Tagged: Starlin Castro

Losing the Game of Inches…

Credit:  Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sport

A’s 8, Yankees 7…


I love California but this road trip has been horrific.


The Yankees fought back in this game time and again and took the lead in the 10th, only to lose another game with a rookie pitcher on the mound.  I am not pinning this on Giovanny Gallegos but it’s a testament to the mounting bangs and bruises on this team.


After the Yankees failed to score with the bases loaded in the first inning, the A’s took the early lead in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot by Jed Lowrie.  The A’s took a 3-0 lead in the second when Adam Rosales doubled off Jordan Montgomery, following a walk by Matt Chapman, making his Major League debut, and a ground-rule double by Josh Phegley, scoring both base runners.


The game stayed that way until the sixth.  In the top of the inning, Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded to score two runs.  Chris Carter followed with a single to tie the game at 3.  The A’s replaced starting pitcher Sonny Gray with Sean Dolittle who retired the next two Yankees to get out of the inning.  In the bottom of the 6th, Yonder Alonso homered as the A’s re-captured the lead, 4-3.  


The seesaw battle continued in the 7th inning when Gary Sanchez doubled with Starlin Castro on second, scoring Castro with the tying run.  But the A’s answered the run with a run-scoring single by Chad Pinder in the bottom of the inning and the A’s were back up, 5-4.


Chris Carter homered in the top of the 8th to once again tie the game, 5-5.  Like the inning before, the A’s answered the call in the bottom of the inning when Matt Joyce hit a grounder into a force out with the bases loaded and only one out, scoring the lead runner.  6-5, A’s. Tyler Clippard had started the inning but he was ineffective (again) as two of three batters he faced reached base through a single and a walk.  Dellin Betances was on the mound when the A’s scored their run, but he was able to strike out Rajai Davis to prevent any further damage.


The 9th inning saw the Yankees tie the game again when Starlin Castro doubled off A’s closer Santiago Casilla and Gary Sanchez followed with a run-scoring single.  Gary Sanchez stole second to give the Yankees a runner in scoring position (replaced by pinch runner Ronald Torreyes as Sanchez came out of the game with a tight groin) with only one out, but Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter could not move the runner.  Didi flied out, and Carter went down swinging on a 3-2 count.  In the bottom of the 9th, the A’s loaded the bases with two outs against Betances but he was able to get out of the inning by striking out Matt Chapman.


The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the 10th when Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.  Matt Holliday, entering the game at DH to replace Torreyes, struck out against A’s reliever Liam Hendricks to end the inning.  The Yankees could have used a few insurance runs on this night.  In the bottom of the 10th, Giovanny Gallegos replaced Betances.  He retired the first two batters he faced, but then Rajai Davis singled and Chad Pinder doubled to move Davis to third.  Jed Lowrie was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Khris Davis ended the game with a single just over Starlin Castro (ball tipped off his glove), scoring Davis and Pinder with the winning runs.  A’s emerged with the 8-7 victory in another lost opportunity for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Jason O Watson-Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi summed it up after the game, “It hurts because it’s a matter of a couple inches that you lose that game by and it’s frustrating.”


This was another game that shows how much the Yankees miss closer Aroldis Chapman.  It will be good to get Chapman back this weekend (hopefully on Sunday) so that Betances can get into games earlier and lessen the reliance on other arms.  


Fingers crossed for both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks who also left the game in the 9th with tightness in his Achilles Heel.  After the game, it was disclosed that reliever Adam Warren is battling tightness in his trapezius muscle which accounted for his unavailability.  Hopefully, none of these ailments are serious.  

Didi Gregorius singled in the game to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games.


Fortunately, the Yankees (38-26) did not lose any ground to any AL East team except the Toronto Blue Jays as everyone else lost.  The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays remain 2 games and 5 1/2 games behind, respectively, while the Blue Jays moved up to 6 1/2 games back (bringing  the Baltimore Orioles into a tie for the AL East cellar).  


Hopefully, better results await the Yankees today.

Odds & Ends…

Ronald Herrera, we hardly knew ye.  After taking the loss in his lone Big League appearance on Wednesday night, Herrera has found himself back with the Double A Trenton Thunder.  I thought it was much to ask of Herrera to make the jump from AA to the Majors, and the proof was in the pudding with the pitch he threw Andrelton Simmons.  What works in AA goes for a long home run in the Big Leagues.  The Yankees also placed CC Sabathia on the Disabled List, as expected.  To replace Herrera and Sabathia, the Yankees have recalled Luis Cessa and Domingo German.  Sunday’s starter has not yet been determined but Girardi has a pool of Cessa, German and Chad Green to choose from.  Cessa appears to be the favorite to start on Sunday (or on Saturday if Girardi decides to push Masahiro Tanaka back a day).

The Yankees stopped the rehabilitation for Greg Bird yesterday and he’ll see Team Physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad today.  Bird told Trainer Steve Donohue on Thursday morning that the leg was not feeling right and not functioning right.  This is not good news.  The Yankees are already suspect at both infield corners.  Tyler Austin has not exactly set the World on fire at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He is currently batting .303 but only has 1 homer and 6 RBI’s in 17 games (66 AB’s).  In my opinion, the best first baseman in the system is Thunder first baseman Mike Ford.  This year, including his time at AAA, Ford, 24, is batting .289/.410/.509 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI’s.  He has played 61 games and has walked 44 times.  He even stole a base…once.  But he has the same disadvantage as Chance Adams and others, he does not have a place on the 40-man roster.  

There was already talk the Yankees needed to upgrade at third.  If the priority becomes first base, does this increase the likelihood that we’ll see Gleyber Torres as soon as next month?  I still think it is too premature for him and his AAA manager is on record saying that he is not ready yet.  I guess this is why GM Brian Cashman is paid to make these decisions.  The added pressure on him is the moves over the next 45 days will go a long way toward determining his future at the end of the year with the expiration of his contract.  


Have a great Friday!  Let’s win one of these close games for a change…

Yankees: Can You Hear Me Now?…

Credit:  Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees 14, Orioles 3…

Wow…the Yankees figured out the best way to beat the Baltimore Orioles is to just blast them in the bottom of the first inning.  A day after they crushed the O’s 16-3, the Yankee bats were in high gear once again.  I carried a fear that they’d struggle a day after the blow-out but these Yankees do not play to anyone’s predictions.  The forecasted 82-win team keeps rolling along as they pummeled the O’s 14-3 on Sunday to complete the three-game sweep.

This was a tough 13-game stretch against AL East opponents.  When the Yankees returned home to face the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, they were 3-4 in road games against the O’s and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Boston had a chance to overtake the Yankees in the AL East standings with a sweep, but instead the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Sox.  Then, they absolutely crushed the Orioles by a cumulative score of 38-8 in sweeping the three-game series.  So, the Yankees finish 8-5 for the 13 AL East games and are beginning to make believers that this team may be for real.  

After losing the opening game of the Red Sox series, the Baby Bombers won the next five games against the Red Sox and the O’s by a combined score of 55-9.  It was the first five game stretch of at least 8 runs or more for the Yankees since July 1956. 

Replicating Saturday’s fast start, the Yankees jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning.  Two of the first three batters (Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge) singled to put runners at the corners.  Judge moved to second on a wild pitch, but it didn’t matter as Matt Holliday walked to load the bases.  Starlin Castro hit the second pitch of the at-bat up the middle off O’s starter Kevin Gausman, scoring Gardner and Judge.  Holliday moved to second.  That brought up Gary Sanchez who parked one in left center to score three more runs.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-Associated Press

The Yankees could have blown the game open in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but Starlin Castro hit into a double-play to strand the runners.   

Staked to the big lead, Chad Green, making his first Major League start of the season, couldn’t survive the third inning.  The only blemish of the first two innings was a walk of Trey Mancini in the second inning, but JJ Hardy opened the third with a double off Green.  The next hitter, former Yankee (or should I say RailRider) Ruben Tejada doubled off his former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre teammate to score Hardy.  Green’s day was ended after 52 pitches.  But the “doubles parade” continued against Chasen Shreve.  Seth Smith lined a double to score Tejada, followed by Jonathan Schoop’s double to score Smith.  Suddenly, the game was much tighter at 5-3.  Or as Michael Kay put it, “a laugher has become a nail-biter”.  Fortunately, Shreve rebounded to get Adam Jones on a ground-out, holding the runner at second.  This was followed by swinging strikeouts of O’s sluggers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, after Jonathan Holder held the O’s scoreless in the top of the frame, the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs when Aaron Hicks walked and moved to third on a double by Aaron Judge.  Matt Holliday rapped a single to center to score both of the Aarons, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 7-3.

Moving to the sixth, Aaron Judge smashed another monster home run.  They should probably re-name Statcast as “Judge-cast” because he owns the leaderboards.  A day after the hardest hit ball this year, Judge captured the lead for home run distance with 495 feet.  Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks had held the previous longest homer (481 feet) since April 29th.  I’ve been convinced that we’ll see a 500 ft home run from Judge this season and he came within 5 feet of making my dream a reality.  8-3, Yankees.

Credit:  MLB.com

Not finished in the sixth, Matt Holliday reached first base on a fielding error by second baseman Jonathan Scoop.  Starlin Castro followed with a homer to left-center, making up for his second inning-ending double play.  The once close score was now 10-3 Yankees.  

You’d think that the Yankees bats were done for the day but not the Aarons.  In the 7th, both Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner walked with one out.  Aaron Hicks subsequently lined a double to center, scoring both runners.  12-3, Yankees.  That set the stage for the man of the hour, Aaron Judge.  In the daily game of who is going to hit two home runs next, Judge answered the call with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to cap the Yankees scoring for the day and give the Yankees a 14-3 lead.

It’s nice to have games where it is difficult to pick the player of the game.  Certainly, two home runs (including one that traveled nearly 500 ft) and a 4-for-4 day with 3 RBI’s gives Judge the leg up, but Starlin Castro’s 4 RBI’s warrant consideration.  Gary Sanchez and his three-run homer.  Or Matt Holliday, who has a knack for always being in the thick of the action.  1-for-3, Holliday walked twice, scored two runs, and had 2 RBI’s.  I am not ready to say that this is a World Series contender quite yet, but this is the most exciting Yankees team that I’ve seen since the late 90’s.  Please do not let the bubble burst.

In a game of relievers, the Yankees used 5 members of the bullpen to complete the game.  The longest stint was provided by Domingo German who was making his Major League debut.  German finished the final 2 2/3 innings of the game.  Although he did allow two hits and a walk, he held the O’s scoreless and struck out a batter (Jonathan Schoop, to end the top of the 7th inning).  Adam Warren (2-1), who preceded German, picked up the win.

The Yankees (37-23) moved up 3 1/2 games in the AL East, pending the outcome of Boston’s game on Sunday night.  The Tampa Bay Rays won (5-4 over the Oakland A’s) to move into third place, 6 games behind the Yankees.  The Orioles slipped to fourth with the loss, 6 1/2 games back.

This was an impressive home stand by the Yankees.  But all good things must end.  The Yankees take the show on the road for seven games in Southern and Northern California before returning to Yankee Stadium on June 20th to face the Los Angeles Angels.  With the West Coast games, I guess there are going to be a few bleary-eyed fans this week suffering from lack of sleep.

Odds & Ends…

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders lost to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Sunday, 6-4.  The RailRiders led the majority of the game, but the IronPigs scored 5 runs late to capture the win.  Chance Adams was the starter, and pitched very well until the fateful 7th inning (when the IronPigs pushed 4 runs across the plate).  He finished with a pitching line of 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR, while increasing his season ERA to 2.52.  He didn’t figure in the decision.  Tyler Webb, who I had hoped would eventually find his way to the Bronx, was an absolute train wreck.  He gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (plus a run charged to Adams) before recording the final out of the 7th inning.  Adams deserved better but this was a learning experience.

Greg Bird had a quiet day at the plate.  He was 0-for-2, with 2 walks and a run scored.  

Domingo German’s stay in the Major Leagues was short-lived.  Following yesterday’s game, he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Right-handed reliever Ben Heller was recalled to take his place.  Either Heller or Gallegos will be heading back to SWB when Aroldis Chapman is activated (hopefully this weekend in Oakland).  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups in Anaheim for the series with the Los Angeles Angels:

MONDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Angels:  Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (7-2, 3.66 ERA)

Angels:  JC Ramirez ( 6-4, 4.33 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.39 ERA)

Angels:  Matt Shoemaker (6-3, 4.22 ERA)

Have a great Monday!  Let’s keep this winning streak alive!  Go Yankees!

Sevvy + 5 Home Runs = Easy Win…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 16, Orioles 3…

Like Michael Pineda the day before, Luis Severino’s even better start was lost among the sea of Yankees hits and homers.  

Last year, Severino was a failed 5th starter (0-8 when he started games with an 8.50 ERA).  This year, he’s playing like the ace (which is more pronounced since the so-called “ace” is now performing like a failed 5th starter).  Credit Severino for keeping his focus this game.  It would have been so easy to let up on the accelerator in a game that was 9-0 before many people had even found their seats.  He had a one-hitter going until Chris Davis tagged him for a homer in the 7th.  Sevvy (5-2) finished seven innings strong with two hits, one run, two walks, and eight strikeouts.  He lowered his team-leading ERA (for starting pitchers) to 2.75.  Severino continues to come up big for the Yankees and he is as responsible as anyone for the team’s placement atop the AL East.  

Now let’s set the pitching aside.  This was a monster game by the Yankee bats.  Aaron Judge owns the Statcast Leaderboard, and his first inning home run off Baltimore Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman topped his previous efforts in exit velocity at 121.1 mph.  The hit also ranked as a Statcast-era record.  The homer was Judge’s league-leading 19th of the season.  I sure hope that Judge didn’t have any plans for the All-Star Game break because travel plans are already underway for his trip to Miami.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Tillman had retired the first two Yankees to start the game, but after Judge’s homer, Matt Holliday doubled.  Starlin Castro followed with a double, Holliday to third.  Gary Sanchez then singled both Holliday and Castro home.  Didi Gregorius stepped up and hit the second home run of the night to put the Yankees up 5-0.  They weren’t quite finished yet.  The useless Chase Headley walked.  A wild pitch by Tillman moved Headley into scoring position, and Chris Carter promptly singled to score Headley.  6-0, Yankees.  In an interesting note, Brett Gardner represented the first and third outs of the first inning.

I was fearful that the long inning would adversely impact Severino but those fears were unfounded.  Three up, three down, and it was time for the Yankees fireworks again.  After Aaron Hicks grounded out, both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked.  Starlin Castro didn’t waste the opportunity, as he blasted a three-run homer to left center to increase the lead to 9-0, finishing  loser Chris Tillman’s night.  If you have Chris Tillman on your fantasy team, please accept my condolences.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the 4th inning, Aaron Hicks walked and Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners.  That brought Bald Brother Matt Holliday to the plate.  Trailing fellow Bald Brother Brett Gardner by one home run, Holliday tied the count at 13 homers with a shot to left-center.  12-0, Yankees.

Aaron Judge picked up two more RBI’s in the fifth with a double to left.  14-0, Yankees.

The Orioles scored their first run in the 7th with Chris Davis’ homer off Sevvy, and then added another in the 8th with a solo home run by Joey Rickard off reliever Giovanny Gallegos.  Leading 14-2, Ronald Torreyes was hit by a pitch from O’s reliever Mike Wright to open the bottom of the 8th.  Gary Sanchez then connected with the fifth home run of the night to cap the Yankees’ scoring at 16.  

The O’s added a final meaningless run in the 9th before Trey Mancini grounded out to end the game.  By a score of 16-3, the Yankees captured the series with the O’s as they’ve won two heading into the third and final game of the series today.  I always have concerns when the Yankees score more than 15 runs.  I do not have the stats to back up this statement, but it always feels like the Yankees struggle scoring runs the day after a huge blow-out.  Hopefully that’s not the case today as the Yankees prepare to embark on a California road trip following the conclusion of the game.

The Yankees (36-23) maintained their three game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox had an offensive show of their own, with an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.  Of course, it didn’t help that they had Chris Sale on the mound.  The O’s slipped to 5 1/2 games back.  If the Tampa Bay Rays would have won (they didn’t), the O’s could have fallen into fourth place in the division.  This was probably not one of Buck Showalter’s better experiences at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, Chad Green will start today against the Orioles.  Green will be the first time the Yankees have gone outside the original 5-man rotation that started the year.  However, in a more surprising move, the Yankees designated former LOOGY Tommy Layne for assignment and called up promising rookie Domingo German.  German, a starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will provide long relief for Green should he encounter any bumps in the road.  

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I knew Layne’s days were numbered as he always seemed to be giving up runs with any appearances.  He has not been the same pitcher for the Yankees as he was last year following his release by the Boston Red Sox.  I have no problem with Chasen Shreve as the key lefty, but I’d be surprised if the Yankees weren’t looking for another lefty.

Greg Bird was 2-for-5 yesterday in the RailRiders’ 11-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  He had two doubles and a RBI.  Nice to see that he’s getting that extra base stroke back again.  There is still no timetable for when Bird will rejoin the Yankees.  

The current plan for Aroldis Chapman is to pitch on Tuesday for High-A Tampa and on Friday for AA-Trenton.  If all goes well, we’ll see Chapman next Saturday in Oakland.  Rajai Davis, look out, Chapman’s got your number.

Have a great Sunday!  I am hoping for a sweep to wisk the Yankees away to Southern California…

Mission: Making J-Ellsbury The Next Wally Pipp…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 8, Orioles 2…

Does Jacoby Ellsbury really deserve his job back if/when he gets healthy?  This might be one of the few times that I’ve enjoyed the injury replacement better than the regular.  Aaron Friggin’ Hicks.  A day after the two-homer game by Gary Sanchez, Hicksie put up a deuce of his own.  A new day, a new hero.

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg-N.Y. Post

The game featured another strong start from Jordan Montgomery who continues to show that he is a competitor on the mound in the mold of Andy Pettitte.  It didn’t look like it was going to be a very good night for Monty in the second inning.  Chris Davis walked to open the inning and Jonathan Schoop followed with a homer to center to pick the O’s up 2-0.  Two of the next three batters reached base with singles but Monty shut the O’s down from there.  The only hit he allowed from that point forward was a harmless double by former Yankee Ruben Tejada (whom the Yankees sold to the O’s last week).  The boy is growing into a man before our very eyes.  There’s no way that we would have had the trust in Chad Green, Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell like we do with Monty had they won the fifth starter’s role out of training camp.  He’s also pitched better than many of the rumored trade candidates.

Monty (4-4) was pulled at the start of the eighth inning.  For the game, he limited the O’s to just 5 hits and the two runs on the homer by Schoop.  He walked a batter and struck out 8.  His season ERA was lowered to 3.55.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill

The Yankee offense quickly answered Schoop’s homer.  Starlin Castro deposited the third pitch of the bottom of the 2nd under the Modell sign in right-center to cut the margin to 2-1.  Thursday night’s hero, Gary Sanchez (the Sanchino!)  followed with a double.  He moved to third on a flyout by Didi Gregorius and then scored on a sac fly by the generally-useless Chase Headley to tie the game.

The game remained tied until the sixth inning as both Montgomery and the O’s Dylan Bundy were pitching great.  In the bottom of the 6th, it was time for the Hicksie Show.  He opened the inning with a solo shot, a ‘no doubt about it’ smash, to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, 3-2.  It was ironically the first ball placed in The Judge’s Chambers.  

Credit:  MLB.com

In the 7th, Chase Headley reached first on a throwing error by pitcher Edwin Jackson who had just relieved Bundy.  Aaron Hicks came to bat again, with two outs, and he crushed Jackson’s offering to the right center bleachers to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead.  Aaron Judge was walked on four straight pitches out of the strike zone, and Jackson paid the price when Matt Holliday doubled in the next at-bat to score Judge.

The Yankees tacked on two more unneeded runs in the eighth when Austin Romine singled with the bases loaded.  Hats off to Romine for this game.  No offense to Sanchez, but Romine and Montgomery work very well together.  He could have gone hitless and it would have been fine given the strong work he provides behind the plate for Monty.  

The Boston Red Sox won on a late comeback against the Detroit Tigers so the Yankees (35-23) remained three games ahead of the Sox in the AL East.  The O’s fell to 4 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers.  The Tampa Bay Rays have won three in a row and are 5 1/2 games back.

Odds & Ends…

Manager Joe Girardi said that Masahiro Tanaka’s scheduled start on Sunday has been pushed back.  He is now scheduled to pick up the baton on Monday when the Yankees travel to Anaheim, CA to play the Los Angeles Angels.  He’ll be facing the Angels’ Alex Meyer (2-3, 4.08 ERA).  

No word yet who’ll start for the Yankees on Sunday.  The present roster candidates would be Chad Green or Adam Warren, with an advantage toward Green since he’s been stretched out more recently.  Potential call-ups include Bryan Mitchell or Luis Cessa.  I think the Yankees will choose one of the more experienced arms, so I would not expect the elevation of Chance Adams to the 40-man roster.  He’s young (only 22) and only at AA-Trenton, but Ronald Herrera is an intriguing arm.  On Thursday night, he tied his career high with 9 strikeouts in leading the Thunder to a 9-0 win over the Hartford Yard Goats.   Pitching 6 2/3 innings, he limited the Yard Goats (damn, I love these minor league names!) to just two hits.  In 8 starts, Herrera is 7-0 and is currently sporting a 1.07 ERA.  He has struck out 41 batters in 50 1/3 innings.  Herrera was acquired in November 2015 through the trade that sent Jose Pirela to the San Diego Padres.  He is also on the 40-man roster which places him at an advantage over the older and the more advanced Adams.  I extremely doubt the Yankees entrust a key AL East start to a pitcher who has only made one start (last year with poor results) at the AAA Level.  But he is a name to watch.  Probably the most advanced arm, outside of the Major League vets, is the 24-year old righty Domingo German.  German is also on the 40-man roster.  He’s currently 2-1 with 3.76 ERA in four games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  My bet is the start goes to Green.

Credit:  Rich Schultz-Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman flew to Tampa last night and will pitch in a simulated game today.  The plan is for him to pitch with AA-Trenton next week before rejoining the Yankees in Oakland for the weekend series against the A’s.  By all accounts, Chapman is healthy and throwing strikes.  Coming soon, sore catchers’ hands at a Yankees game near you.

Credit:  MLB.com

Have a great Saturday!  Let’s keep this Yankees winning streak alive!

Losing that Winning Feeling…

Credit:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4…


I was not confident with Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday night and he proved my concerns to be correct with yet another horrendous start.  Tanaka has become the National League’s version of the pitcher batting (generally speaking)…an automatic out or in this case, an automatic loss.  


I did not like the thought of Tanaka opening the series with the Red Sox because of the fear that he’d put us at the disadvantage.  He’s easily the weakest link in the rotation right now and I have no clue what can be done to turn him around.  If he’s not hurt, there is no explanation for why he’s become a batting practice pitcher on the mound during games.


The first two Red Sox batters at the start of the game both singled.  So, there were runners at the corner before Tanaka could even record an out.  It looked like it could have been a big inning for the Sox, but Tanaka was able to limit the damage to one run.  


The Sox scored three runs in the fourth.  After an inning opening walk to Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez went deep for back-to-back homers.  


The Yankees had a threat going in the bottom of the fourth after two one-out singles, but Chase Headley hit into a double-play to kill the potential rally.  Headley was 0-for-3 for the game.


The next inning, Tanaka served up another home run, this time a solo shot by the youngster Andrew Benintendi.  The Sox were up 5-1 and it would be all the runs they would need on this night.


The Yankees tried to scratch and claw their way back.  Chris Carter opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run.  Aaron Judge doubled with two outs, but Matt Holliday struck out to strand Judge.


In the bottom of the sixth, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks both singled, bringing Didi Gregorius to the plate.  Didi hit into a double play, but Castro was able to score on the play to close the gap to 5-3.


The next and last opportunity for the Yankees would be in the eighth.  Matt Holliday opened with a double.  After the next two batters recorded outs, Didi was up again.  The Red Sox brought closer Craig Kimbrel into the game.  Kimbrel struck out Didi swinging, but it was a wild pitch and Didi beat the throw to first base to keep the inning alive and allow Holliday to score.  5-4, Red Sox.  Chris Carter could have rehabilitated his image in the eyes of Yankees fans with a key hit, but he struck out to end the inning.  Kimbrel would go on to strike out the side in the ninth to finish with five strikeouts in four outs, picking up his 17th save.

Credit:  Associated Press

The Yankees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  This was their 14th loss in 25 games since May 8th.  


Aaron Judge made a great catch in the second inning, jumping and crashing into the right field wall to take an extra base hit away from Jackie Bradley, Jr.  Although he had the game-ending strikeout, he was 2-for-4 with a walk.  He was trying.

The Yankees bullpen did an outstanding job to hold the Sox scoreless after Tanaka departed, but special acknowledgement goes to Chad Green for his 3 1/3 innings of perfect relief with 5 strikeouts.  


The final line on Tanaka (5-6) was 5 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 HR.  This process of Tanaka trying to find his pitches in games is killing us.  


The Red Sox matched the Yankees (32-23) in total victories and moved to within one game of the AL East lead (the Sox have two more losses than the Yankees).  The Baltimore Orioles beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in 10 innings so they moved to within 2 1/2 games.


Odds & Ends…


Major League Baseball released its first AL Update for the All-Star Game voting on Tuesday.  The leader is Aaron Judge with 1,251,543 votes.  He overtook the injured Mike Trout by 96,187 votes.  In the AL Outfield, Brett Gardner is 9th with 364,493.  In the ‘I don’t know what the heck they were thinking’ category is Jacoby Ellsbury with 269,974 votes.  Aaron Hicks is far more deserving of those votes.


Other Yankees in the AL Results:  


Catcher:  Gary Sanchez (4th behind Salvador Perez, Wellington Castillo and Brian McCann) with 461,152 votes.  First Base:  Yeah, right.  Second Base:  Starlin Castro (2nd behind Jose Altuve) with 778,699 votes.  Third Base:  Oops, no one is covering.  Shortstop:  Didi Gregorius (3rd behind Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa) with 397,326 votes.  DH:  Matt Holliday (2nd behind Nelson Cruz) with 460,355 votes.  


This year’s All-Star Game will be held at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, July 11th.


Aroldis Chapman is targeting the upcoming A’s series for his return.  The Yankees will be in Oakland for a four-game set starting Thursday, June 15th.  I am very anxious to show a showdown between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis with the game on the line.  I feel that a healthy and rested Chapman is the superior competitor in that situation and I want to see Davis strike out to lose the game (as retribution for his home run off Chapman in Game 7 of the World Series).


On Monday, the Baltimore Orioles acquired infielder Ruben Tejada from the Yankees for cash considerations and assigned him to AAA.  On Tuesday, they elevated him to the Major League roster.  Things seem to have worked out for Tejada in his new home as he was not likely to see the Big Leagues in Pinstripes anytime soon.  I just hope this doesn’t become a Steve Pearce situation where he starts crushing home runs for the O’s.  


Chance Adams took the loss on Tuesday night in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ 8-1 loss to the Rochester Red Wings.  He pitched six innings, giving up 3 hits and 3 runs.  He walked 4 batters, allowed one home run, and struck out 7.  The outing pushed his ERA to 2.17.  The winning pitcher for the Red Wings was former Yankees prospect Nik Turley (who had 15 strikeouts).


Have a great Wednesday!  On the bright side, Masahiro Tanaka is not pitching today.  Go Yankees!

Good Hitting < Bad Pitching…

Credit:  Frank Gunn-Associated Press

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 5…

Bummer…

I was hoping for better results last night with Big Mike on the mound.  The Yankees tried a valiant comeback with a couple of two-run home runs but it was not enough.  

The Yankees were in an early hole when the Blue Jays scored three runs off Pineda in the first.  Josh Donaldson homered with one out and no one on.  After getting Joey Bats for the second out, Pineda walked Kendrys Morales.  That brought up Justin Smoak, who is having a breakout year at age 30.  Unfortunately, Smoak smoked the ball to right center and I was having visions of Pineda from years past.

The Blue Jays picked up a couple of more runs in the third and fourth innings to lead 5-0 when the Yankees began their comeback in the sixth.  Gary Sanchez led off with a single and Aaron Judge followed with his 18th homer.  It ended Francisco Liriano’s start.  Reliever Danny Barnes walked Matt Holliday on a 3-2 count and the next batter up, Starlin Castro, brought the Yankees to within a run at 5-4 with a homer to right center.  

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Blue Jays came right back in the bottom of the sixth when Donaldson hit his second homer of the night, a solo shot.  

The Yankees scored a run in the seventh when Matt Holliday doubled to score Aaron Judge who had walked in the previous at-bat.  But again, the Blue Jays answered in the bottom of the frame.  After Justin Smoak reached first on an error charged to Chris Carter (Yankees challenged the play and lost), Troy Tulowitzki doubled to push Smoak to third.  Devon Travis then hit a sac fly to score Smoak, bringing the score to 7-5.  

From there, the Yankees were unable to mount any threats against the Blue Jays bullpen and it was game over.  

It was a disappointing start by Michael Pineda (6-3).  He went five innings, giving up 10 hits and 5 runs.  He walked 3 batters while only striking out one.  He was unable to overcome that first inning breakdown when he allowed the two home runs.  Of course, it didn’t help that neither Jonathan Holder nor Adam Warren were able to deliver clean innings.  

Credit:  Getty Images

The Yankees (31-21) remain in first place in the AL East, but the Baltimore Orioles did pick up a game and leap frogged Boston with a 3-2 win over the Red Sox.  The Orioles are 2 1/2 games back, while the Red Sox remain 3 games behind.  The Blue Jays may be in last place but they are just 5 1/2 games behind the leaders.   The only division that is tighter is the NL Central where the first place Milwaukee Brewers lead the last place Pittsburgh Pirates by only four games.  It must be nice to be a Houston Astros or Washington Nationals fan with double digit leads over their closest competitors.  One day, it will be our time to shine.  

Odds & Ends…

The rumors of Gleyber Torres to the Bronx seem to be picking up steam.  I don’t think he’s ready yet, but reports are indicating that we could see Torres as early as next month.  There’s no doubt the kid has maturity beyond his years and is a special talent, but I feel that he is an asset for opening in Spring 2018.  The lackluster play of Chase Headley, of course, is forcing acceleration of the plan.  At AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Torres is currently batting .212 (7-for-33).  In last night’s 7-5 win over the Toledo Mud Hens, Torres was 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored.  Two of his outs were by strikeout, and he walked once.  He was charged with a fielding error, his fourth at AAA.  

Credit:  Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that ultimately this may come down to a choice between Tyler Austin or Torres.  If Torres is called up, Headley becomes the backup first/third baseman.  If Austin comes up, he backs up Greg Bird at first, with Ronald Torreyes remaining the primary backup at third for Headley.  None of these scenarios bode well for Chris Carter.  We still have the potential problem at first (what if Bird continues to struggle when he returns) but there’s clearly some difficult decisions looming on the horizon.  

Austin was 1-for-4 (single) for the RailRiders yesterday.

All he does is friggin’ win.  The story of Chance Adams is amazing.  In a short time, he’s become a minor league legend.  Since being drafted in the fifth round in 2015, he’s 23-3 with 1.96 ERA in 34 games started covering 220 2/3 innings.  He has struck out 248 batters.  In the 2015 MLB Draft, current Yankees pitching prospect Dillon Tate was the fourth overall selection by the Texas Rangers.  Adams wasn’t chosen until 149 picks later.  2015 was the year the Yankees chose James Kaprielian as their first round choice.  We know the talent that Kaprielian possesses but staying healthy has been another matter.  Before the Yankees took Adams, they chose two other pitchers after Kaprielian…Jeff Degano and Drew Finley.  In a do-over, I think you’d take Adams over any of the three or four if you threw in Tate.  I still have high hopes for Kaprielian, but there is so much to be excited about Adams.   I liked the quote from AA-Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, “He is just a big leaguer in the making”.  The finished product is probably not too far away.

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In AAA transactions on Friday, the RailRiders released LHP Jason Gurka.  Gurka was signed as a minor league free agent in December 2016.  He appeared in a few Spring Training games, but wasn’t going to be an arm for consideration at the big league level.  For the RailRiders, he was 0-0 with 5.40 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.  He did strike out 20 batters so I am sure that he’ll get a look by another organization.  Best of luck to him.

Have a great Saturday!  Go Yankees!

Two Little, Too Late…

Credit:  Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Orioles 3, Yankees 2…

Admittedly, I had wished the Baltimore Orioles had won on Sunday (when they lost to the Houston Astros, 8-4).  Coming into the series with the Yankees, the O’s were on a seven-game losing streak but were returning home to Camden Yards for the Memorial Day showdown (a wounded dog ready to bite).  The Orioles were due and unfortunately it came at the expense of the Yankees.

It was a winnable game, but you need offense to win.  Dylan Bundy, who has been Baltimore’s best pitcher so far this year, was good but you can’t say great.  He scattered seven hits over seven innings and held the Yanks to only two runs.  Bundy was the beneficiary of three double-plays.  It was hard to say if it was simply great Bundy pitching or anemic Yankee bats.  Outside of the Aarons, the Yankees couldn’t generate any runs.  Aaron Hicks had an early sac fly, scoring Starlin Castro to tie the game at one in the second inning, and Aaron Judge had a solo homer in the seventh (his 17th of the year).  

Credit:  Randy Miller/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The two runs were not enough to overcome Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring single in the first and Jonathan Scoop’s two-run double in the third.

Jordan Montgomery (2-4) reopened long term concerns about his spot in the rotation.  He threw 100 pitches just to get into the fifth inning.  After allowing two one-out singles in the fifth, Montgomery was finished.  For 4 1/3 innings of work, he had allowed eight hits and three runs (only one earned, thanks to Starlin Castro’s fielding error in the third).  He walked one and struck out five.  He is pitching well enough to earn his next start, but if the Yankees do make a trade for a starter within the next couple of months, Montgomery could be the odd man out.  

Both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve pitched well in relief of Montgomery as they combined for 3 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief and six strikeouts.  The only blemish was Shreve’s insignificant walk of Mark Trumbo in the seventh.

Aaron Judge had one final shot in the ninth inning to try and tie the game, but he struck out against interim O’s closer Brad Brach.  Brach, hardly a clone of injured O’s elite closer Zach Britton, also struck out Didi Gregorius to end the game.

Credit:  Ulysses Munoz/Baltimore Sun

Chris Carter was miserable.  He had an 0-for-3 day with two strikeouts.  Overall, he is 0-for-12 for his last five games and has been punched out in half of those at-bats.  Carter is batting .188 on the season.  When both Tyler Austin and Greg Bird are healthy, Carter is going to be in a very precarious situation if he doesn’t find the swing that drilled 41 homers last year.  

Chase Headley, after a two game rest, was 1-for-2 with a walk.  It kind of makes me wonder what the pesky Ronald Torreyes could have done against Bundy.  But alas, we’ll never know.  The Orioles won this game, and pulled back to within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees (29-19) in the AL East.  Fortunately, the Chicago White Sox rallied against the Red Sox bullpen to beat Boston 5-4 in a game saved by former Yankee closer David Robertson.  So, the Red Sox remain 3 games behind the Yankees.  

Credit:  Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune

Better luck to the Baby Bombers today.  It is more fun to write about wins than losses.  

Player Updates…

It doesn’t sound like Jacoby Ellsbury will be back anytime soon.  As of Sunday, he still had a headache and continues to deal with the neck sprain so he has not resumed baseball activities.  The presence of Aaron Hicks makes Ellsbury’s absence a non-factor unless Brett Gardner or Aaron Judge get hurt.

Aroldis Chapman was able to throw again prior to yesterday’s game against Baltimore but still no word when he’ll be ready for a rehab assignment.  He’ll take today off before resuming light throwing tomorrow.

Tyler Austin was 1-for-4 (single) in his latest rehab assignment as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders fell to the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-0.

The Yankees will miss Los Angeles Angels slugger Mike Trout in a couple of weeks when they make their West Coast road trip.  Trout had surgery yesterday on a torn ulnar ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.  Trout injured the thumb on Sunday with a head first slide in Miami. 

Have a great Tuesday!  Twelve games left against the AL East in the current stretch…let’s make the most of it.  A win today would be a good start…