Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters
Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…
I was not confident with Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday night and he proved my concerns to be correct with yet another horrendous start. Tanaka has become the National League’s version of the pitcher batting (generally speaking)…an automatic out or in this case, an automatic loss.
I did not like the thought of Tanaka opening the series with the Red Sox because of the fear that he’d put us at the disadvantage. He’s easily the weakest link in the rotation right now and I have no clue what can be done to turn him around. If he’s not hurt, there is no explanation for why he’s become a batting practice pitcher on the mound during games.
The first two Red Sox batters at the start of the game both singled. So, there were runners at the corner before Tanaka could even record an out. It looked like it could have been a big inning for the Sox, but Tanaka was able to limit the damage to one run.
The Sox scored three runs in the fourth. After an inning opening walk to Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez went deep for back-to-back homers.
The Yankees had a threat going in the bottom of the fourth after two one-out singles, but Chase Headley hit into a double-play to kill the potential rally. Headley was 0-for-3 for the game.
The next inning, Tanaka served up another home run, this time a solo shot by the youngster Andrew Benintendi. The Sox were up 5-1 and it would be all the runs they would need on this night.
The Yankees tried to scratch and claw their way back. Chris Carter opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run. Aaron Judge doubled with two outs, but Matt Holliday struck out to strand Judge.
In the bottom of the sixth, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks both singled, bringing Didi Gregorius to the plate. Didi hit into a double play, but Castro was able to score on the play to close the gap to 5-3.
The next and last opportunity for the Yankees would be in the eighth. Matt Holliday opened with a double. After the next two batters recorded outs, Didi was up again. The Red Sox brought closer Craig Kimbrel into the game. Kimbrel struck out Didi swinging, but it was a wild pitch and Didi beat the throw to first base to keep the inning alive and allow Holliday to score. 5-4, Red Sox. Chris Carter could have rehabilitated his image in the eyes of Yankees fans with a key hit, but he struck out to end the inning. Kimbrel would go on to strike out the side in the ninth to finish with five strikeouts in four outs, picking up his 17th save.
Credit: Associated Press
The Yankees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. This was their 14th loss in 25 games since May 8th.
Aaron Judge made a great catch in the second inning, jumping and crashing into the right field wall to take an extra base hit away from Jackie Bradley, Jr. Although he had the game-ending strikeout, he was 2-for-4 with a walk. He was trying.
The Yankees bullpen did an outstanding job to hold the Sox scoreless after Tanaka departed, but special acknowledgement goes to Chad Green for his 3 1/3 innings of perfect relief with 5 strikeouts.
The final line on Tanaka (5-6) was 5 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 HR. This process of Tanaka trying to find his pitches in games is killing us.
The Red Sox matched the Yankees (32-23) in total victories and moved to within one game of the AL East lead (the Sox have two more losses than the Yankees). The Baltimore Orioles beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in 10 innings so they moved to within 2 1/2 games.
Odds & Ends…
Major League Baseball released its first AL Update for the All-Star Game voting on Tuesday. The leader is Aaron Judge with 1,251,543 votes. He overtook the injured Mike Trout by 96,187 votes. In the AL Outfield, Brett Gardner is 9th with 364,493. In the ‘I don’t know what the heck they were thinking’ category is Jacoby Ellsbury with 269,974 votes. Aaron Hicks is far more deserving of those votes.
Other Yankees in the AL Results:
Catcher: Gary Sanchez (4th behind Salvador Perez, Wellington Castillo and Brian McCann) with 461,152 votes. First Base: Yeah, right. Second Base: Starlin Castro (2nd behind Jose Altuve) with 778,699 votes. Third Base: Oops, no one is covering. Shortstop: Didi Gregorius (3rd behind Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa) with 397,326 votes. DH: Matt Holliday (2nd behind Nelson Cruz) with 460,355 votes.
This year’s All-Star Game will be held at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, July 11th.
Aroldis Chapman is targeting the upcoming A’s series for his return. The Yankees will be in Oakland for a four-game set starting Thursday, June 15th. I am very anxious to show a showdown between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis with the game on the line. I feel that a healthy and rested Chapman is the superior competitor in that situation and I want to see Davis strike out to lose the game (as retribution for his home run off Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series).
On Monday, the Baltimore Orioles acquired infielder Ruben Tejada from the Yankees for cash considerations and assigned him to AAA. On Tuesday, they elevated him to the Major League roster. Things seem to have worked out for Tejada in his new home as he was not likely to see the Big Leagues in Pinstripes anytime soon. I just hope this doesn’t become a Steve Pearce situation where he starts crushing home runs for the O’s.
Chance Adams took the loss on Tuesday night in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ 8-1 loss to the Rochester Red Wings. He pitched six innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs. He walked 4 batters, allowed one home run, and struck out 7. The outing pushed his ERA to 2.17. The winning pitcher for the Red Wings was former Yankees prospect Nik Turley (who had 15 strikeouts).
Have a great Wednesday! On the bright side, Masahiro Tanaka is not pitching today. Go Yankees!
Credit: Associated Press
Blue Jays 3, Yankees 2…
Two great offensive games and two not-so-great, so the Yankees go home with a split in Toronto. Not the best case scenario with the Boston Red Sox on tap in the Bronx starting Tuesday night. The Blue Jays used two late home runs to over take the Yankees in the series finale.
It was another good start by Luis Severino. He was pitching a shutout until Justin Smoak connected for a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2. Severino bent but he did not break. Sadly, that was Tyler Clippard who served up the eventual game-winning home run by Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson in eighth. For his effort in the no-decision, Sevvy went 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and the aforementioned 2 runs. He only allowed one walk and struck out 7 while lowering his season ERA to a team-best 2.90 for starters.
Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
As for Clippard (0-3), it is hard to blame anyone who gives up homers to Donaldson. He has a knack for doing that against the best. Still, the game might have looked different had Aroldis Chapman been healthy and active as it would have ensured the placement of Dellin Betances in the critical 8th inning.
The Yankees only offense on this day was provided courtesy of Matt Holliday. He had a run-scoring double in the fourth, and picked up another RBI in the sixth inning when he hit into a force play at second base that allowed Brett Gardner to score from third.
Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Sevvy pitched well enough to win. Through the last run through the rotation, the only weak links were Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Unfortunately, the former is on the mound for the opening game of the Boston series. It’s sad when the rotation’s ace is the one you trust the least (at the moment). Severino is starting to pitch like a guy who intends to supplant Tanaka atop the rotation one day.
The Jays have a very good third baseman. I wish we had one of those…
Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
With Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the Red Sox are just two games behind the Yankees (32-22) in the AL East. The Orioles remain 3 1/2 games back.
Odds & Ends…
The series finale on Sunday between the AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Toledo Mud Hens was rained out. The RailRiders resume play tonight in Rochester, New York against the Red Wings, the top farm affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. The game will feature the next start for Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams (3-1). He will be opposed by Yohan Pino (0-1).
The RailRiders officially released reliever Ernesto Frieri yesterday after he had exercised a June 1st opt-out of his AAA contract.
The Yankees traded infielder Ruben Tejada, who was on the RailRiders roster, to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations. Tejada was batting .269/.345/.462 with 6 homers and 21 RBI’s in 37 games. Tejada had lost playing time with the arrival of Gleyber Torres and the recent activation of Donovan Solano off the DL. Granted, Tejada is not the second coming of Cal Ripken, Jr, but I am not sure why the Yankees would want to help the Orioles in any way. Tejada was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Greg Bird had a run-scoring single (driving in Jorge Mateo) in the High-A Tampa Yankees 9-1 win over the Jupiter Hammerheads. Prior to the 7th inning hit, Bird’s other three at-bats ended with fly outs.
Have a great Monday! Hopefully it’s a restful one for the Yankees as they prepare for the Red Sox tomorrow night.
At the conclusion of the World Series, the off-season seems like it will be so long. We wait for the opening of free agency, then the winter meetings which generally brings a short frenzy with signings and trades. Then we wait through the holidays, and go through a quiet January. Finally, around Valentine’s Day, we are able to get our baseball fix as training camps begin to open.
Then, we blink, and here we are a week away from Opening Day. Cubs fans are probably still trying to recover from the hangovers, but the rest of us are anxious to begin the new year and at this point, everyone is optimistic.
The Yankees’ off-season was relatively quiet. The major move, aside from the return of Aroldis Chapman, was to sign free agent Matt Holliday, now the team’s starting DH. Matt’s days in the field, at age 37, are over but the bat remains effective and so do the leadership abilities. I’ve been very pleased this spring with the impact that Matt has had on the younger players, most notably Aaron Judge. With only a one-year contract, it is possible that this is Matt’s only year in pinstripes. Time will tell, but given what I’ve seen so far, I hope the team is able to find a way to bring him back next year.
Credit: Matt Rourke, AP
I am not sure what can be said about Masahiro Tanaka other than he’s been amazing this spring. Through five starts and 18 2/3 innings, he’s only surrendered six hits while striking out 22 to go with a sparkling 0.00 ERA. I realize that spring stats do not mean a great deal but Tanaka appears to be setting himself up for a career year. Of course that carries good news/bad news as Tanaka can opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but that’s something to worry about after the season. For now, let’s just enjoy what could be a tremendous year for the young right-hander.
Manager Joe Girardi has announced that CC Sabathia, rather than Michael Pineda, will slot in the rotation behind Tanaka. It was something of a surprise given CC was fighting for the fifth spot last spring. Girardi gave the ‘right-left’right’ strategy as his logic for the move, putting the left-handed Sabathia between two righties. He also referenced Sabathia’s numbers last year…3.91 ERA in 30 starts. His record was only 9-12 but wins and losses are deceiving for pitchers as they are dependent upon run support.
I am not sure how Pineda will react to the move back to third in the rotation. If it motivates him to overcome his inconsistency, I am all for it. The starting rotation needs a solid year from Pineda if it is going to be successful.
The fight for the last two spots in the rotation has been interesting. At the start of training camp, I felt the favorites were Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell. Severino started strong and then has struggled with starts recently (although he did throw three hitless innings in relief yesterday). Mitchell has been good but not great. Chad Green has probably pitched the best among the contenders but the dark horse that is emerging is tall left-hander Jordan Montgomery. Luis Cessa, one of the early hopefuls, has already been sent to minor league camp for re-assignment. At 6’6” with an ability to pitch inside, I am very intrigued by Montgomery. He has proven himself at both the AA and AAA levels, and I think the 24-year-old is ready for the major leagues.
Credit: Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports
In the right field competition, I think Aaron Judge has done enough to hold off Aaron Hicks. The stats are fairly comparable. Judge is batting .300 (15-for-50) with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Although he is still among the leaders in strikeouts (with 12), he is striking out less than he did last season in the Bronx. Hicks is batting .279 (12-for-43), also with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Hicks has struck out seven times. Judge has also displayed a terrific arm in right. For me, Judge has done what he needs to this spring and deserves the opportunity to take right field.
Greg Bird has been named the starting first baseman to the surprise of no one. Bird currently carries a .432 BA (19-for-44) with 6 HR and 11 RBI. I don’t think there was any chance that Chris Carter was going to beat out Bird, but Carter has been almost non-existent during training camp. He is currently batting .136 (6-for-44) which is actually up from where it was a few days ago. He only has one home run to go with 22 strikeouts. I think there’s a very strong argument for why Carter should be DFA’d when Tyler Austin returns from his foot injury.
With the final days of training camp winding down, the greatest uncertainty lies with shortstop. Didi Gregorius is out for the next month after suffering the shoulder sprain in the World Baseball Classic, so the question is who will replace Didi at short. The most logical move would be to slide Starlin Castro to short, and use a platoon of Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder at second. For me, it’s not ideal because Castro is still learning the nuances of second base and it should remain his focus. The only problem is there are no other true shortstops on the 40-man roster. Prospect Tyler Wade is the most advanced shortstop in the system and he’s probably my favorite for the temporary replacement but he’s young (only 22). He’s batting .342 in Grapefruit League action (13-for-38) but doesn’t have much power. Other possibilites are non-roster invitees Pete Kozma and Ruben Tejada. Didi’s bat will certainly be missed while he is away.
With the latest minor league re-assignments, the Yankees have 39 players remaining in camp. This includes the injured players (Tyler Austin and Didi Gregorius). With Opening Day just a week away, there will be more cuts this week as the Yankees pare down to 25 for the trip to St Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rays on April 2nd.
This has been a fun spring. The Yankees have the best record in the Grapefruit League (or the Cactus League for that matter). I know that spring stats mean nothing when the regular season starts but winning is always fun. We’ve seen some great stuff from the talented super-prospects in the organization like Gleyber Torres and James Kaprielian. Although they won’t be heading north with the big league club, they’ve given us glimpses of their incredible futures. Gary Sanchez has continued to impress and Greg Bird has shown that last year’s shoulder injury is no longer an issue. I am anxious and ready for the season to start. The Cubs are yesterday’s news.