Tagged: Seattle

High-Flying Yankees Invade Florida…

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Another Series Win, check…

What a week! After splitting Monday’s quasi-double-header with the Nationals in Washington, D.C., the Yankees swept the resurgent Seattle Mariners in the Bronx.

The games against the Mariners couldn’t have been more exciting. After a fairly easy win on Tuesday night, Wednesday featured the Yankees’ rally from a 0-5 deficit with a game tying two-run homer in the 8th inning by Gary Sanchez followed by Giancarlo Stanton’s dramatic two-out, two-strike walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th. Yesterday, the Yankees used two first inning two-run dingers by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar to hold off the M’s for the series sweep.  

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Honestly, I did not expect the Yankees to sweep the Seattle series. The Mariners entered the game 20 games above .500, and were hanging with the Houston Astros atop the AL  West. The M’s left NYC yesterday with a four-game losing streak and 3 1/2 games behind the Astros.  Not a fun week for them. Still, the Mariners are playing much better than people expected when their star player, former Yankee Robinson Cano, was injured and then subsequently suspended for 80 games due to suspected PED use. There’s no doubt with a play or two here and there, the M’s could have easily taken two of the three games.  

I didn’t really get Aaron Boone’s decision to bring in Chasen Shreve to relieve Jonathan Loaisiga during Wednesday’s game. Sure, Loaisiga created the fourth inning mess that had given the Mariners an early 1-0 lead and he departed the game with two outs and runners at first and second, but Shreve did him no favors by allowing a two-run single to Dee Gordon, with both runs charged to Loaisiga. When Shreve entered the game, it felt like it was a great opportunity for the M’s, not the Yankees, and it was. I do not trust the lefty and if there’s a spot in the bullpen that desperately needs an upgrade, it is Shreve. In a bullpen of stars, he is the weakest link.    

Fortunately, after Shreve allowed a couple more runs, Boone made the decision to bring in Jonathan Holder who has been the best reliever not named Dellin Betances in recent weeks. Holder held the M’s scoreless over 2 1/3 innings to set the stage for the late inning heroics by Sanchez and Stanton. For me, Holder’s performance was the key to winning the game. 

I don’t know if it (the dramatic 9th inning game-winning home run) was Giancarlo Stanton’s “signature moment” but it was certainly a huge one for the Yankees and their fans. Stanton benefited from a misplaced pitch but to his credit, he didn’t miss it. Seattle reliever Ryan Cook knew he had made a mistake almost as quickly as the ball had left his hand. Hopefully, for Stanton’s sake, it is a sign of great things to come at Yankee Stadium for the slugger who has been much better on the road than at home ala Sonny Gray.  

On a day when the Yankees used a walk-off home run by #27 to win a game, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders did the same when Zack Zehner, wearing #27, hit a 9th-inning two-run homer to beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, 5-3. Very ironic and coincidental.

Yesterday, the Yankees scored four runs on two homers in the first inning against Seattle’s James Paxton, and then had to hold on when Luis Severino did not have his best stuff. Sevy allowed a two-run homer in the second to Kyle Seager and was touched again for a run-scoring single in the sixth inning by former Yankee Ben Gamel to make it a one-run game. The bullpen trio of David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman kept Seattle off the board from there to deliver Sevy his 11th victory of the season and it almost certainly ensures the young right-hander will be part of the AL All-Star team next month.  

Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)

Thursday’s game also featured the first time that both Seattle’s Andrew Romine and his brother, Austin, started the same game.  It seems like that would have happened while Andrew was playing for the Detroit Tigers but it never did. Andrew started at shortstop for the Mariners and was 1-for-4 (seventh inning single; stranded at second) while Austin was 0-for-4, starting at catcher in place of Gary Sanchez. I loved the punch that Andrew threw at Austin while at the plate.  

Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With the Yankees  (50-22) in St Petersburg, Florida to face the Tampa Bay Rays for a weekend series, they enter play today with a two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (50-26) in the AL East. The Red Sox averted a series sweep by the home team at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN yesterday when they beat the Twins, 9-2, but the two-game lead for the Yankees is the largest they’ve held this month. It’s incredible that both the Yankees and Red Sox are on a path for more than 100 wins and the Yankees have yet to play their best baseball. Yesterday was the first day of summer but it should be a very fun summer for the Yankees and their fans. Somewhere in other Major League cities, there are several talented players and/or pitchers that will soon find themselves on the roster of the greatest team in baseball. No offense to the All-Star Game, but the MLB trading deadline is THE event of July. We’re buyers this year, boys…

The Brandon Drury Watch continues to yield fruit. On Thursday, Drury’s two-run single keyed a series win by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Drury played first base (second time this season) in the 3-1 win and made some good defensive plays.

A.J. Cole finally got to pitch Tuesday after 22 days as a spectator with a good seat for Yankees games, holding Seattle scoreless over the final two innings in the Yankees’ 7-2 win and now he’s on the 10-day DL. Bummer. Cole apparently suffered a neck strain prior to Wednesday’s game while playing catch. I guess that’s better than landing on the DL after injuring yourself while pulling on your pants like Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. Luis Cessa, on a rehab assignment with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, was recalled to take Cole’s place. Pardon me if I am feeling a little underwhelmed.

Given the Yankees are back in Florida to play the Rays, it means more starts against “openers”. Ryne Stanek opens tonight. He opened for the Rays last Saturday in New York when the Rays lost to the Yankees, 4-1. Stanek pitched an inning and a third before making way for a more extended stint by Ryan Yarbrough. I expect the same 1-2 formula tonight. Yarbrough hasn’t pitched since Saturday’s game, while Stanek pitched an inning of relief for Blake Snell on Tuesday night when the Rays snapped Houston’s 12-game consecutive win streak. CC Sabathia will open, okay start, for the Yankees. The Rays (34-40) are currently tied for third place in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays, 17 games behind your favorite Pinstripers.

The Rays go with another opener on Saturday (Wilmer Font) against Sonny Gray. As a road game, I am looking for much better things from Gray. Sunday will feature the first legitimate starter for Tampa when the talented Blake Snell takes the hill. He’ll face the ever-improving Domingo German in what should be a great pitcher’s duel.  

A great time to be a Yankees fan. A great day for a Yankees win.

Go Yankees!

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Good Hitting or Good Pitching? I’ll Take Both, Please…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)

Yankees win again behind German…

The Yankees got off to a good start with their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners last night with a 7-2 win at Yankee Stadium.

Very nice pitching performance by young Domingo German. I wish Sonny Gray could take notes on how to pitch in the Bronx. The veteran could learn a thing or two from the rookie. German could have broken in the first inning when the Mariners had runners at the corners and no outs following a double and an error by Didi Gregorius. Sure, the M’s picked up a run on Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice to short but German shook it off and struck out Corey Seager’s brother Kyle to end the threat. From there, German shut down the Mariners, retiring 18 in a row, until Nelson Cruz did what he does best in the seventh inning, a dinger to left. You can’t really blame German for that one. Cruz does it to the best of ’em.

German’s final pitching line was something Sonny Gray can only dream about at Yankee Stadium. Seven very strong innings, two hits, two runs but only one earned, zero walks, and nine strikeouts.  German is pitching like he doesn’t want GM Brian Cashman to make any pitching acquisitions at the trading deadline. While I’d leave German in the rotation, I would still make a trade for a proven veteran starter. Nothing against Jonathan Loaisiga but I’d rather limit the rookies in the rotation for the stretch run to only one (German).

I liked the tag line used by Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues:  Dominant Domingo and the Dingers. It was a very good description of the game. I can’t wait for the movie.

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Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)

With German easing the Yankees’ desperation for starting pitching help, I hope it opens the possibility for a trade to acquire a shutdown arm for the bullpen. None better than San Diego’s LHP Brad Hand which would allow the Yankees to dump Chasen Shreve. I think it was Sweeny Murti who said the other day that he’d like for the Yankees to acquire the Padres closer for no other reason than to be able to say “Aloha, Mr Hand!”. Yes, that’s true. Good point. But Hand is also the most highly sought-after reliever now that former Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera resides in Washington, D.C. and he has drawn attention from many teams including the Boston Red Sox. I really would not want to see Hand go to Boston to help shore up their bullpen deficiencies. The move to acquire him by the Yankees would not be all about keeping him out Boston but rather give us a deadly bullpen that can shut down anyone, anytime, anywhere.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Denis Poroy)

If the Yankees make no moves for starting pitching, they should most certainly look to add additional bullpen pieces. I really don’t want to see Shreve as the top lefty come October. He’s too inconsistent for me and a few others on this site.

It was good to see the Yankees offense come to life last night. Marco Gonzales has pitched very well for the Mariners this year and he entered the game with a 7-3 record. I thought well enough of him to add him to my fantasy baseball team a few weeks ago. He killed my team last night with six runs allowed, including three home runs. But hey, it was worth it. I cut him after the game but there’s no way I can be disappointed with his dismal performance.

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Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)

The homers were really fun to watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s shot to center in the first inning to tie the game, Miguel Andujar’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth to give the Yankees their first lead, Aaron Hicks’ two-run blast to left in the fifth after Clint Frazier had singled to increase the Yankees’ lead to 5-1, and the eighth inning ‘tack-on’ homer to left by Gleyber Torres off former Yankees reliever Nick Rumbelow. If you saw only the homer and not the batter, you would have sworn that Gleyber’s shot was courtesy of Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. It was certainly worthy of the words “All Rise” or “a Stantonian blast” if it had been hit by #99 or #27 rather than #25. The ball traveled 446 feet, easily the longest hit of the night. After Torres hit his homer, I saw one Yankees tweet say only 38 more to go to the rookie record. Very funny even if impossible.  Still, I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams could have forecasted 14 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and a slash line of .291/.346/.566 for Gleyber Torres on June 19th. The guy is such a joy to watch game after game. Sure, he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as pitchers adjust but he’s shown us enough to be confident he will.

Oh yeah, Aaron Judge had an RBI on single to left in the bottom of the seventh off Rumbelow with the run charged to Gonzales. A single. How pedestrian! Seriously, I love what Aaron Judge means to this team and how he is continually a difference-maker with both bat and glove.

I was hopeful that Gary Sanchez was breaking out of his slump but he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average back down to .191.

It was a fun game. The Mariners are a very good club and this series could easily be a preview of October if the M’s continue to play well. They are currently 46-27 and sit just two games behind the World Champions in the AL West. I don’t expect the Yankees to sweep the series but I am hopeful they capture at least one of the next two games before hopping on a plane bound for Tampa, Florida.

The Boston Red Sox, despite having their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound, lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN so the Yankees (48-22) increased their AL East lead to one game. Credit to the third-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ next opponent. They used Blake Snell (a pitcher that I’d love to see Brian Cashman acquire) to beat the Astros and Justin Verlander, snapping Houston’s 12-game winning streak.

Congratulations to Brandon Drury for winning International League Player of the Week honors. The Major League player, who deserves better than Triple A, hit .471 with one home run and 11 RBI’s during the week of June 11th through 17th. He had 16 hits, 25 total bases, and 11 runs scored. In last night’s 7-5 loss by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (love that name!), Drury was 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts. It doesn’t deter me. I still want Drury back in Pinstripes where he belongs. With Ryan McBroom’s demotion to Double-A, I saw a quote by RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell that the plan is to play Drury at first periodically. Operation Dump Neil Walker; Promote Brandon Drury is well underway. I liked Mitchell’s quote about Drury earlier this week: “He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us. He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.”

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Photo Credit: Todd Hiller

As for Chance Adams (the loser in the game), he is stepping dangerously into “Chance Adams Sucks!” Territory. Once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, Adams gave up six runs in four innings (four earned) yesterday.  He walked four batters while striking out only one. Control continues to be his Achilles Heel. Suffice it to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr Adams (2-3, 5.21 ERA) in the Bronx anytime soon.

It’s Wednesday and an awesome day for Lasagna! It will be Old versus Young today as 32-year-old “King” Felix Hernandez takes on rookie 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga who was phenomenal in his debut appearance. When I looked up Hernandez, I was thinking he was older than he really is.  He seems to have aged prematurely and is certainly not the ace he once was. This season, he is 6-6 with 5.44 ERA and an unsightly 1.38 WHIP. For all the years the Yankees were linked to him in trade rumors, I am glad it was a trade never consummated.  Let’s get a win and take this series.

Go Yankees!

Just One of the Guys…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Photo Credit: Newsday

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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.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Go Yankees!

Yankees Acquire IF/QB Russell Wilson…

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.

Go Yankees!

Masa & The Game of Errors…

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:

MONDAY 

Indians:  Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)

TUESDAY

Indians:  Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

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!

The Cost of Fowler, Kaprielian & Mateo…

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!

Yonder Alonzo & The Trade Never Made…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

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!