired the two batters he faced to end the inning and show that he’s ready to be a potential weapon for Tuesday night.  

Warren retired the only batter he faced in the top of the 7th (pop out by Justin Smoak) and was replaced by Domingo German.

With Blue Jays reliever Danny Barnes on the mound in the bottom of the 7th, Matt Holliday homered into the left field seats with one out, a solo shot. The game was tied at 1.   It looked like the Yankees might get more when Greg Bird followed with a walk. Miguel Andujar doubled to left center (ball dropped in front of a sliding Teoscar Hernandez), with Bird moving to third and there was still only one out. But the Yankees couldn’t get either runner home as both Austin Romine and Clint Frazier grounded out to leave the runners stranded.

The Blue Jays scored the eventual winning run in the top of the 8th despite no hits. With Domingo German still pitching, Rob Refsnyder reached first base after striking out when Austin Romine couldn’t catch a wild pitch from German (a low pitch that hit the ground behind the plate and bounced away).  Ezequiel Carrera walked, with Refsnyder advancing to second. Darwin Barney laid down a good sacrifice bunt with two strikes to push the runners to second and third. Ryan Goins took advantage of the runner at third with perhaps the shortest RBI I’ve seen this year, a slow dribbler that went no more than 10 feet. Refsnyder came home to score as the only play was to get the runner at first. The Blue Jays had  recaptured the lead, 2-1. German struck out Teoscar Hernandez to get out of the inning but the Jays had the run they would need to win the game.

From there, the Yankees couldn’t do anything against Toronto relievers Ryan Tepera and Roberto Osuna with Greg Bird popping out to the shortstop Richard Urena for the final out to end the game. It would have been nice to close out the season with a win but as I stated when I started this blog post, it didn’t really matter one way or the other. It’s hard to take momentum from a game when most of the starters are sitting on the bench.  

The second-place Yankees (91-71) finish the season two games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox (93-69) fell to the Houston Astros, 4-3, as those two teams prepare to resume their battle in Houston, Texas with Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday. The Minnesota Twins, the Yankees opponent on Tuesday, beat the Detroit Tigers, 5-1, to finish the season at 85-77.  

It’s been a long, run season and I hope that it continues beyond Tuesday. If not, I feel that Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner has been given the message that this team is ready to compete now and that he needs to ensure the team is given the best possible chance for success in 2018. 

GM Brian Cashman and Amateur Scouting Director Damon Oppenheimer presented Aaron Judge with an inscribed Waterford Crystal Gavel for his rookie record of 52 home runs.

Next Up:  American League Wild Card Game, Minnesota Twins versus New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

Here it is…do or die. We’ve endured the rigor of 162 regular season games and the pay-off is a chance to advance to the American League Division Series. Win or lose, this has been a tremendous year for the Yankees. They’ve surprised the experts who didn’t expect the Yankees to contend this quickly. The Minnesota Twins have had an excellent year as well, going from a team that lost 100 games in 2016 to a play-off contender.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups. Suffice it to say that every pitcher on both teams will be ready for the call.  

Tuesday, October 3rd, 8:00 pm ET

Twins:  Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA)

This should be a great game! The winner advances to play the Indians for Game 1 of the ALDS in Cleveland on Thursday.  

 

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees announced on Sunday that “they will significantly expand the protective netting during the upcoming off-season at both Yankee Stadium and George M Steinbrenner Field”. The action comes after the young girl was hit in the mouth on a foul ball by Todd Frazier on September 25th.  

The managerial firings should begin shortly. It’s been announced after much speculation that Terry Collins will not be returning to the dugout for the New York Mets in 2018.  He’ll move into a front office position. Ironically, neither of the AL Wild Card managers have a contract beyond this year. I guess Tuesday will have a say in their respective futures although you’d have to believe that both would be back after unexpectedly successful seasons.  

Have a great Monday! Enjoy the day off, and let’s get ready to root, root for the home team on Tuesday night. Go Yankees!

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52 Games To Go, Let’s Do This!…

Enjoyed An Off Day…


Monday, Monday.  I am glad it’s in the books but it was nice having an off-day while the Yankees enjoyed their free time in Toronto.  But it’s now Tuesday and back to work.

Last month, I was in favor of a trade for a proven first baseman like Yonder Alonso (then with the Oakland A’s) or Lucas Duda (then with the New York Mets).  Alonso’s bat cooled about the time Chase Headley started heating up so Headley probably blocked any potential deal that would have brought Alonso to New York as either part of the Sonny Gray trade or a separate trade.  There’s also speculation that the Mets had a similar offer from the Yankees to one they accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda which showed the only way the Mets would work with the Yankees would be in an “overpay” situation.

So, where does that leave us with the latest speculation that Jay Bruce would be a good fit for the Yankees?  Primarily an outfielder, he has played 11 games at first base this year making him at least as experienced at the position as Headley.  He is left-handed and has mashed 29 homers this year to go with 75 RBI’s.  He is batting .260/.324/.528.  The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year so he’d be a true rental.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce as he has seemed too much like a feast-or-famine type of hitter.  But, like Duda, he might have the swing for Yankee Stadium.   So, I’d have to say that I am intrigued by this one to say the least.  With so much uncertainty around Matt Holliday and Greg Bird, Bruce would bring a big stick to first base/DH for the rest of the year.

Nevertheless, if the Mets insist an overpay because it’s the Yankees, then it is not worth it.  The Yankees are also included in Bruce’s limited no-trade clause but that’s nothing $$$ couldn’t solve.  I am skeptical that the Mets would ever give the Yankees a player that could potentially help them make the play-offs and risk losing market share as a result.

I am not sure what I think about rumors the Yankees should pursue Mike Napoli.  He is a proven winner.  His numbers in his age 35 year are down from last year but he still has some thump in his bat with 22 HR’s albeit with a batting average that is south of the Todd Frazier line.  Napoli’s contract carries a 2018 club option that can be bought out for $2.5 million.  A costly measure, unless the Texas Rangers pay some or all the freight, to add the potential for a few late season bombs.  If only Chris Carter had done what he was paid to do.

I hate to see any more prospects shipped away for a six-week need unless it is for someone that can truly be the difference-maker at this point in the season (a player with the potential to help for an October push).  I want to see what Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin can do, and then there’s, hold your breath, Greg Bird at the end of the month.  Okay, maybe don’t hold your breath.  I suspect that unless Matt Holliday is able to come back after his DL stint to resemble the player we saw in the first half (unlikely), the DH position is going to be very fluid on a day to day basis with player rotation.

More than anything, the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to step up and deliver the promise he showed us last August and September.  At the moment, he’s the most maligned Yankee.  The key will be how he responds to the criticism.  The Yankees are a better team with El Gary in the lineup but he needs to make the defensive plays and wait for his pitches at the plate.  The Yankees play 6 of the next 13 games against the Boston Red Sox and will face Chris Sale twice.  Between the two Red Sox series, the Yankees play a home and away set against the New York Mets for four games.  This is a very crucial two weeks that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual AL East winner.
According to Baseball America, the Los Angeles Dodgers have released former Yankees LOOGY Tommy Layne.  The Dodgers also removed former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple A.  The Los Angeles Angels signed former Yankees reliever Branden Pinder, who was released earlier this summer by the Bombers.  I am sure that Angels GM Billy Eppler is relying upon past information about Pinder to take a chance.  I hope it works out for Pinder.

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…

The Toronto Blue Jays may be the AL East cellar dwellers but they always play the Yankees very tough.  The Yankees will see old friend Rob Refsnyder who is currently on the Blue Jays active roster as a backup infielder.

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)

I am not trying to look ahead but it’s a bummer that we won’t have Sonny Gray for this weekend’s series against Boston at Yankee Stadium.  The Red Sox have gone out of their way to ensure that Chris Sale gets three starts against the Yankees in the coming weeks.

Farewell to #25…

Former Yankee Don Baylor died Monday at age 68 from cancer.  Baylor was American League MVP for the then California Angels in 1979 and he won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins at the end of his 19-year playing career, but I remember his toughness as the Yankees DH from 1983 to 1985, playing along side Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. He was a magnet for baseballs with 267 HBP’s.  I wasn’t a fan of the March 1986 trade that sent Baylor to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler.  Rest in peace, Mr Baylor…

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s turn a two-game win streak into three!  Go Yankees

The Ace & The Outfield Trio…

Credit:  MLB.com

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!

Thunder & Lightning Capture Series Win…

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Yankees 6, Mariners 4…

I hate solo home runs.  I should qualify it by saying I do not dislike home runs…I just prefer to see men on base when it happens.  After the Yankees clubbed three home runs (of the solo variety), the Mariners were able to rally past the Yanks against starter Caleb Smith before the Yankees rebounded to take the win, courtesy of Red Thunder (Clint Frazier) and the blazing heat of the bullpen. 

Caleb Smith was solid…for three innings.  Early, he was backed by homers.  Brett Gardner led off the game with his 17th homer of the season off Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo (breaking his tie with Matt Holliday to take sole possession of second place for team homers behind Aaron Judge).  The hit was #1,040 of Gardner’s career, breaking a tie for 39th place on the all-time franchise list with Tino Martinez.  Next within Gardner’s sights is #38 Yanks hit leader, Charlie Keller, with 1,053 hits.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

In the second inning, Didi Gregorius launched a line drive homer to right center as the Yankees increased their lead to 2-0.   Gregorius led off the 4th inning with another shot to the right field stands for his second home run of the game.  It was Didi’s first multi-homer game in his young career.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

Staked to a 3-0 lead, Smith couldn’t hold it in the 4th inning.  After breezing through the first three innings allowing only a meaningless second inning double, the Baseball Gods turned against Smith.  Danny Valencia got the party started with a single to right.  Robinson Cano followed with a liner to right, moving Valencia to second.  Smith had Nelson Cruz in a 3-2 count but lost him with Ball 4 to load the bases.  For a moment, it looked like Smith might escape the 4th inning unscathed.  He struck out Kyle Seager and got Mitch Haniger to fly out in right field foul territory.  But Ben Gamel, thoroughly enjoying this series against his former team, singled to score Valencia and Cano.  The Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead.  Guillermo Heredia followed with a double to left which scored Cruz and Gamel as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead.  End of game for Caleb Smith.  

Credit:  Ted S Warren-AP

A round of ovation for Chad Green.  While the entire bullpen was magnificent, Green was outstanding.  He struck out Carlos Ruiz to end the 4th, and pitched two more innings without allowing a hit and struck out 3.  He has thrived in his current role and this performance was critical as it set the stage for the Yankees’ comeback in the top of the 6th inning.  With one out in the top of the 6th, both Chase Headley and Todd Frazier walked against reliever and former Yankee James Pazos.  Ronald Torreyes, pinch-hitting for second baseman Tyler Wade, singled to right  to load the bases.  Brett Gardner followed with a single to left, scoring Headley with the tying run.  The Mariners pulled Pazos and replaced him with Tony Zych.  Clint Frazier greeted Zych with a double to left, scoring both Frazier and Torreyes as the Yanks moved ahead, 6-4.  Zych intentionally walked Aaron Judge, much to the dismay of the Yankee fans in attendance at Safeco Field, but it proved the right decision for the M’s since Gary Sanchez popped out and Matt Holliday grounded into the final out.

From there, it was up to the rest of the bullpen.  Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched clean 7th and 8th innings, respectively, pushing the game to the final inning and last licks for the Mariners.

The Yankees had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the 9th.  Matt Holliday walked with one out and was replaced by pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury.  After Didi Gregorius flied out the second out, Chase Headley hit a liner into the right field corner.  Ellsbury came flying around the bases but the relay from right fielder Mitch Haniger to second baseman Robinson Cano to catcher Carlos Ruiz was on target and just ahead of the sliding Ellsbury for the final out.

The bottom of the 9th brought Aroldis Chapman and a little holding of the breath to see what type of command he would have.  Nelson Cruz, the first batter, reached with a hit that ricocheted off Chapman and retrieved too late by Didi Gregorius to get Cruz at first.  The M’s replaced Cruz with pinch-runner Taylor Motter, who sports a similar “Johnny Damon Caveman“ look like Ben Gamel, to get some speed on the base paths.  Fortunately, Chapman caught him off first and it was an easy rundown by Chase Headley for the first out.  It proved to be invaluable as the next hitter, Kyle Seager, doubled to center.  A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Seager to move to third.  The game would have looked much different had the Yankees not gotten Motter out.  He most likely would have scored with Seager representing the tying run just 90 feet away.  As it was, the tying run was still at the plate.  Mitch Haniger had first crack but he popped out to Ronald Torreyes.  Last chance came up in the form of new Yankee-killer Ben Gamel.  But with Chapman’s blazing heat inching up the velocity chart, Gamel went down swinging.  Game over.  Yankees win.  The Yankees win!

Credit:  Stephen Brashear-Getty Images

Unlike Saturday when the Yankees failed to gain any ground following losses by the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, Sunday was the opposite.  With the win, the Yankees (51-46) took sole possession of second place in the AL East and moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Rays slipped a full game behind the Yankees (two games in the loss column).  Both the Red Sox and Rays lost one-run games on Sunday.  The Red Sox were defeated by the Los Angeles Angels, 3-2, while the Rays lost a tough 6-5 game to the Texas Rangers.

Todd Frazier finally got a hit and scored a run so hopefully he’s starting to come around.  His Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday will feature a game against his original team, the Cincinnati Reds.  So it should give Frazier added incentive when he makes his first home appearance in front of family, friends, and newfound Frazier fans in the Yankees Universe.

Hopefully Gary Sanchez’s bat is waiting for him too.

Headed Home to NYC…

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees made a rare intra-division trade on Sunday to send infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The return is an underwhelming 25-year-old first base prospect who has failed to advance past Double A, Ryan McBroom.  Here’s hoping to much better success in the Yankees organization.  Welcome, Ryan!

Credit:  Mark J Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And so, the Yankees story for Refsnyder ends with no fanfare.  It is rather sad as most of us at one time wanted Ref to succeed as the second baseman for the Yankees.  He never succeeded with his limited opportunities…either due to his own inability or the lack of chances or a combination of both.  So long, Ref and best of luck as you continue your (hopeful) MLB career in Toronto.

Also, in other transaction news, the Yankees announced they have outrighted first baseman Ji-Man Choi to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The competition for quality starters figures to be very intense as we enter the final week before the trading deadline.  With news that Clayton Kershaw was pulled early from a start on Sunday due to lower back tightness (and a possible trip to the DL), the Los Angeles Dodgers will most likely be very aggressive in their pursuit of another top starter.  The Texas Rangers figure to capture a King’s Ransom for two months of service from impending free agent Yu Darvish.  The Yankees starting rotation looks very vulnerable right now with Caleb Smith’s inability to get out of the fourth inning on Sunday and Masahiro Tanaka’s disappointing showing on Saturday.  This week should be very interesting but probably a bit disappointing for Yankees fans if the team desires to retain its top prospects (which they should).  

The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday with a walk-off run-scoring double by Brandon Moss.  The pitcher?  Tyler Clippard, facing his first batter wearing a White Sox uniform, with runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the 9th.  Man, I sure do not miss Clippard…

Credit:  Getty Images

Have a great Monday!  The Yankees get to sleep in while the rest of us trudge off to work.  Oh well, make it a wonderful day!  Go Yankees!

A Long, Hard Day Falls Short…

Credit:  USATSI

Brian Cashman on Line 3…

The Yankees were very busy on Thursday and that was before game time.  Normally, I lead with the day’s prior game but today I wanted to catch my breath from the flurry of activity that took place yesterday.

On Wednesday night, Miguel Andujar, penciled in at DH as a fill-in for the DL’d Matt Holliday, had one of the greatest Major League debuts in franchise history.  For all I know, it may have been the best, outperforming many of the legends that have called Yankee Stadium home.  He went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base.  Thursday rolls around and he’s flying from Chicago to Syracuse, New York to catch up with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on the road.  

I get the logic.  The Yankees want Andujar to focus on third base with regular playing time.  There’s no doubt he’ll be back but it must have been tough celebrating Major League success for the first time, followed by a tap on the shoulder that the manager wanted to talk to you…and oh yeah, bring your bags.  

Coming the other way is first baseman Chris Carter.  I think @BronxPinstripes said it best on Twitter the other day when they said Carter would be back faster than you could say ‘Strike 3’.  Sad but true.  With the placement of Tyler Austin on the disabled list (hamstring), the Yankees needed a true first baseman.  Austin Romine has done a good job and I’m sure he’ll remain in the mix, but I guess we need to get prepared for more whiffs in big spots.  

To make room for Carter, the Yankees moved Greg Bird to the 60-Day Disabled List which is probably a light indication we may not see Bird again this year.  

The Yankees also recalled outfielder Dustin Fowler to replace Andujar.  I wondered what was up with Fowler.  Wednesday night, I was seeing tweets about how Fowler was a no-show for the RailRiders’ double-header.  No reason was given and when Manager Al Pedrique was asked about it after the games, he said that there would be clarity on Thursday.  Early Thursday, the news was breaking that Fowler was on his way to Chicago to meet up with the Yankees.  Obviously, the Yankees must have called the RailRiders to tell them to pull Fowler from games.  It must be tough to be a Triple A manager.  Things are going great and out of nowhere, your best players get plucked off your roster so you’re left to pillage Double A.  I don’t dispute calling up Fowler.  There is a greater outfield need right now and there’s no way I’d put all my chips on Jacoby Ellsbury.  It’s unfortunate for Andujar but it would have been a good opportunity for Fowler.  More on Fowler later.

Since Fowler was not on the 40-man roster, someone had to be voted off the island.  Unfortunately, the loser was one-time top prospect Mason Williams.  As an older prospect that never took advantage of opportunities, he was deemed expendable in an organization filled with outstanding outfield prospects.  I know these moves are as much about preparing for the December Rule 5 Draft as they are for helping the team play the White Sox and the Astros.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can trade Williams or if they lose him for nothing.  I don’t really see him accepting an outright assignment to Triple A but I could be wrong.  If it were me, I’d try to catch on with an organization running a little thin with outfielders.  Excuse me, Brian Sabean, can we talk?  Fowler represents the ninth Yankee making his MLB debut this year.  Gleyber Torres, why, oh why, did you make that slide?…

Busy, busy day.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3…

The exciting MLB debut for Dustin Fowler ended as horrifically as one could imagine.  On his first play in the first inning, Fowler ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he tried to make a running catch into foul territory to catch a fly ball and collided with the low right field foul wall.  I had been worried about Fowler going into this game.  Delayed by rain, the game didn’t begin play until 10 pm Central (which would have been 11 pm for Fowler having just flown in from Syracuse, New York).  The late, wet conditions set a horrible stage for Fowler’s debut.  I felt the game should have been called, particularly considering the Yankees had to fly to Houston, Texas to play another game today at 5:10 pm Central.  It was a very unfortunate situation for Fowler, who is out for the season.

Credit:  Patrick Gorski-AP

The Yankees are now be faced with yet another roster move.  Rob Refsnyder, who replaced Fowler in right field, dropped a fly ball that should have been caught which allowed the White Sox to score a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  No offense to Refsnyder but the Yankees need better help in the outfield.  It will be interesting to see if the Yankees make another adjustment with the 40-man roster to recall Clint Frazier.  

The Yankees scored first in the top of the first inning before the Fowler injury in the bottom half.  Following an infield single by Brett Gardner and a walk by Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius grounded into a fielder’s choice to first but Jose Abreu’s throw to second glanced off Judge’s left shoulder and went into left field.  Gardner scored on the play.  

In the bottom of the second, the White Sox scored two runs to take the lead.  The first run, courtesy of Refsnyder’s error.  Adam Engel, who hit the two-out fly ball that Refsnyder dropped, scored the go-ahead run when the next batter, Omar Narvaez, singled to left.  

The Yankees tied the game in the fourth.  Ronald Torreyes lined a single to deep left with runners at first and second, scoring the lead runner (Jacoby Ellsbury).  But the White Sox quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.  Yolmer Sanchez walked to start the inning for the White Sox.  Adam Engel was hit by a pitch with one out to put runners at first and second.  Omar Narvaez grounded out to first, but the runners advanced a base.  Willy Garcia brought both runners home with a double to deep left and the White Sox led, 4-2. 

The Yankees scored their final run in the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a triple.  He scored when Austin Romine hit into a ground out at short.  Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to complete the rally.  They had the right opportunity in the ninth with Aaron Judge at the plate and Brett Gardner on first with two outs, but White Sox closer David Robertson struck out Judge to end the game.  

I am sure it was a very long flight from Chicago to Houston.

This was a sickening loss.  The long-term health of Dustin Fowler is the primary concern.  But these were very difficult circumstances for the Yankees to play and a game that I felt should not have been played.  The cost was far too great.  If the Yankees play sluggishly today, who can blame them.  With the loss, the Yankees (42-35) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates so they are three games behind the Yankees.

Luis Cessa (0-3) was the hard luck loser.  He pitched 4 2/3 innings, with a whopping 89 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs (2 unearned thanks to the Refsnyder error), 3 walks, and struck out 1.  If there is a positive, the Yankees bullpen threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief which included an inning by Tyler Clippard.  The pitcher, who has been very erratic of late, struck out the side in the bottom of the 7th.  

I hope Brian Cashman gets to the office early today.  He has much work to do.

Oh well, on to Houston and MLB’s best team, the Astros.  It doesn’t get any easier.

Next Up:  Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas…

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA)

Astros:  Lance McCullers, Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA)

Astros:  Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA)

Astros:  Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Another former Yankee has found his way to the unemployment line.  The Atlanta Braves have designated 44-year-old Bartolo Colon for assignment.  I really hope the Yankees do not to take a flyer.  Let him go back to the Mets.

Have a great Friday!  Today has to be better than yesterday.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Is the awful Tanaka the new Tanaka?…

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

Orioles 10, Yankees 4…

Disappointing, to say the least…

Masahiro Tanaka, proving that his last start was just a facade, got hammered again as the Orioles cruised to victory.  In 5 2/3 painful innings, Tanaka (5-5) was pounded for nine hits and seven runs.  The latest implosion pushed his ERA up to 6.34 for the season.  

The Yankees had their opportunities to get back into the game but couldn’t deliver.  The Yankees bullpen, most notably Giovanny Gallegos who had been called up earlier in the day to replace Bryan Mitchell, let the Orioles break the game open.  Gallegos allowed a two-run homer to Chris Davis in the seventh inning and three runs overall in his 1 2/3 innings.

For the Orioles, Adam Jones was the offensive force of the night.  After missing multiple games due to a sore ankle and hip, Jones was back in the lineup on Wednesday night.  Apparently he felt that he had to make up for lost time as he was 3-for-5 with 5 RBI’s.  His crushing hit was a three-run homer off Tanaka in the fourth inning.  

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

To the Yankees credit, they completely shut down Manny Machado in the series.  He was 0-for-5 and struck out twice.  In the three games played, Machado was hitless in 15 at-bats which dropped his batting average to .205.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t hold the other Orioles sluggers in check as they lost the three game series, two games to one.  

I guess on the bright side, the Yankees had no need to use their top bullpen arms so Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren will be fresh for the latest series in Toronto.  

Every Yankees starter got at least one hit except for Chase Headley, who was hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts although he did walk twice.  Rob Refsnyder, manning first base for the second game in a row, picked up two hits in his four plate appearances.  The hits were Refsnyder’s first of the season.   

It is very hard to find any positives with this game.  I am not sure what can be done to fix Tanaka.  It’s up to him to make the necessary adjustments but for whatever reason, his adjustments so far have been futile.  

Things do not get any easier for the Yankees as they now travel to Toronto to face a suddenly red-hot Blue Jays squad (8-2 in their last ten games).  

The Yankees (30-20) lost ground in the AL East as the Boston Red Sox pulled within two games with their 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The Orioles moved up to 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  Last-placed Toronto is only 5 1/2 games back so they have an opportunity to make some noise over the next few days.  

Yankees in the News…

Future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper (hey, if everyone else can talk about it, so can I!) received good news on Wednesday.  His four-game suspension for this week’s fight with Hunter Strickland and the San Francisco Giants has been reduced to three games.  The suspension should not impact Harper’s availability to open the 2019 season for the Yankees.  

Greg Bird is getting ready to fly.  After playing in three simulated innings on Wednesday, he’ll begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa today.  I am really hoping to see the bat that wore out pitchers in Spring Training and not the Mark Teixeira Annual April-Ice-Cold bat we saw after his ankle injury.  

Tyler Austin didn’t do much for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders yesterday in their 4-3 victory over the Columbus Clippers in the second game of a doubleheader.  He was penciled in at DH (did not play in the first game).  He went hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times, in his best impersonation of Chris Carter.  I guess to be Chris Carter and take his job, you have to become Chris Carter.  Still, Austin is a better first baseman than either Carter or Rob Refsnyder.  So, once that bat starts humming, it will be Bronx-bound.  

As for the first game of the RailRiders doubleheader, WHOA!  Chance Adams was spectacular.  He threw a one-hitter over six scoreless innings of work.  He struck out twelve batters while walking only two.  He is now 3-1 at the AAA Level with a 1.57 ERA.  The RailRiders won the game, 6-0.  Adams has the accelerator mashed to the floor in his drive for the Bronx.  At some point, somebody is going to have to make room in the rotation.  

Credit:  MiLB.com

Reliever Ernesto Frieri, currently at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, has an opt-out clause in his contract that can be exercised today.  Let him go.  I see no compelling reasons to create room on the 40-man roster for Frieri.  He has been the RailRiders’ closer, picking up his seventh save in yesterday’s second game of the double-header.  He was touched for two runs in the bottom of the seventh as the Clippers tried an unsuccessful rally against the RailRiders.  He walked a batter in his one inning of work and one of the two hits he allowed was a homer.  Frieri hasn’t been relevant in years and he is not going to be relevant in 2017.  Pass.

Life North of the Border…

The Yankees begin a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this evening.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (5-2, 4.42 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15 ERA)

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.32 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Francisco Liriano (2-2, 6.35 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-4, 4.11 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Joe Biagini (1-3, 3.64 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.28 ERA)

This puts Masahiro Tanaka on track to open the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox next Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.  Things do not get any easier…

Have a great Thursday!  Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.  Don’t quit.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Putting Crooked Numbers on the Board…

Credit:  Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 3…

For a moment there, I thought the Yankees were playing a game of Home Run Derby between Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday.  By the fourth inning, both players had two home runs.  After chasing Orioles starter Chris Tillman and roughing up reliever Logan Verrett, the Yankees offense was finished for the night but like the 70’s show, Eight is Enough.  

For both Gardner and Holliday, it was their tenth and eleventh home runs of the season.    After the game, Gardner said, “Offensively we got off to such a great start early in the season, the last week or two we slowed down a bit collectively. It’s nice to put some runs back up, put some crooked numbers on the board and give Sevvy a lead he’s comfortable with.” The Yankees were able to put up crooked numbers in three of those first four innings as they cruised to the victory.

The maturation of Luis Severino continues.  I thought he did an excellent job escaping the bases loaded jam in the second inning when he struck out JJ Hardy with Gary Sanchez completing the out by throwing to first.  Severino (4-2) lasted 6 1/3 innings, limiting the O’s to only one run on seven hits.  He walked a batter and struck out eight.  

Credit:  Ron Sachs/CNP

Aaron Judge didn’t join the Home Run Derby but his bat was just as lethal.  He had a two-run double in the fourth to cap the Yankees’ scoring and was 2-for-4 on the day, raising his season batting average to .323.

Rob Refsnyer got the start at first base.  He was 0-for-3, but had a nice defensive play in the bottom of the third with a diving stop and quick run to first base to erase Seth Smith.  Refsnyder, lifted for Chris Carter in the bottom of the seventh inning, was the only Yankees starter without a hit.

The Yankees bullpen did a great job except for a sloppy eighth inning when Bryan Mitchell  committed a throwing error and subsequently allowed two runs.  Tyler Clippard, overcoming his recent woes, cleanly got the final four outs.  He struck out the dangerous Mark Trumbo to finish the game.

Credit Yankees pitching for the great job they’ve done with the O’s great Manny Machado.  Machado was hitless in five at-bats with four strikeouts.  In the first two games of the series, he is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

The Yankees did receive a scare in the ninth when Didi Gregorius was hit on the hand with a pitch from former Yankees pitcher Richard Bleier, but he was able to shake it off and continue playing.  X-rays after the game revealed no fractures.  Whew!

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

The Boston Red Sox hammered the Chicago White Sox, 13-7, behind former White Sock Chris Sale (who received a standing ovation from the crowd prior to the game).  So, the Yankees  (30-19) maintained their three game lead over the Sox in the AL East.  Baltimore fell 4 1/2 games back.

The series concludes this evening with Masahiro Tanaka seeking to continue his rebound from an earlier slump.  Greg Bird’s Grandview High School (Aurora, CO) teammate, Kevin Gausman, will oppose Tanaka.  

Yankees in the News…

Okay, we may have to fast-forward to 2019 for this one…future Yankees outfielder Bryce Harper has been suspended for four games.  After he was plunked on Monday by Hunter Strickland of the San Francisco Giants, Harper “charged the mound, threw his helmet, and fought”.  Strickland was suspended for six games.  Both players have appealed.  The penalty is harsher for Harper as an every day player.  We’ll have to wait and see if Gerrit Cole plunks a Giant in defense of his future Yankees teammate when San Francisco visits Pittsburgh at the end of June…

Credit:  Ben Margot/Associated Press

Wanted:  Billionaire.  Yankees Legend Derek Jeter is searching for a new investment group after Jeb Bush dropped out of the bidding for the Miami Marlins.  It will be interesting to see if Jeter joins up with the group headed by Tagg Romney, which also includes Tom Glavine and Dave Stewart.  Jeter remains part of the Bush-less group so time will tell if they have the financial resources to top the Romney group.  If not, it’s potentially the old ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ situation.  

Jacoby Ellsbury is feeling better (finally) and has been cleared to fly to Toronto with the team on Wednesday.  He is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday but there’s still no timetable when he’ll be ready.  He could be activated this weekend.  Given that I am completely comfortable with Aaron Hicks in center, I really wouldn’t mind if Ellsbury wanted to take another week off.  

Tyler Austin was the starting DH last night for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in a 5-0 loss to the Columbus Clippers.  He had two hits in four at-bats with a single and a double.  

Considering Austin’s multi-position eligibility and much cheaper price tag, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with Chris Carter when Greg Bird returns to health.  Carter hasn’t hit enough to warrant future consideration in my mind.  He is a below average hitter and fielder so if he’s not hitting home runs like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, he’s not worth the roster space.  Maybe Austin should start taking some reps at third to expand his resume.  Seriously, I think there’s more value with Austin than Carter.  So, to Carter, I’d say SEE YA!

After taking a rest day yesterday, Aroldis Chapman will throw again today.  Hopefully, all continues to go well for Chapman as he eyes a mid-June return.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Here’s hoping the Yankees take the series tonight before embarking on their flight to Toronto.  Safe travels to the team and of course, Go Yankees!