Tagged: Sonny Gray

Missing the Pitches…

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post

Red Sox 5, Yankees 1…


Sunday’s loss was a microcosm of the season.  In the end, it was about missing the pitches as the Yankees dropped the finale and the series with the Boston Red Sox.


It’s been a difficult season for last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, but on Sunday, he gave a glimpse why he won the award last year.  He held the Yankees to three hits over six innings, and three Red Sox relievers including closer Craig Kimbrel no-hit them the rest of the way.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston scored first with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd.  Inevitably, it would be the only runs they would need.  Jackie Bradley, Jr’s two-out triple to the center field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray scored Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon.  The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead.


Meanwhile, the Yankees had runners in scoring position from the second through fourth innings but could not capitalize.  Finally, in the top of the 5th inning, Brett Gardner lined a shot just inside of the Pesky Pole in right to pull the Yankees within one run, 2-1.  But it was the last hit the Yankees would get off Porcello and the Red Sox bullpen.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox added a run against Yankees reliever Adam Warren. Mitch Moreland reached on a single to left, and moved to second on a wild pitch by Warren that went through Gary Sanchez’s legs.  A ground out by Sandy Leon moved Moreland to third.  Jackie Bradley, Jr didn’t waste the opportunity like so many Yankee hitters had done.  His single to right that dropped in front of Aaron Judge scored Moreland and Boston increased their lead to 3-1. Aroldis Chapman was brought in to replace Warren (the earliest he has appeared in a game as Yankee) and he struck out Brock Holt to end the inning.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

The Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom of the 8th.  Tommy Kahnle started the inning in relief of Chapman.  He couldn’t find the strike zone at all with the first batter, Xander Bogaerts, issuing a free pass on four pitches.  Mitch Moreland doubled to left off the Green Monster and the Sox had runners at second and third.  Sandy Leon lined a double to the right field corner, both Bogaerts and Moreland scored.  5-1, Red Sox.  Kahnle was pulled and replaced by Caleb Smith.  A walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs, but Smith was able to retire the next three Red Sox batters to leave the runners stranded.


It didn’t really matter.  The Yankees weren’t going to win this game.  Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th and set the Yankees down in order, the last two by strikeouts.  


If the Yankees were looking to make a statement in this series, they failed to do it.  Boston exhibited superior bullpen strength and their hitters, excluding Saturday, didn’t miss their pitches.  The Yankees (66-57) slipped back to five games behind the Red Sox with the loss.  The Tampa Bay Rays’ 3-0 win, coupled with a loss by the Baltimore Orioles, moved them back into third place in the AL East.  They are 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The O’s lost, 5-4, to the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels picked up a game on the Yankees in the Wild Card standings and trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games for the top position.  The Minnesota Twins, who pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-5, are also just 2 1/2 games behind.


Sonny Gray (7-8) took the loss.  He pitched five innings on a high pitch count (106), allowing seven hits and two runs.  He walked two and did not strike anybody out.  Run support has not been his friend with the Yankees.  

Credit:  Steven Senne-Associated Press

If Aroldis Chapman can piece together more outings like his, his name might be back in play for the closer’s role.  Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle have some things to work on.  


Brett Gardner, with two hits (a single and a homer), and Chase Headley, with one (a double), were the only Yankees with a hit.  Everyone else took an 0-fer.  


A win today would have been huge.  But it was not to be.  The Yankees need to re-group during today’s off-day and come out ready to play on Tuesday.  There will be one more shot at the Red Sox.  They’ll come to the Bronx for four games over Labor Day Weekend.  The AL East is not dead…just wounded.  There’s time to heal and show the Red Sox that the Pinstripes are back.  

Next Up:  The Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Detroit, MI…

The Yankees get a much-needed day off today, hanging around the Motor City, before starting a three-game series with the Tigers on Tuesday.

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.92 ERA)

Tigers:  Matthew Boyd (5-6, 5.70 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.64 ERA)

Tigers:  Buck Farmer (2-1, 6.62 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (10-5, 3.18 ERA)

Tigers:  Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 5.87 ERA)

The Yankees need to win these games.  Anything less than two out of three will be a major disappointment.  The Tigers stopped a six-game winning streak by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a convincing 6-1 victory behind Justin Verlander (making perhaps his final start in a Tigers uniform although I think he stays). A team with nothing to play for has nothing to lose.  The Yankees had better be prepared. After the series, the Yankees return home for Player’s Weekend to take on the Wild Card contending Seattle Mariners and the player named “Don’t You Know”.  

Odds & Ends…

Greg Bird had the day off on Sunday for his rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar did not as they powered the RailRiders to a 3-0 win over the Durham Bulls.  Cave was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored, while Andujar was 3-for-4, with a double and a home run, for 2 RBI’s.  I am looking forward to seeing these guys in a few weeks when MLB rosters expand.  It was a nice pitching performance by Domingo German (5-2), who shut out the Bulls for seven innings on four hits.  He walked two and struck out nine.  Giovanny Gallegos, with two innings of scoreless relief, got the save.

In anticipation of Masahiro Tanaka’s impending activation from the DL, the Yankees have optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Have a great Monday!  A day off…a day closer to the return of good health for Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and others.  Go Yankees!

Sonny Wins Despite Gray Skies…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Mets 4…

Sonny Gray finally won his first game as a Yankee, blanking the Mets until rookie first baseman Dominic Smith blasted his first Major League home run.  All was good up until the 9th when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run homer to Amed Rosario, showing he is not over whatever this funk is, to bring the Mets within a run.  Fortunately, the Yanks prevailed but it was a disappointing end to what should have been an exciting win.

The Yankees scored first with a run in the bottom of the 3rd.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a double to left off Mets starter Jacob DeGrom.  The third baseman, Wilmer Flores, was playing in and was unable to reach the ball which went past third base.  Toe fell down at first base but was able to get up and slide into second ahead of the throw. It was a nice recovery by Toe who had alertly slapped first base with his hand as he got up to run.  Brett Gardner executed a sacrifice bunt to move Toe to third.  Aaron Hicks rapped a fly ball to right that dropped in ahead of Curtis Granderson to score Toe and the Yankees led 1-0.

They added two more runs in the bottom of the 4th.  Chase Headley worked a two-out walk.  He was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury who parked one in the right center stands on a line drive to increase the score to 3-0.  As the Mets announcers said, “It’s a double in every other park except this one”.  

Credit:  Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Sonny Gray still going strong, Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the 6th inning and unloaded on a DeGrom pitch for a tremendous home run to left center.  The homer, Gary’s 21st of the year, increased the lead to 4-0.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-The Associated Press

Wilmer Flores led off the 7th and he battled Gray for 8 pitches before walking to reach first.  He didn’t stay there long as Dominic Smith followed with a home run to center.  End of day for Gray, but it was a great performance despite the two-run homer.  Manager Joe Girardi brought in Tommy Kahnle who retired the next three Mets to halt the Mets’ momentum.  

Dellin Betances pitched the 8th.  He did walk a batter (Yoenis Cespedes) with two outs.  Cespedes moved into a scoring position after a wild pitch off Gary Sanchez’s glove but was left stranded when Betances struck out Michael Conforto.

The Yankees added an insurance run (which would prove to be huge) in the bottom of the 8th.  Aaron Judge led off with a double to the left field corner wall, sliding into second with his left hand just under the perfect throw from Yoenis Cespedes.  Didi Gregorius singled on a fly to shallow left that fell just beyond Wilmer Flores, the third baseman, to put runners on the corners.  A sacrifice fly to center by Gary Sanchez was deep enough (warning track) to score Judge to give the Yankees a 5-2 advantage.  The Mets replaced DeGrom with lefty Jerry Blevins.  Chase Headley singled to left, moving Gregorius to second.  Blevins then struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  The Mets pulled Blevins and replaced him with reliever Chasen Bradford (there’s another reliever in MLB from Las Vegas, Nevada named Chasen besides Shreve? Was it something in the Clark County water 27-28 years ago?).  Bradford got Todd Frazier to pop out to first to end the inning.  In retrospect, we could have used those additional runs to help prevent an agonizing 9th.

I started to get nervous when I saw Aroldis Chapman warming up.  I was thankful the Yankees weren’t nursing a one-run lead.  Wilmer Flores was first up.  He worked the count full which had me fearing that Chapman would walk the lead-off batter.  Fortunately, he struck out Flores on a foul tip to get the first out.  The Mets then inserted Jose Reyes as a pinch-hitter for Dominic Smith which seemed odd given that Smith had homered in his last at-bat and Chapman had been beaten by a young slugger the night before.  Nevertheless, Reyes hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley could not corral.  Reyes was awarded a single but Headley could have cleanly handled the play for an out.  Rookie Amed Rosario came to the plate and hit a long fly ball to center that Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury could only watch as it sailed over the fence.  The Yankees’ lead had been cut to 5-4 and there was still only one out.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound. Maybe he told Chapman to stop trying to be cute with the flat sliders.  Whatever he told Chapman, it must have worked.  Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to short on a great stop and throw to first by Didi Gregorius (despite losing his footing).  Chapman had Juan Lagares down to two strikes but he hit a grounder to first that Chase Headley successfully handled.  Chapman was moving toward first and took the toss from Headley just ahead of Lagares, but he must have pulled something in his leg as he was running toward first.  Chapman got the save, his 16th, but it was far from an exciting win.  I’ll take the win, don’t get me wrong.  But Chapman’s struggles took away some of the euphoria that normally accompanies the excitement of victory.  

The Yankees (63-55) still trail the Boston Red Sox by 4 1/2 games.  The Red Sox pounded the St Louis Cardinals, 10-4, in a game that saw the Sox turn an easy triple play to go with an eight-run inning.  The Toronto Blue Jays moved back into third place with their 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  They trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles, sliding back to fourth place, lost to the Seattle Mariners, 3-1.  They are 5 games behind the Yanks.  The Yankees increased their lead in the Wild Card standings by 3 games over the Los Angeles Angels.  It’s amazing to think that 8 AL teams are within 5 games of each other.  In the National League, the two WC leaders (Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks) hold a five-game cushion.  

Aaron Judge struck out in the first inning against Jacob DeGrom to extend his consecutive game streak with a strikeout to 32 games.  He tied Adam Dunn’s 2012 record for non-pitchers.  If he strikes out tonight, he’ll hold the dubious record by himself.  

As great as the Yankees bullpen has been this year, it seems like there is an ugly stick that is passed from reliever to reliever.  Former Yankee reliever Tyler Clippard was awful for a stretch prior to his trade to the Chicago White Sox.  By the time he was traded to the Houston Astros, he was once again being touted as a two-time All-Star.  He passed his awfulness before his departure to Dellin Betances, who rebounded, but must have given the baton to Chapman.  The Yankees were downplaying Chapman’s hamstring tightness after the game but there’s reason for concern (in my opinion).  If it were my decision, I’d pull Chapman from the closer’s role until he can right the ship.  My choice for closer would be David Robertson.  Betances tends to have more problems with base runners and I’d prefer to keep him in his effective set-up role.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-The Associated Press

For Sonny Gray (7-7), it was great to see him get the win in his Yankee Stadium debut.  Pitching six innings, he held the Mets to 5 hits and only gave  up the 2 runs on the Dominic Smith homer in the 7th.  He walked two batters and struck out 5.  This is why Gray was worth the cost of Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian.

Odds & Ends…

The latest Subway Series moves to Citi Field tonight.  Jaime Garcia gets to pitch in familiar National League digs.  Have Bat–Will Travel.  Hopefully the Yankees will back Garcia with a few runs this time or maybe he just takes matters into his own hands…

Credit:  FOX Sports

The New York Mets have made a pitching change for tonight’s game.  The scheduled starter, Seth Lugo, has been placed on the DL with an impingement in his right shoulder. Robert Gsellman, a 24-year-old righty, will start in his place.  Gsellman is 5-5 with 6.16 ERA for the Mets this season. 

Credit:  Kathy Willens-The Associated Press

It’s hard for me to get overly excited about Greg Bird after a series of disappointments this year since Spring Training.  Nevertheless, he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today.  Bird is hoping to join the Yankees next week but for me, he needs to show that he can hit again before Garrett Cooper loses his spot as the backup first baseman for the big league club.  I am very skeptical that we’ll have any significant productivity from Bird in 2017.  I hope he proves me wrong.


As expected, the Yankees placed RHP Luis Cessa on the 10-day DL with his ribcage injury. LHP Caleb Smith, demoted yesterday, was recalled to take Cessa’s place.  The lovely Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle…


Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s show Queens how Bronxites like to party!  Go Yankees!

Punchless in Toronto…

Credit:  The Associated Press

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0…

So much for heading home with any momentum to face the AL-East leading Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees offense departed Toronto a day too early as the Yankees were blanked by the AL East cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays.  Losing two of three to the division’s worst is not exactly a recipe for October.  

Sonny Gray kept the Yankees in the game but he had no help.  

Credit:  The Associated Press

The first inning started with hope for a run.  With two outs, Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to right.  Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez struck out swinging as the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.

Garrett Cooper doubled in the second inning with two outs but Ronald Torreyes flied out to right on the first pitch he was thrown by Jays starter Marco Estrada.  The Blue Jays didn’t miss their chance in the bottom of the inning.  Ezequiel Carrera doubled to center with one out.  A failed pick off attempt by Sonny Gray allowed Carrera to move to third.  Ryan Goins hit a short grounder which Gray scooped and tossed underhanded with his glove to Sanchez, but Carrera slid in under the tag to score the Jays’ first run.

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Associated Press

The third inning brought another two-out double, this time a line drive down the left field line by Aaron Judge.  But like the others, he was left stranded when Didi Gregorius flied out.  The Jays, unlike the Yankees, didn’t miss their chances.  In the bottom of the third, Jose Bautista walked.  Russell Martin struck out on a ball that got past Gary Sanchez.  Sanchez’s throw beat Martin to first, but Joey Bats had already stolen second on the play. Josh Donaldson singled to left to score Bautista.  It was 2-0 Jays.

After the Yankees went quietly in the 4th, the Blue Jays added another run in the bottom of the inning.  Steve Pearce opened with a single off Gray.  A sacrifice bunt by Ezequiel Carrera moved Pearce to second.  After Ryan Goins walked, Kevin Pillar singled to left (a bouncer between Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius) to score Pearce.  

The fifth inning started with promise.  Garrett Cooper led off with a single to left and Ronald Torreyes walked.  But they didn’t advance any further when Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge recorded outs.  For Judge, who struck out to end the inning, it was his 27th consecutive game with a strikeout (extending his own franchise record).  

Credit:  The Associated Press

It was more of the same in the 6th.  Gary Sanchez walked with one out.  He was followed by Todd Frazier who singled to right.  Sanchez advanced to second but there he would stay as Jacoby Ellsbury and Garrett Cooper failed to move the runners.

Manager Joe Girardi brought Chasen Shreve in to start the 7th inning.  While Shreve’s performance overall was good, he allowed a home run by Jose Bautista, a solo shot to left.  The Blue Jays were up 4-0.  It was Bautista’s 36th career homer against the Yankees, the most of any active player.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees couldn’t do anything with a Gary Sanchez single in the 8th.  For the 9th, the Jays brought in their closer, Roberto Osuna, even though it wasn’t a save opportunity.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk.  Following strikeouts by Garrett Cooper and Chase Headley, Brett Gardner walked.  Aaron Judge came to the plate with a chance to bring the Yankees within a run but it was not to be as he struck out to end the game.  

Sonny Gray (6-7) took the loss.  He went six innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs.  Only 2 of the runs were earned due to Sonny’s error on the failed pick-off attempt in the 2nd inning.  Throwing a total of 103 pitches, he walked 4 batters and struck out 6.

This was a very disappointing loss.  My morning started with a Red Sox fan posting the AL East Standings on my FaceBook page and laughing.  The Yankees (60-53) fell 4 1/2 games behind the idle Red Sox who watched the Yankees lose while sitting in NYC.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-1, to move back to 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles won too, 7-2 over the Oakland A’s, so they’re 4 games behind New York.  The Yankees still have the Wild Card lead (by two games) but this team is not playing like it wants to play in October.  It doesn’t get any easier tonight…

Next Up:  Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York…

With Boston’s day off on Thursday, they arrived in New York City a day earlier than the Yankees.  So, they’ll be rested and ready for the Bombers tonight.  The Red Sox bring an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s game.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  It’s a bummer that Sonny Gray will miss this series but he’ll be ready next weekend in Boston.  

TODAY

Red Sox:  Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.08 ERA)

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 6.35)

SATURDAY:  

Red Sox:  Drew Pomeranz (11-4, 3.06 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (9-4, 2.91 ERA)

SUNDAY:

Red Sox:  Chris Sale (14-4, 2.57 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.05 ERA)

Monty, we need you to get back to New York to start on Sunday in place of CC Sabathia.  Who’s on the mound for Boston?  Um, I’m not sure.  Just go out there and throw zeros and we’ll be fine…  

Odds & Ends…

Clint Frazier has been placed on the 10-Day DL with his oblique tightness.  OF Aaron Hicks was activated off the DL a day earlier than anticipated as a result.  I guess this delays the decision of what to do with Red Thunder when Aaron Hicks returns.  Hicksie gets to fly from Trenton to Toronto and back to New York City in less than 24 hours.  I suppose it could have been worse if the Yankees had been playing in Seattle.


LHP Dietrich Enns, 26, made his Major League debut last night for the Minnesota Twins in their game against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.  It didn’t go so well.  Despite the Twins’ 7-2 win, Enns was pulled after 2 1/2 innings and 53 pitches.  He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs (only one earned thanks to his own throwing error).  He walked a batter (with the bases loaded in the third) and gave up a home run to Keon Broxton. Enns went to Minnesota with Zack Littell in the deal that brought Jaime Garcia to New York.  

Credit:  Tom Lynn-The Associated Press

Have a great Friday!  Yankees-Red Sox.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Let’s Go Yankees!

The Bottom Third and the Bullpen…

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5…

The bottom of the Yankees lineup powered the team to victory on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays with an assist by the bullpen.  Six of the eleven runs were courtesy of the bottom third of the order.  Nine runs if you throw in the number 6 hitter (the Toddfather).  It was a much needed win as the Boston Red Sox are currently riding an eight-game winning streak (which they will bring to the Bronx on Friday night when they begin a three-game series against the beloved home team).

Masahiro Tanaka only gave up two hits but he was gone after four innings, pulled in the 5th with no outs, having thrown 88 pitches which included five walks and three runs (two earned).  So, it was up to the stacked bullpen to power its way to victory.

The Yankees got on the board first with two runs in the top of the 2nd.  Gary Sanchez and Todd Frazier led off the inning against Blue Jays starter Nick Tepesch with back-to-back home runs.  The Jays’ Kevin Pillar made a nearly successful leap to rob Sanchez, but the ball was just beyond his reach.  I’ve said it before but I hate solo home runs.  It’s not that I hate home runs…I love the runs, but I just prefer men on base when it happens (statement of the obvious).  Two home runs…the potential for eight runs…or two.  I just prefer to be somewhere in the middle (or more).  Oh well, the stats seem to favor the Yankees when they homer in games so I am not complaining.

Credit:  The Associated Press

The Blue Jays got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd when Steve Pearce walked and advanced to third on Kevin Pillar’s double to left.  Nori Aoki hit a grounder to second  for an out, but Pearce scored on the play (with Pillar moving to third).  It got a little too interesting with the next batter when Darwin Barney hit a grounder to third and the Yankees had Pillar caught in a rundown.  But it wasn’t executed cleanly and Pillar almost scored if not for the athleticism of Tanaka who took the throw behind Gary Sanchez to nail the runner at the plate.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The top of the 3rd brought another solo home run, this time a shot to the second deck in right center by Didi Gregorius, as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-1.  

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Jays answered in the bottom of the inning without a single hit.  Raffy Lopez led off and reached base through catcher’s interference on a pitch that would have been the third strike.  Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak walked to load the bases.  Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Donaldson to make it a one-run game.  

It looked like the Yankees were going to break the game open in the 5th when Aaron Judge walked and moved to third when Didi Gregorius doubled to center.  The Jays brought in Leonel Campos to replace Tepesch.  He was successful in striking out Gary Sanchez, but Todd Frazier followed with a double to right center to score Judge and Gregorius.  Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to center to score Frazier and it was 6-2 Yankees.

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

In the bottom of the 5th, the Jays started to chip away.  Jose Bautista led off with a home run to left.  Masahiro Tanaka walked the next batter (Josh Donaldson) and Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough.  He brought in Chad Green who struck out the side to prevent any further damage.

Unfortunately, the 6th inning didn’t go so well for Green.  Nori Aoki opened with a single.  Darwin Barney hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Aoki, however, Ryan Goins doubled to left center to score Barney.  Girardi elected to pull Green and brought in Tommy Kahnle.  A wild pitch by Kahnle moved Goins to third.  Raffy Lopez walked to put runners at the corners.  Josh Donaldson singled to right center, scoring Goins, and it was a one-run game again.  

The Yankees finally got separation in the 8th when Todd Frazier led off the inning with a single to left center off Jays reliever Dominic Leone.  The Jays pulled Leone for J.P. Howell who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.  Howell was then lifted for Taylor Cole which backfired on the Jays.  Garrett Cooper doubled to left with Frazier moving to third.  Ronald Torreyes, who has done a stellar job as a fill-in for Starlin Castro, singled to center to score both Frazier and Cooper.  Torreyes took second on the throw.  The Yankees almost had another run when Chase Headley singled to left center but Toe was gunned down at the plate.  

Nevertheless, the Yankees picked up three more runs in the top of the 9th with Cole still on the mound.  Didi Gregorius reached base on an infield single, Gary Sanchez singled to center and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second but Gregorius scored on the play.  Garrett Cooper doubled to center to bring both Sanchez and Frazier home.  The Jays had seen enough of Cole and pulled him for Danny Barnes who retired the last two Yankee batters get out of the inning and let the Jays come to bat for their last licks.

David Robertson and Dellin Betances had pitched scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, respectively.  For the 9th to close it out, Girardi brought in Adam Warren.  It wasn’t clean but he got the job done.  A walk and a single had runners at the corners with two outs, but Warren got Kevin Pillar to fly out to Aaron Judge to end the game.  The Yankees win!

It was so great to see the Yankees finally make noise with runners in scoring position.  Garrett Cooper led the 17-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night.  He had 2 RBI’s and scored a run.  It was by far his best game as a Yankee.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes also had 2 RBI’s each.  Todd Frazier was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI’s and four runs scored, including his 19th home run of the season.  Didi Gregorius was 3-for-5 with an RBI on the solo homer, his 18th, and three runs scored.  It was good to see Gary Sanchez homer, also his 18th.  He had two hits and scored twice.  This was a great team victory to pick up Tanaka.  Green (2-0) was the winner.  

Credit:  Mark Blinch-The Associated Press

The Yankees (60-52) remain four games behind the Boston Red Sox.  As noted at the top of this post, the Red Sox won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2.  Even though the Yankees didn’t gain any ground on the Red Sox, they increased their lead over the Rays by 3 1/2 games.  The Baltimore Orioles also lost (5-1 to the Los Angeles Angels) so they fell 5 games behind the Yankees.  The Yankees currently hold a 2 1/2 game advantage in the Wild Card standings but I still think the AL East can be won.  The Red Sox are off today so the Yankees can pick up a 1/2 game with a win today over the Jays on Getaway Day.  The Sox will be waiting for the Yankees in the Bronx for a three-game set starting on Friday night.

Clint Frazier was scheduled to start the game in right field but was a late scratch for oblique tightness.  No immediate word on his condition.  Aaron Judge was moved from DH to right field, Chase Headley from 1B to DH, and Garrett Cooper inserted into the starting lineup at first.  Obviously, Cooper took advantage of the opportunity at Frazier’s expense.

Odds & Ends…

I’ll let others write about the upcoming Players Weekend on August 25th through 27th when players can wear nicknames on the back of alternate uniforms.  I know that many Yankee fans are up in arms, but I am indifferent.  It is a playful three days and it does not involve desecrating the famed Pinstripes.  But Pickles?  Really?  We’re going to throw Pickles at the Seattle Mariners?  Well, at least we can throw The Missile at them later.  I know that Sonny Gray has a story behind the name but it is still hard to wrap my head around it.

CC Sabathia’s MRI came back clear so it sounds as though he’ll be back on the mound sooner rather than later.  No word if he’ll miss any time.  Admittedly, I am skeptical about continuing to throw him out there.  The knee surely factored into the two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Tuesday.  I am not crazy about testing the knee in live, game scenarios.  I’ve enjoyed CC’s Yankees career but the end of this contract is a good farewell point for me.  I have no interest in testing the knee in 2018.  

I was bummed to see the Mets trade Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians.  I thought he would fit well on the Yankees roster as 1B/DH.  With a recent inability to get runs across the plate, Bruce would have helped kickstart the offense.  Apparently the Yankees were involved in trade talks until the end, but the dealbreaker was money.  The Yankees wanted the Mets to pay some of the remaining money owed to Bruce whereas the Indians absorbed the full balance due.  


Have a Sunny Day Thursday…or a Sonny Gray Thursday!  Let’s Go Yankees!

52 Games To Go, Let’s Do This!…

Enjoyed An Off Day…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

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

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

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)

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

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

Farewell to #25…

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

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

Gray’s “Errorable” Yankees Debut…

Credit:  David Dermer-AP

Indians 5, Yankees 1…

Actually, Sonny Gray pitched very well.  Sadly, he had no support from Yankees team offense or defense.  Todd Frazier made his Yankee Stadium debut by hitting into a triple play, but Gray topped him, admittedly through no fault of his own, as three first inning defensive errors led to an early 2-0 Indians lead as the Tribe sailed to the easy victory.  

Credit:  Getty Images
Facing one of the AL’s best pitchers in Corey Kluber, there was no margin for error.  Unfortunately, the first inning looked like Keystone Cops.  Bradley Zimmer hit a grounder to first that should have been the first out, but Chase Headley was unable to field it cleanly which allowed Zimmer to reach base.  Francisco Lindor grounded out with Zimmer moving to second.  Michael Brantley hit a grounder to Tyler Wade that should have been the second out, but the ball got away from Wade and Brantley was safe at first.  Zimmer to third.  Jose Ramirez hit a liner to right that Clint Frazier stopped cleanly but then he must have been throwing to the fans in the first or second row of the third base stands as the threw sailed over the head of third baseman Ronald Torreyes into the camera well for the third error, which allowed both Zimmer and Brantley to score.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could barely touch Kluber, mustering just three hits off the Indians’ ace.  Clint Frazier picked up the Yankees first hit in the fourth inning with a double to right.  He made it to third on a subsequent fly out, but like any Yankee on third base these days, he was left stranded.
The Indians picked up a couple of insurance runs in the sixth.  With two outs, Carlos Santana walked on four straight balls.  Brandon Guyer lined a single to right, moving Santana to second.  Yan Gomes doubled off the left field wall, scoring both Santana and Guyer.  It was 4-0 Indians.  Gray got the final out of the 6th, but it was the end of his debut.  His final line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO.  If he continues to pitch like that, he’ll pick up his share of wins for the Yankees.
Credit:  Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees finally scored their one and only run in the top of the 7th when Gary Sanchez blasted a home run to center.  Unfortunately, it would be the last hit off Kluber who went the distance.  With Chasen Shreve pitching in the bottom of the 7th, Francisco Lindor answered El Gary’s home run with a shot of his own over the left field wall.  From there, the Yankees went quietly.  Kluber picked up his ninth victory of the season.  He struck out 11 Yankees, the 9th time in his last 10 games he has struck out 10 or more batters.  Gray (6-6) took the loss.  The only other Yankee to get a hit, besides Clint Frazier and Gary Sanchez, was Ronald Torreyes who singled in the 5th inning.
Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer
The Yankees (57-50) fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  Boston beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-5.  The Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees with a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros.  The Detroit Tigers stopped the Baltimore Orioles’ winning streak, 7-5, so the O’s remain 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
Brett Gardner was hitless in four at-bats to snap his 14-game hitting streak.  It had been the longest current streak in MLB.  He also struck out twice.
Manager Joe Girardi took heat for benching Aaron Judge, Todd Frazier and Matt Holliday but I had no issue with the rest days for those guys.  They haven’t been hitting and it was unlikely they would have had any better results against Kluber.  Hopefully, the rest day helps them today when they return to the lineup.  Jaime Garcia could use the run support (and defense) that Sonny Gray failed to get.  On the bright side, the Yankees won’t see Kluber again this series.
Credit:  Chuck Crow-The Plain Dealer
Odds & Ends…

According to MLB.com, OF Dustin Fowler ranks as the Oakland A’s third best top prospect, while SS/OF Jorge Mateo is #5 and RHP James Kaprielian is #11.  Fowler will be given every opportunity to break camp next Spring with the A’s as their starting center fielder. I guess we are going to be “Ben Gameled” quite often in the future.  

Credit:  John Shea

Speaking of top prospects, 2B Nick Solak is now in the Top 10 for the Yankees (according to MLB.com) and seems to be shooting through the system.  He was called up to the Double A Trenton Thunder a couple of days ago from the High A Tampa Yankees.  For Tampa, the 22 year old Solak hit .301/.397/.460 with 10 HR’s and 44 RBI’s.  He also had 17 doubles and 13 steals.  Solak was the Yankees’ 2nd round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.   

Credit:  Mark LoMoglio

The Yankees should be getting some help soon.  Aaron Hicks is currently on rehab assignment at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is 2-for-6 in two games, with an extra base hit and a run scored.  Greg Bird is traveling with the team and slowly beginning baseball activities.  There’s hope that he can return by early September.  Starlin Castro will soon begin a running program as he recovers from the hamstring strain that landed him on the DL.

Have a great Friday!  Here’s hoping for better results with Jaime Garcia’s Yankees debut.  Go Yankees!

The Curious Case of Run-Scoring Aversion…

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP

Tigers 2, Yankees 0…

Wouldn’t you know it…Getaway Day with a plane waiting on the tarmac for a flight to Ohio and a lengthy rain delay to extend the wait to depart the Stadium.  I guess on the bright side, the Cleveland Indians had to wait for night game to be called because of rain in Boston before they could head home so both teams should be equally sleep-derived today when Sonny Gray makes his much anticipated debut for the Yankees.  


With rain delays of over 4 1/2 hours, the end of the day was painful as the Yankees, behind a very lackluster offensive-performance (yes, it was very offensive), fell to the Tigers.  It was only their second shut out of the season.  


The game, originally scheduled to start at 2:30 pm Eastern, was delayed by rain.  

Fresh off the 14-strikeout performance, Masahiro Tanaka did not have quite the same pitches on Wednesday.  It was yet another game where the Yankees started off with a first inning deficit.  Ian Kinsler led off with a single to left, and advanced to second when Jim Adduci singled to center.  Before most fans could even get a sip of their first beer, Justin Upton doubled down the left field line, scoring Kinsler with the game’s first run.  From there, Tanaka settled down retiring the next three batters (two by strikeout).

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Like Tuesday, the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.  They had their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 2nd when Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch to reach first base. Chase Headley lined a double to right to move Sanchez to third.  Todd Frazier was the suspect this time, with a fly out to end the inning.

A second great scoring opportunity presented itself in the bottom of the 3rd.  Both Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury hit one-out singles, with Gardner moving to third.  Aaron Judge had first crack at bringing one or both runners home but he struck out.  Ellsbury stole second during the at-bat to move into scoring position, representing the potential tying run.  Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez grounded out to end the threat.

The Tigers picked up their second run in the top of the 4th.  With two outs, Mikie Mahtook walked.  James McCann followed with a single to center which Jacoby Ellsbury mishandled (twice) for an error, allowing Mahtook to score from first.  McCann ended up on second but was left stranded when Andrew Romine (man, I wanted to type Austin) flied out to left.

The bottom of the 6th brought another failed scoring opportunity for the home team.  Aaron Judge opened with a single to left.  Gary Sanchez doubled to left as Judge moved to third.  Runners in scoring position with no outs.  Didi Gregorius popped out to the shortstop.  Matt Holliday hit a fly ball to center but it wasn’t deep enough for Judge to tag and score.  One more opportunity with Chase Headley, but he went down swinging.  More men left 90 feet away, suffering severe cases of “home” sickness.

Six innings and Masahiro Tanaka was done.  After the wobbly start, his final line was decent.  6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO.  Also, he was successful in bringing his season ERA below five to 4.93.  Tommy Kahnle pitched a three-up, three-down 7th, however, the Yankees hit into three consecutive ground outs in the bottom of the inning.  Then, the second rain delay…

Credit:  Michael Noble Jr-AP

After the game resumed in the top of the 8th, Dellin Betances pitched an immaculate inning.  He struck out three Tigers on 9 pitches.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

In the bottom of the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury tried.  On a pitch that would have been Ball 4, Ellsbury hit a grounder to short but was able to beat it out.  A wild pitch from reliever Bruce Rondon that catcher James McCann was unable to handle allowed Ells to move to second.  Like the previous Yankees in scoring position for this game, he was left stranded when Rondon retired the next 3 batters.


Shane Greene, the newly appointed Tigers closer following the trading deadline deal that sent Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs, took the mound in the 9th and easily retired the Yankees for the 2-0 win.  A disappointing way to leave the Stadium for the road trip to Cleveland.

The Yankees (57-49) fell a game behind the Red Sox with the loss.  Boston’s game with the Cleveland Indians was rained out and will be made up on Monday, August 14th (after the Red Sox complete a three-game series at Yankee Stadium).  The Tampa Bay Rays moved 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees with their 3-0 victory over the Houston Astros.  The Baltimore Orioles keep winning.  They won their fifth in a row, a 6-0 shutout of Kansas City Royals, and have moved 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Rays and Orioles defeat two of the best teams in the AL while the Yankees lose a series to one of its worst.  


Masahiro Tanaka (8-10) took the tough luck loss.  I am very concerned about Matt Holliday.  He has been a shell of his former self since returning from his viral infection.  His bat is hurting this offense.  Same with Todd Frazier.  Both hitters were hitless in four at-bats.  As a team, the Yankees left 20 men on base.  It’s very hard to win this game when you can’t push runs across the plate.

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Next Up:  Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH…

The Yankees are set to play a four-game series in Cleveland against the defending American League Champions.  The Tribe are returning from a road trip that just ended in Boston against the hated Red Sox.  

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-5, 3.43 ERA)

Indians:  Corey Kluber (8-3, 2.90 ERA)

FRIDAY

Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (5-7, 4.29 ERA)

Indians:  Trevor Bauer (9-8, 5.25 ERA)

SATURDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.15 ERA)

Indians:  Danny Salazar (4-5, 4.63 ERA)

SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (8-4, 2.98 ERA)

Indians:  Mike Clevinger (5-4, 3.68 ERA)


Today’s game starts off with a marquee pairing.  Luis Severino may be the staff ace, but Sonny Gray is the shiny new toy going against one of the AL’s best in Corey Kluber.  It should be a fantastic game.  I just wish the Yankee bats were swinging a little better.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

It’s reunion time for Clint Frazier who makes his first trip to Cleveland as a Yankee.  Although he never played at the Major League level, it’s still the organization he began his professional career.  He was Cleveland’s top prospect along with outfielder Bradley Zimmer and the two are close friends.  Zimmer was called up earlier this season by the Indians and is hitting .282 with 8 home runs and 37 RBI’s in 67 games.  I hope Frazier plays as well against the Indians as former Yankee Ben Gamel did against the Yankees a couple of weeks ago.

Credit:  Mark Podolski-The Times-Herald

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees will miss old friend Andrew Miller on their trip to Cleveland.  The Indians placed the versatile lefty on the 10-Day DL yesterday with right knee patella tendinitis. Another former Yankee, Boone Logan, is also on the DL for the Tribe.  Logan is most likely good buddies with Tommy Kahnle since they spent a few years together in the Colorado Rockies bullpen.  Good that we won’t have to face Miller, but bad for the player.  All things considered, I’d prefer to see a happy and healthy Andrew Miller regardless of what uniform he currently wears.

Credit:  Getty Images

Have a great Thursday!  Let’s hope for better things in C-Town as Sonny Gray takes the field for the first time as a friend…not a foe.  Go Yankees!