And We Continue to Wait for Gray’s Departure…
I had two wishes for Sunday and neither one materialized for me. Sonny Gray is still a Yankee and the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl. Some sports days really suck. Well, I guess it could be worse. It wouldn’t be fun to be a New Orleans Saints fan today but aside from their pain, yesterday was quite forgettable all things considered. Nevertheless, today is a new day and another opportunity to rip the Pinstripes off Sonny Douglas Gray. Please, Brian Cashman, work your magic and make it happen.
The hang up with the Cincinnati Reds appears to be their desire to sign Sonny, a free agent after the season, to an extension. Reports indicate the Reds have until later today (the conclusion of a 72-hour window) to see if they can get Sonny to put pen to paper. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch is reporting the deadline is sometime this evening. Until the deal is finalized, there is a chance it could break down and the Yankees would need to pivot to other opportunities to unload young Mr Gray.
Jon Heyman’s tweet yesterday that ended with “…or keep him” was rather jarring to me. Look, I want Sonny Gray to do well at his next destination. I hope the dude recaptures the luster he once had in Oakland and puts himself into Cy Young consideration in future years. But, and that’s a very BIG but, I do not want him on the 2019 New York Yankees. I’ve seen enough shades of Gray at Yankee Stadium.
Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
Despite Great American Park not being known as a pitcher’s park, Cincinnati seems to have everything that would appeal to Sonny. It’s approximately 275 miles from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a young team that has added some interesting pieces this off-season with Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. They have Joey Votto and a sound closer in Raisel Iglesias. A quick check of the current Reds roster shows that his old Oakland number and the number previously worn in Cincinnati by Aroldis Chapman (54) is available. The pitching coach is Derek Johnson who happened to be Sonny’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Cincinnati is considered a less-pressurized small market but a team with some history and tradition. I am sure that Yankees manager Aaron Boone could give some great insight into life in Cincinnati. Oh, wait a minute, Sonny has not heard from the Yankees since the off-season began. Scratch a talk with Boonie. The Reds offer a rotation that would not put any undue pressure on Gray. He could be the best starter or he could be the worst. It’s really up to him and I think Reds fans will be more forgiving than us.
Cash, get the Gray trade closed! We have faith in you.
I still don’t get why there is resistance among the fanbase for Adam Ottavino to be the first Yankee to wear the number 0. I am not sure if it is because “0” is not really a number, the fact no Yankee has ever worn the number or a preference for Derek Jeter to be the one to last wear a single digit number. Maybe there are other reasons but I really have no reason to believe Otto should not wear the number. Give it to the man. He’s a native New Yorker and he’s going to wear the Pinstripes proud.
Emily Waldon of The Athletic recently reported the Yankees will attend a showcase for RHP Rookie Davis and LHP Adam Libertore on January 31st. Libertore, a 31-year-old former Dodgers reliever who was cut last August, does not really interest me, but I’d like to see the Yankees bring back Davis for an opportunity to kick start his career again. Davis was part of the deal that originally brought Aroldis Chapman to New York. Davis was one of four Yankees who went to Cincinnati, and he probably had the most success which really isn’t saying much since none of them panned out for the Reds. Davis underwent hip surgery in October 2017 and missed most of 2018 on the disabled list. Davis appeared in seven games for the Reds in 2017 with six starts. The numbers were awful: 1-3, 8.63 ERA, giving up 38 hits, 23 earned runs, and 7 homers in 24 innings pitched. However, he was once a bright prospect and will only be 26 in late April. Not sure if anything is there, but why not. I wouldn’t bring him in on a Major League deal but a minor league contract to allow him to rebuild value works for me assuming it works for him.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer (Zach Buchanan)
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day so let’s honor and remember one of the greatest men in American history. He may be gone but his voice is heard loudly today and will continue to resonate through many tomorrows to come.
As always, Go Yankees!
American League Division Series, Game 4
Yankees 7, Indians 3…
Riding the arm of Luis Severino, who atoned for his Wild Card Game disaster, the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Indians to send the series back to Cleveland, Ohio for the series finale and the right to advance to the American League Championship Series.
This game featured the legendary Mariano Rivera on the mound. Mo tossed the honorary first pitch, looking as great as ever. It was a sign of good things to come.
Once the game started, it was three up and three down for Luis Severino, showing no signs of the jitters that brought about his collapse against the Minnesota Twins in his previous start.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
When Jay Bruce led off the top of the 2nd inning with a line drive single to right over the outstretched glove of Starlin Castro, Twitter bemoaned the break-up of Sevy’s “perfect game”. But no fear, Sevy retired the next three hitters, including the last two by strikeout, to ensure that Bruce got nothing more than a conversation with Greg Bird at first base for his effort.
The breaks started going the Yankees’ way in the bottom of the 2nd. Trevor Bauer, pitching on short rest (he started Game 1 last Thursday), has been dominant against the Yankees this year. But on Monday, those famed dancers, Mystique and Aura, came out in full force. Greg Bird started things off by grounding out at second. That didn’t start right, let’s try this again. Starlin Castro hit a hard grounder to third that third baseman Giovanny Urshela knocked down but it rolled away and Castro was safe at first. Chase Headley struck out for the second out, and it looked like Castro might suffer the same fate as Jay Bruce had in the top of the inning. With Todd Frazier batting, a Bauer pitch popped out of the glove of catcher Roberto Perez for a passed ball, allowing Castro to move to second. Todd Frazier, who had expressed prior to the game how much he enjoys playing in the post-season with the Yankees, doubled to to the left field corner to score Castro with the game’s first run. The Toddfather! Aaron Hicks kept it going with a single to the gap in center, scoring Frazier. 2-0, Yankees. Brett Gardner followed suit with a roller up the middle into center field, moving Hicks to third. A steal by Gardner put both runners in scoring position for Aaron Judge. Judge hit a fly to left that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall for a bases-clearing double. The Yankees had increased their lead to 4-0.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
After an intentional walk of Didi Gregorius, Tribe manager Terry Francona decided to move to Plan B and pulled Bauer in favor of reliever Joe Smith. Smith got Gary Sanchez to pop out to first in foul territory for the final out, but it had been a very big inning for the Yankees with four unearned runs.
Severino easily breezed through the Indians lineup in the top of the 3rd to bring the Yankees to bat once again. Reliever Mike Clevinger took over for Joe Smith and walked Greg Bird to start the Yankees’ half of the inning. Starlin Castro doubled to center off the wall to advance Bird to third. After Chase Headley struck out (not a great game for the Headster), Todd Frazier walked to load the bases. Aaron Hicks grounded into a force out to first baseman Carlos Santana who quickly threw home to retire Bird for the second out. Brett Gardner followed with a grounder to third, but the normally reliable Giovanny Urshela, after a slight hesitation, threw the ball high to first which pulled Santana off the bag for his second error of the game. Gardy safe at first. It allowed Starlin Castro to score on the play. Another call to the bullpen brought in Danny Salazar who struck out Aaron Judge to get the Indians out of the inning. The Yankees had a five-run lead and things were feeling very good in the Bronx.
The top of the 4th seemed to be going Severino’s way when he recorded two quick outs but then he walked Jay Bruce. Carlos Santana made Sevy pay for it with a two-run homer to center into Monument Park to cut the lead to 5-2. A coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, which often prove to be unsuccessful, worked this time as Sevy was able to retire Michael Brantley on a line out to center.
The Indians closed the gap to two runs in the top of the 5th when Roberto Perez hit a one-out home run into the right field seats, making it 5-3. Despite the home runs, Severino had seven strikeouts up to that point.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees added an insurance run. Todd Frazier led off with a slow roller back toward the pitcher. Danny Salazar’s throw to first hit the ground and sailed past the first baseman, allowing Frazier to race to second. A ground out to first by Aaron Hicks moved Frazier to third. Francona came out and signaled for his lefty, Tyler Olson, to replace Salazar to face Brett Gardner. Gardy hit a fly to shallow center that didn’t look like it would be deep enough, but Frazier challenged the arm of center fielder Jason Kipnis (normally the team’s second baseman) and won, scoring on the sacrifice.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Another pitching change, this time bringing in Bryan Shaw, saw another strikeout of Aaron Judge to end the inning.
Gary Sanchez padded the lead with his one-out home run to right, barely missing the second deck, in the bottom of the 6th. The Sanchino! The four-run lead gave the team much needed breathing room.
|Credit: Getty Images|
With Sevy still going strong, the Yankees had an opportunity for more runs in the bottom of the 7th. The Indians inserted their closer Cody Allen a little early (the benefit of having the very versatile Andrew Miller on the roster). Things didn’t go Allen’s way when Aaron Hicks reached second base, thanks to a one-out fielding error by first baseman Carlos Santana (hard grounder bounced off his glove into right field). Brett Gardner singled to right, moving Hicksie to third. Gardy took second on the high throw in from the outfield. But they would not advance any further when Aaron Judge struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out to short to leave the runners stranded.
Dellin Betances took over for Severino in the top of the 8th and unfortunately things did not go well for the tall right-hander. He walked Yan Gomes (after nearly taking his head off with one errant pitch), bringing pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the mound. Like it usually happens when Rothschild visits, it didn’t work. The inconsistent Betances walked Francisco Lindor on four straight pitches which ended his latest appearance. It was very disappointing to see Betances continue his struggles with control, which makes him very unreliable moving forward.
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Tommy Kahnle came into the game, and did the job Betances was once so good at…he retired the three batters he faced, two by strikeout.
Josh Tomlin took over for Cody Allen in the bottom of the 8th and easily discharged the Yankees to push the game to the 9th. Tommy Kahnle returned to the mound to face Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kahnle rose to the challenge and struck out the side with Chisenhall missing on his swing for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com|
Nice job by Luis Severino who finished with nine strikeouts in seven innings of work. Four hits, three runs (on the two homers), and one walk. It wasn’t perfect but he held the Indians down while the Yankees took advantage of the three Cleveland errors to score six of their seven runs. Granted, Cleveland’s lineup is not the same without Edwin Encarnacion but they are more than capable of erasing leads quickly. Sevy did not allow it to happen. Dellin Betances tried but Tommy Kahnle saved him from himself.
Chase Headley’s performance (0-for-4 with three strikeouts) has me wondering if it might not be time for Matt Holliday’s name to be penciled in at DH. Aaron Judge’s first hit of the series was a big one with the two RBI’s in the second inning, while Gary Sanchez’s homer seemed to help suck the life out of the Tribe.
The series now moves to the decisive Game 5 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Prior to yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi announced that CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA) would be the starter, not Sonny Gray. Sabathia returns to the site where it all began for him so many years ago. Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA) will be seeking redemption in front of his home fans after giving up six runs in his last start. The Yankees have a huge challenge before them, but the pay off is a road trip to Houston, Texas for the ALCS. Win or lose, this has been a great year for the Yankees. The team has heart and they do not quit.
|Credit: Amanda Rabinowitz-WKSU|
The Houston Astros overcame the Boston Red Sox, 5-4, to win their ALDS, three games to one. There was some satisfaction when former Yankee Carlos Beltran provided what would prove to be the winning run when he delivered an RBI double in the top of the 9th. Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers had an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the 9th but it was not enough as the Astros overcame both Chris Sale (in relief) and Craig Kimbrel for the win.
Odds & Ends…
I figured there would be defections from the Yankees organization to join Derek Jeter in Miami but I didn’t think they would happen so quickly. George A King III of the New York Post reported yesterday, via Twitter, that it was Gary Denbo’s last day with the Yankees. The former VP of Player Development will become the director of player development and scouting for the Marlins. A self-avowed non-fan of Derek Jeter, I am starting to actually dislike the guy. This was certainly one of the risks when Jeter’s group won the bid for the Marlins and Denbo’s defection may not be the last. If for whatever reason the Yankees do not ink GM Brian Cashman and/or Manager Joe Girardi to new deals, the Yankees front office could have have substantially different look in 2018. I thought it was very poor taste for Denbo to leave prior to the conclusion of the post-season but then again, if he didn’t want to be here, good riddance.
Former Yankee pitching prospect Rookie Davis underwent hip surgery on his right hip to repair the labrum and remove a bone spur. It is a significant procedure and Davis will not be ready by the time training camp opens next spring. Davis was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, along with Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham and Tony Renda, in the 2015 trade that brought Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees. Only Davis and Jagielo remain in the Reds organization. Cotham retired in March and Renda was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in July. We send best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to Davis.
Have a great Tuesday! We have a day to enjoy and get ready for Game 5! Thumbs down! Let’s do this. Go Yankees!
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!
Credit: Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune
While the Cubs did have their chances, Saturday’s game felt like it was over after the Yankees took their first swings in the top of the first inning en route to the 11-6 victory. Admittedly, I felt badly for Cubs starter Brett Anderson. He gave up three doubles, two singles and a bunt with a throwing error that led to multiple runs. When Anderson departed after 23 pitches, he had gotten only one out…a swinging strikeout by Aaron Judge. The Yankees held a 5-0 advantage, and we were off the races.
Anderson was once a promising young starter for the Oakland A’s. He’s pitched very well when healthy, but unfortunately health has not been his friend. He made 31 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 and then missed most of last year after surgery for a bulging disk in his back. After yesterday’s start, Anderson was showing signs of back trouble so yet another DL-stint is likely. After the game, Anderson said that it was “embarrassing”. He went on to say “Whenever the backup catcher gets more outs than you, it’s not a positive”. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Cubs although he did walk two. Hopefully Anderson is able to recover from his latest setback.
Credit: Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune
Jordan Montgomery (2-1) was solid again for the Yankees as he continues to cement his role in the starting rotation. He made it into the seventh inning until running into some trouble after throwing 100 pitches. He allowed 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3. He did walk 4 batters. After two groundouts in the top of the 7th, it looked like it was going to be another quiet inning for Monty. But he walked Jon Jay and it was followed by a run-scoring triple by former Tampa Bay Rays nemesis Ben Zobrist which ended Montgomery’s day.
Aaron Hicks, subbing for Jacoby Ellsbury who is still nursing a sore elbow, delivered the clinching shot, a three-run homer in the eighth inning, that put the Yanks up 11-3. The Cubbies tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the 8th against reliever Tommy Layne, scoring three runs. Adam Warren came in with a runner at first (Miguel Montero) and two outs. He allowed a double to Jon Jay which advanced Montero to third. Ben Zobrist came to bat with a chance to chip away at the 11-6 Yanks lead but Warren struck him out swinging. Another nice job by the 2016 World Series ring holder.
Credit: Tannen Maury/EPA
Hicks finished the day 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored. He continues to impress and is making it hard for Manager Joe Girardi to keep him on the bench. I read one columnist who suggested that Hicks should permanently replace center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. I wouldn’t necessarily argue but are we really only four years into Ellsbury’s seven-year $153 contract? The end of the contract seems so friggin’ far away. Despite his recent heroics, Brett Gardner remains the more marketable outfielder and it seems that it would make more sense to move him to make room for Hicks…unless GM Brian Cashman would hoodwink some other GM into taking Ellsbury off his hands. Maybe ply former buddy Billy Eppler with some tequila when the Yankees visit Anaheim in mid-June.
The other hitting star of the game was the former Chicago Cub Starlin Castro. You know that he enjoyed his fourth inning home run. He even paused for a moment to enjoy the view as the ball traveled to the left outfield bleachers. Increasing his batting average to .381, Castro went 3-for-4. He had 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Starlin has been enjoying his time at Wrigley Field so I am sure these games will be memorable to him for a very long time.
Credit: Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune
The Yankees maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The O’s held off a late challenge by the Chicago White Sox to win 6-5. Sadly the Boston Red Sox also won.
I’ve said it before but Tommy Layne is just not doing it for me this year. His appearance always seems to be accompanied by multiple runs for the opponent. His ERA is now an unsightly 9.45 after giving up the 3 runs to the Cubs while only recording 2 outs. I will gladly take Chasen Shreve as my lefty specialist over Layne. I think we’re seeing why the Boston Red Sox gave up on Layne last year.
I wonder if we’ll see Matt Holliday at first base today as the Yankees face an old foe in former Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester. It should be a great game as the Yankees go for a sweep with Luis Severino on the mound.
The Yankees completed their off-season trade that sent reliever Nick Goody to the Cleveland Indians. On Friday, they acquired 21 year-old pitcher Yoiber Marquina, a converted catcher, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Yankees see promise in Marquina’s lively arm, but meanwhile Goody is delivering the goods for the Indians. He has an 0.00 ERA in 7 appearances with 10 strikeouts. He has allowed only three hits in 9 1/3 innings of work. Sounds like the Indians are making up for lost ground with the talent they gave up in the Andrew Miller trade.
I saw the debate that TGP’s Daniel Burch sparked yesterday when he suggested that the Yankees should trade backup catcher Austin Romine. My first question is why? Unless you can include Romine in a trade for a frontline pitcher, I do not see the motivation to make a deal. He has shown that he can be a very valuable backup catcher. It’s not that I dislike Kyle Higashioka, but Romine has earned his shot to be a member of the New York Yankees. If you tell me that the Yankees could acquire Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates (don’t we always send our catchers to the Steel City?) by including Romine with other prospects, I’m on board. Otherwise, I think Romine should stay.
I am not trying to look ahead but the Yankees will, for the first time, face the ramifications of their December 2015 trade for closer Aroldis Chapman. The team will be traveling to Cincinnati after they complete the three game series against the Cubs later today. On Monday, they’ll face former top pitching prospect Rookie Davis who is scheduled to start opposite Masahiro Tanaka. Davis is the only player on the Reds MLB roster in the deal that sent Davis, third baseman Eric Jagielo, pitcher Caleb Cotham, and second baseman Tony Renda to Cincy.
Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images
Have a great Sunday! Let’s hope the wind carries us to a sweep out of Chicago!