Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
A Meaningful Monday…
Not bad for a Monday. The day started with the arrival of Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in training camp to field grounders with Didi Gregorius and blast a few homers (six) for batting practice in a group that featured Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. After the eventful day, third baseman Miguel Andujar capped it off with a dramatic 9th inning two-out walk-off home run to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3.
Clearly, the story of the day was Russell Wilson. It’s funny how every news article, especially those in Seattle, expressly state that he has not suddenly decided to give up his day job (as if they are worried about it). Some Yankees fan think Wilson is a distraction, but I take it for what it is. It is an opportunity to break up monotonous Spring Training by spending time with a Super Bowl-caliber professional athlete. I’ve always said there are guys who know how to play the game and there are guys who are winners. The rare combination is the guy who embodies both. Wilson is one of those rare athletes. I think he has much to offer the young Yankees even if he never fields a single play or takes an at-bat in an exhibition game. Winners breed winners. I am glad that Wilson is a Yankees fan and is spending his off-season in a baseball environment around the Yankees. His five or six days in camp will pass quickly and he’ll be gone. But the impact of his visit will remain with the players as they march toward the start of the 2018 season and its grand expectations.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
Maybe Wilson should spend some time trying to talk some sense into reliever Tommy Kahnle and his “overkill” love for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sadly, I think that’s a lost cause.
At the very least, I’d give Wilson an at-bat in one of the upcoming exhibition games but it is possible the Seahawks have imposed a moratorium on what Wilson can and cannot do while in Yankees Camp. It would be nice to see Stanton and Judge catch a few passes before Wilson departs.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
Monday evening, in the first night game of the Exhibition Season, the Yankees continued their winning ways, fourth win in four games, to make Aaron Boone an undefeated manager to start his career. I know, these games mean nothing but it’s tremendous to see everyone embrace Boone’s desire to be “great”. I was disappointed the Phillies game was not televised as I would have enjoyed watching Sonny Gray’s Spring debut. He pitched two innings, giving up two isolated singles, but struck out 2 batters and did not allow any runs. He was throwing strikes as all 12 of his pitches were in the zone.
Chance Adams made his debut (which is another reason I wanted to watch the game). Adams got into trouble with the first batter he faced, his high school teammate Dylan Cozens. Adams and Cozens were in the same class at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona (Class of 2012).
Cozens, comparable to Giancarlo Stanton in size and weight, drew a walk off his friend to start the third inning. He stole second and then advanced to third when Rhys Hoskins hit a grounder to first. A sacrifice fly by Phillies free agent acquisition Carlos Santana brought Cozens home for the only run off Adams. The next batter, Cesar Hernandez, got the only hit off Adams over his two innings of work, with a single to left. Aaron Altherr followed with the second walk of the inning but Gary Sanchez rescued Adams when his throw to second caught Hernandez off base for the third out.
The player of the game was, no doubt, Miguel Andujar. Andujar entered the game as a pinch-hitter for right fielder Billy McKinney in the bottom of the 7th inning. Andujar’s double to left scored Mark Payton, running for Brandon Drury, from third to tie the score at 2. Andujar stayed in the game as the replacement for Drury at third base. The Yankees had a chance to win it with a RBI single by Jorge Saez in the 8th, but Cody Carroll’s attempt to earn the save failed when he allowed a solo home run to Scott Kingery, another Arizonan, in the top of the 9th. No worries. Gleyber Torres and Mark Payton recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, bringing Andujar to the plate. After two balls, Andujar swung and missed at the next two pitches. On the fifth pitch from Phillies reliever Ranger Suarez, Andujar sent the ball over the fence in left clearing most of the Phillies off the field before Andujar could finish his home run trot.
For a meaningless game, it sure was exciting. If only we had been able to watch it…well, those of us not so fortunate to be at Steinbrenner Field. So far, the battle for third base between Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar has been very spirited. It’s early but the competition at third base has been better than second base.
Photo Credit: Newsday
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
The Yankees starting lineup for today’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida at 1:05 pm Eastern will be:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Miguel Andujar (aka “The Stud”), 3B
Tyler Austin, 1B
Danny Espinosa, 2B
Austin Romine, C
Jace Peterson, DH
Ronald Torreyes, SS
Billy McKinney, LF
Shane Robinson, RF
The starting pitcher will be Bullpen Ace Chad Green.
I am not exactly a fan of Hanley Ramirez, but the Red Sox 1B/DH was popping off yesterday after Boston finally announced the signing of free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. His words were something to the effect that they were going to step on everybody’s neck now. I harbor no ill will toward Ramirez, Martinez or the Red Sox but I am looking forward to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton putting on a display this year against the Red Sox, along with the other great young Yankees hitters. Let’s see whose neck gets stepped on. I hope, and I suspect, that this will not be a fun year for Ramirez. The best way to shut up Han-Ram is for the Yankees to win the American League East. I like our odds.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
|Photo Credits: Getty Images|
How about Aaron Judge at Tight End?…
Admittedly, I was surprised when I saw the news that the Yankees had acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers. Wilson, better known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, is nothing more than a guy who likes to experience Fantasy Baseball in a Major League Camp. He has no plans to play two sports and really only wants to maintain his connection to baseball, which is obviously one of his loves.
Even more surprisingly was the negative reaction of many Yankees fans. Personally, I had no issue with Wilson’s desire to achieve a dream of playing with the Yankees. His late father was a lifetime Yankees fan, and Wilson himself was a Yankees fan during his childhood and perhaps still is. I guess I see the positives of Wilson’s addition. He is an inspiration for the players and I view him as a great motivational speaker for the few weeks he will spend in Tampa. The Yankees have said that he’ll participate in pre-game workouts and will be in the dugout, but it doesn’t really sound like he’ll see much, if any, action on the field during games. So, I have no problems with Wilson’s presence. I am not a Seahawks fan, but Wilson has played his sport at the highest level and can share insights from his experiences as a very good, quality professional player.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Seattle Times speculates that while Wilson may not be using Baseball as leverage, it is possible that he is sending a signal to Seahawks ownership that there is life outside of Seattle. What’s better than going to one of the most recognizable teams in Sports in the biggest city in the country? Wilson is sure to draw a huge crowd when he makes his first appearance at Steinbrenner Field sometime during March. The paper indicated when Wilson last participated in Spring Training for the Texas Rangers (2014 and 2015), he was in negotiations for an extension with the Seahawks. It led to a four-year deal that expires in two years. At the time of the contract signing, Wilson was the second highest paid QB behind Aaron Rodgers (although he wanted to be the highest paid). However, since that time, he will fall to the tenth highest paid at the position once Alex Smith’s new deal with the Washington Redskins becomes official and Jimmy Garrapolo re-signs with the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson hasn’t played professional baseball since 2011 when he appeared in 61 games at the Class A level for the Colorado Rockies organization.
I did like CC Sabathia’s tweet that the Yankees were going to win the World Series and the Super Bowl this year. And the various memes that said the Yankees now have the best quarterback in New York, poking fun at Eli Manning, and, yes, Tim Tebow.
This is a total publicity ploy for both sides. No one has any illusions that Wilson has suddenly decided to embark upon a professional baseball career like Tebow. He’ll be back on the field for the Seahawks this fall when they try to rebound from a lost season. But when he does take the field, he’ll do it knowing that, for a few days or weeks, he was a New York Yankee. Life is good.
FlavaFraz21 gets his number back…
It was tough watching Todd Frazier with a Mets cap and a NYM jersey bearing his number #21 that he was unable to wear with the Yankees, thanks to Paul O’Neill, at his introductory press conference. Listening to him talk only reaffirmed what an incredibly positive voice he is for a clubhouse.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Kathy Willens)|
Based on reports, the Yankees were never willing to offer more than a one year deal. I know it’s not my money, but I would have gone two years with Frazier like the Mets did. Even if the Yankees acquire Manny Machado next off-season, Frazier could have provided backup support for both first and third bases, with some pop for DH. Or, based on the team-friendly contract that Frazier signed with the Mets, if the Yankees had signed him for the same approximate dollars, he would have had some trade marketability for the teams that strike out in their bids for free agents-to-be Machado and Josh Donaldson.
I hope that not signing Frazier does not come back to haunt the Yankees.
If at third you don’t succeed…
As stagnant as the free agent market has been, I still do not see Mike Moustakas taking a one-year “pillow” contract. I am intrigued by the thought of the damage that Moose Tacos could do with the right field porch and his lefty bat would be a very healthy addition to the predominantly right-handed Yankees lineup. I don’t know where he’ll end up, but I don’t envision Moustakas in Pinstripes regardless of how greedy the Yankees decide to get (or not).
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)|
I am not opposed to Miguel Andujar as the starting third baseman but I do want a solid Plan B in place. Ronald Torreyes filled in capably at third last season but he’s not my preference for a starter if Andujar proves that he needs more seasoning in the Minor Leagues. Torreyes is best served as the team’s utility player.
Shane Spencer, he is not…
The Yankees signed former Los Angeles Angels outfielder Shane Robinson to a minor league deal with a training camp invitation. I am not sure that I really understand the addition of another outfielder given the plethora of outfielders participating in training camp. Robinson has played for the St Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and Angels over his 8-year career, playing in 436 games. He doesn’t offer much with his bat (.226 lifetime batting average with six career home runs). He only played 20 games last year for the Angels, batting .194 with no homers and one RBI.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I’d say this is a depth move for Triple A, but even the outfield at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is overflowing. Robinson will make $950,000 if he makes the Major League roster but at face value, it seems so unlikely. If he does not make the MLB roster, he can opt out of his contract on June 15th.
5 more days until Pitchers and Catchers report…I cannot wait.
Credit: Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Yankees 10, Mariners 1…
Okay, the ugliness was isolated to the first inning, for the most part, but the Yankees came out on the right side and coasted to the easy victory over the Seattle Mariners. I would love to have one of these kind of games against the Boston Red Sox but we’re never so lucky.
The top of the first inning didn’t start out very well as it took Masahiro Tanaka a few batters before he could find his groove. After Jean Segura lined out directly to Aaron Judge in right to start the game, Yonder Alonso singled to left and advanced to second when left fielder Aaron Hicks was unable to field the ball cleanly. Error on Hicks. Robinson Cano, making his first start in the series after sitting out two games with hamstring tightness, singled to left in front of Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury (“you get it”…“no, no, after you”). Alonso moved to third. Nelson Cruz was next and he smacked a double to the left field wall, scoring Alonso. Cano advanced to third. Fortunately, from there, Tanaka found his pitches. He struck out Kyle Seager and then got out of the inning with only one run scored when Mitch Haniger flied out to right center. It could have been much worse but Tanaka was able to limit the damage.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
In the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka was rewarded for his effort. Aaron Hicks led off against Mariners starter Andrew Albers and popped out to short. Starlin Castro followed with a double over the head of right fielder Mitch Haniger. The Baseball Gods decided to smile upon the home team at this point. Gary Sanchez singled to left and Ben Gamel ran up on the ball and missed it with his glove. By the time center fielder Guillermo Heredia had retrieved the ball and threw it to the infield, Castro had scored and Sanchez was standing on second. The game was tied. After Aaron Judge walked, Didi Gregorius hit a fly to shallow left. With the trio of Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Jean Segura converging, no one called for the ball and it fell in. The error was charged to Segura and the bases were loaded. For the Mariners, the nightmare continued. Chase Headley hit a grounder to third that Kyle Seager bobbled and dropped. Sanchez scored and Headley was safe at first. The bases were still loaded. Todd Frazier struck out for the second out. It brought Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate. Ells lined a double to left. Ben Gamel retrieved the ball and threw it into Jean Segura at short who dropped the ball and momentarily lost sight of it. Judge and Gregorius scored. Headley, seeing the opportunity when Segura dropped the ball, broke for home. Segura’s throw bounced past the catcher as Headley scored and Ellsbury took third. Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to third and then beat out the throw from Seager. Ellsbury scored and it was 6-1 Yankees. Aaron Hicks, who had started the inning with a pop out, flied out to center to end the inning. Alas, all good things must end. The Mariners were charged a total of five errors in the inning.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Manager Joe Girardi’s day was over before the Mariners starter was out of the game. With one out and Jean Segura at first in the top of the 3rd, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to first baseman Chase Headley who threw to Didi Gregorius at second for the force out. However, the Yankees were unable to turn the inning-ending double play when Segura ran out of the base path and obstructed the view of Gregorius to first which caused an errant throw. Girardi came flying out, demanding an explanation and got tossed for his inquisitive approach. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field. Fortunately, Tanaka struck out Nelson Cruz to avoid any damage, but Girardi got to watch the rest of the game on TV like the rest of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be at Yankee Stadium.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees added to their lead. Ronald Torreyes, singled to center for his second hit of the game with two outs. Aaron Hicks lined a single to right, moving Toe to second. Starlin Castro singled with a blooper to center to score Toe and the Yankees were up 7-1.
Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post
Todd Frazier committed the game’s seventh error, and the second by the Yankees, to open the top of the 6th when he was unable to field a grounder hit by Nelson Cruz. Tanaka struck out the next two batters and got Ben Gamel to ground out to first to leave Cruz stranded at first. No harm, no foul.
In the bottom of the 6th with Andrew Albers still pitching for the Mariners, Starlin Castro led off with a soft line drive to center. After Gary Sanchez walked, the Mariners made a pitching change to bring in reliever Dan Altavilla. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third. Aaron Judge walked to load the bases. After Didi Gregorius struck out, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to center. Castro scored but Gary Sanchez was caught between second and third on the throw back into the infield and the Mariners were able to complete the double play. However, the run counted and it was 8-1 Yankees.
After Masahiro Tanaka cruised through the Mariners in a three-up, three-down top of the 7th, the Yankees made more noise in the bottom of the inning. Todd Frazier led off with a walk and moved to second when Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a roller to right. Ronald Torreyes, with his third hit of the game, lined a single to left and the bases were loaded. After Aaron Hicks popped out (infield fly rule invoked), Greg Bird pinch-hit for Starlin Castro. Bird singled to right between the two infield defenders, scoring both Frazier and Ellsbury. The Yankees now led 10-1.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Caleb Smith took over for Tanaka in the 8th and retired the six batters he faced over the final two innings. Danny Valencia, the game’s final batter, took Smith deep with Aaron Judge’s back nearly to the wall, but the ball landed in Judge’s glove for the final out. Game over. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (70-59) were able to pick up another game on Boston as the Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1. The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by only 2 1/2 games. Oh, if only the Yankees could have scored more runs Friday night. The O’s finally reached .500 with their sweep of the Red Sox and continue to trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games. The Tampa Bay Rays won in extra innings over the St Louis Cardinals, 3-2, so they remain 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees. No change in the Wild Card Standings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, behind three homers by Byron Buxton to remain 3 1/2 games behind New York.
I was worried going into this game given Masahiro Tanaka’s weird split of pitching much better at night than during daytime games. But after the bumpy start, he settled down and gave the Yankees an ace-like performance. Tanaka (10-10) went seven strong innings, holding the Mariners to the one run on six hits. He walked one batter but more importantly did not give up any homers. He struck out ten. Nice job by Caleb Smith in saving the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians.
Starlin Castro was 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-4, with a single RBI and a run scored. The Yankee offense finished with 15 hits but surprisingly no home runs. No matter, it was a very solid win and good momentum for the week ahead.
Next Up: Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees begin a very difficult week that starts with the Indians and ends with the Boston Red Sox. Every game is important at this stage of the season. The Indians come into this series a little banged up. They have a total of nine players on the DL, including LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Danny Salazar, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Michael Brantley and 2B Jason Kipnis. The Indians have a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Indians: Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)
Indians: Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)
Indians: Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82 ERA)
This will be a tough series. Admittedly, I wish Jordan Montgomery was here with the big league club and pitching on Tuesday night. Jaime Garcia does not inspire much confidence and certainly not when he’s facing a very tough Trevor Bauer. I hope Caleb Smith is prepared to pitch that day.
Have a great Monday! I know that Corey Kluber will be tough but let’s make it three-in-a-row! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
Yankees 6, Mariners 3…
On Saturday, the cost was WORTH IT as Sonny Gray turned in his best Yankees performance thus far. His seven innings of three-hit ball helped the Yankees defeat the Seattle Mariners on a beautiful day in the Bronx. Even though his victories in Pinstripes have been rare, he brings a confidence (for the fans) to the mound that is probably only matched by Luis Severino. Gray hasn’t pitched badly in his other starts, he just doesn’t seem to get the necessary run support. That wasn’t the case yesterday.
The game started like Friday’s defeat…the inability to score with a runner in scoring position. Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a single to center. A wild pitch by Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo moved Gardy to second. But there he would stay as the heart of the batting order (Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) couldn’t bring him home.
Fortunately, the Yankees took advantage of an opportunity in the 2nd. Gallardo walked the first two batters (Starlin Castro and Greg Bird). A sacrifice bunt by Chase Headley (laid it down perfectly toward third to ensure the only play was at first) moved the runners to second and third. Jacoby Ellsbury, making a rare start, singled to left. Castro scored, but Bird was thrown out at the plate. I was surprised that third base coach Joe Espada gave Bird the green light but Bird would have been safe if he had kept his foot down sliding into home plate. The Yankees led, 1-0.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-Associated Press|
The Mariners got the run back in the top of the 3rd inning. Backup catcher Carlos Ruiz, starting for regular catcher Mike Zunino the day after a night game, homered to left to tie the game.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-Associated Press|
The Yankees finally got something going in the bottom of the 4th with two outs. Greg Bird singled to right and Chase Headley walked. Jacoby Ellsbury, in a campaign for more playing time, drilled a fly ball to the right field porch to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
|Credit: Andy Martin-USA TODAY Sports|
Meanwhile, Sonny Gray was on cruise-control. With a back-up catcher, who entered the game with a .202 batting average, seemingly having the only success against him, Gray kept the M’s at bay. The Mariners had an opportunity in the top of the 6th when Gray hit two successive batters with pitches but Sonny worked his way out of the jam.
When Ben Gamel look-alike Taylor Motter singled on a hard hit ball to third in the top of the 7th (great stop by Chase Headley to prevent a double), it was the first hit by a Mariner other than Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz had a single in the 5th in addition to his home run for two of the three hits that Sonny Gray would allow. Ruiz followed Motter but this time Gray struck him out swinging. Motter stole second on the strikeout but he was left stranded when Jean Segura flied out to end the inning. That would be it for Gray. 106 pitches, the three hits, one run, two walks, and nine strikeouts. It was a tremendous performance for Gray and showed that he will be a key factor down the stretch.
The Yankees would add much-needed insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th. Facing Mariners reliever Casey Lawrence, Austin Romine reached first base on a popup that dropped when Jean Segura gave up on it due to the sun and left fielder Ben Gamel couldn’t get there to make the catch. Brett Gardner followed with a single to center. After outs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases. Starlin Castro lined a single to left to score Romine and Gardy. There was no play at the plate this time as Gamel bobbled the ball after the stop. Greg Bird subsequently walked to reload the bases, but Chase Headley flied out to end the inning.
Chasen Shreve was brought in to start the 8th inning in place of Sonny Gray, and the Mariner bats seemed to come alive. Danny Valencia opened with a double to the left field wall. Nelson Cruz followed with a grounder to third which should have been a routine play but Chase Headley’s throw sailed over Greg Bird’s head for an error. The M’s had runners at the corners. A single to right off the glove of Starlin Castro by Kyle Seager scored Valencia and ended Shreve’s latest outing. Tommy Kahnle came in and struck out the first batter he faced (Mitch Haniger). Ben Gamel grounded into a fielder’s choice that erased Seager at second, but the Mariners had runners at the corners again with two outs. Guillermo Heredia lined a single to right to score Cruz. The Mariners had reduced the Yankees’ lead to 6-3. The next batter came to the plate in the form of Robinson Cano, who was pinch-hitting for Taylor Motter. Fortunately, instead of a game-tying home run, Robby grounded out to second to end the threat. Too close for comfort.
The Yanks had a chance to add a run in the bottom of the 8th when Brett Gardner singled and stole second with two outs. But the same story that keeps repeating itself…an Aaron Judge strikeout…left Gardy stranded.
|Credit: Ray Stubblebine|
Fortunately, the Yankees had Dellin Betances for the 9th inning. He set the M’s down in order, two by strikeout, for his 10th save. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (69-59) finally picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox. The Sox, having all they can handle with Buck Showalter’s Orioles, fell to Baltimore, 7-0. The Yanks now trail the Sox by 3 1/2 games. The O’s are 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays lost, 6-4 to the St Louis Cardinals, so they slipped back into fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers. The Yankees picked up a game in the Wild Card Standings and lead the second place Minnesota Twins by 3 1/2 games. The Twins dropped a 10-9 slugfest to Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Clearly, the stars of this game were Sonny Gray (8-8, 3.26 ERA) and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, batting eighth in the lineup, was 2-for-4 with the home run and 4 RBI’s. It was good to see Greg Bird in the mix (he was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored).
|Credit: Associated Press|
Of course, you can’t say enough good things about the job Dellin Betances did after the leaky performance of the bullpen in the 8th. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were a combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts and nine men left on base. Ouch…
Odds & Ends…
Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders! They clinched their third straight post-season appearance with a 7-1 win over the Syracuse Chiefs behind the arm of Chance Adams (11-4, 2.63 ERA). The RailRiders’ magic number for winning the International League North Division is two.
|Credit: Fred Adams-For Times Leader|
Have a great Sunday! The Yankees need a win today with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox looming on the immediate horizon. Go Yankees!
Mariners 2, Yankees 1…
I was surprised when the Sonny Grade trade last month did not include first baseman Yonder Alonzo. The Yankees had been so closely connected to both players, but Chase Headley’s play after the switch to first had softened the need for a first baseman. I’ve never trusted Headley to sustain his production and felt that the Yankees should have made the deal for Alonzo, especially after losing out on Lucas Duda. The Yankees didn’t make the deal and the Seattle Mariners swooped in and grabbed him from the Oakland A’s. The move paid dividends for the Mariners when Alonzo provided the game-winning home run off Aroldis Chapman last night as the M’s sent the Yankees to their second consecutive loss.
For the Yankees, the old problem of missing scoring opportunities re-surfaced. They loaded the bases a few times yet had no runs to show for it.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
The Mariners threatened to score in the 2nd and 3rd innings against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, but he was able to emerge unscathed both times. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees loaded the bases on three walks with only one out. Aaron Hicks flied out to left but it wasn’t deep enough to score a run. Gary Sanchez came up and blasted a high fly that sounded like a home run but left fielder Ben Gamel caught it on the warning track. Oh, if it could have only traveled a few feet further. It was a huge missed opportunity.
In the top of the 4th, the Mariners scored the game’s first run when Mike Zunino blasted a home run to left, a solo shot. It’s where I wish that El Gary’s shot could have landed the previous inning. The Yankees re-loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning. Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch in his back as he attempted to turn away so he took first base. Starlin Castro doubled to right with the ball bouncing to the wall. Didi Gregorius was held at third. With two outs, Chase Headley walked to fill the bases, but Todd Frazier went down swinging to end the inning. Sad face for me.
The game progressed into the latter innings with the Yankees unable to scratch out any runs M’s starter Ariel Miranda and the Seattle bullpen until the 8th inning. Former Yankee reliever David Phelps took the mound in the 8th and walked Aaron Judge with one out. Didi Gregorius followed with a double to left center. Guillermo Heredia bobbled the stop and it gave Judge the time to score. The game was tied.
|Credit: Frank Franklin II-Associated Press|
A base running gaffe cost the Yankees for potentially more runs. Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short and Didi aggressively broke for third. A great play if he had been safe, but third baseman Kyle Seager was able to apply the tag for the out. Two subsequent walks loaded the bases, but like the 4th inning, Todd Frazier struck out…again.
Dellin Betances took over in the 9th and the Mariners almost blew the game open. Kyle Seager walked, and Mike Zunino doubled to left down the line to the corner. Seager was given the stop sign at third. Yonder Alonzo, pinch-hitting for Guillermo Heredia, drew a walk to load the bases. There was only one out. Following a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Betances got Ben Gamel to pop up in foul territory for the second out. Robinson Cano entered the game as pinch-hitter for Taylor Motter but he struck out on three pitches. Betances had worked his way out of trouble.
David Robertson held the M’s in the top of the 10th, allowing only a meaningless single. Aroldis Chapman took over in the 11th inning and it looked good for two batters. Both Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino grounded out so Chapman only needed one more out. Yonder Alonzo, with a swing that would have looked great in pinstripes or at least these funkly little league looking uniforms, destroyed a Chapman pitch over the center field wall into Monument Park. The M’s had taken a one run lead.
Mariners closer Edwin Diaz took over for reliever James Pazos in the bottom of the 11th. After two quick outs (the second a deep fly to the warning track in left by Todd Frazier), Brett Gardner worked a walk. He attempted to steal second and was called out on the field, with the Mariners thinking they won the game, but the Yankees challenged. Upon further review, Gardy was ruled safe as his hands reached the bag before the tag. There was brief hope but Aaron Hicks struck out to end the game. Not A-A-Ron’s finest moment…
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-NY Post|
This was yet another very disappointing loss. The Yankees could have shaved two games off the AL East deficit the last two days but they’ve failed to take advantage of Red Sox losses. The Yankees (68-59) remain 4 1/2 games behind Boston. The Baltimore Orioles beat, or should I say crushed, the Red Sox, 16-3. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the St Louis Cardinals, 7-3, so the Rays and O’s remain tied for third place, trailing the Yankees by 5 1/2 games. The Mariners were able to close the Wild Card gap with the Yankees to three games. The Yankees still lead the Wild Card chase, but the Minnesota Twins picked up a game with their 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. They trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games.
It was a very strong game for CC Sabathia. He pitched seven innings for the no-decision, giving up only five hits, a walk, and one run. He struck out six. Aroldis Chapman (4-3) took the loss. His season ERA is now 4.23.
Hopefully the Yankees can shake out of the RISP doldrums today but they never seem to give Sonny Gray any run support. Today is as good as any to change that.
Odds & Ends…
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Yankees reinstated 2B Starlin Castro from the DL and optioned little used 2B/SS Tyler Wade to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Although Wade looked starstruck early on, his lack of play had more to do with the terrific performance of Ronald Torreyes. But for everything that Toe’s done, I am glad to have Castro back on the field. Too bad for Wade that his last MLB memory (at least for now) is the fight-marred game in Detroit.
Today, the Yankees activated first baseman Greg Bird. He’s in the lineup and will bat sixth. Tyler Austin is the unlucky odd man out as he heads for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Major League Baseball issued a release yesterday regarding the suspensions and fines as a result of Thursday’s brawl in Detroit:
I’ve heard screams about no suspensions for Michael Fulmer, Dellin Betances or Tommy Kahnle, but honestly, I felt there was reasonable doubt about the intentions of both Fulmer and Betances. Perhaps Kahnle should have been suspended for not hitting Miguel Cabrera!
The suspensions are currently being appealed by all (hoping for reduced penalties).
Joe Girardi has indicated the Yankees will attempt to stagger the suspensions since they do not currently have any other catchers on the MLB active roster and the only other catcher on the 40-man roster (Kyle Higashioka) is on the DL. It’s unfortunate that someone will lose their 40-man roster spot out of the need for a temporary catcher.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s All Rise for Victory! Go Yankees!
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.
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!
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
Mariners 6, Yankees 5…
So much for a potential sweep in Seattle as the Mariners prevailed over the Yankees in extra innings on Saturday night. Ex-Yankees Ben Gamel and Robinson Cano made themselves heard in this game. The Yankees can still take three of four with a victory today so they can still end this road trip on a high note.
Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff (in a statement that we have made far too often this season). The Yankees scored first in the second inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to right, a one-hopper off the wall. After Sanchez was nearly picked off at second, Didi Gregorius hit a single to right which moved Sanchez to third. Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Sanchez scored on the play. After allowing a meaningless single in each of the two first innings, Tanaka lost the lead in the third. Mike Zunino opened with a blast to left center and the game was tied. Following a strikeout of Jean Segura, former Yankee Ben Gamel homered on the first pitch to right center. It was the 26th home run allowed by Tanaka this season, tying him for the dubious AL lead with Ricky Nolasco. Robinson Cano went down swinging for the second out. Nelson Cruz singled on an infield grounder to third (Tood Frazier’s long throw was up the line which took Garrett Cooper off first) and Kyle Seager was hit by a pitch on the back toe to put runners at first and second. Following a coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild (it didn’t work), Danny Valencia ripped a single to left to score Cruz and Mitch Haniger singled through the hole to left to score Seager. It was 4-1 Mariners. Jarrod Dyson grounded out to end the inning.
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
Garrett Cooper tripled to center in the fifth with a near home run which sent center fielder Jarrod Dyson into the wall. Dyson stayed but you could tell that he was still affected by the collision. He would depart the game after the inning was over. Ronald Torreyes lofted a fly ball to Dyson in center as Cooper tagged and scored. In the sixth, Clint Frazier started the inning with a 10-pitch at-bat against M’s starter Ariel Miranda but chased an upstairs fastball to strike out. The Mariners pulled Miranda and replaced him with Steve Cishek. Aaron Judge greeted Cishek with a high fly to right center for his 32nd home run of the season. The Yankees had closed the gap to 4-3.
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
The Yankees tied the game in the 8th inning. With one out, Brett Gardner beat out a grounder to short for a single. Clint Frazier doubled to center off the top of the wall (if only it had been just a few more inches), Gardner moved to third. The Mariners intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday. Holliday hit a deep sacrifice fly to right, easily scoring Gardner. The game was tied at 4. Gary Sanchez lined out to right so the Yankees were unable to push any more runs across the plate. In retrospect, this was a very big missed opportunity.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Mariners recaptured the lead when Robinson Cano led off with a home run to left off David Robertson. Bummer, but you couldn’t blame D-Rob as it was an excellent pitch. He was able to retire the next three batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.
The Yankees had life again in the top of the 9th with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz on the mound. Didi Gregorius walked to start the inning. Diaz was able to retire the next two batters, Todd Frazier and Chase Headley who pinch-hit for Garrett Cooper. With Ronald Torreyes at the plate, Jacoby Ellsbury was brought in to pinch run for Gregorius and promptly stole second. Torreyes singled to left on a line drive, bringing Ellsbury around to score and the game was tied again. After Tommy Kahnle finished the M’s in the bottom of the 9th, it was off to extra innings.
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
M’s reliever Tony Zych replaced Diaz in the 10th and easily retired the Yankees, including strikeouts of both Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge. In the bottom of the 10th, Adam Warren was on the mound. Warren gave up a lead-off double by Ben Gamel (rapidly becoming a Yankee killer). Robinson Cano was intentionally walked to open the possibility for a double play, but unfortunately, Nelson Cruz hit a line drive to left and Clint Frazier’s throw to the plate was off the mark as Gamel scored the winning run. The Mariners win, 6-5.
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
The Yankees (50-46) didn’t lose any ground in the AL East despite the loss. The Boston Red Sox fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 7-3, while the Texas Rangers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3. It would have been a great opportunity to pick up ground in the division but it was not meant to be. The Yankees and Rays remain 3 1/2 games behind Boston.
Somehow, the Yankees need to get Todd Frazier going. His 0-for-4 night dropped his season batting average to .201. Anything from him last night could have been a difference-maker. Among the starting position players, he was the only one without a hit for the second game in a row.
Odds & Ends…
Second baseman Starlin Castro has been placed on the 10-Day DL after re-aggravating his hamstring. Tyler Wade, who was seen in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre locker room before the RailRiders’ game yesterday, was recalled and didn’t get to Seattle until late last night. Presumably, he’ll share time at second with Ronald Torreyes. Wade had a tremendous game on Thursday when the RailRiders defeated the Charlotte Knights, 13-2. He tripled and homered, driving in 4 RBI’s.
Caleb Smith (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will start today’s getaway game against the Mariners in place of Luis Cessa. I am very glad to see this move. I’d rather see what Smith is capable of doing with his first Major League start versus another uneven performance by Luis Cessa. I am sure that Cessa will be the first call to the pen if Smith gets into trouble early but hopefully he is able to show the great success he has enjoyed in Triple A this year. Yovanni Gallardo (4-7, 5.59 ERA) will oppose Smith.
Jacoby Ellsbury, at least temporarily, has lost his starting gig. With over $68 million still owed Ellsbury after this year, there’s probably not much chance he’ll be exiting anytime soon. Manager Joe Girardi has said that he wants to go with the hot hand which means keeping Clint Frazier in the lineup. The threat of Frazier being demoted to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns still looms as the Yankees are not going to cut Ellsbury. This goes against the premise of putting your best players on the field but obviously there are more factors at play.
The Yankees get a much needed day off on Monday following their cross-country flight home. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox, flying up from Orange County, will replace the Yankees at Safeco Field for a three-game series against the Mariners.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s make this a fun day with a much-needed win! Go Yankees!